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Chapter Three PT 2 (Unedited)

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  1. Chapter Three pt 2

    Tommy glared at me as he packed the equipment and items that had been rescued into the back of the jeep. What did I do to upset him?

    The remainder of the ride was tense, the road, if you can call it that was broken where there was pavement, and riddled with potholes that would make any Michigander proud of their roads. There were places where there were no guardrails, the sheer drop down the side of the mountain stared back up at us, almost as if daring us to venture too close to the side. I am forever grateful that it was not raining. The thought of driving that route again in the rain still makes my blood run cold.
    Finally, after what seemed much longer than the twenty minutes it actually took, we reached a small clearing, tombstones stood at attention, waiting for someone to come along and discover their secrets. Some were very old looking. Weather darkened to a near black, moss clinging to sharp surfaces, softening them.

    Graveyards in general, don’t bother me, I’ve seen my fair share of them over the years, but this one raised goosebumps as I exited the car. I shook my head trying to shake off the sense that no human was welcome here.
    We walked side by side, Tommy and I with GoPros, filming the area, we had passed a small settlement a few miles back, I wondered if anyone had seen us drive by. Small towns were always able to just know when someone was trespassing on their turf. I wanted to get out before trouble began. Here it is, Catina shouted a few rows away.

    Tommy, Ilsa and I joined her to stand in front of the grave of her father, Petu (Lastname) Born Dec 28th 1949. Died May 17th 2004. The inscription read Beloved Husband and father. The casket had been placed in an above-ground cement box. Dark gray in the cloudy late afternoon light. I could see where a repair had been done.

    “So, this is where they came?”

    Ilsa pointed to the repair, “You can see here where they chiseled their way into the crypt. When I got here they had tried to put the casket back inside, but..” Her voice trailed off, as her eyes met Catina’s.
    Catina nodded as if they had communicated without speaking.
    “Excuse me” She said in English.
    I nodded at Tommy to follow her. He turned on his heel without a word.

    Tommy returned a few minutes later.
    “So tell me more about how they did this. Because it seems like a huge task.”

    “They broke in through here, and removed the casket, then opened it. They were, at this point, inspecting the body for signs of being a Strigoi. After they were sure they were doing the right thing, they removed the body and placed it here.” She pointed to the top of the crypt. They then removed the Heart and liver using the sharp-tipped scythe. Every rib was cut to make this easier, but it also caused the rib cage to open like a spring. I don’t think they had anticipated that. Because the Nephew was reluctant to talk about how this had affected him during the trial. They then severed the head of the body and replaced the torso into the casket. They placed the head at his feet a silver wedge had been driven between the teeth of both halves of the jaw, like a spike, or a tie to keep everything closed. And threw vervain into the casket. They then tried to push it back inside again. But they couldn’t get it back in, so they left it hanging out a little. That is how Catina found it about a week later. But because it was open, the rats and other scavengers were beginning to chew through the coffin.”

    “I cannot imagine finding that.”

    Tommy muttered something under his breath. We turned to look at him but he was looking towards the jeep. Catina was jogging towards us, a short distance away, coming down the road was a group of men. Men who did not look happy that we were here.

    Ilsa whispered to Tommy, Tommy blanched. “What is it?” I asked.

    “These men, the one with the light hair, he’s the nephew of the ones who did this to this man.” Tommy’s face hardened as he set the camera down and took a slightly different stance. I knew him well enough to know he was readying himself for a fight. At that moment I knew why I had pushed so hard for him to join me on this. Translators were fairly easy to come by, but one who understood the subject matter, the culture and was physically capable of not just the heavy lifting but of brute force protection had been the main reasons I had tricked him onto joining me on this quest. I had met Tommy as an undergrad student, he was pushing to start an MMA club on campus. Something that seemed odd to me given he was studying middle age history.

    “Every wimp on campus should know how to protect themselves.” He had replied when I asked him about it. It was the start of a friendship built on mutual respect and academia.

    I waited patiently as the group approached, still shouting. Tommy had ceased translating, his body tense as he shouted back at the men, more out of necessity that anger. He pushed both women behind him. Had the situation not been so serious I might have laughed, since, Ilsa was the one with the gun.

    After what seemed to be a very long time the group was in front of us, the one with the light hair shouting and pointing, Tommy and I in front of the ladies, Petu’s resting place about a foot to the right. I did not recall moving to the side, but I must have done so subconsciously. Anticipating having to fight our way out of the rundown cemetery.

    It was until later that week when Tommy was able to translate everything said that the gravity of the situation we were in became clear.

    The dirty-blond held a thick stick, I felt rather than saw Ilsa’s hand move to her hip when he raised it a little higher.

    Tommy stood, trying to talk to the group. Time seemed to slow down, my pulse was racing and I don’t mind sharing here that I was scared. The situation seemed to be balanced on a knife’s edge. I had a feeling that it could go either way.

    “They are asking that we turn the camera off.” I looked at him, He whispered, “mine is still running.” I dared not glace as where he had laid his atop the crypt, pointed directly at the space the group was now occupying. I lowed my GoPro and pretended to switch it off. When I reviewed the tape, I discovered that at least two of the men in the group carried guns, I saw one knife and a lot of footage of men's feet and legs. But it was clear to me that without Tommy and Ilsa we would have been in very dangerous waters.

    Tommy pulled the big blond aside, they talked for some time in angry hushed tones. Before rejoining us.

    “This is the Nephew of the man who started this. He is willing to talk to us, but only if we do not film him. He also said if you wish he will take you to his uncle’s home, and his uncle can give you his side of the story, they don’t want this to be one-sided.”

    It took a few moments for me to process what was being said, “I mean…” I paused trying to decide how to reply. Ilsa gave me a frown. “If they are willing to talk to us then sure. I guess I’m open to that.”
    Ilsa dropped her hand away from her firearm. “I’m Afraid,” she looked at Catina, “that neither of us wishes to continue with you. We want no part of what they have to say. Be careful.” She warned. As she walked away, Catina close to her side.
    I looked at Tommy, “I will get the gear, if we have to take a train back it’s fine.” He said picking up his camera off the grave. “Don’t move, don’t speak. I will be right back.”

    I stood there at the graveside of a man these men, I presumed at the time all of them had been involved, had violated. Tommy returned with bags, one for each of us, stuffed hastily with all our equipment, he had removed our clothing I noticed. I hope we don’t get stuck out here, or dead, I said eyeing the group still. Since you made sure I’d not have clean underwear to die in.

    Tommy laughed, We will be fine. They did not know who was here, they thought maybe it was another tour group looking for ghosts. They wanted to chase us off before we did something to violate the dead. The glaring contradiction in that statement was not lost on me, but I held my tongue. If I had a chance to hear from the men who had performed these acts I wanted to know what they had to say.

    The blond was introduced, Amati, followed by his cousin “Stan” The others had names, but they are not important to this body of work. Amati, motioned for us to follow him. As we lugged the bags down the road, it started to rain. At least I had not cheaped out and had spent the money to get waterproof bags. I thought as my shoes filled with water.

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