Queen of the Dead

‘I can’t believe you guys convinced me that this would be more fun than skiing!’ Holly shivered, wrapping her arms more tightly around her thin chest.
‘Where’s your sense of adventure? Jenna grinned as she stepped further into the mist shrouded grounds.
Devlin placed a hand on Holly’s back, making her jump as she stared out over the old headstones jutting out eerily from the fog. The braches of the old, gnarled oak trees swayed in the damp breeze, thick black trunks silhouetted against the dark blue sky. Light from the full moon hanging above gave the trees the appearance of life and to Holly’s fear-filled eyes they seemed to be moving around the edges of the old cemetery like pagan guardians.
‘It’ll be alright, Holly,’ Devlin said in his deep, reassuring voice, ‘its harmless fun. You know what Jenna’s sense of humour is like; only she would think of searching for the Queen of the Dead during Queen Lizzie’s birthday celebrations. It’s all just superstition anyway.’
‘Says who?’ Jenna rounded on them, her green eyes gleaming with mirth, ‘Old Elspeth was said to have been a very powerful witch, entranced with the dark arts and necromancy, trying to find a way to cheat death. Many believe that she did so.’
‘Then why is her body decaying ion an old grave?’ Devlin chortled derisively.
Tossing her red curls in the air, Jenna turned and resumed her purposeful stride through the graveyard. Holly looked up at Devlin who rolled his eyes comically at Jenna’s theatrics before they began to follow her.
Weaving slowly through the rows of marble, granite and stone tomb markers, it was nearing midnight before Jenna exclaimed in glee, her shrill cry falling flat on the heavy air. Holly and Devlin hurried to her side.
Jenna was on her knees pulling away the moss and weeds that obscured the stone tablet. Time had worn away at the engraved writing, but much of it was still legible. So too were the odd symbols carved all over the weathered slab.
‘Elspeth Tormeau,’ Devlin read, ‘Are you sure this is her, Jenna?’
‘Oh yes,’ Jenna nodded, her usually pleasant expression twisted with disgust and rage, ‘Much is known about old Elspeth if you know where to look.’
‘What do all these symbols mean?’ Holly asked curiously.
‘Signs to ward off evil,’ Jenna muttered darkly, ‘her grave was desecrated by the townspeople who were scared she would return from the dead herself, as she’d helped so many of the long dead return to the living plane. Bloody fools! They only made her angry.’
‘This though,’ Devlin pointed to an etching above the name that resembled a figure eight lying on its side, ‘this is the mathematical symbol for infinity.’
‘Indeed. Very good, Devlin,’ Jenna smiled, ‘The only sign she wanted there. Of course, the idiots in the town were to feeble minded to recognise its meaning. Mathematics was an important part of Elspeth’s studies. She was an alchemist, not a devil worshipper! At least, at first she was.’
As Holly looked down at Jenna, surprised at the passion and vehemence in her friend’s voice, out of the corner of her eyes she glimpsed shifting forms rising from the ground and moving about in the rising fog. Far off in the distance, the town hall clock began tolling the midnight hour.
‘Tormeau? Wasn’t that your mother’s maiden name, Jenna?’ Devlin was asking as Holly’s throat closed in terror, making her unable to utter a sound, ‘It’s an unusual name. Quite a coincidence, hey?’
‘Not a coincidence at all,’ Jenna crowed triumphantly as the slowly moving figures began circle the three of them.
Both Devlin and Jenna had seen them now. Devlin grasped Holly’s trembling arms protectively while Jenna raised her arms in welcome.
‘I promised you that I would return, did I not?’ Jenna called out, her voice thrumming with undisguised power.
Slowly the apparitions inclined their heads respectfully toward the pretty young redhead. Devlin and Holly faced Jenna with trepidation.
‘What the hell is going on, Jenna?’ Devlin gasped as his chest tightened painfully.
Bright green eyes sparkling, Jenna smirked and winked at the two of them, I did tell you that Elspeth – or should I say, I – found a way to cheat death. Conscious reincarnation!’
Flicking her wrist, Jenna made some sort of shimmering sign in the air above their heads with her finger. Jenna’s ghostly comrades shuffled in closer and closer.
‘Thanks for bringing me guys,’ Jenna’s voice was light and amused, though her eyes had grown hard and bitter, ‘Even the Queen of the Dead needs to offer sacrifices to re-enter her sacred ground. Let us show you the way to immortality.’

© Alison Pearce 2008

Queen of the Dead

Alison Pearce

Logan Central, Australia

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Artist's Description

Wriiten for Short Stories- Spherical Writings, Long Weekend Writing Challenge. The prompt word was Queen

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