Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
“After midnight, Grandpa can speak, but only in whispers,” Grandma explained. “I can’t stay awake so late at my age, but he’ll adore prattling on with you, dear.”
That night, Ella whispered to her grandfather who had died long before she was born.
“Are you there, Grandpa?”
A hushed word, little more than a breath, sliced the darkness: “Yes.”
“Are you proud of me?”
“Are you happy being dead?”
“What would make you happy?”
“Grandma’s heart medicine.”
The orange bottle sat on the counter.
“Empty the pills down the drain, so Grandma can keep me company.”
Father Coughlin turned off the hall light, and the apparition reappeared, the color of moonbeams, the form of his inquisitive former charge. Forever fourteen. Scarred by bullying peers and a thoughtless father who’d shipped him to boarding school.
They’d found Henry, slack limbs swaying, face swollen blue, belt scrunching the beam in his dormitory. Father Coughlin preached that Henry had been condemned to hell for his act.
Yet each night, his ghost smiled and gave the “OK” sign, as if to say, You’re wrong. I’m fine.
And each night, Father locked his office, sipped brandy, and worried about his wrongness.
Jace waited hours, while Mom explored a forgotten truck stop. “Could be canned goods,” she’d said. “Could be biters. Probably both. If it’s safe, I’ll signal.”
The sun set, and still no flare.
Against Mom’s orders, he followed.
Three decayed attackers lay defeated at her boots. Blood spurted from her neck wound. She lurched forward. Soulless eyes locked with Jace’s, triggering a spark of recognition. Mom uncapped the flare and brushed it against the fireworks display from that doomed summer.
Brilliant flashes of color erupted behind her.
Jace’s scream drowned in thunderous cracks that signaled undead hordes from every direction.
Kevin M. Folliard
Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose fiction has been collected by The Horror Tree, The Dread Machine, Demain Publishing, Dark Owl Publishing, and more. His recent publications include his horror anthology The Misery King?s Closet, his YA fantasy adventure novel Grayson North: Frost-Keeper of the Windy City, and his 2022 dinosaur adventure novel Carnivore Keepers. Kevin currently resides in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL, where he enjoys his day job in academia and membership in the La Grange Writers Group.