by Lisa McCourt Hollar
They stood in a row; Moon, Walker and the un-named grave. In the light of day it was a curiosity. Tonight would be another matter. Any living visitor remaining after dusk would see the three, not quite dead occupants of the graves rising from their place of rest.
Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft stood within the shadows as the last straggler left. “It is time,” she called, stepping like mist into the waning light.
There was a slight rumbling and a hand thrust up from beneath the first grave and then another from the second. Clearing her throat, Hecate pointed a finger at the third, unmoving tomb, her voice warning that this would be the last call. “It is time.”
The earth shifted and the occupant of the grave lifted his head. “I’m not feeling well. I think I will stay in.”
“I can keep you there permanently if you wish.” The threat understood, the un-dead servant pushed his way out of the dirt and joined the others.
“We have much work to do this Hallows Eve. Hades grows impatient. This world has forgotten the gods and he wishes to remind them of our presence.”
“Sheesh, she’s cranky,” Tobin mumbled, falling in line behind Walker and Moon.
“Quiet, or she’ll hear you.” Moon stopped to pick up his arm, which had fallen off, grinning sheepishly at Walker. "Remember Stone? He called her a wart nosed old hag. I thought she was going to explode.”
“Haven’t thought of him in a long time,” Walker said. “I wonder how he likes being a toad?”
“Last I heard, he found a princess to kiss him and now he’s living in a palace.”
“Huh, some zombies get all the luck.”
“Enough talking back there,” Hecate called out. “Here’s the plan, we need to wreak havoc.”
“Wreaking havoc is what we do,” Tobin said, winking at the other two ghouls.
“We also reek,” Moon said, lifting his arms and sniffing his armpits.
“You’re such a freak…”
“Enough!” Hecate glared at the three, cutting Walker off before the servant could finish his sentence. Moon and Tobin snorted, earning an angry glare from the goddess. “That will be quite enough. One more outburst from either of you…”
“You’ll send us up the creak…” said Moon.
“I think I’d much prefer a jeep…” said Walker.
“Oh, lookie here, I’ve found some creeps."
The three zombie’s stopped, slack jawed, staring at the figure who had stepped into their path. Dressed in a black robe with a hood that covered his head and holding a scythe in one hand and a skull in the other, the creature was the very image of death.
Hecate sighed, “What are you doing here, Grim.?"
“My job. Those three there, they have to go back.”
“Up down, up down… I wish they gods would make up their minds,” Tobin moaned, turning and heading back to his grave.
“Stop,” Hecate hissed. Pointing a finger at the ground, thick weeds came up out of the earth, wrapping tightly around the zombie’s legs.
“Careful,” Tobin said, “not too tight… oh great, you’ve done it now.”
Walker winced in sympathy as his friends ankle crumbled, while Moon, chuckled. Hecate pointed her finger again, mending the ankle and reattaching it where it belonged.
“A little crooked, but not bad,” Tobin said, testing it out.
“Go away,” Hecate said, turning her finger towards the Grim Reaper.
“Can’t do that, Doll; Khronos is being a real tight ass with his No Zombies Allowed rule. I have to round up all undead and put them where they belong.”
“Did he just call me Doll? No one calls me Doll.”
“Yeah, well I was trying to be nice, but now that you mention it, my mother called, she wants her face back.”
“Speaking of Medusa, how is the old hag doing?”
“She’s dating Khronos; you already knew that though or you wouldn’t be trying to make my life so difficult. Three months.. it took me three months to round up the all the zombies. Most of them didn’t want to come willingly. And then there were the bribes. Everyone wants to make a deal with death. I don’t make deals."
“Really, because that’s not what I heard.” Hecate’s smile spread thin across her face.
“What are you getting at,” Grim asked, narrowing his eyes.
“Khronos doesn’t really seem like your mother’s type…”
“You know my mother, every guy is her type… until they turn to stone. She can’t afford to be choosy. Now be a dear and tell your goons to go back where they came from, before I get testy."
“See, here’s the thing Grim, I woke up tonight in the mood for a little Halloween havoc. Life has been dull lately. How about you let me have my fun and I don’t tell your mom how you agreed to pimp her out to your boss. When the night is over, these three go back to bed and you can tell your buddies you survived a run in with me. You know, I can get pretty testy myself.”
“Yeah, not gonna happen. Come on you three, I guess we do this the hard way.”
“I guess we do,” Hecate said. Pointing her finger once more, the ground rumbled bringing forth more of the dead. Old friends greeted each other, family members fell into each other’s arms and old feuds resumed.
“Does it matter who shot the other first,” Hecate shouted, intervening between two brothers, each with a bullet hole in the chest. “It was a duel, you both are equally quick.”
“But who won?” The elder brother asked.
“No one, you both died… idiots.” Touching the two siblings on the arm, Grim sent them back to their graves, dissolving their bodies into dust. Looking around, he moaned, “Three months to get things under control and this broad ruins it all in one night. You two… get a room.”
Reaching for two lovers, Grim pulled them apart, sending their ashes soaring through the air, where their spirits could join together on the wind. “Never say I’m not a romantic.”
“You can’t stop them all,” Hecate said, directing a group of small children towards the town. “It’s Halloween kids, go get some treats.”
“You know, come to think of it, I’m kind of hungry myself,” one of the recently revived said, “ I wonder if anyone has brains on the menu.”
Stepping in front of the zombie, a former mayor of the town who was known for his many appetites, Grim shot the goddess an angry glare. “Hecate, this has got to end.”
“It’s not right, Grim. They don’t care about us anymore. I used to be somebody. Now… now Khronos has me announcing the weather on God’s News Channel. I’m a damn weather girl.”
“Yeah, I know, I’ve got a poster of you hanging on my wall, wearing that red shirt that shows off your…”Hecate tossed a lightning bolt his way.
“I was going to say your eyes! They’re a beautiful shade of crimson.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“Well I know looking at it makes me feel better. Hey, easy there!” Grim stepped to the side, narrowly missing getting singed. The grass where he’d been standing was smoldering, leaving a smoky odor to the air.
“The job doesn’t even pay my rent. I live on Mount Olympus you know… only the best for the goddess of witchcraft. I used to get offerings… virgin sacrifices; now I’m lucky if someone sends a prayer my way. I had to take a second job to make ends meet.
“I don’t know what you’re complaining about, at least you have your own place. I live with my mom. Do you know how many times she’s accidently turned me to stone?”
“That would be a problem,” Hecate agreed.
The two grew quiet, listening to the screams coming from the town. “Three months,” Grim moaned, “and now I have to start all over. At least you get a day off here and there. If I take a day it turns into Armageddon.”
“Does she really turn you into stone?”
“Yeah. She says it’s an accident. The photo album says otherwise. She stuck rabbit ears on me for Easter.”
“Well how about we make a deal?”
“I told you I don’t do deals.”
“Then round them all up yourself.” Hecate raised her finger, prepared to summon more dead.
“Wait… what do you want?”
“I have an extra room. Really, it’s a large closet, but I’m not using it and the extra income would be nice. It would get you out of your mother’s basement.
“You’ll send them back to their graves?”
“If I must… but don’t you miss the old days?”
Grim thought about it a moment, then answered, “Yeah, I kind of do. What the hell, I suppose a few hours won’t hurt. Khronos and my mother are taking a ride down the Styx…Charon offers a lovers discount and a guided tour that takes most of the night. Just make sure everyone is back where they belong by morning.”
“I promise. Where are you going?”
“Home to pack; hey, does this make us…”
“Don’t even think it, Grim. Not even in your dreams… and Grim…”
“Make sure you leave the damn poster behind.”