No Vacancy: Part One
The following is a story snippet based on a prompt from this MasterClass article.
Father Thomas hobbled down the stone path back from the graveyard. The young priest in his thirties leaned into his aluminum walking cane. He pressed down with both hands, desperately trying to open the distance between him and his pursuer.
Thomas craned his neck over his shoulder for a moment. The moonlight outlined Francine’s ghastly figure fifteen feet away. And she was keeping pace. Her decomposing arms hung in front of her. With every step, her rotting flesh squished against the stone, sending shivers down his spine.
He whiffed the scent of formaldehyde and decay. But he was so close to the church. If only he could reach the holy water inside the entrance. He said another prayer. He hoped it would work.
It was only a month ago when Father Thomas had spoken at Francine’s funeral. She was a well-loved woman in her nineties. Over one hundred of her family and friends came to pay their respects. She had been a regular parishioner, attending three or four masses every week. And during her confessions, she spoke of small mishaps of her simple life. Forgetting to invite a neighbor to a potluck. Serving herself too much cake at a wedding. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Except she was back from the dead and following him from the cemetery.
Thomas placed his hand on the door of the church and leaned forward. He couldn’t have injured his leg at a worse time. He was panting heavily as he fumbled to find the keys in his pockets. Hands trembling to find the right key, he jammed it into place, turned the key. And click. He felt the door unlock.
He grunted as he opened the door. The keys fell on the ground. No time. His eyes darted at the stone vessel of holy water five feet away. Abandoning his cane, Thomas leapt towards the vessel. He grabbed the cup sitting on the vessel. He dipped the cup into the holy water. And he held out the cup, filled to the rim with holy water.
Thomas turned around and there she was just under the door frame. Francine groaned and stepped towards him. So close now, he saw her dressed in her funeral clothes, dirt-stained now. Pus escaped through her eyes, devoid of any human emotion.
Thomas glanced back and forward again. There was nowhere for him to go. He was stuck between the vessel of holy water and an undead Francine.
He grasped the water-filled cup and threw the holy water at Francine. And it splashed in her face. For a moment she stopped. She looked surprised and licked some of the water from her lips. Undeterred, she stepped forward again.
Stunned, Thomas took a step sideways but collapsed under the pressure on his injured leg. That’s it, he thought. This is where she eats me.
Francine groaned again and stepped forward again, towering over him. She descended and leaned over until her face was at his neck.
And softly she whispered, “Help me Father… It hurts so much… Purgatory…The Afterlife…. we got kicked out… there’s no more room…”