When Jake and Jessica got to the walkway outside the old growth forest, they were at a complete loss. They had lost all footprints and indication of direction when they entered the leaf strewn forest, and now they saw two equal options on a rugged path lined by a six foot wall.
Cinnamon fluttered, hovered and turned her head to look one way and then the other.
Jake looked at the wall and wondered what was behind it.
Jessica was still wondering how goblins could be so scary and so hilarious at the same time. Clowns, she supposed. She knew some people were afraid of clowns.
“Wait here,” Cinnamon said. “I have to check to find the right way. Oh, and don’t go over the wall.” She flew off, almost faster than their eyes could follow; certainly faster than they could frame a question.
“I was wondering, what’s with the wall. Is it there to keep people out or keep something in?” After the goblins, he could not help the spooky voice.
Jessica shook her head. “After what we have seen this night, I don’t think any teenage spooky voice will ever scare me again.”
“So what is over there?” Jake walked a little way down the path. “Hey, it looks like a gate. Cool.” He was looking through the bars of the gate.
“What?” Jessica went reluctantly. “Cinnamon said don’t go in there.”
“No, she said don’t climb over the wall.” He checked. The gate squeaked, but it was not locked. “She didn’t say we can’t go through the gate.” He grabbed Jessica’s hand and pulled her in. “Cool,” he said again.
“It’s a graveyard.” Jessica resisted.
“But who could be buried here? Aren’t you at all curious?”
“Not really,” Jessica said, but she followed him in about three rows. The names seemed normal enough, but Jake took her hand again and ran her up a path to the top of a small rise. From there, they looked out over a cemetery that seemed endless.
“Woah.” Jake mouthed the word. “Who are all these people.” The graves continued, easily seen under a bright, harvest moon, until it became a gray line in the distance and finally turned black on the horizon.
“I don’t like this,” Jessica said, and she tugged to go back.
“Look.” Jake noticed something three graves in. It was a cutlass, and not entirely rusted as he expected. He picked it up and turned to show Jessica when there was a rumbling at his feet.
“John the Butcher Roberts” Jessica read the headstone before she grabbed on to Jake to steady herself. It felt like a miniature earthquake. Then a head popped up from the grave, a dead head, definitely a pirate and he saw his cutlass.
“Ah, ha. So that’s where I left it. Hand it here, mate, and I’ll kill ya quick.”
Jake and Jessica ran. There were Pirates rising in every direction, and the gate was cut off by stumbling zombies. They tried for the wall, but there were skeletons dancing there. They started to weave around the headstones, but the Pirates were waking up.
Jessica stumbled when the ground shook again beneath her feet. Jake tried to help her up, but fell beside her. Two gravestones rose up by their heads. One said, Jacob, Jake Simon. the other said Jessica Cobb. Jessica screamed as the ground beneath them began to open into great, six-foot holes. The only reprieve they got from the Pirates was when they were distracted by the oncoming Mohawk war party. Then came their salvation. A great roar echoed from the gate.
“Supper!” A slimy, ugly ogre burst into the graveyard, drooling and ready to chow down on the dead. The skeletons guarding the gate all screamed and ran for their lives. One of the Pirates pointed and hollered a warning.
“Avast ye swabs. It’s Pusshead.” The Pirates and Indians all scattered, and Pusshead roared right past the couple in pursuit.
Jake and Jessica helped each other out of their respective graves and ran for the gate. Jake held tight to the cutlass, not knowing when he might need it. Jessica cared about nothing but getting the wall between her and the zombies. She slammed the gate with a vengeance once they were out and huffing and puffing.
“That was really stupid,” Jessica said.
“Yeah,” Jake agreed. “But I got us a weapon.” He swung it a couple of times which prompted Jessica to holler.
Jake did not argue. He loosened his belt so he could slip the blade in by his side. Jessica watched, so neither saw the figure approach.
“Excuse me. Pardon me,” the man said. Jake and Jessica looked up, gasped and took a step back. It was a ghost. They could see through the man, though he seemed solid enough from the waist up, if translucent. From his knickers down he became more transparent until his feet were utterly invisible. But then, he was floating a couple of feet off the ground so he might not need the feet.
“I am sorry to bother you, but have either of you seen my wife? Abigail Barrett by name. We were traveling by coach from Boston to Brattleboro where I was invited to practice law, when we were waylaid by robbers in the wilds of New Hampshire. Bullets were fired. My wife slumped into my shoulder, and I thought there was blood on her forehead. I leapt out to give the robbers what for, but the next thing I knew, I was lost in the forest and I can’t seem to find the coach.”
Jake was too stunned to talk, but Jessica was entranced by the story. “My name is Jessica Cobb, and this is Jake, Jacob Simon.”
“Of course, we haven’t been properly introduced. I am Thackery James Barrett, Esquire. Harvard, class of eighteen twelve. You seem like good New England stock. Surely I am near my destination.”
“I am sorry,” Jessica said. “I know the road to Brattleboro, but I don’t know how to get there from here.”
“Alas, I spoke to a young lady just a short time past. She was most polite, but could tell me nothing at all.”
“Elizabeth?” Jake raised his voice. “My sister.”
“Yes, I believe that was her name. The fellow she was with seemed most unsavory.”
“She was kidnapped. Do you know where she is?”
The ghost spun once around. “I am afraid I cannot say. These woods have me confused. Thus I have wandered for some time today. Do you know where the road to Brattleboro might be?
“Thackery.” Jake and Jessica turned their heads at the sound of Cinnamon’s voice, but what they saw was a beautiful woman, perhaps in her mid to late twenties, dressed in a long, flowing, fitted gown walking slowly up the path.
“Most beautiful lady. Have we met before?”
“Indeed we have,” Cinnamon said, and Jake and Jessica realized that was who it was. “And you must go in that direction until you find the pine trees. Then you will know you are close.”
“My thanks. I pray I may return your kindness some day,” the ghost said and headed off into the woods.
“Cinnamon?” Jessica asked, though she knew the answer. Jake just stared. The fairy was inhumanly beautiful in her big form, with the perfect tan on perfect skin and eyes that sparkled and full lips that showed the slightest bit of a sly smile. Then she was gone, and the fairy was back, fluttering her wings to stay aloft.
“This is the right direction,” she said. “You went into the graveyard,” she pointed and scolded Jake. “Thackery probably did run into Eliza-BETH, but he has very limited memory retention. The only thing he is able to really remember is his last thoughts, his thoughts for his wife, Abigail. Shall we go?”
Jake and Jessica did not know what to say, until Jessica whispered. “She does flit from subject to subject. I bet she doesn’t dwell on things either.”
“I don’t,” Cinnamon heard. “It’s a fairy thing.” She came back and settled again on Jessica’s shoulder, though Jessica was a bit wary about having a full grown woman on her shoulder. Jake was still taken by that vision of loveliness. He would need a bit more time before his tongue unfroze.