MARCH 15 1964
Gerhard Hasse shuddered as the thin but brutal wind howled, bringing with it the frost of winter’s bitterness; a wind laced with ice and something else; something indistinct and indeterminable.
He felt the eerie presence of unease settle.
Not quite familiarity as much as foreboding. A feeling that splinters the nerves, and takes with it any semblance of calm ever felt. He couldn’t help cursing under his breath taking refuge against a monolithic crypt. The moonless night met his eyes with nothing less than searing blackness. Gerhard surveyed Skogskyrkogarden cemetery. It stretched endlessly, into the night’s cold and utter blackness.
Gerhard strained his eyes, in an attempt to peer beyond the veil of shadows. Trying to recognize any familiar sight, in this maze of eternal slumber. He gripped the electric torch hopelessly peering into the abyss for some recognizable landmark. Perhaps Greta Garbo’s headstone would appear to him from the void, he remembered how to get back to the entrance from there
Instead as his eyes scanned the endless lines of the buried, the lamp began to fail. The soft glow was being steadily consumed by the unrelenting march of shadows. As the iridescence faded, the shades grew nearer slowly, yet inevitably encompassing all.
He began to blink repeatedly, rubbing his eyes, in a desperate attempt see thru the inky midnight. Something about this night was unrecognizable to his eye; there was a tangible density to it.
Gerhard watched on; horrified at the prospect of being lost in one of the older and most extensive cemeteries in all of Sweden, without light. He should have paid more attention during the walk around. Even as he thought it, it became so. As the wind screamed another gust, the chill tearing the breath from his lungs, the light was extinguished.
How had it come to this?
It was a sheer act of desperation in which he took the job, Night watchman. Though Gerhard had no experience, the caretaker, Jarvan, had surprisingly discounted this fact. Perhaps there weren’t so many candidates willing to watch over a cemetery such as this; shrouded in superstition. It was renowned for its spirit activity.
“Haunted” the locals would whisper from behind their glasses at the public house; not daring speak above a murmur for fear of ghosts, ever vengeful.
Nowhere else in the world had he been at such a place. Melancholy hung like a perpetual fog over the graveyard positively infecting the place. No tomb or man could deny the presence. Even now he felt the oppressive effects. It was a force unrivaled and of profound effect. It was rumored a widow whilst in a fit of remorse and sorrow; succumbed to it, and drowned from it. Her body was found at the threshold of her late husband’s mausoleum: suicide.
Never had anyone seen or heard of such a tragedy though it wasn’t unimaginable. Still there were strange rumors. It was claimed was there was no blood found at the scene of the suicide though she had slit her wrists.
Slashed the arteries long and wide.
They called the site of that particular tragedy, the Deadman’s Crypt. There was folklore that the place was the resting ground of unspeakable evil. Demons lurking amongst the dead, collecting the devil’s due, with the insatiable lust of the damned. Though, well, they dined, on pounds of flesh.
This had not deterred him at the time. He had accepted the job without dissuasion. Now alone in pitch-blackness with nothing but the merciless wind’s howling for company, the thought was enough to freeze the blood in his veins in a single beat. The biting cold of winter’s edge is the only thing that kept him moving. Stumbling along blindly as he might looking for a path. The wind began to die. That’s when he first thought he heard it.
Gerhard shuddered. The voices of the damned were said to speak at morning’s eve, but it was as much due to the frigid air, that he shook so. He spun, shivering, around not able to discern anything but a few grave markers. He had been told the only worry would be vandals, but even as he looked into hellishly dark void; he began to wonder.
Was it his imagination or were the headstones moving?
Worse still, he had an eerie feeling, as if eyes were watching, but it was more sinister than that. They waited in anticipation; perhaps for their brethren to join their ranks. The cruel air began to move again, and resumed its baying. Striking him harshly as if outraged. A thunder clap responded in time.
Gerhard trudged on. His hands had long gone numb and even as his mind commanded his legs to march on they resisted with fatigue and cold. Gerhard found his strength wearing.
The wind was picking up, sweeping down from the unseen mountains bringing glacial climes with it. He spun around swiftly sensing something following him. He shook his head paranoia, only Erebus. He turned making haste, stepping quickly into the blinding night.
Without warning a dull pain radiated through his knee. He cursed. Gerhard knew he had probably done more damage than he could presently feel. No doubt the pain was significantly mitigated by the frosty air. It was in that moment, it happened, the pain would become the least of his worries. At this moment, in his life, Gerhard, would know hell unchecked.
The storm began, bringing with it rain mixed with sleet. There was no crescendo, just a sharp instant strike.
It stung his eyes; it was as though needles were rapidly pelting him. He had forgotten his weather wear. Gerhard knew if he didn’t find the path back soon, he could very well end up dying of pneumonia. He began to shiver, shaking violently. His situation was hopeless.
Then by some chance, by some intervention, either divine or of some other nature; his outstretched hands made contact with a wall. It was a large crypt. He crept along the wall feeling for the doorway. At last he found the indentation. All he could do was huddle against the structure doing as best he could to shelter himself.
As he leaned against the crypt, he felt a sudden moment of disorientation. It was as if the ground had given way beneath his feet and all he felt was a falling sensation.
It was as if the world was falling apart around him. Before he could realize what was transpiring, the door had given way, and the floor of the crypt rose to meet him. He didn’t feel the dull smack of his skull as it hit the marble floor. He didn’t feel his blood trickle onto the cold marble. All Gerhard felt was the blackness. The same pursuing blackness finally reached him as it engulfed his consciousness.
Gerhard didn’t know how much time had passed when he woke. His head throbbed in sharp pain. He sat up quickly, panic and fear swept through his thoughts; where was he? He groaned, clutching his crown of his head tenderly. The splitting headache was agonizing. Gerhard took in his surroundings as he gathered his senses.
There, the air was both damp and the foul in odor. The air smelled sulfurous; death and decay pervading it heavily. There was the sound of rainfall. He gingerly got to his feet. Then the horrifying conclusion came to him as the memories swept back through his mind’s eye.
Was he in the Deadman’s Crypt?
The very air itself had been stagnant since the crypt was sealed and now it seemed to recoil as the harsh wind whipped new life into its chambers. A chill ran down his spine as the wind howled, he felt lightheaded. Gerhard propped himself against a wall exhausted, cold, and soaked to the bone. He broke into a violent coughing spell followed by a cold sweat.
Discerning nothing through the unsurpassed blindness, Gerhard’s other senses heightened beyond any capacity he had before realized. The wind’s howl through the open doorway became deafening drowning out all rational thought leaving only the dregs of instinct to rise to the surface.
The primordial sense forgotten by most civilized men until they stumble upon it, again at death’s threshold. A sense so pure, that a man encountering it for the first time rarely can account for it.
It was well known that the penalty of defiling the tomb of a dead man was a curse. He thought of the curse of the Pharaohs. Panic settled in his chest, as though could feel the curse, falling upon him; a feverish feeling and a still more viral thought.
He began to pray, as he felt his way through the darkness to the door.
Was it his imagination or-
He began to hear whispers through the darkness, they were quiet murmurs and yet they cut through the deafening onslaught of pandemonium with a supernatural force making them somehow audible over the howling wind and torrential rains. They were the whispers of the dead, as if conferring the judgment: seeking a sentence on the mortal unlucky enough to fall before their presence.
The fear was both profound and intolerable; try as he might to convince himself that it was a hallucination, a trick of the senses, some kind of harmonic illusion, or even his imagination; he could not. Gerhard pitifully tried to ignore it, though he could feel it in his bones.
Whatever it was is seemed to be drawing closer.
Tripping in his haste on the imperceptible step, which had caused his fall earlier, he barely missed flying head first into the doorway. He rose quickly to his feet, and in the minute second, his eyes adjusted after coming out of the blackness of the tomb into the blistering rain and gale force winds, he screamed as his eyes took in the towering figure looming before him.
A hellish glare that only the devils own eyes could match. Come to collect the debt of his trespass in person.
Gerhard stumbled backward in silent disbelief. Horror crept through his mind adding to the terror he had come to know in throughout this unholy night. He felt positively ill with fear.
Gerhard willed his limbs into action but remained immobile. His legs turned to concrete, he felt helpless and scared. He was in a state of acute paralyzed dread; he had never known this level of abject horror. As this specter, this creature of a figure, approached with an outstretched beckoning hand.
As does happen when in the presence of a devil; time stood still. All he could do was watch, paralyzed by fear. Not the fear of death, which is surpassed only by one other in the heart of a man. It was the fear of the hell to come.
Hell which rides in deaths wake, with the devil at the helm.
It was with this last thought that Gerhard watched the figure step into the tomb, and as this happened Gerhard went blind. He could see nothing. He squinting into a white blinding light, and wondered if he had died. The throbbing pain shooting through his head, his racing heartbeat, the cold sweat on his brow told him otherwise. His voice cracked as barely more than a whisper escaped his lungs.
“Who goes there?”
A foreboding silence hung eerily in the crypt a presence in and of itself. The figure steadily lowered the source of the blinding white light nothing more than an electric torch.
Gerhard heaved a sigh of relief, feeling rather foolish. The devil wasn’t here to collect his pound of flesh. As Gerhard’s eyes adjusted he could see the man was tall gangly figure; imposing to look at; the eyes deadened and cold seem to survey Gerhard, with keen analysis. Gerhard felt an uneasy nervousness pervade his thoughts. At that moment he broke into a coughing fit.
“Careful friend, you’ll catch you’re death.”
“Thank god you found me. Did Jarvan send you?”
“Yes. You’re the Nightwatch.”
“Of course, who else would I be? A grave robber?”
The man was silent; he looked around the crypt with the torch before training it back on Gerhard.
“Well, you never know, do you?”
“I suppose you can’t be too careful.”
“If you’re the night watch where’s your weapon?”
Gerhard was beginning to get flustered. What was the man driving at?
“Well we don’t carry weapons of course, just the electric torch; mine went out, so I took refuge in here. ”
“So its just you then? Lucky I sought you out, isn’t it? Could’ve been lost all night in this place with the storm and all.”
Gerhard felt uneasy at the peculiar questions this man seemed to raise. Could it really be that Jarvan sent him?
“Yes, well, Jarvan did send you then?”
The man’s demeanor remained stolid, his eyes cold.
“Of course, what do you take me for, a grave robber?”
At that moment a second figure stepped out of the rain and into the tomb, flashlight in hand. Gerhard’s nerves were not quelled at the arrival of a second unfamiliar face. This man was small and shrewd looking. In fact his face resembled a rodents, in the way that his eyes shifted. The man shook the water from his raincoat and began to speak not noting Gerhard’s presence.
“This is the-“
Tall-Man had practically elbowed shrewd one stopping him short of speaking. The small man taken aback by the blow, looked up seeing Gerhard’s presence. Was it his imagination or had a look of surprise swept across the rat faced man’s expression momentarily. It was at this moment the two men exchanged a conspiratorial look, that was lost on Gerhard.
Gerhard felt distinctly anxious at the behavior, and suddenly outnumbered.
“Look I think I should get to a hospital” he pleaded, coughing as he walked forward with his hands out, but he paused in puzzlement watching the strange effect and reaction the two men had at this small movement.
The tall man’s hand shot like a bullet to his coat pocket, the small man cowered for a moment; then straightened up embarrassed. The tall man angrily, fixed his eyes on Gerhard’s hands.
“No, you look, pal. We need to know if you’re alone out here or not. We can’t be leaving anyone out in this weather.”
“I told you I’m alone.”
The tall man nodded. He gave a nod to the small man.
“But wouldn’t Jarvan have told you that?” Gerhard asked more to himself than to the others.
By the time he had realized what was happening it was too late. The small man closed the tomb door. In a series of swift calculated movements the tall man stepping down the single stair, fluidly, toward Gerhard simultaneously reaching into his raincoat.
Gerhard began to hear the dead whispering once more. He felt suddenly detached, like an observer; like watching an old film.
Even if he had suspected what was to take place Gerhard wouldn’t even have had time to react. The tall man produced a pistol with a long barrel from his coat, all Gerhard had time to do was flinch, he turned his head slightly raising his hands for protection.
There was a dull thunking sound. Thankfully the man hadn’t fired it. Gerhard went to scream “Wait! Please!” but was horrified to hear no word issue from his vocal chords, his mouth didn’t open, it was at this moment he realized he was paralyzed.
His world and perception changed, as all time slowed to a near stand still, his brain barely functioning enough to comprehend the dull thunking sound to be the silenced weapon firing a 7.65mm lead rock through his brain cavity, as it peeled through his brain it disconnected Gerhard from any motor functions.
As Gerhard realized he had been shot through the head, the world began to fade from view. No color or pattern he had ever seen or witnessed in his lifetime, flashed in a moment. The world melted, swayed, and traced its way into something indiscernible, unrecognizable, and just plain-
Gerhard knew neither time nor pain. The last thing Gerhard saw as his lifeless body sank out of his control to the ground was the inscription above the tomb’s threshold. Before the world went black.
June 16, 1923- March 15, 1963
Compte de Blonveille
death serve him
as well as did life
Surgere et subicite omnes
Blackwell watched the limp corpse of the night watchmen slump extinguished of any trace of life to the floor of the tomb. He began unscrewing the suppressor form the barrel of the pistol. He looked to the doctor, who was looking around as though he were hearing things; though other than this was unfazed by what had just occurred.
“Well, doctor you had better hurry up.”
Doctor Shaw, who Blackwell knew wasn’t likely named Shaw, brought out an elaborate kit moving further into the tomb. Blackwell checked his watch 3:31 a.m. The doctor unceremoniously removed the lid of the coffin. There was no body inside, Blackwell had no time to watch the doctor further, and instead he continued his own line of work.
He walked over to the night watchman’s corpse. He started by checking the dead man’s pulse: dead.
Blackwell surveyed his work; the shot was taken at extreme close range. It was lucky the night watchman had turned to the side as Blackwell had fired. Possible suicide?
As he unscrewed the silencer it crossed his mind how ingenious an invention. A 4.2 gram stone was harmless until it was bearing down on you traveling; 925 feet in one second. Over three American football fields in a single second. After traveling at such a velocity, and coming to a complete stop, the transfer of energy was a deadly result.
This particular shot had been surgically precise.
Blackwell looked at the watchman’s expression which seemed vague, but held disbelief. Which brought to mind the stories of the Lucid decapitations during the French Revolution and Blackwell began to wonder how long this man had known he had been shot in the head.
Blackwell rarely, smiled, and he didn’t now. But if he could he supposed this would be the most natural moment for him to smile. Blackwell recalled it was twenty five to thirty seconds in which certain individuals would react to stimili before their disembodied heads countenance was swept over by grief and terror.
Blackwell felt no remorse for the night watchman, whose eyes seemed as dull and dumb, as they had been when he’d been alive. No trace of intelligence or comprehension. Blackwell felt as though he were doing this man a favor putting him out of his useless existence.
Flecks of brain tissue and blood covered the wall behind the man. Blackwell placed the weapon in the man’s hand, and dropped a printed suicide note next to it. He dropped the cartridge on the ground nearby. It would pass for a suicide.
The doctor collecting small vials from the coffin. Blackwell checked the time and took out an envelope containing his orders. Reading the concise coded message, which ended abruptly, Blackwell felt that Blonveille would have felt the order executed, well…
-satisfactory might have been the word.
As he finished reading the chemically treated paper began to oxidize, disintegrating into nothing.