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The Cemetery Ghost

a Kolchak novella


The human spirit holds the greatest mystery of all. The highs and lows of human experience are but a dim shadow of what lies beyond this mortal plane.

During a brief but terrifying summer in Chicago, the door between our world and the next slammed open with sudden and deadly ferocity.

Thursday, May 12th, 1:25 am. The weekend could not come soon enough for Rudy Bonatello. Auto parts manager for a Southside Chevy dealership and proud owner of a cherry 1962 Corvette. Rudy loved the nightlife, he loved the ladies and most of all he loved his car.

Rudy frequented the nightclub Scorchers on Archer Avenue in Justice Illinois, a post-disco disco and favorite late-night hangout for street racers that cruise the Archer Avenue strip. Rudy hated to leave early, but tomorrow was a working day and the ladies at the club weren't jumping at what he had to offer. Rudy convinced himself that he didn't care and that the comfortable caress of his Corvette's bucket seat was all the loving he needed tonight.

The 7400 block of South Archer Avenue has it's share of bars, convenience stores and closed-for-the-night storefronts on the west side. The east side is block after block of wrought iron fencing that borders Resurrection Cemetery, final resting place for generations of Chicago's immigrant working class.

Rudy left the club turning his Corvette northbound on Archer out of Scorcher's parking lot and towards home. He was also headed towards the final act of his all too brief life story.

Rudy Bonatello shivered as he checked the heater on the 'Vette. Either it was colder tonight than he had realized or he should have let the car warm up a little. Reaching down to feel the airflow from the floor vents, Rudy's hand brushed a chiffon covered leg. He was startled but tried not to look it as he made eye contact with his previously un-noticed passenger.

The girl was young, maybe 19, no older than twenty-five. Thin, blonde and very pretty, in a not-made-up, natural way. She wore a pale party dress and heels, and no jacket despite the evening's chill.

"If you needed a ride, you could have asked, instead of sneaking into my car," said Rudy with a smile. The girl said nothing but smiled back and stared steadily at Rudy from beneath her long lashes.

"What's your name? Were you at Scorchers?" asked Rudy, starting to feel a little uneasy. "I didn't see you there."

The girl reached out with her left hand and gently touched Rudy's right leg. A freezing jolt made Rudy's leg slam straight down on the accelerator, the Corvette leaped forward. Rudy screamed out as the paralyzing touch spread through both legs and up his torso. The girl reached across with her right hand and grabbed Rudy's elbow, again slamming him with freezing pain. Rudy's hands felt locked on the steering wheel as he fought to keep the speeding 'Vette on the road. Unable to shift into a higher gear, Rudy heard the corvette's engine whine as it approached it's redline. The girl started pulling Rudy's right arm towards her as the car changed lanes, approaching the curb and the cemetery's wrought iron fence. Rudy's screams faded to a wail as he realized he was about to lose everything; his car, his life and his future. He put all he could into one last effort to steer his car away from disaster and looked at the girl. Her eyes held him steadily as her mouth turned into a cruel grin. Then she faded to a mist and disappeared.

The Corvette leaped the curb and was air born in the instant Rudy tugged the steering wheel to the left. The Corvette smashed into the iron fence on an angle and shredded itself, scattering parts over the area.

Justice Police responded to the single vehicle crash at Archer and Maplewood Street and found very little left to identify Rudy Bonatello. A Corvette doesn't leave many big pieces after a high-speed collision with a wrought iron fence. The registration information gave the police possible driver identity and they were able to determine fairly quickly that Rudy was the sole fatality.

Officers at the scene commented that it could have been worse...Rudy could have had a passenger.

Continue to Chapter One