The Locked Room Pt. 1

by Jon Peters

It’s not every day that you meet a zombie during a thunderstorm. They don’t like the rain. They tend to hide under trees or bridges during a storm. Any place they can stay dry. Funny, because they’re so disgusting that you’d think they would relish a shower. Nope. The undead love to stink.

But it’s the noise of the storm that really drives them crazy. They flinch like dogs at the white flash of lightning and the loud clap of thunder. Except their cries are far more of a shriek than a howl. Like the sound I imagine a pterodactyl would make. God help us if we ever bring those things back from the dead. Although, now that I think about it, maybe bringing back dinosaurs would help our current situation. They’d certainly have plenty of people to snack on. If they’re ok with rotten meat.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning. To the summer of 2020, when I first discovered the mysterious trail on the eastern side of Fairview Cemetery in League City, Texas.

Evelina and I were taking our normal 4 a.m. stroll through the graveyard. Walking amongst the tombstones. Sleeping with ghosts. Tickling the ivories—oh, wait, that’s something different. I get my expressions mixed up sometimes.

Fairview held a special place in our hearts. It was where we shared our youth. We grew up amongst the dead, away from the troubles of the living.

By the time we were in our late teens, Evelina and I—her with long red hair and a stubborn rock ‘n roll attitude; me with short cropped black hair and a desire for controlled mayhem—had explored the cemetery hundreds of times.

And we never once noticed the trail leading out of the eastern part of the cemetery to the woods beyond. The entrance was covered in dewberry and grape vines. We’d picked that area many times over and never bothered to push into the dense forest due to all the thorns.

Yet one hot and humid summer day we made the decision to venture farther into the vegetation, to see what lay on the other side. The forest was massive. We knew it eventually came out into the gator infested swamps of southeast Texas, but that was miles away.

Using an old t-shirt from my car to push the thorns away, we were immediately engulfed in thick vegetation. As we made our way through the forest, I spotted the trail. We followed it for a mile, our arms stuck with thorns, before it suddenly stopped at the base of a large oak tree.

We climbed the tree, sitting on giant limbs, and talked about our friends, our fears, our loves. We sat in silence for long lengths of time.

I was tossing acorns down onto the ground, Evelina babbling on about her Pilates workout, when I saw a strange metal object buried near the base of the tree. I craned my neck to the side and squinted. It was an old padlock.

(To be continued next week...)