|Teaser Credit: M.E. Gwynn, Images licensed through 123rf.com, Image numbers , 10979153, 35141603, 13952509.|
Roger Otis stared into the coffin. Inside, a young female lay in state. Despite the age of the grave, which by its markings indicated the occupant should be the rotting remains of Harold P. Tillington, age at death, eighty-nine, the current occupant appeared to be no more than fifteen.
Otis looked at his partner, Nial Allchurch. "It can't be."
Nial scratched his head, mussing the graying hair around his temple. "And yet it is." He pulled out his cell phone, sliding the screen up revealing a photo that was undeniably the same woman. "It's her." He turned the phone out showing the image to Roger.
Roger Otis looked from the picture to the young woman inside the coffin, and back to the picture again. He blinked. "But Nial, that Missing Persons report is eighteen years old. That girl went missing when she was only fifteen." He pointed down at the open grave beneath him. "This is a girl, not a woman in her thirties. And look at her?" Both men looked down. "She should be no more than dust and bones. How the hell is she not decomposed? She looks like she's sleeping."
"Like Sleeping Beauty," Nial mused. "I hear what you're saying, and yet, this is undeniably Louisa Jane Alcott." Allchurch returned his attention to the cell phone. "I suppose we need to call it in," he said, his British accent making the words clipped. "The Section chief will want his report."
Otis climbed up and out of the open grave. "And the CIA and MI6 too, damn them." He dusted off his hands on his pant legs. "I wonder what happened to Harold Tillington's body, though?"
Nial lifted the phone to his ear. "Who knows? Might even still be there, underneath her body. After all, he'd be just a pile of dust by now anyhow." Allchurch shifted his attention as his call was answered. "Agent Allchurch here. I.D. 10, Code 5." He paused. "Reporting in. We've recovered one. Yes sir. In the Glaston Cemetery. Just like the intel stated. No, not alive. This one is from a much older missings list." Nial glanced down. The sun had set almost two hours prior, and the wind was whipping up, blowing the freshly shoveled earth around, some of it landing on the young woman's body.
Otis stood with hands on hips, eyes casting around the old cemetery. It was damned creepy in his view. He really wasn't comfortable being there, but he went where the intelligence sent him, and the recent information received sent them to this particular longitude and latitude. Where they gained these logistics was another strange story altogether, but after his experience in Marion, Texas with his former army buddy, Jack Callaghan, he was no longer shocked or surprised by anything. Instead, he was more frequently deeply disturbed by what he and his partner learned, suspicious, and even terrified. And the number of people in which they could share their discoveries was dwindling rapidly. The circle of trusted confidants was shrinking.
Now, here they stood, in the middle of an old graveyard, at the foot of an open grave lit only by the dim light of a quarter moon. The rising wind rustled the dying leaves on the trees, and the air held a bite promising rain later. It was quiet. Too quiet.
A sound startled them both. Otis jumped, and Nial stopped speaking. Both looked down. The body in the coffin shook, spasming in a coughing fit.
"Jesus Christ!" Otis's eyes widened. His heart lurched in his chest, pounding hard.
"Dear God, she's alive?" Allchurch stuttered. His hand dropped to his side, his call forgotten.
The young woman's eyes slowly opened. She looked skyward, focusing. Finally, she began to sit up. She gazed up at the two men standing at the foot of the hole in which she sat. "Who are you?" Her hoarse voice croaked out. "Where am I? Am I home? Am I finally home?"
COMING IN 2017: A new short story, science fiction series from Michele E. Gwynn, Section 5. Copyright (C) 2016, All Rights Reserved. This new series is a spin off from the Harvest Trilogy.
Read the Harvest Trilogy or experience it on audio at the following outlets.