(This fall my first published book will be arriving from the printers. It is called The Horror of Loon Lake and it is a horror anthology comic paying tribute to the classic horror magazines and comics that many of us loved. Included also is one prose tale, which will feature several illustrations by the talented Nicole Bresner. In ten installments, www.horror-writers.net will serialize this short story, entitled Willow the Wisp. For more information about the book, follow its page at www.facebook.com/horrorofloonlake – Carl Smith, aka Dr. Carl Cadaver)
The majority of his day was spent kneading his thoughts and dealing with the fact his life now existed squarely in the improbable. By pursuing this endeavor he was cutting himself off from his coworkers and friends. Continuing the pursuit of this ghost in secret would forever cripple his ability to honestly connect with another human, and he knew it. Still, his heart and mind were unified in their bewitched state.
Exhaustion claimed Jonathan midday and he slipped into a long sleep. Darkness fell and had settled before he awoke. Instantly he knew he had jeopardized his visit, and the idea of missing the spirit for even one night seared and slashed at his inner peace. Frantically he pulled on his shoes and ran for the cemetery without the slightest attempt at being inconspicuous.
As he neared the iron gates his feet slowed to stumbling tip toe. There was a muscle memory built in to his approach, and the looming graveyard informed stealth and reverence. This restraint was only momentary as Jonathan remembered his resolve from earlier in the day. He marched through the gate, and toward the soft light that was already bobbing in the center of the lot.
The familiar Gunderson plot signaled the point of no return. Rather than ducking behind it as on previous visits he stood tall and called to her,
The specter turned and dropped what she was holding; the flowers from earlier that day. The ghost showed the first emotion he had truly seen cross her beautiful features, and even in shock her loveliness was unquestionable. She retreated a bit before gathering her poise and retrieving the fumbled bouquet. Holding the flowers out before her she questioned,
The beauty of her voice capsized his senses. There was a melody to her words and a sweetness that tore the heart from its seat. It sounded like the chords of a harp lightly playing a private sonata. The intimacy in her inflection forced full attention and vertigo at the same time. With two words she disassembled his mettle and left him shy and uncertain. He stammered, finally able to form an intelligible “yes.”
They again looked into each other’s eyes for what felt like a tiny eternity before she crossed to meet him where he stood shocked. With each weightless step her face evolved into a larger smile. When before him, Willow leaned slightly at the waist to bridge the remaining space that separated man and sprite. With a crane of her neck she planted a light, lingering kiss on Jonathan’s quivering lips. For the length of the exchange he felt the Earth fall away from his feet. Engulfed in the soft blue luminescence and possessed by the delicate kiss, the bachelor had no longer any need for reality.
Time passed and soon Jonathan was standing alone. His company this time was not a sense of loneliness or curiosity, but instead of a warm, comforting contentment. He walked slowly home, gazing at the stars above and humming to himself. He inhaled deeply to savor the night air. The cool breeze excited every pore on his face, and his cheeks began to sweetly sting from smiling. The chirping choir of nocturnal lake creatures carried him home.