Tom kept himself in seclusion during the next few days. He went to class as much as he needed to in order to get by, but other than that, he barely came out of his room. Both Greggor and Jayme came by to see him often, but he almost never opened the door. He slowly became oblivious to the world around him.
On Monday September 23rd, Tom was roused by the sound of frantic knocking on the door. He immediately jumped up and ran to the door. Jayme was standing on the other side with Greggor. Both of them looked pale with eyes wide in a state of panic.
Tom looked at them both oddly, “What the hell is going on guys? This better not be some fucked up intervention or something.”
“You mean you don’t know?” Jayme asked.
Tom’s eyes narrowed, “Know what?”
Jayme pushed by Tom and turned on his TV. Tom’s back hit the door as she moved. He flashed her an annoyed look, “Excuse you!”
She ignored him and turned on the TV. The screen flicked on to Channel 5 News. Images of decrepit people climbing out of their graves appeared on the screen. It looked like something out of a horror movie
Tom shrugged, “What is this, some kind of early Halloween spoof?”
Jayme shook her head, “No, this is real. This is happening right now! It’s been on the news all morning. The dead are rising and heading north. The National Guard has ordered an evacuation of Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. We need to leave.”
Tom didn’t believe a word of it. He figured that this was some kind of ploy to get him out of his room, “Very funny guys. This is pretty good… what did you get the campus TV station to play this for me or something?”
At that moment, a police car drove by the campus with its speaker blaring, “Attention, this is not a drill or a test. You are hereby ordered to evacuate. Anyone without suitable transportation may proceed to the campus center where you will be taken away from the city! This is a mandatory evacuation.”
Tom shook his head, “Oh my God… this is real.”
He immediately picked up his phone and scrolled down his contacts until he reached the name Kristen. He pressed on it and brought the phone up to his ear. The speaker clicked on and slowly began to connect.
Jayme looked at him oddly, “Who are you calling?”
“My sister.” Tom replied. “If we’re leaving, I’m going to pick her up. She’s at Emerson College, so it should be on the way.”
At that moment, the phone beeped and an automated voice came over the speaker, “Your call cannot be completed at this time, all circuits are currently busy. Please try your call again later.”
Tom groaned as he lowered the phone. Jayme frowned, “No luck?”
“No.” Tom replied. “The lines are dead.”
Jayme nodded, “Figures…”
Tom grabbed the keys to his car and and turned to the door, “I’m going to go find her.”
“Okay.” Jayme replied. “Mind if we tag along?”
Tom looked at Greggor, who had remained silent, “I don’t know that my car will fit his fat ass!”
“Oh very funny!” Greggor shot back. “Like this is the time for this!”
Tom shrugged and pushed past him, “Whatever. Come on, if you’re coming.”
Tom ran out to the parking lot. Most of the cars were already gone with the exception of a few stragglers who were trying to pack up a few odds and ends before leaving. The entire place was in a complete state of panic.
Tom pushed his car starter, making the green Jeep Cherokee come to life. It was an old SUV out of the late 90s, but it was Tom’s first car and he refused to part with it. As far as he was concerned it still ran well and he owned it outright, so there was no reason not to keep it.
Jayme hopped in the passenger side while Greggor got in back. The interior was rustic, as one would expect from an old utility vehicle. The interior was tan with a black lining.
Tom got behind the driver’s seat and put the car into drive. The old engine roared as it came to life and jolted forward. The Jeep pulled out onto the main road and headed towards the highway.
The moment the jeep reached the on ramp for Route 1 South, they were met by gridlocked traffic that wasn’t moving at all. Cars were bumper to bumper and looked frozen in place.
Tom and his friends waited almost six hours in the traffic. They had barely moved five miles. The tension inside was getting bad and Tom was ready to explode.
Greggor sighed as he looked out the window, “I knew you shouldn’t have gotten on the highway. Why would you do that? It’s bad enough trying to get into the city on 93 on a normal day!”
Jayme shook her head, “Like the back roads would have been any better? Listen to the radio, it’s gridlocked everywhere!”
Tom shook his head, “This is bullshit.”
“Well what do you expect?” Jayme asked. “Everyone is fleeing in the opposite direction of those zombies. Sadly, everyone is fleeing in the same direction.”
At that moment, Tom’s engine made a sputtering sound. Thankfully, he was in the right hand lane and was able to pull off onto the Carter Street exit before the car’s engine died. With what little inertia the car had left, he pulled into the Chelsea High School parking lot and brought the car to a stop. He then looked down at the gas gauge and saw that it was firmly on empty, “Fuck…”
Jayme shook her head as the palm of her hand found her forehead, “Out of gas?”
Tom nodded, “I wasn’t expecting to be on the highway for six hours.”
“Oh great!” Greggor shouted. “So what now?”
Tom shrugged, “We can’t go back, and I won’t be able to relax until I know that Kristen is safe. I’m going to hoof it.”
“You’re going to walk to Emerson from here?” Jayme asked, surprised. “That’ll take hours!”
Tom pulled out his Samsung Galaxy and input walking directions into its GPS. The phone worked to compile the information before a map appeared on the screen with a blue line to indicate which way he needed to go. A voice began giving directions, “Continue on Everett Ave towards MA-16E.”
Tom looked up and shook his head, “Another 2 hours by the looks of it, and that’s if we don’t stop.”
Greggor sighed, “It’ll be dark by then, and I don’t like the idea of running around the city at night with these zombies on the loose!”
Tom shrugged, “You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to. I’m going to head that way though.”
“I’ve followed you this far,” Jayme replied, “might as well go the rest of the way. My family is out of state, so I can’t get to them any way.”
Greggor sighed, “All right, I’m in too.”
“Thank guys.” Tom replied with a smile as he turned and began walking down Everrett Avenue.
An hour and a half later, the three friends found themselves following the Freedom Trail. The GPS directed them down North Washington Street as they crossed over the Charles River. It appeared that they still had a long way to go as they crossed over the bridge.
Night had already fallen his phone said it was 7pm. The only light in the city came from the cars that were trying to get out of Boston and the undead could still be seen walking through the streets. It gave the group an eerie feeling.
Greggor breathed heavily as every nearby sound made him jump, “Look, this is crazy! The college is still a ways away and it’s too dark to even see where we’re going!”
Jayme nodded and turned to Tom, “Greggor’s right, Tom. I know how badly you want to get to your sister, but it’s too dangerous to be out like this. If the zombies don’t try to kill us, some looters might. We need to find some place to hide for the night, at least until the sun comes up.”
Tom sighed as he looked at his GPS. He was extremely resistant to the idea, but he knew that his friends were right. He wasn’t going to do his sister any good if they were mugged or killed by someone lurking in the shadows. He sighed, “Well there are hotels in the area, but I can’t imagine that they’ll be open.”
“We could break in.” Greggor replied. “I doubt that anyone would blame us.”
Jayme looked like she was deep in thought and remained silent. Tom looked at her oddly for a moment, “What is it?”
Jayme shook her head, “No… we shouldn’t go to the hotels. I can’t explain it, but something tells me that we’ll be safer if we head somewhere else.”
“Where?” Tom asked.
Jayme thought hard for a moment, “The Old North Church…”
Tom and Greggor looked at each other oddly for a moment before Tom turned back to Jayme, “Why there, how could that old building be safer?”
Jayme shrugged, “I don’t know. Like I said, I can’t explain it, maybe because it would be considered hallowed grounds?”
A frustrated look came over Greggor, “You and these damn feelings you get. I swear they get damn annoying at times!”
“Annoying, but accurate.” Tom shot back. “She’s never been wrong before.”
He then turned and nodded to Jayme, “All right, if you think we’ll be safer there, that’s where we’ll go.”
Tom switched the end location from Emerson College to the Old North Church. The map quickly switched, telling them to turn left at the end of the bridge instead of right. It took them on a straight path down the main roads.
At the end of the bridge, Tom led his friends down Causeway Street, passed the Ducali Pizzaria & Bar. Tom looked at the dark windows of the restaurant and remembered going there on a date. He quickly turned away as the thought was making him hungry.
They continued walking and headed down Commercial Street, crossed the road and headed right up the incline that was Hull Street. This was even darker and looked like nothing more than a small alley. The pitch blackness and inability to see the end of the road, gave Hull Street a far more menacing look.
Greggor was a wreck, and it didn’t help matters knowing that they were passing by an old cemetery that was barely a block up from the church. From what they could see over the brick wall, the graves were destroyed and the ground was ripped apart. It was a scarey sight, knowing that even the graves that were hundreds of years old hadn’t been spared.
The group moved on and finally made it to the Old North Church at the end of the street. It was little more than a black structure in the night and just as menacing as any other. The black gates were open, but the red door was closed.
Tom stepped out into the street and slowly walked up to the doors and placed his hands on them. To his surprise, they gave way and opened, allowing the group inside. The stale smell of air passed by them as the dark hall appeared.
The hall was as dark as the outside street was. Even the moonlight coming through the windows from outside didn’t make any difference. They had to feel their way down the isle to avoid bumping into anything.
When they reached the alter at the opposite side, Tom stepped over the felt rope and grabbed one of the candles that adorned the back wall. He then turned to his friends, “Anyone got a light?”
Greggor reached into his pocket and pulled out a stainless steel lighter, “Here you go!”
He tossed it to Tom, who looked at it for a moment, “You’re still smoking?”
Greggor shrugged as Jayme turned back to Tom, “I told you he didn’t quit!”
Tom nodded as he lit the candle and the church turned from black to white with red carpet on the floor. He nodded as he looked around, “Well that’s a little better… so where do we sleep?”
Jayme’s eyes narrowed and she stepped past Tom, “Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Tom asked.
“I… I don’t know…” Jayme replied. “It almost sounds like someone’s pounding on a door.”
Tom looked at her oddly. He had no idea what she was talking about. He remained silent until he heard it. The sound was little more than a muffled thud that kept repeating itself.
Tom nodded, “I hear it too, now… but how could you…”
“Let’s go see.” Jayme said, cutting him off. “Someone could be in trouble.”
“Or it could be a horde of zombies trying to get in.” Tom replied.
Jayme shrugged, “Maybe, but its worth finding out.”
She quickly turned and led Tom and Greggor down the stairs at the back of the church. The landing gave way to old wooden stairs that curved around until they reached the ground level. They looked worn as though a million shoes had trodden over them. The floor on the basement level was dark red, similar to the color of blood. Like the stairs it was also badly worn.
Tom understood why everything looked the way it did. The city had gone to great lengths to see that everything was preserved in its original form as much as possible. Unfortunately because of the passage of time, much was beginning to wear away.
The group followed the sound through the door on the right next to the stairs. The door creaked open slowly as they entered the first chamber of the basement. There was a hallway off to the side, but it was too dark to see anything.
Above their heads in the direction the noise came from was a sign that read, ‘Watch thy head.’
Tom and his friends proceeded through the narrow doorway into the next room. The walls were old exposed brick on both sides. On the left was a lot of debris, while on the right, large pipes protruded from the ceiling and ran the length of the room. Below them, was a worn out section of the wall that was in the shape of an old grave stone.
The group proceeded even further down the hall past more debris in the pitch darkness. They slowly moved around another group of pips until they reached the next hallway. It was there that the pounding was the loudest.
Tom brought the candle close to the wall where another grave-shaped slab stood. The faint light from the candle revealed old writing on the wall and a latch below it. He quickly inspected the writing and instantly pulled back in horror.
Jayme looked at him oddly, “What? What does it say?”
Tom breathed heavily as he pressed himself against the opposite wall, “Shubael Bell and Robert Fennelly, 1808!”
Greggor’s eyes went wide and he began to tremble, “Oh my God… this is a crypt! Jayme, you’ve lead us into a fucking crypt!”
At that moment, the latches on the tombs collapsed and the small slabs slowly creaked aside. A sound of old wood breaking apart accompanied the creeking of the stone slabs. The group watched as a skull appeared out of the nearest tomb.
Jayme shreaked as a skeleton stepped out, draped in rags that looked like they were once stylish colonial clothes. The skeleton looked at them for a moment before turning and limping down the hall. The bones rattled as it moved.
A second skeleton in no better condition exited another nearby one and walked passed them as well. More and more skeletons exited their crypts and began heading for the door. The only one that even seemed to notice Tom and his group was the first one.
Jayme’s eyes darted around as Tom put his hand on her shoulder, “Shh, don’t move! I don’t think they see us.”
Greggor nodded, “Either that or they just aren’t interested.”
“Well either way don’t give them a reason to attack us.” Tom replied.
More and more skeletons exited their tombs. Some had to break through the old brick walls to get out. Tom wasn’t sure how a skeleton had the strength to do this, but after seeing a walking skeleton, he was willing to let a few things go.
The group waited as the last of the skeletons passed them by. Tom looked back down the hall and nodded, “Okay, that looks like it’s the last of them.”
“Hold on.” Jayme replied. “I hear something.”
Greggor rolled his eyes, “The last time you ‘heard something’ we ended up down here in the crypt.”
Jayme glared at the dwarf, “Oh shut up, it’s not like I knew that this was down here!”
Tom nodded, “What do you hear?”
“I… I don’t know…” She replied. “It sounds like a heartbeat and light breathing. I think someone living is trapped down here.”
Greggor shrugged, “Or it’s a less decomposed corpse.”
“In a tomb from the 1700s?” Tom mused. “We’d better check it out.”
The group proceeded even further into the crypt until they reached an unusual opening in the wall. There, they saw a small storage space. A single shelf adorned the wall with a small plaque, what looked like a tiny coffin lid, and two glass urns. On the left was the remains of an old coffin that looked like it hard partially rotted away.
Jayme looked at it oddly for a moment, “Whatever we’re looking for is behind these.”
Tom stepped back, taking the candle light with him, “I… I don’t know about this…”
Jayme gave him an annoyed look, “It’s just old wood. Help me…”
Tom and Greggor moved one piece while Jayme pushed the other one aside. The brick wall under it looked severely corroded. The cement between them had broken apart so badly that the bricks were on the verge of collapse.
The three friends dropped to their knees and moved the bricks out of the way, revealing an undisturbed coffin undernieth behind them. The metal latches on the side appeared sturdy enough to aid in moving the wooden box.
Tom took one handle and nodded to Greggor, who had taken the other. Jayme watched from behind as the two guys worked. They slowly pulled the coffin out of the wall until it was completely exposed.
The coffin looked different from the one that they had just moved. This one was intact and beautifully adorned with hand-carved symbols. The wood was polished and still glossy.
Tom looked up at Jayme, “How is this possible?”
Jayme shook her head, “I don’t know… those bricks don’t look like they’ve been disturbed in years and the coffin obviously hasn’t been touched. Look at the dust.”
“Is this where the sound is coming from?” Greggor asked.
“Yes…” Jayme replied hesitantly.
The coffin was nailed shut with a bronze plaque on the cover. Tom held the candle over it and inspected the writing. He read it aloud as he inspected it.
“She sleeps in beauty,
Beauty that will never die.
The eternal soul that dwells within shall rise as a phoenix flies.
May she find happiness in a world that once scorned her,
And suffer not as the others who lurk in the shadows now do.”
Jayme’s eyes stared almost transfixed at the plaque, “Beautiful words…”
Greggor nodded and grabbed a metal rod that was on the floor behind him, “Yeah… so are we going to open it or not?”
“Whatever’s in there, is what’s making the noise.” Jayme replied.
Tom shook his head, “How can you possibly hear that? I can’t hear it even now.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” She said softly. “Let’s just get it open and see what’s going on.”
Greggor nodded and jammed the rod into the lid of the coffin. He pushed hard on it in an attempt to get it open. The wood crackled as the ancient nails gave way to the force of his push. Greggor then handed the bar to Tom so that he could work the other side.
Once the lid was successfully pried loose, Tom pulled it off and shined the candle in. To his amazement, inside was a woman no older than he was. Her eyes were closed, but she was clearly alive. Her hair was straight and shiny black. It was parted on the right and came down slightly over her cheek. Her cheekbones were very pronounced and it appeared that she had a slight overbite.
Unlike the other corpses, her clothing was intact, but clearly not from the same time period as the crypt. She was wearing chainmail under a black and purple tunic and black trowsers. It was another mystery that Tom would have to unravel.
Tom looked her over in awe. She was absolutely beautiful, “Beauty that will never die…”
Jayme smiled, “Hey Tom, you might want to wipe some of that drool off your chin before she wakes up if you even want to have a shot.”
Tom looked up at her annoyed before returning his attention to the enigma that was this woman, “How is this possible?”
Jayme shrugged, “Either she was put there recently, which makes no sense just looking at the coffin… or the fact that she herself is covered in dust. Are her ears pointed?”
Tom parted her hair and looked at her right ear, “No, they’re human… why?”
“I’d heard stories that elves were able to live for several centuries at one point… but that was back during the days of the Alliance.” Jayme replied.
Tom started tapping her on her cheek to see if he could wake her up. Greggor noticed it and backed away, “Whoa man… you think that’s such a good idea?”
“I want answers.” Tom replied. “Whatever woke up those skeletons is also responsible for her, I’m sure of it.”
The woman didn’t respond to his tapping. Her breathing was steady, but she was otherwise lifeless. Her skin was also extremely cold.
Tom could see that his candle was about to go out. They needed to get out of there before it did or they would not be able to see. He quickly grabbed the woman and hoisted her over his shoulder before turning to his friends, “Come on, let’s get the hell out of here.”
Jayme and Greggor looked at each other oddly for a moment, but quickly followed behind Tom. The group made their way back around to the staircase and made it back to the altar before the candle died. The group was once again in complete darkness.
Tom shook his head, “Fuck this, I don’t want to spend another minute here. Let’s head over to Langone Park. It’s a little more open and hopefully there won’t be any zombies there.”
The group exited the church and ran up Salem Street, heading for Charter Street. When they neared the end of Charter Street, they saw a light heading in their direction. They quickly ducked into a small walk way and hid behind the stone wall on the opposite side of Chater Street from the graveyard that they had seen earlier.
Tom watched as three men dressed in military gear, carrying assault weapons passed by. The marines? Looks like the cavalry has arrived.
Once they were gone, a confused look came over Greggor, “I don’t get it, why’d we hide from them? Maybe they could help us.”
Tom looked back at him, “One, because I haven’t found my sister yet. Two, how would you explain the living dead girl we just found by grave-robbing a national landmark?”
Greggor nodded, “Good point…”
Once the soldiers were out of site, they made their move down the walkway on their right. They ran down the path, down a flight of stairs, and across Commercial Street. The street was busy with activity from military personel who had turned the area into a makeshift base.
Tom noticed a black SUV sitting idle in the middle of the road. He quickly dismissed it as the group made their way through Langone Park. They ran out to the grassy area that was obscured by the playground, so hopefully no one would see them.
Satasfied that they were safe, Tom gently rested the woman on the ground in front of them.The gentle sound of the harbor was a nice change from the creepiness that they had been dealing with all day. At least now they could probably catch their breath.
Tom looked down at the woman lying in front of him. A gentle breeze flowed through her hair and over her skin. It looked like her features were slowly becoming animated as the breeze touched them.
Her eyes winced and her head slowly jerked to either side. She broke out in goosebumps and began to tremble. It looked like she was fighting to come out of her sleep.
Tom looked up at his friends, “Guys, I think she’s coming out of it.”
Jayme and Greggor turned and looked at her. Jayme’s eyes narrowed, “Her heart rate has increased and her lungs feel more animated. It must be the fresh air out here.”
The woman began coughing as she turned on her side. It only last a moment, allowing her to take in a deep breath. When she was ready, she slowly opened her eyes.
To everyone’s surprise her eyes were very different and clearly not human. Her pupils were shaped like cat’s eyes. There was no white either, just a dark orange that seemed to glow in the night.
Tom knelt down next to her, “Take it easy, it’s okay/”
She looked up at Tom with an odd expression on her face, “You… your words…”
She slowly shook her head as she sat up. She spoke with an accent that was most likely from Eastern Europe, “Your voice is unfamiliar to me.”
She sniffed the air as she looked around, “Am I still in Boston? I recognize the smell… at least some of it, but it looks so different. What year is this?”
“It’s 2013.” Tom replied.
A look of shock came over her, “2013… Two hundred ninety years… no…”
She grabbed Tom’s arm as a look of desperation came over her, “Who sent you, my father?”
“Your father?” Tom asked.
“Lord Drapekin.” She replied. “He was an advisor in the kings court before he was found out… is he well?”
Tom shook his head, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. We found you in an ancient tomb undernieth the Old North Church. We heard you breathing.”
The woman shook her head, “So you don’t know my father…”
Tom shook his head, “Miss… um…?”
“Oh forgive me.” She said, realizing that they had not been properly introduced. “My name is Tersa, daughter of Lord Drapekin, advisor to George I, King of Great Britain and Ireland. Might I have the honor of your name?”
“Thomas McConnel.” Tom replied.
Tersa smiled, “Irish…”
Tom then turned to his friends, “This is Greggor Iksan and Jayme Woodsum.”
Tersa looked Greggor over for a moment, “You… so the legends were true. I’d heard about the prowess of dwarves.”
Greggor smiled, “Nice to meet you too.”
She then turned to Tom, “You’re human… I can tell by your smell.”
Her eyes narrowed as she looked at Jayme, “But you… your blood is different. You’re human, but not entirely.”
Jayme shook her head, “That’s none of your business.”
Tom looked up at her oddly, “Not entirely human? Well now a few things make sense… so what else are you?”
Jayme turned her back on them, “I don’t want to talk about it. Mind your own fucking business.”
Tersa was taken aback by her words, “Such anger… it does not compliment you my lady.”
Jayme didn’t reply as Tersa turned back to Tom, “What is the current state of the Empire?”
Tom shook his head, “The Empire?”
“The British Empire, man.” Tersa replied.
Tom couldn’t believe what he was being asked. Had this woman been asleep for over two hundread years? She clearly wasn’t human, but she wasn’t dwarven or elven either. He shrugged as he spoke, “Tersa, what’s the last thing you remember?”
Tersa lowered her eyes to the ground, “My family was being hunted. We were found out for being…”
“Being what?” Tom asked, finally certain that he was going to get his answer.
Tersa shook her head, “I’d rather not say right now. I’m sorry, but I just don’t know you well enough yet to trust you with something like that.”
“It’s okay.” Tom replied. “What happened?”
Tersa continued her story, “I… My family was found out and we fled hear to the colonies… all thirty of us. We spent the next few years being hunted. One by one, I the people I loved get burned at the stake.”
Tears formed in her eyes as she spoke, “My father still had a few friends though. One of whom was a man named Timothy Cutler. He agreed to help my father hide me before the townspeople came for us. The last thing I remember was being placed in a wooden box. My father told me to go into hibernation until he came for me.”
“Wow…” Tom replied, “and that’s where you’ve been for three hundred years.”
Tersa nodded, “Almost, it seems.”
She looked around at what little she could see in the darkness, “The city… I’ve never seen structures like these before. Everything is so different… Tell me, what is the state of the Empire? Who currently sits on the throne?”
“There is no Empire.” Tom replied. “The colonies rose up and threw off British rule in 1776. After that, the Empire slowly declined due to war and rebellion over the next two hundred years. Pretty much the final breaking point was World War 2 when Britain withdrew from most of it’s colonies. The country still exists, but it’s now a small island nation in Northern Europe. Queen Elizabeth currently sits on the throne.”
Tersa couldn’t believe it. The British Empire was gone? This was hard to take in, “Then… who rules here?”
“No one rules.” Tom replied. “Well… not exactly anyway. We have a government that the people elect.”
“A democracy?” Tersa asked.
“Not exactly,” Tom said, “but close. The people elect the people who vote in the president here and power is regulated to various levels of the government. Our current president is Barack Obama.”
Tersa looked at him oddly, “Such an odd name… from where does he hail?”
Tom shrugged, “Well that depends on whome you ask, though most people would agree that he was born in this country. His father was Kenyan.”
Tersa’s eyes narrowed, “Kenyan?”
“African.” Tom replied.
“Really?” Tersa asked. “Incredible… so after three hundred years… the slaves now have the ability to become a ruling power?”
Tom smiled, “They haven’t been slaves in 150 years.”
Tersa placed her hand on her forehead, “I’ve got so much catching up to do…”