A Faithful Servant
The headstone was small, weathered, and half-covered by grass. Anna had begun to scratch it away, and in the light I could see her fingers bleeding heavily. One of her nails hung to the side on a flap of skin, almost completely detached.
The graves around me began to seem familiar. I looked around, and it didn’t take me long to see my grandfather’s modest headstone only two rows away. I remembered the funeral. I remembered Lucas, sitting on the graves. I remembered Anna, fruitlessly trying to drag him away. And that was when I realized that my dear departed grandfather, for all his flaws, probably didn’t have much to do with this.
Sirens wailed in the distance, but we were too far in the cemetery to see the cars approaching the gates. Herron began speaking to Anna in gentle tones, then moved to put his arm around her. He recoiled sharply as they made contact, then swore as he examined something on his wrist. Anna was completely oblivious to our presence.
Herron shone his light up and down the nearby rows. “This is wrong,” he said. “We shouldn’t be here alone.” He trained the beam on what looked to be a small tree in the distance, squinting at it, then shrieked as Anna knocked the flashlight out of his hands. He scrambled to it, picked it up and trained it on Anna—along with his pistol. She held her skinned fingers gingerly in front of her chest, looking frightened beyond belief. “What the fuck?!” he screamed at her.
“You shouldn’t have done that, you shouldn’t have put your light on him,” she muttered, staring at the ground and beginning to sob. “You shouldn’t have done that, he’s not himself, he’s not himself.”
My heart dropped. Herron spun, his beam pointed toward the distant tree once more—but it was not a tree, it was a man, in a colonial-style suit, and he was walking calmly toward us. It was Lucas.
Well, kind of. This man looked older—about 30. Vibrant, healthy, and strong. Not autistic. Lucas’s features were clear and dominant in his face, but there were also features from another face, from someone else altogether. His stride was familiar, and at once I realized where I’d seen it before. My mind flashed back to the man in the hooded sweatshirt outside Anna’s house, taking steps toward the house yet going nowhere, impeded by an unseen barrier.