Every night, Michael dreams of being buried alive. Crushed under the weight of the earth, soil filling his lungs as he tries to dig his way out. He has never made it to the surface.
Michael used to have normal dreams, but since moving into the old church, all his dreams are about the earth.
A Game of Chess
The church has a churchyard, of course. Michael tries to keep the headstones clean, well maintained. He would want someone to do the same for him, carefully kneeling in the grass to spray the granite down with water, using soap on a soft nylon brush to scrub the moss and lichen away. The graves are all old enough that they have no living relatives to maintain them, and the churchyard isn’t very big anyway. Michael slowly works through the stones day by day, and every night he dreams of dying.
Once the seasons begin to change, summer giving way to fall, the dreams worsen. When Michael wakes up, he swears he feels dirt under his nails and between his teeth. He sleeps as little as possible, alarms set for every twenty minutes to keep him from dreaming.
The Fire Sermon
The trees have begun to lose their leaves, making more work for Michael. He rakes the leaves into neat piles behind the low stone wall that fences the graves in, not wanting any of the animals that need the leaves to suffer. He’d always been kind-hearted- and that's when he met the cat.
The cat was night black, with eyes red as blood. It sat on the northmost corner of the fence, staring him down. Michael tried to feed it, to pet it, but the cat wouldn’t have it; screaming like it was possessed. It scratched him, deep cuts over the back of his hand. They had to be washed several times- they were full of dirt. The wounds bled throughout the week, unwilling to heal, until he met Matthew. The man wore a black fur coat, though it was still too warm.
Death by Water
Matthew looked at Michael’s hand, and said he could fix it. The Blood Verse, he called it. ‘And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.’ The wounds had stopped bleeding, and when he looked up to thank the man, he was gone.
A heavy storm sweeps through the town, rain falling in torrents. It caught everyone by surprise, many people were even outside when it started to fall, getting soaked to the bone in seconds. Michael tries to bike home as fast as possible, rain blurring his vision.
What the Thunder Said
He arrives just as lightning cracks the sky, illuminating the steeple of the church. The black cat is standing in the belltower, gazing down at him. Lightning strikes again, and it’s Matthew standing there, hair caught in the breeze. His throat is slashed open, blood pouring down his front as the rain soaks his coat.
“You dreamed of my death.”