The Harvester

Contributor: Robert Srange

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Seventeen-year-old Christine Anderson had been missing for twelve years and eleven months. No ransom note had ever been sent and no body had been recovered.
The police and the FBI had searched under every rock, in every place they could think of to look, but had given up the search. Her mother and father had given up hope of ever seeing her alive again and closure is what they sought most desperately. Just to know what had happened would have been a release. But no news ever arrived. No call had ever been received. They sat silently and waited, staring at the walls, together.

Dorothy Mae Swanson was a quiet girl. She was the kind that enjoyed serene meadows and babbling brooks. She also loved poetry books and every month, when a new volume of prose arrived she would find a quiet place and read.
She had been going to an old cemetery that overlooked the river near her home to read her books for some time and she particularly enjoyed the silence of the headstones. It wasn’t a morbid feeling; it just made her calm and able to immerse herself in each poem, after all she felt something compelling amongst the tombs, something reassuring.
One afternoon she felt drawn to explore the garden at the center of the mausoleums. It was a peaceful, well-manicured garden with benches and a park like setting. The garden seemed to bring her pleasure and she delighted in returning day after day.
This went on for some time and it began to take a toll on her. Her mother asked if she was feeling all right, but she just shrugged it off and smiled as she left for her daily walk in the garden.
It had been almost a month since she began to sit in the garden, when she heard a voice. It started out small but it began to grow louder and louder. It was a beautiful voice she thought and it brought her peace. She began to listen to the voice closely. It seemed to come from all directions at once. But sounded so beautiful, so lovely.
The voice began to call to her. It called her to an old gate that closed the entrance to a tomb, a very old tomb. As she reached out for the gate it began to move and opened on its own. Normally this would have frightened her, but the voice was so soothing so beautiful and it beckoned her to enter the dark room beyond.
Within her heart she began to scream but nothing came out. It seemed as if her throat was frozen, but the soothing voice called to her, its lullaby and harmony was so enchanting, so irresistible. She screamed with horror deep within herself, but her feet kept moving forward as if they moved of their own will and not hers.
Within the dark chamber of the tomb there appeared another door. It seemed to have been painted shut with rust and corrosion. “No one could open such a door” she thought within her subconscious mind and it made her heart leap to think she could go no further. But the door began to open; its rust and corrosion fell to the floor as the door began to open with a loud and terrible sound.
Her mortal soul was fighting and kicking, she howled with fear within herself, but the voice continued to call and her body listened. So calming, so lovely.
The doorway opened to a spiral staircase, its walls narrow and confining. She continued down into a room that held a sarcophagus its lid had slid partly open and revealed its contents.
In the scant light that fell from the open door above she could see a mans body stretched out in eternal sleep, his hands and face uncovered, he looked as if he was made of marble and his body was shrouded by a thin veil of cobwebs. The ghastly scene was almost more than her struggling mind could accept.
Against her will she moved to the sarcophagus and peered within. For a second she stood in abject terror peering into the dark tomb. Then suddenly to her horror the corpse moved, it shifted slightly and then its arms reached forward and drew her into the stone box. As she caught one last, fleeting glimpse of the room, she could see in the dim glow, skeletons and corpses desiccated and scattered all about the room and volumes of poetry, dusty and falling apart lying everywhere. The lid slowly closed behind her with a scratching, hollow sound that echoed through the chamber.

Lt. Gill was a detective. He had been hired to investigate the disappearance of Dorothy Mae Swanson by her parents, hoping he could find something to lead them to her.
He was exhausted, he had followed every lead and tracked down every detail possible, it had led him nowhere. He was about to give up when the phone rang. It was the gardener at the cemetery on the hill. The old gardener insisted that he meet him in the garden at the center of the mausoleums.
Arriving at the garden he found an elderly man standing near a locked gate. He was holding a small book of poetry, his hands shaky with age. He said that he had found it lying next to a tomb entrance and that it was an important clue to the disappearances.
Lt. Gill took the old book from the old mans weathered hands. It was in very bad shape from lying in the ferns and garden soil and it was certainly found in an odd place.
He opened its brittle cover and on it’s inside leaf, barely legible, the name, Christine Anderson.

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I have been writing fiction and short stories since college.
I'm currently writing all kinds of short stories.
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