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The Halloween Project 2018 Day 12: Cinque Terror - Manarola

The Cinque Terror Quintet - A Ligurian Ghost Tale Part III - Manarola - year 1740


Marco had finally discovered the cemetery. On a singular bright October afternoon, a time when no rain was falling and he could not be seen even by those with the sharpest eyes, he stumbled upon it. Perched high above the town, the cemetery was built with great difficulty over many years. It afforded the dead, both those well-loved and those long forgotten, a prominent resting place. An eternal residence where they would have the benefit of sunsets over the Mediterranean. And if they could no longer revel in the magical colors of sun, sky and sea, their visitors could. Prayers, flowers, messages and tokens were all delivered to the graves and crypts that lined the cemetery rows. Some remarked that in October one would find smooth stones set atop Franchesca Barini's tombstone. "Who was she?" some would question. Most of the lettering on its face had been washed away by the air, the wind, the salty rain, but the barely discernible deep lettering of her name could just be seen. A shrug usually accompanied such a question. Marco simply hovered above the gravesite, looking down, not really seeing or remembering, but knowing, somehow truly knowing. On this day the rain fell, sheet upon sheet. It was past midnight, but to Marco, the ringing of the clock meant little. He heard a footstep on the stone stairway leading up to the yard of graves and moved aside, turning behind a tall standing crypt. He did not care if his image and outline were noticed, but he also did not welcome living people into his world unless he was filled with the black anger. A priest, carrying a dim lantern in one hand and an umbrella in the other, passed through the iron gate and walked toward a high wall of crypts. He stopped and leaned back against the wet stone surface. Marco was but two hand's lengths from the father who was clad in the deepest black and looked nervously about. Had he turned he might have seen Marco but he was intent in another direction. He stood as if waiting, and within a short moment another figure emerged from the wet night and staggered with a limp toward the priest. A phlegm-ridden cough emanated twice from the man, as if his lungs lived under the sea than in the air. When he stopped, a whisper away from the priest, he turned and spat a huge glob of viscous liquid, tainted with darkness that could only be blood, onto the stones at his feet.

"Father Montini." "Barbarossa," the priest replied. Marco observed and a recollection, a memory, was triggered. He had seen such men. Only one time. In his... When he lived. When he existed in another world, at another time. Almost two centuries ago. On a beach somewhere. And his spirit sought the word and it finally came to him. Pirate. And the dark hatred began to blossom in Marco. "You are well?" the pirate questioned. Father Montini nodded and added with a politeness tinged by fear, "and you?" "I am dying as you can see with your own eyes even in this miserable night in the cold and the wet. In this miserable life I have left." What vision Marco possessed heightened with a redness that came from hate. He saw the man wore a cocked hat, rain dripping from three corners. His breeches were ragged and torn. A filthy shirt lay beneath a blue ornamented vest and that was adorned with a shabby coat smeared with stains. His face was pocked and a large scar had obliterated one eyebrow. Pirate. And the anger grew. "How can I help you, my son?" the priest asked. "There is no help for me. Not on this earth. And perhaps not in heaven either for we both know I'm most likely going to hell," he paused and looked to the graves. "I'll be here, or somewhere like it, soon enough. Or maybe just in the sea." The rain thickened and drummed on the crypts. Marco never moved, was never seen. His rage boiled and surged. "But I can hope. Despite the things I've done. The burning. The killing. The..." his voice trailed off. "Forgiveness belongs to The Lord and The Lord alone. If your heart is truly sorry, you can be forgiven," the priest mouthed the words he has repeated so often. "So take this," he handed the priest a large, heavy, double layered pouch, "and say the prayers for me. Perhaps it will spare me the fires of hell. Perhaps I will only be condemned to Purgatory. Perhaps I will suffer in Purgatory for 10,000 years but your prayer...your prayers may quench the fires that I owe so dearly." "This is so heavy, Barbarossa. I can barely lift it. What have you given our church?" Father Montini asked. "400 florins," came the reply. A screaming, wailing, brittle and anguished cry erupted from Marco's throat although no sound was heard by human ears. Exploding from his crouching shadow he flashed in the rain as he crushed into both men so nearby. The priest backed into a crypt and fell to his knees. Barbarossa keeled over backward as if hit with a battering ram. Both men began to shriek. They saw movement, light, rain, jarring blows emanating from nowhere. A rock raised and brought down, a continual assault, grunts and spittle. The priest rose and something, some thing, seemed to look at him, something just beyond reach in the downpour. Then it turned and unleashed the last remnants of black fury on Barbarosso. Father Montini, umbrella and lantern abandoned, pulled upright and thrust himself toward the gate. Two days later, rain abated, golden sun pouring over the cemetery, a husband and wife entered the gate to say a rosary over her father's grave. Down the walkway near the elevated crypts they noticed a draggle of debris, a pile of clothes left behind, tossed in a hurry, disheveled. As they closed the distance the pile took shape. Broken, twisted limbs wrapped with breeches, a vest, a coat. A cocked hat lay upended nearby. "Oh my God," the young woman exclaimed hands grasping her rosary to her chest. The man stepped closer, moving with caution, peering left and right until a face came into view. He stopped motionless. A crushed face, broken, gashed, eyes wide, peered up at him. One eye lay on a cheek, blood crusted. Then something glinted in the sunlight. The young man leaned in, then pulled back quickly. The mouth, agape, pulled wider than any mouth, was overflowing, stuffed; crammed with florins. #

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