Copious mist had settled over the tombstones in Lusaka North District Cemetery. Ever since the Civil Revolution, following the First Scourge, Lusaka was less densely populated and completely reorganized. Nothing stayed the same, yet nothing seemed to change.
Johnny had been slumped against a tombstone, his hip-flask empty again. He was staring at Alice’s tombstone, right next to Kevin’s. In the low light, they looked ghostly and ethereal. Compared to the ones around them, their graves were impeccably neat, and the white lilies Johnny had placed there two days ago were still fresh. He’d been sitting there for hours, and despite all the alcohol Johnny had consumed, his head was surprisingly clear. Johnny hadn’t moved an inch for past three hours, as he sat there thinking about his past, and looking forward to the future, but he heaved a sigh and decided he needed to leave.
As Johnny stretched, he felt something whizz past his ear at high speed. He spun around just in time to see a bullet lodging itself into a tree trunk just behind him. He barely had time to react, for charging out of the shadows was a huge muscular man, carrying what looked like a carving knife; he was a bounty hunter. Johnny cursed, the only weapon he had was a small pocket knife. The bounty hunter jumped over tombstones, despite his speed he was as silent as death. Quick as lightning Johnny tried to find an escape route, but before he could make a decision, the bounty hunter had tackled him. They rolled on the hard ground, the bounty hunter with an advantage over Johnny’s dulled senses. But Johnny fought dirty, he gave the hunter a kick to his gut, which gave Johnny the chance to break free.
Johnny tried to run, but the hunter grabbed his ankle and pulled him back. Johnny fell to the ground once more, and hurriedly dodged the hunter’s attempt to stab him with the knife. He grabbed a fallen branch next to him and used it to smiled himself from another stab attempt. The moon slid out from behind a cloud, as metal clashed against wood, illuminating the man’s face. It was thin and gaunt, with bloodthirsty ice cold eyes, the hunter had one goal only, to kill. Johnny tried to push him back, but the flimsy branch buckled under the weight of the bounty hunter. It happened in a flash of silver, and a rush of wind. The blade sunk into Johnny’s chest, and he saw a look of triumph in the hunter’s eyes, that was quickly replaced with a cold and blank stare. The hunter crumpled to the ground, and Johnny saw that he’d been shot.
Utterly confused, Johnny grabbed the knife and screamed as it pulled away from his flesh. He lay there panting, and tried to staunch the blood flow with his leather jacket. When he had managed an inadequate dressing for his wound, he propped himself up on the same tombstone as before; if he was going to die, he wanted to die looking at Alice’s name. His mind drifted to the person who shot the bounty hunter. If he lived he owed them his life.
As Johnny slipped in and out of consciousness, the thought he saw a white figure approaching. It looked like a woman in a long white dress, her auburn hair ruffled slightly by the wind. Perhaps the stories were true, the cemetery was haunted. The woman approached and leant on Alice’s tombstone, a half smile on her face.
“Tell me, Johnny” she said in a sultry voice, “Do you believe in ghosts?”
TO BE CONTINUED.