The Watchers: Fantasy/Vampire Short Story by cam, Part One
Bluffs Above Manitou Passage, Lake Michigan
The Watchers, Part One
Will walked across the gravel parking lot with a pencil behind his ear and a notepad in hand, the quintessential, small town newsman. The blue-gray water of Lake Michigan served as a backdrop to the crowd gathered on the bluff for the press conference.
“Ok, the newspaperman has arrived,” said a man in his early fifties, dressed in a suit, complete with necktie in spite of the summer heat. “So let’s get started. My name is George Marley, Vice president of Public Relations with Resort Development Association of the Americas. I’ll begin by reading this press release.” He waved the paper in the air for all to see.
Resort Development Association of the Americas is proud to announce its latest venture, a luxury golf and ski resort featuring 54 holes of championship golf and 59 downhill slopes, which will be built in beautiful northern Michigan. Ground breaking is scheduled for one month from today and a limited opening is expected in sixteen months followed by a grand opening in twenty-eight months. Local construction companies and qualified personnel will be utilized in every project and at every stage. That is the commitment of RDAA to this county.
Northern Michigan has already distinguished itself as a golfing destination, and with the addition of The Manitou Passage Golf and Ski Resort Village, northern Michigan will be a strong competitor with other golf venues around the world.
The property on which we stand has been sold to RDAA by the Williams family of southeast Michigan. Previously it was owned by the congregation of the Angels of God Church whose church building, along with a small cemetery, still stand on the site to this very day.
Will placed the pencil back in its perch behind his ear and tucked the notepad under his arm. He took a photo of the church building and adjacent cemetery then turned back to listen to Marley’s comments.
“The development of The Manitou Passage Golf and Ski Resort Village will employ hundreds of local citizens and will draw tens of thousands of visitors to the area each year. For more in depth information and for contact information, go to www.mpgsrv.com.
“Thank you for your attention. Now, are there any questions?” A few hands went up and questions were asked, mostly having to do with traffic as well as the impact of agricultural chemicals on local waterways. Will was busy scribbling notes, but took periodic breaks to raise his hand .
“Yes, Mr. newspaperman,” said Marley.
“Will Richards with TC Gazette. Can you tell us what will be the fate of the church building and cemetery.” Mumbling from the crowd indicated this was a pertinent question that had been overlooked up to this point.
“Thank you Mr. Richards for that insightful question,” said Marley. “The building will be restored and used as a place of quiet reflection throughout the week and for ecumenical worship services on Sunday mornings.” Voices of approval rose from the crowd. “As for the cemetery, it seems best that the remains of the deceased individuals be relocated to one or more of the county cemeteries.” Again, the crowd seemed to approve, with the exception of one man standing not far from Will. He spoke with an eastern European accent.
“Why not let the cemetery remain where it is? It has long been associated with the church, and the deceased could continue to rest in peace.”
“That very scenario has been discussed and the families of the deceased have been consulted on the matter. The consensus is that the remains be moved to county cemeteries, all at the expense of RDAA, of course.” Marley turned back to the crowd. “Thank you for your kind attention. I appreciate that this project has not met with any substantial opposition. It shows just how interested the people of this county are in seeing their local economy revitalized. I’ll be in the area for several months to see that RDAA and the community get off to a good start together. Feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns.” Marley waved a hand and walked forward to mingle with the crowd.
Will turned to speak with the man who had asked the last question, but he was nowhere to be seen. He scanned the crowd and the entire area, but the man was gone.
Will waited until he was the only person left on the hilltop. He looked out at the view of Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands in the distance. It certainly was a beautiful spot. His attention turned to the cemetery with a dilapidated wood fence surrounding it. He wanted to get a list of the names on the tombstones. Then he’d try to find the living relatives to see just how cooperative they had been.
Forty-two markers leaned one way or the other, but rarely vertical. A few had fallen flat. These people had died in the first half of the nineteenth century. How had they died? Was it disease? Maybe there was a conflict with the natives of the area. He added this to his list of research questions.
Cemetery on Bluffs above Manitou Passage
The route to his car took him past the back of the church. The building was sided with narrow boards which hadn’t been painted for generations, it seemed. The door was unlocked, so he slipped inside. He pulled a small penlight from his pocket and clicked it on. He proceeded through a back room that may have been a pastor’s office.
He opened another door and stepped into the front of the sanctuary on the right side of a low stage. Pews branched out to the right and left with a walkway down the middle that he followed to the rear of the room. He turned to examine the stage and went stiff with fright. Behind the lectern stood the man who had asked the final question about the cemetery during the press release.
“Mr. Will Richards of the TC Gazette. Welcome to the Church of the Holy Angels of God.”
“You scared the hell out of me,” said Will.
“This place does have a spooky atmosphere. It’s the kind of setting where you might expect to find goblins, ghosts and other such creatures.” The man walked down a set of steps to the main floor. “Tell me, Mr. Richards. What is your interest in the cemetery? Of all the questions you might have asked at the press release, you chose to ask about the graves.”
“I don’t have any particular interest in the cemetery. It just seemed to be an obvious issue the development company would have to resolve. I was surprised they had decided to move the remains of those people. Leaving them where they are would add some character to the village.”
“Unlike you, I do have a particular interest in the cemetery. It must not be moved. The man took several slow steps down the aisle between the pews. “I wonder if you might write about it in the newspaper? A well crafted article might be the impetus we need to raise awareness about the cemetery.”
“You said we. Do you represent other people who agree with you on this issue? Does that mean you’re a lawyer? And since you know my name, would you mind telling me yours?”
“Yes, I do represent others on this matter. No, I am not an attorney, and my name is Valentin Alexander Cojocaru.”
“And here you are, apparently thousands of miles from your homeland, judging from your accent, protesting the moving of a country cemetery with forty graves. What brought on this passion?
“Actually, the cemetery is the reason I and my associates have remained in this country. This is not a sentimental passion, Mr. Richards. For me and my people, it is a matter of life and death. I would like to introduce you to the others if you will agree to meet here again.”
“Certainly, I‘d love to meet your friends. Do you all live around here? I don’t recall ever seeing you before, and in a county with the low population this one has, that would be unlikely.”
“I believe all of your questions will be answered in our next meeting, so I will not elaborate at this point about our living situation. Will three days be adequate time for you to do your research on the cemetery?
Three days should be fine. And you want to meet here again? It is private property, but I don’t suppose George Marley will mind since he knows I’m researching for an article.
Will spent the following two days writing his article on The Manitou Passage Golf and Ski Resort Village. He would give them a fair review, but the cemetery would have a prominent place because of its historical significance. Will discovered that a farming community had existed on the bluff and that a small town consisting of a general store, a school and a church had been its centerpiece. Before the white settlers arrived, the land had been part of the hunting grounds of the native population.
Will found a reference to what may have ended the white settlers’ presence in the area. Wolves were abundant in northern Michigan in those days. The account claimed that a wolf pack terrorized the settlers until all the people had either been killed or had moved away. This seemed strange to Will, because his research also revealed that humans were not common prey of wolves. But if it was true, what had caused the wolves to behave contrary to their nature?