Outside the group walked up to a field with a six-foot-tall cross upon a slight hill.
“This is the memorial for the people who died from the bubonic plague,” Marie said as they approached.
Steve panned the camera to the cross, but in the viewfinder, there was a gigantic bonfire of burning bodies. Some seemed to be moaning and some seemed to be reaching out to Steve, asking for help.
“Jesus,” Steve said turning around and looking out over the ocean.
“Jesus has nothing to do with this place,” Vicky said looking in the viewfinder over his shoulder.
“This is a place of respect for the dead. Remember that, as much bad that has happened here, there are loved ones who were buried here. Loved ones who are mourned here. The dark ages and before were horrible times. People didn’t have the kind of medicine we have now and they didn’t have the ability to treat people as we do now. So if you are a Christian person, then Jesus has everything to do with this place,” Heinrich said.
Steve panned the camera as Heinrich was talking and happened upon the side of the hospital. In the windows he could see faces, covered in buboes indicative of the plague, screaming and pounding on the windows. He shivered and panned the camera up, noticing the bell tower. He began to zoom, thinking he saw movement.
“Look!” Steve said pointing.
A figure in a doctor’s coat jumped off the bell tower and fell to the ground. Steve followed it, unable to look away until the body hit the ground and bounced.
“Well we couldn’t see it, but I’m sure that whatever you saw up there was worth it. Did it happen to be the doctor?” Heinrich asked.
Steve swallowed and nodded his head.
Marie approached the cross and ran a hand over it. She clicked her tongue and shook her head when she came to some graffiti.
“It is a shame that people must deface such honorable things,” Marie said quietly.
“Like building a hotel over a mass grave?” Vicky said while she was setting up the monitoring equipment.
“Victoria!” Heinrich said, showing a surprising amount of anger.
“No, she is right, but the hotel will not be built here. We will honor this and put a fence around it. Believe me, Vicky, this is the land of my forefathers and it is respected,” Marie said.
Steve panned the camera around, satisfied that Vicky had been scolded, and caught glimpses of some of the bones in the water.
He panned back to where the doctor fell. He hoped to catch another shot of the bell tower, but he stopped when he saw the figure in the doctor’s coat walking towards him, a sick grin on its face.
“Ah, guys? He’s walking this way,” Steve said
“Man, it smells like smoke out here!” Vicky said, ignoring Steve as she flipped on a switch and began to focus on the dials of her equipment.
“It does a bit. Is that the carbon in the ground Heinrich?” Marie asked.
“No, it shouldn’t be. Strange phenomena,” Heinrich said as he knelt down and brushed the black dirt at his feet, revealing some broken bone underneath.
“He’s smiling guys and he’s walking closer. He has something in his hands,” Steve said taking an involuntary step back. He felt something brush his foot and he panned the camera down. There were skeletal hands, dozens of them, grabbing at his feet. He panned the ground around them and he noticed there was a pile of burning bodies just beyond the cross where Marie stood and a decomposing body behind her with its arms out as if it were going to give her a hug. He panned to Vicky and saw her feet being held by hands covered in buboes coming from the ground.
“Move your feet!” Steve said to no one in particular and turned the camera to Heinrich. He looked to be fighting with a hand which had reached out the ground and grabbed him.
“What in the world?” Heinrich said.
“Everyone move!” Steve said as he turned back to the figure of the doctor walking towards them.
Steve could see the doctor’s decomposing form clearly and it had a lit match in its hands. It smiled and its jaw seemed to stretch beyond normal means as it flicked the match towards the ground.
“Move!” Steve said.
“Hey!” Marie gasped.
“Uff!” Heinrich breathed as he was pulled to the ground.
Steve took a step backward and felt hands grab his feet, holding him in place. He looked through the camera to the group and saw Marie being hugged against the cross, Heinrich being pulled against the ground, and Vicky falling over backward as the hands held her feet into place. Steve turned the camera back to the doctor, but the figure had gone. What was left in its place was a line of fire leading to the group?
“Look out!” Steve said, throwing the camera down at his feet. The camera shattered both itself and the hands holding him, breaking a few toes on his right foot and gouging his left shin, but freeing himself from the grasp of the skeletal hands. He took a few steps backward, unable to see the figures holding his comrades without the camera’s help, but he did see Marie and the cross erupt into flames.
Yelling Steve jumped backward as the flame spread to Heinrich and then Vicky.
Steve was unable to utter any words as he watched them flail and scream under the consuming flame. He turned and ran back to the boat.
He untethered it and started the engine, doing his best to ease it away from the island. He pushed the throttle forward and began to speed away when he heard a voice behind him.
“There’s no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going.”
He could have sworn it was Heinrich’s voice and he screamed when he felt a hand on his shoulder.