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The Dead Don't Die a serial
by Curt Ladnier
based on characters created by Carlton E. Morse
From Issue #2, January, 1992
Based on Adventures by Morse: Dead Men Prowl
o o o o o
For those who like high adventure...
Come with me.
For those who like the stealth of intrigue...
Come with me.
For those who like blood and thunder...
Come with me.
o o o o o
Chapter 1: The Dead Return
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repete it, and often in unspeakable ways. Atrocities long forgotten may resurface at the most unsuspecting of moments to drag a man from his quiet life into a realm of abject terror. But Captain Bart Friday had no idea this adage applied to him the day he once again stepped off the ferry to the little resort community of Holman. Had he known that the blood-chilling horrors of a year ago were about to begin anew, he might have been better able to prepare himself for the terror of the returning dead. But as the sun set across the bay, Friday was unaware of the torments the weekend would hold.
It was exactly one year ago, to the day, since he had last visited Holman, one year since he had witnessed the weird crimes that threatened four young people of the town. In fact, he was embarassed to realize, when the invitation for the weekend's rest came from Andreas Ruiz, that with all his adventuring he had neglected to keep in touch with the friends who shared that harrowing experience with him. It would be good to see them again under more plesant circumstances.
The tourist season had been over for several weeks, so Captain Friday was not surprised to find he was the lone passenger abord the ferry. Upon the vessel's arrival, its captain was kind enough to give him a hand with his baggage.
"So, Cap, is Holman still a wild town?" Friday asked jokingly.
The seaman grinned.
"If quilting parties are your idea of excitement, I reckon so," he replied. "What's a young fella like you doin' way out here so late in the season?"
"I own a small cottage out toward the beach, " Friday answered, "and it's been a while since I saw Carmel and Andreas Ruiz."
"You know the Ruizes?" the captain asked, lowering a suitcase gently to the dock. "Fine people. Tell them I said, 'Hello.'"
"I'll do that. Thanks for the company, by the way, but I'd best head toward town. It'll be dark soon."
Dusk was indeed deepening as Capt. Friday set out to walk the remaining mile to the town proper. Holman actually was as quiet as the seaman made out, a town with only one street and no automobiles, so Friday had little hope anyone would pass by and offer a ride. About a third of a mile down the well-worn dirt road he was surprised, however, when he heard the sounds of a wagon approaching behind him.
"Strange," he muttered to himself, "I was the only one on the boat. Who could be coming down from the landing? Oh, well, guess I should be thankful for the ride."
Captain Friday laid down his bags and waved at the horse-drawn contraption approaching him from the darkening distance. His amiable expression soon became a look of concern though, as the nearing driver did not cut his pace. Frantically, Friday waved his arms, but still the wagon raced forward, barrelling madly in his direction! Thundering hooves shook the ground as he stood and gazed straight into the face of the driver. Then, at the last possible second, Friday dove aside, narrowly escaping a grisly, horse-drawn death. Picking himself up out of the underbrush, he could still hear the crazed coachman racing into the night, too far gone already to pursue.
Friday was pale and shaken, not because of the near-trampling, but because of who he had seen driving. It was Rick Hartley's son, Peter. But Peter was dead! He had died that fateful weekend a year ago when dead men prowled Holman. It couldn't be happening again!
"Stop it!" Friday cursed himself. "You're imagining things. We solved that case a year ago, and there was absolutely nothing supernatural about it. Don't be a fool, just because some idiot with a horse has got you rattled."
Sure. He had made a mistake in the dark of the evening. That was all.
Captain Friday forced a smile as he gathered his belongings and continued his hike.
"The last time I was here, the townsfolk elected me as constable," he mused. "As Holman's only officer of the law, I guess I really should track that guy down and arrest him for reckless driving."
By the time he reached his beach-house, night had truly fallen, and the cool air brought a low mist rolling in off the bay. Friday stowed his gear in the master bedroom, and took a moment to freshen up. He would have liked to let the Ruizes know that he had arrived, but Holman, true to its small town image, had only one telephone. They were expecting him, in any case, and the invitation hadn't specified any particular time.