We took the same walk every day. Down the hill to the lake, past the cemetery, through the woods, back past the school yard, and finally down the hill back to the house. Rain or shine, we walked.
Over the years, we saw changes around us. The school was the first to show it. Broken windows. Graffiti. Weeds in the yard. Clear signs of gangs. And even a few patches of illicit plants.
The woods and lake too showed changes, as the community stopped valuing their presence. We used to try to pick up the rare pieces of litter we encountered. But the litter became so commonplace that we would have needed to carry a large back on every walk.
The cemetery too showed signs, beginning with weeds but including vandalized graves and mausoleums.
That was when the trouble really began in earnest.
That cemetery was more important than most, and those who knew its secrets had neglected to pass them down and ensure that certain graves were never disturbed.
The people we encountered on our daily walk began to look haggard and afraid. The stories of strange things wandering at night began to be common, and to carry added twists from personal witnesses rather than the usual friend of a friend heard a rumor sorts of tales.
Then we saw him ourselves.
I don’t think he saw us, and we followed. He was clearly searching for someone, a long past love most likely. He didn’t seem to know that he was dead, or that centuries had passed him by while he was locked in the broken mausoleum. He searched the town, seemingly puzzled by the changes brought by time. Then he searched the cemetery.
We were there when he found her grave.
He turned at that moment from a sad walker on a mission into a monster. He ransacked the cemetery and tore into the town. He terrorized those he encountered. He picked on one particular property, and went door to door demanding to know why nothing was done. He was inconsolable, and refused to believe that she had lived a long and quiet life after his capture and internment.
If anything, stories of her place in the community all those years ago made him even more angry.
She had moved on, married another, and had a daughter.
That sank in, he tried to find the daughter. But she too was long since dead and buried.
But that provided the distraction needed to solve our problem. We used his irrational quest against him, and lured him back into his mausoleum. The repaired tomb closed easily, and the seals were restored behind him.
Since that day, we include his tomb in our daily walk. At first, we could hear him pounding on the door. But as the years wore on, he returned to the uneasy sleep of the not completely dead.