She finished the incantation, lowered her hands onto her lap, and opened her eyes. The night was still, cool, awash with moonlight and oddly silent. “Anytime you’re ready, Ernest.”
There was a stirring among the leaves and twigs and mushroom-dotted decay, just in front of her, at the base of the tree. A bony hand appeared, and then another; the top of a skull forced its way from the soil as if birthed by the forest.
“Come on, now.” She looked at her watch. “Come on. Don’t have all night, now.”
It took ten minutes for the skeletal remains of Ernest Weathersby to reassemble. When it was done, it stood motionless, empty eyesockets fixed on her.
“Now. Tell me who killed you.”
The skull turned to the side, to the other side, back to her. The jaw opened, stayed open; there was no sound.
“You’ve no lungs, no lips or tongue. You can’t talk. But you can draw in the dirt, yes? You can scratch out a name. When I’m done with them, when they’ve served my purpose, then I’ll give you your revenge. Understand?”
A bleached kneecap came down, and then the tip of a phalange.
“…Your daughter, Ernest?”