(From the journal of Dax Worthington):
• Thursday March 18th (5 days after the demon encounter)
• Brittany, Dax, Heather, and Logan converge on Hillside Cemetery, counterintuitively located in a hollow to the Southwest of town. Dax and Logan (signaling her feminine pronouns with a purple newsboy cap) are there to look for the headstone of an ancestor of one of their classmates. Logan theorized that they were recent arrivals, and therefore maybe involved with the smuggler conspiracy, but the student cited the cemetery as evidence. Heather and Brittany are there to gather materials for Heather’s witchy training (gravewort, gravestone moss, bark from a “deadman’s tree”). Heather reluctantly asked Brittany along because she was scared to go alone, and Brittany is the only one in her social set who’s aware of her witch ancestry thing.
• Logan has befriended the caretaker, Mr. Harbinger, in order to learn his routine, and knows that he watches Wheel of Fortune reruns at 6 pm every evening. Arriving at about this time, the kids toss their bikes over the low wrought-iron fence and head inside.
o Dax brought: Flashlight, Shovel, First aid kit, Swiss army knife, Switchblade
o Brittany brought: Multi-tool, Flashlight, Plastic bags for collecting cemetery stuff
o Logan brought: Rope, Flashlight, Shovel, Multi-tool
o Heather brought: a really bad attitude (apparently…)
• Brittany and Heather stop to collect grave moss, while Dax and Logan head on to look for the grave of the supposed ancestor. Suddenly, Logan sees flashlight beams ahead, and hisses to Dax to get down. They drop prone. Dax awkwardly attempts to convey with sign language that they should sneak up on these interlopers, but it’s dark and his sign language is awful. Logan puzzles it out nonetheless, shaking her head in exasperation. Instead of sneaking with Dax, Logan starts back to let Heather and Brittany know that they are not alone in the graveyard.
• Heather, Brittany, and Logan, while attempting to cover the ends of their flashlights, instead cup their hands away from the light sources and simply illuminate themselves. Thus alerted to each other’s presence, they converge in the midst of the gravestones. Logan alerts the other girls to the presence of graverobbers, and Brittany suggests that they hurry up and get their bark so they can get out of there. Logan doubles back to look for Dax.
• Dax, sneaking up on the flashlight beams ahead, recognizes Johnny Ringo (a 17 year-old in the same grade as Dax and Britney – he doesn’t apply himself), and his pals Paul and Ike. Johnny bullies kids in lower grades, such as Logan, but mostly leaves people in his own grade alone. The minions (ahem, pals) are doing the digging, and look to be near to unearthing the coffin. Having identified the diggers, Dax starts to creep back toward his own group.
• Heather and Brittany get their bark and head back for the bikes, when a gust of wind rushes past them, moving to center around the hanging tree they just left, picking up leaves to swirl in a vortex around the tree. Creeped out, they bolt.
• Dax creeps away until he’s out of sight of J. R. & Company, then hurries to meet Logan and tells her about the graverobbers. Heather and Brittany arrive at speed a moment later and relate their own experience. Dax advocates finding out what’s going on with Johnny and company, which the group reluctantly agrees to.
• As they sneak closer to the grave defiling in progress, they argue about the best next steps. Dax wants to attract the attention of old Harbinger so he apprehends the miscreants red-handed. Brittany suggests that she approach them and, telling them that she is just there to deliver a sandwich to her “uncle” Harbinger, and that they had better get out or he will catch them. Logan expresses surprise that Harbinger is Brittany’s uncle, since she had never mentioned it, and also interest in the sandwich, since she had obviously not delivered it yet. After trying to explain the proposed ruse several times, with Logan persistently asking about the sandwich, Britney exclaims, “Fake sandwich, fake uncle!” the exclamation draws the attention of the diggers, and Johnny and Paul swivel their flashlights toward the sound. Ike, alarmed by the outburst, falls backward into the grave with a squawk.
• Johnny comes forward, shining his light in Brittany’s face as she stands up and advances toward the somewhat grimy group. She offers up her fiction, charming them to credulity, and sees “Cyrus O’Malley” on the headstone. Under the spell of Brittany’s appeal, Johnny bashfully admits to being after a hanged man’s hand to change his family’s luck. He asserts that he can make a “Hand of Glory” with it, which he could use to “get things.”
• Logan wants to stand up and say something tough, but is so freaked out that she starts crying instead. Dax hunkers down, shovel ready in case things take a turn for the violent.
• Brittany once again works her wiles on Johnny, suggesting that they proceed to the truckstop/café (4B’s) to talk it over. Sensing an opportunity to make time with Brittany, he accepts and tells Ike and Paul to fill the hole back in while he goes to smooth things over. Logan inhales for a racking sob, but Dax claps a hand over her mouth and she manages to bite it back.
• Johnny heads to his firebird, while Brittany frantically gestures at the group to follow her. They decide that Brittany will keep her meeting with Johnny, and the rest of the group will show up a bit later and just happen to be in the next booth. Dax throws a rock at the caretaker’s hut on the way out in the hope that he’ll go investigate and catch the pair red-handed.
• At the diner, Johnny relates how his mother beats his father, and how they’re down on their luck, so he just needs something to change things up. On Brittany’s prompting about what turned him to the supernatural for a solution, he admits sheepishly that he’s been doing some research in the library, and a book he found described how to make and use a hand of glory.
• Dax and Heather enter the diner a few minutes after Brittany, Dax keying Johhny’s car on the way in. Logan wants to go in but, faced with the prospect of encountering a frequent bully, needs a moment and stays with the bikes. Johnny wonders what Dax and Heather are doing together, especially when Brittany was behind the bleachers with Dax just a little bit ago. Brittany asserts that Heather must have been the ones behind the bleachers with Dax, because she definitely wasn’t… Overhearing this slur, Heather stomps off to the bathroom in a huff.
• After some more probing on the hand of glory concept, Johnny offers to meet Brittany at Woodruff Park with the book in question tomorrow at 7, if she wants to, you know, talk some more. Brittany say she has cheerleading practice and, when Johnny is surprised that it goes that late, Dax calls out from the next booth that she has to stay limber…
• This goads Brittany into accepting abruptly, and Johnny exits with a smile, a wink, and finger guns. Once Heather returns from the lav, they agree to head back to the cemetery to a) check on the excavated grave, b) take another look at the hanging tree where the wind was weird, and c) look for evidence that Logan’s classmate was not lying about their family connections.
• The teens head back to the cemetery where, according to Logan, Mr. Harbinger has now moved on to watching Wings. The grave has been filled back in some, but not nearly enough to suggest that it had not been disturbed in the first place, which seems fishy. At the urging of the rest of the group, Heather grasps the gravestone in both hands and the vision reel begins. The present blurs and she sees a mustachioed Cyrus O’Malley at the trigger end of a smoking pistol, which merges into a judge, robed and leaning fiercely over a bench, banging a gavel while Cyrus’ shoulders slump in despair. In the next scene, Cyrus’ limp form twists at the end of a rope on the hanging tree Heather recently collected bark from. Finally, the gravestone she clutches rears from the ground as burlap-coated men in broad-brimmed hats shovel dirt atop a coffin.
• After listening to Heather slur out her vision, Logan and Dax dig up the thin layer of earth. Dax nonchalantly flips up the coffin lid and, though Logan and Brittany shudder at the decayed corpse below, they all note the missing hand. With nothing else seemingly amiss, Logan and Dax hastily fill the grave back in and the teens proceed to the hanging tree (after verifying that Logan’s classmate does indeed have ancestors in the graveyard). Rolling her eyes and bemoaning how this is not getting any easier, Heather lays hands on the tree. She sees a procession of hangings, including some notorious lynchings in the 30s and 50s.
• As Heather comes to from the grisly retrospective, the group turns as flashing red and blue lights streak by toward the caretaker’s house. Heather and Brittany insist that it is time to go (before Brittany’s curfew, Heather is quick to point out) so they grab their bikes and head back to Heather’s. Brittany splits off after they drop Heather home, though she can’t shake the feeling that she is being watched as she pedals back home through the darkness.
• Logan pulls off her newsboy hat and settles a baseball cap in its place, changing pronouns abruptly, and heads back to the cemetery with Dax. They arrive just as Mr. Harbinger is being loaded into an ambulance, and the police prevent them from reaching him in time to get a good look at him, despite their best efforts at persuasion.
• Dax heads over to Logan’s trailer early in the morning to collect him and head for the hospital, offering him a toaster strudel in exchange for the wake-up call. They arrive at the hospital to find that visiting hours are not until 1 pm (so they can’t be there until after school), so they go and come back. When they return, Harbinger is eager to leave, but tolerant of their questions because of his recent acquaintance with Logan (despite his uneasiness as Dax demands answers to their questions). He was watching wings and the TV turned off, turned back on again and it was the cemetery on his screen. The frame zoomed in on an open grave and he heard voices saying “Paul, Ike, Heather, Brittany.” He TV blinked off and on again and another voice hissed, “my hand…my hand!” His nose starts to bleed during this recounting, and pretty soon Logan pulls Dax away so the nurse can attend to Harbinger.
• Dax and Logan head to the Rhodes’ colonial mansion to talk Grandma Rhodes. Heather’s mother answers the door and, when the pair explains that they are looking for Heather’s grandmother, leans back and bellows, “Tiiiipperrrr! Mom! Some kids are here to see you!” the old woman emerges from a door across the hall, carping that there’s no need to yell. Heather appears at the top of the stairs and joins the group as they proceed to the den to talk.
• Grandma Rhodes tells the teens about making and using hands of glory, and it’s a complicated process. At the end, the maker gets to ask it for things but’s not like wishing, they can only influence events. It’s powerful magic that can go horribly wrong. The only way to fix the situation is to reunite the corpse with its hand. Tipper totters into the other room after Dax requests anything she can give them to help, returning to flop a phone book down and point to Johnny Ringo’s address. Dax tries to remember Paul and Ike’s last names to look for their addresses, but he can’t remember. With this information, they call Brittany’s place stop her from going on her date to Woodruff, but her mother tells them that she planned to go somewhere straight from cheerleading practice.
• Before the teens can bike off to Woodruff, Heather triggers a vision. Her perspective zooms through the streets of town and up the stairs of a dilapidated craftsman-style two-story. Barely pausing at the door to highlight the street number and a nameplate beside the bell button reading “Grant”, the vision glides up the stairs to a door with a faux street sign labeled “Ike.” Inside the room, Ike is pinned to the ceiling, his vacant gaze directed at the decayed hand sitting in a terrarium. A tarantula crawls lazily over the back of the hand.
• As the gang saddles up to head for the Grant place, Brittany arrives at Woodruff park and leans her bike against Johnny’s TransAm. She hops into the passenger seat and smiles hesitantly at Ringo. He produces two books, one in high German and one in French. Neither of them can read the German, but the one in French is intelligible and it describes how to make a hand of glory. Johnny then tries to exert his own charms on her and, after Brittany rebuffs him, he gets out of the car. No sooner does he exit the vehicle that he is pulled upward and out of view with a scream that cuts off abruptly.
• Meanwhile, the other three teens arrive at the Grant residence and race up the steps, Dax pausing only to grab the lone pink flamingo out of the lawn as a potential improvised weapon. The door is unlocked and they proceed directly up the stairs to Ike’s room. When they burst in, Ike is sitting motionless in a chair, looking at the hand in the glass tank across from him. Slowly his head tracks toward the door, continuing on at an unnatural angle, but twitching slightly a though he were struggling to control it. Logan yells that he needs to give them the hand so they can return it to the grave, and he (creepily) intones that he doesn’t want to do that. Ike stands up and grabs a katana off of the stand next to his bed moving toward the three teens crowding the doorway.
• “Heather, I need a sword!” Dax screams as the eerily-animated form advances on them, and she concentrates for a moment to whisk the wakizashi from the same stand over to Dax. It reaches him barely in time and he deflects the incoming blade just in front of his face, twisting his head to barely avoid taking a cut. Logan darts to the terrarium to snatch the hand and curses when the tarantula skitters across his fingers but comes away with the grisly trophy. Dax launches a blow at Ike’s head, which the thing parries, but Dax continues his momentum forward and hip-checks Ike off balance. Grasping a wrist, he then twists from the hips and sends Ike crashing into the terrarium in a cascade of broken glass. The tarantula scuttles down over Ike’s fixed features and into a corner as the Dax, Logan, and Heather bolt down the stairs. The group mounts their bikes just as Ike crashes out through an upstairs window. He hits the ground in a smooth roll, lashing out with his katana at Logan so close that he feels the wind from the blade as the kids speed off into the gathering darkness.
• At Woodruff Park, Brittany kicks open the car door and, pausing to stuff the books into her clothes, jumps out to help Johnny. He’s floating in midair 15 feet above the ground, with a mist coalescing around him and coursing into his mouth and back out through his nostrils. Unwilling to just let him be, Brittany vaults upward using the roof of the car and grabs Johnny’s heel, pulling him down and wrestling him into the car. She shrieks for the keys and he mumbles that they’re in his pocket. Retrieving them she jams the largest one into the ignition and savagely twists it until the engine roars to life and propels the car back toward town.
• The three teens arrive at the cemetery and head straight for the caretaker’s house, gathering up shovels and fishtailing to the recently-disturbed grave of Cyrus O’Malley. Dax digs into the loosened dirt in a frenzy while Logan keeps watch, striking wood just as the wind begins to pick up. The breeze becomes a gale and branches and rocks begin to streak past. Dax grabs Logan’s foot and pulls his friend down just as a rock strikes the scrawny sophomore in the head, making what would have been a serious injury nothing more than a painful graze. Logan plummets down to crash through the lid of the coffin, looking Cyrus’ corpse directly in the blank face and shaking his head in a daze. Heather rolls into the pit herself to avoid the maelstrom, and helps the boys as they frantically try to reattach the severed hand to the stump it belongs to.
• Meanwhile, the firebird screeches to a halt in front of Heather’s house. Brittany fumbles with the door handle while Johnny’s head lolls toward her. “Hello, Brittany,” he almost giggles, and reaches for her arm. She bolts from the car, races to the door, and pounds on it in a panic until Mrs. Rhodes opens it. “Grandma!” Brittany screams as she darts inside, then urges Mrs. Rhodes to close the door quickly. “No need to yell!” Tipper bellows coming out of the den, only to reverse course in an “Oh!” of surprise when the front door crashes open before her daughter can close it. “Heeeere’s Cyrus!” Johnny carols from the doorway and advances toward the den. The ladies cower in the den, Tipper having tossed a loveseat in front of the door to no avail. Johnny crashes through in a cloud of splinters and bears down on them…
• In the graveyard, Dax, Heather, and Logan puzzle over the hand they’ve stitched back onto its corpse with the wind still whistling overhead. Logan shouts that they must need to bury it again and all three of them scrabble out of the hole and start shoveling dirt back into it. Logan sets his feet and spreads his arms, using fear to fuel a surge forward that dumps an avalanche of earth back atop the coffin covering the corpse of Cyrus O’Malley for, hopefully, the last time. Into the eerie quiet that descends instantly he quavers, “is it over?”
• Back at the Rhodes’ house, Johnny staggers back, looking around in utter confusion, his possession evidently ended. He appears to have no memory of the episode and the women mercifully let him escape before the police arrive.
Character(s) interacted with
Johnny Ringo and his droogs, Ike Grant and Paul Devareaux; the Hillside Cemetery caretaker, Titus Harbinger; the nurse at Blank General, Nurse Elle; Heather's mum, Dorethea Rhodes, and her grandmum, the witch Tipper Rhodes; and Cyrus O'Malley, dead person.