When a cosmic storm enters Earth’s atmosphere, scientists are baffled by its composition and origins, but not nearly as much as they are by the storm’s side effect – anyone who has died and chosen not to cross over is suddenly stranded here, visible, and can interact with the living. With the world thrown into chaos, Thomas Pendleton is eager to make up for many broken promises to his six-year-old son, Seth. Soon after the storm, they set out on a road trip to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, completely unaware of the social and political maelstrom they’re heading into that will change their lives forever.
I passed two more rows of stones, all of which were so badly weathered that they could have been little more than smooth rocks protruding from the ground. As I approached the far wall of the little cemetery, I stopped in my tracks as a lump formed in my throat. A single headstone had caught my eye, one that was probably in the best condition of any I had seen so far. It was not the condition of the stone that got my attention; it was the name on the stone – Stan Pendleton.
I walked up and ran my hand over the smooth surface, reading the rest of the inscription. Stan was born in July of 1842 and passed away on February 3, 1884. He was a loving father and husband. That was it, nothing more.
I, at first, felt a flash of intense grief as I was reminded of a tombstone back home in Conway with the same last name, but it memorialized two names, not just one. It also displayed two epitaphs, not just one – Beloved wife, mother and friend and the other short and to the point Sweet angel. A tear streamed down my cheek as I absently knelt then sat in the grass. I pinched the bridge of my nose and wept for a few moments until the realization of where I was came back to me with a jolt. I looked around at the headstones with embarrassment, like I had just been caught weeping in a crowded room. Were any of these people around now, due to the storm? I didn’t know but I did know they definitely weren’t here, not in this sad and lonely place.
It suddenly dawned on me just how woefully inadequate the living is when it comes to memorializing our fallen friends, family and fellow people. This little cemetery was a perfect example of this shortcoming. How can a life lived be reduced to a name, dates and a clichéd sentence or two carved into a rock? A life that will gradually be forgotten as those that remember move on to receive their own carved epitaphs until presently there are none that remain who remember … or care? We leave their memory to the mercy of time and the elements until nothing is left to remind us that they once lived, once laughed and once loved, nothing but a weathered stone.
John D. Mimms is a business owner, paranormal researcher, and author. John served as the Technical Director for the Arkansas Paranormal and Anomalous Studies Team (ARPAST). During his four-year tenure with the organization, he helped supervise over 100 investigations and wrote more than sixteen technical articles. One of John's articles, titled "A Christmas Carol Debunked," was read live on Parazona Radio by Paul Bradford of Ghost Hunters International fame. John also wrote the ARPAST technical/training manual which is a comprehensive guide on equipment usage, investigation protocol, and scientific theory for paranormal research. In 2009 John decided to couple his knowledge of paranormal phenomena with his lifelong love of literary fiction. Among his titles are The Great Keep, Death Theory, and The Lemonade Girl. John is currently working on book two of The Tesla Gate trilogy.
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