Dr. Zeiss was outside to greet me when I arrived at Bayside Pavilion. He held the door as he welcomed me inside. His affable manner caused no concern for Gram’s well-being. There must be some fiscal project he wanted my help with, perhaps a bright and sunny atrium, named in Gram’s honor, of course.
It was only when he gripped my elbow, guiding me toward his private office, that I became worried. A terse look from Cora, his secretary, added to the unease. I took a seat in one of the leather, rolled back chairs in front of Zeiss’ massive desk, and he uncharacteristically took the facing chair.
Cora followed us into the room carrying a tray with a china tea set. Zeiss poured us each a cup, handing me a tea cup before clearing his throat.
“Sorry for the secrecy, I needed to speak to you privately.” Zeiss gestured to the cream and sugar.
“I admit all this closed-door behavior is making me nervous,” I said, waving away the condiments. “Is my grandmother all right?”
Taking a cautious sip of tea, Zeiss took his time answering.
“Physically, Judith is fine.”
“Over the past few days, Judith has become… well.” Zeiss left his assessment unsaid. “Has Judith ever been interested in the occult?”
I sat my cup on the desk, and turned my full attention on the doctor. “The occult? No, she has always been exceptionally pragmatic and logical. Why?”
“She has been very adamant about something she calls, ‘The Earth Eaters‘ Rising’ and asking about someone named ‘Eugene’.” Zeiss kept his eye averted, avoiding looking at me as if he was embarrassed by the conversation.
“Are you sure the name was Eugene?” My anxiety level rose exponentially.
“That means something to you?”
“I need to see Gram, right now.”
The day before the caretaker at the cemetery where our family plot is located, called me about my great-uncle Eugene’s gravesite. Recent torrential rains had soaked the ground around the plots, causing some of the stones to topple over. The ledger marker that covered Eugene’s grave, broke from the upheaval.
I didn’t place any significance in the seemingly natural vandalism, but now, I wasn’t sure if the damage was some random geological phenomenon.
Great-uncle Eugene was a nefarious figure from our family history, dying in an arcane ritual some 40 years ago that superstitious relatives always referred to as a Rising. Gram insisted that her baby brother be buried in sanctified ground, despite the theurgy surrounding his death.
Zeiss lagged behind me as I strode to my grandmother’s room.
Gram smiled up at me from her petit point settee.
“Hello, dear,” she said, laying aside her crewel work. “You’re here about Gene aren’t you?”
“Gram, what’s going on?” I knelt on the floor beside her.
“You’ve seen it, haven’t you?” Gram took my face in her hands. “You’ve seen evidence of the Rising. Eugene should arrive any minute.”