A night like this didn’t happen often, but Goodwood Duxford, caretaker and ghost wrangler at Gramberly Cemetery, could not return two of his wandering spirits back to their final resting place.
Despite his annoyance, Goody had to chuckle when he thought of the Judson Brothers, and their “final rest.” Gramberly’s most egregious wanderers, the two soldier siblings were out of their graves more than in them. There was nothing “final” about their rest.
As habitual as their breakouts were, they were also consistent in where they went outside of the cemetery boundary. They would insist to Goody that they were only joining their army mates to celebrate the end of the war. After a night of revelry, the two soldiers would stumble back to Gramberly, besotted and singing old camp tunes loud enough to wake the dead.
Goody couldn’t blame Ezra and Levi. Their damned descendants had cause their current predicament by conjuring an adulterated binding spell that locked the Judsons out of Gramberly, and bound them to defiled ground.
Both Judson brothers left behind bastard spawn when they volunteered for the Valley Militia. The boys convinced Mary and Sarah, the eager though homely Cahill sisters, that it was unlikely that they would return from the field and how this may be their only chance to “know” a woman. Wanting to do their part for the war effort, the young ladies packed a farewell lunch for a day at Juniper Lake. Following a meal of cold, fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits, the sisters dutifully submitted to the clumsy rutting of the Judsons while atop their heirloom picnic blankets.
More prophetic than they intended, eight months later the Judsons were the first 77th Infantry Regiment casualties at the battle of Cross Creek. News of the Judsons’ demise was delivered the same day the Cahill sisters delivered baby boys.
It was the progeny of these reprobates who summoned the Judsons from Gramberly and cursed them. Following in the footsteps of a long line of scalawags and hellions, The Judson great-grandsons – seven times removed – Jake and Tyler Cahill, dabbled in the dark arts. The stories of how Ezra and Levi sullied the Cahill sisters’ chastity were the perfect excuse to draw the Judsons’ from their grave and lock them outside of Gramberly.
Goody didn’t usually go out during the day in search of wayward ghosts, but he had a soft spot in his heart for the Judsons. Just as he expected, knowing family history, he found them adrift around Juniper Lake. Before the binding spell the family scions managed to cast, the Judsons were content to meander around the town and Gramberly Cemetery. Now, Goody knew that they had to crossover if they were to ever find peace.
The easiest way to accomplish the Judsons’ release, was to render the spell void by consigning the soldiers’ ghosts into other creatures. Then they would simply live out the rest of their hosts’ days, unaware of the change.
It was a lovely day for a binding, Goody thought as he cast out black lava salt and murmured the ancient words that would correct the Cahills’ enchantment. A pair of gallinules glided across the glassy surface of Juniper Lake, the perfect foils for the Judson brothers. With luck, the old soldiers would live on for another 20 years. It seemed poetic that they were sentenced to spend those years at the same place where they took advantage of the Cahills sisters, setting off this whole sordid business.
As he watched the Judsons float away, Goody braced himself for his next task – bringing retribution to Jake and Tyler Cahill for their foolish actions. Gramberly headstones were in need of a good scrubbing. Their great-great-grandmothers – seven times removed – would have a few choice words for the miscreants as well.