The afterlife of lizzie.., p.1
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       The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe, p.1
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           Kelly Martin
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The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe


  The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe

  by Kelly Martin

  Copyright © 2014 KELLY MARTIN

  This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

  THE AFTERLIFE OF LIZZIE MONROE

  Copyright © 2014 KELLY MARTIN

  ISBN: 978-0-9911273-3-7

  ISBN 10: 0991127331

  Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design

  Edited by Laura Heritage

  To God for everything

  To my girls for being excited about Mama's books.

  To all my readers. Thank you so much!

  To all the people I've pestered about this book, I appreciate you taking the time to help me make it better.

  I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.

  Philippians 3:13, KJV

  Lonely Lizzie full of strife

  In the barn, she took her life.

  Go there now and count to three

  Lonely Lizzie you will see.

  -Dixon, Tennessee Legend

  Chapter One

  "Shane, man, snap out of it."

  Shane Davis heard Drake Samson, lead singer and all around jerk, but he didn't feel the need to respond. They had been practicing for three hours on the same song: a snore-worthy ballad with the slowest drum beat ever invented… okay, maybe not the slowest ever, but it was pretty close. Three hours of the same obnoxious beat, the same painful tempo wore Shane's nerves very thin. He needed a cigarette then he needed to leave. Somewhere he needed to be; something he'd wanted to do for months on the agenda tonight.

  "I would, Drake, but I'm a bit bored. Can't we play something that screams Love's Suicide and not something that makes the audience want to actually commit suicide?" Love's Suicide hadn't been his first choice for a band name, but it had history to the town and history — he was told — sold tickets. He couldn't see how some poor girl's suicide could make people want to pay to hear heavy metal, but whatever. He was just the drummer. No one ever really asked his opinion when it came to names or songs or tempo… or anything. If he cared, it would tick him off. As it was, Love's Suicide killed time. If he got payment or laid from it, bonus.

  "We could always cut the drums out completely on the song." Drake smiled his ever pompous smirk. "It's not like they are needed. I was just throwing you a bone by adding them." If the preppy cut, brown-haired idiot thought his little threat intimidated Shane, he had another thing coming.

  "Awesome." Shane jumped up from the drum set and laid the sticks on the stool. He flung his nearly shoulder-length light brown extremely curly hair out of his eyes and crossed his impressive muscular biceps — the perk of being a drummer — over his dark grey, body hugging shirt. "Get out of my garage."

  Drake's face dropped much to Shane's enjoyment. It was one thing to be a jerk in someone else's house. Very much another to be a jerk in the only band member's 'whose parents weren't home' garage. "We have to practice, Shane." Drake cowardly backtracked. "We have a gig this Saturday in case you've forgotten."

  If only. Drake had only reminded him of it every other hour since he'd booked Sarah Sadler's sweet sixteen.

  "And sweet Sarah will want more than one slow as the hills song. She might want to even, strange as it sounds, dance."

  "Boys…" Cheyenne gave her unwanted two cents from the bass. "Put' em back in your pants. Neither of you have anything to strut about."

  "Sister, you've not seen mine since we were six." Shane smirked at his two minutes younger twin. She looked a lot like him in some ways — long brown curly hair, though hers wasn't as curly as his. She had light green eyes where his were chocolate brown. She was shorter and he was snarkier — on most days.

  "I stand by my statement." She grinned like a know-it-all. "You two fight more than an old married couple."

  "Gay marriage isn't legal in this state," Shane reminded her.

  "Like I'd ever marry you," Drake mumbled.

  "Like you'll ever marry my sister either, but it doesn't mean you don't pine after her every second of every day."

  If looks could kill, Shane would be as dead as the preacher's daughter, the one Love's Suicide was name after.

  "Don't deny it," Shane just had to add.

  Drake walked toward him with his fist balled up, and Shane simply flexed his muscle. Like he was scared of a rich idiot like Drake.

  Preston Long, tattooed, pink-haired guitarist, jumped between the two raging bulls. "That's enough guys. Drake, it has been a long afternoon, man. Maybe it's time to move on. Practice something else."

  Drake stopped, but his nose flared with every breath. It wasn't the first time Shane had seen him mad. He knew it wouldn't be the last. In all honesty, he liked aggravating Drake. It made life worth living. What else did he have to do with his time now that school was out for the summer?

  But lately, like over the past few months, Drake had changed. He was jumpier now. Moodier, if that were possible. He hadn't mentioned why to Shane's knowledge. Of course, he could have said and he hadn't paid attention. That was always possible. Shane tended to tune out things that didn't interest him like politics, the economy, and Drake talking.

  After a few second stand-off, Drake rolled his eyes. "Fine. Let's play something more upbeat to make the baby happy." He turned and stomped back to the microphone.

  Preston nodded to Shane and slapped him on the shoulder before going back to his post to the right of Drake. The garage wasn't terribly big, only a two-car, so they were always in pretty close proximity to each other. Drake's garage was much bigger, as was his house, but his mom wouldn't allow them to cause such a 'ruckus' at their house. Shane's mom didn't care. She wasn't home enough to care. And his old man… well, yeah, no one cared.

  Cheyenne winked at her brother and smiled. Shane couldn't help smiling back. She was the only person in the world who could make him smile on a regular basis. The baby of the family, she played her part perfectly as the little sister. Shane did more things than he liked to admit when Cheyenne played the 'please' card including staying in the band when he wanted to quit on a regular basis.

  Without a word, Cheyenne faced the 'audience', or the grungy garage door, and got ready to play.

  Shane was the only one not at his or her post, so he slowly grabbed the drumsticks from the seat and plopped down. He sincerely hoped Drake didn't pick another draggy slow song. He couldn't take any more drabness. His arms were itching for something faster, something to work out his muscles and allow him to flop his hair around. Built up stress and nerves and all.

  "Lizzie's Rest." Drake called, and it was Shane's turn to smirk. He'd written that song a few months ago. It was his favorite. Hardcore drum beat on that one. It so didn't fit the lyrics.

  "One… two… three… four." Shane called out. He hit the snare and off they went.

  Eight counts later, Drake started vocals. "A young girl still in her prime. Lost her love and her mind. The news was bad. She has no rest. Lizzie Monroe slit her wrists…"

  ****

  Finally, blessedly, band practice ended at around eleven, way longer than Shane would have liked, but he suffered through. It would have seemed suspicious for him to say, "Hey guys, I need you to
go because Preston and I are playing with matches tonight, and we'd like to get to it."

  His mom wouldn't get home until five in the morning. She'd have to leave at nine for her second job. Outside his bedroom door, Cheyenne ruffled his curls and told him goodnight. After returning the favor, he shut his door and listened. A few seconds later, he heard her room door slam. It wasn't past her to climb out her window and visit one of her many friends or the boyfriend of the month, much to Drake's dismay, so he listened a little longer to make sure she was really in for the night. He didn't want to meet her on the ground. He couldn't get caught. Not tonight.

  For his part, Shane rarely snuck out and when he did he usually went to one place. Not a place one would expect from an eighteen year old guy — the rundown church that ruined his life.

  He waited and listened for twenty minutes. Nothing. Deciding Cheyenne was staying home tonight, Shane raised his bedroom window and jumped down the lattice to the ground two stories below.

  Dixon, Tennessee was a small town. Actually 'small' gave it too much credit. It had three red lights, one high school, one middle school, and four elementary schools — one at each corner of the county. Like lots of small southern towns, it had a lot of history, more specifically lots of Civil War history. Back in the 1860s, lots of young guys from Dixon died, most in the Battle of Shiloh about a hundred miles away. Monuments had been erected to those men, and every July the town held a remembrance festival.

  Shane thought Civil War history was irrelevant, and the town put too much stock in it. Sure, it had been an important war, both for the North and the South. It changed the country completely, but it had ended over one hundred and fifty years ago. Time to move on. And he planned on helping it.

  One relic from the war was Dixon Church right outside the town limits. Shane arrived a little before midnight.

  "Took you long enough." Pink-haired Preston huffed when Shane walked up. He pointed his flashlight to his imaginary watch. "I've been waiting."

  "Chill, man. I had to make sure my sister was staying in." He put his flashlight in the other hand, slapped Preston's hands and the boys hit their chests at the same time. They'd greeted each other the same way since grade school. Shane liked Preston. They could relate. He didn't like Drake either. Neither could deny one important fact, though. Drake was an awesome singer and a big asset to Love's Suicide. Sadly.

  "You ready to do this?" Preston asked, looking at the large, abandoned structure in front of them.

  "As I'll ever be." Even though it was June, Shane shivered and pulled off his backpack. He tossed his lit cigarette down on the ground and stomped it out before it burned something down. Irony and all. Kneeling down, he unzipped the backpack and pulled out a can of lighter fluid. "You sure you want to be a part of this?"

  Preston nodded, not taking his eyes off of the church. "Yeah. I mean, it's abandoned so no one will get hurt. We'll be careful so no one sees us."

  "All this for publicity." Shane put the matches in his pocket and zipped up his bag. Preston was there for publicity for the band, not that anyone could know they had burned it down. Love's Suicide would get a big boost in sales — or so the theory went — if Lizzie's church burned.

  That was Preston's reason. Shane's reason was completely different.

  "Hey, it'll get people talking about Lizzie Monroe again, won't it? It'll be free publicity."

  "As long as we don't get caught." Shane had done a lot of bad things in his life. Things he wasn't very proud of. But he'd never burned a building down on purpose, and he'd never vandalized a church. He wasn't a church-goer, didn't really believe in God, but burning a church, especially one with a young girl buried inside, seemed on the wrong side. Then again—

  Shane's parents had gotten married in the church nearly twenty years ago, one of the last couples to do so before it was shut down for lack of attendees and left to rot. He wouldn't let Preston know, but it was his main reason for wanting to burn it to the ground.

  His mom was alright. Not his dad… not his dad he hadn't seen in five years, not even during the yearly family visits his mom scheduled at the prison. Cheyenne had gone. Not Shane. Shane couldn't have cared less about his old man.

  So in reality, he wasn't burning down a church. He was sticking it to his lousy father. A cause Shane could get behind.

  He was so ready for this. "Okay, what's the plan?"

  Preston examined the building with his hands in his skinny jeans which fit his white shirt and black vest perfectly. It was a good thing he didn't have on his monstrous class ring or he couldn't fit his hands in his 'thinking' pockets. The boy really didn't really look like the rest of the folks in Dixon.

  "It's not rained in about a week so the ground is fairly dry." Preston said. "It shouldn't take much to get a fire started. I think we should put a little lighter fluid around the sides, up the steps and on the door. They're wood, they'll burn but might as well help it a little."

  The church sat off a relatively untraveled road so they didn't expect any passersby. No one would see them. A plus. But they would still have to pull it off without suspicion. The last thing Shane wanted to do was end up in prison with his old man. At age eighteen, he couldn't go to kid jail anymore.

  "How about the basement steps?" Shane pointed his flashlight to the right side of the church. Eight concrete steps went down to the basement, the place Lizzie was buried. He'd never been down there before, but his father had told him about it once when he was little. His dad said it was an unfinished basement with a few things left over from when Lizzie's father had been pastor. On a side wall was a plaque with her name and dates. Shane had always thought it was creepy to bury someone in the wall of a church and he'd actually been pretty happy the church had shut down before he had to go.

  Preston shook his head. "We won't worry about the basement. If it burns, it burns. If not, oh well. Lizzie won't know either way."

  "Guess not." Shane couldn't help feeling a bit bad for the girl. Not bad enough not to set the fire, but a little bad. From what he'd heard, Lizzie had only been seventeen when she killed herself. A year younger than him.

  "The electrical has been cut off here for years so there shouldn't be any danger."

  Shane could barely make Preston's silhouette out in the darkness. He looked nervous. "We don't have to do this, you know?"

  "Nah, man. It's not like we'll get caught. It's just an old building."

  "An old church," Shane corrected, hoping he got the drift.

  "Like you care about that."

  Shane couldn't deny that. "No, but you might."

  "Doesn't bother me. Publicity, right?" He didn't sound very confident.

  "Let's get it over with if we're doing it. I wanna get home."

  "Hot date?"

  "Bed. I'm tired. Drake bored me to death tonight, no pun intended. Any longer and I might have ended up in a coma."

  Preston laughed. Shane knew he felt his pain. He took the time to look over the old structure one more time. "Okay. Let's do this."

  The guys clanked their lighter fluid bottles together like beer cans and started around the church.

  If Shane was honest, he would admit it was very eerie. So quiet. Too quiet for Shane's liking. The grass had grown up to about their knees, and the old, formerly white falling apart building loomed over them. Shane couldn't picture his parents getting married there. He couldn't imagine anyone even going to church in that rundown building in any recent decade. It looked like it belonged in another time. Shane shined his light on the crooked sign above the front steps that said Dixon Church. Est. 1859 With God, all things are possible.

  He shook his head. Silly, superstitious idiots who built the church. If all things were possible, why did the church close down?

  Preston threw some lighter fluid on the side of the building, and Shane followed behind. "You know, we'd get this finished a lot faster if you'd go the other way and we met in the middle."

  Shane had been afraid of that. He wasn't scared
of many things, but he had to admit this church freaked him out a little. Old, abandoned buildings had a certain spookiness about them. He couldn't put his finger on what exactly, but still the hair on the back of his neck stood on end.

  Preston continued on the right side of the building and Shane started on the left. Usually in the summer months, crickets and frogs could deafen a person. Not at the church. Not on that night. Shane shined his flashlight on the building as he began pouring his lighter fluid around the base of it. A beam of light through the crack in a boarded up window made Shane jump. Before he could scream, the light was gone, and he realized it was Preston's flashlight.

  Shane doubled over, put the bottom of the flashlight in his mouth, and rested his hands on his knees. He wasn't entirely sure if he was trying to keep from laughing or crying, but he did know he was trying to catch his breath. There were no such things as ghosts. Nothing in the church would come out and get him. No dead people, no demons, no angels. It was just one old empty building.

  Get it together, he ordered himself. Preston could not see him freaking out like a baby. He'd never let him live it down.

  Shane put some accelerant next to the basement door, even though Preston had said it wasn't necessary. After that, he threw some on the back of the building and met up with Preston back where they started.

  "Ready?"

  "Sure," Shane said, pulling the matches from his pocket.

  "People better not find out it's us," Preston said as he looked the building over. He looked like he was getting cold feet. Too late now.

  "They won't, you big baby. Lighten up." Shane slid the matchstick against the box and it instantly made fire. With the match in his hand, he looked past the light and at the church building.

  How many people had gone to that church over the years? How many had died? How many revivals had happened? How many people had gotten 'saved'? How many people assumed their immortal soul was safe because they went through those doors every Sunday?

  In his mind, he was doing the world a favor. The less churches, the better. "Can't say I'll miss you." He tossed the match on the church and it instantly lit up like a Christmas tree.

  "Whoa!" Preston gawked, shining his light to the ground. It didn't take long before they didn't even need the flashlight to see.

 
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