From Beyond the Grave On his 21st birthday, a young man must prove to his dead father that he is worthy.

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Aug 3, 2018 No Comments ›› admin

FICTION
By Lynn Woolley

Editor’s note: This would be the third and final text story about “the Ghost” from my fanzine “The Symbol.” This is from issue #8, dated March 1967. At the same time I was publishing my superhero stories, a fellow by the name of George R.R. Martin was writing the same type of story, though no doubt with tighter plots, for a fanzine called “Star Studded Comics.” As I recall, he went on to bigger and better things.

“My mother died when I was three,” explained Thomas King to his famous listener, the Ghost. “So my father, Louis D. King, hired a servant named Jenkins to take care of me until he retired. When Dad did retire some eight years ago, he had grown so fond of Jenkins that he decided to have Jenkins take care of him as well, since I would soon be ready for college. About three years ago, Dad became sick and, convinced that he would soon die, he made all sorts of preparations for my good after he was dead.

Tombstone Cemetery RIP (MaxPixel.net)

“For example, to save me the bother, he arranged and planned his own funeral. He also hired Jenkins to take care of me until I became a grown man – age 21.”

“And your birthday is tomorrow?” asked the Ghost.

“Yes. I’ll be 21. But anyway, on with the story. Last week, while at college, I received a telegram to hurry to the hospital where Dad was suffering from a heart attack. Jenkins met me at the train depot, and hurriedly drove me to the hospital where he informed me that my dad wanted to speak to me alone.

“I entered the room, and when Jenkins had made sure that no one was listening, Dad began to speak. Here is what he said: ‘Son, when all my debts are paid, there’ll be about two million dollars left. Here’s what I want you to do. On the midnight just before you become 21, stand at the foot of my grave with another person of your choice. If you find the money where I have hidden it, you are to half it with the other person. While you are standing at my grave, I’ll tell you where the money is, if you are worthy. A million dollars is enough for you to start life. The other million can help someone else. I think that by the time you are 21, you’ll be wise enough to use the money.’

“He asked me if I understood. I told him I did, and he breathed his last.”

“And you want me to go with you to the cemetery tonight?” asked the Ghost.

This story is from “The Symbol #8” with a fast-fading hectographed cover by Gary Lancaster. (Magnus Robot Fighter (c) Gold key Comcs)

“Yes. And if we find that money, $1 million will go to charity.”

“All right. I’ll meet you there at midnight.” They parted.

At 5 minutes until midnight, they met at the late Louis D. King’s grave. As Thomas King flashed a light on the grave marker, the Ghost read it to himself:

LOUIS DONALD KING
REST IN PEACE
BORN: Dec. 1, 1923.
DIED: July 4, 1965.

The Ghost noticed something peculiar about the inscription. Then, at midnight, a ghostly voice emerged from the grave.

“Oh, my son, I must regretfully admit that I have found you and your friend to be unworthy to partake of my wealth. I am truly sorry. Goodbye for the last time.”

“Well,” said Thomas, “we might as well leave.”

“You’re not going to swallow that, are you?” whispered the Ghost. “I hate to mess with graves, but…”

“What is it?”

“A concealed sound system, no less. You stay here. The wire to this speaker must lead to the culprit, so I’m going to follow it.”

Tracing the wire, the Ghost finally found its hidden owner.

“Just as I thought,” he said. “The butler did it.”

Flying the struggling Jenkins back to the gravesite and Thomas, the Ghost worked the whole thing out. He explained to Thomas and to Jenkins:

“I was on to him from the start. Your father’s talk wasn’t private. Jenkins was there, too. He was positive you’d ask him to come here and split the money, but when you didn’t, he decided to try and get it all. He installed a speaker and microphone and issued a fake message from the beyond to scare us. You see, he wanted us to think we weren’t worthy so we’d leave without the money and he’d get it.”

“How could he get it? We still don’t know where it is,” said Thomas.

“Jenkins and I both know. The clue was right in front of our eyes. He was hoping his ‘message’ would distract us from seeing it.”

Jenkins looked angry. “Okay, I suppose you’ve got me. I first figured out where the money was years ago. I would have gotten it then, but I was sure Thomas would ask me to share it, and I thought $1 million would be enough. Besides, I was afraid Thomas would put two and two together and come up with the truth if I tried to steal it. When he decided to let you give half to charity, I became mad and decided to cash in on your father’s last speech. So I rigged up this PA system with some reverberation and effects to make it sound ghostly. That’s the whole story.”

“Not quite,” said Thomas. “Nobody’s told me where the money is!”

“I guess I’d better do that. If you’ll take a look at the tombstone, you’ll notice that some of the letters are a little taller than others.” The Ghost pointed them out to Thomas. LO in LOUIS. O in DONALD. KIN in KING. S in REST. I in IN. And DE in DIED.

“When you put them all together, you have L-O-O-K-I-N-S-I-D-E or ‘look inside,” said Thomas.
The Ghost opened up the tombstone, and, sure enough, there it was.

Everyone was happy. Thomas found his money. The Ghost had a million dollars for charity, and Jenkins got away with only a small fine for grave molesting.

Later that morning, on his way home, the Ghost thought to himself, “All along, I had a feeling that the butler did it.”

THE END

© 2018 by Lynn Woolley, All rights reserved.

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