Digging her hands through her locker as if beginning an excavation, Lauren made a mental note to herself to start organizing and start organizing fast. She didn’t realize someone was calling her name until her best friend’s voice was screaming it at a pitch only dogs could hear that would most likely burst an eardrum.
“Jeez Brian, how many times do I have to tell you to stop doing that,” said Lauren as she turned around with a pained expression, her ears still ringing like mad.
“Until you start paying attention,” Brian smirked.
Lauren rolled her eyes, giving up on the raging arguments that were rolling in her head, and continued on, “Halloween is on Saturday. Feel like doing something fun?”
Brian shrugged, “What do you have in mind? I’m sure we can get a group of us, Jacob, and John together.”
“Since you asked…” smiled Lauren mischievously.
“Oh boy, I know that look. What are you thinking?” said Brian as he stuck up his two index fingers in the shape of a cross, as if Almighty phalanges could fend off the inevitable.
Rolling her eyes once more she began, “No, but seriously, I was doing some research last night on old legends. Turns out that there is one about the cemetery across the street. I think it’d be fun if we found out about this ‘haunting’.”
Brian exhaled and placed his hands on the back of his head, “I don’t know. I mean, you know how John is. He doesn’t play around with spooky things like that.” Lauren began pouting and Brian immediately jumped up and agreed, “Alright, alright, he’ll be there, happy?” When Lauren nodded, Brian gave a sigh of relief, making sure he’d convince John to go or rather to trick him into the car ride over.
Finally Halloween night arrived and with it came a group of rebellious high school kids ready to bust some ghosts. Driving slowly down the dark lane, the street lights flickering on as they drove past, the car bounced on the uneven gravel until they came to a stop before the gates. The cemetery swayed before their eyes; dark, mysterious, unknown wonders awaited. It should be a night of harmless fun, just don’t get caught disturbing the dead.
John wiped his forehead and began shaking his head, “Dude this isn’t cool. I’m serious. You know I don’t mess around with this kind of stuff. No way man, I’m stayin’ in the car. There is no amount of persuasion that can get me walkin’ out with you guys waitin’ for somethin’ weird to show up.”
“Are you kidding me, John? Don’t be such a baby. It’s supposed to be something fun to do for Halloween. Besides, not like anything scary is gonna happen,” argued Jacob while Brian and Lauren nodded in agreement.
“Fine, I’ll go, but if there’s somethin’ weird goin’ on I’m walkin’ back to the car, you hear me?” After the group agreed to John’s terms they unbuckled and unloaded, making the treacherous journey to enter the graveyard. Conveniently, or maybe not, the gates were left unlocked, dying to be trespassed.
After a few minutes walking, shining their flashlights on spiders and other critters that scour the earth’s surface while coming upon a certain ancient, unruly tomb stone belonging to a Mister Mathew Harris, Lauren turned around to address the group.
“So the legend has it that there was a family that was trapped in their home on a rainy night. Thunder and lightning and all that good stuff. Well, lightning struck their house and the whole place was immediately engulfed in flames. Obviously they burned to death and are supposedly buried here. The legend says if you light a match next to their tomb stones then their ghosts will appear and blow it out and scare you out of the graveyard. Oh and they were the Garson family, so that’s who we’re looking for. Sounds like fun, right?” Lauren giggled as the boys shifted their weight from foot to foot, dumbfounded by her ability to be so incredibly blunt.
After a moment Brian chuckled and shrugged, “Let’s go then.” Quickly everyone followed suit and quickly things began happening. Dodging Lauren’s futile attempts at getting her dropped flashlight back, Jacob tossed it behind him, loving to play pranks on her. Collecting her wits Lauren jogged over to her flashlight. On chance it landed next to the ugly tomb stone she had seen earlier, only this time it bore a different name, her name: Ms. Lauren Faire. With a startled gasp, she shook her head and rubbed her eyes hoping they were playing tricks on her. She was almost too scared to look back until she shyly glanced and it was still the etched letters of Mister Mathew Harris. Taking hold of her flashlight, she sprinted back to the group, her face probably pale and covered in sweat. No one noticed and she relaxed back to her original confidence and indifference. Surly it wasn’t anything to worry about, right?
It wasn’t until John hollered about seeing a shadow behind a tree that Lauren began doubting the entire trip.
“I’m not playin’ around Jacob, I’m dead serious. I keep seein’ somethin’ behind these trees. I feel like I’m bein’ watched and I don’t like it. I’m goin’ back to the car, alright?” Jacob rolled his eyes and watched John’s retreating figure. Smirking to himself Jacob was already planning to make fun of him the next day until he felt something tug on his hand. Jumping up about a mile he glanced down, making sure he didn’t just run into a hand-shaped bush, if such a thing existed, no such plant was near him. Keeping cool he made sure his fear was kept unaware by the two remaining friends.
Already taking a few steps back, Jacob announced, “Alright, don’t beg you guys, I’ll go back with him. Don’t wait up, okay?” Laughing, Brian gave him a quick, “Whatever,” and told Lauren to lead the way to the tomb stones they were looking for.
“Davis, Martins, Lewis…,” Lauren mumbled to herself the names of the passing tomb stones, “Garson. Where’s Garson?” As if on cue, they heard a few thuds to their left. Footsteps, perhaps? On grass? Impossible. Thinking it was just Jacob and John trying to play a trick on them, Lauren quickly ran in the direction of the sound, giggling. As she dodged trees she stopped dead in her tracks and whipped her head around. Laughter? It couldn’t be. There was no reason for children to be in a graveyard at midnight. The thought was ridiculous, besides what houses were around here? And yet it made no sense for living children to be here, but for the undead? It was insane.
Cold. Vulnerable. Alone. Brian? Where is Brian? Lauren hollered. A strangled panic. Ice cold dripping down her spine. She began retracing her steps, desperately seeking to get back on the path. Trees, so many trees, too many trees. The giggles, the chuckles, the bursts of laugher, quiet it began, louder it continued. No longer friends. No longer children. Frantic, rapid, random patterns of running and dodging. Branches scraping against her face, her arms, her legs. It was sprinkling, the water dripped off the leaves and soaked through her shoes.
Whispers turned to shouts over her shoulder. “Lightning, lightning, strikes you down, strikes you down,” the repetition of the words echoed throughout her mind. Beating and pounding for escape against her skull. Soon thunder came rolling in, and lightning followed, brighter than ever before, leaving her eyes blazed with the reflection of the flash. Striking a bush nearby, the flames licked at her feet. Lauren cried out. Cold, vulnerable, alone. Breathing hard, hyperventilating, her heartbeat pounding furiously trying to finish a lifetime of beats in a matter of seconds for surly Death was coming. For surly Death was on her heels. Something grabbed her ankles and she went flying, arms flailing in front of her trying to catch herself. Panic, terror, she struggled to raise herself, adrenaline coursing through her veins she pushed herself off the ground and bolted through the trees, continuing her escape from Death’s cold fingers. She ran and fled until she no longer met resistance from the trees, but from Brian’s back.
His face was pale, and covered in sweat, “Where were you?” He probably could’ve yelled if his teeth weren’t chattering so bad.
Lauren shook her head vigorously, swallowing, trying to catch hold of her own breath, “The car,” she choked, “we’ve got to get back to the car.”
They ran without looking back, and quickly made it back to the gates which were thankfully kept wide open. They jumped in the car, and Brian quickly stuck the keys in the ignition and sped off. He looked in his rearview mirror and saw what appeared to him as five silhouettes. No doubt the Garson’s. And no doubt would he ever want to meet them again.
Monday came around. School, a regular, uneventful routine; safe. They gave each other time to think and now was the time they would actually get together and talk about what happened Saturday night. An attempt to not be made fun of or be known as crazy, the bell was conveniently about to ring so all was left in the hall was their group and a few miscellaneous loitering students.
John began and kept up his usual argument of, “Man I’m never goin’ back there again. I’m serious. You guys didn’t believe me, but I swear I saw shadows of people goin’ in and out of the trees, no joke.”
Surprisingly Jacob was the first to nod his head in agreement, “Yeah weird stuff happened to me too. It felt like a little kid was tugging on my hand. At first I thought I just caught it on a plant or something, but there was nothing around me. Also on the way back to the car I think I saw those same shadows you saw too John.”
John nodded and Lauren began, “Yeah I heard footsteps when it was just me and Brian and I assumed it was just you guys trying to play a trick on us so I ran after the sound. Soon after I got lost and heard some crazy laughs. It felt like forever until I found Brian. Oh and I saw a tomb stone that changed its name… to my name. Anyway, what were you doing when I was gone?” Lauren turned to Brian full of curiosity.
“Well at first I didn’t notice you were gone. So I found the Garson’s tomb stones after you asked where they were so I went ahead and lit the match and that’s when it started to rain. I turned around, creeped out that the match had gone out just like you said it would, but you weren’t there. I started calling for you when I thought I saw someone behind a tree. Soon after you ran right into me. I’m not kidding either when I say I never want to go back there.”
They nodded their heads in agreement. Immersed in their own thoughts, imagining the horrors each other went through, before slowly dispersing for class.
Hastily digging her hands through her locker due to the fear of being late to class, Catherine made a mental note to herself to start throwing out the useless junk pile of papers she had that was about to make her late to class. She didn’t realize someone was calling her name until her best friend’s voice was screaming it at a pitch only dogs could hear that would most likely burst an eardrum.
Before giving her snappy remark as she turned around, she gave a glance to the whispering group of students and asked, “Feel like going to a cemetery tonight?”
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