Wednesday, October 14, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - Walk This Way

A chilly tale entitled:

Walk This Way

I don't know if you've heard this story before, you can stop me if you have.

Otherwise you might want to listen.

It was a stupid dare but I thought it would be fun. Spend Halloween night in a cemetery. No big deal. Lots of kids do it, right?

I was ready. I had my iPad and phone, both fully charged with an extra battery for each. I didn't even show up at the cemetery until after nine. I figured I would stay awake for a couple of hours and then curl up in my sleeping bag and go to sleep, wake up early and then head home for a shower before school. I couldn't be late for school again, I was already on the brink of getting in deep trouble for being tardy three days that semester.

That was my plan anyway.

And you know what they say about plans, you make them and God laughs. I wonder if he is still laughing.

By the time I arrived at Cedar Grove Cemetery, the trick or treaters were all gone and the streets were empty. I thought I knew the cemetery pretty well, I cut through there every day to go to school but let me tell you, it looks quite different at night.  The path I normally took every morning which was basically a dirt road, was now covered in shadow, and the green grass of  day was now a sulky black.

During the day the place seems quiet and peaceful, at night, it's downright creepy.

I had a place all set out in my mind when I took the dare, there is a huge old tree over by the stone wall that surrounds the cemetery itself that I thought would make a pretty good camping spot. I think its an oak tree but I don't really know for sure.  I've sat beneath it a couple of times when I had to finish up some forgotten homework before school. Even a genius like me forgets stuff.

During the day, it's a nice enough place to sit and contemplate things but in the dark, with its branches bare, the tree looks like a crooked and twisted monster. Something that could eat you if you weren't careful enough. It didn't change my mind about where I was going to stay however. At least I knew this place. The devil you know and all that.

There also aren't any graves nearby so I didn't have to worry about stepping on anyone.

So I'm creeped out already but I find my way to the tree and get settled in for what I think is going to be a quiet night. And it was, for awhile. I listened to some music and read for a bit then settled in to watch a movie on my iPad. Abbott and Costello meet the Mummy. It's funny movie but still good for a Halloween night in a graveyard.

I think I watched  just about all of it before I fell asleep but I can't remember exactly. I could try and figure it out if it was important but it doesn't matter to the story, not really.

I do know the exact time when I woke up because I checked my phone to see if maybe I had been there long enough and I could go home and sleep in my own bed.

It was one minute till midnight and the cemetery was full of people.

When someone of importance dies in Jordan Village, they are often buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery. When this happens the streets outside the cemetery are lined with black limousines and the cemetery is overrun with other important people, usually politicians or Mayflower descendant family members.  You know, old money.

But even on those days when you could hardly get out of your own driveway because of all the cars, I had never seen this many people in Cedar Grove before. There must have been a hundred of them.

At first I couldn't imagine what would bring all these people out on Halloween night, was it some sort of Halloween Party game? This is what your rational mind tries to tell you when something irrational is happening to it. Otherwise it would just explode.

So I just sat there quietly watching the parade of people lumber through the cemetery as if it was a normal every day occurrence. I was okay with that, believing that it was normal until the people started disappearing right in front of me. I thought it was just a trick of the night, the full moon and the darkness playing havoc on my eyesight but soon I realized they were actually disappearing.

Sort of anyway. It was an old woman I noticed first. She was bent over as if her back was aching or she was quite crippled. She was moving very slowly towards a grave to my right and I watched her as she appeared to be kneeling down to pray in front of the headstone.

As I continued to stare at the old woman I realized she wasn't kneeling at all, she was actually fading into the grave. At first I could see her entire body, then her legs were gone, then her waist and arms until finally she disappeared altogether.

I thought it was odd although I really didn't believe what I was seeing at the time. Your mind protects you as best as it can against things that don't fit into your world as they should and it needed a lot of protection that night as I watched similar scenes being played out over and over in the cemetery. Dozens of people, or should I say spirits, returning to their graves as if they were out for nothing more than a leisurely stroll.

I should mention here that the returning spirits took no notice of me at all as I watched them dissipate into their final resting places. I could guess that this was either because I was too afraid to move and they just didn't notice my presence or perhaps it was that I didn't matter to them at all.

Either way I watched all of them complete their journeys and as the final spirit faded, a tall lanky man who didn't walk as much as shuffle back into his grave, I heard the clock tower at City Hall chime the hour of midnight.

Halloween was officially over and November arrived right on time.

I decided I had stayed long enough to cover my dare, plus I was freezing on that cold Autumn morning.

I packed up my things, rolled up my sleeping bag, and walked back home which is just up the street from the cemetery. I slept like the dead that night and I ended up being late for school the next day after all. I got three days of detention that first week of November in 2012.

I still cut through the cemetery every morning, its a shortcut and a good one at that, but I never go back to the cemetery after dark. Especially on Halloween.

But if you ever happen to find yourself in Jordan Village on All Hallows Eve you might want to visit Cedar Grove Cemetery a few minutes before midnight just to see for yourself.

I won't be there but don't worry.

You won't be alone.

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