The month for ghosts, goblins, witches, and jack-o-lanterns. A time when the ancients believed the souls of the dead returned to their homes and evil spirits wandered the earth. A time when, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio.” A time for spine-chilling mysteries. A time for Friday, October 13th.
This is the second part in a two-part series. If you didn’t read part 1 please go back and do so before reading this one.
The 13th Grave By Anita Dickason
Part Two of Two
With a hiss, Walt pointed toward the corner of the graveyard. A shapeless black form crouched beside a grave.
Stephen glanced toward the closed gates before shifting closer to his grandfather. “Where the devil did he come from?”
Walt whispered, “All of a sudden, he was just there. Who is it?”
Stephen leaned forward, eyes straining to see. “I can’t tell. It’s too dark.”
On one side of the grave, a mound of dirt rapidly grew.
His voice still soft, Walt asked, “How is he digging the hole? I can’t see a shovel.”
Appalled by the bizarre sight, Stephen said, “I’ve been wondering that myself.”
The figure bent over the open grave. Then, just as quickly as the mound of dirt had appeared, it vanished. The dark shape rose, turning toward them. Dense shadows built, coiling around headstones. Amid the eerie, seething mass, the figure stood motionless, the face hidden by a hood. The gloom of the night deepened until the black form was only another dark shadow. Not a single thud from a clump of dirt, the snap of a branch or twig, or the crunch of dried leaves marked its passage as it glided across the cemetery, fading into the woods. The silence was unnerving.
Stephen sucked in a breath. “What did we just see?”
“I don’t know. Do you think whoever it was saw us?”
“I doubt it since we’re in the shadow of the trees.” Even as he spoke, Stephen didn’t believe it. He could still feel the inexplicable pull on his senses when the figure turned in their direction.
Walt climbed down. He looked up at his grandson. “We need to follow him.”
Trepidation roiled inside him at the thought of following what they’d just seen. “No! We need to call the sheriff’s department.”
With a dry tone, Walt said, “If we tried to describe whoever that was, they’ll think we’re drunk.” He turned. “Come on. No harm in seeing what he’s up too.”
Stephen groaned and slid off the wall. Short of throwing the old man over his shoulder and hauling him out of the cemetery, there was no stopping his grandfather. As he trotted to catch up, he wondered how he’d let Walt talk him into this.
The inexplicable black fog still covered the ground, clinging to their feet and legs. Concerned his grandfather could easily trip and fall, Stephen stayed close to his side. Since he didn’t know who or what they were dealing with, he didn’t want to broadcast their presence by using the flashlight. Instead, Stephen relied on the occasional flash of moonlight breaking through the clouds to guide him as they weaved around broken headstones and into the trees. He glimpsed a dark form during one of the flares of light before it vanished.
“Where’d he go?” his grandfather asked.
“Maybe through that break in the trees.” As a boy, Stephen had roamed these woods and knew them like the back of his hand. “I can’t figure out where he’s headed. There’s nothing around here but the pasture on the other side of the trees that hasn’t been used for years.”
As they moved deeper into the woods, his apprehension spiraled. “Let’s call it a night, Granddad. We can do this during the day.”
“Ah, come on. This has got me bugged. It won’t hurt to at least check the clearing,” Walt told him.
His tone adamant, Stephen said, “That’s as far as we go.”
Their steps slowed as they eased toward the gap in the tree line.
Walt abruptly halted. “What the heck?” he muttered.
Stephen stopped alongside him. His body stiffened in amazement.
In the dim light, Stephen gaped at tree-like bushes in what used to be an empty pasture. Large white flowers adorned the bare branches. Amidst the bushes, a figure covered from head to toe in a black hooded robe, drifted through the eerie fog covering the ground. Pausing at a bush, a robe-draped hand slowly caressed each flower before moving to the next one.
His apprehension morphed into a bone-deep chill as he leaned closer to his grandfather’s ear. “Does anything about those bushes strike you as strange?”
“It sure does. I don’t know of any flower that can grow on dead branches.”
Moonlight broke through the cloud cover, illuminating the pasture. The figure stopped beside a bush and pulled an object from its robe. Fleshless fingers gently brushed away clumps of dirt that clung to the surface before mounting it, face forward on a large branch.
His grandfather gasped. “It can’t be! It’s not possible!”
Horrified by the macabre sight, Stephen exclaimed, “Those aren’t flowers! They’re skulls! Human skulls! The bushes are filled with them!”
At the sound of Stephen’s voice, the thing turned. Under the cowl of the hood, a chalk-white skull gleamed. Blood-red lights blazed in empty eye-sockets as the entity soundlessly glided toward them.
Terror pierced Stephen’s gut, every heartbeat a hammer striking his chest. Alongside him, his grandfather wheezed as he struggled to breathe. Stephen grabbed Walt’s arm, pulling him back. “We have to get out of here.”
A deep, hypnotic voice resonated. “Come!”
At the sound, an overpowering compulsion flooded Stephen’s senses. Even as the soul-shattering fear ratcheted every instinct to run, he fought a terrible urge to reach for the skeletal fingers that beckoned.
The voice reverberated again. “I’ve been waiting for you.” Menacing laughter rang out. “I knew you would want to join my family.”
Bony fingers curled around Walt’s arm.
Gripped by a spine-chilling awareness, his eyes slowly opened. Above him, sunlight dappled the ceiling. As the terror faded, Stephen realized he was in the spare bedroom. Sprawled across the bed, fully clothed, he had no recollection of how he got there. His last memory was dragging his grandfather away from the grasp of the hellish entity.
A knock sounded on the closed door. “Coffee’s ready,” Walt hollered.
His thoughts buzzing with questions, Stephen staggered to his feet, following the freshly brewed aroma into the kitchen.
Walt eyed him before filling a cup and handing it to Stephen. “You look like I feel.” An expression of chagrin tightened his face. “I suspect I got a little heavy-handed with the whiskey. My memory is a bit hazy. I can’t even remember why we were in the graveyard.”
“You thought something mysterious was going on.” Stephen took a deep swig of the coffee. He wasn’t about to enlighten his grandfather, especially when he wasn’t certain what happened.
“Hmm … it must not have been too important.” Walt shrugged. “I guess we finally gave up and came home.” He pulled a skillet out of the drawer. “I even forgot that dang thermos. I’ll get it after breakfast.”
His grandfather had just given him a way to head to the cemetery without raising questions. “I’ll do it.” Stephen took another bracing swallow of coffee before setting the cup on the counter. On his way out, he grabbed his coat lying on the back of the couch. Something else he didn’t remember. The gaps in his and Walt’s memories were disquieting.
Not wanting to hassle with the gate, he crawled over the wall. Inside, he spotted the thermos where they’d sat. With it tucked under his arm, Stephen trotted to the grave where they’d seen the creature. Rattled by the sight of leaves covering the grave, he quickly crisscrossed the graveyard, studying the other graves. Not a single one had been disturbed. His sense of bewilderment blossomed into a state of full-blown panic. Stephen raced through the woods, only to stop and stare at an empty pasture—nothing, not a single bush or skull.
Had any of it happened? Logic slowly pushed aside the overpowering anxiety. Since Stephen didn’t believe he’d suddenly gone off the deep end, there must be a rational explanation. But what? His mind latched on to his grandfather’s comment about being heavy-handed. That had to be it. What he experienced was nothing more than an alcohol-induced nightmare caused by his grandfather’s dang spiced coffee.
Convinced he’d solved the mystery, Stephen turned to walk back to the house. As he passed a tree, something fluttered in the wind. A fragment of cloth hung on the end of a branch. He reached for it. As he fingered the black fabric, the hairs on his neck tingled. It didn’t come from his or his grandfather’s coat. Slowly, he turned to look at the pasture and wondered.
This wonderfully haunting story was lovingly written by the talented Anita Dickason. Thank you for all your hard work and time Anita! See more of her books by clicking the links below.
Anita Dickason is a retired police officer with a total of twenty-seven years of law enforcement experience, twenty-two with Dallas PD. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics officer, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer, and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.