"GRAVESTONES" - Jack Dowd
Jason picked up the knife from the damp ground. “Don’t let the ghouls eat you.”
“A tenner says he’ll chicken out.”
“If you hear that, you'll know I’ve seen the ghosts,” Jason laughed. He watched, still grinning madly as a few of the boys got their phones out to film him while the others caught their breath. “I’m off. See you in a bit, yeah?”
“Later Jason. I’ve got ghostbusters on speed dial in case you need ‘em.”
Jason decided to stay away from the roads that led down to the other end of the graveyard. If the warden was still around or if a policeman looked through the fence there would be nowhere to hide. If he stayed by the graves not only would it look better on video but he could duck down and wait until the coast was clear to move again.
It was a stupid dare, he thought, but at least it was easy. Bobby had chosen it, he still believed in ghosts. Stab the grave of Edward Stiles, take a picture on his phone and then bring the knife and picture back. Easy! Bobby thought he was being hard, poor boy. Jason didn’t understand why he hung around with them. He ruined the image, he cramped their style. He needed to go.
Peering down the next road, Jason jogged on. A plan was already forming in his mind. Bobby still believed in ghosts.... His breath formed in the frosty air. The street lamppost was far behind now; the only source of light was the dimly lit moon. Where was that dam grave, anyway? Jason didn’t know.
Crouching behind a crumbling headstone decorated with an old Christmas wreath, he tried to think. The graveyard was haunted by Edward’s ghost but nobody had said where his grave was. The ghost had been spotted around the centre; was it by the oak tree? The cold air was making it hard to think.
Looking behind him Jason couldn’t see the fence anymore. The clouds were low, the thick mist surrounded him. Slightly off ease he took out his phone. It’ll look sad texting for directions, he thought, but no other ideas came to him. The idea of wandering around the graveyard wasn’t pleasant. The phone’s screen failed to light up.
There, the tree! Without thinking about if anyone was watching, Jason bolted. The mist was fading as suddenly as it had come. Maybe the bitter wind had blown it along. In mid step Jason zipped up his coat. The wind hadn’t been like that a moment ago.
Leaping over a wide hole by a blank gravestone, Jason stumbled the last few feet to the tree. He took hold of the trunk in both hands and bent over panting. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end and goosebumps slowly prickled his skin. He shivered but it wasn’t because of the cold.
The mist had fully risen now; Jason could see the fence from where he had entered. The bent railing he had used to climb on was still there, but no one else was.
“Cowards!” Jason shouted into the night. No one answered him. Where were they? Maybe a police car had driven past. They must have legged it, Jason decided, but he couldn’t bring himself to believe it. The streetlight the boys had been under blinked out.
Who was that? Jason dived to the ground. It was too dark to see clearly but he thought there had been someone five rows to the right. If he couldn’t see the man then Jason hoped that the man couldn’t see him. Quickly but carefully he crawled towards the nearest headstone.
Footsteps. Yes, someone was there. It didn’t sound like trainers on wet grass, though. It sounded like... Jason couldn’t explain it. He’d never heard anything like it; a sort of squelching, whooshing sound. He shivered again as the dew crept through his thin coat and onto his wet shirt, pressing against his skin. I’ll catch my death out here. Forget the dare, it was time to go.
Another set of footsteps, this time from behind. Jason spun around. A figure was examining a headstone two rows back. It looked like a woman but Jason couldn’t be sure. There was no way of seeing past the pale gray hood covering her face. She held a walking stick in her free hand, the other was rubbing the marble stonework. Jason stared, transfixed by the woman who hadn’t been there seconds ago. He leapt over the gravestone next to him and hit the ground running. She was too old to chase him. His trainers skidded on the grass, his knees collided with the next gravestone as his world spun.
There was someone else! The first figure had got closer and a third person, a young boy, was looking down the row, directly at him. Cursing, Jason sprang to the next row and dodged between two gravestones, only to be met by three men in long brown robes. Impossible!
He skidded along the grass and shut his eyes as his body collided with the men. Instead of knocking the men off their feet, Jason felt nothing. He opened his eyes. The men were still there. The little boy had joined them as well as two men in old fashioned suits and a woman holding a bundle. They had come from nowhere.
“Get away from me!” he screamed. Jason slipped on wet grass again as he tried to get up but knocked his head on the side of the gravestone in his haste to escape. He collapsed to the ground, blood trickling down the side of his face as a wave of numbness washed over his body.
Looking back he saw that the group were advancing towards him. “Get away from me!” he bellowed again. He lacked the strength to move.
The long fought fear finally overcame him. A scream escaped his lips. Then the only thing he could see was the darkness…and the only thing he could hear was their laughter.
BIO: Jack Dowd, writer and student, lives in London. He has a novel that he works on intermittently and spends his time doing homework and writing short stories. This story and others from Jack can be read on his blog here.