I specifically remember Friday, late September of last year, after school, Christina and I walking home together talking about boys, ghosts, and the paranormal. We had always been interested in the hereafter and had just finished reading a book called Purgatory after several summer sleepovers. At those sleepovers, in our oversized nightgowns, we would take turns reading chapter after chapter of the hair-raising tales of what happens in the next life to souls. Our priest had once given a sermon saying that we ought to not conjure up spirits and talk to the dead, but Christina and I were enamored with the morbid.
And that September afternoon, we had decided that we would go to Mass with our parents on Sunday and then hang out all day. That Sunday night the blood moon would rise and we were told by Paul West, a goth kid from 6th period, that during the blood moon the spirits rise from their graves and will interact with mortals. The idea of meeting a ghost, someone from the great beyond, thrilled Christina and me. After Mass, we spent the afternoon together, talking about our plans.
“Okay,” said Christina, “we’re going to pack a couple sandwiches for us each in our backpacks and maybe some chips or something.”
“Then,” she continued, “we’ll need some flashlights, because it’ll be creepy dark. And we’ll bring both of our phones, you know, just in case.”
I nodded and said, “Yes, just in case, but we’re tough; we won’t be scared anyway.”
“Thankfully, St. Mark’s is a quick, two blocks away and I told Mom we’re just going to the hill to get good pics,” she said, waving her phone around, convincingly.
“Why not just tell her we want to go prowl around St. Mark’s cemetery?” I asked.
“Mom would say that’s morbid,” she explained, “and she’d be kinda right but talking to ghosts seems too wicked to not try!”
I shrugged. “I guess so,” I said. And it kind of did sound like it could be fun. We had not spent any time in the graveyard and had only seen it from the back room of the church. Even if we did not get to interact with spirits, we’d at least see who all lied at rest there. I did know that Mrs. Cassidy, an old widow who used to play our church organ, was buried back there. But I did not know who else was buried there so: what the hay?
Christina and I hung out. We even flipped on the local 5 o’clock news and the anchorman was discussing the blood moon and irrational behaviors associated with it. He chuckled and talked about werewolves and then the weather came on.
“See, Mom?” said Christina, “Isn’t that moon lovely?”
“You can go get your pictures after dinner,” said Christina’s mother, Gail.
“I know,” said Christina, “I just wanted to remind you.”
“Christina, come get me after dinner,” I said. “I need to go back home for dinner myself.” With that, I scooped up my backpack and walked out of their front door.
Later, Christina gave me a call and told me it was time to head back over. She was excitedly rushing around, grabbing her “ghost hunting equipment.” As we walked out the front door to go on our short journey to the graveyard, Christina notified her mother and we were off.
We walked down our street and up another, chatting about ghosts and the great beyond. The night air was cool and there was a slight breeze and it caressed my cheeks and blew softly through my medium-length, reddish-brown hair. Finally, we made it to St. Mark’s and stopped dead at the parking lot, seeing the entrance to the cemetery and a few small graves from our position. The blood moon in the background of the cemetery gave it an evil glow and sent a shiver up my spine. I felt goose pimples form along my arms and I shuddered.
Maybe the rumors about the ghosts coming to life for one night were true. Maybe the idea of talking to them had been romanticized by my favorite teen movies. I felt slightly fearful of the prospect of meeting with the deceased, so I stopped and shuffled my feet around nervously in the parking lot. I noticed that Christina may have been feeling the same thing because she slowed down in her tracks, as well, and began anxiously twisting her black hair around her index finger.
“You nervous, Care?” she chuckled. Her voice cracked a bit and she stared at her feet.
“Nah, not nervous,” I said, now staring at my own feet. I kicked at the air and moved forward. Each step felt like my shoes were caught in molasses. My heart thudded in my chest and my hairs stood on end. I felt my stomach do flip flops and I wanted to turn on my heels and leave. We approached the chain link fence that enclosed the entire graveyard. I told Christina that we should go home. I reminded her of a sermon we once heard about not interfering with the dead or practicing any kind of incantations to get their attention. I remembered that our priest had said that communicating with the dearly departed was akin to allowing oneself to be deceived by a host of demons. She argued that we had gone “this far,” which was only two blocks away, so why didn’t we just think about all this beforehand.
“Plus,” I remember her saying, “I didn’t even bring a Ouija board or nothing.”
After a minute of back and forth, I hoisted her over the fence and she let me through. And after that moment, everything seemed to go so quickly. At some point I remember her telling me a gruesome story about a family of five that had been shot to death over jewels. The next thing you know I had clean fainted on the floor after hearing creepy noises. I suppose I am easily startled and then, while unconscious, I had a dream. I was surrounded at first in a hot white light. I saw the silhouette of a young girl approaching me and I began to back up. I turned on my heels and ran, but there was nowhere to go. In every direction I went I could see her. I could hear her voice penetrating my mind, her creepy, echo-ey voice belting out a ghastly song of sorts. My heart rose into my throat, I felt paralyzed with fear. My legs were trembling and sweat careened down my forehead, dripping into my eyes and stinging them. I gained some control over my weakened legs and ran into every direction of this lowing whitewashed nothingness I was trapped in. I could not get away from the ghastly girl. Another eerie voice entered my mind. The raspy voice sounded gravelly but also had a similar echo to the girl’s. I looked everywhere and could not see him so I kept running until my legs started to throb.
“Help me, please!” a loud whisper is all that escaped my throat. It felt closed.
“I am going to die,” I realized, sobbing on my knees. “I am going to die and never see my family again!” I screamed, pounding my fist against the hot, white nothingness.
“Death does that, dear!” another new, gentler voice entered my mind. This voice of an older woman, she spoke with subtle cracking sounds instead of an echo. It was like her voice was coming from an old radio.
“I can’t be dead!” I protested as loudly as I could in that raspy and strained whisper. Tears now flooded my cheeks.
“You are and you are not,” said the old woman. She revealed herself to me. A haggish looking corpse appeared in front of me, animated by something inside of it. As soon as I saw her grayed, receding, and worm-eaten flesh that revealed bone and cartilage, my stomach did a turn and I vomited on her maggot eaten shoe. Her head, which hardly had any skin to cover the exposed skull, had only a few strands of overgrown gray and crisped hair. Her eyeballs sagged down over her skinless cheek bone and hanged by only a thread of muscle and nerve tissue. I could not vomit anymore and my trembling, throbbing legs could not carry on to run. So I sat there, panicking and praying that I could wake up soon.
“You will go back to your life because I have marked you,” she said, explaining the situation to me as if it were pure common sense, “but unlike the others, I have marked you on your soul and in your mind.”
Even as she spoke, tears continued to burn behind my lids and a lump formed in my throat. I had no idea what she was talking about and all I could think is the whiteness and burning sensation in this nothingness was my own personal hell, and because I dared to visit a grave with poor intentions, God was punishing me now.
I whimpered and laid my head into my knees to avoid looking at this monster standing in front of me.
“Why?!” I sobbed, shaking violently now.
“You will work for us,” she continued. “You will have a psychic link that connects you to our world at all times. Because of this mark, you are now one of us, but you get to maintain your youth and beauty. You will be able to go unnoticed because you will be alive, but in a psychic and spiritual way, you will belong to the dead. You will hear us at all hours and people will probably think you are mad. And after tonight you will think you are mad, insane, out of your wits. But we will still use you for our purpose. You will travel, find graves and free us from our prisons. And your mark will guarantee this for us. We are coming. But we will all know you are now ours and will be ours in death so you will face no harm from us, unlike the other humans. So give thanks for this and be grateful!” Her crackling, yet warm voice turned sinister. And she faded away without another word.
“Caren!” I heard a familiar voice screaming at me. I shook my head back and forth, trying to gain control over my senses.
“Should we call 9-1-1?!” Christina was leaning over me and shaking my body.
She came into focus as I rubbed my eyes. Confusion set in but I could see Christina’s cheeks had been tear stained.
“I passed out?!” I asked, upset at Christina for making me come here, but also relieved that I had been dreaming. “We have to go, Christina. This place is creepy!” and so we dashed out of the graveyard and walked the two blocks back home, in complete silence. She called out a friendly goodbye to me when she ran, exhausted, back into her own home. I did not turn back to say goodbye or even nod. I was stressed out from being passed out on the dirty floor of the graveyard and felt justified in ignoring my best friend for that night. I went in, tossed my backpack on a coat rack, and walked through the living room where my parents were watching the news. I walked through the hallway and into my bedroom.
I sat on my bed and pulled out my diary:
I went to a cemetery and died. They are coming.