My story begins on a normal, sunshiny day. I was with two friends, who, in honor of Nancy Drew, shall be called Bess and George. We were driving down a lane, when George proposed we pull down a narrow road to go to a graveyard she knew of.
It was sunny. Mid-afternoon. We had no notion of being scared out of our wits, so we agreed to look around.
We got out of the car and studied gravestones from the 1800s, commenting on the stories that existed in mere dates and names. We strolled deeper into the graves. Suddenly, I spotted a very peculiar tombstone, and I stepped up to it.
Bess immediately declared that it was creepy. I cocked my head and studied it. George said it was jarring, because it was like the person’s life was being displayed in the ground. I liked it, even though it was highly unusual.
The tombstone was hand-made. Cement. Bits of dishes, tiles, and plastic sentiment rocks were set into the cement slabs. It was raised. The back end of the tombstone was higher, maybe a foot tall. It was built of wood and cement.
I circled around. I studied the back and was perplexed to see that, through the back of the tombstone, I could see the dirt of the grave, almost as if this tombstone was a roof. I stared at the back, and then I said slowly,
“You know what I think this is? I think someone was afraid of being buried alive, and they had this tombstone built so they could get back out again.”
Bess looked at me in horror. George came around to the other side. We stared at the back together.
“It does look like that,” George said.
“Whaaat?” Bess said, still horrified.
“People are really afraid they’ll wake back up,” I said. “I knew a woman who asked to be buried with a cell phone. I think–I know this is crazy–I think this is an escape route. And that’s why they made it themselves. ”
We all stared at the tombstone. Bess was vociferously unsettled. Suddenly, George said,
“Guys… there are handles.”
We stared. The back of the tombstone appeared to have hinges and two handles in easy reach.
Bess shrieked. George yelled and clutched me. In a few seconds, we found ourselves tearing across the graveyard, terrified and giggling. We slammed the car doors shut in a flurry, and we heaved breaths and shrieked and laughed and whimpered.
The story is not over. Oh, no.
A few days ago, George and I, and a different friend, who will go as Nancy, were hanging out near this notorious graveyard. Twilight was falling. George, with glee, proposed that we return to the site, to the very scary grave itself, as night fell.
With shivers of delight and spooks, we agreed. We drove to the graveyard, through dark, twisting woods. The idea got more frightening as we approached. As you sit here in sunlight, it might seem silly, but in the woods at night with three highly over-active imaginations and firm beliefs in the impossible… well.
I contemplated grabbing a stake in case vampires are real.
The graveyard was surrounded by dark, chattering woods. No one was around. We pulled in and parked, and we stared around.
“We’re not actually doing this, are we?”
Nancy opened the car door, as did George. I knew in my head that it was silly, and we were fine, and the most we had to fear was a fox or an owl. But the tombstones were gray, and the sky was almost black, and you couldn’t quite see what lurked behind the stones. We were stepping out of reality now–we were stepping into the nightmare realm, the setting of every spooky horror tale, and ghosts were every bit as real as we were.
My stomach dropped.
Reminding myself that Nancy was a blackbelt, I got out of the car. Nancy asked where the weird stone was, and she strode off towards it. George held a flashlight and proceeded to call on Tom Bombadil in poem. I clutched Nancy’s arm. The car grew further behind us.
Nancy whipped up a branch and handed it to me. Reminding myself that I was strong and brave like Buffy, I ripped off an adequate stake and held it ready. I christened it Mr. Pointy.
I felt a lot better now that I was armed.
We reached the gravestone. It looked even more weird and unusual under the light of a flashlight. We studied it in the dark. I looked around, wondering if I would see a dark shape, or a floating spirit. I was excited about the prospect of staking my first vampire.
Standing by the weird grave grew more and more ominous. I wondered if I’d see a hand reaching up for the handles. “Okay, that’s enough!” We turned tail and headed back to the car.
“Don’t run!” George said.
Calling on Tom Bombadil, we hurried back to the car. I looked over my shoulder, each time expecting to see an apparition. When we were nearly to the car, we all lost it and ran, slamming the doors shut and squealing.
We didn’t kill any vampires or face any ghosts, but jeepers, did we feel epic.
I kept Mr. Pointy.