Never take a stroll through a yard full of dead people. That's a lesson we all learn early in life. Tombstones and other deathly ornaments hang on the outskirts of our mortal peripheral vision. Sometimes we can't help it. Sometimes we see something. Sometimes we hear something. Sometimes we step beyond the threshold of the living and the deceased—a mistake some of us have to learn to be dead with!
There’s a gray cloud floating above my head. It coalesces into an opal haze while icy air exhales and swirls against a nearby weathered tombstone.
I turn around and see dry leaves rolling against cold grass. My watch reads: 10:30am. It’s okay. I’m early. A yawn wrenches my mouth open as I glare toward the yard of the dead.
“Hey! Over here!”
Cassandra waves while jogging—her feet thump against the dirt path—levitating nebulous tan smoke.
“Sorry I’m late! What’s the matter?” She asks.
My eyes glide toward the weathered tombstone.
“…Nothing…must be gas. Or something.”
I rub my belly and smirk. Cassandra nods, and then places a black knitted hat upon her head. We stroll into the yard of the dead—our feet crunch upon the frost tipped lawn. Cassandra veers toward a moss covered tombstone. I keep my distance underneath the shade of a looming pine tree.
“Ruthford E. Haleclaw…died…it’s difficult to read…1856.” Cassandra says. She hovers a camera in front of her eye and photographs the moss covered tombstone. A slight sensation drags against the back of my neck as I’m embraced by the arms of fear. Spectral fingernails dig and scrape against my shivering spine.
I look over my shoulder and see a green piny tree arm waving at me.
“Are you ready? I have something to show you.” Cassandra says.
Cassandra and I weave through a lattice of crumbling gravestones. She spins around and places a hand on my chest.
“Don’t step on it!”
My foot levitates above a small rectangular stone. Something is written on the grave. I can’t read it.
“…It’s bad luck to step on a grave. Come on! Over here. Take a look at this.” Cassandra says.
I rest my foot next to the small rectangular grave and follow her up a nearby hill. The tips of my shoes dig into the soggy earth. Moisture bleeds through the outside canvas carapace while water drips onto dirty socks. I look over my shoulder and the parking-lot speaks to me: There’s still time. Turn back. It’s okay. You’ll think of something to say. Just a few steps…and you’ll be home. Don’t worry.
“Are you coming? It’s just up here! You need to take a look at this!” Cassandra yells from the hill’s grassy apex. I yell back:
“Of course! I’ll be there in a moment.”
My shoes kick into the hill’s lumpy landscape. She stares at her camera while spinning a small dial.
“Oh. You’re going to love this. Over here.”
Cassandra walks a past an oak tree and smiles.
“Come on! We’re almost there.”
I feel like I’m swimming inside of a dream. Something is pulling me backwards…pulling against my will to push forward. Sunshine warms my skin while Cassandra curls a finger at me, and then points at a grave.
“Take a look at this.”
My spine lurches over the gravestone while my eyes scan the engraved words. If a heart beats somewhere in my chest…it must of stopped long ago. I’m cold. Shivering. I trace a finger along my name engraved into the stone.
The date is shallow. Incomprehensible. I rest against my grave while the grass underneath recoils like a slithering serpent. Black fingers ascend from the dirt while a cold ghoulish hand grasps my throat and pulls me toward the worms and beetles.
Cassandra squints, and then takes a photograph.
“See? I knew you’d love it.”
BASED ON REAL EVENTS…well…sort of.
Photographs by Rose Perez
Scatterbrain! Concept and Story by FlyTrapMan