What Happened Next
Ahead of them, the graveyard slowly came into view. Though it was near midnight, the full moon filtered through the branches of the oak trees, and illuminated the cemetery in silver and gray. As they neared the cemetery, Mimi, who had been walking fast, gradually slowed. Steve slowed too, until they were walking with tiny steps through the menacing iron gate.
Nothing moved. The old oak trees and their bare black branches were eerily still. The only sound was of their sneakers crunching through the leaf litter. In the cold light of the moon, the graveyard looked oddly peaceful. Then startlingly close, a barn owl hooted. They both jumped.
It was Steve who spoke first. “Come on, Mimi, let’s go. There’s nothing here.” He said. He felt a strange, panicky urge to be far away from here, to be sitting in his cozy room with a cup of cocoa in his hand. The dark sky seemed to have a physical weight, pressing in on him.
Mimi looked at him, face wide and pale like the stark moon above them. “It was your idea to be here. We’re not backing out now.” Her voice was hushed. They were both whispering, though there was no one else there.
Steve was nervous, but he didn’t want to sound scared in front of the girl he liked. “Fine, then.” He had an idea. “Where’s the tombstone they found your grandmother in front of? Let’s go look at it.” He said with false bravado.
“Okay.” Mimi said. She started striding to the other end of the cemetery, and Steve hurried after her.
The back of the cemetery wasn’t so well-tended as the front. Withered tufts of weeds poked up around the gravestones, and dead leaves lay thick on top of them. Mimi stopped in front of a large, crumbling tombstone at the very end, in a hidden corner. “This is it,” she said. Steve reached up a faintly trembling hand, and brushed the oak leaves aside.
“Edna Parker,” he read aloud. “Died in 1888.” He was getting more and more nervous. Knock it off, he told himself. There’s nothing here. All of a sudden, there was a rustling noise behind them. They both jumped, turning around fast. There was nothing there. “Let’s go, Mimi.” Steve said. He could no longer disguise the fear in his voice. Mimi shook her head. She was staring at the ground in front of the tombstone. Steve followed her gaze. The earth was turned up. It looked fresh.
“Something was dug up here,” Mimi said, eyes wide and scared. Steve wanted nothing more than to run. But Mimi reached out her hand, and scrabbled in the freshly turned dirt. Her fingers touched something cold and hard. She unearthed it. “It’s a wedding ring,” she said. They both stared at the plain gold ring, glinting ominously in the moonlight.
Then a hand reached out of the dirt, and grabbed Mimi’s wrist.
They both screamed, shrill and high. Steve stared in horror at the hand. It was dark, scabbed, and seemed damp. He turned to run. Mimi’s voice stopped him.
“Steve!” she cried piercingly. “It’s pulling me in!” Steve stood there, hesitated for a lengthy moment. Mimi’s legs were braced against the gravestone. Her calves were quivering with the strain. “Steve!” She screamed, and her voice was pure terror.
Steve reached out a hand to help the girl he liked. He took hold of her other hand, and yanked hard. The hand was supernaturally strong. He grunted with effort, mind blank with horror, breath coming in little puffs of adrenaline. Finally, Mimi came free. They both stumbled backwards. Dark, rotting fingers were still fastened to Mimi’s wrist. She shrieked and shook them off. Beneath the grave, a fingerless hand was grabbing at the hole, a dark arm snaking out, bracing itself. It was trying to climb out. Without another thought, they ran.