Here’s a wee sneak peak of a new series I’m working on.
Unedited and in first draft state.
It was nothing like Jason had imagined. Just a wide paved driveway leading between a pair of oaks and splitting in two just beyond the trees. No rusty, spiked fences or barred gates, crumbling tombs or ivy covered arches. Sure the headstones glowed like pale teeth just across a stretch of manicured lawn, but it was a cemetery after all.
He grinned as he dug into his jacket pocket and pulled out the folded map. X marks the spot. He set off, taking the left path toward his destination. Man he had it easy, much easier than Pete and Marty. Those poor bastards were probably getting tarred and feathered right now. All he had to do was sit on a statues lap for the night and take a few selfies to prove he’d done it. What a joke.
It got darker the further Jason traveled from the street. The fields, with their lines of bone pale headstones stretched out on either side of the path. Peaceful and orderly, nothing like horror movies portrayed. To be honest, he was a little relieved. He dug in his pocket as her walked, pulling out his mp3 player. The instant he pushed play Lorde’s cover of Everybody wants to rule the world blasted through his headphones. He hit the volume down button, muttering a curse. He didn’t remember leaving the volume up that loud, or even having that album on his play list. He’d been studying the last time he used the player, and he always listened to down tempo electronic when he studied. Always. It was something Bette teased him about.
Shrugging off the trickle of unease that raised the hair on his arms, he started off. The music kept him company as he took one branch after another, heading ever deeper into the ninety acre span of Druids Hollow. By the time the album came to an end he’d left the newer part of the cemetery behind. The tidy rows had been replaced by scattered graves and the lawn given way to rough grass. The trees grew close together, old and gnarled. Giant limbs twisted and bent, sprouting from low on thick trunks. They seemed to stretch toward the earth,almost as if they were trying to dig the bones of the dead from the soil.
Sweat broke out on his palms as the darkness closed in around him. He stopped and wiped them on his chinos, uttering a quick, high pitched laugh. Bloody trees and bloody imagination. The album came to an end, the final song faded out on Lorde’s haunting hum. In
the brief silence he heard something. A whisper sound, like a long breath hissing out between clenched teeth. He froze. What was that?
Jason grabbed the earphones out of his ears and listened. His breath came in and out in quick pants and he scanned the area with widened eyes. Nothing, just the groan of tree limbs in the wind, of fine branches clicking and scraping together. Was it colder than it had been? He rubbed the goosebumps that Bette on his arms.
Get it together! The grave was in this section, just past that thick clump of bushes, if his map was correct. He shoved the phones back in his ears, almost pulling them out with his clumsy, tingling fingers. His steps were quick and he had to fight the desire to check over his shoulder. Surely something was behind him, a long fingered reaching to grasp his neck. He swallowed.
Stop it! Just stop it. He rounded the bushes with a sense of relief that quickly died when he confronted the statue. She loomed over him, an angel of darkness. Her face hidden in the shadow of her shroud, a black hole framed by a drape of stone. A patch of dead grass spread out before her, shriveled and pale in the heart of an otherwise green space. His heart leapt into his throat. Oh god, how was he going to make himself climb onto her lap?
His legs were numb as he approached. God, the marble fabric seemed to move, the shadows stretching and shrinking as he got closer, as if she were a living breathing woman. Jason cursed his stupid imagination. His heart beat heavy and sluggish in his chest, as if his blood had grown thick. He swallowed past the ache in his throat. The perished grass rustled beneath his feet. It was so cold. Why was it so cold? He hugged his jacket tight around his chest, shrinking into himself, and took the final step that bought him to her feet. They were eye to eye, though hers were hidden in the dark hole where her face should be. Why couldn’t he see it this close up?
His hand shook when he reached out to touch her lap, ready to jump back, to run. His heartbeat thudded in his ears, until all he could hear was the rush of his blood. His fingers met cold stone. Nothing happened.
His relief was so strong a wave of dizziness spun through his brain. He barked a laugh. Of course nothing happened. What had he been expecting? She was just a statue, just a cold lifeless hunk of stone. Chuckling at himself, Jason climbed onto the statues lap. The marble was cold and hard under his thighs, rasping against his chinos.
Once he’d settled he took out his phone and snapped off a couple of selfies, with his head pressed against the statues shrouded face. That done he shuffled through the play lists on his mp3 and clicked on an album.
Welcome to your life…
Lorde’s haunting voice echoed in his head. WTF! He’d loaded The Chemical Brothers.
Jason’s hands shook as he stopped the track and tried again.
There’s no turning back…
His heart slammed loudly in his ears. A cold sweat beaded his forehead.
Even in our sleep we will find you..
The music died in a hissing scratch, then flared like a badly tuned radio.
Turn your back on…
His breath came in fast, panting huffs, turning white in the abruptly frigid air.
Oh god, oh god. He was frozen to the spot, staring at the player. Get up, run! He tried to leap, but something cold and hard wrapped around his chest. A scream ripped from his mouth. Black Aggie’s marble arms began to squeeze.