Wailing lonesomely through the trees, the wind rustled the dry leaves. Dark clouds drifted over the full moon. Each time they passed we plunged into total darkness. Rubbing my cold hands, I hurried after my friend.
“We should be getting home,” I pleaded. Danny didn’t answer – he kept walking.
“Come on, let’s go home,” I tried again. “I have all the candy I want, and I’m tired of wearing this old mask.”
“Scaredy-cat,” Dan snapped. “We still have Grant Street.”
We had made big plans for Halloween and had discussed our route for weeks. Now it was late, my bag hung heavy in my hand and I was ready to go home. But not Danny, he wanted to finish our route. After all, there was only one street left – Grant. I shuddered thinking about it; we had to cross the cemetery to get there. That didn’t seem like much in the daylight, and we had boasted that we would do it. Now, it was dark, and our friends had gone home leaving just Danny and me.
Pushing on, we crossed Washington Boulevard and entered the graveyard. Up ahead, Danny suddenly stopped.
“What’s up? Why did you stop?” I whispered. Danny just stood there, pointing. Following his gaze, the hairs on the back of my neck bristled. Silhouetted against the distant lights stood rows and rows of gravestones.
“Hey, let’s just go home,” I pleaded. “We can tell the guys that we crossed the graveyard. They’ll never know.”
Danny nodded and turned around. “Perhaps you’re right,” he murmured. Then he grabbed my shoulder, a strange smile on his face.
“We can walk down Washington and go around the graveyard, no need to cross it at all. Not waiting for my answer, he ran north. I followed, trying to shake a growing dread. Something told me that this was a bad idea. We turned west at the northern edge of the graveyard, cutting through an old woods to avoid the graves.
“What was that?” I whispered.
“Don’t know,” Danny sputtered. “Sounds like someone needs help!”
It was loud and high-pitched. Sounds like a girl, screaming for help, I thought.
“W- w-who is that?” Danny cried pointing into the graveyard.
I nearly fainted – there stood an old woman. Dressed in a long black coat with a black scarf which covered her gray hair, she leaned heavily on an old broom.
“You boys come here.” she cackled, pointing with a crooked finger.
Danny took off, hurtling through the graveyard like a rabbit. I watched him fade away, frozen in fear.
“Hear that?” the old lady wheezed. “That’s my baby; she needs help.” Squeezing my hand, she pulled me close. “Awfully late to be out, don’t you think?”
I nodded my head, speechless.
“She’s over there,” she said, pointing her broom into the graveyard.
Every scream made my skin crawl and my legs tremble. My mouth felt like dry cotton.
“Come along now,” she cackled. “Take my arm; I don’t walk so well anymore.”
I wanted to run after Danny, but couldn’t find the strength, so I went with the old hag. She leaned on my arm and puffed breathlessly. We followed the screams deeper and deeper into the graveyard. By now the moon had nearly set; mist rolled in as we approached a large pine.
Suddenly, letting go of my arm, the old hag hobbled toward the tree. “Scat you old demon!” she wailed. In the fading moonlight, two eyes glowed at us; the old hag headed straight for them. Screams grew from the tree above.
“Scat, demon! Off with you!” Lifting her broom, she swung at the eyes. A low growl was cut short by a whump.
“I told you to scat, you old devil,” the old woman laughed. Something ran into the mist yelping pitifully.
The old woman grabbed my arm again. “Now, help me get Baby.”
“Where is your baby?” I finally managed to ask.
“Why up in this tree, hiding from that old demon,” she laughed. “Come on now, climb.”
Hesitantly, I began to climb the tree. Above me was a shadow – something lurked in the limbs above.
“Here, use my broom.”
“Why?” I asked grabbing the broom.
“Why to knock Baby out of the tree,” she laughed. “It’s the only way to get her down.”
“But she’s a baby?” I complained.
“Yeeeeelp! Yeeeeelp!” The screams from above were unbearable.
“Just poke her with the handle,” the old hag coughed. “That should do it.”
I did as I was told, poking gently with the broom.
“No, poke her hard. She’s stubborn.”
Gathering my pent up fear, I poked hard. Whump, I hit something solid. I poked again, and it fell to the ground with a thump.
“Now, now baby, that old demon is gone,” the old hag cooed.
Warily, I climbed down. That was no baby, I thought, jumping out of the tree. I found the old lady on the ground cradling something in her arms. Slowly I peered over her shoulder, wanting to see what it was – yet dreading to see what it was. Shocked I stepped back.
“Baby is a peacock?” I cried in surprise.
“Yes. She sure screams like a baby, doesn’t she?”
David L Dahl
Hope you enjoyed my little tale of suspense.
I’m David Dahl. When I’m not being Bugga (grandpa), I do some woodworking and write children’s books. My latest is Olivia’s Story:Protector of the Realm.
Leave me a comment, follow me on Twitter @buggasbooks, or like me on Facebook.
Read about my other books. Who’s In The Lighthouse is a ghost story for the season.