Happy Halloween from Lisa Vandiver

for Lisa's storyDisturbing The Dead

“Come on, Mark, you are always slowin’ me down,” Fourteen year old James Wilkerson yelled at his little brother, Mark, who trailed him.

Mark was eleven and according to James, completely spoiled by his parents, simply because he was the youngest. There was no doubt in James’ mind, who was their parent’s favorite between the two. The jealousy James felt created conflict between the two boys which never ceased. James would rather not have anything to do with his brother at all. Regardless how mean James became to Mark,  his brother seemed to want to hang around him. James just did not understand it at all.

Now, tonight, James’ plan for Halloween night had to be altered because of his brother. Their mother had become ill and their father had to stay with her. Therefore, it fell to James to take care of Mark for the night.

“I’m comin’, I’m comin!” Mark yelled at his brother as he ran faster toward James.

By the time Mark caught up with James and his three friends, they had reached the dirt road that led to The Lord’s Cavalry Baptist Church. This church had been built according to history, on April 12, 1856, five years before the Civil War started. When the war began on April 12, 1861, the church dropped members quickly since many of the men went off to fight, leaving the women alone to take care of their large families. According to stories passed down, the church became a field hospital for both Union and Confederate Soldiers. The women and the pastor of the congregation took it upon themselves to care for any soldier that came along, regardless of which side he fought on. Though there was no real doctor on hand, the women did the best they could to care for wounded and dying soldiers. Several soldiers did recover and return to their respective sides, until according to history, the hospital was overtaken and destroyed. No one knows for sure who attacked the church grounds, since everyone present on the day of the attack, October 31, 1863, were brutally massacred.

Now, some 150 years later, on this dark Halloween Night, the five boys were there to explore the haunting graveyard.

Mark glanced at the moon in the sky and swallowed hard as the wind picked up, rustling leaves across the road, and dust in his eyes. “I don’t like this. Can’t I go back home?”

“No, you can’t go back home,” James snapped, slapping his brother on the back of the head.

“But home is just up the hill and across the field, and I have dust in my eyes.”

James shook his head. “Stop being a scared little baby, Mark. We all got dust in our eyes, but you don’t hear us crying like Mama’s boys.”

Tim and Eddy laughed at James’ remark, but Adam shook his head as he walked to Mark’s side. “It’s alright, don’t you listen to them. I’ll stay with you, okay?”

Mark looked up at the bigger boy of the group and nodded somberly. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, good idea. If you stay with him, then it’ll free me up to enjoy my night. I owe ya one, Adam.”

“I ain’t doing it for you, James. And I don’t want to hear you poking fun at Mark again tonight, or I’ll get you.”

Mark laughed quietly inside at James’ drawn face when he heard Adam’s threat.

Tim and Eddy laughed, but then when Adam pointed his finger at them, they too, ceased musing. “That goes for ya’ll too.”

The three boys turned and ran toward the old abandoned church ahead of Mark and Adam, without speaking.

As Mark and Adam made their way down the old dirt road, they could hear the others opening the squeaky door of the building and stepping inside.

Adam turned to Mark and said, “Now, don’t you be scared. I am right by your side. Do you want to follow them, or do you want to go look at the graves?”

Mark squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. “Since you’re with me, I wanna see the graves.”

Adam grinned, “I’ve been here lots of times looking at these old graves, but never at night, and never on Halloween.”

“Do ya believe in ghosts, Adam?”

Adam shrugged his shoulders, “I dunno. I ain’t never seen one, but I guess there’s a first time for anything, right?” Adam teased Mark as they approached the old iron gate sitting in front of the graveyard, separating it from the church building. “But, I didn’t come here to see ghosts, I just was curious to see what it looked like at night.”

Mark’s heart beat rapidly as he watched Adam unlatched the old handle and pushed the gate wide open, displaying the thick fog that floated through the graveyard. Patches of it lingered above some of the old tombstones. As the large iron gate swung back and forth, squeaking, it rattled Mark’s nerves further.

“C’mon, Mark,” Adam whispered, pointing the flashlight toward him.

“Okay,” Mark replied as he squeezed his own flashlight tighter and held it against his chest, but pointed it to the graveyard as they entered through the gate.

They had just entered the graveyard when suddenly the gate slammed shut, narrowly missing them.

“AH!” Mark cried out as he pointed his flashlight toward the gate.

Adam chuckled quietly, “I’m not going to deny it, that scared me too.”

After the two had stopped laughing, they continued walking into the grave yard, stopping at nearly every grave, looking at the tombstones. Most of the tombstones did not have names, but only dates scribbled on them. As the two boys walked through the cemetary, they were careful not to step on the graves. As they became involved in looking at the tombstones, each one began relaxing, thus releasing their fear.

***

Tim reached the church first and climbed the steps, causing them to squeak beneath his weight. He whispered to his friends after he stepped onto the small church porch, “Oops, I broke a step.”

Eddy laughed, “OOh, you broke a step, big deal.”

“I was just…”

“Oh, stop your whining, Tim, you’re starting to sound like my little brother,” James interrupted Tim as he passed Eddy and jumped up onto the porch, skipping the steps altogether.

Eddy laughed as he mimicked James’ steps, passing Tim on the porch, looking angry at their teasing him.

James reached his hand toward the door when suddenly it slammed open and bounced hard against the wall. The sound it made as it swung, resembled a squealing cat, causing Eddy and Tim to hold their breaths. James, however, jerked back in fright and fell against the railing, which caused his friends to laugh at him.

“Shut up,” he huffed at them when they passed him, entering the church. After calming himself, he followed them inside.

The boys walked across the squeaky wooden floor as they each moved in different directions, trying to find some hidden treasure.

Tim had walked nearly to the front of the church when he ran into a huge cobweb that stretched from one side of the church to the other. “Aye!” He shoved his hands outward in an attempt to free himself from the web, but the more he fought, the more it wrapped around him. As he swatted the sticky web from around him, he lost his balance and fell into a pew, while the others laughed.

“Oh, yeah, funny is it? Go ahead and laugh!” Tim groaned as he sat there catching his breath and pulling the threads off him. He then laughed with his friends.

“There ain’t nothing here to see, C’mon let’s go,” Eddy pointed toward the back of the pulpit. “There’s a back door here. I bet it leads to the graveyard.”

“Aye!”

All three boys stopped moving about when they heard the screams coming from the side of the building.

“Crap! What was that?” James asked.

“What’s the matter, are you scared?” Tim chuckled.

“Yeah, who’s scared now James boy?” Eddy chortled.

“My little brother is out there if he gets hurt, I’m in serious trouble,” James cursed as he hurriedly opened the back door and walked out.

Eddy shot Tim a frown, “He’s right, we don’t need that little boy getting hurt or we’ll all be in trouble.”

Tim shrugged his shoulder, “He’s a kid, the wind probably just scared him.”

Eddy laughed, “Yeah, just like that web scared you,” He then turned and walked out the door.

Tim yelled at Eddy, “I’m going to kill you man if you tell anyone.”

I’m going to kill you, man.

Tim tried to stand to his feet, but now he could not seem to move. He groaned and shook his head as he yelled toward the back door, “Why are you repeating me, that’s so lame.”

Why are you repeating me, that’s so lame.

“Hahahaha, that’s so funny, Eddy, but now cut it out. I’m stuck and I can’t get up, get your butt over here and help me.”

No help shall come

Tim cursed as he strained to look at Eddy, but it was then he realized Eddy was not in the room. He turned his head and peered around the room, laughing slightly. “Okay, that’s real funny, but now it’s time for you to come help me get out. I’m stuck.” When nobody answered, Tim attempted to stand again, but it felt as if he was being held back by strong arms.

I’m going to kill you, man.

Tim stopped moving and moved his flashlight through the darkness, but saw noone there. “Stop it, Adam, Mark, James! This is not funny anymore.”

Stop it Adam, Mark, James, it’s not funny anymore. The voice that echoed Tim’s words did not sound like any of his friend’s voices. It had become deep and mocking.

I’m going to kill you, man.

Tim caught his breath as he decided the voice sounded closer now. “Eddy! James! Mark! Adam! I mean it, I have had enough. Come, help me.”

Eddy! James! Mark!Adam! I’m going to kill you, man. NO HELP COMES!

Suddenly, the voice now sounded as if it were next to him. Tim turned his flashlight in all directions but could not see anyone. Then a coldness filled the room to the point that the glass in his flashlight began glazing with ice. It was then that Tim heard heavy breathing, and he swallowed nervously as his heart raced. He slowly lifted his head upright and peered at the ceiling of the church. What he saw peering down at him, made his blood run cold. The Confederate Soldier with a drawn sword appeared to have a slit in his throat and one eye was absent from its socket. The sight of the soldier with the drawn sword aimed toward Tim caused Tim to scream as the soldier ran him through the top of his head.

***

“What was that?It sounded like a scream.” Eddy whispered as he approached James near a large tree.

“It sounded more like a wolf to me, dude. Stop being so jumpy,” James mocked as he nonchalantly leaned against a tombstone, causing it to shift slightly. However, he remained leaned against it.

“You are the one who raced out of the church to find your little brother.”

“Yeah, that’s right because that did sound like a scream, earlier, stupid.”James huffed, “And I need to find him.” He cupped his hands together and yelled, “Mark, come back to the church, now you little pip sqeek.” He laughed as he pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and turned to Eddy. “Look what I stole from my Dad.”

Eddy grinned, “Menthol?”

“Yep.” James withdrew one cigarette from the pack and lit it, sucking in the smoke.

Eddy hurriedly stepped onto graves as he moved toward James.

As James watched Eddy trample the graves, he swore he saw a little girl’s face flash inside one of the headstones. He looked at Eddy. “What the heck was that?”

Eddy answered, “What was what?”

“A little girl’s face appeared on that tombstone.”

Eddy laughed, “Don’t be ridiculous. Your flashlight just cast shadows on it, that’s all.”

James frowned. “Maybe, but it sure seemed real.”

“Well, it’s not, and why are you acting so freaked out now? Are you going to give me a smoke or not?”

“Yes.” James pulled a cigarette from the pack and thumped it toward Eddy, laughing. “I knew this place would be creepy at night.”

Eddy took the cigarette from James and puffed on it, coughing a little, which caused James to laugh at him.

While they stood there smoking, another scream broke the stillness of the night, causing both to startle.

“Okay, you had to have heard that,” Eddy whispered, moving his flashlight erratically over the grounds.

“Yeah, I heard it.” James pointed to the direction in front of him and threw his cigarette onto the ground. “C’mon!”

As the two boys run, the screams grew louder in front of them, but then, screams erupted behind them, except this time, a little boy’s voice called out. “James, I need you! I am hurt.”

James and Eddy stopped running and turned and peered into the darkness behind them. “Did you hear that?”

“Yes, it sounded like Mark calling for help.”

The two boys turned and began running through the graveyard in the direction they had previously come. They had run a short distance when they began hearing noises similar to horses galloping toward them. They each stopped in midstep, and froze when out of the darkness, appeared a cavary of soldiers with drawn swords heading straight for them.

“Aye!” They both screamed and turned to run away, but then they saw a second mounted soldier moving toward them in that direction.

James grabbed Eddy by the collar and pulled him back as the two soldier’s rode past them, throwing dirt and rocks in the air from the hard galloping. As the two men met, the noise of their clashed swords filled the graveyard.

All at once, out of thin air, a galloping horseman appeared and ran Eddy down with his horse. As Eddy fell to the ground, he and James tried to grasp hands. However, as the fierce battle continued, Eddy, the horses, trampled him undeneath their hooves. James fell backwards just as a Union Soldier attempted to strike him with a sword. When he looked up, the shadowy figures of the horses and men began disappearing into thin air. James pulled himself from off the ground and leaned against a tree and shrieked, “Eddy! Oh, God, Eddy!”

SWOOSH

James gasped when he saw a Union soldier standing in front of him holding a sword. The soldier thrust the sword at James’ head, but it missed him, but the sword drove into the tree above his head. Immediately, James jerked from the tree and punched at the soldier, but his arm went straight through him. James turned and ran through the graveyard, but as he ran, his feet kept sinking into the graves, until he fell into one.

“Aye! Aye!” James screamed as he felt something crawling on his legs underneath the dirt. As he began pulling himself out of the grave, a Confederate Soldier Ghost grabbed his leg and pulled him back down into the grave.

Suddenly the grave appeared to be quite large to James as he lay there in the dirt. His heart raced as he peered into the eyes of a horrific looking ghost that resembled the Union Soldier that attacked him at the tree.

James kicked at the ghost, but his legs kicked through the shimmering, frightening entity. James quickly pulled himself from the ground and then climbed out of the grave. He continued running through the graveyard until he felt he could run no longer. He stopped for a brief moment to catch his breath, and it was then he saw Mark and Adam walking by.

“We have to get out of here!” James cried as they approached him, but he was surprised they were not listening to him. “Mark! Adam!” James reached his hand out to touch Adam as he walked past, but his hand went right through him. “NO!”

James then continued running and he circled back to where he thought might be the direction of the church. When he passed the grave where he thought he had seen the little girl, he knew he was close, but then he tripped over something. When he lifted his eyes, he wailed at the sight of Eddy’s mangled body lying on the ground after being trampled under the hooves of the horses. “No! NO!” James jumped up and ran until he reached the back door of the church. He slamed the door closed behind him and fell against a wall, groaning from fear. As he steadied his breathing, he heard Tim’s voice.

“Eddy, I’m stuck and I can’t get up, get your butt over here and help me.”

“Tim? How did you get stuck?” James asked as he quickly moved in the direction of Tim’s voice, where he had been earlier.

James breathed easier when he saw Tim sitting in the pew. “Tim, we have to get you unstuck and out of here, this graveyard really is… Aye!” James gagged and his knees grew weak when he saw Tim sitting on the old wooden church bench with a sword sticking out of the top of his head. “Aye! Aye!”

I am going to kill you, man.

When James heard the low, threatening voice, he ran to the front door, out onto the porch, and down the steps. As he ran down the steps, he tripped on the broken plank that Tim had warned him about before. He came crashing to the ground, hitting his head against it.

James opened his eyes to see a little girl standing above him. He groaned as he lifted his body upright. “We gotta get out of here, little girl! My friends have been murdered inside the church and the graveyard.”

The little girl stood there, looking demure and suddenly she began crying, but instead of tears, blood flowed down her cheeks. “Why have you disturbed the dead?” She suddenly asked in a soft, yet crackling voice.

James stumbled backwards when he saw her crying blood and heard her question. He turned and began to run when suddenly a rope slid around his neck. James reached his hands up to pull the rope away when cold hands grasped his wrists and held them against his back. While he struggled to free his hands, the rope tightened around his neck. James felt his body being lifted from the ground until he dangled in the air. As his life was being choked out of him, James saw the little girl standing below the tree with tears of blood still streaming down her face. Then he saw a soldier who missed an eye appear next to her. The soldier placed his arm around the little girl as the Confederate and Union Soldiers that had chased him appeared on the other side of her. Then, as if by magic, the graves began popping open and the dead came from them. The ghostly figures of men, women, and children, dressed in clothing from the 1800’s, floated above the ground as they gathered in a circle, watching the life of James being taken from him. They wailed, and it was as if the wind carried their voices.

“Help!” James cried once, but as the rope tightened around his neck, cutting the air from him, he could not cry out for long. As the last light of life ebbed from James, he saw the ghosts of Adam, Mark, Eddy, and Tim, walking down the old dirt road.

***

Mark woke up the next morning hearing cries of his mother from the living room. He jumped from the bed and hurried out of his bedroom. When he reached the front room, he saw Adam sitting on the sofa with his parents while Eddy and Tim’s parents sat in nearby chairs. As he searched the room further, his heart gave to fear after realizing that James, Eddy, and Tim were not with them.

“Mama, where is James?” Mark asked with anxiety building.

“Mark, son.” Mark’s father walked to Mark and placed his hand on his shoulder. “When was the last time you saw James, Eddy, and Tim?”

“We walked to the old graveyard last night together, but Adam and I went a different direction. We ran into Tim and Eddy later, and the four of us walked here. Tim and Eddy said that James had already left the graveyard. I am not sure of the time.”

Adam looked at his parents and then the other boys’ parents, as his father said, ” Jack, I’ve called the police and told them Adam’s story. They are sending an officer out to the old church.”

Jack nodded as he grabbed his jacket and looked at his wife, “Marie, honey, why don’t you and the women stay here.”

Marie and the other women stood, with drawn, yet determined expressions as Marie replied, “We’re going.” Then, the women turned and walked out of the door. Jack looked at the other two men and frowned, “Let’s go.”

***

On the way to the old church, Mark had a bad feeling about James. He sat staring out the window, not saying a word, but simply eyed the sides of the road. When they arrived at the old church, a police officer pulled up behind them.

The officer introduced himself. “I am Officer Lonny Miller.”

Jack explained to Officer Miller, “My son was here last evening, and he never made it home. These people’s boys were with him, and they never returned either.”

The officer frowned and cleared his throat. “Please remain here a moment.” Before he turned away, he gave Jack a sympathetic look.

Mark felt a lump in his throat as he looked at the old abandoned church. Suddenly he thought he saw a flicker of light coming from a top floor of the church, but then he blinked, and it was gone. He decided it was his imagination, and refocused on his parents and the officer. Mark watched the officer speak into a microphone attached to his radio, and he somehow knew he would not return to his father with the good news.

“Sir, I am going to take a look around. Why don’t you all remain here until I return?”

“Our sons are lost, and this was the last place they were seen. I’m not staying put,” Tim’s father, Grant, informed Officer Miller

As they walked, Grant held his wife, Leslie, while Eddy’s parents, William, and Theresa followed them. Jack and Marie walked behind them with Adam and Mark bringing up the rear.

They walked a fair distance until they stopped at a broken down tombstone, which appeared to be freshly dug, but uncovered.

Jack looked into the large grave and then cried, “James! No! My son that’s my son!”

Marie crumpled into her husband’s arms. He then heard the others scream and cry. “What happened to them?” Grant asked as he held Leslie in his arms.

“Look at their expressions, they were terrified of something!” William groaned.

Officer Miller shook his head. “There doesn’t appear to be any visible marks on them, I see no blood, ah, nothing which looks like a weapon, nothing.” The officer grasped his radio and called into his headquarters. “We have three bodies in a large open grave.”

He turned back and then said, “I need you all to clear the area while I tape it off.”

The men pulled themselves back together as they gently led their wives to two old benches not far from the large grave which held their dead boys.

Adam and Mark, both crying over the deaths of their friends, followed their parents.

As Mark stood behind one of the benches, a bright reflection caught his eye from a full length window on the top story of the church. When he focused on the window, he gasped. There stood a little girl in a pale green dress, holding a doll, and sucking her thumb. As Mark looked at her, he noticed that a gapping hole appeared in her stomach area. “Adam!”

Adam looked in the direction of Mark’s pointed finger and also saw the ghostly appriation. He swallowed hard as suddenly, ghostly appriations of James, Tim, and Eddy appeared just behind her. Tim had a sword in his head, Eddy’s body seemed broken, with bones sticking from it, and twisted, and James’ head lay sideways as if his neck had been broken. Their cold eyes glared down at Adam and Mark, as an eery, dark voice whispered in the wind, Never Disturb The Dead.”

The two boys looked at each other with fright, and then back to the window, but the ghosts were gone.

“Aye!” Mark screamed and pointed at the window, but Adam grabbed his hand, forcing it to his side, and then pulled Mark against him. “Shhh, shhh, don’t tell. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real. And even if it were, nobody will believe us.”

As Adam held Mark, they each looked at the body of James with his dead friends. “What happened to them?” Mark asked.

“The ghosts got them,” Adam answered shakily. “They must have done something to upset the ghosts. I think that’s why we’re still alive. Whatever they did, we did not do, or else, we would be dead alongside them.”

And then the dark, ominous voice danced through the wind once more. They disturbed the Dead.