August 14th: Alone and fearless Sara Bishop entered the long-abandoned Pinewood Cemetery so she could play the graveyard game. She had promised to meet someone at the hole in the chain link fence; a cautious skeptic that would chronicle the entire event with prose, pictures and even a little video. They had only met via email and video chats but she had promised not to start the ceremony without him.
But her enthusiasm got the better of her...
THE NIGHT BLOGGER:
The Graveyard Game
And Other Cemetery Plots
The Graveyard Game
Al Bruno III
...by the time I found Sara she was glassy eyed and barely breathing. She wouldn’t move, she wouldn’t react, not even when I snapped my fingers inches from her nose. I took her hand in mine and started patting her wrist because that always seemed to work in the movies. Her hand was deathly pale with well-chewed fingernails and old scars marking the skin of the wrist.
As I always did at moments like this I imagined the voice of my landlady and frequent poster of bail Mrs. Vinchenzo, “Oh Brian, what have you gotten yourself into this time?”
After a few more minutes of trying to get Sara to react I stood up and pulled out my camera phone. The app for taking pictures at night was already active so I started snapping away.
Click: Sara Bishop, comatose and staring vacantly into the starless sky.
I felt guilty going into reporter mode like this but experience had taught me to trust my instincts. There was something weird going on, and weird goings-on and straw fedoras are my twin passions.
Click: the abandoned cemetery, toppled headstones partially hidden by knee deep grass.
The Graveyard Game was a ceremony born of the Internet. As far as I was concerned it was half shadowy rumors and half outright lies, but the chatter on my blog had been enough to make me want to see a game for myself, even if just to debunk it.
Click: the two candles, one on the tombstone, the other where Sara had been kneeling.
The rules of the game were simple, find a gravestone that shares your name. Light two candles, one goes at the top of the headstone, the other in front of you. It was that simple, or so they said on the Internet.
If everything was right the spirit of your namesake would appear to you.
Click: A building off in the distance, too big to be a caretaker’s house, too square to be a chapel.
I wondered how she had found this particular grave, this particular place. The Pinewood Cemetery had been left neglected for almost forty years. Surely there had been other, more easily found Sara Bishops out there.
Click: Back to Sara again. Sitting up and staring at me.
A yelping sound caught in my throat, “Thank- thank goodness you’re alright.”
She tittered, there was no recognition in her eyes. The twin candles began to sputter and brighten.
“It's me, Brian Foster. Remember? We talked on Facebook?” I pulled her to her feet. Still giggling she swooned into my arms. “I think I should get you home.”
Her grin widened, she tugged playfully at the brim of my straw fedora, “I am home.”
A tremor of cold worked its way down my spine. I asked, “Which Sara is this?”
“Which Sara!” She laughed out loud and raked her hand down the side of my face. I dropped her. She landed like a cat then bolted into the shadows and tall grass.
The side of my face stung and dripped. I blinked in confusion at the memory of her short, blunt fingernails. The sound of movement surrounded me. The circle of illumination from the candles seemed to be closing in. The thought to run was very tempting but could I outrun a madwoman?
I could sure as Hell try.
“Foe of radiance and mate of gloom...” her voice had become a whispering chant, “...howl of dogs rejoicing... Through tombs of lifeless dust! Gorgo! Mormo! Luna!”
My iPhone had a night vision app so I flicked it on and turned in place, Scanning the area I found nothing. I wondered if she was crawling through the tall grass towards me or if she was gone. I wondered if I was going to get home tonight.
There was a swift, animal-like movement, then a flare of pain. She had clawed my arm, tearing through my shirt and skin. Panicked I crashed headlong into the tombstone and hit the ground bringing the candle down with me.
Hot wax scalded my right hand and drowned out the sputtering wick. Sara shrieked and fell to her knees.
The other candle fluttered, went out and plunged us into darkness...
...we got the Hell out of the cemetery and found our way to an all night doughnut shop. Sara told me she didn't remember anything, that all she knew was that she had been blind and cold. Over several cups of lousy coffee I explained to her what had happened. There was no way she could doubt me, not when my face looked like I had just tried to field neuter a badger.
The sun is rising and I'm back in my apartment tapping away at my keyboard. I looked up the little chant I heard- Gorgo, Mormo and all that. It is an incantation, a calling up of hungry spirits. My face and my arm are still sore to the touch. Had I almost end up as something’s midnight snack?
I keep thinking about what she said right before she scratched me. I asked her which Sara she was and I thought she was just mockingly repeating my words back at me.
But maybe she wasn’t, maybe she was giving me my answer.
Had she said ‘Which Sara’?
Or ‘Witch Sara’?
There's a thought to keep me up nights.