It was one of those nights that scared the hell out of Gage Turner. He walked alone down the leaf-coated pathway under the dim light of the lamps. Fog rolled out of the valley below the hill, seeping between the trees and tombstones like a snake with a thousand heads. The moon was rising above the fog on the horizon, appearing orange and menacing. It was picturesque in a way, how the moon revealed the jagged peaks of the mountains in the distance, but not for Gage. Oh no, not for him.
He loved his job, in a strange way that only he could understand, but not during autumn. When the bright and warm summer starts its transformation into the cold, lifeless winter, he dreads coming to work each and every day. He supposed it had to do with all of those blockbuster horror movies, the ones about the rise of the undead. He never understood the enjoyment in watching people rise from the grave, or watching children’s’ heads spin around and around like a demented beast. He hated Halloween, and everything associated with it.
Gage Turner was just a simple groundskeeper for the local cemetery. He didn’t deal with the bodies, he wouldn’t be able to look the dead in the face, he dealt with the beautification and upkeep. Mowing the lawns, washing the headstones, trimming the bushes, sweeping the pathways, and getting rid of the opossums: it was the same every single lonely day and night. He preferred it that way, being alone. He just couldn’t stand people.
He asked himself why he didn’t find a new grounds keeping job long ago, but couldn’t give himself an answer as he walked under the moonlight. The storage shed was in view now, right along the cliff edge. All he had to do was make sure it was locked up tight, and then he could go home. He fumbled with the padlock, pulling on it to make sure that it was secure. It was.
He wheeled around and began to walk back down the pathway towards the front of the cemetery, where his truck would be parked. The fog was growing thicker and thicker, blocking out much of the light. As he came upon the first few rows of headstones, he found that he could only see five stones down in either direction. All he could think about was getting home. The headlights in his truck had gone out, and he would need them to navigate this fog.
He reached his old 1986 Chevy Silverado in no time, pulling the door open and inserting the key into the ignition. The truck roared to life, the smell of dirty exhaust filling his nostrils. He would have to get the smog filter fixed soon, along with the headlights. He drove down the driveway, winding down the hill towards the main road. The fog wasn’t as dense on this side of the hill, giving him more visibility. He was nearly to the iron gate when something large scattered across the road. He slammed on his brakes.
“Shit!” He exclaimed, putting the car in park. He swore that it had been a person running across the road on all fours.
It was typical of that time of year really. The cemetery was closed every Halloween to stop those filthy teenagers and college students from stealing bodies or headstones. To see a person on the grounds at night in October was not a rare occurrence. Gage grabbed his shotgun and exited the truck, walking slowly in front of it.
“I know you’re out here,” he said. “The cemetery is closed for the evening. Come out and I will forget this ever happened. Stay hidden and I will call the police.”
No one replied, so Gage continued walking. He looked around to see where the kid could be hiding, gazing down the columns of headstones and trees. There, in the row directly to the right of him, was a massive hole. Dirt and grass was piled up beside it, a shovel staked directly into the center of it. He quickly retrieved a flashlight from the passenger side of his blue Chevy, and peered down into the hole.
A coffin lay mangled and broken.
“Goddamn grave robbers,” he spat. He pulled out his cell phone to dial the local police station, but found that the device would not power on. “Just my luck.”
Turning back to his truck, he turned off the flashlight and decided it would be best to wait until morning to figure the situation out. He turned the key, and heard the familiar sound that a car makes when it refuses to start. “You got to be fucking kidding me!”
The fog was growing dense now, shrouding away all visibility of the cemetery around him. He popped the hood and went to investigate, but he felt the strangest chill in the air, telling him to stay put. Goosebumps appeared all over his arms, and he noticed it was suddenly so cold he could see his breath. He looked back out the windshield, and saw a figure cloaked in black standing in the road. It glided closer to him in a fluid movement, so gracefully and soothing that it was terrifying.
Then it was suddenly at his driver’s side window, which was wide open. Gage couldn’t see the figure’s face in the dark, but he knew that it was the person who had stolen the body from the grave.
“W-what do you want?” He asked, grabbing his shotgun.
The figure reached a hand through the window, twisting its pale and wrinkled fingers at him. It seemed to enjoy the terrified response from Gage, as he backed away.
“Don’t get any closer!”
That was the last thing Gage would say, as the figure’s fingers suddenly became that of knives, driving into his throat, and reaching deep down inside his frightened body. As his vision went black and he choked on his own blood, he saw that it was the face of a twisted, black-haired woman, smiling with her yellow teeth. “Sweet dreams, my dear groundskeeper,” she hissed, digging in to her supper.