Emily stood before the mirror and admired the display of her reflection. She liked her new and improved look; Goth—head to toe. It was dark, mysterious and seemed to anger or dismay the general public; none more than her parents—it was perfect. I'm gonna rock this look, she thought as she primped to perfection.
Tonight was a special night. Her first time in the yard with her newly acquired distraction and extension of her own antisocial predilections—her friends.
Not for one more moment would she endure the incessant insistence of her parent's rules and values predicated on what they and those around them considered proper and acceptable behavior and attitude.
Her transformation was dramatic. Two weeks prior she was a normal teenager pining over the latest flavor of boy and getting good grades. Julia changed all that. Not by design but by a sort of social osmosis. Julia made her presence known around a few of Emily's social circles and she became enthralled with the reactions and attention Julia and her friends elicited. This was something she could aspire to!
It only took a few days before she would begin her slow acclimation into Julia's world via clothing and attitude; albeit mocked up. Inside, Emily was still Emily as witness to her room as it betrayed her new persona with cute, stuffed animals throughout and the brightly colored and ruffled decor.
The friends she had were mostly Goth, or the best they could figure was Goth, and enjoyed getting reactions of shock and distaste, which were preferred, from those around them. Emily and her friends were teenagers and making it known they were their own person with their own ideas and if anyone disapproved—so much the better. Teenage angst was paramount and they pushed it.
Many a night after a bout with drinking the best liquor from whatever parent they could steal from and smoking the best weed they could get their hands on, as Julia learned a little female persuasion can get you all kinds of things, they went about causing all sorts of mischief. From minor vandalism like breaking store windows to actually entering and and stealing the handiest of items.
Julia was prime instigator. Her favorite thing was to key the prettiest car she could find. She would go so far as hunt down someone who had wronged her, in her mind, and key their car, puncture their tires and bust tail lights. That is what being rude to Julia will get you.
Franco was a rambunctious one as well. He wore more leather and spikes and leaned more toward Punk than Goth. For fun he would seek out and beat homeless men to the point of multiple contusions and deep bruising and take whatever they considered valuable. Just for fun mind you as he would frequently throw the item in the nearest dumpster.
Then there was X. His full name was Dexter but that was a stupid name no matter how his friends would spin it and they just settled on calling him X. With a name like Dexter he had to be smart—right? And he was. He was the brains of the group and a computer whiz. He frequently hacked Facebook and inserted all kinds of nasty porn or hack Twitter and pretend to be someone else using their profile. Kids from school were the easiest as they are a bit lax with their security info.
Being fully prepared for tonight was a little difficult as Emily had never done this before. Partying was one thing but partying in a graveyard was something quite different she figured. How does one prepare for such an event? She decided to let Julia dictate what would happen as Julia controlled everything around her anyway.
Later that night the six delinquents entered the graveyard through the bushes in a forgotten and ill-maintained corner. They climbed the waist-high wrought iron taking care not to tear their clothes on the spear points that adorned the fence surrounding the entire cemetery. Entering through the back they avoid any chance of being spotted by random security checks.
The yard was quite vast and the section they were in was the original yard from nearly two hundred years. Thick woods lined the perimeter and jutted throughout. Old and well established moss-laden trees were prevalent as their limbs intertwined creating a canopy while the tendrils of various specie of vine spread among them and the grounds. It was if this was a forgotten corner fallen to neglect intentionally as the rest of the cemetery was immaculate.
Emily could see immediately why this spot was so special. It was isolated from all of society and sent chills down her spine with its eerie and disparate view of what was considered the norm for a festive party atmosphere. Accompanied, she was rather excited. Were she alone she knew her imagination would have ample food for fodder to elicit exaggerated thoughts and visions creating much anxiety, desperation and fear as this place was truly creepy.
They made their way through the landscape which had old crypts scattered amongst headstones overgrown with vines and many were askew from sinking through the decades. Most of the cemetery had manicured landscaping save their little corner. Only weeds and tall grass that grew hip-high which spread nearly three acres.
Julia led the group with Emily by her side. X and Franco were with girls Emily had not met and no one had thought, or bothered, to introduce them. They walked and laughed as they were already drunk and stoned. X and Franco carried a cooler between them and Emily had a duffel with blankets which was beginning to become awkward with the weight.
"Don't you just love it here?" asked Julia as they trekked through the tall grass avoiding holes and headstones. Julia then took another hit from her blunt and handed it to Emily.
Emily took a small hit and passed it back to X. "It's awesome," she replied with a sense of wonder as she exhaled.
Julia looked her in the eyes and smiled. "It gets better, just wait," she said sly as her smile grew and her gaze into Emily's eyes lingered. For a moment Emily was a little puzzled then realized what was happening. Julia had a crush on her! Franco and X had their girls and Julia had hers. Emily was not quite sure how she felt about this as she had never been with a girl intimately, nor a boy for that matter! As they walked Emily decided this was her new world and she was going to find out what it was all about.
"Yo, Julia—can we find a spot already? I'm gettin' tired of carrying this fuckin' cooler!" Franco blurted from behind.
"Quit you're fuckin' whinin', bitch. We're almost there," she said half-kidding as she continued to a little patch of smaller headstones covered by a canopy of very old trees. It was a somewhat clear spot and good enough to spread out a blanket or two.
Eyes now adjusted to the light, Emily looked around and noticed there seemed to be recent grave sites. Not more than a month old scattered as far as she could see. It was odd as the headstones were old but the soil over the graves was disturbed as if someone had recently dug them up. That was it! "Grave robbers!" she said aloud surprising the group.
A quick look toward Franco, Julia said, "See, I told you she was smart," then laughed as she grabbed Emily's hand and smiled with her eyes. "You know the score don't ya babe?" she added. Emily nodded in blind agreement. It took her a minute to pull it all together. Yes, her new friends were not only local hoodlums and troublemakers—they were grave robbers too! She remained quiet knowing she may say the wrong thing or worse—something stupid!
Minutes later Julia had the blankets out of the duffel and handed the others their respective bundles. Franco and X grabbed what they needed from the cooler and disappeared into the night going their separate ways. Emily watched as the couples faded into the darkness. It was just her and Julia, the hottest Goth chick she ever saw! That's what drew her in as Julia wore the look well. Emily had the privilege of seeing Julia once without her makeup and apparel. Just shorts and a tank top. Unadorned, she was very beautiful. If Emily were to pick a girl based on looks, she could do a lot worse.
The blanket was spread over an undisturbed grave and Julia had laid out a few items to munch on and some wine with real wine glasses! Emily took quick inventory of her feelings as this was an important moment and wanted to make sure this is what she wanted and could see it all the way through. She looked at Julia as she meticulously set their little graveyard picnic. Emily could tell she was getting things just right. As she watched she could feel her emotions surge with excitement and anticipation.
Julia looked up from her duties and saw Emily staring at her. She smiled lovingly and Emily returned the sentiment with a blush. Julia handed her a glass of wine then held her glass for a toast. "Here's to our quiet and secluded spot where we can just be ourselves tonight," she smiled as they sipped their drink. Julia lay on her side with head propped by her arm. Emily followed suit and mimicked her. "I really love it here," said Julia. "It's so quiet." She took a deep sample of the waft and exhaled. "Smell that? It smells so good. Death smells wonderful!" she laughed and Emily joined in. Julia locked eyes with Emily and gradually leaned closer. Emily responded in kind and closed her eyes as her lips met Julia's. They were so soft, warm and sensual. Different then any boy she had kissed. She could feel her smooth soft skin and became aroused at the thought of kissing her first girl! Unlike any boy, Julia was gentle and sensual—very erotic. Emily reached out and began to caress Julia's waist. Their kisses became deep and passionate. They heard screams of passion from one of the girls of Franco or X—they could not tell which. Julia briefly halted their kiss. "Someone's havin' a good time,'' she commented then resumed. Moments later the other girl yelled out as well. The two girls giggled as they continued their kiss. Emily was now fully committed to what the rest of the night would bring as she had not experienced anything like this from any boy and was determined to explore this entire adventure.
The intensity was increasing when Julia abruptly pulled back. Emily opened her eyes and saw fear in Julia's face as she was being pulled away. Her foot was in the soil and being pulled down with force. "What's happening? Help me! Help me—Emily!" screamed Julia as she reached for Emily who was now in shock trying to take in this unreal scene as it was all so surreal. She sat on the blanket terrified as she could hear her friend's leg make strange and sickening snapping and popping sounds being broken through sheer force as it was slowly being consumed by the ground. Julia screamed in uncontrolled fear and pain as she tried to fight and claw her way back from certain death. Emily shook herself out of her trance and reached for Julia. She grabbed both arms and began to pull and try to rescue her friend. The force began to drag Emily along with Julia into the unknown. A hand rose from the earth and grasped Julia's hair yanking her head down and slamming it against the ground. She tried to fight free but could not. Another hand emerged from the soil and clasped the front of her throat crushing her larynx and stopping the hysterical screams emanating from their noisy prey. Julia attempted to yell out but only gurgling sounds were heard as blood filled her throat and lungs. Her body now half under the ground lie still. Julia was dead.
"Julia!" screamed Emily as she continued in futility to rescue her dead friend. She felt sick as her stomach turned and contracted—she was going to vomit. Suddenly she felt a sharp pain in her left ankle and turned to see it was the crushing grip of another living corpse. Rotting flesh hung from its thin frame as it desperately tried to pull her back to its exit point in the ground. She kicked and clawed at the seemingly frail hand and arm. The grip was that of a vice—an unusually and unworldly strength. She felt her ankle being crushed and the pain was immense. Quickly, she untied and unlaced her boot which allowed a little slippage of her ankle and this was fortunate as it forced the corpse to regain its grip. As it attempted, Emily broke free and hobbled away from the grave site and ran blindly into the yard as anywhere was better than in the grips of the undead. Stopping briefly to get her bearings, she was now in a full state of panic. "Oh my God! Oh my God! What am I gonna do!" Tears filled her eyes which caused her vision to blur. That moment she realized she was alone and surrounded by the living dead emerging from the depths of wherever they were from. "This isn't real, THIS CAN'T BE REAL!" she shouted in an effort to convince herself as her body trembled and she turned in circles to find a way—any way—out of this death trap. It was not working and the yard was slowly filling with the animated dead—all walking toward her—the only living soul around.
Adrenaline coursed through her system and the immense pain that would normally plague the body could not register. While Death loomed from all sides, something to her left caught her eye. Through the trees, there, a light! Emily figured that was where the road was that ran through the cemetery. If she could only get there as it was outside the degraded yard and had lighting and possibly help. It was nearly sixty five yards straight ahead past more crypts and graves which were hidden in the shadows. Strangely the corpses made no sound other than the rustle of the grass as they moved. She was certain the others were dead. The screams of ecstasy she and Julia heard were but screams of terror and pain before an imminent death.
Without pause she began her painful journey to the road. She could swear the temperature had dropped ten degrees while the air had a stale, putrid stench from a myriad of half-decayed flesh wandering the yard. Her difficulty was compounded by holes and unseen obstacles. The corpses were relatively slow and could be maneuvered around as long as she kept moving. Emily was more than halfway when she misstepped and fell. The corpses descended upon her amazingly fast. Before she could gain her balance she was grabbed and pulled to the ground. A sharp pain emanated from her side and assumed she had fallen on a rock. Her hand went to touch the area and noticed an arm was there. A corpse had ripped through the skin and entered her side. She looked down and saw the hand grasping her intestines. It was in the process of disemboweling her! Without thought, or harm to herself, she grasped her intestines and ripped them in half leaving two ends that she stuffed back into its cavity then struggled to her feet and there, in front of her, was the living dead. Emily was face to face with a decaying human that no longer retained life. It was but a shell. Its eyes were long decayed and were sockets where only fragments of flesh remained. Skin and muscle were so eaten away by nature it looked horrid and carried a rank stench. She looked into its sockets and noticed there was nothing there! No life! Nothing! Yet it moved! Nothing but a supernatural puppet controlled by some unknown force for some unknown reason. It moved to reach for her. She ran as best she could while holding her side to keep her intestines from spilling out. The waist-high fence that surrounded the decrepit yard was in view. Beyond that was manicured landscape and well-lighted road. As she approached the fence a corpse rose from the earth and snagged her foot causing her to fall straight toward the iron. Her face fell upon a spear point that ripped her flesh from the back of her jaw clear to her mouth which severed and hung loose. Her head hit with such force it broke the three inch point from the fence as it punctured her palate and lodged in her nasal cavity. It happened so fast and the pain was immense as terror rushed through her like an immense wave. She knew she was dead as she could feel the cold iron point lodged in her palate. In a panic she reached into her mouth and yanked the spear from its precarious position. A rush of warm blood began to fill her mouth and she instinctively thrust her tongue over the gaping wound and swiftly climbed over the fence tearing more flesh on the remaining points. Her body hit the ground hard and she lie there for a moment. Feeling the warmth of her bowels as they lie across her stomach she, without thought or care, grabbed and stuffed them back in. Emily now noticed the flesh from her cheek wound hung loose and was bleeding profusely. Breathing heavy, tears streaming down, pain beginning to creep in, she crawled to the road and lying under a streetlight, believing she would now die, passed out from shock and blood loss.
Many months after numerous operations and lengthy rehabilitation Emily stood before the same mirror in her bedroom. She wore a bright yellow sun dress and a modest amount of makeup.
She stared at her scar that extended from the corner of her mouth almost to her ear. A reminder that life is not what it seemed to be in some cases. She smiled a crooked smile as the nerves in her cheek were severed and no longer responded to brain impulses. This was not the same reflection as before as she remembered her thoughts during her last session with the mirror. They now seemed so trivial, childish, ignorant and naïve. Still the same girl but her view of life was much different. No longer will she take for granted that which she had prior. Creating effect on others for sake of effect was pointless. Love of and for another, caring for those around you and for all life was paramount. Helping, not hurting, is that which should be strived for. Unsure how or why of what happened was still unclear. Maybe she had done something to deserve it. Maybe she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. What she did know is she had been given a second chance and would have the rest of her life to figure out what the true meaning of that night was. Maybe it was to accomplish this very thing; to change her, to make her a better woman, a better human being. Or maybe she cheated death and the true fact is, she should really be dead along with the other delinquents she was with that night. Regardless, she had time to sort it out.
After recovery she was questioned by authorities and could not help notice a distinct familiarity in every face she told her story to—like they had heard it before—a familiarity. She later learned her story was unique in that, unlike the other stories, she survived. The yard was dilapidated for a reason. It was off limits and this seemed to be common knowledge among the elder part of the township and the keepers of the cemetery. The story of the haunted yard, through the years, faded and was all but forgotten by many. Only those who were involved with the yard on a regular basis, like those at the cemetery, kept the stories alive—as one never knows. Stories of the yard never reached the youth of today and those such as Emily and her friends paid the heavy price.
As she became an adult Emily petitioned to have all bodies exhumed and cremated and the yard paved and turned into a parking lot—a lighted parking lot—just in case. No one could continue to ignore or pass-off that the stories of the yard were just a superstition as Emily was a living example of a supernatural presence in the yard. The City Council quietly acquiesced to Emily's demands.
Upon her deathbed only one thought stood out that crossed her mind. She remembered the sentence Julia uttered decades earlier: "Death smells wonderful!" She could hear and see it with clarity as she remembered Julia's laugh, her smile, the way she looked at her that night and her sweetness toward her despite the abrasive and questionable actions with others. "Death smells wonderful!" It played again. No, Julia was wrong. Death does not smell wonderful. It is horrid and putrid. Only life, goodness, kindness and love smelled wonderful. No one deserved what she and her friends received despite what they did.
That night of terror—they were so young. In their brief time together Emily knew only one thing—Julia was special. She would frequently wonder what might have been. Maybe, what should have been.
Emily never married—never had children. In her eighty-ninth year Emily died with a sadness and longing in her heart.
art source: pic