“I dare you! I dare you, Cam!”
I shake my head and smile. Sometimes she really bothered me. “No, I won’t.”
She stuck out her bottom lip and wrapped her arms around my waist. “Please… do it for me.”
I look at the sky. “You’re not that convincing, Katie. Besides, I have to watch my little sister tonight.” I look at my watch. “Now, actually. And you know my parents, they’ll kill me if I’m late.”
She wiggled her knees and growled. “Fine. But you’re boring, Slater.”
“As long as I don’t get murdered, I’m ok with it.”
On the way home, I really thought about it. I mean, it was Halloween night so I should do something besides babysit my sick sister. But everyone knows the crime rates are higher during Halloween. It’s the perfect time for it.
But who’s going to kidnap a seventeen-year-old boy?
Either way, I drove and drove when I heard my phone buzz. I looked over at it and saw it was Katie. I ignored her and kept driving. When I got home, there was a car in my driveway. I jumped out and saw my friend Ryan standing in the doorway, holding my little sister. “What are you doing?” I yelled.
“I’m babysitting your sister!” Ryan yelled back. “Didn’t you get Katie’s text?”
I looked at my phone:
Meet me at the cemetery.
I threw back my head and let out a loud laugh.
“We’re not joking, man. You have to go, it’s tradition for someone to spend their first Halloween in Austin in a cemetery.”
I stopped laughing and looked at him. He raised his eyebrows and my sister laughed. Without any expression at all, I got back into my driver's street, turned on the engine, and drove three minutes for the most useless night of my life.
Katie jumped and ran towards me. “Are you excited?”
I chuckled at her enthusiasm. “I’ve never been more bored in my life.”
“You are really boring… Well, I hope you’ve studied up on your horror movies so you’ll know what to do. I certainly do.” She grabbed my hand and let me back to a small circle of trees and gravestones.
“You don’t really believe all that crap, do you?”
I scoffed. “The Halloween crap. I mean sure, celebrate with candy, but ghosts and demons and Michael Meyers?” I smiled and mocked the character I know she loves, “‘It’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!’”
She rolled her eyes. “And if you’ve seen that movie, you’ll know it’s not.” She talked louder when I started grumbling again. “Trust me, I’ve seen and heard things that can’t be explained. It’s real. It’s very real.”
“Alright, Kemosabe.” I walked around, looking at the names on the graves. “So we’re really staying here all night?”
“Awake all night, yes. We’ll just have to hope the new guard doesn’t catch us.” She followed me and we admired a grave from 1678. “Can you make out the name?”
“On this grave, can you read it?” She crouched down. “It looks like… like” She paused.
“What?” I crouched down beside her.
She looked at me slowly. “It says Camden Slater…”
I furrowed my brow. “Really?”
She laughed and knocked me onto the ground. “No idiot, I seriously can’t read it,” I jumped up and caught her as she was about to run away, spinning her around and kissing her cheek. She laughed for a second then stopped. “Did you hear that?”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m not that dumb, Katie.”
She pushed my arms away. “No seriously, someone’s here.”
The moon was up and there was no one there but us.
Katie was pacing around the graves and I was poking the ground with a stick when she ran over to me and put her hands on my shoulders. “Alright, I’m going to walk away and we’ll call each other to stay in touch.”
“I’ll call you when I reach the military graves, alright?” She got up and ran away, yelling “goodbye” and “I love you” while she went.
“Katie! Kaattiiiee?” I called after her and when she didn’t answer I looked around and threw my stick. “Well then.”
I sat back down and stared blankly ahead of me. I was insane to do this. If I had just stayed home and not come here with my crazy girlfriend, I’d be enjoying time watching TV and eating pizza, and here I am, freezing with no blankets nearly falling asleep.
When my phone rang, I hardly even noticed. I picked it up without moving my gaze and held it to my ear. “Hello, Katherine.”
“Hello, Camden.” I stood up…. That was not Katie.
“Who is this?” I heard my own voice wavering. “What are you doing?”
“Oh, I don’t have a name.” The man’s deep voice would forever haunt me. I put it on speaker and started walking out of the circle. I cursed myself for not coming here before to get used to it. I knew when I moved here that it was a tradition, but I never thought I would have done it. So here I am, my girlfriend is being kidnapped or killed by some creepy man, and I’m lost. If I had just stayed home… “But I have Katie’s phone. And I know both of your names. I know your houses and your families. I know everything. I can see you right now.”
I stopped walking and turned around. It was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything. I considered hanging up, but I know something would happen to Katie, so I started walking again. “Where is she?”
“Where is who?” I paused and walked briskly, looking everywhere I could. That was not the same voice… this one was high and energetic… like the Mad Hatter.
“Katie, you psycho, where is she?! Let her go!”
“Woah there, young man…” The high voice laughed eerily. “Go to Clarke.”
They hung up.
Clarke? What the heck was that? I’ve never been anywhere named Clarke in my life, I don’t even know anybody named Clarke.
Anybody named Clarke…
I stopped walking on the pavement and jogged into the grass, checking my battery life. 45%. I nearly tripped on a grave and cursed when I heard a ticking noise. It started quiet and got louder and louder the more steps I took. My heart raced as I turned on my phone's flashlight and looked at each rave one by one. I had no idea how these were organized but I hoped it was alphabetically, because I was already at C.
Clemens, Clearly, Clayton, Clay...
If I had just stayed home.
My phone rang.
“She’s not here!”
“We didn’t say she was, Cam, we simply said go there…”
“And now that you are, stand so you can read the grave normally and walk fifteen steps to your right.”
I didn’t move. I just stared.
“Well, go on! Walk!”
I rolled my eyes and walked to my right. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14…
I lout out a yell as the world blurred down. I landed on hard soil and looked up… a rectangle-shaped hole was about seven feet above the ground. I rubbed my leg and stood up. Luckily, I could almost reach the top, but when I tried to pull myself out of the hole, the dirt crumbled and hit my face, widening the hole. I ripped at the mud and grass and yelled when I heard a noise from my phone on the ground by my foot.
“30, 29, 28, 27…”
I stopped and the ticking started again. I looked around for anything, anything that would help me. I picked up my hope angrily and hung up as he counted “20, 19…”
I shined my light up and around and everywhere, not knowing what for.
“15, 14, 13…”
I jerked my head up. Two men were standing above, looking at me in the grave. I swore loudly at them and tried to pull myself up. They laughed and counted.
I pulled and threw and kicked and swore and yelled and jumped. They laughed and counted. I couldn’t see their faces but I knew I wouldn’t want to.
“3, 2, 1.”
Then everything got quiet. I didn’t dare to look up.
“I hate you.”
They let out some more creepy laughs.
I looked up and saw them throw something down. I covered my head and heard a large thump. I slowly turned around, bent over, and threw up. I’d never thought I’d be so disgusted to see Katie’s body... Ripped open, blood and organs spilling out. I felt one more thump on my back and refused to look. I knew it was her head.
The laughing of the men will forever haunt me as the little darkness that was left disappeared, blocking my view of the outside world.
If I had just stayed home.
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