Hanna frowned and crossed her arms over her chest, hugging herself in the cold wind. “I’m not sure this is such a good idea.”
“Oh, don’t be such a stiff. It’ll be fun!” Andrea nudged Hanna with an elbow as they navigated the rolling grass of the dark cemetery.
Randi giggled. “Stiff, because we’re surrounded by dead people. Get it?”
Gravestones peeked up out of the gloom, their grey faces watching as the three girls walked between them. A few trees loomed overhead, their branches bare and stretching out with gnarled fingers. The wind sliced through Hanna’s flimsy Halloween costume and she regretted that she was dressed as a felt, yellow M&M instead of a fur-covered Chewbacca.
Brandon, her ghost friend that seemed to follow her everywhere these days, was floating over the ground next to her. He spoke, but she was the only one that could hear him. “Can we talk about how cliche this is? A group of naive girls wandering in a dark cemetery on Halloween night, planning to layout some candles and have a seance?”
Hanna rolled her eyes at him but didn’t dare answer because the other girls would think she was weird. Or, well, even weirder than they already thought of her. She was only going along with them because she was sick of her only friend being invisible. They had decided together that they’d be M&Ms, Andrea being the green one and Randi being the red one. Hanna was fully aware that the yellow one was the stupid one, but she didn’t mind when they suggested she wear that costume, at least they were including her.
Brandon was right, though. It was a cliche. Hanna usually avoided cemeteries as much as she could. She had a weird talent to see ghosts and even though it was rare for someone to actually die in a cemetery, they were often buried with things that they loved, thus tying their spirits to the location. Shadows passed in her periphery, but she staunchly ignored them. Once in awhile a ghost would cross in front of them, their feet unable to disturb the grass beneath them, but as long as Hanna pretended she couldn’t see them like a regular human, they mostly left her alone.
“What if we get caught out here? I’m sure the police are all over the cemeteries on Halloween. The sign says it closes at dusk. Isn’t this like technically trespassing?” Hanna’s teeth chattered around her words.
“Why don’t you just say why you really don’t want to be here? Because you’re scared.” Randi gave her a pointed look, her heart-shaped face surrounded by brown curls that bounced freely as they walked.
“She’s not scared,” Brandon said, moving to stare right in Randi’s face, keeping pace with her so he stayed uncomfortably close. “She’s just smarter than you guys and knows that ghosts exist. You do something like this and you could pull a malicious spirit who could haunt you for the rest of your life. Boo!”
Hanna struggled to suppress a grin at Brandon’s attempt to startle Randi. The girl had no idea he was wiggling his fingers at her and making ghostish noises. Thankfully, the darkness hid Hanna’s face in shadow. “I’m not scared of ghosts if that’s what you’re implying. Well, most of them, anyway. I am scared that we’ll get in trouble and I’ll get marks on my record or something. I need to get into a good college.”
“Blah, don’t worry about that,” Andrea waved a hand flippantly, “that’ll just give your application a bit of color.”
“Easy for you to say. Your dad is super rich and you can go anywhere you want,” Hanna said, thinking it was probably not a nice thing to say to someone you were trying to befriend but the words had gone out of her mouth before she could stop them.
Andrea shrugged, adjusting the bag strap on her shoulder, the candles and something metallic clinking inside. “I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
They slowed their pace as they ascended a rather steep hill and Hanna’s slick flats slipped a bit on the damp grass. Andrea and Randi seemed to have no trouble climbing it and both reached the top before her.
Andrea put her hands on her hips and surveyed the scene. Her blonde hair glinted slightly from the pale light of the moon and even though she couldn’t see them in the dark, Hanna knew Andrea’s eyes to be sharp, calculating green. The hill was the highest point in the cemetery and gave a peaceful view during the sunlit hours of the day, showing a solemn place where people went to revere their dead loved ones. During the night, it showed more darkness with the occasional grey of tombstones and the inky blackness of reaching trees.
Chills skittered up Hanna’s arms and she hugged them tighter, making the roundness of her costume pucker in an odd shape. “Fine. We’re here. Let’s just get this over with. I’m thinking Mrs. Nida’s warm apple cider would be perfect after this. If she’s still handing it out, that is.”
“Mmm, cider does sound wonderful right now.” Randi rubbed her hands together to build warmth from friction.
“So what do we do first?” Hanna asked as she watched Andrea plop her bag onto a marble bench and begin to pull out supplies. The bench was probably dedicated to some important dead person, but Hanna wasn’t able to make out the name carved into it. She was just grateful there wasn’t a ghost hanging out too close to them, yet (aside from Brandon, of course, but he didn’t really count).
“First we set up our circle and light the candles.” Andrea pulled five candles from her bag and handed three to Randi. Together, they placed them in a loose circle, big enough for the three of us to sit in.
With a metallic lighter than gleamed in the light, Andrea lit the candles. It had taken her a few tries to get the flame to stay lit with the lighter but once the wicks on the candles caught, they had no trouble, even in the brisk wind. They moved and flickered, but stayed lit, no matter how hard it blew.
Brandon even tried to blow one out, huffing and puffing his cheeks so dramatically that Hanna had to stifle a giggle.
“Then we sit around this candle and call to the spirits.” Andrea placed a sixth candle in the middle. Randi and Hanna followed her lead, sitting on the cold grass and crossing their legs.
“That’s not how it works.” Brandon sighed and sat down between Hanna and Randi. They were so close that his form was halfway between both girls. Normally, Hanna would have told him to move over but she didn’t want Randi to think she was being rude to her.
Andrea put her fingers into “okay” circles and placed them on her knees. She closed her eyes and pushed her face up to the sky. With a spooky voice, she said, “Oh spirits, hear our cry. We come to you on Hallow’s Eve and entreat your presence.”
Brandon rolled his eyes. “What kind of stupid ghost would answer to that?”
Andrea and Randi repeated her words, both drawing out the words in a sing-song rhythm. Randi nudged through Brandon to Hanna’s elbow so she’d join in.
Brandon giggled. “That tickles.”
Hanna tuned in on the third repetition of the words, but not as loud as the other two. The last thing she wanted was the ghost that she could see a few yards away to come over and start bothering her.
After the fourth time, Hanna’s neck hairs prickled more, indicating the presence of ghosts was about to increase.
“I think it’s actually working,” Hanna muttered to Brandon, worry picking up the beat of her heart. Hanna wasn’t usually afraid of ghosts, but it was easy to be afraid of anything sitting in a dark cemetery.
“Of course it’s working,” Andrea said in between chants. “Now stop interrupting. You could mess it all up.”
“Sorry,” Hanna whispered. She peeked her eyes open and was unhappy to see they had gained the attention of several nearby ghosts.
On silent feet, they crept towards the circle. At first, it was only three but more joined them, their pale forms shining in the dark. Most of them looked sad and haggard, their shoulders hunched, wearing whatever they had had on when they’d died. One girl was in her pajamas, fluffy pants with a faded bunny pattern Hanna could barely make out. There was a man in a business suit, an older man in a flannel shirt and saggy jeans, and two girls wearing sundresses and holding hands. Hanna quickly squeezed her eyes shut, hoping none of them would notice that she could notice them.
Even with her eyes closed, she felt them close in. Thankfully, the circle seemed to stop them from getting any closer. Several moaned at the girls, yearning for them to hear. Andrea and Randi were oblivious to their cries for help, but Hanna could hear every plea.
“Tell her I’m sorry.”
“She doesn’t even know that I love her.”
“He’s a murderer.”
“My mom needs to know how much I love her. She doesn’t even know.”
“Hanna, this is not good,” Brandon whispered into her ear.
Their cries of pain both scared and saddened Hanna. A few tears escaped her eyelids as she squinted hard to keep them closed. She fought the urge to open them and look around, knowing this whole thing would get a lot more creepy if she did that.
After several times of repeating (Hanna had lost count), Andrea paused and took a deep breath. “I know you’re here. I can feel your presence. Show us a sign that you are here.”
Barely peeking her eyes open, Hanna saw one of the ghosts peel off from the crowd, and to her dismay, step into the circle. All the candle flames stood strong and tall but as the ghost passed over one, it flickered lightly. Andrea and Randi noticed the difference and both got excited looks on their faces.
Hanna knew her face wasn’t showing excitement; she couldn’t stop it from showing shock. While she could see the other ghosts, this one she recognized as someone she knew and had thought was still alive. The ghost was dressed in a sexy policewoman’s costume, complete with the fish-net tights and a smart cap. Her hair rolled down her shoulders in waves, and despite being a faded ghostly grey, Hanna knew it was a warm, honey-brown.
“Was that the sign?” Randi said in hushed tones to Andrea.
“You can do better than that. Give us a real sign that you are here.” Andrea sat up straight and looked around the circle, trying to see exactly where the ghost was standing.
“Andrea!” The ghost pleaded, kneeling in front of her. “You have to help me, please! Something happened on the way to the party and I don’t know what to do.”
“Show us a sign,” Andrea chanted, keeping her eyes peeled for any change.
Hanna sighed, her guilt and sadness overpowering the need to keep her friends. She knew she couldn’t just sit there pretending not to hear Stephanie’s cries as she tried to get Andrea’s attention. Hanna knew that this would probably mean the end of hanging out with Andrea and Randi, but perhaps it was for the best. Hanna had all the ghostly friends she could handle.
“C’mon, Hanna, you can’t just let her sit there crying. You’ve got to help her.” Brandon tried to grab Hanna’s hand but he passed right through.
“I know. Alright, Stephanie, what’s wrong? What’s happened?” Hanna knew her name because she was a very popular girl in school. She and Andrea had been friends. Stephanie probably didn’t even know Hanna’s name. After she spoke her name, Hanna felt bad, worried she had just given Andrea some horrible news that probably should be broken to her in a much more sensitive way.
Three pairs of eyes wearing heavy eye-liner turned in Hanna’s direction.
“Has she been possessed?” Randi whispered, glancing between Hanna and Andrea.
Andrea’s eyes were large. She swallowed before she said, “This is our sign.”
Stephanie turned away from Andrea and scooted on her knees until she was staring Hanna in the face. “Can you see me? Please, you have to help! The boys are in the creek and they won’t last much longer!”
Hanna glanced at Andrea and Randi before looking back into the space where Stephanie’s grey face produced grey tears. “Tell me exactly where they are and we’ll call the cops. Are they still alive?”
Stephanie clasped her hands together and nearly hopped up and down. “Oh, thank god. Alex was drinking and I told him not to drive but he didn’t listen to me. I couldn’t just leave them to go alone. I had to try and help. We went over the bridge at Foster’s and Meadowbrook.”
“This is not good,” Brandon kept saying over and over again.
“That’s not helping, Brandon,” Hanna said to the space between herself and Randi, making Randi jump up and eye the spot worriedly.
“Are there two of them?” Andrea’s face was more hopeful than it should have been.
“I’m afraid there’s been an accident. We need to call the police,” Hanna said, ignoring her faux-pas at talking to Brandon in public, again. She dug her phone out of her pocket and dialed the cops.
Stephanie watched her with hopeful eyes. Hanna carefully made sure not to make eye contact with any of the other ghosts milling about their circle. After she had started to talk to Stephanie, they’d looked sad and rejected, feeling like the seance had only worked for one of them. Hanna couldn’t express the relief she felt from their forlorn shuffle away from the circle.
Hanna knew it was dangerous helping out all the ghosts she could see and that even if she tried, there’d always be more who needed help. But this, at least, she could do.
Later, Andrea and Randi were holding each other, sobbing at the scene of the accident. Stephanie’s ghost shimmered on the side of the bridge and Hanna could only guess she’d been able to travel so far away from her death spot because Hanna had been the one helping in the seance. Hanna’s powers somehow allowed ghosts to travel more than they usually could.
Brandon shook his head as the firemen helped pull out the wrecked vehicle from the cold, dripping water. “Sad day. It’s unfortunate that’s the outfit she’ll be stuck in until she can finish her business, whatever that is.”
Hanna made a point to look Brandon up and down. “At least Halloween is always a thing while those huge 90’s pants you wear and your skater shoes aren’t.”
“You’re just not hanging out in the right circles.” He grinned at her and lit up her heart even on this dark night.
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If you want to learn more about Hanna and Brandon, go check out my last story "Don't Ghost Your Friends". I put them in this one too because I'm enjoying playing around with them.
Hey Jeni! I'm so glad you came out with another story! I was so excited when I saw it!! I really loved how you reused your characters! It's so cool! I also really loved your dialogue! Here are my favorite parts: 1) “Oh, don’t be such a stiff. It’ll be fun!” Andrea nudged Hanna with an elbow as they navigated the rolling grass of the dark cemetery. Randi giggled. “Stiff, because we’re surrounded by dead people. Get it?” 2) Gravestones peeked up out of the gloom, their grey faces watching as the three girls walked between them. ...
Aww, you're a sweetheart! Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I got a little long but it was too fun to keep going, haha. I'm pretty sure Hanna and Brandon could make a full novel, probably even a series. I'm putting on my list of books I want to write. The list is quiet long. :P
Oooh please do write a novel! And my list is long too. :P
I finished one this month about kids getting stuck in a video game and started another one about a witch in a bog. I hope I finish it next year sometime. It's hard to write with two little kids wanting stuff all the time, but it's fun! Much more fun than trying to find a publisher, anyway... hah
Nice!! That's okay! :) Haha!