The Old Gravedigger
Daphne and Charles entered the Valley Memorial Cemetery in London, England at 8:30 pm as previously allotted by the (Future Archeologists of America Club). The initiation was to take place at the location. They were to spend the night in the graveyard and would be accepted as full members the next morning.
Daphne wore jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, she brought a blanket to cover up with when the night temperature dropped. Charles had not been as conscientious and because they weren’t even friends she had no intention of sharing.
Charles precariously sat down on one of the stones while Daphne walked around trying to get a cellphone signal. It was going to be a long night, they both thought, if they couldn’t find anymore than two bars.
Without any other activity to keep their interest, the two started reading headstones. Charles brought a lighter because he planned on smoking a joint to be able to endure the mundane undertaking of spending an entire night on the ground.
Daphne read the first headstone which dated back to 1350, the name was William Lawrence the 3rd and she found he was only twelve years old when he died. As she and Charles were studying the inscription they heard a old man carrying a lantern yelling at them to get out of the cemetery.
Daphne and Charles started running as he tripped over a headstone. A hand grabbed his leg and he was pulled underground. As he laid flat on his back he saw a group of black dressed men circling him and placing posies under his nose. He looked down at his arms which he was unable to move and they were covered with a red rosy rash. The group started chanting and talking about the Black Death.
As quickly as Charles was taken into the grave he reappeared. He saw Daphne running when she was also sucked underground.
She continued running inside the tomb as a man was chasing her with a handgun. He screamed if he couldn’t have her no one could and shot her point blank in the head. Charles as he was running away from the gravedigger fell into the grave beside the one Daphne had entered and was holding the same gun that shot her to his own head. After shooting himself and blood running down his arm he dropped the gun. The two soon appeared on top of the ground and continued to run.
The gravedigger was close on their heels as they were swallowed up by another grave with the name of Samuel Johnson. The marker dated back to 1829. Charles arms were tied to a hitching rail and a slave owner was taking a whip made from cowhide to his back. He could hear the whip crack through the air and feel a breeze before it struck his flesh creating unbearable pain. Several lashes were experienced before he dropped to his knees and was transported to a tree where a noose was wrapped around his neck. As the horse was struck with the crop and about to leave Charles hanging he appeared again at the top of the soil.
He looked around frantically to find a way out of the cemetery not sure of the direction that Daphne had went.
Daphne was not out of danger and was fighting her own demons. She had just reappeared from Eleanor Livingston grave and had experienced a ravage fire. It took Eleanor’s home in 1910 along with her seven children. The smoke was so thick Daphne couldn’t see or breathe and she watched as her skin burned and fell off her arms. The children were screaming for their mother and she couldn’t help them because she was trapped behind a locked door. Her husband had punished her for voicing her opinion and left to have whiskey and female companionship at the local tavern.
Charles saw Daphne as she emerged and the two continued running toward the metal gate marking the entrance to the cemetery. They only managed to take a few steps before hands that raised from the ground grabbed their ankles and pulled them back under.
Most of the deaths, they experienced were painful such as automobile accidents with limbs and body parts fractured and severed off. Cancer was also extremely painful when it ravaged through the body attacking every living cell and shutting down all of the vital organs until their last breath was exhaled. Drowning victims had it tough as they would fight for a breath while slowly sinking into an abyss. The least painful death came when the occupants of the cemetery ended their own lives with sleeping pills or slicing their wrists to experience the life slowly leaving their bodies when all of the warm blood turned cold and laid on the floor beside them. The best way to go Charles and Daphne concluded was to lay down and go to sleep without realizing you were never going to wake up.
The gravedigger continued to chase them every time they emerged from a grave shouting to leave this place while carrying a shovel and waving his lantern.
Charles and Daphne didn’t know which way to turn. They would run toward the metal gate that seemed to get further away every time they re-entered the land of the living. Grave after grave continued to suck them under until they had experienced every death that the cemetery had to offer. Initiation to the (Future Archaeologists Club) was not worth the torment they were suffering and as soon as they found an exit they were going to leave the horrible place.
Walking around in circles and falling into graves, Charles and Daphne decided to stop and try to derive a plan no matter if the gravedigger caught up with them or not. He couldn’t inflict any more pain on them then they had already experienced.
The sun came up and Charles and Daphne were huddled against a tombstone under her blanket. William Lawrence the 3rd headstone was large enough to comfortably accommodate Charles and Daphne’s head as they lay there sleeping.
Charles woke up first and nudged her that it was time to leave. Daphne arose and didn’t say a word as they both quickly exited the cemetery.
The old gravedigger was watching as the two groggily found the exit. Neither one was talking about what happened or if it was real or imagined. The old man started swearing under his breath about how dang disrespectful teenagers were these days and with a wad of tobacco stuffed deep in the back of his cheek he muttered, “If they had been raised right, they would have known better then to ever walk on a deadman’s grave.”