“Hey, I have a great idea!” Daniel says excitedly to his girlfriend over the phone, “We should spend tomorrow night camped out at Witchwood Graveyard. It’s supposed to be a full moon, we can have a picnic and it’ll be really romantic”. They had both been working part-time around their university studies so Saturday nights were the only chance they got to spend some quality time together. Lexi was nervous about this idea as she had heard about all sorts of weird happenings at Witchwood… but nothing terrible had happened there and, anyway, she could never resist his date-night ideas. Plus, he knows the place well as his Granddad often takes him there to have a walk around and look at the different styles of stones.
“Oh, alright then, that does sound like fun. Just promise me we’ll be careful and stay close to the entrance?”
“Why, are you a scaredy cat?” He teased; she could hear his smile in his voice. They planned for the following day and said goodnight.
The next day they met up at Witchwood Graveyard, just past 11pm. From a distance it looked like a quaint little place to rest but as you got closer you could see that it covers a large area of land, with a grand church in the middle. Under the moonlight the graveyard looked calm, but eerie too. Lexi felt strange walking through graveyards during the day, like she could feel the spirits as they were settling to rest but coming to the graveyard tonight had a whole other feeling – the air felt restless. The wind was stirring the leaves making a light rustle all around them. She gave Daniel a worried look. Either he could not make out her expression under the torchlight or he decided to ignore it. He took her hand and walked her into the graveyard. They kept on walking, further and further from the entrance.
“Hey, this is far enough, right? Look, here’s a perfect spot”, Lexi shone her torch a few feet behind them to a clear patch of grass that was big enough for them both to lie down. He flashed his torch to the place she was suggesting and reluctantly agreed. They laid out the picnic blanket they had brought with them and set down their bags. Lexi checked behind them to see exactly how far they were from the exit.
“I can’t see the way back from here”, she said warily, “do you remember the way?”
She turned to talk to Daniel but when she flashed her torch to where she expected him to be, he was not there. She flashed her torch around her but could not see him. ‘He was just here a minute ago’, she thought, ‘surely I would have heard him walk away?’ She called out to him, but the only answer was the leaves rustling in the growing winds. The air grew heavy around her, she could feel something was behind her. She spun on her heels hoping to see Daniel but as she turned, she heard the faint swoosh of something moving past her. There was no one there. A twig snapped sharp behind her, she jumped at the sudden noise and dropped her torch. It shattered on a nearby rock and went out.
“Damn!” She said. All the light she had now was the light of the full moon up above. “Ok, no need to get jumpy, I’m sure he’s just playing a prank on me” she reassures herself. Lexi starts to cautiously explore the graveyard to see if she can find Daniel, sticking to the paths where she could. Then, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up as she felt something behind her once again. She heard the footsteps slowly getting closer, louder. Then she hears deep ragged breaths as if the person were struggling to breathe.
“You shouldn’t be here all alone, little girl” said a gruff male voice, dripping with menace. “Your friend isn’t here to protect you anymore”.
Her eyes widened in fear, her breath quickened, panic rising from the pit of her stomach. Not daring to look around she starts to quickly walk away and soon breaks into a run towards what she thinks is the exit. But she had wondered so far into the graveyard looking for her friend that she was disoriented and couldn’t find a way out. The footsteps behind quickened with her and were getting louder by the second. Her adrenaline was pumping hard and forcing her to run quicker, to outrun whoever was after her. Lexi fled to the church, hoping to hide before he saw which way she went. She found the doors and fumbled with the handle. “Why isn’t it opening?!” She frantically rattled it until it gave way and let her in. She slammed the doors behind her and heard the footsteps slow outside, followed by a frustrated growl and retreating steps. It sounded like she was safe, for now. She made sure the doors were secure by wedging a nearby chair underneath the handles.
She leaned her back against the doors and let herself feel a small wave of relief. She looked around and took in the church – it felt open with its high ceilings and exposed beams. Stained glass windows lined the walls, and the biblical images were illuminated with the haunting light of the moon. Some movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention. In the front centre of the church was a boy, facing away from her. He was all alone and seemed to be studying something in front of him, most likely a bible, but seemed oblivious to her barging in.
“Um… hello?” Lexi asked quietly, although it echoed in the barren church. He stopped what he was doing, looked up and slowly turned to face her. He was small in stature, with a mop of brown hair surrounding his pale grey face. He looked around 8 years old, but his eyes were sunken which made him appear older. Lexi’s small wave of relief morphed into unease at the sight of his face.
“Hello, miss. I take it you are seeking safe passage out of the graveyard?” He said, almost dismissively. ‘How odd’, she thought, ‘does he know about the crazy man outside?’
“Yes, I seemed to have lost the exit. Do you know a way out?”
“Ah, the exit does tend to move itself when it gets visitors at night. Follow me.”
“Wait, have you seen my boyfriend come through here? We came together and he disappeared right before I got chased in here.”
He paused, looking thoughtful before he answered.
“As a matter of fact, I did. I showed him the way out too, come with me.” He walked to his right and popped open a hidden wooden door in the panelling, leading to a descending staircase. While she was still wary of the boy, she was relieved to hear her friend was safe and well and was excited to see him. She started walking across the church, hearing her footsteps clatter loudly on the tiled floor. Once she was closer, she could see that the boys’ irises were a murky grey. His gaze was intense, as if trying to examine her soul. Within a second his expression changed from an innocent little boy to an evil, hungry man smirking at Lexi. It happened so quick she was not sure it was real. She froze.
“There’s no need to be afraid, miss. We’ll get you back to safety”. ‘We?’ she thought. ‘Ok, calm down. What exactly can this boy do to me that would be worse than the man outside? I’m just jumpy’. After a deep breath to steady herself, she went through the doorway and started heading down.
The tunnel was lit along the walls with flaming torches and there was an odd, musty smell coming from below. The boy followed her in and quickly shut the door behind them. Down they went, following the spiral of uneven stone steps. After a few minutes they reached a cavern at the bottom that opened to a crypt made of skulls. Lexi could feel the horrors that happened down here and realised that is what the smell must be. She heard some muffled words over to her left. She followed the sound and found her boyfriend curled up on the floor, bound, gagged and bruised.
“Daniel! What on earth happened to you?!” she rushed over to him and fell to her knees. He was wild-eyed and looked like he was pleading her to leave. Lexi turned to the boy looking to him for answers. He was waiting on the bottom step, watching their interaction with amusement.
“You made me think you had led him out of here, what is going on?”
“Well, we need to feed Igor somehow so that he doesn’t go on a rampage through the whole town! I thought he might prefer a ‘balanced’ meal tonight”, looking between the two of them. Horrified and angry, she started to move towards the boy. Before she could get much further, he pulled a lever just outside the stairwell which released an iron grate slamming down just inches in front of her face.
“I hope you enjoy your last few moments together, perhaps it will bring you comfort. I hear Igor likes to play with his food.” And with that he went back up the stairs, whistling a happy tune to himself.
She was in utter disbelief. She turned to Daniel and unbound him. He wrapped her up in a fierce hug.
“I’m so sorry I brought us here, this is not the night I had in mind” he sobbed into her shoulder. Behind them, they heard a bolt thud. A door opposite the grate slowly creaked open and there, half lit up by the moon, was Igor. He was 7-foot-tall, hunched over and dressed in blood-stained tatters for clothes. He lifted his head to see the two entwined and drew in a deep breath which rattled in his chest.
“Dinner time” he drawled, lifting his lips to show his sharp jagged teeth. He stepped in and slammed the door behind him, blowing out every single torch in the skull crypt.