Looking up, the three friends did indeed note the half full moon dangling high in the sky, surrounded by twinkling bits of starlight. Looking back at Stephanie, who stood by the rusted away bar on the locked gate, an easy enough entrance if you bent down, who was waiting for the three of them to enter the graveyard.
Sandra could feel how sweaty her palms were, as her eyes darted back and forth at even the slightest movement within the bushes. Derek put a hand on her shoulder, leaning in to whisper. “It’ll be alright. Use this as an excuse to cling to Cloud.”
Cloud ducked and slinked into the graveyard, quickly followed by Sandra and Derek, ending with Stephanie, who seemed impatient with them for taking so long.
The entryway to the graveyard was almost the definition of the macabre, a large angel statue standing ten feet from the gates in a circle of cobblestones, its hands folded together in prayer. Corrosion and lack of care had stains leaking near the carved eyes, making it appear as if the angel were crying. The angel was wreathed in a green toga of moss and vines, large white flowers blooming from the vines, each almost as big as Sandra’s head.
“There are sixteen flowers here, supposedly for the sixteen lost souls that this haunted graveyard has consumed.” Stephanie said, waving a hand at the statue, reciting the lines as if practiced. “The flowers, known simply as Moon Children, grow back if cut and weep red fluid if damaged, as if they were bleeding.”
“Creepy…” Derek muttered, looking around the dark graveyard. “How are we going to explore if we can’t see anything?”
“I bring kids here all the time to check it out, so I have a stack of flashlights hidden in the leaves at the angel’s feet. Cloud, be a dear?” Stephanie answered, giving a simpering smile to the kimono-clad boy.
He nodded, moving forward and fishing out four heavy set flashlights. Turning each on and off to ensure they worked, he handed them out to the other teenagers, keeping one for him.
“So, what? Are you going to give us a tour?” Sandra asked, looking at Stephanie with barely veiled disgust.
“No, I normally let the other kids I bring here do as they please. The ghosts don’t appear if you’re in a large group.” Stephanie said, shrugging her shoulders. Pulling her phone from… somewhere, she flipped it on and smiled. “I’ll just play around on this while you three have fun!”
“So you just bring people here for… what? What are you getting out of this?” Sandra asked, confused.
“Oh, I get to laugh and record you guys as you come screaming back to the gates trying to get out, and away from whatever spooked you.”
“That won’t happen to us!” Cloud cried with a brave smile on his face as he looked at his friends, each in turn. Sandra and Derek smiled, giving thumbs up in affirmation.
“Well I tell you what: if each of you comes back with a photo of yourselves with one of the other angel statues in the graveyard, I’ll make a dedication to you on my blog, complete with your pictures and your stories about what you saw. What do you say?”
“I say you better get ready for some selfies, because we each have some pretty awesome phones!” Sandra said, pulling out her new phone to demonstrate. Derek and Cloud pulled out their own, slightly dated, smart phones, checking the battery life on them just to make sure they had enough juice to take a photo and still work in case their parents called.
“Well then, get to it!” Stephanie said, snapping her fingers.
The graveyard was full of worn tombstones, some cracked with age while others seemed fresh and new. Sandra moved along the cobblestone path, darting the beam of light from her flashlight back and forth at every perceived noise. Twice now she’d jumped at the hooting of an owl, the second time causing her to stop and throw rocks at the offending bird until it flew away. Swinging her light around, she looked for any sign of an angel statue, cursing beneath her breath as the path only seemed to continue onward.
“Stupid Stephanie… stupid Cloud… can’t believe I’m doing this.” Sandra muttered beneath her breath as she continued onward, shivering from the cold wind blowing through the cemetery, rattling the branches of the trees, creating a light shower of orange leaves fluttering to the ground from their precarious perches on the gnarled limbs.
Stopping, Sandra looked around as she thought she’d heard something. Over the faint howling of the wind, she could just make out a faint moaning noise, wet and deep. Shivering, and not just from the cold, she backed up against a tree so as not to have something sneak up on her, wildly waving her flashlight about in search of the moaning.
Just as soon as it had started, it stopped. The howling of the wind lowered to a light whistle, and Sandra took a deep breath, before letting out a sigh.
“Just your nerves Sandra… don’t let anything scare you.” She told herself, pulling her cell phone from her pocket. “I have to find this statue and take a picture with it soon, or else I’m going to have a heart attack!”
Moving back to the path, she continued walking down the leaf-strewn stones. Listening to the rustling of leaves and the whistling of the wind, Sandra did her best to keep her imagination in check. It wouldn’t help her right now to start thinking about vampires or ghosts, neither of which she really believed in normally…
But this was a really spooky graveyard!
Her thoughts were broken by the tinkling of a bell, and the low meow of a cat. Moving the flashlight ahead of her, Sandra twitched as the light reflected off of two silver eyes staring back at her from the head of a black cat wearing a pink collar, adorned with a single large bell. The cat meowed once more, before moving to lick its front paw, the bell tinkling again from the movement.
“Aw… Kitty, you scared me.” Sandra said, breathing a sigh of relief. “Any idea where the other angel statue is Kitty?”
The cat looked back up at Sandra before standing and walking down the stone path, the bell ringing with every step. When it was barely visible within the edges of the flashlight, it looked back at her, pausing mid-step.
“Okay, that cat did not just understand me.” Sandra said, shaking her head. “But then again, if it’s heading towards the angel statue… wait for me Kitty!”
The cat meowed in response, waiting for Sandra to come within ten feet before resuming its hurried pace, forcing Sandra to jog slightly to keep up with it. Within minutes of jogging, the stone pathway opened up into a wide circle, the center of which was dominated by a moss-covered angel holding a small bundle in her arms. The stone was worn and old, and covered in vines, though these ones appeared flowerless. Looking around, Sandra saw that near the statue the path led to a tomb, a squat grey building adorned with embossed images of heavenly figures. It was surprisingly free of vines, though twin rosebushes grew in front of the tomb, which as she approached, didn’t seem to have doors so much as lead down into the earth below via a spiraling staircase.
“Yeah, so not happening.” Sandra said as she turned back to the angel, the cat perched eye level with her on the foundation of the statue. “Time to get my photo and get out of here. You wanna be in it too, Kitty?”
The cat meowed once more, jumping down from its perch; the bell jingling as it slowly began to walk towards Sandra.
“Aw… who wants some petting?” Sandra baby-talked, kneeling down with an outstretched hand.
The cat hastened its pace, jogging towards Sandra before jumping at her, and fading away from view as if it were nothing more than a memory.
Staring at where the cat had been, Sandra squatted still for a few moments, pondering what exactly had just happened. Hearing shuffling behind her, she turned, bringing her flashlight to bear, revealing the grinning face of Cloud.
Holding a hand to her chest, Sandra laughed. “Dammit Cloud, you scared me! Did you see that cat? I think it was an honest-to-God ghost!”
“No, I didn’t see any cat… but I do see you.” Cloud replied, his voice low and husky.
“Wait, what?” Sandra sputtered, blushing at the way he was looking at her.
“I know how you feel about me Sandy,” Cloud said, his voice low and even. “I was kind of hoping we could get some time to ourselves tonight, away from Derek. Just the two of us.”
“Cloud, what are you saying?”
“I’m saying I’ve wanted to kiss you all night Sandra. I saw you glaring at Stephanie when I talked to her, and it made me want you even more knowing how jealous you were”
“Oh, uh… I-I…” Sandra stuttered, rubbing her arm nervously at how open Cloud was being right now.
“No need for words Sandy, I think I just want to show you how much I care for you.” Cloud said, taking a step closer, leaves shuffling at his feet. He was now inches from her, his arms moving to pull her close to him.
Falling into the embrace, Sandra relished the feel of his hard chest. He was cold, but muscular. His lips found hers, pressing hard against them, slowly making her yield to his passionate embrace.
She moaned as his lips moved from her mouth to her collarbone then down to her neck, where he suckled just above her pulse. She ran a hand over the back of his head, running her fingers through his hair until she found a wet spot.
Opening her eyes as he began giving her little nips that sent shivers down her spine, she looked at her wet hand, eyes widening as she took in the sight of deep red ichor and bits of grey and pink chunks. Sandra was about to ask what was on the back of his head when the embrace turned painful, his arms around her body tightening in a way that made it difficult for her to breathe.
Not that it was a problem for long, as his next love bit tore a huge chunk from her throat, a spray or arterial blood splashing between them as Cloud noisily chewed on the meat he’d just pulled from Sandra’s throat. Tears streaming down her eyes, Sandra rolled her head back to look at Cloud, only to stare in to the blank yellow orbs of a desiccated corpse, covered in steaming red blood. It smiled through the mouthful of meat and resumed biting into her.
She tried to scream, but his next bite went deeper into her opened throat, pulling on something that made her ability to breathe stop. Clawing feebly at his back, Sandra fought against Cloud- no, the dead mans, grip upon her. But between the spreading cold racing up and down her arms and legs, and the dizziness that was now captivating her, all Sandra could do was stare over his shoulder at the statue of the angel while he continued to eat her.
The cat was back, sitting on the statue, a knowing gleam in those silver eyes.
Before Sandra’s vision faded to black, she muttered in a broken voice. “God I hate cats…”