When I was eleven years old I joined boy scouts. Actually, I joined when I was ten, but you had to be eleven to be in boy scouts, so I wasn’t officially a member til I was eleven. Anyway, one time we went on this campout to a woodland that bordered an old cemetery. It was near Halloween, so we were all trying to spook each other, even the grown-ups. Garrett, my friend and neighbor who was in high school, had this idea for us to go into the grave yard and look for ghosts. We thought that was a great idea. Either that or we didn’t want to be chicken, so we pretended we did.
The idea was for each person to find a gravestone and sit by it, and look for ghosts. Simple, right. The scary part was that it was late at night, and there was only a small crescent moon to see by. Really all th’ moon lit up were the gravestones. It was a perfect night to scare yourself.
Our imaginations ran wild. Once inside the cemetery everyone became quiet. All joking and goofing stopped. It was like there was an invisible border around th’ place that kept everything silly out. We all separated, went to gravestones of our own choosing, nobody too close to anyone else.
I chose a tombstone that had a small statue of Mother Mary, holding a baby lamb. The lamb’s head was broken off. Already spooky, and I hadn’t even seen a ghost. I sat down in front of it, and watched it for a while. Tried to stare at it, tried to conjure up the ghost of whoever was buried below me. I became oblivious to everyone else out there. I was the only one there, I was alone. After a while I forgot about the person buried and just sat there looking at and thinking about Mary, and that poor little headless lamb. I’ve always had the kind of imagination that will run away given half a chance, and out here, on this night, I’d given it every chance possible. After about ten minutes I saw a form walking out of the woods, towards me. I didn’t move.
It was a lady, dressed all in white. Her feet moved but she kind of floated towards me, real slow, like she had all th’ time in th’ world. I looked closer and saw that she was holding a lamb, only the lamb had a head, and was alive. She stroked and pet th’ lamb tenderly as she walked towards me. The tombstone and the statue were in between us, and I looked down at the statue for a moment. I was starting to get a little bit scared, but everything was so peaceful and I was so hyper focused, that th’ fear didn’t really register at th’ time. When I looked back up Mary stood right in front of me, right in front of her statue. I could see the statue through her. I blinked and she was gone.
I got up and ran out of the cemetery. Ran as fast as I could back to the fire the others who didn’t join us had made. I wasn’t th’ first one there. Three or four of us had already left before me, and the rest joined us soon afterward. We sat around the fire for a long time, each one of us telling our stories of what we’d seen. None of us really wanting to go lay down, to go to sleep. The ones who didn’t join us in the graveyard laughed at our stories, thought we made them all up. But after what I’d seen I believed all the stories. The other ones drifted off to their tents, to their sleeping bags and their pillows, to their rest and their dreams.
Only the graveyard crew was left awake. And only the kids. Garrett, whose idea this was, said that he didn’t see anything, and he retired early.
We heard something rustling, just outside the firelight. Probably just an animal, we all thought. We heard it again, it sounded closer this time. Then AH! Something yelled and ran right at us, leaped over the fire and growled, sending us all flying through th’ night. Garrett stood there smiling next to th’ fire, laughing and slapping his knees. Happy Halloween, he said.