The Grave Digger’s Cottage


Alice said goodbye to her friends and started to run home. Now eleven, her parents let her walk alone but she was only allowed a certain distance. To school a few streets away, the park next door and the corner shop.

She laughed loudly, excitement spilling out as she went. School was over for another day but also for summer. There was a whole two months of playtime and adventures waiting for her.

Alice lived behind the village church and across the graveyard. Her house sat on the back edge of the cemetery, over shadowed by a massive weeping willow tree. It was a small cottage with a yellow thatched roof, red brick chimney, small frosty windows and set apart from all the others in the village. It was called the Grave Digger’s Cottage.

There many routes she could have taken home, but Alice took the quickest. Cutting across church grounds and the straight path that ran down the centre of the graveyard. Opening the gate of her front garden, she skipped up the gravel path, lined with bright summer flowers then opened the front door.

‘Hello, grandpa!’ she shouted.

‘Hello, Al!’ the distant echoing voice of her grandpa called back.

Giggling, Alice took off her shoes and left them with her schoolbag in the hallway. Downstairs there were only three rooms; the front parlour, living room and kitchen/dinner. Upstairs there were also three rooms; a small bathroom, her parents bedroom and her grandpa’s room. Another staircase led to the attic which was Alice’s bedroom.

Alice went down the hallway, through the kitchen to the back door and stepped out into blazing sunshine once again.

Her grandpa was in the back garden, sitting on a stool next to a low table and he was putting together flower bunches. His skin was tanned a deep brown from days spent outside and his figure was stooped from years of being bent over digging. He had a thin cloud of white wispy hair and rough outline of a white beard. His eyes were blue like the colour of the sea lit by the sun.

Alice had been told she looked like him but she had never been able to see it. Yes, they had the same colour eyes and once grandpa’s hair had been chestnut brown like her’s was now. Alice’s skin though was paler and definitely not wrinkly!

‘School is finally over!’ Alice cried.

‘Is it really?’ grandpa questioned.

Alice nodded, ‘are mum and dad home yet?’

Grandpa shook his head, ‘your dad’s watching over an evening exam at the university and your mum had a late meeting to go to in the city. It’s just you and me till bedtime.’

Alice smiled, spending time alone with grandpa was the best. He told awesome stories, let her do want she wanted and allowed her to stay up late.

‘Would you like a hand, grandpa?’ Alice asked.

‘I’m almost done,’ he replied.

Alice sat down on another stool and watched him wrapping green garden twine around the bunches of mixed flowers. Alice knew he had grown them himself and when the flowers were ready, grandpa would cut them and put them together.

‘There we go. Right, would you like to come with me, Al?’ Grandpa asked.

‘Yes, please!’ Alice said.

Grandpa give her some of the flowers to carry and he took the rest. Together they went out into the cemetery. At a handful of headstones, they placed the flowers into the vases and grandpa did some cleaning and weeding if needed.

Countless times they had done this and Alice knew the stories of all of the headstones they visited plus many of the other ones in the graveyard. Grandpa had known a lot of people buried here because they had come from the village and the graves they visited were of family and friends. Grandpa had also buried some of them.

Alice looked back their cottage, the roof could just be seen through the trees and wild growth. Alice sat down on one of the tombs, the stone was cold against her bare legs but she didn’t mind.

‘Grandpa, tell me the story of our house again.’

He looked up from pulling weeds out from around a Second World war grave of his uncle.

He smiled and began chatting away, ‘when the new church was built in the eighteen hundreds after the old one burnt down, they also built a cottage for a grounds keeper to leave in. The man and his son who first lived there were also grave diggers and that’s how the cottage got it’s name.’

Alice nodded.

‘From that day on, every man who lived in the cottage – expect your father- was a grave digger and also church grounds keeper. We had to make sure that nature didn’t take over and the paths clear for visiting people. We had to help plot out the cemetery, decided where to bury people and dig those graves. Then when the headstones arrived we had to plant them in the ground over the right grave.’

‘And what else, grandpa?’ Alice demanded.

‘And we were night watchmen too! Back in time, grave robbers would come and dig up fresh bodies to sell to doctors for science. People would also try to do cheap burials by doing it themselves and we had to stop them! Then there’s tramps and teenagers who muck around and make place untidy. We had to get them out by dawn so visitors wouldn’t see ’em and get a scare!’

Grandpa clawed his hands and made swatting movements in the air. He growled low like a bear before coming over and tickling Alice, who broke into giggles. Then he sat on the tomb next to her and they looked out over the cemetery.

‘Did you ever see a ghost, grandpa?’ Alice asked.

‘Plenty!’ grandpa cried, ‘I saw the ghost of little girl once, way younger then you, and she was running along the path just there. There’s the woman in blue who walks around the church, crying for her lost lover. A black dog with red eyes that’s spotted in the bushes and shadows of the trees. He’s said to guide souls away.’

‘And there’s also the headless man!’ Alice shouted.

Grandpa laughed and spoke, ‘that’s one of your favourites, Al.’

Spots of rain began to fall.

Grandpa pointed out a large bank of grey cloud coming over to them and declared it time to go home.

‘But you will tell me, won’t you, grandpa? The story of the headless man,’ Alice questioned.

Grandpa helped her down from the tomb. Hand in hand they walked back towards The Grave Digger’s Cottage.

‘Of course, I will! As long as you promise not to lose your head with fright!’ Grandpa replied.

Alice laughed and shadows grew long on the ground.


Small #WritePhoto

an old, carved stone whose recesses are stuffed with red and black ladybirds.

It was a too hot summer afternoon, so I had taken toddler Ava into a shady patch of the lower garden. We sat on the grass, in the dappled shadow of an oak tree which rose up over the reminds of the old family chapel.

Whilst Ava played with some of her toys, I looked at the fallen stone walls and large pieces of stone decor. It was hard to imagine what the chapel had once looked like but I had seen some photos and though it had been small it had been a splendid place.

On the other side of the chapel, out of sight down a sloping hill and nested around three willow trees, was the family cemetery. Every Bartlett was buried there and when her time came, Ava would be too.

I on the other hand, just a nanny, would be buried in the village church graveyard where all the other past servants of Bartlett Manor where.

‘Look! What’s it!’ Ava cried.

I turned, frowning and  saw the three year old pointing to one of the decorative stones. Picking her up, we went for a closer look.

Crowding into the nooks of what might have been a corner stone of the outside ceiling with a now moss covered leave like pattern on it, with hundreds of small ladybirds.

Ava squealed and tried to stick her fingers into the crawling mass. I grabbed her hand and pulled it back.

‘They are only baby ladybirds,’ I explained.

‘Lay-d-burs,’ Ava tried to pronounce.

I laughed at her and clapped her hands together as I sang;

‘Ladybird, ladybird,
Fly away home,
Your house is on fire
And your children all gone;
All except one
And that’s little Ann,
And she has crept under
The warming pan.’

We laughed together then carried on watching the ladybirds.

‘What lay-d-burs doing?’ Ava asked.

‘Napping. Like you should be doing,’ I replied.
Ava pulled a face and began to make a fuss. I quickly settled her down on the picnic blanket and started to read some fairy tales to her.
The heat and tiredness got to her and she was soon asleep.


(Inspired by; with thanks).

Ladybird nursery rhyme quote from;

Forbidden (Part 2)


It wasn’t until I got home after emptying my car and leaving it at the garage, that I finally looked at what I’d brought from the antique shop. Sitting on the sofa in the living room, the blinds down, I opened the paper bag and took out a pink tissue wrapped thing.

Unwrapped, a black plastic circle sat in my hand. There was a small dint to slide a nail in and open it by. The lid flipped up and I realised it was a woman’s compact. The bottom disc was empty and wiped clean of the powered it had once held. The top part was a mirror.

I slapped the compact shut. Mirrors were banned! A generation ago they were all smashed because it was claimed they had started to show peoples’ true characters. The New Age Government had passed a law declaring it so. Of course, there had been people denying that and claiming it was another front to suppress us.

I don’t really remember it. Though in one of the memories I have of my grandma there’s a big mirror. She use to sit and brush her hair before it. From time to time, I’ve seen people with small ones and on the screen when old TV shows and movies that weren’t banned were being shown. I had never owed a mirror.

Thinking was beyond me, so I re-wrapped and put it back in the paper bag then I went to my wardrobe. Moving clothes aside, I unlocked the small safe and placed the forbidden item in there. I closed the safe door and sat there for a few minutes. I would have to get rid of it tomorrow. Find some place to smash and dump it. The longer the mirror stayed in my house the more chance it would get discovered during a random police search gang.

A shiver ran through me at that thought. It had been awhile since the banging had come at my door in the early hours of the morning. I hadn’t reached it in time and the police had broken the door down. They had searched my whole apartment, moving furniture, breaking things, making holes in the walls. They had left empty handed and gone to join the other policemen who’d been through my neighbours’ places.

The search gangs were a fact of life but you never got use to them. If they found anything banned you were arrested and taken to jail. So, if they came tonight….

‘No!’ I cried and lunged for the safe.

I scrambled with the lock and put the numbers wrong in twice. Pulling away, I took a few deep breaths then tried again. The safe clicked and I grabbed the paper bag from inside. Clutching it to my chest, I felt a sensation of fire. I had to get rid of this now. Closing the safe and the wardrobe. I went into the kitchen and found a rolling pin. Placing the compact mirror on the floor, I repeatedly hit it.

I didn’t hear any breaking but I was too scared to check. Putting the rolling pin back, I stuffed the now ripped paper bag in my handbag and left. I wasn’t sure where I was going and the weather was so bad. I went to get into my car then remembered it was at the garage being fixed.

I looked back at the apartment building, the wind whipping around me and the rain soaking through my skirt. I couldn’t go back. Walking on, I thought about a location I could take the mirror too. There were some alleyways, a small children’s park, a few bushes pushing out of people’s front gardens….A sign rose above me directing cars on the one way road.

Ahead, the town centre and business distract and to the left the cemetery. That’s where I could bury the compact! I hurried on, huddling in my coat and hoping no one stopped me. The pavement weaved around and around, small house lining either side, many had lights on in their windows. I felt numb with the cold and weighed down with the rain. Turning a corner the houses started to drop away and the further I walked the less there were.

A sign, rattling in the wind, pointed onward and also declared this was a dead end. A few moments later, I could see the open gates of the cemetery. I broke into a slow run, desperate to complete my task. I went through the gates and almost stopped at the first row of headstones. It would have been too simple though. I headed in deeper. The rain dripping of the weeping willows and bending the tall grass. I passed statues of angels and saints who seemed to be crying.

Somehow, in my fogged mind, I remembered a curved wall of names that might have been from a war or from a religious group. It was at the bottom of this pathway and fenced off from the other graves. There was an arc doorway in the centre that might once had opened and led into a tomb. Reaching the fence, I saw a large gap and just squeezed in.

At the side of the stairs leading up, I dug up the grass and soil with my bare hands. I dug as deep as I could then pressed the compact into the earth. I refilled the hole and hoped the rain and wind would cover my tracks. Back through the fence, I located a tap and washed my hands.

Home felt a long way off but I made it back. I didn’t think anyone had seen but it was so hard to tell. There were secret cameras and spies everywhere. I showered, got warm and then dry. I couldn’t eat so I went to bed and just lay there in the dim light, thinking.

I knew the feeling of being found out would never go away. I’d always be looking and wondering for the rest of my life. One other thing was clear to me now though and that was that I couldn’t report the antique shop. If I did, they’d investigate me and I wouldn’t be able to lie.

Lost Wings

Angel, Wing, Angel Wings, Heaven

I often went to sulk in the cemetery. It was my go to place if I was feeling upset or angry and wanted to be away from the world. No one really visited this unimportant corner which was mostly hidden in a small wooded area. There were maybe about sixty headstones and the little chapel which had been forever abandoned.

Plucking at the long grass growing in-between the treeline and edge of the cemetery,  I recalled why I was here today. It was because Minnie and I had fallen out again. Perhaps this time for good. She had been secretly dating Dalton Walton, who I had a huge crush on and had wanted to date for an age. Minnie had always known that and still she had….

I ripped the grass up and threw it away. I felt like screaming and crying, stomping around and throwing myself dramatically over a gravestone. I didn’t though. I walked into the cemetery and began reading the names off. It always helped to calm and distracted me.

The only statue was of an angel and it stood in the middle row. The angel was short, made of grey stone and was crying. She watched over the grave of Annabelle Leyton, born 6th October 1887 and died 6th October 1903, on her 16th birthday. Rest Sweetest Angel. Annabelle’s parents and still born brother were in the grave to her left. On the right side; Annabelle’s older sister, Bethany, her husband James and there three children.

I felt a strange connection to Annabelle because we were the same age. Today though as I stood before the angel, I noticed something odd. Her wings were missing! Looking, I saw they were laying on the ground, having snapped off from her back. How had this happened? I nudged one with my toe whilst I wondered what to do.

The wings were too heavy to lift back up and even if I did that, how would I get them to stay again? I walked to the back of the statue and looked. It was an odd sight seeing the large marks were the wings had cracked away from. I couldn’t tell if they had fallen off natural or if someone had cut them off. But why would you do that and just leave them?

Feeling sadder, I sighed and knelt down in the grass. I touched the wings. They were cold, solid stone but the feathers were raised and I could feel each outline against my finger tip. I didn’t know much about angels but I was sure when they wings got cut off bad things happened to them.

Looking up at Annabelle’s angel, I decided that she just didn’t look right anymore. It seemed up to me to fix that. I went home, did some research on my phone and came up with a plan. The next day, a Saturday, and whilst my parents were busy with their own lives, I went out and brought from an arts and crafts shop some white plastic sheeting, wires, metal tags and pliers.

I took all of this to the cemetery and there in the late summer sun, I built angel wings. I made the frame out of the wire, shaping it and joining it with clips. I used the old stone wings as a guide. Then I covered the white plastic over it, shaping the ends to try and look like the feathers. I wasn’t an arty person and it didn’t look very good, but it would have to do.

Using more wire, I fixed the wings in place to the back of the angel. That took awhile, as I didn’t get it straight the first few times. Finally, I felt I had done the best I could. I was tried, hungry and thirsty too. Stepping away, I looked at the angel and her new wings. The contrasted of the grey stone and bright white plastic wings didn’t look good. It was too childish.

I felt disheartened. We had read Frankenstein for English Lit last year and that’s totally want the angel now reminded me off. I wanted to go over and rip the wings off. She would look far better without them but I didn’t. I was too tried. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I wiped them away.

I clenched my fists and told myself to stop. The wings would do for now and maybe in the future I’d find a way to fix the original ones. It was time to go home now. That night I had a strange dream. I was walking in the cemetery and it was snowing. I went to the angel statue but it was missing. Looking around, I couldn’t spot her anywhere and then I heard the fluttering of plastic.

The angel appeared before me. She held out her arms, a large smile on her face and behind her the wings I had made glowed white.

‘Thank you,’ she said in a soft, clear voice.

I nodded, too shocked to speak.

Then she took to the air again, disappearing into the snow and I woke up feeling a lot better.


(Inspired by; with thanks).

The Basement (Part 5)


(Please be aware this story contains adult sexual content.) 

The tunnel was mostly dirt held up with wooden boards and crumbing ancient bricks. I felt a chill along my back as if a spider was walking across my spine. Trying not to let my worry show, I looked at Raven. Her expression was excited and curious, her body language told me she was ready to go exploring the tunnel. My wife really loved things like this and she showed no fear when everyone else would have done.

‘Where do you think it goes, Crow?’ she asked.

‘I don’t know….Maybe we should find out later though. I’m thirsty and we have so much unpacking to do,’ I replied.

Raven turned to me, her face flashing to disappointment. She took a standing ground stance; pulling her shoulders up, holding head high and keeping straight. Turning to me, her expression became serious and calm, she was going to begin arguing with me.

‘I’m just saying,’ I said softly.

Raven was not a person you argue with. She would win with words or with fists. Having a black belt in Taekwondo made her pretty scary in a fight. Luckily, I knew how to avoid most of our arguments, having known her for twelve years helped.

‘We’re down here so we might as well,’ Raven spoke, ‘you’re not scared are you? It’s nothing just an old passage way. It’ll led to that ice house or something. We should make sure it’s secure. We wouldn’t want to get robbed or anything.’

I let the silence do the talking for me.

‘I’ll go by myself. It’s no big deal,’ Raven added.

‘It doesn’t look safe though,’ I muttered.

Raven shrugged and answered, ‘It doesn’t look that bad…I’m sure it’ll be fine. I need to know where it goes. Either you come or you don’t. I don’t care either way.’

With that, she walked in. I had no choice but to follow her because if anything happened, I’d never live it down and Raven would make sure of that.

The soil was hard packed under and around me. Someone had taken great time to make it so and it had been used lots of times over the years. Like the cellars though, the air was dry and old. This tunnel had been sealed for so long. Creeping after my wife, I tried not to let my fears get to me.

Torch light flickered over the reminds of brick walls and wooden planks that had been used to hold the soil back. Roots of dead plants and other rubbish made lines in the almost black earth. I hoped Raven was right and this was just a tunnel used to get to the ice house.

We walked for a good few minutes, just listening to each other’s footsteps, breathing and movement. There was nothing else to be heard. Thinking, I tried to come up with something to say. I could tell Raven was still tense and she was just wanting for me to light the argument bomb. I wasn’t going anywhere near it though.

‘Some adventure, huh?’ I finally said, ‘I hope this leads to more then just the ice house.
Some place cool would be good. Like the Batcave or El Dorado. What do you think, Pumpkin?’

Raven paused, her shoulders dropping as she turned to me. I fixed a smile on my face, even if it was fake.

‘I hope so too,’ she said, ‘I bet this isn’t on the blueprints.’

I forced a laugh and shook my head.

Raven smiled and turned back again. We walked for another good ten minutes or so then came to another stop.

‘I think there’s something up ahead,’ Raven pointed out.

I peered over her shoulder and saw a small door set into the end of the tunnel. I became half torn about it; wanting it to be locked and wanting it to be unlocked at the same time. I held my breath as Raven went up to it and tried the handle.

The door seemed to move a little. Raven put a shoulder to it and shoved the door rudely open. An unpleasant smell hit my nose. Before there had only been the scent of old dry earth, now this stank like rotted meat.

‘Raven….’ I uttered then had to cover my mouth and nose with my t-shirt.

She didn’t answer or look my way, she was shinning her torch through. I shuffled closer, wanting to draw her away without seeing what was there. I couldn’t help it but as I saw through the door there seemed to be nothing but an endless straight dark hole of space.

I reached a hand out for her shoulder. Raven jumped, turned to face me and lost her footing as she did so. I grabbed out for her, but my wife slipped through my fingers and fell into the darkness.

‘Raven!’ I screamed.

The sounds of a coughing fit rose from a little way below me. I shone my torch down, saw a cloud of dirt rising then spotted her. She didn’t fallen far and after a quick look around I saw there was actually some steps set before me that were half covered by soil. I raced down them, almost tripping.

‘Are you okay?’ I pressed as I reached her side.

Raven looked up at me. Her lip was bleeding and she was cover in soil. She nodded and I helped her up.

‘You didn’t fall far. There are steps, see? Where are we now?’ I gushed.

Raven began trying to clean herself up, so I cast around and tried to see in the claustrophobic blackness where we were. My  first thoughts were that we had found the ice house and were at the bottom. It was cold enough and that smell was still strong. Then my light fell on something and stayed there.

‘Raven, look,’ I whispered.

I felt her move at my side, shone her own torch over mine and gasp loudly.

Before us was large grey stone sarcophagus. It was half sunk into the soil and looked intact. A further exploration showed there were more of them and also some wooden coffins. There were too many to count as they appeared to carry on where our torch light couldn’t reach.

‘We must be under the cemetery!’ Raven cried out.

I frowned and said, ‘but why would they bury everyone together like this?’

‘No idea….Some of these must be named though.’

My wife determinedly moved off towards the first sarcophagus.

‘Wait! Be careful!’ I shouted after her.

‘I shall,’ she tossed over her shoulder.

I side stepped from one foot to the other, undecided then hurried after her.

‘No name,’ she uttered as her fingers trailed over the stone.

‘Maybe we should go….’

Raven pouted then frowned. She was torn too!

‘Listen, pumpkin. This could be dangerous. We have no idea what’s really down here or where it goes. Perhaps, we should leave,’ I pressed.

I took Raven’s hand and squeezed it. She was shaking. I hugged her gently and some of the soil transferred on to me. She breathed into my neck and wrapped her arms around me.

‘Okay,’ she voiced.

We turned towards the steps but a wooden creaking sound made us stop. I looked down, thinking we had stepped on a plank or a coffin, but there was only soil below. The creaking grew and there was no mistake the sound of a coffin lid being removed.

‘Don’t look back,’ I said for us both and I tugged Raven away.

An unmistakable human groan rose up from behind us. I felt panic rocket through me. I tugged Raven harder and broke into a run. All my senses were telling me to get out and far away.

Raven’s hand tightened on mine, I glanced to make sure she was okay and I lost my footing. I tried to keep my balance, but the ground was shaking like a small earthquake and I tumbled forward. I fell and heard my left out stretched arm go through something, then Raven dropped to the floor beside me.

‘Crow? Crow!’ she shouted, shaking my shoulders.

‘I’m okay,’ I mumbled, tasting a spot of blood in my mouth.

I eased upwards. My torch had rolled far away but the beam was shinning across what my arm had hit though. I gagged and scrambled away from the sight of the open coffin. I backed into Raven who held me down.

‘It’s okay,’ she said calmly.

But it wasn’t.

The ground was still shaking, the sounds of moaning and creaking wood were getting louder. A patch of soil close to us suddenly sprayed up as if it was a water burst. I give a little scream and Raven yelled something out.

In the gloom we both saw it; a skeleton hand raising up out of the ground….

To Be Continued…

Untimely Death


We had been gathered around the new grave in silence for sometime when granny spoke out, ‘well it was a stupid thing to do.’

We all looked over at her, a few of us even gasping.

‘Granny!’ Isabella scolded and squeezed the old woman’s hand.

Great grandmother and great granddaughter looked at it each other then joined us in silence once more.

Slowly, people began to drift away as they do when a funeral is over. Their whispering voices commenting on the flowers and service drifting across the cemetery.

I looked down at my older sister’s grave. It was but a hole in the ground with the edges of a pink coffin peeking through the dirt and no headstone to name her yet.

Granny had been right though. My sister should never have trusted that flashy magician or his Amazing Invisible Sword trick.

Headstone Mystery


‘Another headstone disappeared from the cemetery today,’ the priest’s wife stated over supper.

The priest looked wearily up at her. He was tried after a long day of listening to confessions. All he wanted to do was go to bed but he was patient enough with his wife of forty years to listen to her.

‘Mr. Cole informed me just before you arrived home,’ his wife went on,’ he said he arrived at his usual hour  and went about his normal walk about the cemetery. Then he came across a large gap in-between two of the really old headstones.’

‘Oh?’ the priest asked.

‘Just like the other one last weekend!’ his wife answered, ‘and the headstone nowhere to be seen!’

The priest paused and began to reflect deeply.

‘I just don’t understand it….’ the priest’s wife trailed.

Her knitting needles clicked together in the well light living room which was also a glow with fire light. She fell to muttering to herself, counting the stitches.

‘There must be a reason behind it, my dear,’ the priest finally voiced.

‘What dear?’

‘The missing headstones. There must be a reason behind it….maybe we should connect someone? Perhaps, it’s something as simple as the council taking them away,’ the priest explained.

His wife lend over her knitting and looked straight at him, ‘I think something more sinister is going on….gravestone robbers!’

The priest shook his head, ‘I’m sure it’s nothing….I’m ready for bed are you, dear?’

‘In a moment.’

The priest nodded and stood up. He left the room, missing gravestones a thought for another day.



The iron gates were open again. The vampire paused before the archway looking through in puzzlement. It had been forced, he could see where someone had bent the metal aside to get in. Grave robbers? No, not in this century. Vandals then. He glanced over his caped shoulder, scanning the close by gloomy headstones of the Victorian cemetery.

Nothing seemed out of place, but now he was aware, he could smell the recent humans. It had been a group of young men with some sharp chemical spray. He had seen the red and blue paintings before, nights ago now, on some of the gravestones at the back. Blurred and run together English letter shapes and faces with crosses over the eyes and a tongue sticking out. He had not been sure what they had meant, expect for death. Crosses always meant that.

He stepped under the gateway, just to be safer and gathered his ground touching black cape about himself. His tall, lean form molded into the darkness as if he was one of the shadows upon the stone brick wall. Instinctively, he knew he should leave the cemetery all together. The humans had returned too many times now and though it seemed impossible that they would get into the crypt, he could not put anything passed this generation.

The vampire looked back with longing. The grounds had been his home for a hundred, possibly even more, years. And where would he now go? There where no safe places left from the ever bright lights and searching footsteps. He lived in fear of discovery like never before. Maybe, it was time he went to sleep again? He could easily entomb himself with the dead here, just like he had done before.

He fought with the idea and the risk of discovery deepened further. No, he finally decided, it would never work. What he needed to do was to become a part of this world in human pretense. Perhaps, it was time he found a companion.


Photo prompt and image from: with thanks.


Rooting through the stranger’s garage sale, Sasha spotted the large antique urn poking out of a cardboard box marked ‘Sale.’ Easing the box the rest of the way out from under a table weighted down by ornaments, she looked through it. There was a collection of small and medium vases and decorative jars, but nothing as eye catching as the purple urn. Shuffling things back into place, Sasha straightened up and did a quick glance around her.

The large driveway in front of the house had an array of tables arranged in a horse shoe shape on top of it. Sections had been carefully created, so that buyers could find it easier to look through the items as there seemed to be a chaotic mixture of things. A good stream of people flowed around, seemingly interested in different things. Sasha spotted the owners across the way in deep discussion over the price of a dining room table. To her left four children were playing an old board game.

Turning back and feeling drawn to the urn, she gingerly picked it with both hands and inspected it. The purple glaze was bright and not cracked; sliver flowers had been inlayed on one side. The urn felt heavy and Sasha wondered if there was something inside. She tried the lid, but it wouldn’t come off. Raising it to eye level, she saw that someone had glued the lid on.

Puzzling over it, she placed the urn down on the cluttered table before a cat statue and wooden elephant. It would look really nice on my new bookcase, Sasha thought and I wouldn’t be using it for anything, so the glued lid is no problem.

‘Are you going to buy that?’

A little voice cut through her train of thoughts. Sasha blinked at the little girl who had appeared before her on the other side of the table. She couldn’t have been older than six. Glancing at the other children, Sasha saw that they were staring at her too.

‘I might,’ she replied, ‘do you know what’s inside it?’

The girl shook her head.

‘Well, maybe you’re parents do know?’ Sasha asked and picked up the urn.

‘They are busy,’ the girl said rapidly, ‘it’s ten bucks.’

‘That’s a little bit more then I was hoping. How about five?’

‘No ten.’

Pulling a face, Sasha glanced over her shoulder. The parents were still busy selling the dining table. Sliding the urn back down, Sasha pulled over her handbag and looked through it. By the time she had found what she wanted, the girl had been joined by her older brother.

‘How about…I give you two dollars and this bag of candy?’ Sasha said and held them out to the kids.

‘Deal,’ the boy said quickly and reached out for them.

Sasha handed them over and picked up the urn. The little girl pouted and began arguing with her brother as they walked back to their game and their other brother and sister. Smiling, Sasha finished her walk around and decided that there was nothing else she wanted. Leaving, she walked the few blocks back to her new apartment.  Letting herself in, she went straight to the floor to ceiling bookcase in her living room and placed the urn into one of the square slots. Standing back she admired the urn and then thinking no more of it, she went off to do other things.

A few days later, whilst Sasha added some new books to the shelf, she wondered if she could get the lid of the urn. Carefully, picking it up she went into the bathroom and ran the hot tap of the bathtub. Placing the urn under the gushing water, she sat on the edge of the tub and realised that she hadn’t even wiped down the urn when she had brought it. Her mind drifted as steam began to rise, what if there was something inside the urn? Would she keep it or return it? Hopefully, the urn hadn’t been used for its intended purpose otherwise she would have to give it back.

Gripping a towel and turning off the tap, she picked up the urn and attempted to remove the lid. At first it wouldn’t move, but after the fifth or sixth twist, Sasha thought the lid gave a little. Getting excited, she put all her strength into it and lid came off. Smiling, she looked inside and her face quickly changed. Replacing the lid, she dried off the urn and carried it with her as she gathered her handbag, coat and shoes.

She walked straight back to the house and knocked on the door, feeling both guilty and embarrassed. She rehearsed what she was going to say, but as the door opened the words wouldn’t form.

‘Hi, can I help you?’ the woman asked.

Sasha held out the urn and the woman looked very puzzled.

‘I brought this from your garage sale a few days ago and…well…’ Sasha trailed off.

‘What’s wrong with it?’ the woman questioned.

‘There’s erm…someone inside it,’ Sasha whispered.

The woman, still looking confused, took the urn off her and opened the lid.

‘It was glued shut,’ Sasha explained, ‘I just wanted to check it because it felt heavy. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it, but you were busy and I just give the kids the money.’

‘I’ve never seen this before,’ the woman replied, ‘are you sure you brought it from here?’

Sasha nodded, ‘I’m new to the neighbourhood. I was returning home from a walk around when I saw your garage sale. I remember the double blue garage doors and that apple tree,’ she pointed them out.

The woman frowned, ‘I’ll just go and check with my husband and kids. Do you want to come in? You can wait in the front room.’

‘Yes, thanks,’ Sasha said.

The woman let her in and showed her to a small room, before leaving to find her family. Sasha sank down into the sofa and noticed she was shaking. Sliding her hands between her legs, she glanced around the room and listen to the sound of distant voices. After a long time, the woman came back and handed her the urn, but Sasha didn’t accept it back.

‘I’m sorry, but you must have got the wrong house. None of my family have ever seen this before.’

‘There must have been a mistake,’ Sasha spoke, ‘it was a boy who sold it to me. He had brown hair, but I was speaking to his sister first and she was a little blond girl. Afterwards, they went back to playing a board game with the others.’

The woman placed the urn on the coffee table, her eyes never leaving Sasha’s, ‘What others?’

‘I thought you had four kids. I didn’t get a good look at the other two though because they didn’t come over, but one was a girl and the other a boy, I think they both had dark hair.’

‘I…only have two children and both are dark haired,’ the woman replied nervously.

‘Oh. Maybe they were friends or a neighbour’s children?’ Sasha suggested.

‘Maybe…sorry, I can’t help you.’

‘Could I talk to your children? Perhaps they know?’

‘No. They don’t like strangers. Here, please take this with you,’ the woman declared and tapped the urn.

Frowning, Sasha picked it up and left. As the door shut behind her, she turned and looked up at the house, but saw nothing. Unsure what to do, but knowing she couldn’t return home, Sasha knocked on every front door and questioned people about the garage sale, children and urn. She got no answers and as the sky darkened she headed home.

Placing the urn back on the bookcase, she made up her mind that tomorrow she would scatter the ashes at a local cemetery before washing out the urn and placing it back on the shelf again. Lying in bed, she wondered about the urn and the four children. Someone must know something about it. She’d go back to the house before visiting the cemetery and try to solve the mystery, she decided.

Arriving back at the family’s front door in the morning, Sasha rang the bell and waited. The woman opened it slowly and eyed Sasha up, ‘I knew you’d come back,’ she spoke sadly.

‘I’m going to scatter the ashes at the cemetery,’ Sasha cut in, ‘I thought you’d like to know that and I just wanted to double check that you didn’t know anything.’

‘Come in, please,’ the woman said.

Sasha paused then stepped inside. The woman closed the door and led her into the front room. They sat down on the sofa together and Sasha balanced the urn in her lap.

‘I didn’t want to say anything yesterday and to be honest I was a bit scared too,’ the woman began, ‘you see, I’ve not seen that  urn in a very long time. My mother died last month and we emptied her house. I guess that’s where the urn came from, my husband or another relative must have put it with the things we were planning to sale off.’

‘I see,’ Sasha answered, ‘so who’s reminds are these?’

‘My younger brother and sister’s,’ the woman replied with a shudder, ‘they died very young. I thought they had actually been buried, but when I saw the urn and what was inside, I realised that my mother must have kept some of their ashes. Maybe, she thought they’d be buried with her or something.’

Sasha nodded, feeling upset, but glad she had decided to come back.

‘I think you saw them that day,’ the woman muttered and stood up.

Crossing the room to a chest of drawers, she searched through it and pulled out a photograph. Handing it to Sasha, she pointed out the two children, who were stood together next to a large dog. Sasha felt her hand shaking.

‘Yes, it looks like them. I give them two dollars and some candy. Couldn’t it have been some other children though?’

‘Maybe,’ the woman replied.

‘Here,’ Sasha said, handing the photo and the urn back, ‘I don’t want the money back. I’m sorry for what happened. At least you can…put them all to rest now.’

The woman nodded, ‘thank you. I know…I shouldn’t ask this of you, but would you please come to the cemetery with me? I want to scatter the ashes over my mother’s grave. I don’t think I could go alone though…’

‘Of course,’ Sasha replied without thinking about it, ‘we can go in my car.’

‘Thank you. I’ll get my things,’ the woman replied.

On the way to the cemetery, Sasha learnt that the woman’s name was Celia and her younger brother and sister had been Tom and Betty. Celia wasn’t sure what they had died of because she had been at boarding school at the time. Pulling into the car park, Sasha let Celia have a moment and then they walked up to the grave. She helped open the urn and tip the ashes out on to the turned up soil and between the dying flowers.

‘Do you want to keep the urn?’ Celia asked her, after they had silently prayed.

‘I’m not sure,’ Sasha replied.

‘I don’t want it. Please take it.’

Nodding, she accepted it back and they turned to go. A soft laughter tickled her ear and Sasha glanced over her shoulder, standing under a pine tree at the end of the headstone row with two children. Sasha stopped and fully turned, but they had vanished.


Dakota walked down the street avoiding the large puddles whilst the cape swirled around his legs. The front doors and gardens he past where mostly decorated with cobwebs, fake gravestones, glowing lights and hanging ghosts. Grinning Jack O’ Lanterns followed him with flicking eyes as he went by their windows. The voices of costumed people, doorbells and theme music crowded the air. However, it was the houses that lay in darkness which drew him the most.

Everyone knew not to visit those houses. It was drilled in by over protective parents and ghost stories. Trick or Treat haters, religious believers and old people against anti-social behaviour, whom might open the door stating they didn’t take part and gave you leaflets instead of treats. Or else there were none-door-openers or those that would go out of the night, making it seem their houses were abandoned.

Turing the corner, Dakota sidestepped some Disney character dressed up children and their grumpy guardian. They, like him, clutched bags weighed down by money and food. They were at the right age to be, whilst Dakota fresh out of his teens probably shouldn’t be pretending he was too.

Rubbing a gloved hand over his makeup face, he got rid of that thought. Tonight he could be whoever he wanted to be and no one was allowed to judge him. He walked up to the next house. A pumpkin carved as a howling wolf and other cut as a flying witch flanked the door. Ringing the doorbell, he took in a deep breath. He smelt warm cinnamon and ginger.

The door opened, a tried middle-aged woman held out a green bowl of lollypops. He took one, thanked her and quickly moved on. It had become a habit now and away to keep the embarrassment and anger from flaring up.

The next few houses went by, though numbness was starting to creep in and before he could do the last few, he gave up and walked to the cemetery. Halloween was much more exciting as a kid. Not that he’d ever known that feeling. Going through the gates and following the twisting pathways, Dakota realized that the dead were not the only ones in the cemetery tonight. Loud music and voices floated to him as well as the heavy stink of other things. He could easily have found a group to hang with, but instead he went to the back and oldest part.

A large crypt loomed from the darkness, standing guard over crumbling headstones. Dakota sat down on the steps and pulled two candles and a lighter from his pocket. Lighting them, he rummaged through the bag and pulled out a chew bar. He could hardly hear the music and voices from here. A feeling of calm came over him and he ate more chewy bars.

He’d delay going back he decided. The apartment would only increase his loneliness.  He felt thirsty and put his hand to the bottom of the bag where he’d put into some Coke cans before setting off. A lolly was stuck to the side of the can as he pulled it out. Removing it, he popped open the can and took a drink.

The smell of burning wood swept through on a breeze and was then gone. The candle flames flickered after it, but became still again. A girl screamed somewhere, the sound cutting through the quietness. Dakota looked around even though there was nothing to see. Laughter rose and fell like waves, signalling the results of a harmless scare. He wanted to leave, but willed himself to stay longer.

Taking another drink, he reminded himself why had wanted to take part in tonight. That didn’t help how he was feeling right now, though he was as sure as ever that demons and devils weren’t going to get him. He didn’t believe in any of that anymore and now he’d experienced All Hallows’ Eve for himself, Dakota couldn’t grasp the things he’d been convinced to stand against.

He unwrapped the lolly and started sucking on it. Giggling and a hushed voice had him searching through the gravestones. A teenage couple appeared on the path and before he could move, they had seen him and come over.

‘You got a light?’ the boy called.

Dakota pulled it out and held it up. He woke up the flame and the boy lit a hand roll. The girl, who had been staring at him asked if he had any chocolate bars. With a shrug, he dug around in the bag and handed her one. She seemed grateful for it and then they were on their way back through the gravestones. He watched them go whilst he finished his drink. He blew out one the candles and waited for the wax to harden. Putting it and the empty can in the bag, he picked up the other one and walked home.

The streets seemed quieter now. Though music still drifted on the cold air and voices reduced to whispers and echoes trailed after it. He made it home without any trouble. The apartment felt as if someone had died in it. Which Dakota guessed could have been true. He placed the candle in the pumpkin he carved before and left the bag beside it. Only two doors led off the living room-kitchen and he went into the bathroom first to wash off the makeup before taking his vampire costume off in the bedroom.

Sitting down on the broken sofa, he watched the candle flicking in its orange lantern. He felt like his whole life had been one big lie. He wanted to believe that escaping it all had been the best thing to do, but a part of him had never been completely sure.