When Greg Logan takes his girlfriend Karen on a late night walk through Northwood Cemetery, Karen is spooked by the silence, the darkness, and something she sees but can’t explain. When, soon after, they meet with two other teenagers in the cemetery, stranger things begin to happen. Who are these two new people? Why do they spend so much time in the cemetery? Why do both of them claim to be searching for someone? And how does an elderly man from the neighborhood who frequently visits the cemetery fit into the mysterious happenings? Greg and Karen can’t rest until they figure out the meaning of the strange goings-on in the Northwood Cemetery.
The two sixteen-year-olds held hands tightly in the darkness as they walked along the crushed stone path between the fields of old headstones—the only sound, their shoes rattling the stones they tread upon.
To Greg’s ear he heard, instead, the rattling of old bones, and it brought a smile to his face. He stood an inch taller than his companion, Karen, and caught himself glancing her way frequently and slyly not only to check on her reaction to being in a dark cemetery but also to admire how pretty she looked, her short dark hair full of curls quivering in the faint light. Greg loved to see her smile but didn’t expect to see it happen very often under the present circumstances.
The moon had chosen not to grace the Philadelphia sky on this night, leaving the task of illuminating the teenagers’ way to the distant streetlamps surrounding the shoulder-high wall topped with upright iron spears, which circled the cemetery. The rays of light reached as far as they could to help guide the walkers, but produced little more than the shadows of two people, outlines that raced ahead of them, then sped behind them over and over again. The night seemed to have broken off pieces of itself, each newborn piece wary of the encroaching strangers and choosing to cower behind the gravestones, adding to the darkness around them. Bushes, now nothing but lurking, black pimples, dotted the grounds.
Just inside the cemetery entrance, the boy and girl had passed a gigantic tree stump, cut down long ago for some unknown reason—perhaps on the supposition that such a grand demonstration of life, as the original tree must surely have been, seemed inappropriate at the gateway to such a wide expanse of death. A dozen people could have crowded together atop the stump, if they’d chosen to ascend the four-foot climb to its surface. Yet, from one crevice of the mighty stump burst a splash of greenery, a dozen or so three-foot-long, thin branches brazenly displaying their small leaves to affirm that life did not end entirely upon entry into a cemetery. Greg, always hoping to impress Karen, pointed out the symbolism to her as they passed the stump. A few steps further on, they made lame jokes about the “No Dogs Allowed” sign planted near the stump.
“I don’t know why you wanted to bring me here,” Karen said softly.
“See! You’re whispering,” Greg announced somewhat grandly. “You said being in the cemetery wouldn’t bother you.”
“It doesn’t,” Karen snapped back.
“So, you’re whispering because…?”
“Because you’re an idiot.”
“And don’t be so loud,” she ordered in her soft voice.
“Afraid I’ll wake up the dead?” he asked, throwing a tremor into his tone.
“No. It’s disrespectful.”
“Disrespectful? To whom, may I ask?”
Karen cast her eyes his way and gifted him with a scowl of disgust.
“Over there.” Greg pointed. “See them?”
They stopped. Two large, indistinct, silhouettes stood off to the side, near one another.
“What is it?” Karen asked.
“One’s the house I told you about. The other with the two big columns is the burial building.”
“House? Oh, I see it. Nobody lives in the house, right?”
“Right. Not for a long time.”
She dropped Greg’s hand and took a few steps off the road, nearer the buildings. “Burial building,” she scoffed. “It’s called a mausoleum.”
“A house for the dead,” Greg explained, using his tremulous voice again.
“Okay, idiot, you showed it to me. I don’t know why, but you…”
“But I what?”
“Did you see it?”
“Were you looking at the house? Look toward the mausoleum. I saw something move. There! Again!”
“Where? Move? No, of course not. Want to go over and check it out?”
“No, not very much.”
“Come on. Let’s go look. The worst it could be is a cat.” Greg took Karen’s hand, and they slowly zigzagged between headstones as they closed in on the dark form of the mausoleum, which step-by-step transformed itself into an old but elegant building, roomy enough for many more than one occupant. Its two tall, ornate pillars stretched twice as high as the roof of the building and at ground level framed a dull metal door. Each of the columns boasted what appeared to be a streak of ivory down one side, where the sparse light of the night concentrated.
“You said there was a place where you wanted to give me a kiss,” Karen said. “If this is it, the answer is no. Let’s get out of here before…” Karen swallowed a deep breath.
“I saw it again. A shadow. Didn’t you see it?”
“Everything is shadows.”
“This shadow moved.”
“Maybe you moved.”
“I didn’t move,” Karen insisted angrily. “It moved…it went behind the building.”
“What went behind the building?”
“The shadow…or whatever made the shadow. I want to leave.” Without waiting for a reply, Karen hurried back to the pathway and walked with brisk determination toward the exit.
“Wait, don’t you want to go check and see what it was?” Greg called, laughter in his voice.
She did not. Greg stepped nearer and briefly studied the mausoleum, still bathed in shadows of trees and bushes. A few of the shadows moved but then swung back to where they’d been. Nothing but the breeze moving the foliage, Greg told himself. He shrugged and hustled after his friend. As the two visitors hurried away, however, one shadow moved from behind the building and did not return to its original position until the two people who’d attracted its attention passed out of sight.