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Chapter One

On a misty Halloween morning, the weather is under bipolar conditions. Forcing Jolly Town residents to scream. Overhearing a few classmates and one girl specifically say, “Cooper’s Graveyard would be a miracle to make it out of on Halloween night!” Seniors Warren Wraith, TJ Madison, and Phil Buchannon agree to venture toward the land of the dead at dusk.

Leaning on lockers outside the doors of their last class, “Should be a fun time busting this myth,” TJ jokes.

“Weather should improve by the time we head there,” Phil contends.

“Leave you both behind if the old witch catches you,” Warren quips.

“Quit playing around you two,” Phil insists.

“Relax, Phil. We will return unscathed,” TJ says.

“Don’t forget to bring the camera, you forget every time we do something cool,” Warren scolds.

“I have the camera in my locker. Don’t sweat it,” TJ hisses.

Students attend their last class. Rain stains the window glass. Each of them sits and debates their path. Textbook pages flip past as the clock hands tick fast. Feet and fingers tap until the final hour bell lapse.

Class ends and the halls fill out. Warren, TJ, and Phil pass the choir singing on the way out. Preparing for the Halloween-themed performance later this evening without a doubt.

“We will hike to Cooper’s Graveyard. I will drive you both to my house since I live close,” Phil offers.

“Shotgun!” TJ shouts.

“No fair!” Warren hollers.

TJ and Warren sprint for the passenger door. Both wrestle over the seat. Phil walks ahead laughing—twirling his keys. “... He did call shotgun,” Phil chuckles.

No clear winner in sight, “Fine!” Warren stammers.

“No hard feelings,” TJ replies.

“None at all sponge head,” Warren quips.

TJ shoves Warren and quickly slides into the passenger seat.

“Little punk,” Warren gripes, reaching for him.

“Knock it off you two,” Phil pipes up.

“Whatever,” Warren says.

Everyone is inside the car as Warren slaps TJ. TJ tries clutching his hand.

“You both will be walking if you keep it up,” Phil states.

“Sorry, Phil,” Warren says, as the car begins to move.

Moving forward hitting green lights on the route. Arriving at Phil’s parent’s home.

“Warren, since you have energy; carry the backpack with the lantern inside,” Phil orders.

“Fine with me. I ain’t a wimp,” Warren snorts.

“Good to hear. I will run inside and grab a few bottles of water for us and a backup flashlight,” Phil says.

Combining their backpack contents, making no announcements. Sealing up the ride heading for the graveyard in stride. Passing through knots and twists over trails and streets. Darkness begins to creep over their shoulders. A profound coolness begins to simmer the blistering heat.

When arriving TJ goes ahead of the others. Down the mound of graves, noticing a streetlight malfunctioning.

“Let me see that camera!” TJ demands.

TJ fishes the camera out of the backpack Warren is carrying.

On the third flash, a few figures appear. Distorted faces scatter leaving the three kids paralyzed in fear. Unable to figure out who or what they are.

“Here we go! Come on! Don’t be scared!” TJ roars.

Warren and Phil beckon for his attention but TJ dashes for a closer look. Once he reaches the bottom of the hill. He begins down a path with a gate on one side. When the darkness he sought pays a visit.

Warren and Phil are sprinting closer but are slipping on the muddy grass in the maze of tombstones. Unable to catch up ... a scream, a shout. Fear and doubt chill their hearts.

The streetlights blow out and the camera TJ was carrying skids in front of them. Shadows appear when Warren and Phil turn to run, it’s no longer fun. Wishing they would have stayed home and played some games instead of stirring up the dead in the rain.

A witch fly overhead. “He-he!” she shrieks. On her broom, she zooms.

The trails are steep—surrounding streets are asleep. They feel shadows closing in. Down a path across steppingstones over water fit for a raft. Into a trail hopping over a rail.

“We should split up!” Warren exclaims.

“Agreed. Meet at the end of the path by the speed bumps before Jolly Town ends and Westville begins,” Phil directs.

Distance identical reasons different for wanting to part ways. Phil believes Warren will use him as a shield if worse comes to worst.

“Deal!” Warren states.

“Quick, hand me that flashlight in the—”

A shadow slices in-between sending them spilling in opposite directions.

A few more steps, “Ah!” a figure shouts, running out of the woods in front of Phil.

"What is happening? Who are you?" Phil asks, frozen in time.

The figure keeps running straight ahead not responding to Phil. A shadow reappears behind him as he takes off, sweating, panicked, and dehydrated.

Hearing a squeal and glass breaking Phil looks back noticing the lantern Warren was holding faded in the distance.

Reaching the speed bumps feeling like a lump. A ghastly sight fills Phil with fright as shadows seethe on the scene. Picking up his pace, cutting off his light, down the slope and up the road. The final stretch before home.

Streetlights flicker—our survivor feels sicker. All-in-all this is worse than Mardi Gras. Shadows fill in the street. Each one seems enraged. Phil has nowhere to run or evade.

Having one last look before rushing toward his home. The shadows surround him. Phil reaches for his knife and begins swinging wildly. Trying to slice his way through each shadow as the knife cuts through like butter having no effect.

Each shadow dissolves and reappears as he slices. He is flung to the ground. Taking a tumble across his lawn. Popping up quickly he charges dead ahead. This time he is whipped onto the street by a giant gust.

Lying flat on his back. “He-he,” The old witch screeches. Flying past before Phil’s eyes close.

Shadows flee as police arrive on the gruesome scene. The bodies of TJ and Warren lay alongside Phil as his knife lies next to him bloodstained. This was the last time anyone heard from these three in Jolly Town.

26 Octobre 2023 00:09 0 Rapport Incorporer Suivre l’histoire
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A propos de l’auteur

Preston Olson Author of Badge in the Shadows, Three Down, Discontent (a poem), Charged Mind, Dumbstruck, and my latest short tale Final Bounty.

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Shields & Shadows
Shields & Shadows

Shields and Shadows is the name of the universe where characters from Badge in the Shadows, the following sequel, and a few short stories of mine intersect. En savoir plus Shields & Shadows.