Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Creep Out (A Ghostly Short Story)

Mary Ann shivered in the darkness and pulled the cardigan tighter around her shoulders.  October had brought with it freezing weather and foggy nights, she could see her breath rise into the air as she stood there momentarily lost in thought.  The graveyard lay eerily before her, it’s many headstones peeking up from the ground like stone hands ready to grasp unsuspecting victims and drag them into clammy, decayed graves.

She crossed her arms, as if to yield out any more morbid thoughts, and scanned the crowd for a familiar face.  She was attending the 30th Annual Creep Out, a gala celebration that the Liberal School of Arts carried out by tradition come every Halloween.  Every year students gathered around the town’s old graveyard for a bonfire, ghost stories and a nightly camp-out.  Mary Ann was a freshman and had never attended the event, and now that she stood there alone, her childhood fear of graveyards was quickly returning.

She swallowed hard and turned her back to the graveyard as she made her way to the refreshment table.  A few moments later, a plate full of junk food and a Coke in tow, she scoured the area for a place to sit.  There were some benches but all were filled.  Someone had pulled some overturned tree logs out from the wooded area surrounding the graveyard as makeshift seats.

Mary Ann weaved her way through the crowd and sat down on one of the logs, she preferred an empty one.  She ate quietly in the comfort of her own company as she observed the huge crowd.  One student had brought a boom box and many kids were laughing and dancing in a small circle around the bon fire.  A bunch of benches on the far right side of the graveyard held a rambunctious group of screeching students and smiling faces.

“I probably won’t stay here for long,” she contemplated quietly to herself while eating.

After all, she hadn’t brought a sleeping bag and the night was getting colder with each tick of the clock.  Wind blew blonde strands of hair into her face and fog had gathered quickly on the horizon, engulfing the graveyard and surrounding the students in a chilling gray illumination.  She was cold, alone, and knew she could never have a good time with that huge expanse of tombstones laying behind her.

“Care for some company?”

Mary Ann looked up into the face of a very cute boy.  The wind had whipped dark bangs into his eyes and his lips upturned a huge smile fit for mouthwash commercials.  Although she’d never met him before, she was grateful for the distraction of his company.

“Sure, have a seat,” she smiled back as she nodded her head towards the plate balanced between her knees. “I was just chowing down on hotdogs and chips.”

“My name’s Ian McGomery,” he extended his hand for a shake.

“Oh, Mary Ann,” she swallowed the remaining mouthful of chips before wiping greasy hands on her jeans and shaking his hand.  “Wow, you’re freezing!  But so am I, I’m thinking about leaving soon.”  She shivered and mumbled an appreciative ’thank you’ when he offered her his scarf.

“Nice to meet you,” Ian flashed another toothy smile.  “You mean you don’t enjoy hanging out in graveyards?”  He laughed heartily at his joke.

Mary Ann talked to the soft-spoken stranger for a while and was delighted to discover that he, like herself, was majoring in Journalism and earning a minor in Creative Writing.  They also shared the same appreciation  for old 70’s music like The Beatles and old school Aerosmith.  The two proved to have much in common and she was truly mesmerized by his good looks and shy charm.

She was sad when he declared suddenly, “I’m really tired, I think I’ll head back home.”

“Oh wait,”  Mary Ann dug into her shoulder bag for a pencil and some scrap paper.  “Can I have your number, I’d love to hang out sometime, perhaps we can help each other with our writing.”

“Of course,” Ian quickly scribbled his number on the post-it note and leaned close to offer Mary Ann a small hug.

“Gees,” she smiled into his beautiful blue eyes.  “It’s a good thing we are both leaving, you are about to freeze to death!”

“No chance in that happening,” a smirked danced across his lips and his eyes clouded over.

They parted at the graveyard entrance, Ian went east towards Madison Drive and she went West and headed back to the dorm.  She wondered for a moment why Ian wasn’t walking towards the dorms and then realized with a nervous laugh that he must live off campus.  He did say he was a senior so he probably lived in a frat house in another part of the neighborhood.

Once she was standing safely in her dorm room she tried to shake the thought that she’d spent three hours of Halloween night hanging out in a creepy graveyard.

“Well, at least I met a nice guy,” she reasoned as she pulled off her jacket.

Much to her dismay she realized she’d forgotten to return Ian’s scarf before they parted.  Oh well, she wanted a good excuse to call him anyway and his scarf was just as good as any.  She quickly dug his number from the mess inside her purse and the plucked the receiver from it’s place on the wall.

“Hello,” said a cheery female voice after just two rings.  Mary Ann’s heart dropped.  Perhaps he lived with his girlfriend, or worse, his wife, in off campus housing.

“Hi,” Mary Ann began after collecting her bearings.  “Can I speak with Ian, please?”

“Who is this?”  The lady clearly sounded angry.

“My name is Mary Ann, I was just calling to remind Ian that I still have his scarf,”  Mary Ann explained quickly.  “He let me borrow it earlier this evening at the Creep Out.”

“Nice joke,”  the lady sounded like she was choking back tears.  “This happens every year, please don’t call again.”

“What, what are you talking about?” Mary Ann was confused by the mannerisms of the lady on the other end of the telephone line.

“Ian was killed 27 years ago,” the woman spat between sobs.  “In a freak accident on Halloween night.  Now please, don’t ever call here again.”

The phone line went dead and Mary was astounded.  She reach up to her neck for the scarf, but it was gone.

(Written by Stacy Lynn Mar)

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