It was Halloween night and my friends and I were driving to a local graveyard at the edge of town. We were too old to trick-or-treat and too shy to attend any parties, so we found ourselves piling into my car and heading to a cemetery in the dead of night.
It was my crazy idea to spend the eeriest night of the year amongst the dead and, after much convincing, my friends Buck and Daisy eventually agreed. I wanted to be there as it turned midnight: the witching hour. It's said that the veil between our world and the spiritual world is thinnest on Halloween.
The night was cold and empty. The stars stood bright and alone in the expansive black sky that seemed to stretch on forever. The old cemetery was worn and overgrown with tall thick grass sprouting out from amongst the neglected tombstones. Some of the graves were as old as the 1800's and Civil War Soldiers were even buried there.
We parked the car at the foot of the hill and climbed out of the vehicle, armed only with a flashlight. Buck and Daisy had gotten used to me dragging them along on my adventures. This wasn't the first time they'd been forced to pal along with me on one of my strange graveyard trips. They felt especially obligated to go this time however, being Halloween and all. As I repeatedly told them, it only happens one time a year.
The graveyard consisted of dirt pathways climbing an old grass covered hill which was quite steep in some sections, hardly the best place to bury the dead. We traversed the rough incline, carefully stepping through the tall grass and avoiding the grave plots masked under a thick layer of foliage. I shined the way with my flashlight as Buck and Daisy followed behind.
"Why do you get the only flashlight?" asked Daisy.
"I told you guys to bring your own lights!" I replied.
"We didn't think we'd actually be going through with this!"
"Well whose fault is that?"
We made it to the first dirt path and stopped. The headstones gleamed as I shined the flashlight around. We listened carefully and the night was completely quiet. We felt entirely isolated. No one else seemed to be around for miles. I shut off my flashlight, plunging us into total darkness. With no artificial light anywhere, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. It was the same as closing your eyes. I clicked back on my flashlight.
Moving my flashlight around once more, I caught two shining yellow lights. "What the heck is that?" asked Buck startled. I took a step closer. From among the grass, hopped out a small rabbit with yellow eyeshine illuminated in the light. We breathed a sigh of relief and felt a little silly for being concerned. The rabbit took off further up the hill of the old graveyard with a tall blade of grass hanging from its mouth.
We were just about to hike up to the next dirt path when we heard it, the sound of a distant siren approaching. My first thought was that it was the police and that we were about to be told to leave or something but as we all turned around, we saw the strangest of sights: the red glowing lights of an ambulance approaching.
With our solitude broken, we stood staring in the direction of the graveyard's entrance. We saw the red lights shine through the scraggly branches of the nearby autumn trees and watched as the ambulance made its way down Cemetery Drive towards us with its loud siren blaring.
Something seemed off about the siren though, it didn't sound the same as a typical emergency vehicle. It was an old siren, slowly whining out a low and lonesome cry. The ambulance pulled up and came to a stop at the bottom of the hill just behind my car. The siren stopped abruptly. The red lights went out. I looked down at my watch: midnight on the dot.
Buck, Daisy and I looked at each other, unsure what to do and what to think about this sudden visitor. Why would an ambulance stop at a cemetery? I thought. If this was some town officials trying to get us to leave, it was an odd method of doing so. Each of us waited for the other to say something.
"Uh, Hello?!" Daisy finally cried out to the bottom of the hill.
We could see the vague silhouette of the driver but nothing else. They just sat there completely stationary. We thought about walking down the hill to see what they wanted but something within us told us not to. We stood silently once more. I shined my flashlight down but the beam couldn't reach the window of the vehicle.
"Who goes there?!" shouted Buck.
Still no response.
Then suddenly, the driver began beeping the horn loudly. Loud sharp beeps rang out through the night. First two short quick beeps then a loud honk followed by complete silence. "What is this, Morse code?" asked Daisy.
As if in reply, the vehicle began honking again in rapid succession. I could see the silhouette of the driver moving and thrashing around frantically while honking the horn. They also appeared to be pounding their head with their fists and even smashing their face into the steering wheel. The siren and lights turned on then off and then on again in a strange almost musical rhythm. Then silence.
"What do you want?!" Buck yelled in a louder and more forceful tone than before.
The vehicle's door began to open. We instinctively backed up. The door swung open and out stepped the driver illuminated by the dull glow of the vehicle's interior cabin light. It was a pale old woman with long stringy hair, a scrawny and bony figure wearing only what appeared to be a white gown. There was something almost ghostly about the woman. It was as if she was comprised entirely of paper mache, a haunting figure like that of a corpse.
Her eyes seemed bloodshot, bruised and tired. They imitated a hollow sadness indescribable. She looked at us as if looking through us. She extended out one of her long thin arms and curled in the old bent fingers on her wrinkled hand. She beckoned for us to come down the hill. We stood unmoved.
The thought occurred to me that perhaps this was a spirit who had crossed over for Halloween night. Perhaps this was my exact reason for traveling to the graveyard. I glanced down at my watch, it read "12:06". The timing was so eerie, as if it was the midnight hour that had called her there. These fanciful notions quickly faded though as I looked at the horrified faces of my friends.
I gazed back at the crone-like figure at the foot of the hill. She beckoned once more and then seemed to grow impatient. She let out a loud blood curdling scream that could shatter windows. I covered my hands over my ears and waited for her to stop. In a frantic motion she quickly turned, jumped back into the cab of the ambulance and shut the door with a loud thud.
The siren roared to life in a bright display of flashing red and the bizarre ambulance backed up. The vehicle then turned around in the road and sped away along Cemetery Drive. "Let's get the heck out of here!" exclaimed Daisy. Terrified, we hurried down the hill to my car with hearts racing.
"That does it!" announced Buck. "We are never going on one of your trips again." At this point, I honestly couldn't blame them. I drove home, as nervous as can be, with my hands shaking all the while. We saw no sign of the ambulance or the lady for the rest of the night. None of us slept a wink or turned off any lights once we got to my house.
It wasn't until the next day, November 1st, that we read the news. A woman from a nearby mental hospital had stolen an ambulance and was reportedly seen by locals driving strangely around the town, rhythmically honking the horn and playing the siren in strange patterns.
Written by Levi Athens