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It had been days since my stepmother’s funeral. My father was distraught but I, the “heartless monster” as he had put it, couldn’t care less that she was gone. The gold digger had finally gotten what she deserved. No complaints here. Of course, I couldn’t display the lack of emotion as days passed and her family members contacted me for moral support. Truth be told, she was the only person in that family I hated. I actually liked the rest of them. I particularly enjoyed the company of Alice. Alice was my stepmother’s niece and held the same disdain for her as I did. She and I went to the same college and were always the outcasts due to our eccentric personalities. She studied taxidermy and I was the stereotypical theatre kid. Despite our differences, we had gotten along well. Alice was my only friend besides my roommate who was always out partying. 

It was around 11:30 PM when a knock came from my door. I opened it and Alice came into my dorm, babbling faster than I could’ve comprehended. I had caught the words “cemetery” and “deserted."

“Slow down,” I insisted, closing the door behind me, “what’s going on?”

“My Aunt Sicily’s in the cemetery a few minutes down the road!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, I know, I went to the funeral,” I rolled my eyes.

“So let’s go see the body!” 

“Alice,” I sighed, sitting back down into the desk chair, “why the hell would we do that? I mean, I never liked her but she’s dead.”

“Exactly! My class doesn’t get into hands-on material until the end of the year. I want to see a dead body now so I’m prepared for it.”

“You just want to make sure she stays dead, don’t you?” I raised an eyebrow. She shrugged. Alice had always believed in the supernatural. I had begun to think that it was becoming an unhealthy obsession after she had missed several classes to go ghost hunting.

“Come on,” she pleaded, “you always push me into performing and junk. Consider this as payment!” That was true, I had convinced her to audition with me for the fall musical. I nodded and even before I could say “yes”, she had thrown my jacket at me along with my shoes and rushed out of the door. I met her in the parking lot where she stood next to my Jeep, almost shaking with excitement.

“There’s something wrong with you,” I mumbled, “and I think they make medication for it.” I unlocked the doors and I started the engine. I looked at her. “We’re going to be seen, you know.”

“No, we won’t. It’s winter vacation. There’s no one there.”

“Security cameras? A guard or something?”

“Saint Mark’s Cemetery is so old that they don’t have cameras. A guard? Please. We took a trip down there and there’s an old couple that runs the place. I highly doubt there’s anyone to stop us.”

I wanted to bang my head into the steering wheel in frustration but instead pulled out of the parking lot and drove down the darkened road. Minutes later, we had arrived at the small iron gates. Alice jumped out of the car after I shoved the keys into my pocket. We hopped the short fence and trudged our way through the mud. We pulled out our phones to light the way. Had we not been in the cemetery so recently, I’m sure we wouldn’t have found the headstone belonging to her aunt in the slushy mess.

I heard shuffling behind us and quickly spun around. Only tombstone after tombstone lined the grass. Still, the feeling of being watched never ceased. Alice gasped and I turned back to her. In front of the headstone was a deep empty hole in the ground. I stepped up to the hole, peering into it and then up at her. She was gaping into it.

“She’s alive!” she whispered.

“No,” I said, “she’s not. Someone dug her up. There’s no way she’d be able to get out even if she was 'undead.'” Alice started to argue when the sound of shuffling came again but this time closer. Much closer. She grew quiet, hearing it too. An uncomfortable silence fell over the two of us. I mouthed “let’s go” and pointed towards the front of the cemetery. She nodded and I followed her. 

A crunch came from underneath my sneaker and I flinched. I shone my phone’s light on the ground and saw something white. I slowly bent down and picked it up. It was a bone, stained red. I wanted to scream but I didn’t know what would happen if I did. My hand trembled as I set it down in the mud. I glanced at Alice who had turned paperwhite. She was looking at a large tombstone a few feet away.

There, towering over the stone sat a misshapen, hideous creature. Where eyes were supposed to be were lumps of blackish-blue skin. It lacked a nose. Rows upon rows of razor-like teeth gleamed in our flashlights’ glow. In between the teeth were bones similar to the one I had stepped on. Its legs were human but awkwardly positioned to its sides as if imitating a crab. Large hands dangled from arms covered in mud. Insects crawled on it, burrowing into the remaining flesh. The skin of the creature peeled to reveal muscle and tendons. If it hadn’t reeked of rotting flesh I may have laughed at the movement similar to a crustacean. 

Alice’s heavy breaths made me realize that I had been holding mine. We slowly backed away from it. Every step we took backward, it took two forwards. The grass withered with every step it took. In seconds we were inches from it. The smell was overwhelming. My stomach churned and I held back the meal I had eaten hours before. Alice took one more step back and snapped a branch. Almost immediately the thing was on her. She screamed as it bit into her, blood splattering the nearby headstones. Crying, I hid behind one of the headstones. Alice’s shrieks were suddenly cut off and replaced with crunching sounds. I knew what was happening. I wouldn’t look. I couldn’t. A metallic smell filled my nostrils, equally as strong as the festering of remains. I heard the creature shuffle and quickly turned my phone light off. The shuffling began to fade away. Silence fell upon the cemetery. 

It felt like hours before I had peaked around the tombstone and looked for the monster. It was nowhere in sight. Gathering all of the strength I had left, I feebly made my way over to where it had been. Alice was no longer there. Only blood-stained dead grass remained. A trail of yellow grass led deeper into the cemetery. I went in the opposite direction, sprinting down towards my Jeep. I sped out of the parking spot, not knowing what to do. When I pulled into the dorm parking lot, I hurriedly got out and vomited on the pavement. I didn’t sleep that night. Questions circled around my head. I couldn't call the police. They'd never believe me. What would I say to her family? I hadn't a clue what to do. My roommate gave me a strange look when she found me curled into a fetal position but said nothing. 

As soon as the sun rose the next morning, I mustered up the courage and drove back down to the cemetery. An older man was unlocking the gate and looked surprised to find me there as early as I was. I asked him if anything strange had happened in the cemetery recently.

“Well, we’ve been tryin’ to keep it quiet, but me an’ the wife have been hearin’ some strange things beyond them gates after sundown. She thinks that some sort of demon been eatin’ dead bodies. She says, 'If they eatin’ dead people, what makes ya think they won’t eat the livin’?' Crazy woman made me limit hours!” he whispered. “Just don’t ya tell no one. It don’t pay much to be a sexton.”

I thanked him for the information and made my way through the sullen headstones. I passed the spot where Alice had been but all evidence of her death was missing. All but the dead grass and a few bugs. Sicily’s grave was normal as well. The soil was undisturbed.

I don’t know what that thing was or even why it killed Alice. But one thing I do know is this: I will never go into another cemetery again. 

Written by Crimsonembers
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