I realized it had been far too long since I posted any recent writing!
This is a small excerpt from one of my works-in-progress. It’s gone by many different names, but the current working title is Echoes. This takes place in the first chapter, and is based off of a cemetery that I used to go to as a kid.
If you like comparisons, I posted a scene from a much earlier draft back in 2010, about a eerie school at night, and it’s still available here. I also have some early marketing copy from when I used this for a project in grad school.
It’s September, and although the days are still hotter than I would like, the evenings have begun to cool off enough that I really should have brought a sweater. I don’t turn back, though. You couldn’t pay me to go back there right now.
The night is chill, but its clear, a relative rarity in the Pacific Northwest, even in the summer. The sky stretches out above me, the stars only slightly dulled by the light from downtown off to the West, and I feel like I could fall into the sky if I stood there long enough. I squeeze my camera, trying to imagine how to capture that feeling on film.
After my house, the streets are eerily quiet. There’s no one else in sight, and it feels like I’m not just alone on the street, but alone in the world, it’s so quiet. That waiting quiet of midnight in the suburbs.
I let my feet lead me; I don’t really have a destination in mind, just the need for movement in my limbs. I’ve grown up in this neighborhood, and I know the streets with the instincts of a child, aware of the perfect bushes to hide under, the alleys with the best puddles. That’s why I have no reason to be surprised when the cemetery looms up to my right, an impressive hill of thick, tall pine trees and overgrown blackberries. Still, I feel its presence with a start, as if it were a new addition to the terrain.
I haven’t thought about the cemetery in years. Our parents were pretty lenient about us running wild through the neighborhood, but they had one rule: never go to the cemetery alone. Alone meaning, without parents. We used to play chicken, me and Elliot, seeing who could go furthest through the gates. I always won, but I never made it past the first row of tombstones.
I’ve been raised to avoid dark, scary places more for fear of murderers than the supernatural, although my parents were never above a good motivational ghost story. Still, I know wandering a dark cemetery all alone in the middle of the night is not the best idea. I just don’t care.
The gates are old, rusted and wrapped in ivy, and perpetually left open. The cemetery is old, and no one new has been buried here for decades. A small, faded map marks out a series of hiking trails, for the courageous jogger, but I can’t read it in the dark. If possible, the cemetery seems even quieter than the street behind me, and I imagine I can feel a shift in the air when I pass its threshold, as if I were walking into another world.
Tombstones are laid out around me in careless lines, covered in ivy and morning glory vines, and interspersed with blackberry bushes. Some of them are large; stone sculptures nearly as tall as I am. Others are flat, flush with the ground, almost completely hidden by vegetation. There are a number of family plots, with a large, decorative headstone at the center, small plaques grounded around it with individual names and lifespans. Most of these have shallow stone walls around them, or waist-high metal fences, with carefully placed bushes and small trees which at one point must have been dutifully maintained.
The only light now is from the stars and the moon, filtered in through the trees above. I feel like the street outside, with its streetlights and ambient city glow, is miles away.
I feel like I can breath, for the first time in a long time, and the air is sweet and pure.
I follow a path at random; my feet have gotten me this far, so I see no reason not to let them lead. There’s a thin layer of mulch marking the path, but its been mostly buried in dried mud, with thin trails cut by rainfall. It’s dry right now, but in any other season, this path must be perilously slippery.
The low light means I’ll have very little luck with my camera, but I take pictures anyway. I don’t care so much whether or not they’ll turn out well; just the action of lifting my camera to my face (I always use the peep-hole, not the screen), helps me focus. The world looks different through my camera.
The empty streets were quiet, but the cemetery is something else. Something older, deeper. There’s a solitude that has nothing to do with literal quiet. Winged creatures flash above my head, causing what light there is to flicker, and bushes rustle to each side of me, knocked by the otherwise silent passage of small creatures. Despite it’s most notorious inhabitants, the cemetery is very much alive.