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Under the Lid of a Moon

There’s a reason people don’t wander round graveyards at night. Creepiness aside, the main issue is the darkness, a crow-like black that’s only relieved by the moon. And there isn’t much of a moon tonight, more of a curl, the skin of an apple when you peel it.

“Jesus, watch where yer goin’.’” Conor hissed at me, the only thing I can see is the white rings in his eyes. A lifelong devotee to black, he was a part of the night that shielded him as if he belonged.

“There’s not much I can do when I can’t see anything. Can I not just use the light off my phone?”

“Light will give us away ya gobshite. Just stay close, but not so close you’re on top o’ me. I don’t like ya that much.”

I hear him snigger as I try to keep my distance, but yet not lose him to the dark.

Not only are we in a graveyard, but we’re in it on Halloween night. That was the whole point apparently. To do it when the mojo was as its peak. As if all of a sudden zombies and mummies were going to appear according to our pumpkin crammed, apple dunking, fancy dress self-proclaimed holiday. I guess that’s why Conor brought me, because I was a total disbeliever. I didn’t believe in Christmas, so how could Halloween even feature on my radar of things to deem as relevant? Conor on the other hand was obsessed. He had numerous Ouija boards that he consulted every week, and held séances with his grandmother. Apparently she was able to talk to the dead. But I met her once, there was nothing spiritual about her. She was just a bit lonely and a lot nuts.

I think it’s all because his dad died when he was only five, and because Conor was a bit a child prodigy he didn’t really take it like other five year olds. Instead of bawling and asking for his dad, he went online and found out everything about contacting the dead. That’s when his grandmother and her sudden gift came in.

“It’s up here I think. Just to the left,” Conor announces.

I follow his voice and try to keep a level head on me, but some of the headstones glow in the dark. Glow is the wrong word, but that’s what it looks like. I can see some up ahead, tall white ones with fat baby angels on the top. I can make out the curves of their wings and it freaks me out. “Do we really need to do this?”

Conor’s voice no longer seemed nearby. “Awww, do you want me to get you a tissue? Or maybe a teddy bear would help.”

“Shut yer hole. Have you found it?”

I try to make out movement, listen for the crunch of the gravel that covers this place. “Con have ya found it?”

“It’s over here. Just walk to the left.”

I look around. The eerie wings are all I see. “I don’t see a left. Make some noise will ya?”

I hear something but it’s muffled, the type of yell that happens when someone’s holding a pillow over your head. The temperature suddenly drops, so fast and cold I can see my breaths. I can feel panic rising, a claw running up my insides like nails up a chalkboard. “Seriously Con, quit it. It’s fucking freezing and I can’t be arsed for this.”

The muffles come again, louder and more urgent. I turn in every direction, circle myself in jerks. Above, the crust of a moon disappears, its light blocked out by something that doesn’t resemble a cloud. It’s too solid and flat. “I’m not kidding Con. Where are ya?”

I notice everything then. The faint rustle of the last few leaves on the trees, a steady hum of traffic beyond the massive walls, the scrunch of gravel beneath my feet. I don’t want to be here, but I also don’t want to leave Conor. Halloween is the night his dad died, and he’s hell bent on resurrection. “I’m out of here if you don’t answer soon Con.”

More muffles, more urgency. The moon is still out, and there’s now a wind spitting out freezing gusts. Then I remember my phone. Of course, my bloody phone. I take it out and shine the blue light around me. I can see better, but there’s nothing to see, just a load of graves and tree trunks. I walk with the light in front of me and call his name. The wind picks up, in gusts that whack at my arms and legs. I curl into myself and keep going.

Caught in the wind I hear a scream, a weird gargle of noise. I run towards it, the blue light flapping in all directions. “Con, where are ya? Con.” The fat angels seem to be laughing at me, their wings shivering up and down. I weave through headstones, aware of the dead beneath my feet. I make out flashes of people, weird ovals with photographs in that are mounted to headstones. Their eyes glare at me, my breathing and living an insult to their state. I don’t want to be scared but am, hard core shitting myself scared.

Then everything stops. No wind, no cold, no muffles. The moon reappears as if its lid has been taken off. I gasp and sweat at the same time. In the calm I hear it, the sound of laughter. I catch my breath and dial. It goes straight to voicemail.

“You may think this is hilarious Con, but it’s not. I’m fucking out of here. Don’t do anything stupid.”

I turn and head to the gates trying to figure out how to get over them alone. My phone rings and I answer it. “You’re some arsehole Con.”

There’s static on the other end.

“You can quit it now. I’m done with this shit.”

A voice echoes through the static. I recognise it as the same technique they used in ‘The Poltergeist’. “Seriously Con. I saw that movie with you. Are you for real?”

The phone goes dead. I walk over to the wall and look for footholds. My phone blips and I click onto the text message. It reads ‘HELP ME!’ I’m so sick of this I want to throw the phone against the wall. Instead I try once more and dial. Not that he deserves it.

It rings and rings. I wait for voicemail to kick in, but it never comes. In the distance I hear it ring and follow it down the path. It’s faint, but definitely there and I curse myself for caring enough to follow it.

At a huge oak tree I turn left. A blue light shivers on the ground up ahead. “Hilarious Con. Hil… fucking… arious.” I get to the grave and pick it up, shout “hello” into both phones and wait for his grand entrance.

But no one appears. It’s just me and the trundle of traffic over the wall. With a caw and a flap a huge crow appears, his talons cupped over the top of the headstone. I shine my phone at it hoping the light will do the trick. It takes off and gets swallowed back into the night. Then I see it, the name carved into grey stone.

‘Here lies beloved father and devoted husband Richard Brennan’

It’s Con’s father grave, small and nondescript. I had never seen it before and blessed myself even though I didn’t know what that meant. But there was more. Beneath his father’s name covered in white dust the dedication continues –

‘& with him lies his son Conor Brennan, devoted son and loving grandson.’

I trace my fingers over the letters that are chiselled into the stone. At the base, just above the gravel is an oval with a photo of Con caught mid-scream.