Sam knelt down before her mother’s grave. Tears welled up in her deep brown eyes with remembrance and sorrow. She felt a large sturdy hand on her back; it was Michael’s. His icy blue eyes pitied Sam, wondering how he could help save her from any more despair. As Sam looked back at the grave, Michael looked to Josh, who focused on the darkening clouds above. Michael knew he felt awkward, since Sam and Josh had only broken up two months ago. He remembered the difficulty of getting Josh to even come.
“I just don’t understand why I have to be there. You’re her boyfriend now, dude.” Josh had glared at him when Michael had to give Josh the news that Sam wanted him to come to the funeral as well.
“You’re still one of her best friends, and she wants your support.” Michael pleaded, trying to persuade Josh into going. He didn’t want Josh to come anyway, but he knew Sam would be thoroughly displeased if he didn’t manage to make Josh go.
“I’m going because her mom was always incredibly sweet to me. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“Alright, just don’t let Sam know. You know how she is with honesty.” Josh nodded at Michael’s words. If Sam wanted Josh there to support her, she would expect it. Michael felt sorry that he had lost such a great friend when he found such a loving and supporting relationship with Sam.
“I think it’s time we headed out. The clouds are looking mighty threatening.” Josh said quietly, hoping not to make Sam upset or angry. He exhaled loudly through his nostrils, and continued to look up at the sky.
“I have a few umbrellas because it looked bad this morning.” Michael pulled three out of Sam’s massive purse. Josh chuckled.
“Geez, Sam, you could fit a baby elephant in there, huh?” Sam looked up, and smiled. Josh always knew she liked jokes that weren’t harmful, even if they were directed at her. She nodded and got up.
“It’s just a shame I haven’t tried to yet.” She dabbed her eyes and wiped her nose with a few tissues. She took a deep breath and took an umbrella just as the drops started coming down.
The rain came down in bullets. Michael was afraid that it was going to start hailing soon, and that his umbrellas would be broken. He tried to get Sam to walk faster, but she kept walking at her own slow pace. The rain started coming down in sheets, making it difficult to see beyond Josh who was only a pace ahead. Josh looked around, knowing they might lose the path out of the cemetery if they kept walking. He called out for them to stop, but Sam wouldn’t stop. She kept on walking. Michael was getting worried. He didn’t remember any of the visible tombstones around them. He looked to Sam, searching for a sign of fear, but her eyes were filled with depression and loathing at the world.
Eventually, Michael shouted to Sam that they should stop. He saw her look at him, but not really see him. Her eyes looked dazed, dead even. Her face lost that usual cheeriness it normally held constantly, and her eyebrows were turned in a worried fashion. He grabbed her arms, asking if she was okay. Just as she opened her mouth to speak the rain stopped immediately. Josh had kept walking, but stopped mid step. He looked up at the sky.
“What the hell kind of storm was that? And where did it go?” Josh was confused. He was a meteorologist, so he knew there should be some sort of cloud left after that rain storm but there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. The grass wasn’t even wet. There were no puddles, and the air took on a sudden weight of heat. Josh walked back to Sam and Michael with a questioning look. They looked around.
“We’re lost. Great.” Michael said. This must have been a deeper part of the cemetery. There were more statues of angels and crosses and women and men and children than regular tombstones. There were statues of Holy Mary and Jesus. There were statues of demons being killed by angels. But the one that stood out the most was the statue of a man in a cloak. His mask’s nose and chin were so over exaggerated that they almost touched each other. The mask looked happy in a very malicious way. Michael went to the back of the statue and saw the back of the head had scars written in Celtic writing all down the base of the neck and further.
“What the…. What type of statue is this?” Michael returned to Sam’s side hoping the chill the statue gave off would subdue when next to her.
“He looks friendly.” Sam said in a child-like voice. Josh looked at her with an expression like he couldn’t believe she said that. To him the statue looked far from friendly. It looked menacing. Josh went to go see the back of the statue and saw the markings on the head.
“What do these mean? Can you guys figure them out?” Josh looked to Michael hoping he would, but doubting it. Michael shook his head and looked to Sam, but she was obviously far gone. Her mouth was open just a crack, and was moving so slightly that you couldn’t truly tell what she was saying. She walked closer and closer to the statue, her arm gradually reaching out to touch the hem of the statue’s cloak. Michael tried to coax her back to his side, but Sam ignored his pleading. The instant her fingers came in contact with the statue, it changed somehow. Josh looked at Michael, and then together they looked at Sam. She was clutching the end of the cloak.
“Sam? Sam! Stop! Get over here now!” Michael demanded, but she shot him a look of hatred towards him. Josh gasped at Sam; her eyes! The pupils were cat-like and the iris glowed a blood red hue. Sam snarled at Michael and turned to the statue with a smile on her face. The statue looked down at her and laughed.
“Hello there, sweetie!” The high pitch feminine voice of the masculine male statue did not comfort Michael or Josh. Sam backed up and extended a hand to help down the now-living statue. It accepted with a childish giggle and stepped on the grass below the podium is was on. The moment its feet were on the ground the grass beneath them deadened, all life sapped out as the statue seemed to be able to support its own weight more and more.
“Who are you?” Josh asked hesitantly, not truly wanting an answer. All he wanted to do was grab Sam and escape.
“I am me, silly man. Are you hungry?” The Masked Man turned it head similarly to that of a dog who is just hearing a new sound.
“I am, master! I am so very hungry!” Sam’s voice was not hers, but it somehow sounded like her. This confused Michael.
“Sam, we need to go now. I don’t think you’re well.” Michael took a step toward Sam, but she hissed at him, recoiling more towards the Masked Man. He laughed once more and patted her shoulder.
“It is safe, my love. They are going to join us for a bite to eat.” The Masked Man caressed under Sam’s chin, but didn’t truly look at her. The mask was full view to Michael, giving him a horrible chill down his spine.
The Masked Man bent down and whispered something in Sam’s ear. Her eyes lit up and she bolted in an unknown direction. Josh was shocked at first but immediately ran after her, followed closely behind by Michael. Very soon they lost Sam, but were still following the sounds of her deep laughter and her running feet. Exhausted a confused, the boys took a rest.
“Man, I don’t know what’s up with your girlfriend, but she’s obviously not Sam anymore.” Josh huffed, hands on his thighs as he leaned against a statue of the Holy Mother.
“Don’t go putting Sam down, Josh. She was your girlfriend too.” Michael had his hands on his hips staring at the statue of the Holy Mother. He was studying her face when he noticed something off. The statue was crying blood.
“She’s a beauty, isn’t she?” The Masked Man’s voice came from behind Michael, making both boys turn their heads quickly to see. The Masked Man had his head tilt to the side again, and the mask focused on Michael. “Are you hungry?” He asked again, with a mocking tone in his voice.
“Who are you and what have you done to Sam?” Josh shouted, full of hatred for this entity that changed Sam so much. The Masked Man only laughed his childish laugh.
“She was empty, so I filled her.” Then he was gone. The two boys looked at one another, silently asking the other what was going on. No questions were answered.
Sam’s strange new laughter filled up the dead air, and the boys went back to running throughout the cemetery. When the laughed stopped, the boys were on the steps of a mortuary. It was a darker stone covered in vines and cracking in most places. The words above the building were in the same Celtic writing that the Masked Man on the back of his head. Just as Josh was about to sit on the front steps, the door opened with a hiss. Michael looked at Josh, shrugged his shoulders, and slightly opened the door.
“Sam? Sam, are you in here?” He called into the empty room. From what little light they had they could see there were candles with bows on them. The candles looked as if they hadn’t been used in ages, probably centuries, and the bows were either pink or a blue satin that had been fraying over the years. Cobwebs covered every inch of the walls. Josh walked up behind him and looked in as well. Josh repeated the call into the mortuary, hoping that there’d be an answer.
“Josh? Michael? Anybody?!” Sam’s real voice echoed from inside. It was dark and very hard to see, but there were sobs from deep within. Michael and Josh ran over to Sam, Michael putting his arm around Sam reassuring her that she was safe. She was crouching behind a very large stone casket. In the walls surrounding them were small squares symbolizing the burial places of once living people.
“I felt as if there were so many people inside of me. Every bit of my skin felt as if it was stretched and bloated out too far and I wanted to cry it hurt horribly. All the while this sound… this voice in my head telling me it was going to feast finally. Oh Michael, I need to leave this place.” And with those words the mortuary’s doors closed, and the candles began to burn and gave the room a slight glow but it gave no warmth. The three friends were at the very end of the mortuary, and at this point they were all terrified. Sam was so scared she couldn’t move and stayed in a crouching position, and in fear of another attack Josh picked up an oddly placed fire poker and Michael grabbed a steel sword from a decoration on the wall behind the large casket.
The candles near the door of the mortuary gave out. Then a slow wail of a child seemed to be seeping from the walls, from within the burial places in the walls.
“What the hell is happening?” Michael shouted to Sam as the cries of the child seemed to grow louder and multiply in voices. The next farthest candles went out, sending the front door in shadows. Above the wails the three heard the Masked Man’s voice sing:
“I remember the good old days, where I lured the children out of their beds by whispering false promises in their heads, of promises of candy and toys, of a place of wonderment for good girls and boys. All they’d have to do was pay the price of their company for me eternally. In return they’d get to stay in my magical house where they could play. One by one I’d tempt them in, and foolish as they were they had doubts and scares. I assured them that all is well, and that the only thing they need do was sit in my chair. Once there I wove a spell full of words, feeding them nothing but poison to slow them. I’d make them dance by the slash of my whips, and feast on their lovely flesh.”
With each line, Sam cried more hysterically and her cries sounded closer to insanity than ever. The walls began shaking, and the squares seemed to threaten to open and release a horrible sight. Seeing her pain, Michael was enraged and ran full force towards the Masked Man. As he got close he burst into flames. The flames were so bright that Josh could see the Masked Man’s face had changed from the menacing smile to a horrible grimace, and that the eye holes shown a deep red. Fearing for Sam’s life and his own, he ran towards the Masked Man with the pipe, but Josh simply disappeared as he passed through the Masked Man. Hearing the demise of both of her friends, Sam cried louder and more hysterical than ever. She shut her eyes, foolishly thinking that it would make the Masked Man go away, but it did not work. The last thing she felt was a sharp object piercing through her leg.
Sam woke up with a scream, reaching next to her instinctively searching for Michael. Realizing that she was in her own bed, she collapsed in horror of her own mind. How could she think something like that? It was all too horrible. Michael shifted and propped himself up on one arm, gently caressing Sam’s back.
“Shh. Shh. Shh. Don’t worry sweetie. It’s all fine. I think we should get back to bed. Your mom’s funeral is tomorrow. And don’t forget to remind me to bring umbrellas. It’s supposed to rain, and bad tomorrow.”
Credit: Brianne Murphy