BEHIND THE TOMBSTONE
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BEHIND THE TOMBSTONE
an ongoing horror story led by original creepy photography
When Ashley Saw It…Behind the Tombstone 001
I was able to step out of it's shadow just in time. I couldn't believe when I saw those arms reaching out towards us. If it wasn't for my girl seeing the branch shadows grow long, I don't know what would have happened. I told her it was just the wind bending the tree. But my seven year old knows better. Her hair wasn't even moving.
It was time to go back to the graveyard and get in the car. "We never should've came back here." I know it was Grandma's funeral and all, but there are just too many weird things that used to happen around here. When I moved my family away, I swore I'd never return. But then there was Grandma's last will and testament.
"Come on Ashley. Let's get out of here." I kept my eyes on that tree as I reached for her hand next to me. "Ashley? What are you doing? Where'd you go?" Looking down to my side, there was no one there... "ASHLEY!".
Under the Glow of that Old Sodium Light…Behind the Tombstone 002
Looking behind me for Ashley, movement caught the corner of my eye. It was her. She must've ran, scared from the tree shadow we saw. Yelling for her to stop, I followed her towards the woodline. But she jumped through the briars and disappeared into the darkness. When did she get so fast?
The prickers tore at my jeans. Drawing blood, they broke off and snagged in my thighs. I didn’t care. I wanted to catch up to her. I had to catch up. She needed me now more than ever.
Stopping at the ridge, I searched the area for her, for the sound of twigs breaking under foot. But pausing there, it was silent. No night cicadas. No frogs. There wasn’t even a breeze anymore. A cold chill fell over me giving me goosebumps.
A soft cry came to my ears. Must be my Ashley! I saw her now under the glow of that old sodium light. She was down there by the red shed. I bolted for it. I had to stop her before she went in. She’s too young to remember what happened there. Too innocent to know why we left Grandma’s old house.
I Thought We Were Alone…Behind the Tombstone003
After tucking them in, I whispered good night in their ears. Although mine wasn’t the only whisper I heard… Woke up at 0319 again and froze as I looked into her eyes as she crawled her way up me. A silent scream of terror wept from me as the thunder of her touch rocked my foundation. I couldn’t move. Tried to tell myself it’s just a dream. Tried to move any muscle.
Nothingness fell over me and my eyes rolled back to discover the view from the other side. Such a wondrous, vibrant, and colorful dreamscape took over. Even the nail of hers that broke off in my flesh from her clawing at my chest didn’t register as any sensation.
I was adrift again, coming back to this warped dream we call life. Waking into dreaming as I realized I shit the bed.
Keep calm, the treatment is working. It will be over after a couple more sessions. The spirit will be separated from the body, freeing your soul.” -he wheezed at me through my decrepit bandages.
Pays Me No Mind…Behind the Tombstone 004
Damn I was groggy this morning. I could barely swivel my legs out of bed. I haven’t felt this bad since that Tequila over at Vince’s. No nauseousness though, so that’s a plus. Still, these dreams are making it hard to wake up. “Are you listening to me?” I blurted out as the teapot started whistling.
Looking up, I saw she wasn’t there. She must’ve left the room. “She never pays me no mind anymore” I said shaking my head at my reflection in the fridge. I was answered with the sound of the front door closing.
Considering my dream, I poured the hot water over my coffee grounds and kept talking to myself. At least we’ll have our friends over tonight. They’ll have some insight about what’s going on. They always do. Hell, they listen to those crazies at work up on the hill. I bet they’ll have some good stories if not only for some much needed distraction while the kids can have a slumber party.
I’m in for an interesting evening. Good or bad. It’s time to get some answers. Doesn’t matter what comes of it. A resolution of spirit is needed.
Disjointed and Waiting…Behind the Tombstone 005
Last night wasn’t so good. It started out as any other Ouija reading. Ya know, the kind where someone is obviously pushing the pointer. She messed around a bit but then her snickering ceased when the cold chill came into the room.
When she spoke, her breath was visibly icy. Her eyes went berserk, like a chameleon but very rapid. One was trained on me and the other swept the room wildly. She convulsed in her chair and flopped to the ground. Obvious parlour tricks. That is, until she lost control of her bladder.
As she stopped twitching, her body began to unnaturally snap into a hideous form. Sounded like when you twist apart chicken pieces at the joints. Except her mouth was silent, not even a grunt as a little grin formed in the corner. And those eyes - still one pointing directly at me while the other kept up that chameleon dance.
That’s when the pointer began creeping around the board by itself with the sound of nails on a chalkboard accompanying it. As we stared at the Ouija, we didn’t notice her writhing and slithering away. Realizing what the pointer showed us, we all had enough and jumped up running for the door. But she was there, all disjointed, already waiting for us with the Devil in her eyes.
Her daughter came downstairs approaching her from behind with that doll she never puts down. “Mommy…” “Mommy…?” softly came from her lips as she walked up not knowing what happened to her mom. Her mom just kept hollow smile at us in the room as she blocked our exit. Keeping her back to her daughter those eyes finally stopped moving and rolled right up in her head.
That’s when we saw it, even before the child did. The doll, that fucking doll. It swivels it’s head to face the daughter’s and muttered something. Sounded like James Earl Jones a bit. No one made out the words but that didn’t matter. The daughter screamed dropping the evil thing that was a doll and tried to run past her mom to us.
She crashed into something invisible, pausing mid stride, slightly reverberating like she was enveloped by a mass of clear gelatin. Oh shit. He’s here. I knew this was risky fucking with him. That’s when the mom passively slumped to the floor, soiling herself.
I moved my hand up getting ready to run past the mom and on towards the daughter to help her. But a split second later the door slammed shut behind the mom with a crumpled thunder, splintering the antique wood trim in our faces. All went silent…
A Cold Walk…Behind the Tombstone 006
…sometimes, all we can do is remember
Affettuoso a Allargando
He approached the playground walking with slumped shoulders in the steady snowfall by himself. He feels a stab of dread as he thinks of the fun he used to have with his daughter here. All those warm summer sunsets laying in the grass picking out the night’s first star light star bright. Making shapes in the receding dim clouds of their favorite things to do together. Hearing the last robin’s call and cardinal’s chirps of that beautiful final day.
Imagining what it would be like to keep this encounter, this stillness in time, frozen, sacred, and protected before it escapes into the flurry of future hurriedness and blurred movement of life as the world abruptly changed.
Not only are his boots wet and cold now in this desolate waste, but also his eyes and heart. For that was a fleeting moment of peacefulness which did in fact escape. The only trace of it remains forever locked amongst the haphazard firings of his twisted metal neocortex fibers, hidden deeply in the few remaining pulsing neurons he can still call his own. Never to be again.
Stumbling, isolated, and abandoned, his loss is eternal. But he cannot stop the shuffling of his bipedal movement toward that remnant memory as the last of his energy drains. Always seeking what was. Always hoping to get that sacred second chance. Wanting again to regain that innocence, that solace, that warmth.
Soft as snow, he fell down for one last time. Darkness came as his eyes widened. And now his daughter approached in the distance. Smiling with arms outstretched, racing to him.
Looking straight up at the sky, he laid there patiently accepting his failures while vowing to try again. Of all the night sky, he could see only one tiny star, one pinprick of light against the total blackness. As she knelt down next to him, that light began to expand. By the time she put her hands on him and cradled his head, that light filled his vision entirely.
Unblinking, he felt the warm of her touch. He smelled that summer grass. He heard those songbirds. He turned his head to look at her and saw her laying next to him, smiling up at the stars and clouds.
The snow was gone. The cold was gone. She asked him what he thinks of during these moments of theirs at sunset. With smiling eyes, he tells her all of the things he always wanted to.
Turning back from looking out the window, Ashley asks her dad if he ever considered what the dogs think about each night when they lay in the grass during sunset. With a smile full of love, he answers “the same thing we do hun.” Then he calls the dogs to come in for the night.
Crying Inside…Behind The Tombstone 007
…he found himself alone, but not without communication
Lacrimoso a Affrettando
Straining his eyes to focus, he muttered to himself, “where’d everyone go?”
He sat there with wood splinters strewn all over him, slumping up against the wall. With his head leaned back, he stared at the ceiling. His hands trembled but still cradled the phone in his lap. A little chiming of the bell inside of it softly filled the silent air.
Realizing his situation was dire, he looked down at it. Pulling the receiver from its base, he reveled in the memories. There she was.
Those were the best seven years of all his 42. The sun was bright, the smiles warm, and the caresses tender. It was an endless seven. It was better than heaven. Those times he couldn’t escape, couldn’t out grow. He was stunted there, frozen in time, paralyzed in that love.
He yearned to return there. He always wanted to go there. Every dream was made from there. She was always there. A sacred haunt that persisted with every beat of his heart. Every false grin he now gave was twisted from there.
Halting the receiver in front of his face, he looked into it as if it were a mirror, or portal to those seven. He could hear her laughter, see the dream.
Hanging up the receiver, the room slowly came back into focus and now he could make out his friends bodies. They were all either slouched sitting in a chair or cowering on the ground. But they were there. He could see puffs of frozen breathe as their chests heaved in the heavy air. He had to go to them. Bring them back. Make sure they were themselves, especially the mother.
Heavy Chest Pains…Behind The Tombstone 008
…like a stubborn dog with a bone
Agitato a Crescendo
My security cam finally caught what she had been saying for weeks now…a volatile spirit tormenting us in the mortal realm. But looks can be deceiving. I knew I should have told her no when she found my grandma’s Ouija board in the attic. So curiosity has now opened a door to the nether and it’s propped open with our fears.
The sightings are getting more intrusive and Baphomet is now toying with her. Toying with us. Letting its invisible shape be outlined by the sheets, taunting her as she was putting up clothes to dry outside that windy morning. I scream to her. Shuddering she runs to me, only to be pulled back as soon as she grabs the back door, which slams furiously, blocking my assistance.
In awe, I look down and see a piece of her fingertip pinched off laying on the floor. I try to yank the handle open but my palm sticks to the freezing metal, ripping my flesh. I grab the stool and move to hurl it with all my might at the window so I can jump out and help her. The stool freezes mid air and then launches at an odd angle smashing into the kitchen lights.
Suddenly my chest feels heavy. Tightness pulls at my innards. I manage to catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror as I slump to my knees. I see it in the mirror. We lock eyes. The fiery goat-headed beast has itself wrapped around me, torquing me with writhing twists, pointed tail whipping wildly. A deep note rings in my ears as it constricts me. It gives me the most childish sweet grin from ear to ear, relaxes its grip and vanishes, leaving me coated with icy frost, collapsed on the floor.
She opens the door…
Bone Rattler…Behind The Tombstone 009
The only way to fix the pain, is to go through the pain
Bruscamente a Allegro
Soon as she turned off their road, she got his text.
dad — g’mornin. nice of you to bail on me this morning
mom —i was talking to you but you just stared off. Why’d you ignore me?
dad — what?
mom — I was telling you I had to run to the dentist cuz this tooth is killing me.
dad — oh, sorry. I was a little groggy. Will you be able to teach your class tonight
mom — Yes, I’ll make it to class. What’s up with you lately, another bad dream?
dad — yep
mom — you know you can talk to me about those.
dad — there just bad dreams. nothin special
mom — uh huh. the girls up yet?
dad — gonna let em sleep in
mom — just get them up before you go to work.
dad — k
mom — get home on time tonight. You need to finish going thru moms things so we can put it on the market.
dad — i will. The girls can help to
mom — good idea. Ever since her funeral I’ve been clenching my teeth.
dad — that how your tooth is bad? u need to chill
mom — think it’s cracked. It’d be nice if you just got her house empty.
dad — i know. it’s hard for me to not get lost in there
mom — Don’t get all mushy. Just get it DONE!
dad — thanks for your support
Adjusting the hot light right over her face, the assistant asked if she was comfy. Gripping the armrests, she nodded as beads of sweat formed. “Let me lean the chair back. There you go.”
Now she was horizonal, maybe even tilted back slightly. With her feet higher, the blood rushing to her head gave her little pin pricks of needle heat now bursting on her forehead.
“Would you like some nitrous? It helps the procedure.” She nodded yes again as her knuckles turned white. A warm breeze washed over her bringing with it the soft scent of an unknown sweet fruit. Her hands now relaxed. Her back loosened.
She looked to the side and saw the doctor approaching. Creaks filled the room as he raised his stool next to her, he angled her chair back even more, lowering her head further.
Through his cotton face mask she could see he was smiling. Crows feet crinkled into formation around his eyes. Probing her mouth, he verified to the nurse that the tooth was infected.
He explained half her face would be numb for the rest of the day as he loaded a syringe. Her forearm got an odd warm vibration pressed up against it. It was the assistant. She explained how this will be pressed up against the outside of her jaw as he injects her with novacaine. “It’ll help with the pain.”
Flicking air bubbles out of the syringe as he held it up on front of her, “you’ll feel a pinch and then a warming sensation” he says in his deep voice. She barely nods yes again after he asks if she’s ready.
There it is — the vibration on the outside, the pinch on the inside, and a flood of heat fills her gums. Furrowing his brow, he turns the syringe, angling oddly, and pushes it deeper into her jaw.
She focuses on the vibrating tool as tears tumble out of her eyes. It was as if she was pleading with the assistant, looking back up at her, eyes wide and red. As she patted her shoulder, the assistant grinned like one of those heartless bastards who put the air gun up to the cow’s skull.
Poking his fingers around the inside of her mouth, she couldn’t help but drool. She was numb now. Her face sagged and yet somehow felt tight.
The doctor loaded gnarly tips into his air-powered drill. Testing the fast revolutions with quick short bursts, he leaned close to her face. She smelled that spicy after shave all old men use. Musky scent filled her nostrils.
Snapping his fingers, she focuses on his eyes, those crows feet deepening with his squint. “Ok. This is gonna be a bone rattler. Hang on.”
Imagine...Behind The Tombstone 010
Furioso a Presto
“Good evening class. Even though I just had some fun dental work done, catch that happy sarcasm from this woman? Forgive my slurring from the anesthesia. I want to let you in on a little secret. I’ve been dancing around it all quarter.
Here it is — I’m writing a novel. Indulge me for a moment and if you will…Imagine a world that has no sloppy drooping wires, no right angle two dimensional square edges, no signs of any kind ruining the landscape. Here, the people utilize, immediately utilize, the best discoveries, inventions, and ideas right away, as soon as they are created, straight from mind to active use and implementation across the board.
No bullshit greed or business plans or advertising. No more ‘metering out’ technology incrementally. Just ‘bring it into reality’ plans. Full go. This is the basic thought for my book.
We are simply arrogant mental caterpillars that don’t even understand we have yet to metamorphosize. Or even how to spin a cocoon in the first place.
Thoughts are honed, peer reviewed, collectively by all, not exclusively by few. This is where the jobs are. In reviewing, progress can be made by all, not hidden nor hindered. ‘Thinking’ of something brings it into the universe, builds it. All can test it, improve upon it, and use it, immediately.
It’ll happen, not too far from where we are now, as thoughts were always the basis for our development, world, and physical lives. I thought I’d come teach this class today, here I am doing that. I thought I’d write a book, it is a work in progress. Your parents thought about biological procreation, there you are sitting here 19 years later. I think I’ll do something, and it is done.
The key is continual improvement through recognizing this power. The power of taking an idea and making it real is in our nature by design. Creators we all are. Pluck it out of your mind, conscious or subconscious, and poof there it is in the world. Realize it comes from a thought. All comes from a thought.
This is the premise of my story. Some would argue that this is all a dream, a fantasy lived out on global proportions. And in a sense, they are right. But are we dreaming to live, or living to dream? Is there a feedback loop? Is there a starting place where one can determine ‘this is the real part, that’s the dream’? I think not. It is indeterminate. It is a cyclical balance of internal ‘thought’ and external ‘physical’. Sure they feed off each other, influence each other, cascade down each other. There is no beginning. And likewise, there is no end. It is a causal loop paradox.
I thought I’d come teach class today and here we are. Tonight I might change my mind for tomorrow and think of hiking instead. Who wants to hike in the woods tomorrow and continue our discussion? Who ‘thinks’ it will be a good thing to do. I ask you to become aware of the influence that a single thought can have. After all, someone thought of every single thing you have that is made by our kind. Everything. It all came from a thought. Let that sink in.
This leads to a separation in creation of ‘made by thought’ and ‘made by nature’. Just remember, we all came from stardust that organized and evolved into our kind, into right here and now. And it continues as this ‘now’ is ever changing. The ‘made by’ separation may be true but don’t forget where you come from. We amount to Decisive Stardust. That’s all we are.
Another way to say it is that the separation in creation stems from ‘made by consciousness’ and ‘made by unconsciousness’. You don’t think of your heart beating, but you are alive. You don’t think of photosynthesis, but the algae grows.
Can consciousness be put into Schrodinger's box like his cat? Does it only become real when it is observed? Before that observation, can it be in two or more states? What goes on with consciousness in those unobserved states? Just because we don’t observe it yet, does it exist? After all, to observe is akin to think. If there is no thinking, what can be observed? Can you peek into Schrodinger's box and change the observation?
Dichotomous thought process of yes or no, one and zero, left or right, can be seen as an artifact of this. There are always more than only two options, especially when it takes into account the scale of observation. This binary mental approach is restrictive and outdated. It’s time for us to stop messing around and just focus on being better, thinking better. Otherwise, we’re all just chimpanzees that can wear clothes and create devastation for greed. Please, hold your cheer.
So there you have it. Jot down your thoughts on this and enjoy the rest of the evening considering this food for thought that I cooked up for you. That is, if you care to ‘think’ about it and make it happen. Now get out of here and go have some fun. See you tomorrow.”
Watching the students make their leave, she leaned on the podium and gently rubbed her jaw. She’s gonna need a glass or two to slow down this throbbing. Good thing her husband set it up for their friends to come by tonight. They always bring the good wine.
…more of this unfolds, Behind The Tombstone.
Thank you for reading.
Where would you like this story to go? Yes, you. That’s right. Reader, name a direction in the comments.
No. You Can’t Anger Me…Behind The Tombstone 011
Maybe I should write one of those listables that give instructions on how to succeed as a writer online. You know the kind - "How I Made Over $10k in one month on Medium," or maybe "Get Over Your Writer's Block by Chewing Glass." Whatever. Those are a dime a dozen and so worn out.
The dog looks up at the door. "What's wrong girl? Hear something?" I mute my background metal and turn an ear towards the door.
Thump, thump, pitter patter distantly comes from the upstairs. "Well, I should get up and stretch the old legs anyhow. Come on girl." She got up still staring at the door.
Rounding the banister railing, I crane my neck turning an ear upstairs. Sandy sits and whines by my feet. Patting her soft white furry ears I declare "Up." She bolts up the stairs taking three at a time and stops on the landing.
In the pause I hear it now. Little whispers and giggles are coming from up there.
Lumbering up the stairs I catch my breath at the top next to my patient four legged companion. Looking down the hallway I see it. The attic pull-down stairs are open at the end of the hall. The late afternoon sun beams through the window and illuminates swirls of dust motes making their way down.
I can hear them clearly now as I approach the rickety spring loaded wood planks staining down from the attic. With one hand on the railing, if you can call it that, I make my way up.
I crest the attic floor as I'm caught off guard by a painful sneeze triggered from the dusty air.
"Ahhhhh!" the girls scream in the highest pitch further disorienting me. Snot sticks to my sleeve as I tell them "It's just dad. Sorry about that. It's ok." Their horror turns into scared laughter as they realize it's me climbing up there smiling.
"What's going on girls?"
"Nothin Dad. Just exploring. We heard a bump up here and had to check it out."
"You know you're not supposed to go through Grandma's things. Right?"
"Yeah, but Mom said..."
"That's for me to do honey. It's Daddy's job."
Trying not to bump my head on the rafters above I meander over to the corner they're in.
"Daddy look what we found! Did Grandma write it?"
"Hmm let's see" as they handed me the long scrapbook piece.
The second I took it my hands felt cold. My eyes darted all over the page trying to make sense of it.
"Yes, it looks like one of Grandma's poems. Although I haven't seen these pictures before. It says..."
No. you can't anger me.
it's inside me.
relish the harm.
the shit I have is dark,
not afraid to die
need to bury
it's coming up again
stained and bleeding
chewing and feeding
pushing its way up
out with the vomit
birth the new child
born again like a good
it's all on repeat
the rage the angst
burning inside like rape
can't run away
cold and frozen inside
choosing a vow
commit to myself
a better way to life
a better way to lie
don't say it was you
won't believe it was you
not the one I know
not the one I sold
"Well now. Seems like this is one of her later pieces. You know, when Grandma wasn't too well. Not herself."
"Let's get out of this dusty air girls. It's killing me. Making my head hurt."
"Daddy, are you coming?" they said in harmony waiting for me at the stairs.
"When did you... Never mind. Let’s go." I slurred walking cautiously with the poem in my hand. “Now where’d they go?”
That One It Can’t Be…Behind The Tombstone 012
do your stretches
take your meds
that's all they ever said
behind their eyes is the laughter
just this one last deal is what I’m after
it wasn't always like this
wasting away soaked with piss
where did all the happiness go
the gypsy life was so slow
who was that I used to be
someone is here I can’t quite see
yet I feel his grip on my arm
he bent near and whispered "no need for alarm
you are weak and I am strong
next to me is where you belong
sure you’re the one who is crazy they say
but all you have to do is take her away
do this for me and you’ll be free”
his fetid breath left me smelling of death
he said you get one wish
then vanished with a swish
patient and willing to cull
preoccupied with him I sit so dull
time to thin the herd with my gall
tincture of ghost plant on my awl
we will see how they like
this little potion and fright
the girls are sleeping over tonight
who was it that said
just a little pin prick
time now for bed
you may feel a little sick
one will stay
one will go
they will never ever know
what happened to Ashley's sister
down below is where I wished her
for their follies and my jollies
piece of her under the Hollies
right there next to the ghost plants
she'll be rotting through with ants
it was me
they won't see
poor old grandma
that one it can't be