In late afternoon under a blustery November sky, Joseph arrived at the graveyard in his blue Chevy sedan. Partnered by a light wind, autumn leaves danced a ballet under billowing dark clouds, pregnant with rain. Joseph parked his car and opened his door, stepping out onto the pavement and around to the trunk.
The graveyard was draped in an eerie stillness like a thick carpet of sleep. Ripping through the silence screeched the ornery "Caw!" of a raven perched high atop a nearby tree. It's raw greeting startled Joseph who looked upward to locate its source. Detected, the crow flapped sluggishly, launching itself lazily from its current location, then floated across the yard to another perch.
Inserting his key into the trunk lock, Joseph sprung the latch and lifted the lid. Inside, his gear lay neatly packed. He carefully lifted the tripod, placed it on the pavement and rested it against the bumper. He lifted two cases containing cameras, one for still shots and the other for video, and draped their cords around his neck. He grabbed a leather gear bag, shifted it to his left hand and pushed the trunk lid down. As he turned around, he picked up the tripod, balanced it over his shoulder and headed out across the lawn. The grass crunched beneath his shoes as he surveyed the yard, looking for a place to set up.
The headstones gleamed chalk-like across the lawn like bony specters. He stopped occasionally to study the more intriguing ones before moving on. He located a bench under a thicket of trees, and after a few moments of contemplation, decided this was as good a place as any. Placing his bag on the bench, he set up his tripod and mounted his video camera. After a few adjustments he was ready to begin shooting.
A damp wind stirred and Joseph turned up his collar to block it out. Then he strode to the bench. As he opened his digital camera case, he pondered his newfound passion for the supernatural.
It began only a year earlier when a towel-wrapped Joseph had come face-to-face with an apparition at his bathroom door. Joseph was exiting his shower, scrubbing his wet hair with a towel when he encountered a boy, drenched and trembling, standing there looking very traumatized and disoriented. Instinctively, Joseph had gone to the boy's aid by extending his hand in a gesture of help. The boy vanished instantly leaving behind a bewildered Joseph, empty-handed and completely creeped-out.
After that, Joseph became fascinated with ghosts and developed those fascinations into a hobby of searching for and gathering paranormal evidence. He didn't particularly believe that cemeteries were the best place to encounter spirits. He figured spirits had more interesting places to hang out than a gloomy, boring cemetery. But Joseph had come across a recent internet broadcast that this particular cemetery was the resting place of several prominent figures and had also been the site of recent vandalism by tourists. These insolent occurrences had reportedly agitated the inhabitants, causing an upsurge in anomalous activity. The broadcast whet his curiosity and the fact that it was only 40 minutes from home compelled Joseph's visit. He wanted to gather some video footage and photos, see what he came up with, and take it from there.
Starting in the east corner, he worked the video camera, scanning the graveyard slowly around to the west. He was mindful to pick up as much detail in different areas as possible and panned the camera back and forth several times in order to ensure that he picked up any structure of interest in the yard. Then, finding a position that displayed the most unobstructed view of the cemetery, he left the camera rolling on its own. Then he grabbed his digital camera and set out across the grass for stills of select headstones.
He strode to the oldest part of the cemetery. Bordered by ancient trees, it was situated along the east wall and underneath he found one of the cemetery's oldest graves. Its modest headstone was weathered and worn, and after 250 years, its inscription barely legible.
After several adjustments to his camera settings, he started clicking shots getting as many different angles as he could. From here, he moved down the row to get the other graves in a similar fashion.
Overhead, the blustery sky grew dark and Joseph figured he had only about twenty minutes before the clouds began to dump its contents. He moved quickly out towards the center and across to the other side, making any needed adjustments to the camera settings and snapping more photos. The ornery crow returned and cawed another announcement.
"I better get going," thought Joseph and he started back into the direction of the bench. Pushing his luck, Joseph turned and held his camera in front of him. He aimed it randomly across the lawn and snapped a shot with his index finger. The crow sounded once more, this time with grave urgency. Joseph turned to view it, still holding his camera in his outstretched hand. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something stir in the camera's LCD. He turned back to the screen to view the image head on, but all he saw was an eastern view of the cemetery.
The air grew heavy and Joseph knew rain was imminent. He returned to his video camera, its red indicator light signaling that it was still running. Joseph turned again, extended his right arm and attempted just a couple more shots before the clouds let loose. He aimed the camera randomly across the grass and snapped another shot.
Then he turned his head slightly to the left, but kept one eye on the screen. As he suspected, he saw a white figure crawling ominously across the lawn. But this time he noticed . . . it was headed in his direction!
Joseph dropped his arm and visually inspected the area he was shooting without looking through the LCD. There was no white figure visible, only the graveyard: very still and very, very quiet.
Lifting his arm and returning the camera to its previous position and using a sideways glance, he watched through the LCD as the white figure crept slowly and insidiously across the grass. It seemed that despite the labored crawl, it was much closer than before and Joseph calculated that every time he lowered the camera, the figure traveled 100 yards instantaneously!
The rain began as a light sprinkle, and Joseph raced to his video camera panning it over into position attempting to pick up the image of the white figure. When the figure didn't appear, Joseph's jaw dropped in amazement.
Lifting his digital camera and viewing once again out of the corner of his eye, he relocated the specter. It had moved much closer and this time Joseph was able to pick up details in its form.
It was creeping along on its belly, arms bent at elbows dragging itself forward, the lower half of its body limp and useless. In jerky, unnatural motions, its head lurched from side to side. Its ghastly face was a horror to behold. Two hollow sockets glared at Joseph across the distance while its tongue lolled in its mouth, slack jawed and hungry. As Joseph studied its face, the glaring countenance told him he was being apprehended with careful determination—and malice.
Terrified, Joseph dropped the camera and began tearing down his equipment. The air filled with the dank odor of mold and rot giving Joseph knowledge that the specter was upon him, probably no more than just a few feet away. He tried to dismount the video camera but was so frightened that his trembling hands betrayed him. Clumsily, he knocked his video gear over, its red indicator light fading to black as it hit the ground.
He grabbed the digital camera and held it up once more. He found the entity and discovered that it was nearly upon him, creeping relentlessly in pursuit. He had no choice but to leave his gear behind. He dropped his camera in the grass and fled, running mindlessly towards his car, a projectile of utter fear.
The sprinkle of rain intensified and the grass grew wet under Joseph's feet. The crow cawed laughingly in the trees, and the Laughing Crowsmell of mold became heavier and more intense.
He was only 50 feet from his car when he slipped on the slick grass, flying headlong into a monument, striking his head on the stone. The crow cawed one last time and the drizzle of rain became a torrent. Joseph lay on the grass, unconscious and bleeding. He wasn't found until the next day.
Three days later, Joseph sat upright in his hospital bed, head wrapped in a turban of bandages. His equipment had been retrieved, but the video camera was ruined.
By some miracle, his digital camera survived the torrential rains and he held it now in his hands, attempting to review the photos on its memory card. He searched for evidence of the malevolence that had pursued him. He scrolled through the images 100 times, scrutinizing the headstones, the trees and the random shots of the lawn. He found no evidence of the entity in any of the photos. Eventually he came to realize and accept that the ghost was only visible through his LCD.
Sadly, he had no evidence of his encounter, save a nasty concussion and ruined gear. The only witness an ornery old crow.
He had no intention on ever going back to that graveyard
. . . at least not alone.