Churchyard Halloween

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful
Seasonal tales from beyond the shadows.

Submitted: October 30, 2018

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Submitted: October 30, 2018

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The two things he hated most about this time of year were the fucking mountains of dead leaves he had to clear, and those dam kids that thought it was funny to play tricks on him. The autumn always seemed to bring the worst out in those spoilt brats. Last year he had damn near soiled his britches over them. He had collected a pile of dead leaves to burn in the far corner of the graveyard behind the church, but moments after he set them aflame there was an almighty bang that near scared him to death. Those snotty nosed little bastards had hidden fireworks in the leaves while he was at lunch; the sound of their spiteful laughter still rang in his ears. Those degenerates had hidden behind the gravestones and just laughed at him, while he stood there shaking in his boots.

Being the care taker of St Vincent’s church and cemetery was not exactly his dream job; but back when he had started first George thought it was only a temporary thing. He had thought of it as just a job to tide him over, until he got something better. But if he was truthful with himself it was the only job he could ever hold down, the vicars that came and went over the years by and large tended to turn a blind eye to his short comings. Mind you he did not really see them as short comings, but one or two of the vicars had mentioned them to him over the years. The truth of it was that George Crimmins was a foul tempered, lazy git, not to mention a hopeless drunk.

The sun was shining but the air was so cold George’s breath made vapor clouds when he exhaled, it had been blowing a storm during the night and the pathways in the church grounds were ankle deep in Sycamore leaves. He really did hate this time of year, he hated the cold and he hated the extra work load. He put his hand into the inside breast pocket of his donkey jacket and pulled out the flat bottle of whisky, it was still only nine a.m. but George was already half pickled. His breakfast had consisted of two cuts of burnt toast and three cups of tea topped up with Scotch, if it was summer he would already be taking a nap behind one of the headstones.

This particular morning in mid-October found him in an even more miserable mood than usual, yet another new Vicar had been appointed to St Vincent’s. The old one having been retired due to ill health, George had liked working under the old Vicar. Due mainly to the fact that the Vicar had been suffering from the early stages of dementia, the old fool scarcely knew what day it was and this left George pretty much to his own devices. This and the fact that the Halloween season would be in full flight shortly, those kids found it funny to torment him even more at this time of year. These combined factors were a source of major malcontent for him, and hence his inebriation even earlier than usual this morning.

The sound of someone clearing their throat behind him, made George almost topple over. He had been leaning against one of the old crypts and had dozed off. He turned quickly with the intention of delivering a mouthful of profanity to whoever had startled him; but luckily he just about managed to bite back the words before they escaped his lips. The tall man wearing the clerical garb towered over him scowling, even in his intoxicated state George immediately recognized the fact he was looking at his new boss. The new Vicar stood there with an expression on his face like thunder. A bull dog chewing a wasp came to mind and George almost sniggered out loud.

The Vicar moved closer and leaned his head forward towards George’s face; he inhaled through his nose and moved back quickly. The color of the man’s face was turning puce now, and the look in his eyes was pure anger. “After lunch I want you to go inside and remove the cobwebs that are hanging everywhere in the church, the place looks liked it has been abandoned. Things are going to change around here Mr Crimmins and you had better get used to that fact, I will not tolerate tardiness, laziness or drunkenness. This is a center of worship Mr Crimmins and not some place for you to while away your drunken hours.”

 George was struck speechless by this unexpected onslaught, and could only nod his head in mute acknowledgement that he had understood the man’s instructions. The tall priest turned on his heels and left in quickstep form, George watched him leave with a growing sense of bewilderment. He had worked under six different Vicars over the years, but this one already looked like he was going to be the worst. George took the whiskey bottle from inside his coat and took a good belt to steady his nerves, a couple of more swallows later and his shock had begun to turn to anger. How dare that cheeky prick of a vicar speak to him like that, he had thirty years of service given to this parish. Thirty years of hard graft deserved better than the way he had just been treated, in the few short minutes since he had met his new boss George Crimmins had already developed a strong hatred of the man.

If he thought he hated his job before this, then he suddenly found a whole new level of dissatisfaction with it now. Rev Mathew Higgins might just have been put on this earth to torment George, every morning a fresh list of chores was pinned to the tool shed door for him. If that was not bad enough the vicar made a habit of visiting him on the job at least twice a day, he would suddenly appear as if out of thin air. One moment George would be alone and then out of nowhere Higgins would materialize, the tall man did not even try to hide the fact that he sniffed the air close to Georges face to see if he had been drinking. George began to call these little visits hid daily sobriety test, but it really pissed him off. The whiskey had always helped him get through the day, now the days dragged on as if they were in slow motion.

The tines of the rake snagged on something heavy hidden beneath the dead leaves, “fucking branch” George muttered to himself. Using the toe of his boot he pushed the leaves back from whatever the tines were stuck in, the high pitched scream echoed around the church yard. It took him a few moments to realize that high pitched scream had come from him, the severed arm caught on the tines of the rake held his gaze hypnotically. When it seemed to move he screamed again at the top of his voice, he dropped the rake and turned to run. The tall man standing directly behind him solicited a fresh bout of screaming from the hapless George. It was only when the vicar grabbed his shoulders in a vice like grip and shook him, did George manage to gain some control self-control.

“What in the name of God is wrong with you man, have you been drinking on the job again?” The Vicar pulled George closer to him and stuck his big snout in his face sniffing his breath, George just stood there whimpering like a frightened puppy. “Come on man pull yourself together, what is the matter with you?” George tried to answer but he could not get the words out, instead he just pointed a trembling hand in the direction of the object that had terrified him. The bigger man roughly shoved him one side, and strode purposefully towards the severed limb that appeared to trying to dislodge itself from the tines. The vicar picked the grotesque object up and pulled it from the tines; he pushed the arm in the direction of George’s face.

A strange whirring sound emanated from the arm, the Vicar turned it over in his hands until he found the switch. When he moved the switch the arm ceased wriggling, up close now it was plain even to George’s terrified mind that the arm was just a cheap rubber prop. The Vicar muttered something under his breath and threw the arm to the ground, and then he treated George to a withering look of disdain before striding off. The Vicar had no sooner disappeared from sight, when George heard them. The little bastards were hiding somewhere in the sea of headstones and laughing at him, he picked up the arm and threw it as hard as he could in the direction he thought they were hiding. All this served to do was make them laugh harder at his expense, it was still a week until Halloween and they were already making his life a misery.

The next couple of days found George in a deepening spiral of anger and depression, those damn kids had made him look like a complete imbecile in front of the Vicar. Not that the Vicar needed much prompting to think badly about him, George would dearly have liked to tell the Vicar to shove his job up his backside. But he was in no position to do this; after all he needed this job. So George reverted to his normal coping mechanism whiskey, come five p.m. every day he was out the gates and down to his local pub. There he would down a couple of swift ones, before picking up a bottle from the attached off license to see him through the night. The unfortunate part of it all was the more whisky he drank, the deeper his anger and shame grew.

The night of Halloween George left the pub a little more under the weather than usual; he stopped by the church yard gates and opened the bottle of whiskey. Leaning against the giant Sycamore he took a couple of stiff hits from the bottle, it was cold tonight and he had a bit to walk yet. He had just put the bottle carefully back in his pocket when something caught his eye, lights moving slowly through the old part of the cemetery. Down there the graveyard was populated with elaborate crypts, the graves of the old gentry. Fucking kids was the first thing that came to his mind; it was not the first time they had tried to break into these crypts. Bolstered by the alcohol and his desire for revenge, George crept in the direction of those lights being careful to use the headstones for cover.

George watched the group of people from a safe distance, it was hard to tell if they were kids or not but he was willing to bet it was the same ones that had tormented him. He watched as the group holding lanterns walk slowly in the direction of a large old tomb, suddenly they seemed to just up and vanish. It took a long time for his befuddle mind to figure out what had just happened, but then it came to him. That old tomb had an entrance at ground level, a large granite slab that hid stone steps leading into the tomb itself. What were those brats up to he wondered? Then a plan suddenly came to him, he could get those little bastards back for all they did to him, and he could also prove to the new Vicar that he was no moron.

The granite slab was proving a lot heavier than George had anticipated, but he was not going to let this opportunity go a begging. He eventually manged to move it from where it leaned on the tomb wall, it fell back into place with a hollow thump. Through a small crack between the slab and ground he could still see a faint glow from the lanterns; also he could here strange angry sounds. George smiled to himself with satisfaction and hurried away to put the final part of his plan into action. The Vicar stood in the doorway in his dressing gown, a look of anger and dismay on his face. But George was not backing down this time; he had every intention of showing those kids and his new boss that he was not a man to be trifled with.

The entire walk back to the graveyard the Vicar mumbled angrily under his breath, George could not hear most of it but he did here the word drunk and something about him getting the sack. However nothing the holy man could say now would dampen his spirits, a long reckoning had come at last and those kids were about to get their just rewards. When they got to the tomb the Vicar stood there with a condescending look on his face, he held the lantern aloft and looked at George as if he was mad. With a feeling of great satisfaction George pointed at the ground, the crack of light was plainly visible and the sounds were clear to be heard. When the Vicar looked down his expression soon changed.

If it was hard to close the entrance to the tomb then it was even harder to reopen it, the ground appeared to have formed some kind of suction on the granite slab. The two men pulled and dragged for all they were worth with no luck, all the time they worked the angry mutterings from beneath them grew more intense. He really hoped those kids were peeing their pants, in the end he had to take the Vicar’s lantern and go to the shed for tools. With the help of a shovel and crow bar they finally manged to get some lift on the slab, they prised up one side and they both lifted it. The Vicar grabbed the light and headed down the steps, leaving George to hold the slab in place.

The man of the cloth paused on the steps and glanced back at George, the condescending arrogance he usually displayed was noticeably absent now. It was replaced with an apprehensive look and George felt great satisfaction in this, the vicar seemed to sense this and dug deep inside for courage. With a show of false bravado the vicar turned and went into the bowels of the crypt, the sounds from inside had stopped now and he could hear the footsteps of the vicar on the stone floor. Then total silence descended that seemed to go on for an age, the silence was eventual disturbed by a strange pitiful whimpering sound. It was not long after that the inhuman scream of fear and agony split the night; the arm that was thrown from the crypt was not false this time. It was the vicar’s right arm and it still held the lantern, George dropped the heavy stone slab back in place and hurried off. It looked very much like there will be a new boss in St Vincent’s, was his immediate thought as he left the graveyard.

 


© Copyright 2018 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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