WHO GOES THERE?
WHO GOES THERE by RICK HAYNES
Pissed? We were, and why not, for the local pub had finally reopened, the beer was as excellent as it was before and the company of my mates was worth more than gold.
Davy had brought along his guitar and Will had delved deep into his pocket to bring forth his treasured harmonica. Unable to play anything, apart from a fool, I was the chosen compere for the evening. And what a night we had. Before too long the Red Lion Inn was rocking for the first time in eighteen months.
As we all lived in the village, we knew every step of the way to take us to our homes. But, as per usual, our return journeys were never along the quickest routes.
Davy grabbed my shoulder, turned me around, and giggled in my ear. Will and I looked at him and I’m not ashamed to say, we were dubious. Who wouldn’t be when your drunken mate suggests a walk around the local cemetery at midnight?
We said no, no way, but Davy was very insistent. Built like a wild bear, some locals kept their distance, but he was a gentle soul with not a nasty bone in his body. I laughed, Will sniggered, the drink spoke, and reluctantly we acquiesced and followed like lambs.
As we neared our destination, the heavy clouds parted to reveal a full moon shining brightly down on us. Halloween’s arrived, we thought. But the sound of metal on a rock so loud in such a windless and quiet place, made us think twice about going on. Yet, our muddled brains yelled out, go forward you cowards, and we did.
A mist, as soft as fluffy cotton wool suddenly appeared and I knew my friends were now shaking as much as I. We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and peered at the haze once more. I had seen the fear in their faces which, in some perverse way, made me feel better. Who else would I want to stand with when the unknown loomed nearby?
We wanted to know, who or what was making a noise in our local graveyard.
As one, we slowly edged forward.
The chipping sound continued.
It was getting louder as we approached.
As if by magic, the haze slowly drifted away.
And we trembled with fear as the outline of a man appeared.
With so many wrinkles on his face, he must have been the oldest pensioner I’d ever seen.
Dressed in torn jeans, a heavy raincoat, and an old moth-eaten cap, the man was on his knees, chiselling an inscription into a gravestone. With a swirling halo around his head and torso, I shuddered like my mates, prayed like my mates, and couldn’t say a word, like my mates.
We eventually dared to look away and saw the fear in each other’s faces. As our eyes darted from the old man to each other, a cold sweat ran down my body. It was clear none of us wanted to stay here, yet the strong beers had affected our brains. Run away, had been replaced with, be curious.
Seeing me move closer to the old man, Davy grabbed my arm and shook his head. With his eyes bulging and his body shaking, I knew his trepidation was as strong as mine, yet my inquisitive nature refused to abate; I had to know what was happening
I slowly opened my mouth and spoke. “Err, excuse me… mate… what are you doing?”
He barely turned his back, and when he spoke, his voice was as hard as the hammer and chisel he held in his hands.
“I hate those evil bastards who buried me here; they couldn’t even get my name right on my grave.”