For most, Halloween is a time of mirth and joy, of ghouls and ghosts, of childish pranks and smashed pumpkins. For me, this Halloween was a time of broken hopes and shattered dreams.
We started off the evening with several pints of beer at the Distillery, but a severe lack of parties hindered our nighttime plans.
What were we to do? No parties! This left only one option for us. In a desperate attempt to recapture the youth we left behind in high school, we donned dark clothing and set off for Mount Hope Cemetery.
Bad idea. Considering my luck at the Indian Burial Ground, one would think I would stay away from burial places, but I was high on life and a bit inebriated on the sweet loving they call beer.
The cemetery was typical. It was not hazy outside the fence, but inside the fence, there was a distinct cloudiness accentuated by the overly bright moon. Maybe graveyards are just hazy. Could be the heat from the decomposing bodies or the haze of thousands of ghostly spirits mixing together. I have never taken the time to figure that out.
We had walked maybe 500 or 600 yards down the main road when we saw bright lights flashing up ahead. At the time, it seemed smart to run off the main road and hide behind some bushes next to the headstones. I remember thinking to myself that this was the way horror movies start ? a group of kids go into the cemetery on Halloween night, get scared by some headlights, run into the depths of the cemetery, split up, and are taken out by the “evil dead” one by one.
Instead of leaving the cemetery at this point, we decided to walk amongst the headstones. Further and further into the cemetery we walked, getting closer and closer to the spooky, old part, which houses all the graves from the 1700s. No doubt, this is where the true ghosts lie.
We had walked for maybe five minutes when the lights appeared again. Not wanting to cause any sort of trouble, we quickly went into covert Navy Seal stealth mode. Dashing in between gravestones and trees, we made our way back towards campus ? the inviting glow of Rush Rhees was our North Star.
In a surrealistically typical way, we were spotted. In my eyes, we were running in slow motion. A member of our faction stopped to assess the situation and was caught with his proverbial pants down. Like a deer in headlights, he stood tall amid the stout tombstones. The searchlight stopped right on him, his chest heaving and sweat sparkling on his forehead.
And in a moment, we panicked. Just like soldiers, we hit the ground and crept over graves to the nearest cover ? a large headstone flanked by two bushy shrubs.
A compatriot and I shoved ourselves against the brush as I buried my face into what seemed to be a fairly fresh grave. The other member of our faction crept forward and ducked behind another large tombstone.
Not only was my heart pounding and chest heaving for fear of being caught, but also I was now worried that the occupant of the grave was going to reach her corpse-like, decomposing hand up through the earth and grab my neck.
We held our breaths and nuzzled our heads into our shirts as the police car and its searchlight passed us at an alarmingly slow rate. Time seemed to stop completely. The blue and red of the flashing lights melded together in our minds into a constant panic flash.
All at once we took a deep breath and leapt from the ground, landing in a full speed run. More than once I felt my foot sink into the mud of a fresh grave. Like the girl in a horror movie who runs up the stairs instead of out the front door, we ran deeper and deeper into the cemetery. Our fate was sealed.
We looked around to find ourselves enclosed by several large, leafy trees. Safety, we thought. Wrong, we were. We were in the old part of the cemetery. Tremendous fear does not sufficiently describe the feeling ? pant-soiling fear is much closer.
I do not know what supernatural entity lay there, but something made itself very clear we did not belong.
It has always been my belief that when you go somewhere dangerous you should bring someone slow, because we all know that when it comes down to it, you only have to run faster than the slowest person. I made damn sure I was not the slowest person. I jetted out of there like a bat out of hell. In all respects, while we may not have been in hell, a little piece of hell was after us.
After fighting through the trees, we found ourselves back near the newer graves. Flooded with relief we walked until we could see the fence and then stopped to congratulate ourselves on stealth work well done.
Just as fast as the smiles of pride stretched across our faces, they were turned into scowls of sorrow.
“Y’all better run like hell.”
We turned around to see from whence the voice had come. Those tricky cops were on foot as well as in cars. Apparently, all the noise we had made fleeing from the demon had attracted the attention of a few patrolmen.
Alas, I suppose it is better to be arrested by the Rochester Police Department than killed by a demented spirit.
Haber can be reached at email@example.com.