Graveyard Dance

Posted on October 21, 2010

30


“This is silly,” Lori pouts. “Why don’t we go to my place? We can summon the dead with my Ouija board.”

“Oh, little Lori’s scared,” Brian mocks. He gooses her in the ribs, and she squeals indignantly. “Don’t worry, baby, I’ll protect you.”

Trixie gazes at the headstones surrounding them, eyes wide. It’s foggy and cool tonight, and anything, dead, alive, undead, could be hiding in that fog. She feels exposed, watched. She hugs Don’s arm tighter to her side.

Don scans his flashlight across the graveyard.

“Over here,” he says. “This is the oldest part. These graves go back at least two hundred years.” He leads them to a flat, rectangular monument beneath an ancient oak tree. They jump up to sit on its marble surface.

“Awesome,” Brian says. “It’s like one of those altars where they sacrifice virgins to the devil.” He gives his best evil laugh, and Lori punches his shoulder.

“Well, we’re all safe from that fate,” Don says, “unless there’s something you’d like to share, Brian.” Their laughter calms their nerves.

“Where’s that beer, Don?” Lori says, holding out her hand. Don grins and passes bottles to each of them.

“Lucky for you Trixie has a boyfriend old enough to buy beer,” he observes.

“That’s not why you’re my boyfriend,” Trixie says with a smile. She sips her beer, eyes still roaming the graveyard. Her face is pale as the fog, her large eyes black as the oak tree towering above them. Don leans in to kiss her cheek.

“You look awfully witchy tonight,” he whispers. “I like it.”

“I wonder who’s buried under here,” Lori says.

“Good question.” Brian takes the flashlight and gets down to read the inscription. After a moment he says, “That’s weird. It’s only symbols, like runes or hieroglyphs. I can’t make it out. Oh, I know, it’s a secret alien base, and you can only get in if you can read the pass codes.”

“You’re such a geek,” Lori giggles.

“It doesn’t matter what it says or who’s buried here, not really,” Trixie says. “I’m sure the occupant is past caring who comes to visit. Come back up, Brian. You’re making me nervous down there.”

“What? You don’t really think a zombie’s gonna grab me, do you?” But he climbs back onto the monument nevertheless.

They are quiet for a few moments, drinking their beer, watching the fog move silently in tatters and swirls. It is like a living thing.

“Let’s tell ghost stories,” Don says. “We can’t waste such a perfect opportunity.”

Lori shudders. “It’s scary enough out here. You don’t want me to die of fright, do you?”

“I know a good one,” Trixie says. She looks at the fog, at the ancient oak, at the monument. She runs her hand over the cold marble. She smiles up at her friends; they watch her expectantly.

“It’s about who’s buried under this monument. You know,” she leans in confidentially, “this grave’s been here almost three hundred years, long before they first built the proper graveyard.”

Don, Brian and Lori look suspiciously at the monument. Lori clings to Brian with a whimper.

“A powerful witch is buried here,” Trixie continues. “They say if you dance on her monument, she’ll come back and grant you a wish. But first you have to tell her story.”

“Which is?” Don says.

“She fell in love with the governor’s son. He promised to marry her, but his father refused and forced him to marry the mayor’s daughter. So she lured her lover here on his wedding night to have one last dance with her. In the morning, the bride was dead and the witch had disappeared. The governor’s son built this monument for the witch, thinking she was dead, too. They say he came back to dance here every year after that until he died a very old man.”

“And because he remembered her like that, she gave him long life?” Brian says. Trixie shrugs.

“They never found the witch,” she tells them. “Maybe she’s not buried here at all. Maybe when you dance on her grave it’s just summoning her, like a spell. Then the wish part isn’t a wish at all, but a bargain. She’ll do something for you, but you have to give her something in return.”

“Like what?” Lori shivers.

“Part of your soul,” Trixie says, and they all laugh. “You get whatever you want for a year, but then she takes your essence. They say it makes her immortal, and she’s walking around here even now.”

The fog drifts around them, cool and moist. The oak keeps its secrets.

“Well, I think we should dance.” Brian gets up and pulls Lori to her feet. “I could use a big stack of money, myself.”

“And I want to ace my finals,” Lori says. Don gets up and holds his hand out to Trixie.

“I don’t really need or want anything, but I’ll dance because I like the story,” he says. Trixie smiles at him, surprised.

“In that case, maybe the witch will give you a long and happy life,” she tells him. She thinks, Maybe I’ll keep this one around for a while.

They dance on the empty monument under the watchful oak, and the fog dances with them.

As they dance, Trixie feels her blood race, suffusing her body with new vitality. She casts her vision into the next day, the next week. She sees Lori and Brian getting their wishes, the proper payment for their dancing. And by the time their obligations to her come due, they will have forgotten this night, this dance.

The bargain gets easier to make every year.

But it’s rare to find someone who will dance, asking nothing in return. Don’s reward will be generous indeed.

Even as they dance, Trixie tailors her old immortality spell to suit her new chosen mate.

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Posted in: #FridayFlash, Horror