Thursday, March 13, 2014

DOUBLE DOG DARE (A Gravedigger story)

Genre: Horror 

Note to readers: This story is a follow-up to three previously published stories titled “Tight Spaces”, “Flat Tire”, and “Vulnerable”, which you can read by searching the blog archive on the right-hand side of the page.

Daniel Skye

          When I saw the bottle of tequila, I knew we were in for one hell of a night. It started with the four of us gathered under Community, sheltering ourselves from the rain as we ripped bongs and passed the bottle around in a circle.
          Community was a local hangout for all the quote-unquote dirt bags of Westlake Senior High School. It was a wide concrete footbridge that extended from school property to an adjacent neighborhood across Route 27. If you snuck under the footbridge opposite side of the school, the bridge itself would shield you from the neighboring road. And at night, the drivers on Route 27 couldn’t see you either.
          We called it Community because it was a neighborhood spot. Lots of kids from school used to gather there on a Friday night to share beers and trade stories. We even had a community bong we all shared and kept hidden under the footbridge.
          Once a week, one of us would be assigned the task of changing the bong water. Though, I don’t think anyone actually ever did it. After a few months, the water was so black with ash it looked like a pitcher of cola.
          It was a homemade bong I had constructed myself out of a gallon water jug and two liter soda bottle. Instead of a slide, I used the cap from the soda bottle and melted a ratchet piece through the center to pack your weed inside of. It wasn’t pretty, but it definitely did the trick.
          There was me (Matt), Chris, Shane, and Chris’s boy, who introduced himself as Yardi. Not from our school. I think he was from Braxton. Though, I couldn’t care less.
          “The name’s Yardi,” he said in clever fashion, leading me up to the pun. “But they call me Bacardi ’cause I always bring the party.”
          “Has anyone ever called you a fucking obnoxious douchebag before?” I muttered under my breath, so low that no one could hear it but me.
          In less than an hour, we polished off half the bottle of tequila. And we still had a sixer of beer and a bottle of Jack.
          As Shane wandered off to relieve himself in the bushes and Yardi packed a bong with someone else’s weed, Chris asked, “Truth or dare?”
          “Truth or dare?” I repeated. “That’s so lame. What are we, fifth graders? You wanna play spin the bottle, next?”
          “Just pick one,” he slurred. “Come on, it’ll be fun.”
          “Fine,” I groaned. “Truth.”
          “Out of all the teachers in our school, which one do you want to fuck the most?”
          “Mrs. Price.”
          “She’s married,” Shane said as he returned from his piss. “And she has two kids.”
          “So?” I shrugged, standing by my choice. “Ok, my turn. Truth or dare, Shane?”
          “You know me, man. Dare.”
          “I dare you to drink some of that bong water.” I didn’t think he would actually do it, but he actually walked over, picked the thing up, tilted it, and took a sip of that black water. Of course, he puked two seconds later and we all had a good laugh.
          When he made a full recovery, it was Shane’s turn. “Truth or dare, Chris?”
          “Dare. Definitely dare.”
          “Oh, I’ve got a good one,” he grinned, somewhat malevolently. “I dare you to take a walk in Fort Hill Cemetery.”
          A sudden chill rushed down my spine just at the mention. It must’ve been contagious because all of us were quivering a bit. All except Shane, who was so wasted on tequila and bong water he was practically rolling at the thought.
          “I’ve got an idea,” Yardi said, and suddenly I hated him a bit more. “How about we all go?”
          “Now there’s a plan,” Shane howled.
          Fort Hill Cemetery was where the police had discovered the bodies of Amelia Walsh, Todd Brennan, Georgia Nelson, and Kaylee Thompson. Their bodies found buried in unmarked graves. And with the exception of Brennan, they were all buried alive in each case.
          Westlake had tried to impose a curfew since the arrival of the anonymous Gravedigger who had been terrorizing our town for months. But try keeping a bunch of potheads and hooligans off the streets after dark.
          Roamers were born to roam. And as this night dictated, we were destined to roam the grounds of Fort Hill Cemetery based on a foolish dare.
          It was a farther walk than I had anticipated. Luckily, we didn’t cross paths with any cops along the way. The ominous iron gates of Fort Hill were visibly locked, but not impossible to climb.
          Even drunk, I managed to scale the gate in less than a minute. Shane is so skinny he managed to squeeze sideways between the bars.
          We roamed the premises, Yardi making Friday the 13th noises the entire time. Ka-ka-ka, cha-cha-cha. I was just about ready to turn his lights out when he pointed out he never got a turn in our little game.
          “Truth or dare, Yardi?” Chris asked.
          “Dare,” he said boldly.
          “I dare you, no, I double dog dare you…to grab that shovel over there, and dig up one of these graves."
          “That’s just wrong,” Shane shook his head.
          “Fuck it,” Yardi said, collecting the shovel that had been carelessly left about the grounds. “I’ll do it.”
          “You don’t really have to,” I said.
          “Nah, you guys all followed through. I gotta do the same. None of that chicken shit.”
The rain had ceased, but the downpour had loosened the soil. To make things easier on himself, he picked the freshest grave he could find. The dirt had been recently settled and there wasn’t even a headstone in place yet.
He didn’t get more than three feet before the shovel scraped the lid of a wooden coffin.
“That’s a pretty shallow grave,” Shane laughed. “Maybe the gravedigger got lazy and half-assed it.”
“Or maybe the real Gravedigger got here first,” I said, and that brought Shane’s laughter to a halt.
“HELP!” someone screamed. For a second, I thought it was Yardi messing around again. Until I heard it a second time and his lips weren’t moving. “LET ME OUT OF HERE!” the man in the coffin pleaded.
The four of us worked together, yanking and pulling until the lid snapped open. The man sat up, gasping for air as the color rushed back to his face.
It was Willy Capri, owner of Capri Bakery. Home of the best cannoli’s on Long Island. As for what he was doing buried three feet under was a story for the police.
I can’t speak for the other guys, but I felt a bit heroic. We hadn’t broken curfew, trespassed on forbidden property, vandalized a gravesite, and in the end, we had really saved a life and foiled a murder attempt. And the cops had given us a pass for it all.
Willy Capri lived to tell his story to the police. He was locking up Capri Bakery around eight o’clock when he was approached by Patrick Downey, a local police officer. Downey had clubbed him unconscious and loaded him in the back of his patrol car.
Of course the local police quickly discovered Patrick Downey wasn’t his real name. His full name was Charles Lee Gein. Whoever the real Patrick Downey was, he clearly had no use for the name anymore.
But by the time the cops had learned this, Charles Lee Gein had caught wind of it and moved on. When they arrived at his place, all that remained was his uniform, a few pair of slacks, and some abandoned dishes and utensils.
The cops put out an APB for him, but their manhunt yielded no results. Downey had slipped through the cracks, but the legend of the Gravedigger would live on forever in Westlake.
The officers made sure to note that Gein was armed and considered extremely dangerous. Though he had left his uniform behind, he had taken his service revolver with him.
A desolate highway rest stop along Route 27.
A business man named Sid Hodder.
A rusty Oldsmobile Cutlass.
Charles Lee Gein was recuperating in the men’s room, formulating an escape plan when the opportunity approached him.
“What’s your name?” Gein asked.
“Sid Hodder.”
“Where you heading?”
“How tall are you?”
“Never mind. You look about my height and weight. I think you’ll do just fine, Sid Hodder."

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