When I was a young man, married with several children, I had to work where I could get work, and if that meant being out past dark, then that’s what I did. I never feared the darkness and passing a cemetery? Well, those people couldn’t hurt you. They’re all dead, right?
The job I’d taken was at a cattle slaughter house several miles from home. Pearl and I finally found a home and a job with good pay. By the time I got off and half-way home it was dark. We didn’t have a car so the five or so miles had to be walked. Pearl always waited up for me, kept my supper warm and the porch light on.
Some of the guys at the job had told me, “It’s an hour longer, but take the right road at the fork. Don’t walk down the left fork alone. That’s the road past the cemetery.”
I guffawed at the grown men. “I ain’t never been afraid of livin’ men. I sure ain’t afraid of dead ones.”
“Suit yourself, but we’ve heard stories,and some of us personally experienced terrible fright down that way.” the hefty, muscle bound cattlemen warned.
The air held a slight chill, and the sky was overcast and looking like rain when I left work and headed home. I said a short prayer that the rain would hold off until I got home. It was smut dark by the time I reached the forks in the road, and I had no hesitation in taking the left fork. The miniature lantern I carried showed enough light in front of me so I didn’t stumble.
At first I thought I heard the wind picking up through the trees. It sounded mournful. I slowed my steps when it sounded again and I didn’t feel any breeze. I held the little light above my head and I took a step and stopped.
The iron, curling letters across the façade at the side of the road proclaimed, Ridgewood Cemetery.
I lowered the lantern, laughed and pulled down my hat when the wind picked up again. I saw a streak of lightning cross the black sky. Only two miles from home and it seemed my prayer to hold the rain wasn’t working. I took a few more steps, and the moaning sounded again, except this time the sound was very human. I stopped as the sound continued, and the wind died out.
“Okay, guys. You’ve had your fun. I’m goin’ on home, and you better do the same unless you want to get caught in this rain.” I felt the first few drops and started forward. This time the moan became a whimpering cry, and I flung my arm up with the light toward the headstones. “Come on. That’s enough.”
What was happening to me? Power of suggestion, that’s what it was. Had to be. Those guys weren’t going to get a laugh at my expense! Pearl had my supper waiting and I was hungry. My step quickened as the rain drops got harder.
I heard a thump, thump, thump, behind me, and the whimpering cry started again. I turned up my jacket collar and continued on down the hill. Thump, thump, thump. Soon it seemed the sound was right at my heels. I’d never been frightened of anything, but suddenly the hair rose on the back of my neck, and my step got faster.
By now the thumping had gotten so loud it was like a drum in my head. I whirled around, held up the light and shouted. “Just stop it!”
I lost my voice, and my wide eyes burned as the rain began to pour. A bundle, a baby blanket bundle slowly turned over and over coming down the hillside. I stumbled backward and almost fell then righted myself and began to run.
I panted, moving as fast as I could in the slippery mud. I slowed, and the thump, thump had stopped. I was well down the road from the cemetery and my hand shook so that the lantern looked like I was trying to send a message. My clothes were sticking to me and felt heavy. That’s when I noticed something that made my hair stand on end and my lips sucked inward involuntarily. The lantern had a faint pinkish glow.
I raised the lantern and wiped the globe. Blood. There was blood all over the lantern. I moved the lantern closer to my jacket. Blood. I was covered in blood. I don’t remember the rest of the mile home only what happened when I came to the porch of my house.
Pearl must have heard me hit the porch and she opened the door. All I remember clearly is her wide eyes and the shriek and her falling in a faint. I can imagine what I must have looked like covered in blood and stumbling toward the door.
After Pearl revived and I was cleaned up I told her the whole story. She knew by my shaking hands and trembling voice that I wasn’t making up a tale. She’d never seen me show any kind of fear.
When I went to work the next day the guys explained away the blood as if it was common place. It happened more than once near the slaughterhouse. The pools of blood would condense and sometimes would be rained back down during a storm. Simple.
“So you guys played the rest of the prank?” I sighed remembering how terrified I’d been.
“The woman whimpering? The baby rolling down the hill?”
Strong armed men became slump shouldered wimps, hands shaking, declaring they’d done nothing. “We don’t go past there at night. We tried to warn you. Don’t walk down the left fork alone.” Their faces, the fear there, let me know they were serious.
Some things in this life can’t be explained except there is good and there is evil. There are those that believe all supernatural events are evil, but that’s not true.
The good of supernatural events of protection, healing and help from God are recorded everywhere. Christ was raised by supernatural power.
But there are also evil supernatural events orchestrated by Satan while he still has time on this earth.
My decision? Call it fear, wisdom or what you will, but from that night onward, Pearl knew I’d be an hour later getting home.