Blast Cemetery (excerpt from Wherever You Go)

Here is an excerpt from my book, “Wherever You Go.”  It has a little bit of a Halloween-ish theme in that it deals with Ghosts at a local cemetery in the town of Gaffney, SC.  I wanted my book to have a paranormal theme and thought that this story would have been a great fit.  Just for the record, there is such a thing as Blast Cemetery and as local legend has it, it is haunted by spirits from the Civil War.

FYI:  it is clarified in an earlier chapter that CPI stands for Charleston Paranormal Investigations.

This chapter/excerpt hasn’t been edited yet.  Why?  Because I haven’t made it up to this chapter yet.  My novel is still a work in progress, but Enjoy!

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Paul received a call from Beatrice Harris, a potential client for CPI, who lived in an area near Blast Cemetery off Highway 11 in Gaffney, South Carolina. She told him that late at night, she had been hearing what she thought were gunshots and cannons going off and when she looked out of her bedroom window, she swore she could see and hear people fighting and screaming at each other. She always called the police who went to check everything out, but dismissed her claims as they saw nothing to corroborate her sightings. She spoke to some local town folk and they told her the stories of the ghost sightings and confirmed it was a battlefield site during the Civil War. Out of curiosity, she called CPI and asked if it was something they’d be interested in investigating. Without hesitation, they said they would and set out on the task of doing some background research.

Paul’s CPI partner, Mike had heard about other sightings at the same location around the cemetery and in doing research, he found out there were reports of witnesses hearing gunshots and cannons going off, usually around midnight. He read that if you talk or run, red eyes can be seen and a voice that claims you are the killer and must die. Supposedly, many who have encountered these particular sightings have been injured and some that even have disappeared. Warnings were posted to stay away from the place or there would be severe consequences. The CPI team was undeterred.

Without giving them the background on the cemetery, Paul asked his brother Nick, if he and Angelica would like to tag along. Nick agreed, trying to show his brother some support for his hobby. Angelica was hesitant at first, but finally agreed to join them after Nick promised to keep her safe.

After getting their gear packed, including a cooler full of sandwiches and soft drinks, tents and sleeping bags, they climbed in Doug’s extended cab pick-up and sped off toward the northern part of the state, traveling ten miles over the speed limit, up Interstate 26. Gaffney was over three and a half hours away. It was just before noon and with any luck, they’d be there in plenty of time to get situated. It was the farthest they’d ever been on a paranormal investigation and they were excited to think that their reputation was getting around. Nick had his doubts. Angelica kept her thoughts to herself.

They got caught up in traffic in Columbia and finally arrived in a little over four hours. Luckily, since it was summer, there would be enough daylight left for them to get situated. Once there, they set out to locate Beatrice Harris’ address so that they could interview her and then move on to the site before it got too late. Her house was as close to a shack could be without being condemned. It was dilapidated, to say the least, and lacking in all areas, especially TLC. There was a car suspended in the air with cement blocks and dozens of cats adorned the inside and out. Weeds surrounded the house and sidewalk but the rest of the grass was dead. Even the dandelions were wilting. An old dog growled from under the trailer. When it came out to scout them, everyone saw that he was chained and breathed a sigh of relief.

“Don’t mind old Hank there,” Beatrice called out from inside her abode.

There she stood in all her glory. Beatrice reminded Paul of some of the people interviewed after a tornado had ripped through their property, or so he mumbled under his breath. She wore a muu muu that was bright orange with yellow and red flowers and frayed edges. Her gnarled toenails stuck out from a pair of open-toed sandals that had seen better days with duct tape holding parts of the soles together. Nick would have loved to have taken a rasp to shear them down, then thought better of it, knowing that whatever bacteria was growing underneath them, would infect him too. She had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and a cold beer in one hand, gripped with yellow-stained fingers. A couple of cats meowed and swirled around her ankles as she swung open the screen door, and greeted them with a carved pumpkin grin, smoke exhaling from her nose. Nick saw a few dozen flies try to make their escape and he dodged out of their way, not wanting to delay their freedom. You could tell by the look on his face that Paul had his doubts that their investigation was going to be fruitful; that this was just another future resident at the local mental hospital that probably reported UFO’s hovering over her so-called fortress. The only thing missing was her hat made of tin foil. Paul looked down and kicked the dirt at his feet, obviously wishing they hadn’t wasted the trip. Nick could tell by the look on Mike’s face that he had felt the same way. Beatrice invited them into her home. Angelica didn’t say anything, only gripped Nick’s hand and said she would wait outside. Nick gave her a soft kiss, said they’d be right back, and that she should wait inside the truck.

They passed through the door as she welcomed them to take a seat. It was their job to document the sighting and the locations so that they knew where to set up their equipment. Despite the condition of the interior of the dwelling and their apprehension, there was no way around it — they had to interview her. They all figured they might as well try and salvage the trip; possibly make the best of it.

The lime green couch was missing a foot and was balanced by a folded old issue of what looked to be the National Enquirer. Nick could imagine the headlines now: Local Gaffney Resident Abducted by Aliens and Implanted with Sixth Sense. As Paul sat down, Nick saw that it still wobbled and dust clouds filled the air with a mixture of odors that included the smell of cat urine that made his nose burn. Nick chose to stand against the wall. A fan oscillated from the corner, not filtering the scent, but instead pushing the dust into their eyes. Nick knew that once they left, the stench would follow — kind of like spending an evening at a bar and coming out still smelling like it.

She offered each of them something to drink, but they all declined in unison, sounding a bit rude, but Nick didn’t care. There was no way he was going to put his mouth close to anything she offered. As it was, dishes were stacked around the dingy sink and he could’ve sworn he saw a few roaches scurrying around looking for leftovers. Where was an exterminator when you needed one? Nick thought.

Beatrice wasted no time in reciting her story and told them that it had happened on more than one occasion, stating it was a few times a week, always around midnight. She said that she walked out there one night but got scared and turned to run back to her house. As she was running, something said to her, “You are a killer, you must die.” Nick couldn’t imagine her running anywhere.

“Since then,” she said, “I haven’t returned.”

Nick looked at Paul and rolled his eyes. In all of their years of research, they have never come across anything that sounded so far-fetched, as Paul would say later, and he knew this would be easy to disprove. After all, with the internet in existence, it would be easy for anyone to read about the rumors and report the same happenings to get attention.

They thanked Beatrice, and said they had to get everything set up before it got dark and that they would report back to her in the morning. They got up from the couch and practically raced each other to the door. Once outside, Doug turned back around and had Beatrice point the way. They now had their general direction and once they all climbed back in the truck, Doug hit the accelerator before Nick could close the door.

Angelica asked how the interview went and they said that there wasn’t anything to worry about, claiming that Beatrice was just another nut looking for attention, hoping to see her name in the headlines. Paul commented that she probably made frivolous claims all the time, just to keep her life interesting, but that they would still check it out since they were already there.

It didn’t take them long to get all of their equipment out of the truck and set up. They now had several hours to wait until the witching hour, so they decided to eat a few sandwiches and have some cold sodas. Even this late at night, the humidity was relentless. Angelica sat in a fold-out chair and covered herself with a small blanket, not because she was cold, but to protect herself from the mosquitoes.  She said she didn’t want anything to eat when Nick offered her a sandwich, but opened a Diet Pepsi and took a few sips. Mike ran some tests by taking a few photos and letting the audio run. So far, nothing had happened.

“Aren’t you hot under that blanket,” Nick asked Angelica.

“It gives me a sense of security and keeps the mosquitoes away. Don’t ask.”

Nick arched his eyebrow and gave her a half-cocked smile.

Shortly after midnight, Paul bolted upright.

“Shh…did you hear that?” he asked, holding up his hand to quiet everyone.

“Hear what?  I didn’t hear anything,” said Doug.

“I think the heat is getting to you. Maybe you ought to go spend the night with Beatrice,” chimed Mike.

“Very funny, asshole,” Paul huffed. He swore he heard swords clashing and men yelling.  He said he even heard a cannon go off. Paul stood up and shined his flashlight in the direction of the sounds, but saw nothing of interest. Just in case, Mike grabbed the night vision camera and began filming. The air grew suddenly quiet and both Paul and Mike stood in awe. Nick and Doug still denied that he had heard anything at all, scoffing at them while saying they let Beatrice’s story get them riled. Nick finished off his soda, crushed the can and tossed it over his head into the back of the truck. The clank of the metal made Paul and Mike almost jump out of their boots, making Doug howl with laughter. Even Angelica cracked a smile, but she was still tense, partly believing that what Paul and Mike saw might be real, that perhaps Beatrice might have been telling the truth.

Pissed off and wanting to prove what he heard, Paul stepped out into the field a little further. Mike stayed back with Nick and Doug but kept the camera rolling. As Paul neared an opening, he said he could hear the sounds again, adding they were faint at first, but grew louder when the wind picked up speed. Paul strained his eyes and could swear that a few dozen red eyes were staring back at him. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end and he turned to walk back to the truck. He refused to run because Beatrice had said that if you run, the spirits would chase you — or so the story went. Even the research indicated that any one of them could be injured. Paul didn’t want to find out, because so far, everything Beatrice said had been true and their research could no longer be denied.

As Paul came up to his chair to sit down, he glanced at Doug, whose mouth was agape, and he looked somewhat pale. Nick asked if he was okay, but Doug didn’t answer. Mike grabbed the camcorder from Doug, plugged it in and played it while listening to the audio at the same time. On the video, not only were the red eyes Paul had seen staring at them, but they saw more than a dozen or so soldiers standing in the field in front of him. Behind those, there were hundreds more lined up as if poised for battle. As Paul had turned back toward the truck, the soldiers began following him and on the audio feedback they heard in a low growl, but as clear as a bell, “I lost, but I’ll get you for it.”  Angelica was frightened and held onto Nick’s arm, her grip getting tighter. He caressed her hand to ease her.

“Ok, so it wasn’t exactly what Beatrice had told us, but that’s good enough for me. Let’s get out of here,” Mike shouted.

They didn’t hesitate and began throwing everything back into the truck. Angelica beat them inside, slamming the door and covering herself with the blanket. Doug was right behind her and was already revving the engine. Paul and Nick climbed in the truck and as soon as the door was shut and locked, Doug sped off, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake. They didn’t even stop to give their report to Beatrice.

Afterwards, Nick, Angelica and Paul went to Dunleavey’s for a couple of beers. Doug and Mike had had enough for one night and went home to their wives. Nick and Angelica listened to Paul tell his stories from past investigations and when Angelica looked like she didn’t believe him, he showed her the videos stored on his laptop from other sites and let her see for herself. As it was, tonight’s events were hard for her to believe and she had seen it with her own eyes. She thought her mind was playing tricks on her, letting Beatrice’s story fuel her imagination.  Now Paul was doing the same thing.

Whenever he talked, Paul spoke directly to Angelica, as if Nick wasn’t even there. Even Angelica became a bit uncomfortable and averted her eyes. He changed the subject, telling her that his girlfriend, Jennifer, was nothing like her, adding that he wished she were.

Nick swallowed the last of his beer, stood up, and said to Angelica that they should probably leave. He had to prepare more training manuals for new fire recruits and had to get home and since Angelica had ridden with him to Dunleavey’s, he offered to take her home. Angelica didn’t hesitate and despite her discomfort, she shook Paul’s hand and said it was nice to meet him.

Paul cleared his throat and blurted, “If you’d like to come on some more of our investigations, you’re more than welcome.”

Angelica thanked him and turned to leave.

“Nick can come too,” Paul said as an afterthought.

She waved over her shoulder and Nick said that they would see him later. He escorted her out to his truck and after several minutes, he finally pulled into her driveway.

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