A fat splat of rain exploded on the end of Sadie’s nose and caused her to blink. It was followed by another, and then a few more, and suddenly the sky released its deluge and the rain bounced off the floor. Sadie squealed and pulled her denim jacket over her head to try to stop her new hair-do from being ruined. It had cost a lot of money and her Mum would not be pleased if she came back home looking like a drowned rat.
There was a flash and a second later a long, lingering roll of thunder that seemed to have no end. Panicked eyes looked all around as Sadie tried to work out the quickest way home from the hairdresser on Badger’s Crossing’s main street and then her heart sank. The Old Graveyard. Perverts and Devil Worshippers lurked in the derelict cemetery. At least that’s what the older kids at school said. It was enough to keep most people out of the overgrown, weed choked pathways between the rotting gravestones and crumbling mausoleums. She could go around, but that would be longer and she was bound to get her hair ruined.
She pushed open the rusted iron gate that screeched loudly on its hinges. It dragged on the flagstones beneath it cutting a bright white arc in the mossy surface. Sadie slipped inside, her heart beating. If her Mum knew she had been in here… Trees grew unchecked in the graveyard and the water sounded like frying bacon as it beat the leaves from the branches. There was another flash of lightning and another roll of thunder and Sadie’s heart leapt into her mouth. This was not a good idea.
Sadie pushed on through the long grass, feeling the damp through her leggings and trainers. She wanted to get home as quickly as possible; the rain was already starting to soak through her jacket. The path led her past a row of decrepit limestone mausoleums belonging to wealthy but long forgotten families. She shivered as she ran past, knowing that the dead were lying feet away from her behind the thick oak doors.
She stopped suddenly. What was that noise? She strained her ears against the noise of the rain. It was someone crying.
“Hello?” she called out. The crying stopped, replaced with a sorrowful plea.
“Help me. I’m scared.” It was a girl’s voice. Familiar but Sadie couldn’t place it. Was it one of her friends?
“Who is it?”
“I can’t get out. Please help me.” The voice wailed.
Sadie was in a dilemma. Should she run home and get help? If she did that then she might get into trouble for cutting through the cemetery. If she didn’t try and help whoever it was, they might die, and then she would get blamed for that. Sadie didn’t like getting into trouble. She was a good girl.
“Where are you?” she shouted out.
“I’m in here.” The voice replied hopefully, “In the one with the steps.”
Sadie looked at the row of tombs and saw one with a carved stone fender around it. Behind that was a narrow set of steps that led to a pair of studded oak doors. One of the doors was slightly ajar.
“Okay,” Sadie called out, “I’m coming!”
Still protecting her hair with her jacket Sadie climbed over the fender and crept down the steps. Litter and dead leaves made a deep carpet at the foot of the steps and Sadie cringed at the thought of spiders or rats hiding within.
“Hello?” Sadie called out. She pressed her face close to the crack between the doors.
“I’m in here,” the voice replied. She still couldn’t quite recognise whose it was but it was so very familiar. The air from inside the mausoleum smelt musty and was thick with dust.
“How did you get in there?” Sadie asked, then in a panicked voice, “Are you a ghost?”
“No,” the voice replied, “I thought I heard a kitten crying in here so I tried to rescue it and the door closed behind me. It’s too heavy for me too open on my own. Can you help? My mum’s going to be cross at me!”
Sadie thought for a minute. She would have done exactly the same if she thought there was a poor little kitten trapped inside. And she knew how cross her mum would be in the same situation. Being a good girl, she knew what to do.
“Okay,” Sadie called to the voice, “I’ll push and you pull.”
Putting her shoulder to the door she pushed hard, her feet slipping slightly on the dead leaves. Two sets of small fingers appeared around the edge of the door and she heard the girl inside grunting as she pulled. At first, the door wouldn’t budge but then it groaned open enough for a person to get through. Sadie looked at the open doorway, inside she could barely make out great stone shelves with ornate wrought iron gates attached to the fronts. Behind them, she knew, would be the coffins of whatever family were buried inside. She edged up to the open door and called inside.
“You can get out now.”
“Thank you, so much.” The girl inside the tomb moved closer to the door, “Is it still raining? Only I’ve just had my hair done and my Mum’ll be mad at me if I get it ruined.”
Sadie looked behind her and saw that the storm had only been a heavy shower and the clouds were rolling away towards Blerrow Peak. She looked back at the tomb and froze in terror.
Stood in the doorway to the tomb was the girl. Sadie realised why she recognised the voice – it was her voice. The girl was Sadie’s doppelganger! Before she could scream out the other Sadie had grabbed her and dragged her into the old tomb. Sadie tumbled to the floor, grazing her hands on the rough stone. As she got to her feet she saw the heavy door slowly closing. She let out a horrified shriek and ran to stop it but it was too late. The door slid, immovably, into place.
The front door clicked shut behind her. In the kitchen, up to her elbows in washing up, was her mum.
“Do you need a hand?” she called out as she made her way down the hallway.
“Thanks Sadie, you’re a good girl.” Her mum said, “Oh, I like your hair-do!”
© Robert Johns 2018
Here’s what Robert has to say about this story:
“When I was younger I used to visit a friend who lived near an old, no longer used cemetery which was home to some great mausoleums. We used to hang around and marvel at the architecture and, one hot Summer’s afternoon, we were in the graveyard and the heavens opened and we took shelter from an almighty storm in the doorway of one of the mausoleums. I started to wonder who lurked within those great edifices in which we now took refuge. The graveyard soon took on an ominous presence, even though it was the middle of the day and I thought to myself, it doesn’t have to be nighttime to be frightening.
As I was looking for inspiration for a story a couple of years back, I remembered an episode of Dramarama called: Doppelganger, and I used some concepts from that in my seasonal short story: Finders Keepers, but I stopped short at having the antagonist as an actual doppelganger. I didn’t get the chance to do it again until: Goody Two Shoes.
It was quite difficult to seal the fate of Sadie, she was, after all, only trying to help. But, that’s horror for you!”
And here are some photos Robert took at the graveyard in Utley, West Yorkshire, which inspired this story: