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Wandering in the Wee Hours

February 2003

I have always considered myself to be a tough guy that fears little and is not easily spooked. I never really believed in ghosts until the night my pledge brothers and I were left behind in a huge, antiquated cemetery as part of a ritual performed by our brotherhood.

Our mission was to memorize the tombstone of one of the founding brothers of our fraternity and return to the house.

Our conversation started lightly and kiddingly turned to ghosts. One of our members asked the rest of us to stop because he felt uneasy discussing it as we stood in the middle of "death central" as he put it. The air was cold and eerie and I began to agree. I wasn't really scared but the atmosphere demanded reverence.

The leaves had begun to change color and fall as they do in this corner of the world at this time. The trees all seemed to bend in and form an artificial covering over us, the only sound was the small stream that trickled in the distance. I said that it reminded me of a ghost story my uncle Jack had told me many times while growing up.

I began telling the story the best I could but was quickly stopped and asked to tell it at a more appropriate time. I laughed and said "What, are you guys scared?" Naturally none of them were, they just didn't want to hear it. After we accomplished our mission we set out to leave the cemetery. We began making our way down the winding path until it forked a few hundred yards from where we had started. What to do? We were split 50-50, both certain our way was the correct one. I suggested that we split up if we were both so certain and see who made it out first. The others thought staying together would be better. We flipped a coin to decide which path we'd take only to have the coin disappear into a patch of mud. We decided to go left on a whim and after about an hour or so of arguing we could hear cars whizzing by on the city streets and the laughter of children. We had made it

. Upon returning to the house, we found the brothers laughing and enjoying themselves without a care in the world. They were extremely eager to hear us repeat the information. We did so and were dismissed for the night. My best friend and I discussed our beliefs about ghosts and the supernatural on the long walk back to the dorms. He told me he believed in ghosts and that nothing I said would shake his confidence. After five minutes or so I gave up.

About a month later we found ourselves back in the graveyard, this time to obtain a grave rubbing of the tombstone. My friend held the crayon in his hand and began the tracing. I kidded him that our founding father didn't appreciate the fact that he was standing on his grave. I grabbed his ankle which caused him to scream and he hit my other friend who held the flashlight, causing him to drop it. As it hit the ground, the light went out. We stood in the pitch black making eerie sounds as my friend frantically searched for the flashlight. I could tell he was scared. We eventually found the light and struggled with it as it just kind of flickered on and off.

"What was that?" I asked cautiously. "You're not gonna scare me" my friend said in a shaky voice. As someone with the reputation of a prankster, I am not always taken seriously. The only problem, I wasn't kidding. I heard a faint metallic clinking off in the distance and was ridiculously scared.

"Ssssh. Listen" I said.
"Knock it off" my best friend said.
"No. I hear it too" uttered my other friend.

The sound grew louder and louder and for the first time in my life I was actually scared. I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise as a shudder run down my spine. In the distance, I saw a pair of glowing green eyes bouncing as they headed straight for us. Paralyzed by fear, I watched as they got closer and closer, unable to warn the others. My friend turned and said "Hey, I hear it." He spun with the light in his hand and saw the expression on my face. "Dude, what's the matter?" Another turned and said what the hell is that?" By now we were all fixated on the eyes as they approached. They disappeared for a a few seconds and then they were suddenly very close.

My friend with the light tried to focus it on the eyes as I stood motionless. As it got closer we finally realized it was a man walking a ridiculously large rottweiler. I felt my limbs regain strength and the mood was lightened. The man asked us if we were enjoying our late night arts and crafts and we all muttered an answer. We turned our attentions back to the grave and the flashlight which was now properly functioning. As I looked back the man was gone and the clanking of the dogs chain had subsided. I looked down at my watch and it was stuck at 2:24. When I asked what time it was they told me it was quarter after three. I assumed the battery had conked out and thought nothing of it.

We finally made our way home and the next morning all had a good laugh about our scare in the cemetery. I checked my voicemail and had a message that had been marked "urgent." I played the message, still in a light mood, and heard "This is your mother. Call me as soon as you get this." The second message was from my father. "Your Uncle Jack is dead. Call us as soon as you get this." My uncle, who had been an art teacher in an elementary school, had been mauled to death by a large dog that had "vanished seemingly into the night air" as the police told us. His time of death was officially 2:25 am.

00:00 / 01:04
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