We went into Moonstone Cemetery Together...Only I came out.
Originally published at NoSleep on May 21, 2023.
I only write this down so that somebody would know what happened. Only a few of you are going to recognize the names and the places. For you, I am so sorry that you have to learn about it this way. I have nothing else I can add to it and this will provide very little solace.
It started on that night when the worst storm hit our small town. We all sat in the cozy booth of our local burger joint; the enticing aroma of sizzling patties and the lively chatter of customers filled the air. The walls were adorned with vintage posters, and the flickering neon sign above the counter cast a warm glow on the checkered floors. I adjusted my letter jacket, proud to represent my college football team, and glanced at the others at the table—Christina and Peter. Christina, with her captivating brown eyes and flowing brown hair, sat across from me, her smile illuminating the dimly lit space. Peter, a hefty but jovial guy with blond hair and a mischievous glint in his brown eyes, squeezed into the seat next to me.
“So, Jamal, tell us again about this Moonstone Spirit,” Peter prodded, his mouth watering as he glanced at the menu. Peter did not grow up in this town though his mother was related to an old family that had been here for generations.
I chuckled, taking a sip of my soda before launching into the tale. “Well, legend has it that a spirit haunts the Moonstone Cemetery. They say she's been lingering there for centuries, watching over the graves and punishing those who defile them.”
Christina leaned forward, her eyes sparkling with curiosity. “Ooooo. Spooky.” she had grown up here though her family was on the other side of our town and had gone out very little in her early life, preferring the libraries and studies.
I shrugged, a smirk playing on my lips. “People claim they've seen strange lights and heard eerie whispers in the dead of night. Some even say she has the power to make objects move on their own. It's all part of the mystery, I guess.”
Peter's eyebrows shot up in disbelief. “Come on, man! You don't believe in that stuff, do you?”
I shrugged again, my eyes glancing towards the direction of the cemetery in the distance, knowing it would be shrouded in an eerie ambiance right now. “I don't know. There's something about the place that gives me chills. I’ve been there a few times. It's an ancient burial ground, covered in Spanish moss and mausoleums. It feels like stepping into another world every time.”
Christina leaned closer; her voice tinged with excitement. “Maybe we should go check it out ourselves, just for fun. See if the spirit is as haunting as they say.”
My heart skipped a beat at her suggestion, my crush on her intensifying.“That...that sounds doable. What do you say, Peter?”
“Count me in! Let's go on a ghost hunt, guys!”
As we indulged in our burgers and fries, our minds filled with thoughts of unearthly encounters. As the sun descended, painting the sky with fiery hues, the Moonstone Cemetery materialized before us as our car arrived. Christina rode with me while Peter brought his own vehicle. The place was shrouded in shadow. Spanish moss clung to the ancient oak trees, their branches reaching out like skeletal fingers, while the wind whispered through the moss, creating an eerie symphony. The gravestones, weathered by time's relentless passage, stood in solemn formation, bearing the weight of countless stories etched into their weathered surfaces. The air grew heavy with anticipation as the tempest approached, dark clouds swirling above, thunder rumbling in the distance. And there I stood, my heart pounding in rhythm with the impending storm, alongside Christina and Peter. Together, we dared to enter, ready to confront the ethereal presence that had long haunted the moonlit nights of our town. Well, I was more there to impress the girl to be perfectly candid.
With cautious steps, we ventured in, our footsteps crunching leaves of that hallowed ground. The flickering beams of our flashlights danced across the gravestones, casting eerie shadows that seemed to come alive in the night.
“Watch out, Jamal!” Christina whispered, a playful glint in her eyes. “Don't wake the ghosts!”
I chuckled again, my heart racing in the presence of both the supernatural and Christina's infectious energy. “Don't worry, I'll be careful. Can't have the ghosts chasing us yet.”
Peter, ever the joker, chimed in, his voice a low whisper. “Yeah, Jamal, you wouldn't want to become their new favorite quarterback!”
We laughed, the tension easing as we immersed ourselves in the eerie ambiance. But there was a subtle shift in the air, a whisper of unease that lingered in the back of my mind. The wind howled through the trees, its mournful melody sending shivers down my spine.
As we explored further, I noticed a few gravestones that appeared damaged and vandalized, their inscriptions barely legible. It was as if a malevolent human force had touched this sacred place, defiling its sanctity.
“Hey, guys, check this out,” I called out, pointing at the damaged graves. “Someone's been causing trouble here.”
Christina's eyes widened, a flicker of concern crossing her face. “That's terrible. Who would do such a thing?”
Peter shrugged, feigning nonchalance. “Probably just some kids messing around. But let's keep an eye out. We don't want to stumble upon something we shouldn't.”
“If this ghost does exist and wants to protect the graves here, I can understand why she’d be pissed at us.” I commented irritated that someone would damage the last resting place of someone’s dear friend or relative.
“You know she’s called Astrid,” Christina broke into my thoughts as the first tremble of distant thunder sounded through the air. I looked back at her with a tilt of my head.
“The moonstone spirit. You all keep calling her that. She’s got a name. Astrid.”
“How do you know?”
“I may have led you on how little I knew about this place,” Christina giggled as I took her hand when her feet entangled with some loose branches that had fallen to the ground.
“Astrid, Moonstone spirit. Who cares,” Peter continued, his clumsy feet tripping over a long-smothered candle on a grave side.
“Jeez, man, watch where you’re going,” I said, quickly leaning down to try and fix the broken plastic that once held the pale thing in place.
As we continued forward, the thunder above became louder, and the trees moaned from the wind beginning to move them. Our flashlights cut through the inky darkness, guiding our path as we walked among the weathered tombstones. The air grew heavy with a sense of age and history, and I couldn't shake the feeling that unseen eyes were watching our every move. It had to be the pressure shift from the storm.
“Hey, guys, check out that mausoleum,” Peter exclaimed, his voice filled with excitement. “It looks ancient!”
I squinted through the gloom, and there, nestled in the oldest section of the cemetery, stood a towering mausoleum, adorned with intricate carvings. My gaze shifted to the flickering candles, casting dancing shadows on the aged stone. There were lit candles here? I glanced to Christina who seemed to have noticed the same thing.
“Who could've lit those candles?” Christina asked, her voice quivering slightly. Peter grinned mischievously. “Maybe the Moonstone Spirit likes to have some candlelight ambiance.”
Torn between Peter's adventurous spirit and Christina's growing unease, I slowed my walk. My flashlight aimed at the structure ahead. The flames seemed to beckon, their mesmerizing dance drawing me closer, despite the warning bells ringing in the back of my mind.
“I don't know, guys,” I interjected, my voice laced with uncertainty. “Maybe we should turn back.”
Peter scoffed, dismissing my concerns. “Come on, Jamal, don't be a scaredy-cat. We're here to experience something thrilling, remember?”
“I think I’ve had my fill of thrilling,” I responded through the newest peal of thunder that stole the sound of my words.
Christina's brows furrowed; her voice filled with genuine worry. “No, Jamal's right. This doesn't feel right.”
A pang of indecision rooted me to the spot I stood, Christina moving a bit closer to me. Peter’s flashlight danced along the mausoleum as he looked for the entrance in, his electrical flashlight mingling with the yellow of the candles. I had made my decision. This was no longer fun.
“Okay, guys,” I finally spoke up, my voice resolute. More to convince Peter than anything. “Let's respect the mausoleum and its occupants. We've had our adventure for tonight. It's time to go back.”
Peter's stubbornness clung to him like an unwavering shadow. As we approached the exit, his voice grew adamant, his gaze locked on the ancient mausoleum.
“Come on, guys, just a quick look. What if Astrid's body is still in there?” Peter insisted, his curiosity getting the best of him.
Christina took a step back, her eyes wide with fear. “We shouldn't disturb the resting place of the dead.”
“This isn’t a good idea, dude,” I offered. Christina pulled my arm. I glanced at her and she was gesturing towards my friend who seemed hell bent to get in.
“Fine, I'll go alone. You two can wait outside.”
So, we huddled together outside the old building, our breaths visible in the chilly night air. Anxiety hung heavy in the silence as we strained to catch any sign of Peter's return. Christina's fingers tapped nervously against her arm, mirroring the cadence of my own racing heart. The moon cast an ethereal glow on our anxious faces, highlighting the concern etched in our eyes. Time seemed to stretch, elongating the moments as we shared a wordless understanding, united in our shared worry. Every rustle of leaves and distant sound sent a jolt of anticipation through us, each passing second intensifying the weight of the unknown. We were suspended in a liminal space, caught between hope and fear, desperately awaiting Peter's appearance.
“Jamal,” Christina started but I already knew what she was going to say.
“I’ll go. You stay right here.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” she said with a forced chuckle.
I cautiously stepped into the mausoleum, a chill crawled up my spine, the air inside carrying a peculiar, almost otherworldly scent. The ancient structure loomed above me, its architecture intricate and foreboding. The walls seemed to whisper secrets of something long forgotten, while no light filtered through stained glass windows, Shadows danced in eerie patterns from my flashlight, swirling around the stone pillars that supported the weight of centuries. Symbols, etched into the walls, seemed to pulse with an invisible, inexplicable energy that I almost thought I could see. The atmosphere was heavy, as if time itself held its breath within this arcane space. It was a place that defied the laws of the mundane, hinting at a realm beyond the mortal realm—a realm where the boundaries between life and death blurred into an enigmatic dance.
“Peter!” I called out, my voice echoing through the chamber. Silence greeted me in return.
I pressed forward as there was no way I was going to go back empty handed. The flickering beam ahead beckoned, drawing me closer, until finally, I found myself standing at the threshold of the central crypt itself. With a deep breath, I stepped inside, ready to uncover the fate that had befallen my friend.
The flickering candlelight within revealed a scene of unimaginable horror, etching an indelible image into my mind. My heart sank, constricted by a vice-like grip of fear and revulsion.
Peter's lifeless body lay sprawled on the cold stone floor, his eyes wide open in a permanent expression of terror. His flesh was marred, disfigured, as if something unholy had ravaged him. A dark, foreboding presence loomed over him.
The ghostly figure had to be Astrid—or what remained of her. Her once ethereal beauty had given way to a grotesque visage of decay. Tattered remnants of a flowing white gown clung to her emaciated frame, as if they were mocking the specter of her former self. Her eyes, hollow and vacant, glowed with an otherworldly light, devoid of any trace of humanity.
As Astrid turned her gaze towards me, a wicked grin stretched across her gaunt features, revealing rows of jagged, yellowed teeth. Her spectral form seemed to flicker and distort, as if her existence teetered on the fringes of reality. In her hands, she held a crimson-stained knife, a macabre testament to the horrors she had unleashed.
A guttural, chilling laughter emanated from the phantom, echoing through the chamber with an unsettling resonance. It seemed to carry the weight of centuries of pain and malice. My legs trembled, threatening to give way beneath me as terror gripped me. Yet, even in the face of this nightmarish tableau, an unyielding determination swelled within me. With gritted teeth and a resolve forged in the crucible of fear, I steeled myself. I do not know what possessed me to do this but I did.
I approached the scene, my heart pounding in my chest, determined to free Peter from this thing. The haunting laughter of Astrid filled the air, an unsettling symphony that accompanied my every step.
As I drew closer, the room seemed to warp and contort, the walls pulsating with an ominous energy. The stench of decay permeated the air, suffocating me with its sickening sweetness.
Gripping the flashlight tighter, I raised it high, the beam of light piercing through the darkness, aimed directly at the spectral form.
“Release him!” I commanded, my voice quivering with a mix of fear and determination. “Let him go!”
Astrid's laughter turned into a haunting hiss, her eyes narrowing with a malevolent glare. Her hideous mouth moved as black slime dripped form it’s lips. It was speaking and it took me too long to understand what it had said.
The shriek destroyed whatever will I had to face this thing and I sprinted back the way I came. Behind me, the malevolent presence of Astrid surged forth with an unholy speed, her ethereal form flickering and contorting in the darkness, her shrieks following me.
As I burst out of the mausoleum of Astrid, I screamed at Christina to start running. She didn't even hesitate through her eyes grew wide as she began to run. She must have seen what was behind me.
Moonlight filtered through the gnarled branches overhead, casting elongated shadows that danced before us, threatening to swallow us whole as we sprinted back the way we came. The atmosphere itself seemed to conspire against our escape, as the rain began to pour down on us turning the ground around our feet into mud. We darted through the labyrinthine paths of the cemetery, the sound echoing in our ears like a relentless drumbeat of fear. Headstones and crypts blurred into a nightmarish landscape, each step taken in blind desperation.
Branches snagged at our clothing, as if the very trees sought to ensure our capture, to keep us trapped for Astrid to have her way. We stumbled and tripped, the uneven ground threatening to claim us as our pursuer drew closer, her presence at our heels. Fear clawed at my throat, my breath coming in ragged gasps as I spied the glint of wrought iron from a flash of lightning.
“That way!” I screamed.
I turned to look over my shoulder to see where Christina was. She had frozen in her tracks, a look of horror and despair on her face as the spectral figure materialized from the darkness right beside her. The Moonstone Spirit, lunged at my crush with supernatural speed, her skeletal fingers snaking through the air like the tendrils of a predator. With a malevolent cackle, she seized Christina by the hair as the poor girl screamed. That scream was cut off when she was yanked backwards with a force that snapped her head back with a cracking sound.
The young girl’s motionless body was dragged mercilessly towards the dense forest, her fingers dragging useless in the dirt. I lunged forward, but I could not reach her in time. She and the spirit vanished in to the black shadows of the trees.
I don’t know how but I dragged myself back to the entrance of the cemetery and my car itself. A few times I thought I heard my friend’s pitiful wail waft between the peals of thunder but I knew that it could not be the case.
It was that night the storm hit, destroying the power grid and flooding a quarter of the city. I, myself had barely made it away from that place to one of the shelters. It was a week before Peter’s car was found destroyed at the old cemetery.
Though their bodies were never found, the police chalked up their disappearances to drowning in the flood. They were just two names of twelve that had died that night. I knew the truth though and it haunts me to this day.
Sometimes when I look out my window or driving at night, I think I see that spirit standing there with another spirit hiding behind her. My therapist says it’s the guilt of losing friends in a traumatic flood but I think that’s Christina accusing me of not saving her and Astrid daring me to try again.
— © Jonathan J. Snyder, All rights Reserved Like what you read and want to buy me a cup of coffee?