The Cemetery Crawler – Short Halloween Story

by Carolyn Morgan

My husband always said that crafts would be the death of me. Would fate prove him right?

The Cemetery Crawler - Short Halloween StoryOne autumn evening at twilight, I was kneeling in a secluded 153-year-old cemetery in St. John’s, Nfld. I wasn’t praying: I was down on my knees picking up beechnuts and stuffing them into a plastic supermarket bag.

Normally, I enjoy being in this cemetery. Many of my ancestors are buried in it, and, with all the beautiful headstones, it is a welcoming spot – not like the sterile stretches of green that are often the rule today. It probably would have been wiser to wait and gather my nuts in the innocent morning light, but I’d figured that it was safe. And once a craft idea entered my head, I found it hard to erase or postpone. (I planned to create candleholders by forming a cluster of star-petalled beechnuts as a circular launchpad for each beeswax taper.)

Then I heard it. The unmistakable shuffling-through-wet-leaves sound told my already overcharged nervous system that I was not alone. Without turning my head, I used my peripheral vision to detect the position of the intruder. A very large man was coming toward me. I turned my head for a fraction of a second and noticed that his hands were jammed suspiciously into bulging pockets.

My mind began replaying every murder movie that I’d ever stupidly watched. I could see my lifeless body in a pool of beechnuts, and my husband standing over me, saying mournfully, “I always knew crafts would be the death of her.”

The cawing of a crow brought me back to the present. I considered screaming, but I was so far from the road that no one would have heard me. I tried to remind myself of the lovely possibility that the man was harmless (I have, after all, been accused of having an overactive imagination by people who know me well).

But luck seemed to have deserted me. The Cemetery Crawler (I’d already given him a tabloid moniker) relentlessly shuffled closer and closer. Trying not to give any indication of my alarm, I pretended to pick up nuts while I pried a fist-size rock from the half-frozen ground. I was prepared for fight or flight but was still afraid – he was almost upon me.

He opened his mouth and…The Crawler spoke. “You’re inta crafts, are ya?” he asked, the remains of an Irish lilt softening his voice. “Me missus is, too. She’s got me out here collecting pinecones.” He produced one from his pocket for proof.

“Great day!” he said as he shuffled off.

“Great day!” I squeaked back.

My weapon tumbled from my fist and I began a smile as long as my lighthearted walk home.

Carolyn Morgan is a high school English teacher in St. John’s, Nfld., where she lives with her family, enjoys her crafts and watches too many scary movies.