Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Visitor

The wind and rain howled through the gravestones as I did my final check for the evening. There'd been a spate of grave-vandalisms and, as the cemetery caretaker, I was responsible for making sure no kids were sneaking in to cause mischief.
I felt a chill go through my spine. Not unusual considering my line of work.
Satisfied that all the gates were locked and that no kids had snuck in, I began to walk back to my house, which stood in the centre of the cemetery.
As I walked between two rows I slipped on the wet grass and banged into a gravestone. I felt the stone give way (many of the older stones were in a state of disrepair, so that one tiny push was enough to topple them). I shone my torch on it and made sure it wasn't broken.
"I'll come back and put you right in the morning." I said under my breath.
I got back onto the path and ran to my house to get out of the rain. I got inside and took my wet things off and changed into dry clothes.
It was warm in the house. My heater had been running practically all day, for which I was thankful. I made a pot of coffee and sat down on my bed (the whole house was split into two rooms, a combined kitchen/lounge/bedroom and a bathroom) and began to read.
Shortly after there came a heavy knock on the door. I glanced at the clock: 11:55pm.
I went to the door and opened it. I was faced by a tall man in a long black jacket. He had a widebrimmed hat on his head that created a shadow which obscured half his face.
From the moment I laid eyes on the man, something about him made me uneasy.
"My car broke down and I was wondering if I could use your phone"
The man's voice had a hollow, vacant sound to it. It was as if he wasn't talking to me at all.
"I-I'm sorry man, I haven't got a phone, but you're welcome to come in until the rain lets up."
What was I doing? Inviting this man in went against every instinct I had. Something deep inside my mind was telling me not to trust him.
"Thank you very much friend."
He came in and I offered to take his hat and coat. He completely ignored my offer and went and sat in the armchair opposite my bed.
"Would you like a cup of coffee mister... mister... I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name"
"Richard, Richard Harry, and coffee would be lovely thank you."
I poured two cups of coffee and brought them over to the lounge area. I handed one to him. He took it. My finger touched his momentarily and I felt a peculiar coldness run through my hand and into my spine. I figured he must have been walking in the cold for a while before he came upon my house.
We both sat in silence for what seemed like forever. His hat obscured so much of his face that I couldn't see his eyes, but I was more than certain he was staring at me. I could feel his eyes on me, as though they were penetrating my mind.
I decided to break the silence.
"So, how did you come to be driving around here at this time of night in the rain?"
"I was on my way home from work."
"What do you  do?"
"I help out on a local farm."
He didn't sound too enthusiastic about my line of inquiry so I didn't pursue it any further.
We sat in silence for another eternity. I started to become drowsy and I asked him if he minded me going to sleep.
"No, you go to sleep, I think the rain's going to stop soon anyway."
With that I got into my bed and fell instantly to sleep. I have no idea how I managed this, considering there was a strange man in a hat and coat sitting less than a metre away from me.
I dreamt about the cemetery that night. I usually did. It was almost all I ever saw. This time was different though, I felt a sense of dread that the cemetery had never once produced in me before, neither in dream nor reality.
The next morning, all traces of the rain had disappeared, as well as all traces of my mysterious visitor.
I figured that he must have left while I was asleep, having washed his coffee cup and put it back on top of the fridge, where I kept them.
As I ate my breakfast I remembered the gravestone I'd knocked over.
I finished eating, put on my clothes, and went to find it.
It wasn't too hard to find, there were still marks in the muddy ground where I'd slipped and the stone was lying on it's front, miraculously unbroken. It was quite a small stone, so lifting it up and putting it back where it had been was no problem at all. I decided to make a mental note of which grave it was so I could call in someone to cement it back onto the base.
The name was quite faded so I had to squint to read it:

Here Lies
Died September 4th 1928
Requiescat in Pace

A chill ran down my spine and suddenly I realised why my visitor had made me so uneasy. All the cemetery gates were locked, and my house wasn't visible from the main road, so for him to end up finding my house he would have had to have been in the cemetery to begin with.
And it seems he was...

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