Once parked and out of our vehicle, we began exploring. Almost immediately, our attention was drawn towards a back row, which edged right up to the road we drove in on; and my Aunt excitedly skipped over the other grave markers, to make her way to the back graves. As I gingerly stepped along the dirt pathways making my way towards her, I didn’t mention that walking on other graves wasn’t proper protocol. I guess I didn’t want to douse her exuberance at having found a gravestone with her exact name on it. The leftover pile of dirt mounded freshly next to it was an incredibly cool touch, too.
I was for once, amazed that one of her stories was true. She stood there, grinning as if she had just won another beauty contest. (She had won one once, Miss 10 1/2, at a Fajita cook-off. Texans love their fajitas…and their beauty queens.) But this was kinda creepy, even I had to admit, and I love all things creepy. Looking around me, away from the site of the new grave, I noticed that everyone had walked away without saying a word.
I wondered if our visit to this cemetery, and the timing of this recent death, of a woman with my Aunt’s full married name, meant anything. (I’m always looking for portents, or clues to the workings of possible other-realms.) I looked around the new gravestone, the pile of left-over dirt. I looked at the date. I looked directly across to the one cow in the empty field, staring back at me under the beautifully full moon. It had no answer for me.
The night was warm, soft and quiet, and no inkling of anything portentous came to me. I turned to join the others. They had regrouped about sixty steps away, murmering in hushed, church-like tones. I have excellent hearing, and even in their quietest voices I could make out that they were discussing the entire family who lay at their feet now, apparently all having died the same day.
Something happened then, and the warm night grew cold. My mild curiousity had now changed to a heightened sense of…was it alarm? I’m trying to recollect it now, as best as I can, and all I remember is that an essence of fear entered the picture. Like almost being tapped on the shoulder…yoo hoo, you there, were you looking for something? Or someone?
There had been no tapping of course, just some strange feeling like I was being watched. I turned around again, to face the back row of graves, the empty road, the clear view of the night sky, and the empty field with the one cow, standing stock-still. The moon was still rising, it’s light clearly illuminating the entire surroundings. There was no traffic up along the country road we had turned off on, and no one else was around. We were alone.
And then I heard it. Faint at first, but there. The sound of footsteps. Unbelievable. There was no ghostly visage, no shadows I saw that accompanied this sound I detected, but I will be the first to admit, my eyesight was not the greatest. I waited, to make sure I really was hearing what I was hearing. The footsteps grew louder. I turned to my group, still huddled together, just now turning to walk away further from me. I called out softly. They stopped, but only at the next set of markers they were inspecting. The footsteps were getting closer, and my group had gotten farther, so I decided to join them. I didn’t want to call out yet again, lest I break the spell, or scare off whatever was making those footsteps.
I quietly joined the group. I tried whispering to them what I was experiencing. They seemed to be intent on ignoring me. Maybe they thought I was joking? I don’t know, but it was odd. Upon later reflection, I think they were trying not just to ignore me, but what their new perceptions were telling them. They were scared! And they couldn’t have even heard anything properly yet, because I had just slipped quietly next to them and whispered that I had heard something. I did not want to influence them, just wanted to know if they sensed anything.
Suddenly, instantaneously it seemed, they were not ignoring me anymore, or rather, their attention was not on me at all, but on the sound of the footsteps coming towards us–footsteps coming out of the darkness. In unison, they had all spun around and I too faced the direction in which the footsteps seemed to be coming from. We were all looking towards the new grave. Yes, the one with my Aunt’s name freshly etched into stone. I remember how we stood, all in a row, shoulder-to-shoulder, facing the unseen. Nothing had been said. Nothing now needed to be.
I mustered up all of my courage and told myself this was a great moment, for I was now face to face with some unknown entity, clearly trying to make it’s presence known. I was ready to stand my ground, and see what would happen next.
But what happened next was complete chaos. The footsteps, which had been so clear and distinct in the quiet night-time air, and which clearly had gotten the attention of the entire group, had now turned into a powerfully pounding run!
My Aunt screamed horrifically, and terror now ruled the night. She and my Uncle ran for the car. This was amazing I thought, finally someone had gotten to witness a supernatural occurrence with me for a change! I wondered what would happen when the racing, now pounding footsteps reached us, which seemed mere seconds away.
My boyfriend was having none of it. My arm was practically being ripped out of it’s socket, and he was running now, pulling me with him. I had to give in, and give in I did, as I noticed the car’s engine, not far away, revving to life. “They’ll leave us!” I remember him saying, and I believed it. We threw ourselves into the car; my Uncle threw it into gear, and we were outta there!
Nothing was said for a long time on the car ride back, along the empty country roads of Mission, Texas. And truth be told, I don’t remember any discussion. It was mostly quiet, and when we got to my Aunt and Uncle’s house, we got into our car, and drove home. Fairly anti-climactic. Later, my boyfriend told me he actually saw imprints being made in the dirt as the footsteps made their way towards us, and that’s when he grabbed my arm, and decided to get us the heck outta there. We could not have been there more than ten minutes. And, as much as I’ve thought about re-visiting this particular graveyard, I never have returned.
Afternote: On doing extensive research for this true story (a click or two on google) I’ve come across one mention of a cemetery in Mission, Texas called simply, City Cemetery. This may have been the place we visited. There was one mention on a Haunted Places web-site that said this particular cemetery is “known for having troll-like creatures which scare & chase visitors away.” I never saw a troll. Maybe I should go back one day.