In keeping with Halloween, which is just around the corner, here is a nice little horror story. You have to decide what happened in the end…
Near the sleepy little village of Silba, in the state of Transylvania, stood a pathetic cemetery. It was clear, by the look of it, that it had not been maintained for a very long time. Most of the larger gravestones leaned in a crazy juxtaposition of precarious angles; the names on them almost completely eradicated by the constant erosion of wind and rain. Wooden grave markers had long-since disintegrated, and evaporated into dust. The landscape was overgrown with weeds and long grass that had not seen the blade of a scythe nor sickle for many generations. It was overshadowed by a dark perpetual gloom—where even the sun feared to shine. It was said by the villagers that the cemetery was haunted—both by day and by night.
At one time, the cemetery bordered on the very edge of Silba. It was a village of just a few dozen back then. Even now, Silba boasted a population of only 557 souls. In a strange quirk of history, the village appeared to distance itself from the cemetery. Rather than spread around it, as often happens, new construction developed to the north and west, while old houses near the cemetery were abandoned. The old cemetery now lay about 200 metres from the nearest house in Silba. The little church across the now-disused road from the cemetery had not seen a parishioner in a very long time. The roof had caved in; the doors and windows were great gaping black holes. It was obviously in a danger of total collapse, yet no one made a move to help it along—taking it out of its misery.
It was rare for anyone to even travel past the cemetery; and if they did, they travelled quickly and quietly. They did not want to risk waking the dead—or the undead! The braver youth of the village would creep up to the cemetery, usually in broad daylight, to show-off their courage; but never, never did anyone set foot on the other side of the still-sturdy metal railing that surrounded the cemetery—like fortified prison bars—to keep the ghosts of those buried there in their place. Everyone knew that an incursion into the cemetery meant certain death! It was widely said that over the last 100 years, anyone venturing into the cemetery was never heard of again!
Hushed voices spoke of three known vampires who had been buried there; and there was the brutal serial killer, too! As was the custom with vampires, they were beheaded, a stake driven through their heart, and their bodies burned, before being buried. Just for good measure, the serial killer suffered the same fate. Although these creatures were laid to rest almost 200 year ago, there seemed to be no rest after that, in the cemetery. Fear, and a sense of deep unease, caused villagers to abandon the cemetery and start moving away.
A group of three couples from Bucharest were walking along the road past the cemetery. They were young, bright, university students, who did not share in the superstitions of the older generations. In fact, they decided to show them how absurd their fears were. To do this, they planned a walking tour of gloomy, haunted cemeteries throughout Transylvania. At each cemetery, they cleared out a space to camp out for the night. The older folks eyed them suspiciously, yet feared for their lives—and their souls! Those who were younger laughed, while egging them on.
The three couples already successfully overnighted in dozens of old cemeteries. They were very “scientific” about it all, of course. They set out cameras with night vision, microphones, and motion sensors all around their bivouac; took many photos; and meticulously recorded their feelings and impressions. So far, the only things they captured on film were the odd small, and sometimes larger, animals that roamed around in the night.
This night, it was to be the old cemetery at Silba. The local villagers were not pleased! They feared these young students would disturb the restless spirits, and unleash a plague of death upon the village. Some tried earnestly, and almost forcefully, to dissuade them from camping in the old Silba cemetery. In the end, the students won out. They had to admit this place was different from the others. Here, their bright bravado seemed to be sucked out of them. Try as they might, they felt only one thing—dread!
It was a quiet group that setup camp that afternoon. In spite of the warm sun shining everywhere else, it was cold and clammy in the old cemetery. Every little sound made them jump—hearts pounding. After completing all their preparations, they made a meal next to their large tent. It was dreadfully quiet; even the sound of their voices and actions was sucked into oblivion! Fear crept into their bones. Yet again, there was mention of perhaps skipping this cemetery; they could always take refuge in the town. But how do you prove a hypothesis, unless you examine all the scenarios? No! They would stay the night, recording everything they saw, heard, and felt. They would get through this and laugh about it in the morning.
It was mid-morning, and no one in the village had seen the foolish students. It was thought they probably slept-in and were having a late breakfast. It was a common stereotype for city youth, after all. By noon, there arose a concern in the village—and a deep dread. A couple of dozen men, armed with pitch forks and rifles, made their way quickly to the cemetery. What they found made their blood run cold! From the gate, they could see the large tent, with a light glowing inside. There was no movement; no sound. The men with rifles entered the cemetery, but not before doing the sign of the cross many times, and holding onto the crucifixes hanging around their necks; every muscle strained. The tent was empty; remnants of the previous evening’s supper lay strewn about. They separated, looking for the inevitable bodies. Nothing! What they saw next, froze them into place. From the depressions of four graves, a charred skeletal arm stuck straight out of the ground—blood stained, and still groping around slowly! The men ran screaming from the graveyard, passing their friends by the gate without stopping. Needless to say, the other men ran after them, just as terrified.
No one knows exactly what happened to the young students. Their tattered tent can still be seen from the roadside—the lamp within still burning bright. No official investigation was made. The village began to creep farther away.