A Chapter by Louis McKraker

After I came to my senses and saw that it was only a large cloud of ground fog, and not some spirit trying to consume Polly.

The wind picked up again and most of the fog that I saw as a terrible foe was moved someplace else, but I was still jittery for a couple of minutes. Naturally, Polly found that funny.

We continued on our journey into the woods.

After another twenty yards or so, the first of the headstones came into view. Seeing the stones peeping out around the trees at us made my skin crawl.

“Look,” I said to Polly. “There’s the cemetery.”

I aimed the flashlight this way and that way.

“Cameron, this is too creepy,” she returned. “Maybe there’s a good reason why no one comes out here.”

“We don’t know that people don’t come out here,” I responded, as we continued through the woods, toward the Forbidden Playground. “We only have their word to go on. If none of us have ever been here, then I guess we really don’t know.”

“I trust my parents to know what they’re talking about,” Polly exclaimed.

“Me too,” I said. “But I know sometimes they make things up. In attempt to keep any accidents from happening.”

“And that’s good for me,” Polly said.

“But we’re not babies anymore,” I stated, seeing the first three headstones. “We know how to keep injuries at minimal these days, right?”

“I guess so,” she agreed reluctantly.

“There they are,” I gasped.

Polly stood stopped next to me, looking in the direction of my light. “This is really creepy,” she said. “Let’s just head back now. Forget Nick.”

“Just keep close,” I said, walking toward the graves of Old Man Peters and his wife and two sons.

She followed closely behind me.

We came to the first two headstones, which belonged to Mr. Peters and his wife, Agatha. Polly shivered, as if a cold breeze had crawled up her spine. “I really don’t like this place. I don’t want to go any farther,” she said.

I walked on as if I didn’t hear her at all.

I had found what we had come here to find.

The graves of the two Peters Boys where just behind the man and his wife. And just like Nick had said, there was a blue gemstone on one of the headstones. As I scanned my light over the names and dates, I found that it was the younger of the two brothers.

That kid had been only a year older than I was when he died. His older brother was fourteen.

Both children, like their parents, had old names. The younger brother who bore the gem on his headstone was named Elija. His older brother was named Nikola.

I moved in and touched the gemstone. It almost glowed when the moonlight touched it. It wasn’t coming out of its rock easily, though. I tried to free it, but it resisted.

I turned my flashlight to the ground and found a rock that was a little bigger than my fist.

“You can’t just take that, Cameron,” Polly reminded me, as I struck the rock against the gemstone.

I hit it a second time and it chipped the headstone around the gem. I dropped the rock and pushed the gem free the rest of the way with my flashlight.

“That’s vandalism!” Polly exclaimed.

“No one cares what happens here,” I assured her. “No one comes out here. Have you forgotten that? If your homeschooler wants a blue gemstone, he is getting it.”

I slid the stone into my pants pocket.

“Well, fine,” she said in anger. “You have it. Let’s head back now.”

I aimed my flashlight at the first few pieces of the playground. It was real enough, as well, I thought.

“I want to see the playground, too,” I told her.

“Well, I don’t,” she replied.

“Fine,” I said. “Then stay here and wait for me.”

I started to walk onward.

Soon enough, just as I had suspected she would, Polly came along after me.

We came to these two large trees that had something like clubhouses built in them.

One of them was made of wood so old that it threatened to fall out of the tree at any moment.

That, I thought, was reason enough in our parents’ minds to forbid us to go in.

I aimed the flashlight this way and that.

The clubhouse leaned badly. The two windows and the door now looked like a gnarling face. It was like a giant wooden mouth that could gobble us up at any second. Something like that would crush both of us if it was to tumble down.

I aimed my light around, settling it on different playground equipment.

There was a jungle-gym. Two, in fact. There was an ancient carousel. There was a broken see-saw. Once it had been a double, but now only one still stood. The other lay rotting on the ground next to its brother.

This seems to be the place for that, I thought darkly.

“This sort of thing can be dangerous,” Polly stated, looking up at the rotting tree houses. In the moonlight, those wooden clubhouses glowed like the faces of enormous ghosts that hung in the trees.

“Something like that could kill us!” she continued. “I doubt Nick came this far. You’ve clearly outdone him; so let’s head back now.”

She grabbed my arm and pulled me along. My flashlight aimed in front of us, as we walked back toward the grave of the man who had built the playground that we came to call the Forbidden Playground.

It dawned on me, as Polly and I walked between the grave of the two brothers, that we were somehow older now than we were before that night. Until my flashlight beam passed over the grave of the younger brother, that is.

At first, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

I shined the light over the grave again and I froze with fear.

What I thought I had seen was real.

There was a hand reaching out of the grave.

The younger of the two brothers was digging his way out of his own grave.

Polly turned back to look, when she realized that I had stopped. She froze, too�"and she screamed.

Her voice was shaky. She panicked. “Please tell me this is just another prank!” she said, watching another hands reach up from the soil of the grave.

“This is no prank!” I assured her. We both turned and ran together.

Limbs slapped us as we ran.

We trampled through the undergrowth of the woods as fast as we could move. We ran in fear. We ran for our lives. We didn’t look back.

We followed the light as it ran ahead of us.

The light was the only thing that moved faster than the two of us.

© 2020 Louis McKraker

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Added on June 21, 2020
Last Updated on June 21, 2020


Louis McKraker
Louis McKraker


My name is Louis McKraker. I was born in Central Alabama and began writing at age nine. I don't have much to say about myself, except I'm a Piscean. I prefer poetry over prose. I love storytelling... more..

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A Chapter by Louis McKraker

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A Chapter by Louis McKraker