Evil graveyard dogs that haunt a local cemetery at night. At least that’s the ghost creature story an old woman tries to scare a mischievous young boy with. But what’s that growling sound behind the tombstone? Written by Wendy Webb.
Shhh…do you hear that? The sound of footsteps. Not human footsteps, but something that only walks at night, and visits you in places where you ought not to be – like graveyards. You can hear them sometimes snuffling when you get too close to the graves of their loved ones, or whining. You especially don’t want to stay when you hear the growling. And if they decide to let you see them, you never want to look into their glowing red eyes. ‘Cause that’s when they get you – the dogs. Graveyard dogs.
Joseph Blakely had been scared by that story all his life, and wondered if it had, in fact, come from Widow Morris. He never forgot it, or her. She lived way on the top of a hill in an old house. Some said it was a haunted house. But as Joseph Blakely grew from a boy into a man of 14, he figured no self-respecting ghost would spend ten seconds in a house with that woman. It didn’t matter if it was a mean ghost, or a vindictive one – Widow Morris was meaner. It didn’t even matter if the ghost made an awful noise by moving furniture in the middle of the night – the widow was louder, stronger, and she rarely slept.
But as bad tempered as she was, she couldn’t compare to her live-in companion, the old goat. For that’s what he was – an old goat. He went by the name of Emerson. They were the kind ones who called him that. Others used names that Joseph Blakely couldn’t repeat, even though the seat of his britches carried many mendings, thanks to Emerson’s difficult disposition.
You see, Joseph Blakely had made it his life’s work to bother the widow and her old goat. He couldn’t explain why he had to do it, and even if he wanted to, he couldn’t stop himself. So whenever an idea popped into his head, he acted on it.
Like the time he smelled the blackberry pie and followed his nose to the windowsill, figuring if the widow had no intentions of sharing that pie, why, she wouldn’t have put it there in the first place. He had barely stuck his finger through the warm crust when Emerson appeared, beard twitching and yellow teeth bared. And then came the widow with a broom she used to swat Joseph all the way back to town.
And he’d never forget the time he dashed up the steps in the dark of night to throw a rock through the widow’s window. But since he forgot the incantation for protection, it was no wonder he didn’t get her goat – but rather, her goat got him. Until her broom sent him running for cover behind a stand of old oaks.
And maybe it was a trick of the moonlight, but with red eyes as big as those of an owl, the widow stared into the night and spoke words that still send a shiver down his spine:
“I’ll get you for this, Joseph Blakely. You know I will.”
And still the bothering kept coming, with plans for even more. But as plans have a way of doing, they went astray two months later, when word came that the widow and the old goat had passed away. So Joseph decided he would just have to see her grave for himself. Only then could he let the plans in his mind rest.
One very dark night, he set out for the graveyard. He paid little mind to the idea of Graveyard Dogs, since it was a story that scared little boys – not a man of 14 like himself. But to be on the safe side, he had practiced the incantation all day. Nothing could get him now.
With lit torch, he peered from one grave to another until he found the one of the widow. Next to her was a stone that said simply: “Emerson.”
“Well I’ll be,” he said, “she’s even buried next to the old goat.”
Suddenly, a snuffling sound came out from behind the headstone. Was that a Graveyard Dog? So following the incantation, he whirled once and whispered, “Be gone.” Then came the whine. “Be gone,” he said, whirling a second time.
And then he heard the growl.
Don’t look into the eyes, because that’s when they get you! So Joseph Blakely did what any young man with a lick of sense would do. He dropped his lit torch and ran screaming from the graveyard.
A hand reached out to pick up the torch. And the voice that made the snuffling and the whine let loose with a girlish giggle. For Widow Morris knew that, one day, she would get Joseph Blakely just as she promised. And just as she planned from the day when she, in fact, first told the story.
“That growl was perfect, Emerson,” she said. “Emerson?”
But the old goat was gone. It seemed he had done what any goat with a lick of sense would do when something was strange, and hightailed it out of the graveyard.
It was then she heard a different kind of growl. And when the Graveyard Dog chose to let her see it, she made the mistake of looking into its glowing red eyes.
In every story, there’s a grain of truth – and the opportunity for a lick of sense. So no matter what you hear in a graveyard on a very dark night…
…Watch out for those eyes.
– THE END –
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