A photographer finds more than she bargained for on a trip to the cemetery
Chapter One. The Crypt
The girl sat in her car outside the cemetery and watched. Several shiny, black limousines, holding the bereaved, exited the gates. Dorothy glanced at her watch. She knew they were from the last funeral of the day, having checked all the death notices in the newspaper. She sat there for a while longer, sipping on a can of Coke to wash down a hamburger. At last she was fairly sure that all the visitors had left and threw the empty soda can on to the floor of her car to join the other empty containers and wrappers.
The point of her visit today was to take the final few photographs for her Art College portfolio, which she needed to hand in tomorrow for her final exam.
Dorothy entered the impressive gates, pausing for a moment, taking in the fine detail of the wrought iron. Lifting the camera which hung around her slim neck, she stepped back, taking a photograph of the spiked, ornate gates and wondered for a moment how many people had entered here but never left.
The light was fading, although the air still felt warm on this late summer evening. In the changing light the young woman’s curly hair caught last of the sun’s rays, turning it into a halo of copper.
Her mission was to capture images of an old cemetery at the end of a day, once all visitors had gone, leaving the residents to rest in peace.
Dorothy loved everything about cemeteries, the inscriptions, the stone monuments and especially the angels and lions standing watch over their dead.
The pungent smell of overblown roses filled the air as she walked silently through the graves taking photographs of anything which she thought might be a good subject.
Spying an old mausoleum, Dorothy stopped to read the names of all the family interred there, then noticed the grave of a young woman with the same family name buried close by.
Dorothy looked closer at the inscription on the small headstone.
Here lies Martha Grimes. Aged Twenty years. Her torment over at last. To remain undisturbed forever.
The inscription caused Dorothy to wonder what circumstances had led to this woman being interred close by, yet apart from the rest of her family.
The moon was low in the evening sky; the sun slowly sinking behind the distant hills. A golden light reflected on the gravestones. Dorothy began to capture that moment, shadows elongating and trees in the background turning black against the remaining colours of the sky. She raised her camera once more, eager to seize and secure the photograph before night fell.
Satisfied with her night’s work, she turned to leave the cemetery. But all at once she began to feel alone and vulnerable. The temperature dropped and wishing she’d brought a jacket, Dorothy began to walk faster. The light faded and her heart gave a lurch when she realised she’d told no one of her plans. Almost within reach of the gates, the path, which she’d been sure led to the exit, gave a sharp turn to the left. Having no choice but to follow it, she began to run. Again, it ended in a sharp left turn. In front of her were graves, winged angels and massive marble headstones barring her way. Soon she realised she’d completely lost her bearings. It was then she recognised the family vault she’d seen earlier.
Calming herself, Dorothy stopped running and tried to regain some composure. Remembering her mobile phone had a torch, she took it from the back pocket of her jeans. The small light captured the rows of headstones and statues in its beam but gave her little comfort. Sweeping the torch around, she saw the grave of the young woman whose family was in the vault. There were signs someone had disturbed the plot; soil and gravel scattered across the concrete path.
Feeling a presence behind her, Dorothy swung around to see a girl, around her age, dressed in a filthy, ragged white gown, her arms outstretched. Dorothy gave a horrified scream and fled, her torch barely lighting the way. Turning her head to see if she was being followed, she tripped, falling heavily. The phone smashed, leaving her in complete darkness. Scrambling to her feet, she ran, screaming, when a hand fell upon her shoulder, forcing her to turn to face her pursuer.
Filthy, dirt-encrusted hands reached out, grasping Dorothy’s head. The pungent odour of something long dead assailed her as the girl’s fangs sank into her white neck. Escaping the vampire’s clutches, the terrified girl reached the gates but to her horror discovered them locked with a heavy chain and padlock. Screaming for help, and rattling the bars to no avail, she began to climb until she reached the top.
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