“I don’t like this,” Yijeong spoke up now that they had spent some time walking the forest path.
“I called it. Pay up guys,” Sihyoung said aloud.
“Aw, come on! Jaeho was gonna freak out soon I swear,” I said, digging out a bill alongside Dokyun as we handed over our money to Sihyoung. Jaeho and Yijeong stopped and turned around.
“You guys had a bet on us?” Jaeho says, sadly.
“Yup, who would freak out first, and you let me down Jaeho,” I tisked and drew past him.
“I say we do another one, Kyungil,” Dokyun pipes up following me.
“What’s the bet?” I ask.
“We head over to the cemetery,” Dokyun’s eyes glitter.
“Really? Stroll through the graveyard on Halloween? That’s nothing,” I shrug it off.
“How about we dig up somebody?” Sihyoung says, arm slung around Dokyun’s shoulders.
“Are you crazy?!” Yijeong says standing closer to Jaeho.
I take a moment and think, “Never seen that before.”
“Kyungil, we can’t do that, that’s ridiculous!” Yijeong says, grasping my arm.
“Why not? Could be interesting ,” I grin down at Yijeong. “But where’s the bet in that?” I add, letting down Dokyun and Sihyoung.
Yijeong looks relieved as the plan seems to pass.
“How about we just hit up the Halloween party? We’re already fashionably late,” Jaeho says, trying to change the atmosphere and leave the woods.
“Hey, how about all my winnings to whoever holds out longest in digging up the dead?” Sihyoung says.
Jaeho and Yijeong stop as they were heading down the path to the housings.
“Now there’s something,” I say, “I’m in. Dokyun?”
He takes a moment but wipes away the fear and nods, “You too, Sihyoung. You have to do it too.”
“Of course, of course. You two as well,” SIhyoung adds, “None of us is out.”
Jaeho and Yijeong whine as they agree to pay up and we tug them toward the graveyard.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Jaeho says, once we’re at the cemetery gates.
“See? Where was this reaction before? I could have won and we’d be at the party already,” I say, looking out over the mist covered tombstones.
Dokyun pushes the iron gate but it bounces back rattling. He takes a hold of the chains wrapped around the gate.
“Well,” Yijeong says, “Looks like we’re not gonna get in with that lock, oh well,” he makes to turn around but Sihyoung grabs his collar.
“We’ll scale it,” Sihyoung says. “Come on there’s a boulder on this side we can use.”
We each climb over the fence and once on the other side a dense air takes over.
“Anyone else feel like it’s harder to breathe?” Jaeho coughs.
“What’d you expect? People are dead here,” Sihyoung says, peering around.
Before us lie knolls of graves, tombs, sepulchers, mausoleums, all covered in mist. Dead trees and their branches stick out of the fog. The faint moon light comes and goes due to the drifting clouds. An owl hoots in the distance while crickets chirp.
I shiver as chills run down my back and goosebumps ride out of my arms.
A bright light appears by me. I look down and see Yijeong using his phone as a flashlight. Jaeho does the same and Dokyun follows.
“Let’s just choose one already,” Dokyun says.
I feel eyes on me as I turn and see the four of them are waiting for me to move first.
“Why me?” I ask.
“You’re the fearless leader,” Sihyoung mocks.
I roll my eyes but take steps forward.
The others follow behind as we get closer to the center of the place. We go past names I don’t know. But as we continue I spot a single rose atop a mound of freshly turned dirt.
“Guys, guys, this one. It has to be recent,” I say. The others follow up and together we surround the grave.
“Doctor?” Jaeho questions, reading the gravestone.
“Just one rose? Really?” Dokyun says.
“You’d think a doctor would have more love,” Sihyoung says.
“I’m curious,” I say, pulling out my phone. “Ah, nevermind. No service out here.”
“Were you gonna take a picture of it?!” Yijeong asks, paranoid.
“No,” I swat him up the head, “I was gonna google his name and see what he died of.”
“I know,” Dokyun pipes up.
We all turn to him.
“What? I read the paper. Anyway, I read about a scientist last week passing from some kind of experiment. I think he caught the very thing he was trying to fight.”
“So much for trying,” SIhyoung shrugs his shoulders as he squats down and fingers the rose.
“One person,” Dokyun sighs, looking at the rose.
“Okay, let’s get out of here, you all can split the money pot,” Yijeong says, turning around and leaving. “I’m not digging up anyone.”
I jog up alongside him before putting my arm around his shoulders. It takes a while but I manage to convince Yijeong to come back.
“Let’s just get this over with,” Yijeong says, as we return to the others.
“Nope, I cave,” Jaeho says backing away from the grave.
“Both kids are out. But you both have to wait until we’re done,” Sihyoung says taking off his vampire cape. “You guys can hold the lights.”
Jaeho and Yijeong eye each other as they sit down on the ground and hold up their phones.
“What are you gonna use? Your hands? There aren’t any shovels,” Dokyun says, after taking a look around.
Sihyoung picks the rose and places it on top of the tombstone. “Yup, might as well,” he says, digging his fingers into the dirt and sliding it down.
I look at Yijeong before I too join Sihyoung. A minute later Dokyun joins. After a while we’ve got the mound level with the ground and are starting into the earth.
“Jaeho, did you hear that?” Yijeong says, turning around and looking at the grave sites further down.
The three of us stop digging and look at the pair holding the lights.
“Must be your imagination,” Jaeho says, shrugging. “I didn’t hear anything.”
“I swear I heard something,” Yijeong whispers, sitting closer to Jaeho.
We get back to digging with Yijeong butting in every now and then claiming to hear something. But we start to dull him out continuing our excavation.
“Could have been dancing with some girl by now,” I say.
Sihyoung shrugs, “Just think what they’ll say when we tell them what we were up to.”
“You can back out if you want Kyungil,” Dokyun says, smiling as he pulls aside a chunk of earth.
“And leave the part of me reigning winner? Not a chance,” I say.
“There, Jaeho you had to hear that one, it sounded like a moan right over there,” Yijeong says, fear dripping on his tone.
Jaeho, turns the light in the direction and shakes his head, “Your mind is playing tricks on you. Get a grip.”
An hour goes by and I’m sweating through my Joker face makeup. Sihyoung’s turning red through his pale white face paint while Dokyun pulls off his eye patch and wipes his brow.
I stand up to take a stretch. My shoulders are almost level with the earth as I stand and see Yijeong and Jaeho sitting on the ledge.
Then I hear it.
“Did you guys hear that?” I say. Dokyun and Sihyoung both stop scooping. “It sounded like a groaning and scratching.”
“Not you too,” SIhyoung whines.
“No really, just listen,” I say, straining my ears. But after a few minutes I hear nothing again.
“This is wrong on so many levels,” Yijeong says.
“All this for money, SIhyoung?” Jaeho asks.
“Bragging rights, Jaeho,” SIhyoung answers, getting back to the dirt. “Bragging rights.”
Just then I yell and scamper out of the hole leaving SIhyoung and Dokyun digging.
Jaeho and Yijeong scream at my sudden change and they take off after me. Dokyun’s head pops out of the hole now that the light is gone. He fumbles with his pockets.
“Something’s wrong SIhyoung,” Dokyun says, his fingers shaking as he grasps for his phone.
“Think it’s the cops?” Sihyoung says, peeking out of the hole.
“I don’t know but all three of them are gone,” Dokyun finds the flashlight app.
“No, don’t turn it on. If its cops they’ll spot us,” SIhyoung says swiping the phone out of his hands.
The phone goes flying and hits the bottom of the hole they’re standing in. It makes a thud but also a hollow sound. Dokyun looks wide-eyed at Sihyoung.
“The coffin,” he breathes as he grasps Sihyoung’s shirt.
“I'm out. You win, Sihyoung,” Dokyun says. Just hearing the hollow thud sent him over the edge. He was scurrying out of the hole leaving Sihyoung in place.
Sihyoung stood victorious but soon noticed it grew quiet. He looked up and realized he was alone in a hole close to a dead body. He gulped. He peeked out and saw no cops. He hoisted himself out and looked around.
“Guys? Where’s my congrats? I won you losers!” He called out. His voice echoed out over the mist and faded into the surrounding forest.
An owl hooted and--was that a growl? SIhyoung turned back to the dug up earth. His breath caught in his throat as he rummaged for his phone.
He heard scratches against wood.
He flicked open the phone and cast the home screen on the dark abyss. With the feeble light, he saw the dirt moving. Then the crash of splintering of wood filled the silence.
Sihyoung dropped his phone into the hole. It dimly lit up this grotesque figure that to his horror was climbing out of the coffin.
Sihyoung took steps back as his palm lie on something cold but pierced him. He pulled up his hand to see the rose with its thorn stuck into his hand. He shook it off and brought his eyes back to the grave. There it was—a moan. Sihyoung’s heart raced hard he felt it in his throat. He couldn’t even yell. He fell over the tombstone and took off dodging headstones.
“Guys! Where are you!?” he finally managed to scream out. The mist made it harder to figure where he was. Where was the entrance they had come in from?
“Kyungil! Dokyun! Any of you still out there?” he yelled. But his calls only rebounded off the dense fog.
There it was again, the terrifying groan. SIhyoung’s breath caught in his throat as he stared around him.
Then a shriek sliced the night air.
“Dokyun!” Sihyoung gasped, looking in the direction it had come from.
“Jaeho!” Sihyoung bent over, holding himself.
The moan from the grave came again this time it sounded like more of them.
“Jaeho! Yijeong! Call out would you,” he shouted his voice catching. These moans were getting louder and closer.
Then a few grave sites moved. A hand plunged out of the ground! Then another.
Sihyoung fled and hit his shin on several tombs as he tried to find his way.
“Guys say something!” he cried, tears streaming down his face.
A yell, close by, rang through the fog.
“Yijeong!” Sihyoung stopped and turned around.
There in the distance, the gate. He ran to it. Random gravesites were moving as he dashed right by. The undead were rising. What did they awaken? Sihyoung thought as he hurled himself at the gate. It rebounded. The sound of the chain temporarily breaking the growing sound of grunts behind him.
SIhyoung slowly turned around to see a horde of twenty of the undead coming toward him. Some were crawling, others limping, some still coming out of the ground. He sprung for the chain as he yanked at it.
“Come on, come on!” he yelled, wiping away tears from his eyes that blurred his vision.
Then he heard it. The moan that started it all and sent chills down his back. He seized up and before he could turn around he felt a freezing sensation to his neck. The dead’s hands!
Everything went black.
“I told you it would be too much," said Yijeong.
“Are you kidding?" Dokyun questioned. "With this guy it’s go big or go home.”
“Wait, Kyungil" Jaeho says stopping me, "Did you take out all the apples first?”
"Won't hurt if there's a few. Maybe they'll knock him back to his senses," I shrug hoisting the bucket of water over Sihyoung lying on the floor.
Sihyoung woke up quick. He sputtered and wiped his face and then looked around.
“Surprise!” I called out, followed by our friends.
SIhyoung slowly stood up, dumbfounded for a bit, as he took in everybody all dressed like zombies.
“Oh, we got you good,” I said with a big smile.
SIhyoung took a second before he hurled himself at me. We fell back onto a table.
“You jerks! Whose bright idea was it?” Sihyoung called out. I finally took his arms and restrained him.
“All of us," I laugh. "You’re not easy to scare. We needed to do something grand. Take it as a compliment,” I say, holding Sihyoung back as he was about to tackle Dokyun.
“It was a good one though right?” Jaeho asks.
“I didn’t want to do it but, with Kyungil, you know how that is,” Yijeong adds.
“Don’t worry,” Dokyun laughs clapping Sihyoung on the shoulder, “We all were surprised how good it turned out. Am I right?”
Everyone cheers as the dance music comes on and they start to disperse into the party.
Sihyoung finally calmed down and came up to me later, “Well, I guess you won the bet then.”
He holds the money out to me.
“Damn right I did,” I say, pocketing the bills. “Props, makeup, costumes, fog machine. They don’t come cheap,” I say, smiling and we join everyone else.
“Happy Halloween everybody!”
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