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Jake

Was it his imagination, or just the strange howl of the wind creating the sounds of voices calling his name?

By Hazel Rymell Published 2 months ago 20 min read
2
Jake
Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash



“Now look what you gone an’ done!” Danny shouted, annoyed at Jake, his friend, for kicking the ball over the wall of the school playing field, into the adjacent church yard.

Jake ran across to the high wall.

“It’s alright, I’ll go and get it!”

As he clambered up, his foot caught on a loose stone, hastily, keeping his balance, he jumped back down onto the school field again.

“We can go round and get it after school.” Jake spoke with an air of confidence.

“You can’t go in there!” the voice of a young girl piped up.

Both boys spun round, a petite flame haired girl was sat lazily on the ground.

Placing her reading book in her lap, she gazed up at them through large, dark framed glasses “the bogey man lives in there!” she proclaimed.

“Yeah right! “Danny laughed, “you still believe in fairy tales Chloe? Is that what you’re reading there, a bedtime book of fairy tales?” he taunted.

“It’s true actually!” she scoffed back “my dad told me. He saw him when he was a child. He lives in that old churchyard, and he eats children – alive!”

“Your dad’s still alive” Danny pointed out, “besides, where are those eaten children?”

Jake sniggered, “Eaten! That’s where they are!”

Danny delivered a sideways glance at his friend, niggled at what Danny felt was Jake’s belittling remark, his agitated mood towards Jake persisted.

“I meant” his attention returned to Chloe, “everyone hears about kids going missing and loads of dead children being found would make headline news”

“They were all reported missing” Chloe began, “don’t you remember years ago a couple of children from here went missing, not at the same time, but a few years apart?”

The boys eyes met each other’s and shrugged, as Chloe continued.

“One was a boy around our age, out on his bike, his bike was found, but he never was.

“And years later,” she rattled on, “a teenage girl went missing when she was on her way to meet a friend.

“Abducted! The police assumed they both were, but they have never been found. Dead or alive...”

Interrupted by the shrill of the school bell, Chloe stood up.

“Don’t you remember the children’s home, before it became the old people’s care home?”

Danny shook his head. Jake didn’t recall a children’s home in the town either.

“It was around thirty years ago now.”

Danny raised his eyebrows at Jake, not surprisingly they couldn’t remember, but of course, Chloe would know these things, Chloe knew everything!

“Lots of troubled youngsters, mainly teenagers went missing. Everyone just assumed they had all ran away, took off to London or another big city for a more exciting life, as there’s absolutely nothing to do round here!”

Jake shook his head, no he quite agreed about the ‘nothing to do’ bit.

“None of them were ever seen or heard of again - mum told me!”

And with that Chloe flung her bag over her shoulder and strode off to their class.

“See you both in class!” she called back. “Unless,” she swung round to look at them, “you decide to jump over to find your ball, in which case,” she paused as she gestured her hand across her neck “I won’t be seeing either of you in class again – ever!”

“Ignore her!” Jake spoke, rolling his eyes, “what a drama queen! She’s on another planet half the time.

“After school, you and me will go and get that ball back.”

“Can’t” Danny began, “got football practice after school, dad’s picking me up straight after class.”

“Oh - ok, I’ll still go and get it, I kicked your ball over, it’s up to me to go find it.”

***

Jake strolled out of the school gates and turned into the road towards the church.

The church, set back from the road, was still in use, but burials had become a thing of the past at the church cemetery. Cremations had become popular, and a bigger cemetery across the other side of town was now used.

Like the church, which was centuries years old, many of the ancient stones now lay unattended, in the rather desolate churchyard grounds.

Surrounded by trees, several graves had become hidden amongst the rather overgrown foliage.

Volunteers from the now few church members had been appointed to keep up the maintenance of the grounds, however, many of those had become too old to continue.

The vicar, a widower for several years had lost interest in the upkeep of the grounds since his wife died, and hadn’t bothered to employ a gardener, which many of the church members had suggested, so had sadly let the churchyard become somewhat neglected.

Jake reached over and pulled the latch on the iron gate. It squeaked, breaking the silence; all but the distant sound of traffic in the road and the birds could be heard within the grounds.

Jake felt almost like an intruder, as he pushed it open and entered the churchyard.

He scanned around for the ball amongst the overgrown grass, the cemetery seemed much bigger now he was inside than it did from the road.

He sprinted towards the far end, towards the wall which separated the back of the churchyard grounds from the school. Jake concluded that it had to be in that area, he didn’t kick the ball that hard.

Aware he was completely alone, he couldn’t comprehend why he had the ridiculous notion that he felt like he was trespassing.

The churchyard was open to anyone at any time of the day, everyone had the right to enter the grounds to visit their deceased loved ones.

Jake took a deep steady breath to calm his strangely increasing anxiousness. He was unsure as to why he was beginning to feel slightly creeped out.

Was it Chloe’s words from earlier that day? Bogie men do not exist! Chloe was some silly girl who lived in cloud cuckoo land. He told himself firmly.

It must have been the eerie silence which had suddenly put the frighteners on him.

As he approached the far side, he immediately spotted something bright and orange hidden amongst the long grass, that had to have been Danny’s ball, as Jake recollected it had orange stripes on it.

Relieved, he ran across the grass, reached down and picked it up, before turning back towards the gates, as he did so, he glanced towards an old gravestone on his left, he could just about make out the carved writing in the stone, he read the words:

In loving memory of Henry Thomas Shelton...

Shelton – Shelton! Jake recognised that name, it was his grandparents name on his mother’s side; she was Kelly Shelton before she married Jake’s dad.

Being such an unusual name, the only other Shelton’s Jake knew apart from his grandparents, were his Aunt, Uncle and cousins.

He moved closer to the headstone in order to read the inscription:

They must have been his relatives! His mum had never spoken of having relatives buried in the old church yard. Maybe she didn’t know?

Jake pulled out his phone from his back pocket and took a snapshot of the gravestone. He would tell her when he got home and show her the photo.

Intrigued, Jake’s nerves from a few moments ago began to disperse, as he felt the urge to explore the grounds further, checking out the other headstones.

And sure enough there was another:

Henry Thomas Shelton (same Christian names, Jake noticed, they must have been related) died 1771 aged 46 years, husband to Jane who died 1790 aged 65 years.

Jake knew he should make his way home, but he was curious to see who else he could find which bore his grandfather’s namesake.

He searched all around until he came across another:

William Albert Shelton died 12th April 1786 aged 55 and Sarah died 10th June 1818 aged 84

They all had to have been his ancestors, Jake thought, as he stood in front of the headstones, reading each one, slowly conjuring up images in what they would all have looked like.

The late afternoon light was beginning to dim now, it would be dark soon as he realised the nights were coming in faster now that the clocks had gone back an hour; winter was now well on its way.

Gone were those bright summer evenings where his parents were quite happy for him to stay out late with his mates.

He glimpsed amongst the tall trees, a bright full moon had begun to rise, it looked huge whilst low in the sky, partially hidden behind the branches of the softly moving trees in the breeze, capturing an eeriness around his surroundings.

Only the sounds of crows roosting in the trees and an owl somewhere in the distance could now be heard.

His phone bleeped, he knew instantly that was his mum messaging to find out where he was and how soon he would be home.

Jake shivered as he became aware of the evening temperature slowly dropping, remembering he wasn’t wearing his jacket, he deduced it was definitely time to go home.

He could have explored the churchyard for longer if it wasn’t getting dark, so he decided he’d go again, take his mum next time, see who he else he could find.

With the ball in his arms, he turned to make his way back when out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed something move amongst the bushes near the church.

Eyes wide, straining to see in the darkening light, Jake could make out an old man with thinning white hair, shuffling his way towards the church path.

Jake had seen him several times before and guessed he must live nearby as he had often caught sight of him near the church, as he walked to and from school.

With hunched over shoulders, he looked very old, Jake estimated him of around eighty at least.

Wearing a long scruffy black coat and dark baggy trousers, his movements were slow and steady; he could hardly put one foot in front of the other.

Maybe his wife was buried in here, Jake thought, although, looking at the dates of most of the stones, it was highly unlikely he had a wife there. A deceased elderly relative perhaps?

That’s probably who Chloe had meant was the ‘bogey man’ Jake decided; her dad probably said it to scare Chloe and her equally gullible older sister Olivia from hanging out in the church yard on their own.

Lots of kids sat around in there on sunny days at weekends. Not that Jake and his mates were ever among them, you couldn’t really play footie around an old churchyard..

Jake thought it odd an old man would be wandering around a churchyard grounds in the dark.

Although there were a few lamps scattered around the grounds, including the full moon illuminating the grounds, it would still be too dark for an old man who could hardly walk, to wander around at night, he didn’t look like he was carrying a torch.

Old people were rarely techy, Jake thought, so he was unlikely to own a mobile phone to use as a torch. How could he possibly see where he was going in the dimming evening light without a flashlight?

Jake turned to make his way back to the entrance gates when an unexpected gust of wind caught him.

“Jake!”

“Jake!”

Was it his imagination, or just the strange howl of the wind creating the sounds of voices calling his name?

A dark, creepy grave yard was bound to make anyone’s imagination grow wild.

He shone his phone torch around his surroundings, the bright moonlight had begun casting long eerie shadows of the headstones onto the ground, and with the moving branches and their shadows swaying around, it resulted in what resembled images of dead bodies rising from beneath the graves.

Flashing his torch around to enable him to get back to gates, he suddenly spotted another headstone close by emblazoned with the Shelton family name.

Albert William (Bertie) Shelton died 1765 aged 12

Jakes age!

He stared at the grave stone of the young boy whose remains lay six foot under Jake’s feet. He wondered how he had died so very young.

Jake imagined how the lad may have looked like when he was alive.

He closed his eyes and pictured a twelve year old boy, standing next to Jake, same height same build same age, same blood, same genes - his long distant cousin from over two centuries ago.

Opening his eyes, movement suddenly caught his peripheral vision.

A strange mist had began to form around him, Jake hadn’t noticed it until now.

A shadowy figure slowly emerged from it. At first he thought it was the old man he had spotted near the church.

However, as the figure slowly approached him, Jake froze, it was a boy, wearing a light coloured t-shirt.

“Danny!” Jake yelled, recognising his friend, he put his hand up to get his friends attention, “over here!”

Relieved he was no longer on his own, he watched Danny stride along towards him. It must have been Danny’s voice he had heard, calling his name.

However, as Danny got closer, Jake realised it wasn’t him. The boy, with dark hair like Danny’s, was much thinner, smaller and he was wearing a light coloured shirt, almost like a night gown, with dark trousers.

Was it Bertie?

In the dimming light, Jake could tell how pale the boy looked, white even, thin and emaciated. He stared intensely at Jake as he came to a halt yards from him.

Jake tried to speak, but couldn’t find his voice, however, a wave of calm seemed to sweep over him, as the fear which had crept up on him a moment ago, had again strangely vanished.

As he got closer, Jake noticed how very similar to his mum this boy looked. He had his mums dark eyes and reminded Jake of photographs he had seen of her when she was a child; he had to have been his ancestor.

The boy stood in front of him looked very much younger and smaller to have been twelve.

Smiling sweetly at Jake, the boy still silent, slowly turned around and began to walk back the way he came.

Jake had felt calm and content in the presence of the boy, yet, the moment he began to walk away, those feelings slowly dispersed and he found himself feeling anxious again.

Suddenly finding his voice again, Jake called out

“Wait! Come back!”

The boy disappeared into the mist, as he did so, a sudden gust of wind interrupted his thoughts and what again sounded like a voice whispering his name.

“Jake!”

Jake looked around, who was that?

“Jake!” the soft voice which sounded like a child’s voice whispered his name again.

His heart pounded as he glanced at Bertie’s grave.

“Jake! Run!”

Suddenly gripped with fear, Jake proceeded to run back to the gate, his footing felt different as the ground seemed to no longer feel like the hard grassy surface he had been treading on.

It felt soft and cushiony, like a soft, slippery carpet, in which Jake struggled to stay balanced on.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket and switched on the torch, flashing it towards the ground.

He was no longer stood on long grass, instead, it looked like a short pile carpet with speckled dots or markings on the surface.

Jake knew he needed to leave right now, as Chloe’s words from earlier began picking his thoughts.

Suddenly he felt odd, almost light headed and dizzy, he averted his eyes towards his feet and noticed that the surface he was stood on seemed to sway around slightly.

Losing his balance, he held his arms out to try to stay upright, but fell to his knees, his hands dropped down and touched the ground.

Urgh! He gasped, as his fingers delved onto what was a warm, slimy, yet grainy surface, which gave off a horrible aroma.

He shone the light around and noticed that his entire surroundings seemed to be moving.

Jake assumed the weird moonlight and the deep eerie shadows were making his eyes hallucinate, as looking ahead, it seemed like the trees in the distance were also moving towards him, just as if he was travelling in a slow moving vehicle.

He shone the torch around him again and realised that it actually was the surface beneath him that was silently but gently moving, just like a slow moving conveyer belt.

Jake looked up and in front of him in the distance high amongst the trees, he spotted two green fluorescent lights around 200 meters apart.

They resembled traffic lights, on green, flashing in the dull light.

He didn’t recall ever seeing traffic lights in the area he was looking at.

They can’t be, these were the trees which separated the church from the road which led to the school. Yes there were traffic lights close to the school, on level ground, but not where these seemed to be.

Confused, Jake moved his phone around then spotted something else that seemed different, under the lights slightly hidden amongst the trees, he could just about make out what looked like huge white rocks embedded within what Jake thought was brickwork, edged around something dark. Was it a tunnel?

Unsure of what exactly it was, he was never aware of any kind of tunnel or passageway through the trees in the church yard. If it was, where did that lead to?

Was it a secret tunnel like a subway? It must be a subway! Jake decided, going under the road. He never knew that was there.

Maybe it was built during the war, used as a shelter during the air raids? No longer used, it had become overgrown and forgotten about, he pondered.

As the trees in front moved closer towards him, he returned his phone torch towards the tunnel, to his horror, the white stones suddenly seemed to resemble sharp teeth.

He looked above and noticed the green lights had changed, they had become much brighter and now he could see they had huge black dots in the middle, which started to get bigger and bigger.

Eyes! They weren’t lights, they were eyes! He glanced back down at the strange thing he was sat on, it was slithering, the ground was slithering, was it a snake?

Looking back up and around, squinting through the dark, his phone light shone all around him to try and see his surroundings.

Jake suddenly realised, that it was the ground he was knelt on which was actually moving, not his surroundings.

What exactly was it that he was knelt on?

Straining his eyes further, what Jake thought was brickwork surrounding the entrance, now simulated, giant lips.

To his intense horror. as he approached closer, it dawned on him what exactly it was he was sat on. It was a tongue, a long wide tongue, pulling him into a huge wide open mouth!

He screamed as he tried to get up, but he was unable to, as he slid across the slime of the creatures tongue, scrambling for his life, there seemed to be nowhere he could go to save himself.

In a desperate attempt, he dug his heels hard into the surface, but Jake knew it was far too tough to kick a hole for him to slide through and escape.

He screamed again, hoping someone could hear him, but he was dragged further and further towards it, into the darkness of the creatures mouth and with that, the mouth closed over him then snapped shut.

Surrounded by complete darkness, the vile smell and the extreme heat overcame him, feeling nauseated and faint, Jake’s body became limp as he slumped over onto his side.

Closing his eyes, he fell into a deep sleep to which he never woke up from.

***

On her way to the nursery to pick up three year old Finlay, Chloe paused at the churchyard gates.

Nearly twenty years had passed since her class mate Jake disappeared.

A football had been found in the grass near the entrance, Danny had confirmed it was his and that Jake had told him that he had planned on going into the churchyard to retrieve it that afternoon.

Clutching her six year old daughter Ellie’s hand, Chloe was convinced Jake met his death in that churchyard.

Lost in her thoughts, Chloe gazed into the grounds, it hadn’t changed at all in twenty years, other than it was now maintained often; the new vicar and his wife had employed a gardener, so was no longer in the terrible state it was in when Chloe was a child.

An old man with thinning white hair emerged in the distance, by the church.

Chloe watched him as he hobbled unsteadily along the path in distance.

Scruffily dressed in an old black coat and long baggy trousers, she thought he looked very much like the strange old man she had seen as a child; convinced he was, he would also have been the same old man her father had told her he had seen several decades ago too.

As she watched him struggle along the path with his walking stick, he stopped abruptly in his tracks, eerily turned his head and looked straight across at her.

As Chloe’s eyes met his, she shivered, as an icy chill crept slowly through her body.

Even from a distance the coldness of his stare seemed to bore into her, cutting through her like a knife, slashing into her inner soul, as his eyes continued to penetrate her.

“Ellie,” Chloe began, as she continued watching him.

“you must never, ever enter this place.” she informed her daughter.

“Why not mummy?” the little girl enquired, looking up at her mum.

“The bogey man lives in there” she paused, “that’s why.”

Those words repeated often to Chloe and her sister Olivia by their father when they were children.

And something she intended to repeat just as often to Ellie and Finlay too.

The old man proceeded to stare at Chloe, as he did so, she gripped hold of Ellie’s hand squeezing it tightly.

“Promise me, you must NEVER walk through these gates into this churchyard....” she spoke quietly in almost a whisper, as the old man, his eyes still upon her, slowly turned on his heel and shuffled his way, behind the church, out of sight.

“... EVER!”

THE END

fiction
2

About the Creator

Hazel Rymell

..Suddenly I crash back down to earth with a big almighty bump!

...when not in a dolly daydream, creative me is at home in the UK doing the normal everyday mundane jobs, that seem to go on forever...until the daydreaming kicks in again...

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