Fertile Ground

By R. Patrick Murtha

Chain Border

Patrick wasn't having a very good day; and it was going to get worse very quickly. He'd been driving around the Gold Country visiting graveyards; it was more than just a hobby. He loved walking around, looking at headstones, thinking about the people, how they lived, how they died, and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in northern California was fertile ground. He nearly missed this one particular small graveyard; it was nearly totally hidden from State Highway 49 as he drove out of Grass Valley. Checking his mirror quickly, he braked hard and pulled onto a small, shaded lane. "Yeah, this must be the place..." Patrick mumbled to himself as he parked near the wrought iron fence that surrounded the old graveyard filled mostly with old miners and their families from the mid-to-late 1800s. He'd heard about the place from a fellow ghost hunter on the Web and had hoped for months to make this trip from his home in the Central Valley. It had a really strange reputation for not only being extremely "active," but there were also rumors flying around for years that people simply vanished while visiting the place. Not one to believe in the last part, Patrick prepared his cameras and got out of his vehicle, noting a grizzled old crow loudly cawing at the intrusion just above him in the branch of an ancient oak tree. "Easy now boy...I'm a friend." he quietly stated as he raised the camera and took a picture of the old guy just before it pushed off and flew into the heart of the graveyard. "Gotcha!" he laughed, and he walked up the road a ways to the ivy covered entrance, nearly hidden by the overgrowth.

Immediately upon stepping over the threshold, Patrick felt a nearly palpable malevolence to the place. "Brrrr," he declared, the ambient temperature seeming to drop immediately 20 degrees as he drew his light coat around himself. He looked back and realized there were 3 other vehicles parked up and down the small, private lane, yet, as he scanned the several acres of the graveyard, he could not see anyone else here. "That's strange," he thought to himself. They were outside town several miles and there were no houses to be seen anywhere. He dismissed his unease with the place and went about the task of getting the "feel" of the place as he'd done to a hundred other graveyards. Unlike all the others, though, Patrick could not shake the nervous reaction he'd had initially about this place and congratulated himself on finally finding this place because he felt its power and was sure that he'd get some great Orb photos, perhaps even a full blown apparition. He walked slowly, thinking out loud to whatever spirits might be around that he was here on a friendly visit, that he did not mean to interrupt their peaceful rest and that he would be honored if they would welcome his presence and perhaps honor him more by revealing themselves to his camera lens. This was an inner mantra he'd come to recite for years now and it had nearly always brought him some kind of interesting results. Perhaps it was a coping mechanism against the common fears everyone felt in a graveyard, a place of death, not life. Whatever the reason, it seemed to work, because as he strolled along the peaceful path, he could just barely hear what initially sounded like the wind.

"Oooooverrrr heeeeerree...oooooovvverr heeeeerrrreee," the unseen voice whispered, seeming to brush up physically to his ear. Patrick quickly turned around, scanning the area. Nothing. Nobody. He looked up and there was that crow again, staring down at him from a branch just above.

Being rather a self assured and confident fellow, Patrick laughed uncomfortably and said to the bird, "So, you want your picture taken again, you ham..." and he raised his camera up as chills ran down his arms and body, tingling like he was standing next to a Tesla coil. "Oh my god..." he blurted as the crow came into focus. He had his 25-180 variable macro zoom on and with the magnification the bird nearly filled the viewfinder; only, it wasn't a bird's face at all! It was some kind of incredible, evil creature that stared back at him unblinkingly. He pulled the camera down in disbelief and horror at what he'd seen but, looking up again, it was only a bird that he saw.

"Oh man, Patrick, get a hold of yourself...", he nervously spoke to himself. He'd seen and heard things that most people only read in cheap horror stories and had always felt like he could handle anything that came his way, paranormal, corporeal or just plain real life, but this, this felt different somehow and for just a second he nearly gave into his fears, wanting to run back to his car and drive away from this place. Turning slowly, he stepped away from the spot but steadied himself with his inner relaxation mantra he used to control his natural fears and soon he relaxed enough that he could hear the sounds around him other than his heart beating like a base drum. "Stop it you fool..." the psientist in him came forward. "There's nothing here but you, the graves and the friendly if sad spirits of those who have departed. Now get a hold of yourself. You didn't drive 3 hours up here to just run away like a frightened child!" he thought as he steadied his hands and took a couple of quick photos around him.

Then, as he was double checking his exposure settings, the voice returned, "Ovvveeerrrr hhhhheeeeerrrreeee...OVER HEeeerre..." and he turned quickly again, gooseflesh immediately constricting on his arms and neck. His gaze fell upon a depression in the ground about two rows over. It looked out of place. The surrounding grave markers actually looked like they were leaning over into the center of a graveless depression perhaps 20 feet on each side.

"Wow, that's weird," Patrick mumbled and seemed to walk toward it as if hypnotized. As he approached, he had to wonder if it were some kind of sink hole. This entire area for miles around was crisscrossed by underground and ancient mines from 150 years ago. Perhaps there was a mine shaft underneath this part of the graveyard and this particular piece of ground was collapsing into one of these mineshafts, perhaps 30 or so feet below. Patrick cautiously walked around the edge of the depression, visually comparing it to the surrounding ground, careful of where he stepped. "Don't want to fall into THAT..." he nervously thought, thinking how ironic it would be to fall into an old mine in this secluded graveyard.. "Heehee, I bet they float down there..." Patrick laughed to himself, thinking of Stephen King's "It." At that moment, like a fast moving shadow, Patrick caught a glimpse from above of a fast moving object, just in time to see the crow heading straight for his head! "Hey!" he called out as the crow missed him by inches, and Patrick lost his balance on the uneven ground, tripping over a moss-covered rock, down the slight slope of the depression. "Shit!..." he yelled as he felt the ground underneath him give. Immediately he reached out and grabbed onto a large tree root that stuck up above the ground as his legs were sucked into the soft earth below. Frantically, Patrick stuggled to hold on but couldn't keep his grip as the ground opened up and his body slipped quietly into the hole. "NOOOOOO!!!!" he screamed and his voice was muffled at the end as his head disappeared below the ground.

Blackness. Blackness and silence. Blackness and evil. Evil and silence. But then...what? A muffled sound of a car? A car door shutting? Someone walking around above him? The footsteps grow closer...closer. One person. One person, visiting the graveyard. Alone. Someone to help him get out of this hellhole, this evil place...this BLACK BLACK place! With all his effort, with every ounce of energy he could still only manage a whispering..."OOOOoovvvver hheeeeeeeerrrrrreeeee...OVVERRRR HHEEEERREEEE!!"

Legends Online