The Dare

Greer Cemetery stood on the outskirts of the small town of Rhodes Crossing. It was a creepy place—even by the light of day.

Part of the reason was due to the fact that it had fallen into a state of disrepair. The old wrought-iron fencing was rusted and falling down in some places.

Gnarled roots of oak trees twisted among the headstones, causing some of them to crack and tumble. Unkempt branches touched the ground, creating a canopy of green in the summer. In autumn, the bare branches made the place look even more desolate.

An old dilapidated house stood next to the cemetery. The wooden siding had never seen a coat of paint. A colony of bats had taken residence in the crumbling brick chimney. Some window panes were broken and others were missing. Parts of the roof had fallen in. The front door stood open as if beckoning people inside, but no one dared to enter.

A few years earlier, a group of teenagers decided to explore the vacant house. They said stains resembling blood were on the floor of the upstairs bedroom, but it was only speculation. The last person to live there was an elderly woman who died of natural causes in a local hospital in the late 1990s.

Some of the town’s older residents claimed someone murdered a man in the house during the Great Depression. They also said the house was haunted and the front door would mysteriously close by itself. Many attested to the fact of sitting on the porch, hearing a sound like a lasso being thrown, and then the door would slowly close. Needless to say, both children and adults avoided walking nearby—especially at night.

Those who dared to saunter along the dark street claimed to have seen ghosts and heard mysterious sounds coming from the cemetery. Legend had it that a woman dressed in white would appear at the west cemetery gate and “follow” passersby. She never spoke, but was apparently able to keep pace with runners, bicycles, and even cars. As soon as she reached the east side of the cemetery, she would turn and go back inside the gates.

Most suspected she was the ghost of Lucy Greer, daughter of old Andrew Greer, the original owner of the cemetery lands and old house. Lucy died in a tragic accident only three weeks before her wedding.

As expected, the number of “sightings” increased when Halloween drew near. Residents of the town revived old legends and told new stories. Last year, a group of kids claimed to have been chased by the mysterious lady in white. When one of them later recanted the story, the others confessed to having made it up.

As a newcomer to Rhodes Crossing, Carly Spencer found the stories to be amusing. She didn’t believe in ghosts and had found there was always a logical explanation for these sightings. But she soon learned that many of the citizens took offense at even the slightest hint they were wrong about the ghosts.

Her boss, Melvin Bishop, was chief among them. He came into the diner on the Monday before Halloween, brimming with excitement.

“Old Charlie Sanders claims to have seen Lucy this past weekend. Said she followed him all the way to the corner and even called his name.”

“Surely you don’t believe all that stuff.”

“I’ve never known old Charlie to lie. If he said he saw a ghost, that’s good enough for me.What’s more, he saw another one near the back of the cemetery. Charlie thought at first it was an animal, but decided it was a ghost”

“But have you ever seen one?”

“Well, no, but… Have you?”

“No. And until I do, I won’t believe.”

“Then if you’re so sure, why don’t you walk by there tonight? Take a look and ‘see’ for yourself. That is, if you have the nerve. In fact, I dare you to go.”

Never one to turn down a challenge, especially one in which she could prove someone wrong, Carly said, “You’re on.”

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“I’ll drive around the block and wait for you on the next corner,” Melvin said. “I’m not about to walk with you.”

“I would think that since you’re convinced the ghost exists, you’d want to see for yourself.”

“I’m not the one who has to be shown in order to believe. Afraid to go alone?”

“Certainly not,” Carly said, and got out of the car.

She’d walked a half block when she came to the old house. It is creepy. She felt a sudden chill and quickened her pace. When a black cat scampered in front of her, she had to stifle her scream. And that’s when she saw the white figure coming from the cemetery. It ran fast—right in her direction.

She froze, unable to move. The figure drew closer and closer until it was right upon her. And then, it reached out.

“Well, hello there. Who do you belong to?” Carly breathed a sigh of relief when the Great Pyrenees placed its paws on her shoulder. “Are you the one that’s been hanging around the cemetery?”

“Woof, woof!”

“No collar. No tags. Do you have a home?”

“Woof.”

“Well come along then, we’ll see if we can find your owner. Or a home.” She walked on with the large dog by her side. Carly didn’t mind admitting it was comforting to have him along. When she reached the east side of the cemetery she breathed a sigh of relief. Melvin’s car was parked on the next block.

I think this solves the mystery of what old Charlie saw last night. And as for Lady Greer, she’s a no show. Just as I expected.

Suddenly, a cold chill ran down her spine. Carly turned around…

  • Teresa R

    Great short story and a great ending. Makes you pause and think.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Teresa. A bit different from my usual writing, but with Halloween this month, I couldn’t resist.

  • Michele Jones

    I love a good spooker. As my former boss used to say, “Things that make you go hmmm . . “

    • The mysterious unknown. Used to drive me crazy to read a story where I didn’t know the outcome. And now I’m writing that type of story. 🙂

  • Anastacia

    Great story, Joan! Love the ending. Will there be a sequel?

    • Could be someday. Or I could just leave it to the reader’s imagination. 🙂

  • kathunsworth

    Great story Joan I imagine that the animal is a ghost but thats just me.

    • Who knows? LOL Glad you liked the story.

  • Good one Joan. Jess will like this too.

    • Glad you enjoyed the story, Anne!