AFTER MIDNIGHT • by Jenny Schwartz

Once upon a time, when he’d been an active old man, George Porter had shouted himself hoarse about the youth of today and their horrible graffiti. He’d banged his stick on the floor of countless community meetings and moaned to the over-worked constabulary. These days, though, George merely groaned. “Ooo-oo-oooh.”

***

“What’s that?” Fifteen-year-old Eddie Jonker looked around in sudden fright.

When Cindi had first suggested this trip, he’d been all for it. He’d cut his teeth on horror movie DVDs, and he thought it would be cool to visit a cemetery at midnight. Besides, he kinda liked Cindi, and he didn’t want her thinking he was a coward or anything. So he’d said, “Yeah, cool.”

However, now it was ten past midnight, and the cemetery wasn’t cool, it was freezing.

Black shadows swooped terrifyingly across the gravestones as the wind whipped through the trees. The moon vanished as clouds swept across it and a black cat darted away. The streetlight at the edge of the cemetery cast just enough light to make everything appear ten times scarier.

“Aargh!” Eddie choked on fear and the mouthful of chocolate he’d taken to steady his nerves.

“What is it?” asked Cindi irritably. She wanted to get the job done and get out of there, and frankly, Eddie wasn’t helping.

“Argh-mfm-gtt.” Eddie struggled with a chocolate caramel that had delusions of superglue status. “Mrgh-look!” He pointed to the top of the streetlight, where something had moved.

“Probably a bat.” Cindi tried to sound scornful, but she shivered in her hoodie.

“Vampires,” moaned Eddie. He took an automatic bite of chocolate, and became mercifully incommunicado. Chew, chew, shudder. Chew.

He searched his pockets desperately. Surely he had a piece of silver somewhere? He looked doubtfully at the silver wrapper from his chocolate. Would it do? Usually he let chocolate wrappers and chip packets fall to the ground, but in this place, at this hour, even a pretend silver wrapper was worth keeping. Eddie crumpled it in his sweaty fist.

“Right.” Cindi took two spray cans from her pocket, and handed one to Eddie — or tried to.

“Nah, Cin. I don’t think this is a good idea.” Spray painting graves had sounded cool and rebellious in daylight. At midnight, Eddie had doubts.

“Don’t be a doofus. Here.” Cindi thrust the can into his hand.

“Ooo-oo-oooh.”

Eddie dropped the spray paint.

Cindi shivered. She looked around cautiously. “What was that?” It was all very well being rebellious and anti-social, but there was no value in running into a real nutter.

All Cindi wanted was to make her mum pay attention to her. Ever since she’d married Fred the Ferret, her mum hadn’t had time for Cindi. A bit of graveyard vandalism would force her to notice Cindi’s unhappiness.

“Three graves,” said Cindi. “You spray three graves, and I’ll spray three, and then we can get outta here.”

“OOOoooh.”

“C-c-c-c-indi.” Eddie held his silver chocolate wrapper protectively in front of himself and pointed.

Fog was coming out of a gravestone.

“Aargh!” Cindi dropped her spray paint and ran. Forget making her mum pay attention, Cindi just wanted to be home in bed with the covers over her head. Even Fred didn’t seem so bad compared to the ghostly terrors of the midnight graveyard. Maybe she’d make him a cuppa, tomorrow morning, and not complain when he dunked a gingernut in it.

“Wait for me,” whimpered Eddie. He stumbled after Cindi. “Ooh, wait for me.” He had his doubts about the power of a silver chocolate wrapper to ward off night monsters.

Run, stumble, thump, stagger, run.

Cindi and Eddie burst out of the cemetery, ghostly laughter ringing in their ears.

“Hahaha-cackle, cackle. Snort. Ha!”

***

In his lounge room at home, George Porter forgot to turn off the audio system that transmitted his ghostly “Ooo-oo” groans to the cemetery. Through CCTV he could watch for any teenage vandals — and thanks to the technology he’d rigged up — he could make them run.

Tomorrow he’d have to re-fill the smoke canister that nestled in the stone roses that decorated his old mate Norm’s tombstone.

“Good old Norm.” He’d have enjoyed the joke as much as anyone.

“Ooo-ooh — Ha ha.” George went to bed.


Jenny Schwartz is an armchair socialist, an idealist when it’s not too much trouble. Her hobbies include worrying about the world and swearing at political idiocy.

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Every Day Fiction

  • Elizabeth Perfect

    That was pretty amusing. I liked it, especially the “[it] wasn’t cool, it was freezing”, and the bits about poor, terrified Eddie. Quite funny!

  • Giggle!

  • Jen

    The twist kinda fell flat for me. Sorry.

  • Anthony

    I wanted to really like this piece, but it felt a bit forced for me. I think part of it was the character backgrounds that felt out-of-place once the story was rolling — in particular, the details about Cindy’s homelife felt like they were sort of crammed in. I did like the very first paragraph, and the sort-of twist at the end was cute.

  • Thanks for taking the time to add a comment. I really appreciate the crit.

  • JB

    I have to agree with Anthony. Sometimes motivation doesn’t need to be explicitly stated, and the backstory to justify Cindy’s actions brought a jarring to the story’s action.

  • WLC

    Cute “Halloween prank” kind of scare.
    Unfortunately, pov starts with Eddie. After Eddie drops the spray paint the pov shifts to Cindi. At: “Wait for me,” whimpered Eddie”…pov shifts back to Eddie. Best to avoid head hopping.

  • Amusing, but it was ruined for me by very unrealistic psychology. These hoodie-wearing grave desecrators don’t swear and have clear-cut, fully thought-out strategies in their cries for help. This seems to be aiming at making their actions more realistic, but has the inverse effect.