And where will she go and what shall she do?
by Sam Dawson
A night of drink, drugs, and ouija in a church cemetery takes a dark turn following a proposal to run widdershins around the church building to summon Satan…
So, we like to go to graveyards at night and get drunk, do a bit of drugs, play with a Ouija board on a grave, party a little, try to summon ghosts, talk about death and think about dying, discuss demonic possession and generally flaunt our youth, vitality and desirability to the resident dead. The more isolated and darker and haunted the place the better.
What could possibly go wrong?
This Sunday night I’m talking about there’s 20 or so of us. Over half are what you might call of the gothic persuasion. Then there’s some siblings and friends whose favourite colour isn’t black. Oh, and in a category all by themselves, Dale and Rhonwen (the former known to the rest of us behind his back as Igor and the latter, generally as something like “oh fucking hell, how did she know we’d be here?”).
They aren’t actually particularly relevant to events, but for completeness’s sake let me explain. Rhonwen is so unpleasant a personality that after trying various ploys in the hope of finding anybody who would have a relationship with her she ended up as a witch, of the darker, nastier kind. However, for all her talk about devil worship, it remains just that: talk. She is still 12 friends short of a coven, which rather limits her potential as a spawn of Satan. Igor is a misogynist loner of the alarm-bell-ringing type who will sit next to a girl in the college canteen and tell her, unprompted, that he has shaved off all his body hair. Then offer to show her. He makes you glad we have strict gun laws in this country. Rhonwen and Igor deserve each other but are both such fundamentally unpleasant personalities that even they can’t bear to get it on together.
I wish I knew who invited them or, perhaps more likely, talked about meeting up here within their earshot, because I would really, really like to ask them to desist in future.
Actually, I tell a lie, the vile Rhonwen does play a part in events, beyond making everyone get up and go somewhere else when she sidles up to you just as you and a couple of friends have found the perfect tombstone to sit back against and enjoy your vodka or cider or, if you’re really lucky, absinthe.
She was the one who suggested running around the church widdershins.
You have to understand that this is basically a party, even if we have to keep the music low and show no lights (beyond phones and the de rigueur candle for the tomb-mounted Ouija board). You really don’t want to attract any local youths or people leaving the pubs and looking for trouble. As mentioned, about half of us are goths. The ideas of widdershins – you know, the tradition that if you run counterclockwise seven times around a stone circle or church at midnight you will meet the devil – was only likely to be of any interest to the kohl, white slap and dyed black hair fraternity (no criticism intended, I’m one of the tribe). And even there, well who wants to run? It’s so uncool and sweaty. Plus, there’s the footwear question. Many of us favour high boots that involve large heels or platforms and are unsuitable for anything except stately and vaguely mysterious ambulation. So, only two of us have come in something suitable for exercise. Pixie, who is what my Mum would call a “wee slip of a girl”, has feet so small and dainty that she has to buy her footwear from children’s ranges. Consequently, she is in a pair of black ballet slippers. She’s a sweetie, and so is her good friend Dark Dave (there are three Daves among our group, so each has to have an identifier, the others being Young Dave and Big Dave). Tall and thin, beneath his cloak (nice touch, mate) he has on a pair of Doc Marten shoes, the type you see coppers and nurses wearing. So he and Pixie lead the way. Jogging. I start strolling around, but after about three circuits of the church, I get so bored I give up. Lola, who is in buckled biker boots, manages two times round at a fair old lick before breaking up coughing and going off to find solace in a menthol cigarette.
So everything is going nicely. The church itself is locked, and nobody minds that, because if it wasn’t you can bet that Igor and Rhonwen would want to desecrate it. Which would just be rude. People are getting on well, forming little groups here and there, doing all the different things people do at parties, but dispersed around the graveyard. So you can gravitate towards the discussion, dance, drink or drug that you want and walk over to where it’s at, just being careful not to fall over a tree root or gravestone, since the night is virtually pitch black (which, of course, is the way we like it).
Until the scream.
Not that that word describes it. Maybe more a tearing of the fabric of sound, ranging across the scale from falsetto down to a thunderous bass. A cacophony of rage and relief and sheer bloody power. So loud and so inhuman that my bowels turn to water and the windows of houses half a mile away light up. And then so does the police switchboard.
They are there within minutes and in force. There must have been a lot of terrified people who called 999, right after they shouted at their families to bloody get back in their bedrooms and lock the door.
Me and a few others – the only ones who aren’t frozen to the spot – just have time to run to where it came from, which we reckon was the church’s main door, on the opposite side from the graveyard. It’s open. We look into the interior, simultaneously terrified and very much aware that the only people who’d been on that side of the building were the only ones unaccounted for: our friends Pixie and Dave. I can’t swear to it, but I believe that for a second only, in the blackness within, I see a pair of eyes glowing back at us like burning coals. Then they’re gone.
We can hear sirens approaching. Someone finds the switches, and the lights come on.
To a harvest festival of meat: intestines draped from pillar to pillar; nerves and veins stripped and stretched, festooning the pews and altar; blood and bone and bile spattered across the walls. All things flesh and vascular, all organs great and small, all things wet and visceral, the lord God made them all – and expected them to stay hidden, tightly packed within the body, interior not exterior. Not like fucking decorations.
Which brings me to now. What more can I tell? Not much. My access to news is controlled, so I have to get what I can from visitors. What I know first-hand is that the police then arrive almost, like, instantly, which leads them to be sure that whoever the murderers are, they are still there among us in the graveyard. They establish that, despite appearances, what has been used to defile the church was one person: Dark Dave. Tiny, elfin Pixie has either been kidnapped or fled the scene in terror and is hiding somewhere, too traumatised to reveal herself.
Me? I’m not ashamed to admit it. I go to pieces. Wet myself. Stand there sobbing and whimpering till they take me away and sedate me. Which, actually, is pretty handy for the authorities. All of us at the party are under suspicion, but the main suspect group is the five of us who made it to the door and entered the church. They have found some quite inventive ways to keep us under lock and key since they can’t find enough proof to make arrests. Me, I’m in a psychiatric unit, thanks to my breakdown at the scene; a couple of others are on remand for a bit of weed that would normally be ignored; big gentle Norman is also receiving therapy, I hear, while Baz is being held for, believe it or not, supplying alcohol to a minor, viz letting his 16-year-old sister share his cider.
So this is the way they see it, I reckon: some of us (all or mainly male, given the strength needed to tear a fit, young, resisting man, literally into pieces) are the guilty ones. And will either try and fail to murder again (a psychiatric nurse or prison warder who will have been forewarned what we are capable of) or, kept apart from our accomplices, will break down from the enormity of what we did and confess, naming the organiser of the outrage. No doubt they hoped that a terrified Pixie would turn up and identify the perpetrators, but there’s still been no sign of her.
I can see how it makes sense. I imagine the others are, like in the films, half dreading another murder, half hoping for one, because it will clear us, and we’ll all be released. And I’m sure they’re right: there will be another one. Someone’s got the appetite now. And the means.
Me, I’m happy where I am, in a secure unit, with locks and doors and heavily built, tattooed psychiatric nurses that I have been warned not to mess with – as if I would. I love that word ‘secure’. Because I think something’s come into the world. Not Satan, called up by running widdershins around the church, that would be silly, but some type of elemental: a force of nature maybe, or what, for want of a better word, we call a demon. A thing that’s been kept outside our world for a long, long time and suddenly has been gifted a sweet, young, vibrant form. Pixie’s.
I don’t know if outwardly she looks the same. Maybe the thing running her will have changed her clothes and makeup, the better to escape detection and move freely around. But I bet if you saw her in darkness her eyes would blaze with a glow like the fires of hell.
I think those eyes are what the five of us saw in that brief second in the church. Which makes us a target. The more walls and fences and security glass between us and the outside world the better, I’d say.
There’s something the police missed when they arrived and set up their lights in the church. Right up just below the ceiling, high off the ground (I was only looking there because I had a sense that was where the fiery eyes streaked off to). A single pair of bloodied footprints, next to the windows that would provide a way out for something fearless and agile and rejoicing in its new cloak of flesh. An exit onto the roof where it could watch and gloat over what it had done before deciding when and where to do it next.
That’s the knowledge that I think puts me first on the kill list. Even though it was only two footprints. Which reveals that whoever got out that window reached it in one single 25-metre leap, leaving behind just one dangerous pointer to its new identity: the outline in blood of a pair of dainty little ballet shoes.