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Illustrated by KKC Bauder

Cross of Changes by KKC Bauder

The misty fog seemed to hover over the ground, floating gently above all the dirt mounds and tombstones, light as a whisper, swirling all around the gate that spookily stated:

Cassandra A. Park Cemetery

How had I, an innocent seventh-grade 12-year-old skinny boy, gotten into this? I kept repeating that thought over and over. Next to me, Alice glared at the gate with untouched determination.

"Refresh my memory, Alice," I said. "How the heck did we get into this shenanigan? Really?"

My best friend since first-grade didn't look at me. "Eric," she inquired.

The bet was a distant blur to me now.

"Why are we doing this?"

Alice, always fearless (very much unlike myself), glanced at me.

"We always take bets and dares from him. He's popular. You just don't want to accept it, Joey," she continued.

I remembered. Stupid Eric.

Want to be friends with a popular kid? You had to do whatever they say. With Eric, it was terrifying dares. Alice opened the gate.

"Ready?" she asked.

I simply nodded and we walked into the fog that reluctantly opened before us and closed behind us.

"Mom and Dad would never let us do this," breathed Alice.

Yeah, I thought… but the orphanage did. I didn't like to think about that crash that only we had survived…

Even the fearless Alice seemed shaky. I, being the coward of the outfit, was very frightened too.

"We don't need to be popular," I spoke to Alice. I winked and said, "It's not worth it to sleep in a graveyard." I said that a million times as we trotted along through the cemetery.

I swallowed, looking at all the epitaphs (the writing on graves) and they seemed so gloomy.

Al Vankburt:
We know you loved that new car,
but now we regret it.
Rest in peace.

What followed was a picture of a Corvette. I inspected a bunch of graves. Weird names, what the deceased people liked, lots of writing on each one. After looking at a dozen or so, I found a very peculiar one. In deep slices in the stone, were directions:

Go to the oak tree.

I stared at it for a long time. Why would someone dead want us to go look for something? Who's grave was this? I checked it.

Sir Chfor Me.
Prounounced: Chfor=Ch-Foor Me=Mee.

Since when did gravestones have pronunciations? And of course he was a 'Sir.' He was either a 'sir' or a 'miss'. After reading it several times, I called Alice.

"Come over here," I said. "You wanna see this."

When she arrived, she read the grave, and said, "Let's do it." Alice was always ready for adventure. Always eager for a hunt. So we obeyed the writing and went to the large oak tree to our left. Leaning on it, was a shovel. Scrawled on the blade, was a message.

I read it to Alice and frowned.

"No," I said firmly. "Fine, I'll do it."

She grabbed the shovel. On it, was three words:

Dig me up.

I was NOT going to dig up a corpse! Alice broke the soil and started digging. When she stopped, I covered my eyes.

"What is it? I bet it's icky. Eew!" I said squeamishly. She sighed. "Joey, you're a scaredy-cat," she said.

I removed my hands and expected to see rotting remains, bones with bits of flesh stuck to them, blood, plants sticking in the corpse, and maggots.

Was this witchcraft we were performing? All I saw was a dirty book in Alice's hands. I felt ashamed. I couldn't read the title. We opened it to the first page. In spidery cursive:

Go to the grave at the East side.
Read every first letter of every word.

We immediately did what we were told and were looking at a tombstone.

"Read it," I said.

Gregor Olak Talked Ominously To Harold Eble.
He Undeniably Tortured.

We read every first letter. G-O T-O T-H-E H-U-T! A few paces away was a small shack. We broke down the door with the shovel.

"What are we looking for?" I asked Alice.

Alice read the next page. "Look for a can labeled PAINT," she said. "Don't open it."

We turned the room inside-out until we found the sealed bucket.

"Next page!" I screamed, excited.

She read. "Grab the gloves if you do not like touching gross things. Then, visit the other side of the shack. Grab the. . .spirit of the. . .ghost."

"It's fake," I said. "The ghost is fake."

Alice handed me gloves and we rushed to the backside of the small building. We jammed open the door. . . .

A transparent wisp of blue floated in the air.

"Heat blur," Alice assured me.

I nodded. We snatched it and read the next page.

Next-to-last direction:
Get the bones from my grave.

We raced to the grave we started the treasure hunt at, and I (Of course) made Alice dig the bones up. We were sure they would be dog-treat bones, but. . . .

Alice hoisted up a pile of clavicles and leg bones and skulls.

"This is fun," I said, my voice shaky. "When we get back, I'll thank Eric."

We both smiled. Yeah right. We flipped to the final page:

Lift all these items up in the air
after you open the lid of the paint can.
Hold the paint in your hands
(gloves are for this, if disgusted) and chant:
HOl'e BomMa SjO Hai geRo b-LA q'We NoP.

We did so, first Alice, then I followed suit. The gooey paint (definitely NOT paint, a white substance) cascaded between our fingers. The things floated out of our hands. The bones connected with the paint and spirit.

A voice boomed. "That was not paint, my friends. That was my soul."

We watched as it formed an undead body.

"You have hunted my pieces and formed me. Now I will hunt you."

The body dropped to the ground. We sprinted, the thing hot on our heels. . .

We locked ourselves in the hut. We hid behind the cluttered supplies.

Alice looked at me and said, "Bye, Joey."

That horrified me. I couldn't move or breath, I was petrified. The door bust down. The undead thing came in.

"I will eat you!" it screamed.

But I had one last question. "Sir Chfor Me? Of course you're a 'sir'! Chfor doesn't sound like a real name! Who are you?"

The thing laughed, bits of bone rattling.

"You are dumb. Sir Chfor Me? That means Search For Me! You searched for me. And now I will eat you!"

I looked at Alice, tears welling in my eyes.

"I told you we didn't need to be popular. Popularity killed the kids."

I'm not sure if Alice was crying too, I had never seen her cry and I wondered if she ever did. I tried to see if she was, because only then would I truly know it was over, if that fat lady had sung.

If the brave girl had cried, that was the end. I was trying to discover if it was the end, but the beast was already upon us.

The End

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Gage About the Author: Gage

Gage is a talented 15-year-old author from Florida who began writing for Phoophie Tales at the age of 12. In his free time, he enjoys acting, video games, reading and writing stories. What inspires Gage is reading other great horror stories and wanting to make his own to inspire others.

about the illustrator, kkc bauder

About the Artist:

KKC is a second generation artist from Texas. She was raised on abstract expressionism and loves playing with line, color and motion to create free-form paintings that can be interpretated in many different ways. Her work is inspired by Music and Literature. You can visit her art shop at: Cool Unique Original Art | apparel & gifts

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