Here's a little Halloween treat for you. It's my retelling of one of my favorite ghost stories.
The boys stood on the dirt road, staring at the graveyard. The sky was overcast, evening was beginning to come on, and things seemed gloomy. "Old Man Haskett" was buried in there a couple weeks ago," said Mark.
"Yeah," whispered Will, "and everyone says he was pure evil. He killed his own dog for barking, I heard, and he had a daughter who just disappeared. No one ever heard from her again."
"I bet he killed her, too," said Asher as he stared bug-eyed at the graveyard.
"Yeah, for barking," retorted Jimmy, and the boys let out a little laugh which was interrupted by the screech of a bird which made them all suddenly duck.
"They say," said Mark, "that if you stand on the grave of an evil man at midnight, he'll come up out of the dirt and grab you and won't let you go."
"Oh phooey," said Jimmy, "I don't believe it."
"It's true," Will insisted.
"Look here," Mark said to Jimmy, "I bet you don't have the guts to do it."
"I do too," said Jimmy.
"I dare you," said Mark, and all the others chimed in, "Yeah, we dare you, Jimmy."
Jimmy couldn't back down without making a fool of himself, and so said, "I'll do it. I'll do it tonight, at midnight."
"How can we be sure he does it?" asked Asher, "He might just say he did it."
Mark reached into his pocket and pulled out his big jackknife and handed it to Jimmy. "Here," he said, "when you're on it, you stick this knife into Haskett's grave. We'll come over here early in the morning and see if you were really there." At that, the boys walked back to town and each went his own way home.
Jimmy lay in bed that night, unable to sleep. When midnight came, he quietly slid his bedroom window open and slipped out into the darkness, with a flashlight in his hand and Mark's jackknife in his pocket. He ran up the street and down the road, darting behind a bush whenever he saw a car coming so no one would ask a nine-year-old boy what he was doing out in the middle of the night.
The graveyard looked a lot spookier in the moonlight, and he stood at the edge of it, almost chickening out, but then thought of how the boys would laugh and tease him for being a coward. He took the knife out of his pocket, opened the blade, and began walking between the graves, following the beam of his flashlight. He didn't know where Old Man Haskett was buried, so he shined his light on each tombstone as he passed. Some of the names were odd, even creepy, and he wondered how many evil persons were buried there besides Mr. Haskett, and he was careful not to step on any graves.
Finally there it was -- a small tombstone that said
Albert C. Haskett
May 12, 1885 - Oct. 14, 1964and the sod that covered the grave seemed a little lighter in color. Jimmy didn't want to linger, but he was afraid to step on the grave. The moon was behind trees now, and it was very dark. His flashlight was dimmer than when he left home, casting only a yellow glow, and, fearing it might go out and leave him in total darkness, Jimmy stepped onto the grave, stooped down and stuck the knife deep into the dirt, and turned to run.
But he couldn't! Old Man Haskett's hand had indeed reached out of the ground and grabbed his ankle! Jimmy screamed in terror.
Just after dawn the rest of the boys hurried out to the graveyard to see if Jimmy had really stuck the knife in the grave, and when they approached they found Jimmy's body lying there dead, with his eyes opened and blindly gazing, an expression of horror distorting his cold face. Mark's big jackknife was stuck through the cuff of Jimmy's pants and deep into the dirt, pinning him to the ground. Jimmy had died of fright.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.