Friday the 13th, a Monster Movie and the Grave Digger, by Kevin Lazarus

Kevin Lazarus on the streets of Carthage Falls

Kevin Lazarus in Carthage Falls

From: The Dark Side of Carthage Falls, the Chronicles, by Kevin Lazarus

Finally, the humiliation was over and happily so. I was too old for a baby-sitter! I just couldn’t seem to get my mother to understand that. And to make matters worse, to my absolute horror, she would have Tammy–the girl next door–come over! Tammy, who wasn’t much older than me, who I liked a lot, was my baby-sitter! Worse than that, Tammy would complicate things even more by bringing her friend Susan with her. Ugh! Of course, the truth was that both of them were a lot older than I initially believed. But what can I say, love is blind. Right?

The luster finally wore off when Tammy brought her boyfriend with her. Okay, so he was taller than me–and her. And, he was kind of hunky–big wow! But I knew I was toast, when I saw them sitting together, hugging and kissing, while missing the best monster movie ever–Revenge of the Mummy!

While my love affair with Tammy was short lived, I still couldn’t be all that mad at her. She’d introduced me to Friday night monster movies–Fright Night Theater. The best scary movies I had ever seen. Of course, they were the only scary movies I’d ever seen. Truth is, if my mother had found out about the movies, it would’ve all been over for both of us. It was to be our big secret. The kind of thing you pinky swear about.

In the beginning, it was wonderful–our secret rendezvous. We had a system and put on quite a show for my mother. Tammy would come over and prepare me something to eat while mom got ready to go out on their date. My step dad would walk around looking at his watch complaining that they were “going to be late!” They were always late–really late, part of the reason they were always late coming home. Anyway, I would finish the last bite on my plate and bound down the hallway into my bedroom. Where I would hop into bed, and wait for my mom to come in and give me a kiss goodnight. After she would leave, I would wait, listening for the sound of the back door to shut; after which, I would sneak out of my bedroom, down the hall, to where I waited to hear the sound of the car pulling out of the driveway. When I was sure that they were gone, I would sprint into the TV room where I would wait for Tammy and hot salty popcorn.

It was Friday night and we both were equally anxious for our favorite show–Fright Night Theater. It was the coolest show in the world because all they would show were these scary monster movies. It always started out the same with this creepy looking guy, who would talk in a creepy sounding voice, wearing some kind scary black robe, introducing that night’s monster movie. A lot of times they were old movies like The Blob or The Mummy, or, better yet, Mummy’s Revenge!

Of course our nifty little arrangement didn’t start out as an amicable association. Tammy would bring her friend with her and they would do their level best to get rid of me for the night, so they could watch scary movies. Yet, like any incorrigible young boy, after they were convinced that I was down for the night, I would sneak out of my room and hide around the corner, watching the movie too. It took a showdown between me and the two of them for Tammy to finally give up.

It happened on one of those Friday nights. I flatly refused to go to bed, I just wouldn’t do it! First they chased me all around the house, where they finally cornered me in my mom’s bedroom. So I retreated to her bed, where I stood in the middle of it, jumping up and down, making it nearly impossible for them to get their hands on me.

Finally Tammy’s friend Susan, made a desperate attempt to grab me…I punched her in the nose. She stood up shocked, holding her nose while glaring at me. Tammy scolded me, but I was invincible, I could feel it! So I just kept jumping up and down on the mattress, smiling, fists cocked for another round. At that moment Tammy did the most amazing thing, she relented, caved like a house of cards. Susan was less than happy about it and I thought for sure that she would put up more of fight. Instead, the three of us retired to the TV room where we remained for the rest of the evening–thoroughly frightened.

And thus it began, the metamorphosis of a friendship. Not long after that, Susan stopped coming and that left just the two of us, settling down every Friday night for a good scare. That is, until mom finally decided that I really was too old for a baby sitter…and then there was me.

I kept our ritual alive, only now with the approval of mom. As soon as my parents left I would hit the fridge, grab a bottle of soda, stock up on popcorn and cookies, and retreat to the TV room for the next big spine tingling thrill; waiting for the movie’s cue, the host’s sinister, macabre laughter. Unfortunately, this would be one of those times, when I was all by myself, in the middle of the night–as the movies say, the witching hour–that I would experience another disturbing revelation from Carthage Falls.

It has been so many years now, that some of the details have faded in time, but I remember that night, like I remember all of the other weird, strange events that happened to me there. This night would rival every creepy thing this town had dished out so far!


Friday the 13th

There was something different about that night. I didn’t recognize it at first. I was too busy gathering my supplies, rushing to be in my seat, hoping not to miss a single second of Doctor Demise’s scary wit. Admittedly, the whole thing was kind of cheesy, wearing a black hood, while waving his hand over an old cauldron gurgling out reams of dry ice smoke. But I didn’t care. It was truly a lot of fun. Not to mention a thrill.

I watched as he waved his hand over the top of the pot, smoke wafting out of it, rolling across the top of his table, dropping off the edges, talking in his deep guttural tone about tonight’s feature. “How terribly frightening it is, if you’re alone,” he said, laughing hideously. “You shouldn’t be alone–NOT TONIGHT!” He laughed more wickedly. I had nearly been transported to his fantasy world until he emphasized the word “tonight.” For some reason that got me, though I don’t know why. I looked around at my surroundings. They were no different than any other Friday night. Of course, it didn’t help that it was Friday the 13th. Images of my friends teasing each other about what day it was and my mother teasing me about it, flashed through my thoughts.

I inspected the TV room a little more circumspectly. The flat Naugahyde couch sitting behind my chair was where it always was. The closet doors were open, but that didn’t bother me because the light was on and I could see everything in it. Trust me. I wasn’t stupid enough to sit in the dark, not by myself. Though, Tammy would insist on it, during the early days of Fright Night, but not now, not without someone else to sit in the room with me. It was just the TV, me and my treats, nothing different at all. So why was I feeling a little freaked out? Oh yeah, Friday the 13th, the movie and its creepy host…that could be it, I thought. It had to be it! It was the only thing that made sense.

I shrugged off the feeling, focusing on Doctor Demise, allowing myself to become completely absorbed into his world of monsters. His deep guttural cackling had my complete attention. I grabbed a handful of popcorn and shoveled it into my mouth as I turned the volume up as loud as I dared. A sense of contentment flowed over me as I hunkered back into my chair and grabbed a cookie.

Sometime during the movie, about where I’m not sure–there was an unusual sound. I don’t know how long it had been going on, but it occurred to me that it wasn’t part of the movie. It just didn’t belong. It took a bit before I came out of my boob tube stupor, to listen to it, turning my head in different directions trying to determine where it was coming from. I turned down the volume on the television and listened for a moment longer, hoping that I could pin it down. With boyish anxiety, I had my fingers crossed, hoping that it was from the show and that for whatever reason, I was hearing it all wrong. But almost the instant that I had turned the volume down–nothing! The sound was gone. I couldn’t hear anything that sounded remotely like what I thought I had heard. But to be sure, I walked into the hallway and turned on the hallway lights, then just stood there listening some more.

Images from my walks home, hearing the footsteps, flooded my thoughts; followed by more images of all the other things that had happened–with all of the strange sounds that I had heard before. More anxiety followed my sensations of growing fear. Yet as I listened, there was still nothing… What I was hearing I couldn’t be sure of, and I soon began to doubt whether I had heard anything at all.

I decided to leave the lights on, in spite of the possible complaints I might have to endure from my parents. I just didn’t care. Then I did a mental check of the house, thinking about whether or not every window was shut, and whether or not every door was locked. The windows were a no brainer. They had to be closed, otherwise there would be cold air pouring through the house. With that, I convinced myself that the upstairs part of our house was safe. Mom would’ve made sure that the doors were locked, I considered. Also, the lights were on now and I felt much safer with them on. I went back into the TV room and turned the volume back up.

But then I heard it again. This time I leapt to my feet, turned down the volume again and inched my way to the door and looked around the door frame corners in both directions. Like before, the noise appeared to stop the instant I turned the volume down. But I was sure that I was hearing something. Still standing there, wanting to get back to my show, I took a second peak in both directions, just to make sure.

This time I closed the door to the TV room and put my chair against it, sitting in it. I made sure the legs of the chair were jammed against the bottom of it, believing, with my added weight that it would be too difficult for anyone to push open. Before I sat down, I cranked the volume on the television even louder than before, hoping that it would drown out the unwelcome sound. I continued watching my movie and tuned out once more.

Close to the end of the movie, it occurred to me that it was back. It had gradually gotten louder and louder until it was loud enough that I could hear it over the television! Unbelievable! I tried to tune it out at first, because it was so gradual that I figured I could ignore it. But it was beyond ignoring now. I jumped to my feet and again turned the volume down on the television. In the stark absence of its volume, the uninvited noise was the only sound to be heard. It was still apparent! I could hear it! A scraping sound so hollow, I could nearly feel the vibrations, like an echo passing through the room. There was no mistake about it now, I thought, but where is it coming from?

Not wanting to open the door, I knelt in my seat and placed my ear against the door listening. The scraping noise came in waves, growing louder, then more subtle.  I determined quickly, that it wasn’t coming from the hallway. As I moved to the middle of the room, I listened again more carefully, experiencing an odd mixture of fear and frustration. Frustrated because my show was near the end and I couldn’t just relax and enjoy it. I had to take precious time to figure out where some stupid noise was coming from–thinking that it might just be someone trying to scare me. That’s when it occurred to me that the sound was coming from outside of the house.

I hurried to the window and looked out into the darkness. It was black, nearly impossible to see anything with the lights on. My reflection glared back at me from the window glass. I could still hear the strange scraping sound, and it sounded faintly familiar, as if someone was digging a hole in the ground. Realizing that the light was making it impossible to see outside, I hurried to the switch and flipped it off.

Except for the dull glow from the television, the room was now pretty dark. The curious noise still scraping away, I looked out the window again. It was still too dark! It was then that I remembered that the switch to the backyard flood lights was right there next to me. The instant I flipped it on, the noise stopped.

Outside, the floodlights lit up everything. I could see that the ground was covered with a new blanket of snow, and it suddenly occurred to me how silly I was for thinking that the unwelcome noise sounded like someone shoveling dirt. There wasn’t any dirt to shovel! There wouldn’t be any until next spring. I took a quick glance around the yard and seeing that there wasn’t anyone or anything around to be scared of; I shut off the lights and once  again went back to watching the last of my scary movie.

The Blob had engulfed the entire diner, trapping the owner and the kids inside of it. I could only imagine what would happen to Steve McQueen if that jelly like substance got on him or one of the people with him, dissolving him like it did the first guy…some old drunk farmer. Without realizing it, I had made my way from my chair to the couch and was curled up in the corner of the armrest, nearly hiding under my blanket, when I heard it again. Right as they figured out that the fire extinguishers were their secret weapons, the scraping sound started again. I sat up straight and listened carefully. I couldn’t figure out what was making that noise. Clearly it was coming from outside the house, in the backyard!

To my chagrin, I realized that the lights were still off. Probably the reason I was so scared. I had forgotten to turn them back on. I stood up, somewhat hesitant and I walked back over to the window. But this time I flipped on the flood lights before looking out the window, hoping to catch whoever it was making that crummy sound. Again…it stopped and again…nothing but snow… I found myself now wishing that my mother was home. I took one more look around at the backyard, and then shut off the light.

I sat back down, watching the movie, only this time my head was someplace else, in a stupor. The creepy noise had started back up almost the second I had returned to my seat and I didn’t even notice that I had missed the ending of the movie. It was as if my thoughts were now stuck on something else, other then the scraping noise. I couldn’t seem to shake the images of the snow covered ground from my mind. There was something about the backyard, though I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. What was it? I thought. I had seen something. In fact, I was sure of it. There was something different about the backyard–different from when I had turned on the flood lights the first time. And then it hit me! It was in the snow! There was something different about the snow and I thought I knew what it might be, or did I? I sprang from the couch and ran to the back window, flicking on the flood lights again. And like all the times before, the scraping noise, stopped!

Accompanied by the eerie music from Fright Night Theater playing in the background, my eyes instantly made contact with what I suspected, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. They hadn’t been there the first time I had looked, I was sure of it! There were footprints in the snow! Leading out into the middle of the yard! Each footstep the size of a very large foot!

I stared down at them, awe struck, at the fact that there was just one set of tracks leading out into the middle of the yard…where they stopped! There were no other footprints going in any other direction, leading away, as footprints normally would. They just stopped in the middle of the yard, in the snow, as if whoever had made them had disappeared right there! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Dumb struck by the image, I stood there for the longest time staring at the undeniable evidence; evidence that took me one step further than the odd noise that sounded like someone digging in my backyard.

In a forgetful stupor, I flipped off the flood lights, but didn’t move. I stood there at the window in a daze, still staring down at the backyard. As the last glimmer from the light faded, I could just make out what appeared to be the outline of someone standing below…in the snow, where the footprints had ended…and what appeared to be the outline of a shovel in its hand. With lightning reflexes I flipped the floodlights back on and watched as the shadowy figure disappeared!

For a moment I couldn’t catch my breath. I stepped back from the window and with anxious fear, removed the chair from the door…and then pushed the couch in front of it. I turned up the volume and sat there staring at the TV and whatever was on next. To this day I can’t remember what show it was, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had just seen with my own eyes. It wasn’t some creepy movie, it was creepy real! One thing was for sure, I wasn’t going to turn off the flood light. I didn’t care what my stepfather thought. That freakin’ light was going to stay on all night…if I had anything to say about it!


Got Kindle?

If so, you can download another (longer) creepy story by Kevin Lazarus for free for the next few days called, “The Monster’s Ball“.

It’s part of the “Dark Side of Carthage Falls” series of biographical stories Kevin wrote about the creepy things that happened to him as a child growing up with a mother who dabbled in the Hoodoo culture of the deep South.

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