Alex and Kara Danvers had just moved to the suburbs just outside of National City from Midvale so their mom could go back to school. They hadn’t made many friends yet—it’s hard being the new kids in town; you’ll do almost anything to try and fit in.
Alex, 13, bent down and filled her water gun with the hose, looking around to be sure Kara, 11, wasn’t about to sneak up on her. She shut the spigot off, twisted the water tank back into place, and took off around the side of the house, being sure to stick close to the building.
She crept around the back of the house, her back nearly scraping the brick with each step. As she turned the corner and peeked through the fence to the front, Kara blasted her in the face. Alex was soaked.
“You’re dead!” she yelled as Kara took off through the gate and into the front yard.
As she shot at the back of Kara’s head and down her back, Kara started to run in circles. When she stopped suddenly, Alex pounced on the opportunity and squirted her in the face.
“Alex!” Kara said, holding a hand up to her face to block the water.
Alex ignored her and continued to shoot. “Say uncle!”
“Alex!” Kara tried again.
That was enough to make Alex stop and look at where her sister pointed. There, at the edge of the driveway, was a group of kids all around their age sitting on their bikes.
“What’s up?” asked a boy about Alex’s age.
“What do you want?” Alex replied suspiciously.
“Alex,” Kara quietly chided. Her sister could be so rude sometimes.
“I wanted to say hello.”
Kara smiled, maybe they could finally make some new friends. “I’m Kara and this is my sister Alex.”
“I saw you moving in last week, where are you from?” the boy inquired.
“Midvale,” Alex responded bluntly.
“Midvale?” the boy snickered. “Nice town, if you like cows.”
“Well, not everyone can be born in the city,” Alex retorted; she had loved Midvale. It was a nice place to grow up.
“I guess that’s true… So, are you liking it here?”
“It’s ok,” Kara chimed in. “Hard to leave our friends back home, though.”
“Funny you should say that. My group and I,” he pointed to the others, “have a running game of hide and seek. We’re playing tonight if you want to come?”
It was a tempting offer, to be sure. A chance to hang out with a whole group of kids? It sounded like a dream. But, hide and seek? Kara glanced over to the rest of the group, taking special notice of a girl that looked to be around her age. She had dark wavy hair and green eyes. Even in the summer sun, she didn’t have the faintest sign of a tan or even sunburn. But still…hide and seek?
“I don’t think so,” Alex said.
Kara did a doubletake. She’d expected Alex to waver a little, but not outright say no.
“Why not?” she pestered.
Alex shot a pointed look to her sister. “Because, it’s just a stupid kid’s game.”
Kara sent one right back. “Uh, yeah. And we’re kids.”
“That’s ok,” the nameless boy interrupted. “You’d probably be too scared to play where we do, anyway.”
That was bait. Even an 11-year-old Kara could see that.
“Where do you play?”
But apparently Alex was in the mood for fishing.
“End of Anchor Street, behind the big gates.”
Kara’s eyebrows knit together. “Why do you say we’d be too afraid to play there?
The boy chuckled lightly. “Let’s just say…it gets pretty dark in there at night.”
Alex’s back straightened up and her chest puffed out. “Yeah, well, we’re not chicken. are we, Kara?”
Yes. In fact, Kara was absolutely chicken. She hated the dark. She couldn’t tell that to this boy and his friends, though.
“No, not at all.” There. That would convince them.
The boy smirked, likely seeing right through it. “Meet us there at sunset. Unless you’re afraid.” He turned and pedaled off, signaling for the rest of the group to follow.
“What does he mean, ‘unless you’re afraid?’” Kara asked Alex.
Alex chewed the inside of her cheek, pondering. “I don’t know. It’s a kid’s game, right? What’s so scary about hide and seek?”
They headed inside for dinner and to try to mentally prepare for what was to come.
When they arrived at the big gates at the end of Anchor Street, Alex and Kara realized what the boy had meant. Beyond the wrought iron fence was a decrepit, old graveyard. The grass was overgrown around many of the headstones. There were no streetlights in the area; only the moonlight. There was a ghoulish fog that rolled through the area, making it just a little more difficult to see.
Kara swallowed thickly at the sight. She looked at her sister in disbelief. “You’re kidding, right?”
“C’mon, let’s go,” Alex directed, trying to sound more confident than she felt.
“We’re going in there?” Kara glanced through the gates again, her stomach turning and rolling at the thought.
Alex gave her a withering stare. “You’re the one who wanted to make friends, remember? Let’s. Go.”
Kara sighed, resigned to her fate. She’d done it to herself, like Alex had pointed out. They walked to the gates, Alex shoving her sneakered foot onto a horizontal pole, then another and another, until she’d boosted herself over and onto the ground. Kara followed her lead, only with her shorter legs, she had a bit of trouble over the speared top of the gate.
“I’ve never been more thankful to be a girl,” she whispered to herself as she maneuvered over the spike, careful not to catch her jeans on it.
When she hit the ground, Alex was nowhere to be seen.
“Alex?” she called out, on edge.
She looked around and couldn’t find her, she walked further into the graveyard.
“Alex?!” she started to panic.
“Hey!” Alex jumped her from behind, grabbing her shoulders and giving her a small jolt. “This way,” she pointed, totally uncaring that she’d given her sister a premature heart attack.
They walked further into the graveyard, passing by numerous tombstones from various decades. The other kids didn’t seem to be around.
Maybe this was just a prank. They’re probably not even here, Kara thought sadly.
They continued to walk through the deserted place, the fog seemingly their only company, and looked around with no luck. When they reached a clearing with a large tree, they stopped.
“Where are they?” Alex asked, annoyed.
Kara shrugged and squinted out into the distance. Stupid creepy fog, she thought.
“Boo!” the boy from earlier shrieked from behind and grabbed their shoulders.
Kara and Alex jumped, but thankfully didn’t scream.
“Oh, man!” he laughed delightedly. “You should have seen your faces!”
Kara placed a hand to her chest, to make sure her heart was still actually beating. She didn’t know if she could take this kind of thing.
“You’re a comic genius,” Alex barked out. “Where is everybody?”
“Out in the graveyard. We didn’t think you were going to show. Now we’ll have to start over,” he said condescendingly. He stepped forward, cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled out, “Olly, Olly oxen free! Olly, Olly oxen free!”
Suddenly, heads and bodies popped out from behind tombstones and started to walk towards them. Each of them touched the large tree in the middle of the clearing before turning around to face Kara and Alex.
Kara being Kara, decided to greet each one of them. The only one who acknowledged her was the girl with the green eyes, who smiled sweetly before she threw a glare to the unnamed boy.
“That’s James Olsen, Winn Schott, Sam Arias, Lena Walsh,” he said as he stepped in front of the others and spun on his heel. “And I’m Lex Luthor.”
“What are they doing here?” James demanded. He was the tallest of the bunch.
“I invited them,” Lex explained.
“We’ve got enough people in the group,” Winn chimed in. “We don’t need any more.”
“Sure, we do,” Lex placated.
“The more the better,” Lena added.
“Exactly!” Lex was pleased as punch by Lena siding with him. (It didn’t happen often.) He turned his sights back to Alex and Kara. “Now, I hope you two don’t scare easily.”
“What’s there to be scared of?” Alex looked around. “It’s just a graveyard; everyone’s dead here.”
“Well, kind of…” Lex trailed off with a smirk.
“What are you talking about?” Kara asked pointedly. If she needed to make a break for it, she wanted to know right then.
“You didn’t tell them the legend of Old Man Jones?” Sam asked.
“No, Samantha,” Lex sighed and rolled his eyes. “I was just about to.”
“The legend of who?”
Kara felt her stomach flip again. She really wanted to go home.
“Old Man Jones,” Lex started, walking around them slowly, methodically. “He was the groundskeeper here; used to dig the graves by hand, no machinery. He thought he owned the place, so he’d walk around late at night, all by himself just to make sure no one was trespassing.” He slowed down a little more as he neared one of the tombstones. “If he wasn’t here, he’d be out in the woods by his cabin.” Lex lifted his arm in the alleged general direction of the cabin. “Just playing his harmonica…”
“That’s not much of a legend,” Alex scoffed.
Lex spun back around to face them and snorted, “It gets better. They say he was…crazy. They say he caught this kid stealing something from his shack, so he took an axe and cut his hand off… WHACK!” Lex mimicked the motion and Kara jumped and hid behind Alex. He stalked towards the girls as he continued, forcing his body between them as he moved towards the rest of the group. “One day, he was digging a grave when all of a sudden, the sides caved in on him; he was buried alive.”
“Gross,” Kara whispered.
“Some say he still walks the graveyard at night, looking for…trespassers,” he said dramatically and whipped his head around to make sure they saw it. “And if it’s really quiet, you might even hear him playing his harmonica, off…in the distance.”
“You call that scary?” Alex challenged. “Our grandma is scarier than that.”
“Yeah, you should try going in Midvale’s Haunted Corn Maze,” Kara supplied “Now that’s scary.”
“Yeah, I’d like to see how long you’d last in there, Loser,” Alex bookended.
“It’s Luthor,” Lex corrected angrily.
Kara noticed Lena snicker into her hand, her green eyes lighting up when she caught Kara staring.
“Whatever,” Alex rolled her eyes.
“Old Man Jones is out there,” Lex pointed off into the distance.
“I’ll believe that when I see it.”
“Are we gonna play or stand around talking?” Winn snapped; his arms crossed.
“We’re going to play,” Lena said as she stepped forward. “All of us,” she finished with a pointed look in James’ direction. At his glance to the ground, she continued. “The tree is home base; hide anywhere you want. Anything outside of the fence, however, is out of bounds. Last one in is it.” She made sure the Danvers sisters understood the rules and then gave Lex the go ahead.
He turned halfway and sneered, “Winslow, you’re up.”
Winn headed to the tree and placed a hand on it. Turning back partly towards the group he called out, “Ready? Go!” then proceeded to count to 10.
The kids took off in different directions, but Kara stuck close to Alex, at least for their first game. She needed to get accustomed to their new surroundings before she felt brave enough to venture off on her own.
They walked further and further through the graveyard, through thickets of trees and bushes, it seemed to go on forever. The fog never seemed to let up, either. They looked around, trying to find a good spot, but every headstone seemed to be too short or too thin.
“This is lame,” Alex lamented. “We should just go home…”
“No!” Kara whispered harshly. “If we leave now then we’ll never make any friends.”
Sure, she’d wanted to go home just a few minutes ago, but now she felt like she had to prove herself.
She walked up to a tombstone, the inscription catching her eye. She knelt down and read it aloud, “Remember friends, as you pass by: as you are now, so once was I. Remember, in life, that you must die.” She shook her head, “Yuck.”
“Oh, man! Kara, come here!” Alex called out for her sister. Kara ran over and skidded to a halt just in time. Alex stood at the edge of an open grave. “They must be burying somebody soon!”
Kara peered down into the black hole, a sense of foreboding welling up in her. Alex pretended to push her in, but never let go. Still, Kara flailed and smacked her sister.
“Alex, stop it.”
“Don’t be such a baby,” she chortled. “It’d be a great hiding place.”
“’til it caved in,” Kara retorted.
Suddenly, Alex’s brow furrowed. She stood still and listened for a moment before she shushed and signaled for Kara to listen, too.
“What is that?” Kara asked, barely audible.
Alex signaled again for Kara to follow her. They jogged further into the graveyard, past another crop of trees. The fog seemed to get thicker around them.
“Hey,” Kara paused. “It’s coming from in there.” She pointed out where the sound seemed to be coming from. “You think it’s Old Man Jones?” Kara felt a lump form in her throat as she said it.
“Nah,” Alex shook her head vehemently. “It’s probably one of them trying to scare us. Let’s go find ‘em!” She took off in the direction of the sound at a decent pace, Kara right on her heels.
They passed through a thicker set of trees and the sound became clearer; it was a harmonica.
The lump in Kara’s throat seemed to grow and she had a hard time trying to swallow.
From the tree line, the spotted a rundown looking cabin. There were no lights on anywhere. They crept closer, minding the underbrush as to not making a ruckus as they approached. The whiny creek of an old screen door cried out then slammed shut.
“Get down!” Alex whispered harshly as she grabbed her sister by the arm and dragged her behind the tall woodpile. The harmonica’s music died out shortly after.
“When they get close, we’ll jump out and scare them,” Alex instructed.
Kara giggled quietly and rubbed her hands together. She loved a good plan.
At the sound of an axe chopping, her face fell. So did Alex’s.
“You think they brought an axe all the way out here just to play a joke on us?” Kara wondered aloud.
Alex glanced around and shrugged, “That’s what I would do?”
She started to rise when Kara grabbed her hand and pulled her back down.
“What if it’s really Old Man Jones?!”
Alex rolled her eyes and shook her head. “You’ve seen too many movies.”
Alex slowly stood again and peeked over the woodpile. There was no one around and the sound of the door slamming again brought her eyes back to the tree stump in the middle of the yard.
“No one’s there…”
Kara popped up to see for herself; she only just cleared the top of the pile. Her eyes passed over the tree stump when she saw something glint in the moonlight.
“Look! What’s that?”
Alex’s eyes went excitedly wide. “It’s a harmonica.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Kara urged. She’d had enough for one night.
“Yeah,” Alex agreed. And they took off back through the trees.
What they didn’t see behind them, was a hand reach down and swipe the harmonica off the stump.
Kara and Alex slowed down to catch their breaths near a wide and dark tombstone; the fog had finally cleared a little.
“Olly, Olly oxen free!” Sam jumped out and yelled before she took off towards the home base tree.
Alex and Kara hadn’t been ready for it, so they jumped and held each other, then ran off after her. Only when they turned to run, they were met with a tall, dark figure in overalls and holding an axe. He looked at them curiously, even as they screamed in his face and started running for the gates. He smirked as he watched them run.
Kara and Alex sprinted for the gates, screaming as they went. Not once did they stop to catch their breath or to try and find the others. All they wanted to do was get out and go home. Alex leapt over headstones while Kara dodged them great agility.
Alex got to the gate first, quickly scaling it and swinging her legs over one at a time. Kara followed suit, but she misjudged her placement and the crotch of her jeans were caught on one of the spikes. She struggled, looking down at her pants and back out into the graveyard, positive Old Man Jones was hot on their trail.
“Alex, my jeans!”
Alex rolled her eyes and went back to help her sister. As soon as Kara was free, Alex tugged her leg and Kara toppled into her waiting arms. They glanced through the gate and thought they saw a figure approaching. They screamed once again, jumping to their feet and ran all the way home.
The next morning, Kara and Alex were relegated to cleaning the garage.
Alex picked up the axe that had been moved and glared from it to her sister as she placed it back in its spot on the peg board.
“What?” Kara asked innocently, the broom in her hands sweeping idly.
“This is all your fault,” Alex grumbled and grabbed her broom. “If you hadn’t ripped your stupid pants, mom wouldn’t have made us clean the garage.”
“Oh yeah?” Kara shot back and got in her sister’s face. “Well, you’re the one who wanted to go there in the first place!”
So what if she’d conveniently left out the fact that she’d wanted to go at first, too?
It was a very mature disagreement.
“I wish mom never went back to school,” Kara sighed. “Then we never would’ve had to leave Midvale or our friends.”
Alex got very close to Kara’s face and warned her, “Don’t ever let mom hear you say that. She wanted to do more with her life, especially after dad died. We need to be supportive, Kara.”
Kara knew she was being selfish—of course she was happy that their mom was finally finishing her degree. But she was 11 and she missed her old friends.
“Hey, you guys are pretty good,” a voice called out from behind Alex. “Why don’t you come do my room next?”
When they looked, they saw James, Winn, Lex, Lena, and Sam standing behind them; their bikes on the ground or between their legs, as if they were ready to flee at any moment.
The rest of the group chuckled at James’ mocking and then Lex stepped forward.
“Hey, so are you going to play tonight?” he asked as if nothing strange had happened the night prior.
Alex and Kara exchanged wary looks.
“Tonight? Again?” Kara responded, the nervous edge in her voice making itself very known.
“Well, since you two ran off before the game was over last night…” Lex trailed off; he raised an implicating eyebrow.
“Uh, I don’t think we’re up to it,” Kara said honestly. She really didn’t want to clean the garage again if she snagged her pants, nor did she enjoy the thought of the potential for a heart attack because she was so scared to see Old Man Jones again.
“We just aren’t,” Alex snapped. She wasn’t a fan of being questioned.
“Told you they were chicken,” James said arrogantly as he leaned against the garage door’s frame.
“We are not,” Alex roared, glaring at the tall boy who merely chuckled in response.
Lena stepped forward to try and dissipate the hostility.
“Lex just told you that story to scare you,” she said earnestly. “There’s no such thing as Old Man Jones.”
If Kara hadn’t seen the man up close and in person, she really would have believed Lena. Those green, green eyes were just so…honest and good.
“I thought you said you weren’t afraid of ghosts,” Lex poked at the obviously sore spot.
Alex glared at him hard. “I said I’ll believe it when I see and I saw it.”
“You didn’t see anything,” Lena tried to assuage again. “My brother told you a story and your mind filled in the rest.”
Brother? Well, that was a new bit of information for Kara. By the daggers being thrown in Lena’s direction by Lex, that wasn’t meant to be public knowledge. She’d have to ask her about that later…
“No,” Kara pushed back gently. “We saw Old Man Jones.”
“Sure, you did,” James cackled from his spot against the frame, then pushed off so he could make clucking noises and flap his arms as though they were wings.
That’s bait, Kara thought to herself.
She heard Alex growl from deep in her throat and took hold of her wrist to try and keep her in place. She knew her sister wasn’t afraid to start throwing punches, even if the boy was way taller.
“Screw it. We’ll be there.”
Kara sighed inwardly; Alex was apparently still in the mood for fishing.
“Excellent!” Lex said, almost gleefully. “See you there!”
The group turned and headed off on their bikes, leaving Kara and Alex to contemplate what Alex had just agreed to.
“Alex…” Kara looked at her sister, worried. “I don’t want to make friends that bad.”
Alex’s face morphed into something resembling righteous determination. (Or as close as a 13-year-old can get.)
“This isn’t about making friends anymore, Kara. We have to prove we can handle it here.” She stepped forward and looked at the retreating backs of the group and gripped the broom in her hands even tighter. “We’re going to play their game.”
Alex and Kara scaled the gate easily and their feet hit the ground with a muffled thud. Kara took a deep breath and looked around cagily. It seemed like it was darker and foggier than the night before.
“Alex, are you sure about this?” she whispered.
“No,” Alex replied with a sigh, then straightened her shoulders. “But I also don’t want to deal with the endless torment once school starts. You know they’ll spread it around and then where will we be friends wise?”
Kara looked off into the distance and steeled herself. Alex was right; they had to do it.
“Ok, but we even so much as see a pair of overalls, and we’re outta here.”
Alex nodded. “Agreed.”
They headed off to the clearing and the home base tree, their footsteps barely making a sound on the soft grass.
As the approached, they heard a heated conversation.
“Aw, man! Let’s play already!” Winn whined.
“Yeah, they’re not coming.” James said cockily.
“They’ll be here,” came Lex’s assured reply.
“What’s the big deal about letting them in the group anyway?” James countered.
“He’s tired of the same people,” Lena shot out. “You know how fickle Lex is.”
“Oh, sis,” Lex snidely retorted. “I believe you’re confusing me with our philanderer of a father!”
“Like father like son, then,” she snapped back; even for a 10-year-old, she could hold her own.
“Whatever,” he grumbled and then steered the conversation back to James. “We haven’t had any new players since-”
“Since I joined?” James supplied. He pushed Lex’s shoulder and continued, “And you said after me there wouldn’t be anyone new.”
“Guess he was wrong,” Alex interrupted.
She and Kara walked up to the group; glares met glares and James’ annoyance made itself known.
“You’ve got more guts than I thought,” Lex said, seemingly impressed.
“Aren’t you afraid Old Man Jones is gonna get you?” Sam teased from the side.
“Shut up about that stupid story!” Lena howled. “There’s no such thing as Old Man Jones. Now let’s play.”
“You’re both it,” James waved a displeased hand in their direction as the rest of the group walked off.
“How do you figure that?” Alex scoffed.
“You left the game early last night,” Lex started, not even bothering to turn around. “And since you wimps are so scared, you can be it together.” A condescending laugh left his mouth.
“Yeah, why don’t you babies hold hands?” Winn said with a parting shot.
The girls watched as the others took off, then turned to each other with a nod. They walked to the home base tree and began to count.
“Do you think it’s going to be like this all the time?” Kara wondered as they got to 4. Alex merely shrugged in reply and continued to count.
“I just want to make some friends,” she said, mostly to herself.
They finished counting and headed out into the graveyard. The fog rolled in the further they went, along with a bone-chilling breeze.
Their steps were soft but deliberate. They were determined to catch at least one of the other kids, just to prove a point and put an end to the teasing. Unfortunately, the fog and the darkness made it difficult.
Alex’s head was on a constant swivel as she led the way. Meanwhile, Kara’s was fully forward. She didn’t want to chance losing track of Alex.
As the passed tombstone after tombstone, they made concerted efforts to look behind each one. The others were nowhere to be found. It was like they’d simply vanished into thin air. Still, the sisters continued to search; deeper and deeper into the graveyard, through thickets and trees.
They paused a moment and spun around, trying to regain their sense of direction and the general area of where they were. Suddenly, the grass fluttered behind them. When they spun to see, Sam had darted past them and then ducked down behind a wide headstone. She looked over it, in the opposite direction. Kara and Alex ducked down behind their own stone, and plotted the sneak attack.
“You go that way,” Alex quietly pointed, “and I’ll get her from the other side.”
Kara nodded and they bumped fists. They peeked out from their hiding spot and just as they were about to run, the fog rolled in again, concealing her body. When the breeze blew through, Sam had vanished.
“Dang it,” Alex huffed disappointedly. “This is going to be harder than we thought.”
Just then, a noise came from the distance.
“Listen,” Kara whispered, but Alex had already picked up on it, too.
“It’s a harmonica…” Alex said, her eyes widening and glinting with…happiness? “It’s Old Man Jones! Come on!”
She took off running in the direction of the old cabin and Kara just looked at her sister’s quickly retreating form. She huffed and ran after her. As if, she was going to be left all alone out there.
As they neared the tree line by the cabin, Kara grabbed Alex’s arm to stop her.
“Why don’t we get the others and then we can all go there together?”
“No,” Alex replied. “By the time we do that, he’ll be gone. Old Man Jones is out there and we’re going to prove it once and for all.”
“By stealing his harmonica.”
Alex continued walking and Kara stood in shocked stillness.
“My sister has absolutely lost her mind,” she said to herself before following.
The sound of an axe chopping wood echoed through the open air. WHACK… CRACK… WHACK… CRACK… Kara’s stomach flipped with every hit. Her mind kept telling her to turn back; to go home and never hang out with those kids again.
They crept out from the tree line and ducked behind the tall wood pile. From their hiding spot, they could see Old Man Jones and his axe by the tree stump. He set the axe down as he gathered the freshly chopped lumber into his arms; the moon cast a ghoulish glow on his face and the light fog made it all the creepier.
They watched as he headed off to the other side of the cabin, completely out of view. The glint of the harmonica caught their eye. He’d left it on the tree stump again.
The girls snuck out from their hiding spot, silently making their way to their coveted prize. Their eyes never left the chrome-plated instrument, but the sudden sound of a branch snapping nearby startled them to the ground. They crouched and huddled together on the opposite side of the stump and hoped to God they wouldn’t be seen.
Slow, dragging steps sounded close by as Old Man Jones shuffled through the overgrown grass.
Kara opened her mouth to say something, but Alex covered it just in time. The THWACK of the axe being driven into the top of the trunk made them flinch. They closed their eyes, held their breath, and waited to be called out, possibly murdered.
Instead, all they heard were the waning footsteps and the tinny sound of the old harmonica. As soon as the old door creaked and slammed, the girls were finally brave enough to move. They carefully peeked to make sure the coast was clear before they stood up fully.
“That was close,” Alex breathed a sigh of relief.
“Yeah, he almost saw us!” Kara said, her heart still racing in her chest.
“No,” Alex shook her head. “I mean we were so close to getting the harmonica! Now we’re going to have to go get it.”
Kara stared at her sister in disbelief. What’d happened to their agreement about booking it home at the first sign of overalls? Where was the loyalty?
“We don’t need the harmonica!” Kara tried to reason. “Let’s just get the others out here to see him!” She started to head back for the tree line when Alex spun her back.
“Where are you going?”
“To get the others,” Kara pointed and started to walk again.
Alex sighed out and shook her head. She grabbed the flashlight she’d brought along from the back of her pants and had to smack it a couple of times in her hand to get it to turn on.
“If I die, it’s her fault,” she grumbled, then headed towards the cabin.
She made sure to keep the light off the windows, as to not alert its occupant to her presence. She’d seen enough movies to know how to be stealth.
Alex glanced around, her head back on its swivel routine. She slowly approached the cabin from its side and noticed the building was totally dark inside.
So weird, she thought to herself.
When she saw the door, she walked to it quietly and tested whether it was locked; it wasn’t. She slinked up the rickety stairs, careful not to put too much weight on them so they wouldn’t creak or moan, then slid inside.
The moonlight poured in through the windows on one side of the cabin, casting devious shadows on the other half. She moved her flashlight slowly over the darkest parts, unveiling old plates with rotted food, dusty piles of books, and old kerosene lanterns. Her light flashed over black and white framed photographs on a table, and an old shaving bowl and pitcher. Then, as she turned around the room some more, and aimed her light higher, she jumped as her light hit an eyeball. It turned out to be a mounted moose head on the wall.
“Get it together, Danvers,” she whispered angrily to herself. That’s when her flashlight decided to die. She smacked it into her hand a few times, like she had outside, but it didn’t work. Behind her, the door swung closed, seemingly of its own accord. The noise startled her so badly that she ran over to it and proceeded to wrench at the handle loudly; all intentions of stealth gone from her mind.
The door refused to budge; it was locked. Or stuck. Either way, Alex started to panic. She walked backwards, glaring at the stupid thing, when she smacked into the old phonograph. The warped, torturous sounds of banjo music blared from the machine and it felt like the room had begun to spin. She looked around, horrified, but unable to move. The music sped up and the room spun faster. She felt like she was going to throw up. Her breaths grew faster and closer together and she felt the sweat begin to bead on the back of her neck. The music was high pitched and wailing in her ears. The room spun and spun. She closed her eyes to try to make the nausea go away.
When she opened her eyes, she noticed her flashlight had finally come back on and she lifted it, only to illuminate a face.
“Ahh!” they both screamed.
It was Kara.
“What are you doing here?” Alex questioned, breathless.
“I got scared!” Kara admitted. “But look what I found!”
Alex handed off the flashlight and inspected the item. It was the harmonica!
“Now we’ve got proof! They have to believe us!” Kara crowed.
Alex nodded and held out her hand, “Yeah, give me the flashlight.”
Kara’s brow furrowed. “I’m not holding the flashlight.”
Alex turned to face her sister, the earlier nausea quickly returning along with a quiver in her voice. “Well, I’m not holding the flashlight…”
They glanced over to where the light seemingly floated on its own in the dark.
“Alex?” Kara whimpered.
“Give me my harmonica,” a gruff voice demanded as a figure stepped forward and tilted the light upwards, illuminating a face.
Old Man Jones’ scowl registered in the sister’s eyes as they screamed and took off out the door.
Once again, they screamed all the way through the graveyard. Not once did they pause to catch a breath. Kara tripped over a fallen branch and Alex turned back to help her up before they started to sprint again.
The fog rolled over the ground and lingered in the air.
Suddenly the ground gave way as they fell into a deep hole.
“You ok?” Alex checked on her sister as she brushed the dirt off her shirt.
“Yeah,” Kara panted.
“Get out of here; I was here first!” Lex demanded.
“Luthor, shut up and listen. We saw Old Man Jones again; he’s up there and he’s after us,” Alex detailed. “I stole his harmonica.”
As Alex showed off her prize, Lex rolled his eyes and became more agitated. “I don’t want you here!”
“Did you hear what I just said?” Alex said angrily.
“Get out of here!” he whined.
Instead of a verbal reply, Lex just shook his head and stepped back, casting his eyes downward.
“Let’s just get out of here, Alex. I don’t like being in here anyway.”
“Hurry up!” Lex commanded.
Kara boosted her sister up first and then Alex reached back to help her.
“We’re leaving,” Alex shot back.
“Go find your own grave,” he snottily replied.
“Sorry. We didn’t see your name on it,” Kara retorted.
“Look a little closer next time,” Lex snarled quietly, then ducked back into the hole.
The girls ambled towards the gate, all thoughts of being chased by Old Man Jones gone from their heads.
The fog grew thicker and it became harder to see. So, when Lena popped out of her own hole in the ground, they were forced to jump back.
“Hey, you two!”
Kara smiled. Finally, a friendly face. Lena’s eyes seemed to glow in the moonlight.
“Hi Lena,” Kara said happily. Then she remembered the situation, her eyes widened accordingly. “You’ve got to get out of here. Alex stole Old Man Jones’ harmonica and he’s after us!”
Lena rolled her eyes even as Alex waved the instrument and then shoved it into her shirt pocket.
“Kara, please,” she sighed. “The Old Man Jones stories are getting old. We’re playing a game here!” She looked between the sisters and motioned with her head behind her. “Come on, get in; it’s a great hiding place!”
“Lena, will you forget about the stupid game?” Kara was really worried now. Why did these kids have no sense of the danger that surrounded them?
“Don’t you want to play?” Lena inquired, somewhat sadly. “They can never find you in here. Come on!”
Green eyes and dark hair disappeared into the deep hole. Kara and Alex leaned forward to see where she’d gone, unaware that they were being approached from behind.
The sight of a hand reaching over Alex’s shoulder and into the pocket to retrieve the harmonica startled them so badly, they gasped and spun around.
He was there. It was really him. Old Man Jones and his axe.
He looked at them solemnly and calmly asked Alex in his deep voice, “What are you doing here?”
“W-we w-were playing hide and seek,” Alex stuttered out.
He looked around for a second, his eyes sweeping the expanse, then turned his sights back on the sisters. “In a graveyard? Just the two of you?”
“No,” Kara squeaked out. “With our friends.” She and Alex stepped back slowly as Old Man Jones stalked closer to them, his axe glinting menacingly in the moonlight. They edged closer to the hole Lena had ducked into. “Lex Luthor, James Olsen, Winn Schott, Samantha Arias, and Lena Walsh.”
They girls fell over and hit the hard ground, suddenly aware of a headstone behind them.
“That’s not very funny,” Old Man Jones replied. “All those kids are dead and buried. I dug the graves myself,” he nodded.
Kara and Alex exchanged frightened looks and turned around to see Lena’s photo emblazoned on the headstone.
In Loving Memory of
Lena Walsh Luthor
Beloved Daughter of Elizabeth Walsh and Lionel Luthor
“What’s wrong with you two?” Old Man Jones asked, noticing the looks on their faces. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
The girls peeked over Lena’s headstone and saw that four others had suddenly appeared behind it.
They took off running for home, never looking behind them.
For the rest of their time in the suburbs of National City, Kara and Alex stayed away from the old cemetery behind the gates at the end of Anchor Street.
They never saw any of the kids again, but Kara always wondered what had happened to the girl with the haunting green eyes.