Justin Rutherford: Hallowed Ground

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Justin dropped the phone to the floor. He thought that doing so would make the demonic screaming stop – but it didn't. It only got louder. Covering his ears with his shaking hands did not help either. He picked up the phone and clicked to end the call.

The screaming stopped. Justin withdrew his breath in relief. Fortunately, the distraction did not deter the driver – he kept forward, riding his horse, headless. The pumpkin carriage had windows all around, but no glass. He felt like Cinderella, if Cinderella was on her way to do the monster mash at a monster ball.

Justin looked at his phone again, wondering if he should call the number back. The thought died quickly; he never wanted to hear that screaming again. He looked outside and saw they were still in the woods. Everything looked different in the spirit world. Sure, it was still Lakefield View, but everything was grey and depressed.

The trees hung a little more than Justin remembered. The ground bore no grass, only dirt. The sky was blank, no clouds there, but neither was the sun. It was actually a nice change from the terrifying night-during-the-day scenario on the other side, the land of the living.

Another big difference was that there were people everywhere. Not people, ghosts. They hovered around the trees in no particular direction, wandering without purpose. It looked like they were swimming – hanging in the air as they moved. Their clothes all varied, from what looked like Puritan clothing on some, to Victorian dresses on many, to a modern-day T-shirt and jeans on most.

It was like the life out of Justin was slowly being drained. He could feel their hopelessness, their grief, their sorrow. He wanted to cry. His energy was slowly depleting too. He was grateful that he was only watching from inside the carriage, and that he wasn't actually in the spirit world just yet.

If this is what it was like, then he feared for his showdown with the Ripper.

Just as he sat back to try and get comfortable for the rest of the ride, the carriage stopped moving. Confused, he looked out of the front window to the horseman. Justin wanted to ask what was going on, but also didn't want to speak to him at all. Would he even be able to reply without a head?

The body of the horseman turned, and Justin assumed he was facing him. Still, he didn't speak. It began to unnerve Justin, so eventually, he asked "why have we stopped?"

The horseman stretched out his arm and pointed to the trees to the left. Justin looked. There were dozens of ghosts walking around, and he tried to make them all out, but nobody stood out. Some of them acknowledged the carriage and floated around it, wondering who was inside.

"What is it?" Justin tried to speak confidently, but failed. The horseman still pointed, and on its own accord, the door of the carriage swung open.

Justin knew they were nowhere near the graveyard yet, so based on his grandmother's instruction, he shouldn't get out. But the horseman still pointed, and he was the only one who could make the carriage move.

Following his order, Justin stepped out. It felt weird, stepping out into the spirit world, especially when he should have returned to the living once he exited. Instead, spirits swam around him and the cold grey feeling of dread washed over him.

"Why am I not back with the living?" He asked the horseman, but he gave no response, as expected.

Some of the ghosts cried out around him. Not all of them paid attention, but some of them were surprised to see him. Justin headed in the direction that the horseman was pointing in, hoping to find what it was quickly so he could get back into the carriage.

A nearby ghost brushed against him, her hand sliding over his shoulders. He had to stop for the killer cold stabbing he felt from her touch. Some of the ghosts backed away when they saw him wince in pain, while others delighted in it.

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