In My Time of Dying

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The shadows were growing long by the time the staccato patter of paws echoed off the damp asphalt. The red, orange and yellows of the dying trees were accented by the slowly setting sun as it disappeared beyond an equally colorful horizon.

The fading light permitted the cold to rush in, as if held at back by the power of the sun’s light alone. As Ollivander moved along the well ordered rows of tombstones, like so many teeth against a palette of emerald green.

The gnarled branches of twisted, ancient trees creaked and groaned as if moaning the loss of the multicolored leaves that clattered West and then East along the damp asphalt, carried by a frigid wind. A slight fog began to arise, materializing nearly instantaneously with the appearance of the waning moon; a chill gripped the graveyard. It was neither the cold wind nor the fog that made Ollivander shiver, it was the promise of something dreadful.

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He felt as though something was watching him; he was certain of it and as he turned to look, a gust of wind made the ancient branches creak and in the distance a hound let out a lonely howl. Ollivander jumped and skittered behind a gravestone, hiding from whatever was making the sharp noises. His small ears strained to discern the repetitive noise, it was a shovel biting into the thick, frost covered grass. Ollivander took a deep breath, releasing a long jet of steam as he exhaled. He wished for a heavy blanket or a warm bath but he crept forward, eyes wide and searching the dim fog ahead of him.

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The sound of metal scooping up earth continued, seeming to grow faster as Ollie wound his way through the mossy, worn tombstones. He stopped just as he saw a pair of dark figures working furiously, tossing shovel fulls of dark earth aside from a shattered tombstone, the tilted stone casting an eerie shadow. Ollivander watched as the men paused and passed a bottle between them as they descended lower and lower as their shovels tore earth away from the grave. A loud thunk rang out and the men peeked over the edge of the grave to scan their surroundings, whispering to each other.

Ollivander crept closer, the shovels were now lying abandoned next to the grave and a pile of dirt. He was only twenty feet from the hole now and he heard muffled curses and the creaking and splintering of wood. One of the men, the slimmer of the two, hauled himself up and out of the hole and looked around again, plugging his nose and taking another pull from the bottle he produced from his jacket pocket. He reached down urging his partner to move quicker.

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Some small shiny objects that looked like jewelry came from the grave up into the man’s waiting hands, he passed the bottle down to his friend and Ollivander heard continued rummaging and breaking of wood.

Movement off to the left, a figure, their getaway driver, melted into the fog and disappeared, reappearing twenty meters closer. Ollivander layed down on his belly and tried his best to conceal himself in the grass as he shivered in fright. The slim man stuffed the valuables into his pockets and turned looking at the figure that had melted into the mist again. He snatched the bottle and more jewelry from the stout man in the grave and told him loudly that they needed to go.

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The figure glided behind the slim man who turned around completely, eyes wide with terror but the figure dissipated quickly, too quickly for the man to see but he was clearly unnerved. He bent down for one more handful of valuable trinkets and was helping the stout man out of the hole when Ollivander saw the stout man’s eyes bulge and his mouth open in a silent scream. The slim man was left holding nothing, he looked equally terrified and turned to run but something too quick to discern seized his ankle and dragged him into the grave.

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The pale figure appeared at the edge of the hole looking into the depth of the grave. Ollivander did not move a muscle, lest he be noticed, as the man stood there for a few moments, staring at the disturbed grave before turning slowly to look at where Ollivander hid. He abandoned his hiding place and pranced as fast as he could. Upon making it back into the camper, Ollie sat at the window and watched for the pursuing figure, insisting that Anne and I do so with him, but there was no sign of being nor beast for an hour.  Once his excitement wore off, he gave in to exhaustion with the promise that we would investigate in the morning.

At first light, Anne and I started into the cemetery. Ollie refused  to leave my sweatshirt pocket but squeaked directions for us to follow. We came upon a tilted tombstone and an undisturbed grave, seemingly untouched for decades. We contacted the caretaker who had no explanation and after flipping through a dusty ledger confirmed the woman buried there had died nearly one hundred years earlier; he had no explanation for the whisky bottle or two shovels beside the grave.

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Written by Mason Abdalla

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