Fire on the grave

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One of the lesser-known ‘horror’ tales from the Corner is one concerning a young man named Ben being scared out of his wits by a cemetery with a grave on fire.

The incident occurred in the early part of the 20th century when the young man of 12 began staying with relatives due to his father’s debilitating illness and the inability of his mother to care properly for the boy.

There were two older children in the home where Ben was staying. Since one of the other children was prone to pick on younger children, Ben and others would try to avoid him whenever possible.

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That’s why Ben many times would walk ahead of the other children to and from the schoolhouse. There was a short cut path between roads that curved around a church building, then led between the walls of the church and the cemetery.

Several times during the school year, there would be an evening meeting at the school building. Ben would choose to walk alone along the path in early evening before the meeting, then again later at night coming home.

On one dark Friday night, as he walked along the path, he happened to look toward the graves within a few feet of the edge of the road that passed by the church.

To his horror, one of the graves was on fire. At first glance, it seemed that the flames were rising a foot and more in the air. Was the fiery devil himself in the cemetery, dancing on one of the graves? He took a very quick second look, then ran his hardest home.

He arrived at the house a few minutes later, very frightened and out of breath. Since he had left the meeting and hurried home by himself, no one was in the house. Too scared to open the door and go in, he stood by a high fence on the side of the road until the others came home.

Early the next morning, as the children started to school, he ran ahead of the others to see what had happened to the grave that was on fire the night before.

When he got to the spot, the only sign of a fire he found was a pile of ashes about 10 feet from one of the graves, where the people who were cleaning off the cemetery the day before had burned the brush, weeds and grass they had cut from around the graves.

He never told the story to any of his schoolmates. He was afraid that, if the story was told, he might be laughed at.

He also felt that if the other students heard the story, they would tell of ghostly sights and sounds that others had seen and heard as they passed along the path, and some youngsters might become too frightened to go to school in the day time along the lonely path.