Horror Writers Association Blog

“Friendly Neighborhood Spooky Cemetery” By Heddy Johannesen


Merry meet all,

I live near the Mount Olivet cemetery with its own claim to fame. It is where the Titanic victims were buried. I often visit there, and stroll near the graves down a path littered with tree roots, dead leaves and rotted apples. Apple trees grow on the other side of the stone wall. Though the trees appear to grow in and out of the cemetery.

A brook runs on the other side of the cemetery. The brook gurgles. I like to think of it as a vessel for spirits to travel to the Underworld.

Trees line the outer edges of the cemetery. A crow nest rests in one of the trees. The cemetery is somewhat kept up in good condition. Crows perch on tombstones, ruffling their ebony feathers. They must sense and guide more spirits than we sense. Crows have long held the reputation of guiding spirits over to the Otherworld.

I once saw something that reeked of death and disgusted me. Our society tucks death away into a corner, glossed over, unseen. We don’t like to look at the ugly bare side of Death. We now have funeral homes, morgues and the like to take care of our loved ones when their time comes. We hand over our Elders to caretakers in special homes. We slather creams on our skin, exercise and live in eternal fear of death. It’s not going to happen to us. It is in someone else’s yard. We don’t look at it or acknowledge it. We can dye our hair and trim fat away. We crave youth. Death is real. It is the other side of life. It is inevitable. It skips alongside life from the second we are born. It skips us in our step eventually. We all have our turn. It is a question of when. Every time I see a cemetery, I am reminded of that unalterable fact.

I saw a few carpenter ants on a rotted apple in the cemetery. It occurred the day before the 1st of October. I assumed the carpenter ants were dead. They didn’t move. I studied the tree trunk. It appeared for a moment to be in the cemetery and on the outside of it by the way the trunk was shaped. Sunlight shone on the apple tree trunk. Then …. one of the ants moved. I was disgusted. It was the way the ant moved that revolted me for some reason. I stared at the apple, feeling my insides churn. The ants were attracted to the taste of the apple’s fruit.

I don’t know why I saw that. It was in a way an embodiment of that which we most ignore: death. The decay of the body or of the flesh of the apple is a reminder of mortality. It is fitting it was witnessed within the cemetery. Nature is visceral, organic, raw and untamed.

Do I fear death? Sure I do. But I just have my own weird perspective. I have a fear of drowning too. Nature is beautiful and also about death. In the winter, the foliage dies back, the gardens fall under the scythe, and the earth rests till spring. It happens without question, inevitable.

It can teach you a lesson about death. Hopefully the lesson will be necessary yet not unpleasant.

Bio: Heddy Johannesen is a Canadian writer. She’s been published in The Dark Ones: Tales and Poems of the Shadow Gods, The Queen of the Sky who Rules over all the Gods: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Bast, Horror Novel Reviews: One Hellacious Halloween Volume 1 Ebook, Wax and Wane: A Gathering of Witchy Tales, Naming the Goddess, Witches and Pagans magazine, and Circle Magazine.


One comment on ““Friendly Neighborhood Spooky Cemetery” By Heddy Johannesen

  1. When I was growing up, we had a crab-apple tree in the back yard. When the apples fell, they were eaten by wasps, of all things. I’ve seen a fallen, shriveled apple pulsing with half a dozen two inch wasps inside.

    So I found your image of the carpenter ants on the apple very powerful. Of course, seen in a certain perspective, we all feed on Death, devouring the decomposing remains of what has gone before.

    A very evocative post. Thank you!

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