The cemetery was just under a mile away from Barry's house. He looked to the metal plaque on the brick wall that read: Oak Grove Cemetery. At least it's not the one in my dream, he thought, but it gave little comfort.
The instant they stepped through the wrought iron gate, his skin began to crawl. There was a garden of tombstones. Perched high in the sky was a crescent moon that provided little light; the ground was blanketed by a thin layer of fog, adding a new dimension of creepiness, forcing Barry's imagination to run wild.
Barry wrapped his arms tightly around his chest, but couldn't shake off the icy feeling of dread penetrating his body. The simple sound of a crow cawing in the night caused him to jump. His body trembled as they walked deeper into the cemetery.
"Do we have to go to the center of the graveyard?" he asked after only walking several yards inside.
"No, I suppose not," Shawn said. "What's wrong with you?"
"I've never been this scared in my life."
"We're not the ones who need to be afraid. C'mon, that looks like a good spot." He pointed to a small clearing.
"What do you need me to do?" he asked as Shawn opened the book.
"Just stay there and out of the way."
Barry leaned against a tilted stone cross, the headstone of an eleven-year-old boy. As he waited there, a large spider stepped off the edge of the cross and onto his shoulder.
"Holy crap!" he shouted. "Get it off!" He ran over to Shawn, arms flailing.
"Calm down!" Shawn said, swatting the spider away. "Such a girl. It's just a wolf spider. They're harmless."
"It's huge," Barry said, watching it scurry away.
"Yeah, well, they grow 'em big down here."
Barry's shoulders twitched one last time as the spider faded into the shadows.
"Can I continue now?"
As Shawn began to chant the mystical words in the book, Barry interrupted again.
Shawn lifted his head and stared at him with that same angry look he had seen too many times these past few days. "What is it now?"
"How many are you going to bring back to life?"
"Well," he said as the anger washed away from his face, "it's a vicinity spell. That's why I chose this area. Two or three should be enough to scare the crap out of them guys back at the house. What do you think?"
"I think that's a perfect number."
"All right, then. May I continue?"
"Yeah," Barry said as his head sank into his shoulders, embarrassed.
As Shawn spoke the words from the book, the clouds in the night sky stretched then came together over the cemetery, blocking out what little moonlight there was. The darkness engulfed them, and a streak of lightning lit up the sky as thunder cracked overhead. The sound caused Barry to jerk forward and cover his ears. A tornado of red light formed in the heavens and spiraled down.
"No way!" Barry said, stretching the words as he watched the red tornado touch down in front of Shawn.
"It's working ... it's working!"
"I don't know about this."
"Be a man for once. Don't you see? We have the power of a fallen angel at our command. This book holds the secrets to the universe," Shawn said. He was obviously losing it.
"You're being crazy. We have to stop."
"It's too late." The radiant light faded from sight and the clouds receded.
Barry looked to the sky and said, "That's it?"
There was nothing but silence.
"What a rip!" Shawn said.
"Wow ... did you feel that?" Barry asked as a slight tremor buckled his knees.
"I didn't feel anything." Shawn thumbed through the book. "Must've made a mistake. Probably missed a word or something."
"Maybe we should just.... What the--" A decomposing hand burst from the ground, grabbing Barry's ankle.
The sight of a rotting head following suit through the soft earth paralyzed him. Barry's eyes opened wide as he stared into the dead gaze of the decaying corpse. Dirt fell off the pale gray flesh, earthworms writhed inside the rotting skin, and as it opened its mouth and moaned, more earthworms spilled onto the ground. It tried to speak with dry, coarse vocal cords, but only a wheeze escaped.
"You said we'd be safe," Barry said, pulling free from the creature's grasp.
"We are. You're just letting your fear get the best of you. You're so weak. Can't you see how amazing this is?"
"To hell with you, man!" Barry said. He wanted to run but fear kept him rooted to the spot. It was as though his feet were filled with lead.
As the zombie pulled its right leg from the grave, Barry noticed a dozen more hands pop out of the ground and brace themselves against the earth.
"Uh ... Shawn ... there's a lot more than two or three." He was too scared to be embarrassed by the trembling in his voice.
"So what? More servants for me."
Barry didn't know what to be more afraid of: the walking corpse or the twisted smile on his best friend's face. There was madness in Shawn's eyes. This wasn't the kid he knew.
The zombie in front of him was now trying to stand on its wobbly legs. The creature's movements were slow and lethargic, its clothes filthy and tattered. Its skin was wrinkled and pulled tight, showing every outline of bone, and its eyes were vacant of tissue, nothing but a couple of spider webs resting inside.
"Stay back!" Barry said, but it didn't listen and continued to advance. "Shawn, you cast the spell, you must be the only one with power over them." Shawn didn't reply but just stood there. Barry assumed his sudden power was corrupting his every thought. "I'm serious! Tell it to stay back!"
"You're such a baby," he finally said. "Stop. Stop right there!" The creature didn't obey.
"Screw this!" Barry ran past the zombie, heading toward the iron gate. The zombie lunged after him but missed. It staggered slightly, almost falling face first before regaining its balance.
"I said, stop," Shawn said.
Barry stopped and turned toward him. "Shawn. Behind you!"
Shawn turned around. "This was a mistake."
"You finally realize that!"
The entire cemetery was bursting with newfound life. Hundreds of corpses in various stages of decay were slowly making their way toward Shawn, while countless others struggled to break free from the cold grip of the earth.