William Falo lives in New Jersey with his family, including a Papillon named Dax. He loves all animals and is especially interested in crows. He studied wildlife biology in college. His recent short stories can be found in Vamp Cat Magazine, Fragmented Voices, The Creepy Podcast, Frost Zone Zine, and The Stray Branch.

He can be found on Twitter @williamfalo
and Instagram @william.falo

by William Falo


When I lived with my parents, our house was next to a cemetery. My father claimed it was cheaper to live near the dead than the living and quieter, too. My bedroom window faced it, and I sometimes saw the grieving people standing around a grave as they said goodbye to a loved one. It affected me in many ways, and I became obsessed with death without realizing the darkness I was entering.

My father didn’t hear the random noises coming from there and never saw the occasional shadows moving among the graves. But I heard and saw everything.

And then came the day we were to move. My father died, and my mother said we couldn’t afford the house anymore. On our last day there, I got up the courage to walk into the cemetery. In the daylight, everything seemed alive, not dead. Under the bright sun, my fear ebbed, and I became more curious. I wanted to find out more and started to feel sad that we were leaving.

I passed the entrance gate, and a stray black cat walked out from behind a statue of an angel that stood over a young child’s grave. I remained frozen in place. Could it be the child’s spirit? I chided myself at such nonsense. Black cats weren’t ominous. I wasn’t a little kid anymore; I was now nineteen.

But I had never seen that cat there before, despite staring out of the bedroom window for many years. Chills ran through me when the cat rubbed against my legs. I remained frozen in place until it purred. She followed me home, and I named her Spooky. I took her with me when I found a one-bedroom apartment in Cherry Hill. It seemed like a peaceful community, but believe it or not, I missed the cemetery.

Maybe growing up next to a cemetery affected me more than I thought because I was drawn to the supernatural. I made a podcast and named it Catch the Dark. Before I knew it, Catch the Dark was on all the platforms in my local area. It was about cemeteries, death, ghosts, and all things dark. My platform was that people could contribute by either calling in or emailing their own experiences to discuss on air.

And then came the day I got that email. It started with my name, Mark Evans. That was the only good thing about it. It got darker from there, and I almost wish I deleted it at that time.

“I saw a boy in a small house,” the girl emailed. “I think he’s a prisoner, and I don’t know what to do about it.” She added at the end that the house was haunted.

I wondered if it was a hoax. I would get that sort of thing from time to time. I emailed back, “Did you call the police?”

I waited for what felt like an eternity for a response. Finally, the girl wrote back, “I told you the house is haunted. The police don’t need to be involved because the boy inside is a ghost. This is more your sort of thing. You know, because of your podcast. I don’t deal with ghosts myself.” She attached a map.

I downloaded the map and froze when I saw it. It was a house right next to a cemetery…my old house.

I knew that house; it couldn’t be haunted. Yet, I had to admit that it had always seemed odd to me, and not just because of its neighbor. I swallowed, then made a decision. I would do this. It would make an exciting podcast. Kind of like returning to the scene of the crime.

I drove to the location, ignoring the nostalgia when I saw it again. I thought of setting up a tent near the entrance to the cemetery nearby to monitor the house. It was fall, and Halloween was only a few days away. It was the perfect time of year to go ghost hunting.

But ultimately, I decided against camping at a graveyard for two reasons: first, it was illegal, and second, well…it was a graveyard.

The pet-sitter canceled, crashing all my plans. I hoped it wasn’t because my cat was named Spooky, and Halloween was coming. Whatever the case, Spooky was my partner now. Besides, she liked car rides, which made me wonder she was the spirit of a child after all. Children loved car rides, and cats rarely did, so it made sense.

My plan took shape, and I rented a drone outfitted with a camera. The worker gave me quick instructions, stopping to ask me why I wanted to use it.

“Wildlife,” I mumbled.

I could tell he didn’t believe it. He leered at me, and I knew he thought I would be spying on a girl. If only it was that simple; that would be more of a normal teenage-boy sort of thing, not creeping about in cemeteries like a ghoul.

When I left the store, I thought a man on the street was staring at me. I rubbed my eyes, and he was walking away. He headed east, which was the direction of my old home, which made me think twice. Still, the possibility of a great video and a story for the podcast right before Halloween was motivation enough to keep going.

I needed to practice with the drone, so I launched it when I got to the cemetery. Despite Spooky trying to get out of the car, I left her inside with the window cracked open an inch. Maybe she recognized the cemetery and missed it.

I gritted my teeth and worked on flying the drone. It hovered over the graves like a mini-helicopter. I activated the camera, and the video came to life. I guided the drone deeper into the cemetery and snapped some pictures of the graves. I made the rookie mistake of looking away, and when I looked back at the screen, my world spun in circles, and I gasped.

A man grabbed the drone. He glared at me through the video, and I gasped because I could see he was the man I had seen on the street. It seemed like he could see me through the camera. Behind him was an open grave. He threw the drone into the grave and started to kick dirt over it.

I was furious! How dare he steal the drone and then destroy it? I would make him pay for it!

Just when I started to run in the man’s direction, a murder of crows took flight and cawed at me. I hesitated. I still carried some of the superstitions from my childhood. I felt the crows were giving me a warning, and I took it seriously. One crow with a damaged wing kept diving at me, herding me to my car. Was it helping me?

I ran to my car, deciding I would not confront the man but retrieve the drone only when he was gone. I got in my car and planned to wait there until the man left. Spooky meowed. That made me jump. I was a lot more scared than I thought. I was disgusted with myself; it made me feel like I was that same weak kid who lived with his parents next to the cemetery.

No matter what I told myself, I knew I wouldn’t be able to confront the man who brought the drone down. The loss of the drone would cost me money I didn’t have but I would take the loss.

In the meantime, I still had my old house to investigate. Without the drone, all I had was my cellphone camera.

I got into my car to move it and this time, I parked farther away to observe the area. I didn’t want the police called on me before I even got started. I got out and walked to my old house that neighbored the cemetery.

The house’s front yard was covered with trees and bushes. Apparently no one had done any landscaping here for a long time. No wonder the woman who emailed thought it was haunted. It sure looked like it. It looked like the perfect spot for a Halloween movie or YouTube video linked to my podcast.

I fought back the urge to leave, not sure I could face the memories. I looked up at my bedroom window and thought I saw a face. Was it some kind of memory of me staring at the cemetery come alive, or was a ghost there?

A part of me believed this was just an empty old house, making noises as the old frame shifted, but another part of me was filled with superstitions once again.

I walked closer to the house and kept going. The fallen leaves I stepped on made a loud crunching sound that gave my presence away. Could someone be watching me now? Nobody lived here since I moved out. I’d heard someone bought the house then left before even moving in, and I wondered if something scared them away.

The wooden deck creaked when I stepped on it. I then caught myself and decided to look in the back window before looking in the front door. I stood on a stump to look in the window. Before I could focus, a crow cawed from behind me, and I stumbled forward, hitting my head on the window. So much for sneaking up on the house.

I am a lot of things, but a quitter is not one of them, and the podcast was down to a handful of listeners. It would be finished unless I get some great video or sound. This was my last chance, so I knew that somehow, I would have to get inside the house.

Fortunately I knew all the ins and outs of this house from growing up in it. I knew how I could get inside. One of the rear back windows had never shut properly. That is how I could gain access.

A few bats darted across the sunset sky. I had to hurry. I found myself wishing I had left earlier.

I found the defective window and pushed. The creaking sound when it opened startled me, even though I expected it. I started recording on my phone.

No light came from inside the house, and no sound. I took videos and recordings, but unless something happened, the podcast would not be as exciting as I had hoped. I was getting ready to enter through the window when the night came alive. I heard crows cawing a warning.

Ignoring the crows, I crawled into the window, lost my balance, and tumbled onto the wooden floor. Puffs of dust blew up around me. Inside, the musty air penetrated everything, and it was hard to breathe. I stumbled around in the dark. The smell became foul, and I was forced to use my sleeve to cover my nose.

I went upstairs, and each step stepped creaked louder until I reached the top one. Only one bedroom door was closed, and that was mine. After checking all the other ones, I prepared to open it. With my phone in one hand, I leaned against it and listened. Nothing indicated anyone was there, so I pushed the door open and entered the room.

On the bed was a bundle of sheets. I reached down and pulled them away with my one free hand and saw human bones covered with torn pieces of fabric left from deteriorating clothes. I gasped. I filmed it with my iPhone. This was the scoop I had been hoping for! I wanted to get as much as I could before I called the police.

Someone stepped into the room, and I turned around to stare into the face of the man at the cemetery. “Mr. Evans,” was all he said. He knew who I was! I froze in panic.

He stared at the body on the bed then turned toward me. Before I could react, he ran at me, grabbed my shoulder and pushed, and I fell to the floor. I struggled to catch my breath and reached for the bed to steady myself. The man moved closer to the window. Behind him, dark forms seemed to gather in the sunset.

My hand touched the skeleton’s arm as I pulled myself up, and the man ran at me again, I tried to duck, but he caught part of me, and I was pushed back against the wall. “I don’t know who you are!” I yelled. “What do you want with me?”

Before he could answer, something banged into the window. The pounding on the window intensified until a small crack appeared. I saw the outline of a wing and crawled toward the window while the man grabbed my ankle and pulled me back.

The crack on the window grew as I reached up; despite him pulling me away, I grabbed the window latch, which was so old it flipped over easily. I then shoved the window open just as the man reached for me again. I collapsed as a sea of wings rushed in. I looked up and saw the crows circling the room.

The man managed to grab one crow and throw it against the wall. It collapsed on the floor, but the other crows kept coming. He screamed so loud that is seemed like all the windows in the house vibrated, but the crows kept circling and pecking at him until he raced out of the room and down the stairs.

I caught my breath and looked at my phone. The screen was cracked, but it still worked, and I called the police. I told them who I was and that they would find human remains on the bed in my old bedroom.

“Are you the homeowner?” asked the dispatcher.

“No, I used to live here. I was just trying to relive some memories of my father. He died recently.” I hoped she would understand and not have me arrested for trespassing.

“I’m sending someone now. They’re on their way,” she told me.

I picked up the dead crow and walked down the steps carrying it in front of me. The crows watched from the trees as I used a stick to dig a hole. I gently placed the dead crow in it.

It was almost completely dark now, and the cemetery was quiet across the street. I sat on the front step like I did so often as a young boy in the past. Every muscle in my body hurt, but when I checked my phone, I smiled when I discovered that it recorded the fight. I turned it off when a police car approached.

The police and medical examiner questioned me. The reason I gave for being there was for the memories, and I carefully avoided mentioning the podcast or my filming the discovery of the body and definitely didn’t mention any ghosts. I did tell them about the man who assaulted me, though.

“I can’t identify the body at this point,” said the medical examiner, “but I can say it’s a young male, probably close to your age.”

“Yeah,” said the detective. “You got lucky you didn’t wind up like the body on the bed. Lots of young men are missing, and when I find this man who you claim assaulted you—and I will—I’ll have a lot of questions for him.”

I went home with Spooky, and after a hot shower, I fell asleep in my bed but kept waking up when I thought dirt was being shoveled on top of me. Usually, it was Spooky kneading me like I was dough and she was making bread. But now it was a nightmare.


Halloween came. I logged onto my computer getting ready to record the last episode of the podcast. Shutting it down on Halloween seemed kind of ironic. I posted the recent information and recordings on it and said it would be the last one.

Later, I checked the Catch the Dark podcast email, and there were lots of them, maybe even hundreds, and they all told dark stories they said were real and that nobody believed them. Other listeners sent money to me, begging me to keep Catch the Dark going. I could use some of it to pay the drone rental off and maybe buy a new one.

I needed to think about the podcast. My mind was not the same. I have nightmares all the time and can’t go near a cemetery without picturing that man. Sadness overwhelmed me at times. I couldn’t see a therapist; nobody would believe me. I knew that there was one place where I needed to go.

Home. My old home again.

When I got there, I looked into the graveyard and saw a man standing in the distance. I knew who it was. I walked closer, and the person watched me. I knew who it was. It was my father.

He signaled for me to follow him, and I did until he reached a grave. I saw his name on it.

He smiled, then pointed at an empty spot next to his grave, then back at me. He said my name. “There, Mark. There is the ghost boy. You helped to find his killer. You need to find peace now. Give up the dead and join the living.”

I backed up, and the farther away he got from the grave, the more he faded until he seemed to vanish. The ghost boy suddenly appeared in the cemetery. I filmed it this time, as he faded into the ground, maybe finally able to rest in peace. No one could hurt him now.

I returned to the house. There was no evidence that anything had ever happened there except for the remnants of a piece of caution tape that clung to a bush. I got inside the same way I did the first time.

I froze when I heard what sounded like tiny feet pattering across the wooden floors inside. I hoped they were mice, and I thought that I should have brought Spooky. I left her home, afraid that if I brought her back to the cemetery, she would return to the child’s grave and vanish into the spirit world.

I saw shadows that could be ghosts throughout the house. I once heard someone say that once you fully believe in something, you see it everywhere. I fully believed in ghosts now. I walked past lines on the wall where my parents measured my height. They stopped halfway up, and I fought back the tears.

I climbed the creaky stairs running my hand across the walls, thinking of all the memories here. I heard distant laughter and crying as my parents went through the years. I was their only child. I wonder why they never had another one. They never told me a reason. Why think of it now? I knew I was loved, enough that my father chose to visit me to wish me well.

I reached my bedroom and saw the chair by the window. I sat down in it.

I stared out at the graveyard like I did so many years ago, then took out my phone and sent an email to the girl who told me about the house. I hesitated then added to let me know if she wanted to get a cup of coffee sometime.

I would listen to my father. It was time to end my fascination with the dead and join the living.

I kept staring at the cemetery across the road. Shadows darted between the graves like they did so many years ago. I heard a noise, and in a nearby tree, the crows watched over the cemetery like sentinels. The one with the damaged wing was the highest on the tree, and he looked in my direction a few times.

I decided to bring Spooky in the future. I had to trust that she would stay with me. After all, love is stronger than darkness. Isn’t it?