The graveyard stood a distance from the small town of Yountville, California. Years ago, the place was unlit at night, and surrounded by hills, grass, trees, vineyards and darkness. The graveyard was one of those late 1800s graveyards with the old styled flat white time faded standing gravestones. Lacking lights, overgrown vegetation and isolation, the cemetery was the ideal place to search for ghosts on Halloween night.
Why do graveyards and Halloween go together, perhaps the embodiment of creepiness? Well, one Halloween night about forty years ago, my boyfriend, some friends and I decided to drive from Napa to Yountville to walk around in search of ghosts. Let me state, THEY wanted to go out and look for spirits, I was content to stay in front of the television and watch Halloween movies.
I am not the bravest soul in the world and my imagination works overtime constantly. I had seen that old black-and-white version of “Night of the Living Dead,” and knew there had to be zombies and other ghastly creatures hiding somewhere in the cemetery; after all, it was Halloween and close to midnight.
Barry my boyfriend, his friends Allan and Greg, Barry’s young brother Vince and I squeezed into his old green Pinto and we took off. Everyone called me a chicken because I kept telling them visiting such a creepy place on Halloween night was a bad idea.
We turned down the road leading to the graveyard. About half a mile from the cemetery, was a two-story faded white Victorian reminiscent of the Munster’s old house and just as creepy. Surrounded by vineyards and with three or four lights on, the house looked eerie and foreboding.
We arrived at the grave yard; the town had installed a tall chain link fence with a locked gate. I was relieved. I thought we would turn around and go back. No such luck. Allan and Greg took off to scout an entrance, and much to my disappointment found one. I got out of the car and Barry took my hand and helped me crawl through the hole in the fence. I thought if the ghosts didn’t grab us, the sheriff might spot us.
Well, of course no one remembered to bring a flashlight so it was dark and eerie stumbling around the cemetery. The night was silent and I think because I knew it was Halloween, every sound was amplified a thousand times. We wandered around and the group separated. Barry and I walked in one direction, his friends in another and somewhere along our walk Vince went a separate direction.
I just wanted to go home. I could feel something in that graveyard, but wasn’t sure what I felt. Barry almost had to pull me a long a bit because the further from the car, the more afraid became. I don’t know how I saw the odd glow, but I did.
At first when I looked at it, I thought it was just someone was trying to give us a Halloween scare. But the more I stared at the light slowly I realized there was no one holding a light. The light was a muted yellow, not the color of a flashlight. The light was oval and rose above the ground, constantly floating slowly in the darkness. I felt the hair on my neck stand-up and my heart started to race. My mind screamed “Ghost!”
Barry stopped abruptly when he spotted the light. Thinking it was a Halloween prank he called out Allan and Greg’s names, but they responded behind us. Barry called Vince’s name and we heard him respond, but from a place close to the light not at the light.
I had enough. I was terrified and my heart raced. All I could think was to run and run as fast as my legs would move. I pulled my hand away and started to run almost tripping over a gravestone. Barry ran to me, grabbed my hand and we began to run.
Suddenly something shot past us quickly and I screamed not knowing what it was. The “It” was Vince who was so frightened he shot over the chain link fence without touching the ground. Seeing him jump was astonishing considering Vince was a husky preteen, but adrenaline was working its magic and he was at the car five minutes before us.
All Vince would say was “ghost” as he struggled for breath. Barry’s hands trembled as he unlocked the car and we piled in. We locked all the doors and stared into the graveyard, but the eerie light had vanished. Barry started the car and we left quickly.
On the way back to the house, after he caught his breath, Vince said he had been walking around and looked over and saw a light. He thought it was one of us with a flashlight and walked toward the light to see who had the flashlight. When he got closer he realized it was a light. He said he became frightened when he realized the light didn’t touch the ground. He turned and ran as fast as he could when the light started to come toward him.
All these years later, I am still not sure what we saw in the graveyard on Halloween night. What I do know is since that night I have NEVER visited another on Halloween night or any night. I still shiver when I think about that night.