Grave Danger - Patrick Maginnis, age 14, Co Down

Wandering through the graveyard it felt like something was watching me. I carefully scanned the dark, desolate environment around me, stepping over and kicking long forgotten flowers out of my way. I had to find out what had happened here. Sergeant Thornton didn't mess around and I was all too familiar with getting on his bad side. He had ordered me here, against my own will, to investigate the disappearance of a young woman called Sarah Quill, an irritating journalist for the local paper. She had disappeared from her bed without trace and no evidence had been found except for the disappearance of a red, leather purse from her handbag.

And here I was now, Trent McLeoud, deputy officer for Scotland Yard and father of two children, one of whom was studying at university. I sighed deeply and scanned the deep blackness around me with my flashlight, hoping to find something to bring back to Thornton so that I could return home to my warm and crime-free bed. I stepped across another set of black, rotting daffodils and... SNAP! I whipped around and shone my torch around me in panic.

"Who's there?" I shouted, unable to keep my voice from shaking.

No reply.

"I repeat," I continued, slowly approaching the source of the noise, "who's there?"

Yet again, no reply.

"Probably just a cat," I muttered under my breath and reluctantly I continued to search with my torch across a newer set of gravestones, laden with a bouquet of red roses.

I shivered as a sudden shower of hailstones and rain poured over my hair and I pulled up my yellow coat's hood, partly blocking my already blurry vision. Getting bored, I decided to pay my respects to some of the graves and I read aloud the names and quotes on them.

"Barry Stewart," I grumbled, "a man who never gave up."

I placed a newish flower from an illegible gravestone on the bare dirt in front of Barry's and moved on through at least three more gravestones in quick but respectful succession.

"Belinda Thomas," I coughed, "when you help someone, you help everyone."

I chucked a rather large red rosebud onto her grave and...

I picked the rosebud up again. Or at least what I had thought was a rosebud.

"Jackpot," I muttered, a grin slowly travelling across my face.

A red, leather purse, holding a library pass and exactly £13.59. Sarah Quill stared back at me from a driver's license, a pair of red rimmed spectacles resting on her large puffy nose. I turned around and made my way out of the graveyard, leaping in every step and picturing the happy look on my four year old Elizabeth's face when I returned home.

"Thanks for having me!" I shouted back at the graves, "and good riddance!!!"

I left with a spring in my step and was just turning out of the set of new graves when my torch turned off.

"Damn the bloody thing," I grumbled, whacking it against my leg with the force of extreme rage.
After another 30 seconds it flickered on and shone onto the last gravestone near the entrance that still had newly dug dirt lining the top.

"Aha!" I shouted, triumphantly, before my smile was replaced with bulging eyes and a gaping mouth.

"Sarah Quill," I stuttered, "may the inquisitive meet their fate."

I stumbled backwards, terrified out of my mind, and ran as fast as I could, dropping the torch as I went. Everything was completely silent except for the loud thumping of my feet against the dirt and I screamed for help loudly, panicking like I never had before. I couldn't remember the way back and I stumbled over countless graves without the torch until I had to stop to catch my breath beside a dishevelled, leafless tree. I gasped for breath, put my head in my hands and started sobbing uncontrollably while my breath gradually returned.

"Why so sad, Trent?" a whisper echoed from the dark, "why not join me and you can be happy again?"

I looked up in shock and saw the outline of something horrifying before me. Sarah Quill, dressed in silvery white, and wearing her red rimmed spectacles, hovered before me, her jaw hanging open and her neck dripping blood.

"Uhggghhghg AAAGGGGGHHHHH!" I screamed, and ran in the opposite direction, directly into a gravestone. My ankle snapped loudly behind me and I screamed in agony as I tumbled down through the graveyard, Sarah slowly following me. I scrambled across the wet grass with my hands and clung to a stone gargoyle standing before me.

"Stay away," I stuttered at the ghost of Sarah, "please leave me alone!"

She seemed to smile at me sympathetically and I found myself slowly hovering into the air against my will. I looked at Sarah and looked at where she was taking me, a new unnamed gravestone beside a large tomb. Even as I edged towards the grave, letters started appearing across the gravestone and a large hole dug itself into the ground.

"Trent McLeoud," the ghost gurgled, "all who ask questions, pay the price!"

I fell slowly into the hole and my scream was swallowed as a large mound of dirt fell upon my face.