It couldn’t have been more than two seconds. Mark opened up the door of his car and squeezed in moments before the ghastly, hooded figure collided into the door. Drew was grinding his teeth while he sat stiff in the passenger seat, watching the monstrous thug pound his fists on the windshield.
“Go! Just go! Drive!” Drew yelled at Mark.
Mark threw it in reverse, and escaped the scene. The horror was finally over. Drew was breathing so hard, he thought he may have developed asthma over the course of an hour.
The two friends drove down country roads for nearly ten minutes before one of them caught their breath enough to speak.
“Dude… what was that!!?” Drew screamed.
Mark was still breathing hard, and couldn’t do anything but shake his head.
“I mean… what the… agh!”
Drew was a mess of clenched fists and incomplete phrases. But Mark finally contributed to the lack of conversation with a suggestion: “We have to go to Adam’s house. We have to tell him about this.”
Drew didn’t really want to go anywhere at the moment. He was so scared, he didn’t want to ever leave the car. Now looking at every tree on the side of the road, and paranoid of every car that drove past him, he expected a torch to come rushing at him any second. But he agreed with Mark. And thought that maybe they could even spend the night at Adam’s.
After about five minutes, they arrived in Adam’s driveway. Mark turned the car off, and they sat their silently for a moment. It had to be past 3 a.m. now.
“Man,” Drew mumbled with his head back against the headrest, “I don’t even want to walk to his door. I feel like those freaks could be anywhere… How do we know they didn’t follow us?”
Mark calmly looked at him, a strangely comfortable look. Like everything that happened that night was not really horrific after all. Like everything that happened was somehow unsurprising and usual. Drew looked back into Mark’s eyes, confused.
One on the driver’s side, one on the passengers side. A black robe and a white robe, slamming against the windshield. In the middle of a rural neighborhood block in the middle of the night, Drew started screaming again, “Turn the car on! Drive away! Get out of here!”
Amidst the new arrival of fear and chaos, Mark quietly smiled and said, “hold on…” looking out at the two hooded figures comfortably and calmly.
Drew twitched his head from Mark to the men outside, more confused than ever. “What??”
The two attackers slowly backed away from the car, putting their hands at their sides. You’ll never see a more confused face than Drew’s at that moment, as crinkled as a poorly packed dress shirt. The man in white pulls of his hood, and it is their friend, Adam. He’s smiling.
All of a sudden, Mark starts laughing. Drew’s jaw drops, and his confused face suddenly becomes enraged. “I’m going to kill him.”
“No man, haha, I was in on it too,” Mark confesses. Drew looks over at his friend, in no mood to laugh. “It was all a prank man. All for you. We were all in on it.”
Drew looked out at Adam. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. All this time, he was sure that this hooded figure was some sicko trying to kill him. The idea that it could be a prank never entered his mind.
“How… how did…” Drew was surprised and shocked. The emotions that ran through him at this moment were spinning on an axis in figure eights. “Let’s go inside,” Mark said, “we’ll explain everything."
The man in black was Adam’s friend, who had pulled the same prank on Adam years ago. Adam had pulled this prank on many of his friends before, and Mark just happened to receive the treatment last night. After such an exhilarating experience, Mark wanted his best friend to go through it as well. Every word was planned. Leaving the cell phones behind was planned. The secluded path down the train tracks was planned. Everything. It was an elaborate scheme, carefully executed. All for the sake of scaring Drew.
The four guys talked until the sun came up. Sitting at the dining room table in Adam’s house, they all shared stories of cemetery pranks from the past. Everybody had a slightly different experience. Some people try to fight the torch carrying weirdos, some turn around and run nowhere in particular, some cry and fall to the ground. Drew was the first person to run up to the street and try to wave down cars.
They were all laughing eventually. The night of horror had turned into fun. It was fun all along, but Drew didn’t know it until later.
Drew probably went back to that cemetery at least 10 more times. Some nights, he led friends down the tracks while he held the flashlight. Some nights, he put on a white or black robe and hid a lighter and pre-made torches in his pant leg. He scared people, and laughed with them when it was over. He still doesn't believe in ghosts, but has a newfound respect for the virtue of fear.
He’s still scared of the dark though. And sometimes when he’s hiding behind a tree in the cemetery, waiting in robes for his next victim, he looks behind his shoulder.
Because you can never know for sure if you’re really in on the joke.