The trio had been together since primary school in Ontario, Canada until Jorda decided to get her green card and move to Northern California. And finally, after two and a half years of being apart, Colleen and Theresa were going to visit her.
Once united, the three young women planned to drive to San Diego and the nerd-fest known as Comic-Con. It was something they had always wanted to do as kids, and now was the perfect time.
It took nearly two-days travel for Theresa and Colleen to pull up to the curb in front of the apartment complex on Harding Avenue were Jorda lived. While the apartment wasn’t very big, it was enough room for the soon-to-be new American citizen.
Furthermore, the second room offered enough space for her two visitors to act as if they lived there too. That’s exactly how Jorda wanted it – like old times.
“I can’t wait to show you ’round town,” Jorda told her friend’s over a cup of coffee, an American taste the other two had not yet grown accustom too.
Colleen remarked, “It’s so small for a big-city girl like you, don’t ya think?”
“Yeah,” Jorda responded, “But it really grow on you. You’ll see.”
“Didn’t you and your folks come to Crescent City to go salmon fishing?” Theresa couldn’t help ask.
Jorda shook her head ‘no,’ as she sipped from her cup, “That was Klamath, south of here.”
She had originally come down to go to work at Pelican State Prison, but the venture fell through when she couldn’t pass the physical on the count of her severe asthma. Instead, Jorda ended up going to work for Del Norte County as a file-clerk.
‘File-clerk,’ it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. It gave her a decent paycheck, though she still had to get used to paying taxes, and she also got to look through old record upon old record of the history for both the county and city. And aside from photography, history was one of Jorda’s personal loves.
“I know it sounds a little twisted,” Jorda announced, “But one of the first places I want to go is the local cemetery at the bottom of Cooper. Plus, I want to test out my new camera.”
“Twisted?” Colleen complained, “More like mental.”
All three women laughed at the statement, knowing the phrase came from the Harry Potter series. They also knew not to argue with Jorda when she had her mind made up.
As Jorda drove them, she explained, “I heard a rumor about one of the headstones being haunted or something of that nature.”
Theresa interrupted, “Really.”
“Well, maybe it’s more like a myth,” Jorda began, “But I haven’t wanted to go near it by myself. It ;sgrave of Peter Darby, one of the town’s founding-fathers.”
Colleen, aware that Jorda might be putting them on with another one of her jokes asked, “You’re making this up, aren’t ya?
“No,” Jorda answered a little too quickly.
“Oh, yes you are,” Colleen continued, “We’re going to get there and you’re going to scare the be-jesus out of us – I know it.”
“Let her finish,” Theresa demanded, “Joke or not, I want to hear the this.”
Colleen sat back in her seat as Jorda continued, “You remember that game we played once where we closed ourselves in the bathroom, turned out the light and repeated, ‘Bloody Mary,’ three times, like in that movie?”
“Yeah,” Theresa answered.
“And look how that turned out,” Colleen injected, “You scared the shit out of us – Theresa literally.”
“No she didn’t,” Theresa shot back, “I only pee’d myself — a little.”
The trio busted into raucous laughter, not only at what Theresa said, but also from the memory. Jorda continued as soon as they calmed down.
“It’s like that,” she stated, “Only you’re supposed to run around the headstone three-times as fast as possible.”
“What happens then?” Colleen asked, finally curious.
“You disappear,” Jorda answered flatly, “And I don’t want any of us to try it ’cause several kids have supposedly disappeared since the thing was put up.”
“Oh, whatever,” Colleen responded, not believing a word being said.
“No, I’m serious — and promise me you won’t test it,” Jorda said in a sober tone.
“Okay,” both women replied in unison.
“The other strange thing is there are no photographs, drawings or paintings of him,” Jorda continued, “There’s several stories claiming that he went around collecting and destroying them.”
“That’s weird,” Colleen stated, “I think ya should look into that part of the story and not this headstone thing.”
“I wonder what would make a man to do something like that?” Theresa asked, voicing what they were all thinking at the moment.
Within minutes, Jorda drove through the front gate and up the narrow roadway until she came to the first crossing. There she turned left and shortly made another left, which led to an area where she could park safely near the headstone of Peter Darby.
Once out of the car, Jorda started snapping pictures while Theresa tagged along. However, Colleen walked further up the hill, wanting to get a better look at this supposed haunted headstone.
Without warning, Colleen pulled out her cellphone, touched the button to begin filming, then took off running as fast as possible around the piece of marble, breaking her promise.
“One,” she yelled to her friend below, followed by, “Two.”
Less that four seconds later she raced pass the two woman, laughing, “See nothing yet…three!”
But, Colleen failed to reappear from the other side of the monument. The stone, though the largest in the cemetery, was not so big that it could fully obscure a person moving around it.
Theresa and Jorda scrambled up the hill-side to the stone. On the far side they located Colleen’s cellphone, laying in the grass, still recording.
They called and searched for her, even looking down into the swampy area west of the cemetery, but Colleen had vanished. The thing had moved from a joke to a serious situation as the pair played back the video their friend was in the process of recording.
It showed Colleen, mischievously smiling into the device right before she began to run around the headstone. Less than ten seconds, and no sooner than had she announced the completion of the third lap, a bright light flashed in the camera’s iris and the cellphone tumbled into the grass where her friends had found it.