Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cemetery Field Trip by Vivian Vande Velde

***(out of four stars)

Mrs. Hurston's ninth grade class is going on a field trip. A Cemetery field trip on the scariest day of the year... Halloween. The school kids are given specific rules such as: Don't embarrass the school, Don't Litter, don't damage shit, don't damage each other and don't get lost. Simple rules right? How about not fucking with the dead? That's one rule I'd take into effect.

The cemetery is old. Victorian style. Mrs. Hurston walks the students around while talking about how certain flowers resemble that of the dead. They stop at a fountain and see some old "homeless guy" just hanging out; staring at the youths. They think nothing of it and continue the tour.

Janelle is our main character. She hardly seems interested. She eventually loses contact with the rest of the class because she hears a kitten meowing somewhere by an old mausoleum. She investigates and notices that the lock has been cut off. Did the kitten venture in there? She continues searching and at this point I'm asking myself why she even gives a shit. The mausoleum holds the Balsen family. Janelle is easily stirred because now her mind seems to be playing tricks on her. She often wonders if it's a little baby in the mausoleum instead of a kitten. If it was a child in there, with all those dead bodies, she'd surely have to help out. She walks into the crypt, still with that horrible cry or whine or meow. On the floor, just past the door lies a tweed coat. The same attire that she had seen the homeless man wearing earlier. The door closes behind her and she realizes that the homeless man now has her trapped inside. He was the one making those weird cries, or meows. She fears for her life. But the family of ghosts lying dormant in that crypt help her and kill the homeless bum. The ghosts tell her to go; her life is saved.

Janelle never repeats the story to anyone. Instead she finds out on the news that a homeless man had died in the mausoleum of natural causes.

For quite a while I had no idea where this story was going. I felt that it moved rather slowly. The last few pages are pretty killer though and I love the climax of this short. I never feared ghosts as much as I did the living. And with this story is was the homeless bum. I wonder if he ever lead any other helpless victims into the crypt. A serial killer killing in a cemetery? I like that concept very much. Had this story simply followed a ghost plot I probably would've past it off as a boring story. The thought of the dead coming back to help a would-be victim is very interesting and not at all that boring. Vande Velde has this way of setting up the story rather slowly, then hitting you with a good twist ending.

Author: Vivian Vande Velde

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

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