Around Newark, New Jersey there is an enormous cemetery that is actually divided in half by the Garden State Parkway. It’s about two miles down the road from Seton Hall University, where I went to graduate school. I heard a DJ saying on the college radio station once that he had heard multiple reports from callers about a wild pack of dogs roaming the cemetery. This morning on my train ride into NYC I noticed that you could see the same cemetery right before you pulled into Newark Penn Station. I’ve been reading Zombie short stories, so the below is the result.
Danny hung up the phone and walked down the hall to Rafael who was hosing down one of the empty cages. “A lady just called about the dog’s in the St. Luke’s Cemetery, Esposito. She said she was there putting flowers on her grandmother’s grave and a pack of six big dogs was running around.”
Rafael Esposito shook his head and turned off the hose. “I told you man, we can’t do nothing about those dogs.”
“This is like the third person this week that’s called,” said Danny. He tapped his fingers on his animal control officer badge that he had hooked to his belt.
“Ralph, or Mr. Sciorno, the man that used to have my job before he retired?”
“He told me,” said Rafael, “don’t never mess with the dogs in the St. Luke’s Cemetery. Ralph said they’ve been there for years, been there longer than even he could remember and he said they were there for a reason.”
Danny tried hard not to roll his eyes. “What reason?”
“I never asked man,” said Rafael. “If Ralph told me something, I listened. Maybe you should try that some time.”
Danny walked back to his desk and thought about how much better it would be to work at the police department. But Danny was crazy and even in Newark that was so hard up for officers no one in their right mind would ever hire Danny as a cop. At the end of the day, after he vented to himself in the bathroom mirror about that dumbass Esposito, he figured that was alright. Fighting criminal’s dogs was close enough to fighting actual criminals.
When Danny got off of work he went home and ate meatloaf his mom left out for him. Then he went to his room in the basement and got his double-barreled shot gun. He stuffed a hunting knife into the side of his boot. When the sun fell he drove his truck to the St. Luke’s Cemetery and started walking along the headstones looking for the dogs. The street lights from all the nearby highways gave him enough light to see the pack running off in the distance.
In quick succession he fired two shots and fell two dogs. “Fuck Esposito and that dumb old fart.” The remaining four dogs came closer. They were like no other breed he’d ever seen. “Damn chupacabra,” he said. He shot two more. Then another. The last dog leaped.
Danny dropped the shotgun when the dog sunk its teeth into his arm. He could feel the teeth cut his jacket and then dig into his muscle. He swung his arm and carried the whole dog’s body with it. He bent down and pulled the hunting knife from his boot. “Stupid fucking dog,” he yelled. Then he stuck the long knife hard into the dog’s ear.
The next morning he wore a long sleeve shirt to work so no one would see the bandage. He turned on the TV in the office when Rafael went to gas up one of the trucks. It was tuned to a local news channel and there was a news lady standing in front of the St. Lukes Cemetery. He got real nervous until he realized they weren’t talking about the dead dogs. When he realized what they were talking about he damn near shit himself.
“Empty graves,” said the news lady. “That’s all there is left in the St. Lukes Cemetery. As you can see, in front of every headstone is a gaping hole.”
The camera did a pan of the graveyard to show dirt strewn about and countless gaping wounds in the green earth. Danny’s hands got sweaty holding the remote.
The news lady kept talking. “Local residents say that last night the dead came from their graves to walk the streets.”
Danny thought he was going to pass out. He thought maybe he was getting sick from his mother’s meatloaf but then he thought no, it wasn’t the meatloaf.
“The question remains,” said the news lady. “Why now? What kept the dead in their graves for so long?”
Danny rubbed the wound on his arm. He knew the answer. He ran down the hallway to the bathroom and then threw up in the toilet.