I quickly made a decision, hoping over the knee-high fence, I jogged across the cemetery. While I did not believe in ghosts or monsters, I did have an active imagination, so I moved as quickly as I dared in the low light. I was about half way across the grounds when I heard a low, pain filled howl. Pausing, I turned to stare into the shadows, looking for the source of the sound. Was it just the wind, flowing through the trees that created the mournful sound? Or was I not as alone as I originally believed?
I took a step, to continue my progress across the graveyard, when I heard it again. This time it was louder, a wailing lament full of loneliness. A shiver of fear ran down my spine, while tears filled my eyes at the sadness in the ghostly sound. No one should be so sorrowful, I knew I couldn't ignore a cry that was so full of despair. Telling myself I was crazy for lingering in a cemetery late at night, I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket and turned on the flashlight.
Hearing the low moaning again, I made my decision. Slowly, with equal parts dread and determination, I made my way towards the sounds. The wind continued to blow, tossing my long, brown hair into my eyes, making it difficult to see. Passing through the rows of gravesites, I stared into the darkness, looking for the source of the heartbroken cries. Suddenly, off to the left, I could swear I saw a shadow moving, low to the ground. I headed in that direction, unsure of what I was about to find.
Passing through another row of graves, I finally discovered who was mourning in a cemetery alone at night! Gasping, I fell to my knees!
Not sure I could believe what I was seeing, I was frozen in shock. Lying there on the cold ground, his eyes full of pain and grief, was a rough collie. He was a beautiful creature, and he looked so out of place curled up next to the old, grey headstone. As I stared at him, he softly whined, begging for help, for someone to care. I slowly reached out to him, and ran my fingers through his long fur.
"Are you okay? Are you lost?" I softly asked him. He whined in response and stared at me, with a tilt to his head and a gentle acceptance in his eyes. I glanced around us, and seeing no one, I turned back to the collie. "I can't leave you here alone, do you want to come home with me?" He slowly stood up and walked towards me. Placing my hand on his furry mane, I encouraged him to follow along at my side.
We soon reached my home, and the collie walked inside, as if he had always lived with me. I brought him into the kitchen and grabbing a bowl from the cupboard, I poured him some water. He quickly drank his fill, while I searched for something to feed him. "You must be hungry, let's see what you can have to eat." He just sat down and waited patiently, as if he understood my words. Looking in the fridge I spotted left over chicken. Grabbing it, I cut it into small bites and fed them to him. He took each piece so gently, I could tell he was well trained.
Basic needs met, I decided it was time for bed for both of us. "Come on big guy, you'll sleep in my room. I can't have you wandering around my house unsupervised. In the morning we will try to find your family." He once again followed me, and watched as I made him a bed of blankets on the floor of my bedroom. "You can sleep here, you sure are a good dog," I told him as I stroked his beautiful fur. With uncanny intelligence, he laid down on the blankets with a sigh. He looked happy and grateful to have a soft, warm place to sleep, and his little pink tongue gave my hand a kiss of thanks. "Good night handsome collie." I got ready for bed, and fell asleep listening to the quiet sounds of the his breathing.
When I woke up the next morning, it took only a moment to remember my guest. Looking over to the bed of blankets on the floor, I realized the collie wasn't there! Looking around my room, I didn't see him anywhere. My bedroom door was still shut, so he couldn't have left. Sinking to my knees next to the bed I had made for him, I stared in confusion, wondering if it had all been a dream. But later when I spotted the bowl of water on the kitchen floor, and the missing chicken from the fridge, I knew he had really been there.
How he disappeared from my room, and where he went, will always be a mystery. I did return to the cemetery, to the spot where I had found him, but I never encountered the lost collie again. Was he a lost dog, lonely and looking for companionship? Or was he something more, perhaps a weary soul wandering through the night? I can only hope the comfort I gave him allowed him to continue his journey knowing he had a friend. I still think of him from time to time, and wonder if my ghostly visitor ever found his way home...