"You don't want to do that." She tried to warn them. "I mean it, you really are going to wish you hadn't. You should stop now."
The smaller of the two men stopped digging, "Did you feel that? Like a cold chill?"
"Don't pay attention to that! We are going to fix things. We only have a few hours to get it done."
She tried again. "I'm serious. Put down the shovels and walk away now."
Now it was the big man's turn to stop digging for a moment and he looked around nervously. "It's like a breeze on the back of your neck isn't it?"
"Yeah, do you think it's her?"
The big man shivered, "It's not midnight. Nobody has ever seen her before midnight. We are safe."
She laughed at that, "You are safe right now. If you keep digging you won't be safe at all."
Both men shivered involuntarily. "Keep digging!"
She shook her head. They really were going to regret this but what could she do to stop it?
"How long do we have?" The smaller man asked.
"An hour. I didn't think it would take so long. We should have figured out a way to use the backhoe."
"I'm not sure how we could have done that. Just breaking in here was hard enough."
"Keep digging. We don't want to be here when she starts walking."
She laughed again, "You don't want to be here when I stop."
"There it is again," the smaller man said, "It's a chill right through your bones, isn't it?"
"We must be getting close. That must be it." The big man nodded to show his confidence. If you hadn't noticed how white his knuckles were on the shovel handle you might have been fooled.
"Why hasn't anyone done anything before?"
"Scared. The law says we can't do what needs done here. People are scared. Scared of her. Scared of the law. Scared of their own shadows. But we are going to take care of it. She can't just walk around like that. It's not natural."
She gathered herself together, it wasn't easy before midnight but she could do it for a moment, she gathered herself together and knocked over the source of their bravery. The bottle of Jack Daniels tumbled off the gravestone they had rested it on while they dug.
The big man screamed louder and with a higher pitch than the small man. She hadn't expected that, but it delighted her just the same, "You really should leave now."
"Do you think we should go? It's close to midnight." The big man asked.
Now it was the smaller man's turn to fake bravery, "No. We are almost there. We will finish and she will stop walking."
The big man nodded and kept digging. She had walked this cemetery for the last time. Scaring children. Making old women think the town was evil. Driving down property values. That was really it. The big man's boss wanted to build a high rise across from the old cemetery and he couldn't very well do it if there was a nightly sighting of a ghost girl could he? I mean it was all well and fine at Halloween but every night? It just wasn't right. It was time to put her to rest for good.
"Are you sure this will work?" The smaller man hadn't met with the old woman, the one the big man's boss had found. The one who gave them the answer to their problem.
"Oh it will work," she said, "And you'll be very sorry. And your boss's last thought will be of the old woman and why she was willing to help him. And why he suddenly thought a 100 year old ghost was a problem. But it will be too late for you two by then. Unless you walk away now." She reached out to trace a line on the back of the big man's neck.
The cold was almost unbearable. They should have been so warm, digging and working as they were, but instead they were freezing. Clouds of steam rising from their sweating bodies. Puffs of smoke as they spoke. Any sane person would leave. But the big man was being paid very well to do this and money like that made most lose their sanity.
There was a loud clunk as they hit her coffin. "You don't want to do this." She tried once more. Though by this point she knew it was a lost cause. And really why should she care? She was finally going to be able to rest in peace. The old woman would win. At least in this part of the world. The old man who had sealed her fate was long gone. He had stopped fighting years ago. Too tired. As if he had been walking after midnight for a 100 years.
They cleared the dirt off the top of the casket and the big man pulled the vial of ashes from his pocket.
"We just have to put these on here and it will trap her inside?"
"That's what she said. Just sprinkle them over the top." The big man opened the vial and started to sprinkle.
"Wait! What does that say?" The smaller man saw the words that had been carved on her casket just a moment too late. The ashes were already spread. She faded away. Resting in peace, at last.
The big man read the words, "Here lies the protector. The guardian of the gates of hell. Woe to any who disturb her. May she walk the world for ever."
As he read the last word the church bell tolled midnight and the cemetery burst forth with life...
Somewhere the old woman was laughing.