When He Was 10, His Grandfather Told Him To Dig Up His Grandmother’s Corpse.
Reddit user Red Grin posted this horrifying story of his account of when he had to dig up his Grandmother’s corpse. Is the story real or fake? We aren’t sure. Why don’t you read it, and find out for yourself? But be careful- don’t read it when you’re alone at night.
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on my granddad’s knee and sifting through faded, black and white photographs. I still recall the musty aroma as my granddad flipped through the ancient photos, walking me through the stories of generations past. Sometimes at night I can still hear his gravelly voice:
“Pictures allow us to live on, to be immortal, you see? You and your ideas will live on in the memories of others – and nothing reactivates thoughts and feelings quite like a photograph. Nothing is more powerful. And someone had to be there for that picture to have been taken. It proves we are not alone.”
It was those sentiments that eventually led to me and my granddad in a cemetery with two shovels in the middle of the night, hunched over my grandmother’s grave.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My grandfather always said that he and my grandmother were soulmates. There were mystical forces at play that allowed them to find each other – according to my granddad – and my grandfather could not imagine living without her. He always feared losing her. This is probably why, in the last few years of my grandmother’s life, my granddad was haunted by a recurring nightmare: my grandmother buried alive, scratching and clawing and pounding at her wooden coffin, left to suffocate and then rot for all eternity.
He knew that someday she would be gone. And in his mind, she would always be taken from him too soon.
The dream was troubling in itself, but what happened when he woke up from the nightmare was even more troubling. He’d have this dream – or vision, as he called it – of my grandmother buried alive, fingernails digging into the thick oak of her coffin, then there’d be a blinding light – and he’d wake up.
When the nightmares occurred, my granddad was alone in bed. The woman he shared a bed with for 60 years wasalways mysteriously absent when he needed her the most.
He refused to pull my grandmother into his pathos – it wrecked him, destroyed him – and he only ever confided in his young and only grandson. It was our little secret, and I felt special for knowing it. It was something between me and him that no one else knew, and I imagined myself with my own grandson on my knee one day, flipping through pictures and stopping on photos of my grandfather. And our secret – that memory we’d shared together – it would be reactivated. It would live on.
It would be immortal.
When my grandmother passed on during the summer of my 10th birthday, my grandfather fell into sadness. I was worried that I’d only remember his anguish, that the memories and ideas that lived on would be despair and longing. But during a visit to his small and quiet home two months after my grandmother passed, I felt a different type of emotion – I heard it in his voice.
My grandfather was hopeful.
He took me into his bedroom and slipped out a book from under the sofa.
“I didn’t know it was here, you see? I found it when I reached to find a coin that had rolled underneath. Let me show you.”
I was ten, and I was far too old to do it, but I sat on my grandfather’s knee anyway. There was a comfort in the familiarity.
The book was a large photo album. It was filled with dozens of photographs of my grandfather in bed, his face contorted into fear. In some he was clutching the covers and pulling them off the mattress, in others his left leg was blurred from violently kicking something unseen – but every picture was some variation of a similar event:
He was having a nightmare.
“That was the blinding light!” he whispered to me. “The flash of the camera. She was there. I wasn’t alone.”
He paused to collect himself, and he stared off into a space unseen.
“I wasn’t alone.”
His voice was dripping with hope.
Weeks went by – my mind was never far from the photos. I wondered why someone would photograph another’s nightmares. Why would you want to capture someone’s ultimate fear? Why would anyone want those memories and feelings to live on?
I thought about it a lot. In my school journal I remember writing words in a blindingly red crayon:
Isn’t a nightmare best burned and buried forever?
I’m not sure why I wrote those words, or where they came from. They seemed beyond me, in some way. Like they came from some place else. I hoped my teacher wouldn’t see it, because I couldn’t explain it. I wouldn’t explain it.
It was me and my granddad’s secret.
My grandfather’s thoughts didn’t leave the photographs, either. One night he arranged for me to sleep over at his house – it wasn’t my first overnight trip at his place, but it had been a few years since the last one. I had a feeling something important was going to happen, and I was right.
Not long after my parents dropped me off, my grandfather led me into the garage. On the wall hung two shovels, one about five feet long and one just the right size for a child to wield. He tossed me the small one.
“It’s more than just memories now, I’m sure of it,” my grandfather said. “She was trying to tell me something with those pictures. More than just reassuring me that I wasn’t alone. She wanted me to find them, because she knew what I was dreaming about.”
He tussled my hair.
“Remember when I said that an idea is immortal? What if it’s more than that? What if immortality can actually exist?”
I knew exactly what he meant: my grandmother had been buried alive.
As an adult it’s far easier to chalk this up to irrational behavior, the raving words of a confused and sad old man. But I was only a boy. And I craved adventure and loved my grandfather more than just about anything.
“Me finding that album was a message. And I’m supposed to see her and get that message.” He sighed. “I wasn’t alone, and now she won’t be either.”
As I gripped that shovel in my hand I saw it as the gateway to knowledge and truth, and essentially, my grandmother. In that moment, I felt powerful. More powerful than memories that are awoken by looking at a photograph.
What was happening just seemed so real.
My granddad’s old Buick rumbled the fifteen minutes to the edge of town. We parked our car on the side of the road near a treeline, and using the cover of darkness slipped through a hole in the fence of the cemetery. My grandfather was old – pushing 80 – but I’d never seen him move so nimbly and with such determination. His steps were swift, and his eyes were laser-focused. I remember thinking:
He really believes he will see his wife again. He really thinks she is trying to claw out of her coffin, and that he was meant to help her.
And because I loved my grandfather, I wanted it to be true.
We arrived at her headstone, and my grandfather dropped to his knees. He wiped some fallen leaves off the grass and gently caressed the gravestone. And then – I will never forget this image for as long as I live – he put his ear to the ground. The night was silent, and my grandfather closed his eyes. His lips quivered, and he whispered something to himself. I couldn’t make it out.
The moon was bright, and I pushed the shovel into the earth, gently digging the metal tip into the ground. I badly wanted to hear the scratching and clawing from underneath us – I envisioned my grandmother’s hand breaking through her coffin and inching through the dirt, her wrinkled hand clasping my ankle, using my leg to pull herself out.
I wouldn’t be afraid.
We’d drag her out of the ground like a child pulling his friend out of a pile of sand at the beach. My grandmother would shake off the dirt and worms and slugs and whatever other gross and hideous creatures feasted on the dead, but she would be alive and safe. And my grandfather would be right – there is more to immortality than just ideas. People can be immortal, too. Why else would my grandmother have taken such awful pictures of my granddad’s nightmares? She was trying to tell us something.
Immortality is real.
But nothing happened. I watched my granddad kneel on that grave for twenty minutes in the silence of the night with his ear to the ground, twice bringing down the shovel to the earth as if to start digging.
But he couldn’t do it.
I thought he was about to give up, but then a startled look crossed his face. He moved his face closer to the ground, and his eyes pinched as he focused. A look of horror suddenly crossed his face – I knew it, because I’d seen that face before. It was agony and fear – I’d seen it in the photographs of his nightmares.
“This isn’t right,” my granddad whispered. “This isn’t right.”
As quickly as the fear came, it left him. I watched my granddad weep, and I broke for him. We returned home with nothing to show for our gravedigging expedition but dirty knee caps and tear-stained cheeks.
I laid down in the guest-room and listened to the tick tock of the old clock on the dresser. My granddad entered.
“Maybe another night,” he said.
He thought for a moment.
Then he left me.
I dozed, and I awoke a few hours later – something was happening outside my bedroom. I tiptoed out of bed, cracked open the door and peered out into the hallway. My granddad was on all fours. All of the baseboards had been torn off, and my grandfather was grimacing and reaching into the wall. I backed up a bit, feeling bad for snooping but unable to tear my eyes away.
He reached in as far as he could, and his body stiffened in surprise. He paused for a moment, and then he slipped something out of the wall. It was another photo album. By the look on my granddad’s face, I could tell it was his first time seeing it. I inched backwards again, hoping to find safety in the shadows, but still not looking away.
He opened the album, took one glance at the first page, and dropped the book with a thud. His hand covered his mouth as he gasped. With his other hand he reached towards the album, and I watched his weathered fingers shake. He flipped the page, and he looked as if he was about to throw up. He jumped up and braced himself against the wall, still trembling.
“I wasn’t alone,” he whispered. “I wasn’t alone.”
He backed away from the album like it was ridden with a contagious disease, and he eased his way into his bedroom, slamming the door shut behind him.
Curiosity got the best of me. I slowly approached the album, my mind racing with possibilities of what would lead my granddad to such immediate fear and repulsion. I bent down, picked it up, and scanned the photographs behind the plastic film.
I wished I hadn’t.
I stared at another page of pictures of my grandfather mid-nightmare, writhing in fear. But these were different than the others I’d seen. In the foreground of every photo on this page was my grandmother posing next to the bed. But it was not the kind and gentle grandmother I remembered.
She was different.
Her eyes were piercing, and her false teeth were removed. She held them close to my fear-ridden granddad, mocking him, pretending to bite him.
In each picture my grandmother was smiling. I stared into her toothless, black mouth, and it was like staring into a horrible and endless abyss. And in that moment, I asked myself the same question my granddad must have asked himself when he dropped the album and retreated into his bedroom:
Who took these pictures?
I heard my granddad move from his room, and I quickly laid the album back on the ground where I found it. I quietly scuttled to the guest room and clicked the door shut.
The baseboards were back up the next morning, and the album was gone.
I never told my granddad that I saw those pictures, and he never told me he found them. We never discussed what they might mean and why his own wife seemed to take such morbid pleasure and relish in the unfathomable nightmares of her soulmate. We never discussed the gravedigging mission, nor did we ever discuss the mystical and magical qualities of photographs ever again.
And we certainly never discussed who else might have been in his house to take those pictures.
To paraphrase my grandfather, he wasn’t alone.
He died two years later. When we cleaned out his house, I found ashes in his fireplace. Mixed among the ashes were edges of old photographs and charred, blackened pieces of a photo album lost to flame. I lifted the pieces from the fireplace, and they crumbled and sifted through my fingers.
I dug out my old journal that night. I flipped through the creased and wrinkled pages, and I stayed on one passage a long time. I had to agree with my ten-year old self.
Isn’t a nightmare best burned and buried forever?