Back in about 2002 I was the lead vocalist of a Gothic rock band, and we regularly played at an Alternative club in Pretoria's mid city.
About four blocks from where the club used to be stands an old and rather large cemetery known as the Church Street Cemetery, a portion of which is the historic Heroes' Acre, which is the burial place of some notable historical South African figures such as Paul Kruger and Eugène Marais, among others. Many of the graves here date back to the 1800s, and some of the tombstones have sadly fallen into a rather sorry state.
My first strange encounter at the old cemetery happened one night after we played a gig at the club. My band-mate Allen and I decided to go to a friend's house after the event, and left in the friend's car in the early morning hours. We passed the cemetery on our way to the friend's place. Allen drew my attention to something that seemed rather out of place at the cemetery fence facing the road.
A young woman in a flowing white gown was standing behind the fence, and was staring at us as we passed. Something about this woman made me feel very uneasy, and I soon found the reason for my discomfort: She seemed to be slightly brighter than her surroundings, and from her knees downward, there was absolutely nothing to see but the tombstones behind her. Her legs did not gradually fade into transparency, there was simply nothing below the knees, making it seem like she was floating above the ground. As we passed, she held our stares, then took a single step back as we neared a turn and simply vanished into the shadows.
Needless to say, Allen and I were a bit shook up by what we saw, but admittedly also a little excited. Our friend, who was driving at that time, didn't see the woman and thought we were trying to pull a fast one on him when we related what we saw. To this day he still doesn't believe it.
Over the months we passed the cemetery many times, but never again saw the woman in the white gown.
Several months later a photographer contacted us to do a promotional photo shoot for the band's album and merchandise, and claimed that the Heroes' Acre would be the perfect spot for a Gothic photo shoot. Though we felt that the idea was a bit cliched, we were getting it done for free, so we readily agreed.
We arrived at the cemetery about midday on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon. As soon as we entered the gates, however, I started to feel uneasy. I kept feeling as if somebody was watching us, even though we were the only people in the cemetery at that time.
We took several group photos, then moved on to the individual photos, each of us being told by the photographer what pose to strike.
As we walked on, searching for interesting places to take some pictures, the photographer spotted a small monument with the statue of an angel on top, it's hands pressed together in prayer.
I was told to kneel before the statue in the same pose. As I knelt down and looked at the inscription on the monument, I could see that it was the grave of a small girl who died at a very young age.
Suddenly, the area around me started to feel extremely crowded, as if many people were converging on me. I wanted the photo taken and be done with it, so that I could get the heck out of there, but the camera, which had been working fine up to that point, suddenly was not functioning the way it was supposed to. The photographer told me to hold my pose and not move.
As I was kneeling there, I started to see movement between the tombstones further to my right, what looked like small, amorphous gray figures darting between the stones. Then I felt a pressure on my shoulders, as if someone with rather large hands was slowly pressing down on me. The oppressive feeling grew much stronger at that point, and I nearly jumped up, but just then the camera decided to work again, and the photographer snapped what was to become one of the best photographs of that day.
As soon as the photo was taken, I jumped up and walked very quickly out of there, the photographer and my band-mates looking at me as if I had lost my mind.
Later I told them about what I had felt, and they all relayed to me that they had also at various points felt as if they were being watched.
The photographer developed the pictures that same day, and when we looked over them, we found a rather interesting little anomaly on that last photo. To my right, just behind one of the tombstones, is a small figure, about the size of a porcelain doll, its head slightly turned toward me. The face is slightly deformed, and looking at the picture sent chills down my spine.
Whether it is simple matrixing caused by the focus of the camera, or whether there really is something there staring at me in the background, it is a bit disconcerting, and this is not an experience I would like to repeat.