by P.S. Gifford
Do you believe in ghosts?
I suspect that you have your doubts and consider the mere notion of the concept as total fancy. Am I right? In any case, please for the moment cast aside any judgments that you might have on the matter and allow me to share with you this veritable tale; perhaps, just perhaps, I shall be able to enlighten your imprudent opinion. Where would be an appropriate place to begin? I suppose I should start with last Saturday. Yes, that will do nicely...
It was a typical quiet morning in the city of Asbury, North Carolina. Asbury is a small off the beaten track sort of town. You know the type of place. Its two thousand residents live a modest all American existence. It is the sort of town that seems to be permanently and blissfully lost in the annuals of time.
I am fortunate enough by vocation to be a journalist, although less fortunate than most journalists as nothing really happens too much in this part of the world. I generally spend most of my days writing about the humdrum, desperately attempting to make it far more appealing than it actually is. Last Saturday, however, despite being a typically bleak November in North Carolina, a very untypical series of events were about to unfold...
You see, on that particular Saturday I received an unexpected early morning phone call. I had been lying there in the relative safety of my bed cuddled affectionately with my wife of nearly thirty years and the phone all at once shattered our blissful slumber. As I fumbled in darkness for the receiver, I could not help but glance at the digital clock. 3:15.
As I desperately tried to escape the early morning fogginess of my mind I found myself having a hard time comprehending the account the female voice was telling me. However I found the enticing voice remarkably compelling and convincing and I knew that I must hurry.
Throwing on the clothes I had worn the day before, I kissed my sleeping wife softly upon her cheek, grabbed a can of cola from the fridge, and jumped into my faithful old pick-up truck. In a few moments, I was on the highway. At this time of the morning I seemingly had the road to myself and sped along briskly as I allowed the caffeine from my soda to jump-start my brain.
Fifteen minutes later, I pulled up into the old graveyard just as I had been directed to do so. The speaker had divulged of bizarre rituals that had been occurring in this cemetery during the night namely: witchcraft. As I parked my vehicle, I was convinced that I glimpsed movement amongst the stillness of the gravestones.
As I watched the shadows, I could have sworn I could perceive a figure, I could not help to allow my imagination to play tricks. Perhaps I had seen too many low budget movies at the drive-in as a teen. Was this some sort of an apparition? Or alternatively perhaps a demon of some sorts maybe even the devil himself?
As I apprehensively approached the gateway, I noticed that my hands were now physically trembling. As my eyes fully acclimated to the darkness I distinguished that the movement was indeed just a person. The moon was full in the sky and gave off just enough luminosity to reveal the approaching form.
I shone my flashlight, and waved. On the phone, she had shared with me the rather disturbing fact that she claimed herself to be a witch, or rather a former witch, and despite the sweetness in her tone, I was still envisioning some sort of battered hag; I was rather surprised when the shapely young nubile female came fully into my view.
With a smile and a gentle handshake she confirmed that she was indeed Carrie, my early morning caller. I could tell instantly that she was afraid, as fear seemed deeply embedded amongst her young soft blue eyes. She led me to the mausoleum, in the heart of the graveyard, explaining as we went that this was where the unnatural goings-on were occurring. As I followed, a couple of steps behind her, I could not help but be captivated by the flow of her long, raven-black hair.
We soon approached the old building which I had assumed long since abandoned. The black stones of its construction belied its hundred-year old plus history. It had been built at the turn of the twentieth century, back when the city was wealthy and grand, and its most affluent of residents required equal grandeur in death.
The old cast-iron door swung open easily, its screeching hinge wailing like the torturous cry of a banshee, I rather considered. I hesitated for a moment; beginning once more to reconsider my actions, but Carrie’s smile gave me newfound daring and I stepped inside.
I had expected to be met with sheer darkness. Nevertheless, the room was filled with black candles, dozens of them, and they illuminated the space with an uncanny radiance.
I began to eagerly inspect every nook in only a way that a reporter’s or investigator’s eye could. The first thing that struck me was its size; as it was startlingly cavernous, leading down well below the surface. I realized that there must be a multitude of tunnels down here, each one filled with tombs, deep into the earth. Reason was still nagging at me to scurry home, back to the security of my warm bed. Yet, as I mentioned, Carrie’s blue eyes had by some means bewitched me.
I continued to examine the burial chamber with more detail and the macabre scene made me shudder down to my very core. The vestiges of several creatures were strewn about and they had been so brutally slaughtered that defining what kind of animals they were was virtually impossible. The sweet sickly scent told me that this callousness had been recent; this blood was still fresh...
In the center of the room a large pentagram had been meticulously drawn, in what I can only suspect was blood. As I removed my camera from my pocket, I began fervently shooting images. As I snapped, Carrie proceeded to tell more of her tale...
She explained how it had all started naively enough with a few bored high-school female friends. There was little excitement for teenagers in this part of the world. Apparently, one of them had come across an old book on the black arts at a flea market. At first, it had all been a giggle she continued and told me that they had soon formed a coven of witches, seven of them in total, innocent fun nothing more than highjinks and slumber parties. At first... at first... but as the months and years progressed, she explained, so did their involvement.
One year ago, they had encountered the old mausoleum. Instantaneously she explained they had felt a sense of purpose and belonging to the many secrets that were surely locked inside. Tears started to fill my confessor’s eyes as she continued. Now, every time a new moon lit the night sky, they congregated here.
She made clear that at first they just experimented with love potions and attempts to hex scorned lovers. But they soon found these things tiresome, and they required more to satiate there mounting hunger for knowledge. It was shortly thereafter that they discovered the potential power of blood.
Eventually sacrificing small animals, they initially satiated their desires; finally after a multitude of bizarre, unrepeatable experiments, she told how they managed to unlock the mystical capability that the warm ruby liquid contained. But now, she explained, their urges were going to require more than animals’ blood to quench them.
I listened in horror as she told of her tale. I was strangely fascinated by each menacing syllable that emanated from her full red lips. She told ofhow the seven of them were slowly transformed... explaining to me with elaborate details how, as they further explored the dark arts, the more and more compelled they became to delve even deeper. She suddenly gave an unexpected stare right at me just as I started to realize that, it was not fear that I had seen in those eyes. It was excitement.
The next words she spoke were going to change my world forever.
“Human blood is the next step...”
As that phrased echoed through my brain, I suddenly became acutely aware of the peril I might be in. Not one single soul other than Carrie knew of my whereabouts. If something, happened to me, who would think to look for me here? I got up and hastily attempted to dash towards the exit. I suddenly realized that the two of us were no longer alone.
I can only presume that I had been far too engrossed in Carrie’s gruesome tale she was telling to notice that six more figures were now all about me. They must have been there the whole time; hiding, waiting, planning for me to arrive. This had been nothing more than a trap.
As my feet tried desperately to make it to the exit, I felt a sharp crack on the back of my skull, and winced in pain and horror as I felt my blood beginning to ooze freely from my head. The pain was indescribable, as was my fear. I desperately tried to hang on to consciousness. However I soon succumbed to the now irresistible beckoning of the dark. I remembered I screamed, desperate, fearful, and hopeless.
I have no concept of the time I had been passed out. However, when I awoke I quickly ascertained my certain fate. I had been bound to the floor; I felt the bindings cutting into my wrists and ankles, tearing away at my flesh. My arms were outstretched and my legs spread apart. My jacket and shirt had been evidently ripped from my body. I was just able enough to raise my head enough to see my heart almost thumping out of my chest. My head injury had made me nauseous. I longed to vomit, but knew in that position I would only gag upon my own fluids.
I heard giggling from behind my view. I prayed that whatever was about to happen that it would be quick and merciful. My eyes opened wide in complete panic as the seven women circled me holding hands. They began to skip and dance almost majestically about me. Long, flowing, ruby-colored gowns hung delicately from their delicate frames. They were laughing and reveling, almost in a hysterical state.
Unexpectedly they started to chant and I have no idea what the words meant. It sounded almost as if they spoke in some ancient language. Their mantra developed into a more incessant and louder song. I grimaced as their actions got more and more agitated. The sweat was at this point dripping profusely down my forehead, and seemed to burn my eyes. Whatever was going to happen, whatever fate had cruelly bestowed upon me, it was drawing nearer.
Carrie was the one who suddenly stopped. She skipped and danced over to the altar, and returned momentarily carrying a short sword and its blade glistened in the candle light. A new chant began, rhythmic, penetrating my senses. I felt myself almost becoming euphoric. What was happening? What bizarre transformation was manifesting it self?
I watched on almost joyously as she stood above me and as she raised the blade directly above my pounding heart, the chanting intensified... Then I watched as with remarkable force the blade came down and penetrated my chest. I remember a sudden surge of pain. Then there was nothing.
* * *
As I mentioned that was a week ago. I have no explanation of what happened next. I suddenly became aware that I had a presence, but not a body. That I had been freed from all pain, yet my memories and thinking process seemed intact. I have desperately tried to communicate with my wife, with no avail. I am not sure what state my body is in. I suspect that I am what would be usually regarded as a ghost...
I know that my soul will never be at rest until my remains have been discovered, and given a Christian burial. I need a special person to help me, one that has the power to communicate from beyond. I know that this quality is rare, that to most people this page will be blank.
Yet, if by some chance you found yourself able to read this, I have found my needed ally.
I shall be in touch with you soon.
Copyright © 2006 by P. S. Gifford