Which is more terrifying: Unexpectedly encountering a ghost... or the anticipation of coming face-to-face with the unknown in a place that you’ve heard might be haunted by something unspeakable? Does sheer terror lie in something outside ourselves, or in the dark, unlimited creations of our own imaginations? Allow P.S. Gifford to share a frightening experience.
BY P.S. GIFFORD
I HAVE HAD many odd experiences in my life. Perhaps I allow myself to encounter them, as I have always been fascinated by the darker side. Or perhaps as I believe in them so much my sense of reality is manipulated by my desire to experience them. Whatever your beliefs, the following is a true account. This memory would have taken place in 1977 when I was twelve years old. It was the hottest summer I can remember….
I always held a fascination with one particular old house, which was just a few hundred yards from ours. It was now once more abandoned, with yet another family deciding that there was something amiss with it. This family held the record – they lived there for three months before moving on. Now, unfortunately, the vandals had moved on in. Windows had been broken and graffiti had been written all over the walls.
I was deeply saddened by this, as to me this house held a mystique and a haunting beauty. I had been inside it many, many times during the daytime, delighting in its architecture, yet even in daylight I could sense a feeling of foreboding.
I was an avid reader, just as I have continued to be, and one of my favorite places was the local library. I was determined to uncover the strange past that I was certain that the house possessed, so I asked Mrs. Brown, the bespectacled, kind-hearted librarian for help. She smiled at me, obviously engaged by my young enthusiasm, and took me too the archive room. (This was before the age of computers and search engines, when all research had to be done the old-fashioned way.)
As we filed through old newspapers, she suddenly gasped excitedly as in her hand found a newspaper article from September, 1952 with an article about the house. She read the article aloud to me and we discovered that there had been a quite a stir. A young couple had purchased the house, and shortly after moving in began experiencing all sorts of strange phenomena, so they promptly put the house back onto the market and moved away. However, that was not the most interesting part of the article as it delved further into the house’s history.
We learned it concealed a dark, shocking secret. The article went on to explain that in 1842, a gruesome act had occurred within its very walls. The house was built as a gate house to a majestic manor house. This property was the grandest for fifty miles, and the grounds of the property were lush and vast. My house had been built by the main gate to house a gatekeeper and his family. It was his job to open and close the gate as horses and carriages approached.
Apparently, the gate keeper was an alcoholic, and when he was drunk he became bitter and mean. The newspaper went on to explain that legend has it that on one particularly fateful night he had gotten into a horrible fight with his wife and had bludgeoned her to death. In the morning, he awoke to discover blood everywhere… and his wife’s battered dead body. He then hung himself.
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