Most nights, after dinner, my friends and I would meet at the small, old, abandoned church at the edge of the village. Unless of course, we were outside Miss Michelle Belville’s house, watching as she undertook her late night bath and nightly rituals. The church had been out of use probably since before the Great Conversion. The rafters were crumbling in most places, the pews and doorways were rotting, and yet the stonework was somehow still intact. Most of the wall sconces had fallen away, which left great dark wounds along the edge of the walls. The door swung wildly on its hinges and the shutters on the tall, thin windows were long gone, leaving only the cracked stained glass windows to protect against the weather. Cobwebs laced curtains across the corners of the church and from the rafters. A century or more dust had settled on the flagstones. What candles we could find threw unearthly shadows over the lightless walls, like great hands feeling their way towards us.
On our initial exploration we had found many dark staircases, leading in all manner of directions and to all manner of unknown places. Standing at the top of most of them, a foul, retched smell wafted towards us, making the sweat spring upon our faces, making us gag. We dared once to take a candle and explore. After, we regretted it dearly. The stairs themselves were slippery with a red slime, which smelt of rotten blood. The walls were covered in scratches and marks. Brock held his hand up to one and we realised that fingernails had made those marks.
We hurried down further, and the further we went, the stronger the stench of death became. The bottom of the stairs came to a door, engraved with words in no language we understood. More cobwebs curtained the door and we dared not disturb it. We turned around to go back upstairs, but the door opened. I turned to face it. The cobwebs had parted, as though they were indeed a curtain for the door. Behind me, Brock, Cameron and James screamed and I heard them turn and run. The cobweb curtains closed again, as if sensing we were not ready to venture beyond them yet, I looked at Joshua and he nodded slowly. We too turned and fled, wanting to forget the terrible, ghostly images that filled our heads.
Outside the church, the graveyard hadn’t been tended to in all these years. The headstones were cracked and covered in moss, and the grass and the once-magnificent gardens were tremendously overgrown. Spidery weeds crept up the outside walls and into the church, slowly taking over. Weeds threaded their way through the cobblestones that lead towards the church and snaked through the necropolis. The graves themselves had the look of being rummaged through; the ground was broken up with tree roots and weeds. At night, white tendrils wove through the headstones, suggesting the spirits contained throughout the day could finally walk upon the earth and look again upon the face of the moon
Elizabeth Stevens © 2006