For two weeks, I haunted the cemetery lodge. I was going through a phase of house-sitting, as I no longer wanted to live at home but couldn’t afford to move out and live independently.
The lodge was centuries old. The family who lived there were away on holiday. They’d left to my care their menagerie of animals (cats, rabbits and birds, mainly) and the house itself.
I wasn’t to be the gatekeeper, but only to guard the house and feed the animals. The gatekeeper did his rounds morning and evening, opening and then locking up again.
Inside, there were many dark corners. The windows were small and the curtains were velvety thick. It was a wonderfully atmospheric little building, perfect for a Halloween party, or a seance after dark.
Once, whilst out for a walk in the grounds, I encountered the gatekeeper: ‘are you not scared, staying there all alone?’ he asked me, to which I replied ‘It is not the souls of the dead, but the actions of the living that scare me. Keep the gates closed, and the vandals out at night. The spirits I can deal with.’
Somewhere in the heart of the cemetery was a grave protected by a low fence: cursed be anyone who entered that hallowed space, the engraving warned: Bewitched, that sacred ground. I’d never entered. Let the dead bury the dead.
And what of ‘The House that Jack Built?’ Haunted realm hidden deep within those acres. I’d never seen it, but it was talked about amongst the kids at school. No one who entered that house would ever return.
Once I was woken in the dead of night by one of the cats jumping, or so I hoped. I reached out for the light switch and stumbled out of bed. Mouse guts on the stairs again. It must be the cats. But then the noise came again: a heavy thud. There was someone pounding on the door.
On tiptoe, so he (the thudding sounded like a ‘he’) didn’t know that I was on the other side, I crept up to the door and put my eye up to the spy-hole. Immediately I recognised the figure: Steve, an ex-boyfriend, drunk and apparently belligerent:
‘Let me in!’
He half-moaned, half demanded.
‘You’re drunk’ I said ‘go home and sober up, then call me.’
I didn’t actually want him to call. I wanted him to go away. Wanted him out of my life for good. Only trouble with that one.
‘I can’t go home,’ he explained, ‘I can’t go anywhere without you: you’ve bewitched me!’
‘You can and you will.’
‘No, he continued,’ ‘either you let me in, or I get in anyway…’
At this, he started to pound on the door, so it shook on its hinges. I was considering calling the police when a tall, dark, shadowy figure appeared behind him, and tapped him on the shoulder with a bony finger. It was the only detail I could make out.
Steve turned around and shrunk back in horror:
‘Who are you?’ he slurred, trying not to sound scared.
‘Jack’ the figure replied in a murderous voice. ‘Now step away from this house, before I take you into mine!’
Steve turned on his heels and ran off, as fast as any drunk can lowp.
‘Jack’ raised a bony hand as if in salute. I still couldn’t make out his face. Then he turned around and faded into darkness.
I had never walked on that hallowed, bewitched ground within the cemetery walls, as I respect the dead.
And evidently, they respect me too.
Written in response to Eugi’s Weekly Prompt 26/10/20, ‘Bewitched.’ I must say I am enjoying all of this Halloween reading and writing. Let’s keep the party going, as we all need a little bit of distraction from the troubles we are facing at this time!