16 October 2018 | Your True Encounters
I live in a relatively boring town in England; I’m sure everyone says that about their town but nothing interesting ever happens here. However we do have many myths and legends; just like any town.
Some are “official” and have roots in real life events – the priory and convent for example have tunnels that connect them where, a few years back, excavations found many many small skeletons. They were baby skeletons and while some were not fully formed, the vast majority were. It was theorised that the nuns and especially the monks were not so pious after all. One of my favourite legends is that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse will ride through this town when the end of all times comes – all I can say is I hope I get to see them ride because, what a sight that would be!
Some other myths and urban legends are not so easy to track down the origins of but are passed around by word of mouth and everyone in my town knows about them. One of the most well known is of the Angel statue in the graveyard behind Northumberland Avenue. You can laugh and make Dr Who jokes about not blinking, but… where do you think they got the idea from?
I was originally told this legend when I was only seven or eight and then it was brought up again when I was ten.
We had moved a few years previous into a house that backed onto the largest cemetery in my town; I was asked a lot about if anything “weird” happened in that house. I didn’t understand what they meant and had to ask my mum who had lived in this town her whole life; year after year she would say “when you’re older.” That happened to be when I was ten and wanted to know why other kids at school thought those houses were haunted and if I had ever seen a ghost.
“There’s a haunted angel statue in the cemetery behind us. Every year at midnight on Halloween she moves and then 60 seconds later resumes her original position.”
I laughed and said I wanted to watch her move or I wouldn’t believe it – even at ten years old I was a little madam; some things don’t change. My mum got worried and looked at me deadly serious.
“You can’t… anyone who watches her move is cursed to be called to the cemetery and become a statue themselves… most people who try fall asleep seconds before the clock hits midnight, as if there’s something trying to protect anyone stupid enough to give it a go.”
I remember huffing and crossing my arms in defiance. I would stay up and I would watch her stay still because as much as I loved our town’s stories, this is one I couldn’t believe.
Many years have passed since and it was only recently I thought of the story again. I was walking through the cemetery on a cliché bright sunny day; as much as anywhere remotely religious makes me feel uneasy, this cemetery has always brought me peace. I wasn’t walking any particular route and also wasn’t taking any notice of where I was going; I almost walked into the caretaker of the church and it’s grounds who was stood right in front of the angel statue.
This is the first time I had actually looked at the statue up close “in person”. I had only ever seen it from afar or through my bedroom window before we moved house. It’s much more imposing close up and much taller; I’m tall at almost 6 feet but this thing towers over me. It’s face doesn’t have lots of detail, just enough for you to tell where it’s features are and while everything around it has been kept clean and tidy, the area around the statue is a mess of thorny vines, fallen leaves and mulch.
The statue itself has fared relatively well under the circumstances with no cracks, or chips out of it but one of her hands is missing. The stone was weathered but doesn’t let on that it’s been stood there for as long as anyone can remember. My face must have shown how uncomfortable it was making me because the groundskeeper spoke up.
“She’ll do that to you. Don’t stare in her eyes for too long.”
I quickly look away having not realised I even had been looking in her eyes. “Why’s that?”
“She’ll take your soul and drag you to hell – it’s why her hand was removed.”
“That isn’t down to age then?”
“No. In the nineteen-hundreds angry mob mentality… they managed to break off her hand after hours of trying.”
“Oh…” I blink and looked at the jagged cut. “…does she actually move..?” I kind of just blurt out the question.
“She doesn’t like people watching her move; turns them into statues themselves. I’ve come in a few times and found new statues that I knew hadn’t been there the night before…”
I frown “but… wouldn’t people notice a missing person?”
The groundskeeper shakes his head “they get written out of the universe as if they had never existed in the first place… those who remember a name will ask about it and be met with blank expressions; soon after they’ll forget the name themselves… or they’ll hear it and know it sounds familiar. They just won’t know why.”
I laugh a little, somewhere between nervous and feeling like I was being messed with. “It’s a joke… right?”
He shakes his head again “No, Miss. It’s no joke… I keep a tally of new statues. I’ve worked here for nearly fifty years and I’ve counted ten new statues…. The keeper before me… he disappeared.”
“Disappeared?” I frown but somehow know where this is going before he speaks.
“The church claim I’m the first keeper they’ve had since 1934 but, I found paperwork and records that beg to differ. I didn’t start here ’til 1968 .. there was another before me but one day…he just stopped coming to work. He stopped making records of his work. He stopped counting new statues and then people forgot his name.”
I shiver and look around the area of the cemetery I’m stood in. “Why don’t you destroy it?”
He laughs which turns into a cough “Oh people have tried… They really have…lucky ones end up in hospital with broken bones, burns and no memory of how they got their injuries.”
“…and the unlucky ones?” I’m unsure if I want to know at this point but it’s too late to take the question back.
“They end up being buried. Mysterious heart attacks, brain hemorrhages, internal bleeding.”
I visibly shudder and take another glance over the statue.
“You’ll hear her now… she’ll start calling to you.”
“You’re curious about her. She’ll know… and she won’t like it… she’ll like it even less that you think it’s all a joke. She doesn’t have much of a sense of humour.”
“Okay but… what do you mean she’ll call to me?”
“You’ll start hearing whispers. She’ll know your name .. you’ll think it’s nothing but they’ll get louder. They’ll become so loud that you won’t be able to ignore them and the only way to quiet them is to come here and watch her.”
“And become a statue?”
“If you’re lucky you’ll be protected. There’s something here… nothing to do with God or the Devil as such, religion and beliefs don’t matter; just good and evil…”
I swallow thickly and rub my face “what happens if I’m protected?”
“You’ll fall asleep.” He answered simply then corrects himself “…actually you’ll pass out. You’ll probably be woken up by me… if not… I’ll find a new statue.”
I nod and I thank him & I offer my hand to shake his which he politely declines with a smile. “nothing personal, Miss.”
I haven’t slept properly since that day. I haven’t had a night where I haven’t woken in a cold sweat hearing whispers; at first they were too quiet for me to hear what was being said but now it’s October and it’s heading towards Halloween… the whispers are louder and more constant. Some of them aren’t even whispers anymore they’re just incoherent screams.
But those whispers send chills down my spine.
“I already own your soul. It will be most useful.”
Submitted to Weird Darkness and My Haunted Life Too by Kat Hall
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