A short horror story

THE DEAD ONESA STORY BY WILLIAM DUNSTERI’m nearly finished now. Today, in a small ceremony, I spread my sister’s ashes over the roses on our parents’ graves. Now, as the sun starts to set, I will set this down on paper.They say that it takes time for the mind to let some things get fully absorbed; to ease the shock. It’s been 33 years and finally I feel I can get it out.In 1975 Dad was transferred to Montreal, Quebec. That May we moved to a nice old house in the village of Bon Soirée on the South Shore. It was a beautiful little place with a population of about 40, a general store and as much adventure as a ten year old could wish for.The day we got there, after the movers had finished, the whole village came out to welcome us. I remember so well the plates of beans with the fresh-baked bread, the jugs of coffee and tea and Kool-Aid for us kids. I even had a taste of Mr. Leduc’s hard cider. It was there that I met my best friend Luc.That night, after the fiddler played his last jig, the priest presented Mom and Dad with two small silver crosses. It was a village tradition, and nobody would leave until they were nailed over the front and rear doors of the house.Over the coming weeks, Janey and I explored the area with Luc. We soon got to know all the best places for hideouts, all the best climbing trees, all the farmers, where we got to ride horses and even tractors, and the full selection of the penny candy at the store.It was the end of July, during a game of hide and seek, that I first saw the ruins.There were plenty of old ruins in the area. The place was old, and the village history dated back to the late seventeen hundreds, but these ruins were really old looking.I was hiding behind the remains of an old shed, around back of the ruins when I first felt it. It was a sort of cold greasy feeling, goose bumps spreading over my arms and my hair on the back of my head seemed to want to stand up. I looked over at Jane, who was hiding behind an old stone well, and found her looking at me. I could tell she was feeling the same thing I was.Pretty soon I saw Luc making his way carefully around the back of the ruins toward us. He had a look of fear on his face. Part of me wanted to come out of there, but this weird thought popped into my head to stay there. “Stay,” this thought seemed to say. “Stay. There is so much to explore. Stay, and wait for dark…”Before I knew it, Luc and Jane were on either side of me trying to pull me out of there. Janey was frightened.“Why did you guys go back there?” Luc said, as we got out onto the road. “Don’t you know we aren’t supposed to go there?”As we headed down the road toward home I looked back at the place, partially hidden now by some old trees. The strange feeling was still there. “Come back,” it seemed to say. “Come back and explore.”“What was that place?” Asked Jane. “Is it haunted?”Luc stopped and looked at us. “I heard it was some kind of school or something. It burned down a long time ago. Don’t tell anyone we were there. If my Mom finds out I’m in big trouble.”I kept bugging him but he wouldn’t say anymore. Beside me, Janey’s tears of fright had started to dry. If only I had paid attention.During the next couple of weeks I tried to find out more about the ruins. All I could find out about the place was that we were not allowed to go there. Usually the conversation ended with dire threats that my parents would be involved.I was not to be deterred though. You have to understand that I was ten at the time. Kolchak, the Night Stalker was my favorite show. I had snuck in to the theatre in town that summer and seen Jaws. We used to go to the dump to see if we could really see giant, man-eating rats like in the book “Willard”. Monsters were my life! I had even got Jane sort of interested in this.One day in the middle of August, while we were helping Mr. Leduc at his farm, I finally got the answers I craved. I had learned by this time to be cautious in my inquiries so it took me a couple of minutes for my question to finally come out.We were taking a break for lunch at the time and he took his time answering me. Finally he heaved a sigh and took a long sip of his lemonade.“You are not to go there, understand?” He said in his accented English. He lit a cigarette and paused for a few seconds. “Okay. I see you’re interested in this place. It was built a long time ago, long before this village. The story is that it was built as a church to convert the natives who lived here. It was abandoned during the fur trade wars and later reclaimed as a convent. In time an orphanage was attached during the French-English wars. It stayed that way for many years. This village actually came here because of that convent.”He paused for another sip. We were riveted to our seats, Jane, her new friend Wendy, Luc and myself, thick ham sandwiches held untouched in our hands, only sipping our lemonade.“When I came home after World War One, and the Influenza outbreak was over there were more kids put there. In 1923, in November, a fire broke out and the place was destroyed. Many kids, and a few nuns, were killed. During the investigation a lot of things were found out.” He paused again and looked at us. “It was found out that the kids were…abused. Nuns too. The person in charge was … not a good person. It was found out that the Mother Superior had started the fire. She was later charged with murder.He paused again and looked at our eager faces and sighed. “Look kids. That place is bad. People have gone missing around that place. What’s left of the building is rotted through and you can fall through into the basement. There are rats there. Don’t go there! And don’t go near there at night. And if you have to go past that place, always carry a silver cross with you.”Mr. Leduc stood up. “Okay. Finish your sandwiches. After that Jane and Wendy, why don’t you help Mrs. Leduc clean up while you boys help me mend the fence.”All the rest of that day all I could think about was getting to those ruins. In my defense, I guess all I can say is that I was a kid. The concept of evil was unknown to me. And to a kid who loved monster movies, all this was too good to be true. Even Luc was interested now. That is my only excuse for the stupid act that was to follow. And I have to bear the responsibility for it.I badgered Luc the rest of that day until he finally agreed to go.The next morning I got ready for our “exploration.” Jane found out about it and bugged me into letting her come with us. I got a length of rope, a shovel and I tricked Mom into giving me a picnic lunch for us. We even got some Pepsis for our trip!The ruins were a couple of miles away down the old dirt road and by the time we got there it was mid afternoon. I was so excited!We started around the back of the place, where I had hidden from Luc weeks before. That creepy feeling was back and getting stronger with each shovel full. I looked up when Jane let out a cry. She was over behind the well and in her hand she was holding something that sparkled in the sun. Luc and I ran over for a look.“It’s a rosary!” Luc exclaimed. “Looks like a real silver cross too! Way to go Janey!”She beamed at me and put the cross in her pocket.I went back to my spot and resumed digging. After a few minutes I found something. I carefully dug it out and looked at it. It was a wallet! I eagerly looked through it and found ten dollars! We were rich! I then found a drivers license. It was ten years old. As Jane and Luc took turns looking at it Mr. Leduc’s voice came back in my ears: “People disappeared there…”We put the wallet aside and I dug some more. I found something else. It was tiny. It sort of looked human but tiny. As I bent down for a better look I was hit by the smell. It was the smell of dead animals on the road. A sick, rotten smell. I was almost sick. I then heard a cry of dismay and retching and knew that Jane must have found something similar. Luc then gave a shout from his spot behind the main building saying he found a skeleton.I first ran over to Jane, who was crying, and put an arm around her as I looked at what she found. There in the ground where two more of these tiny dead things. One, the face was turned up. Its mouth was open and I could see teeth.Jane looked at me. “It’s a baby!” They’re babies buried here. I want to go home!”I tried to calm her down as we went over to see what Luc found.We stood there for some time. What Luc had uncovered there in the ground by the foundation was a skull. After I got over my shock I looked closer. There seemed to be tiny gnaw marks all over it. Rats, I thought. Man-eating rats!We stood there for a few more minutes looking at the things we uncovered. Luc and Jane wanted to go home, but me, stupid me, I wanted to go in the building.We agreed to stay a little while longer and check out the building.I went first, and no sooner than I set foot inside, the old scorched and rotted floor gave way. Jane and Luc screamed as they saw me disappear into the basement.When I recovered from my fright I found my flashlight and turned it on. As the dust settled I was able to see, in the narrow beam, the stairs at the far end. I began to explore the ruins around me. The fire had done its work down here as well. There were old half burned chairs and tables everywhere. Along one side there was the remains of a chalkboard. It was a classroom! I approached the old stone stairs and something caught my eye. It looked like a hidden door built into the stone foundation. I gave it a kick and it fell in. I cautiously entered and found it to be another room.To this day I can still feel the cold fear that swept over me. It was like a wind, chilling me to the bone. Along one wall I saw chains with manacles like an old torture chamber in a movie. Many of the manacles were small, like they were made to fit a child. I walked along this secret room against my will. I reached the far wall and found the remains of two people. The smaller one, child sized, was manacled to the wall, the mummified face upturned in what must have been a scream. The other one was clad in a nun’s clothing. She was knelt down over the feet of the child. As I stood there a vision came into my mind of the last minutes of their lives, the nun, coughing on the smoke, feverishly trying to free the boy as he screamed his last into the darkness.I almost hit the ceiling when Jane had come up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder.She took in the scene for a few minutes then reached into her pocket and put the Rosary on the floor by the nun’s hands. She then looked at me.“We’ve been calling you for over twenty minutes! It’s getting dark. We have to go.”I reluctantly left the chamber, Jane half dragging me. As we got near the stairs I started hearing a strange sound, something like muffled crying.“What’s that sound?” Jane started to turn her flashlight around the basement.It is here that my nightmares begin. As I turned around to grab Jane my flashlight beam fell upon the dirt floor near us. The earth was moving! Suddenly two small arms shot through the surface, followed by a head. My God! We stood there, frozen in fear. In the light from our flashlight the thing pulled itself free of the earth and looked at us. The eyes! These large, old, old looking eyes focused on us out of that tiny dirty face. The mouth opened into a snarl exposing tiny yellow sharp looking teeth. In that paralyzed second I realized what had been gnawing on the bones we found out back of the building. It started to cry- a high-pitched sound like a newborn baby. Suddenly the air was filled with this crying as the ground started to boil with activity around us. Jane finally let out a scream as the first little one started to crawl obscenely towards us, jaws snapping.Luc saved our lives for the first time that night by coming down the stairs and hauling us out of there.“Let’s get out of here!” He screamed.Up top, we had to run around to the front of the place. I looked over at Jane and saw she was pale, her tears leaving streaks in the dirty on her cheeks. She looked at me and then screamed again as the thing that I had uncovered earlier in the day came to life and leapt onto my back. I started to scream as I tried to pull it off. The thing started to shriek as it sought my throat.Again Luc saved the day as he skillfully swung his shovel around and swept the thing off of me. Jane then grabbed the shovel and hit the thing on the ground.“Leave us alone!” She screamed as she kept hitting it.I looked around and saw the things behind us boiling up the basement stairs, joined now by others from the yard.“Lets go!” I screamed!We ran around to the front of the place and started on the road home. The things crawled onto the road behind us, the air filling with the sounds of babies screaming.“We won’t make it! They’re too fast.”Luc then took the silver cross from his neck and held it up to us.“Put your hands on it. Remember what Mr. Leduc said.”When we did this, a beautiful silvery light came out from the cross between our fingers. Suddenly the vile things, which had been about to surround us, held back a bit. But not far enough! I looked over to my left and found some leaping from tree to tree. In one sickening moment I saw one catch a squirrel and bite into it, the blood spraying out all over its baby face.Even though we had the silver cross we would have died out there had it not been for Mr. Leduc, who, after calling our parents and finding out we were not at home, had immediately set out to find us.As we stumbled down the road he came upon us with his car.“Get in!” He screamed. As we jumped in, Jane in front and Luc and I in back he took off again, the things filled the road around us. There was a terrifying moment as Mr. Leduc almost got stuck in the ditch, and another as, looking out in the blaze of his high beams I saw a lot of the things head off the road to a farmers field and swarm over some luckless cow left there for the night.“They’ll strip her to the bone!” Said Mr. Leduc. “Its Life they crave, because they were never allowed to live. They come out on moonless nights like this looking for the living. We call them the Dead Ones. They were murdered after they were born. Denied life. It was great evil that happened there.”The last thing I remembered that night was the silver cross dangling from the mirror, sparkling by the light of the dashboard.I guess it took the near death of us kids to finally wake the village up from its long nightmare.The next day a council was held at the church. The police were called in, along with the village priest. They took the remains of the nun and child and gave them a proper burial. They dug up the Dead Ones and cremated them in a proper ceremony. Then the remains of that convent and orphanage were burned to the ground and the stones of the foundation were broken up and scattered. Holy water was then spread over the entire area and a monument was put up, complete with a silver cross in the center.As I finish this story I look outside. It is another moonless night. I will go to bed now, with all of my lights on and the basement door locked and a small silver cross around my neck. With me is a good supply of sleeping pills. I only hope it is enough. Good night.

A short horror story

Bill Dunster

Joined April 2009

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