"What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the spectre which had haunted my midnight pillow."—Mary Shelley
Harrowing tales of the ghastly revenant have been told before, but I will not bore you or waste your precious time with such frivolous anomalies. Instead, I will proceed to entertain you thereafter, with an infandous tale of infinite horror—if you are daring enough to continue reading. It is an intricate tale that is fraught with sheer terror at the core, an unexplained superstition and misdeed that will cause you to shiver and quiver, with the heightened fever that is called fear. The insurmountable fear that I describe presently, began one cool day of October.
I can remember now so distinctively that horrendous tale that occurred, as if it was from the days of yore to never be forgotten, and left buried within the vast tracts of time itself. It was the year of 1804, and William Spencer an affluent Bostonian, whose family was well reputable in the New England area was traveling. The cold and the forthcoming storm had caused him to halt his trip along the way, and find refuge in an eerie and lofty estate off a solitary country road, beyond the berm. He had been riding wearily horse back on that day, as he was returning to Boston, when he came across this nearby estate and a mysterious colonial mansion. He left his horse and flintlock blunderbuss behind, and he headed toward the front gate, as the cold had penetrated his garments beneath his frock coat. The gate was closed with a heavy lock and rusty chains, and covered in a verdant moss that was visible and bountiful.
The active sounds of the ravens he heard echoing, from behind the overlapping oak trees. There was no other estate clearly adjacent to the road, and there was no one of acquaintance he knew in this part of the region. At the gate, he stood waiting outside, until an elderly man opened the gate and allowed him to enter then. He had attempted to explain to him his predicament, but the man was very quiet, and spoke little. At first, he did not perceive his irresolution, until after he spoke to him. Fortunately for Mr. Spencer he could fully understand his significant words.
Once he entered the estate, at his own discretion and peril also he followed him. The colonial mansion was tall and wide, but appeared to be languishing away, with a noticeable sign of apparent attrition. The wooden shutters seemed to be worn or corrading, and enveloped in a darkness of bleak and absolute ruin. The eaves were full of peering ravens congregated, and rows of inspissated bushes with prickly thorns that protruded. The pavement was made of marble stone and resembled the masonry of the masons. What was more striking was the towering cupola above that foreshadowed the mansion. Mr. Spencer walked toward the front door of the gloomy mansion and entered, where he was taken to the parlor. Once inside, he met the enigmatical proprietor of the mansion.
"My name is William Spencer, my lady!" He had introduced himself.
"Spencer, it is indeed, a good English surname to have!" She replied.
I shall describe this peculiar woman in the following manner. Her hair was long ashen or hoary, and her brows were very thick and darkled. Her delicate nose was aquiline it seemed, and her cheekbones high and well-structured in symmetry. Her eyes were as blue as a turquoise and arresting. She was tenuous in stature, neither short or tall, instead of medium height. What found to be more baffling to Mr. Spencer was the long Cimmerian gown she wore, and the faithful ebony bird that was perched lightly upon her slender shoulders. He had presented himself to her at once, and obeisantly she reciprocated his gesture of cordiality and propriety. This simple gesture of hers he appreciated, since she was gracious enough to take him in for the night. Her mien—her quintessence was imbued with an aura of mystery and lore that he perceived, after the token formalities and the explication given for his unbidden arrival to her estate.
"I am Fiona Donovan the proprietor of this estate that you have entered and widow of the late Sir Seamus Donovan, from the city of Dublin, Ireland, sir."
She had her beautiful daughter Shaila escort him to his chamber afterward, "I fear the storm will be approaching at any time and I hope, you do not frighten so easily, with Mother Nature sir. Beware, that the night is full of many strange sounds to be heard."
She paused for a moment, before she said one last significant thing that he found strange, "Do not heed the eerie calling of the knell, for it is only the church bells that ring distinctly."
When he inquired, her response was, "Oh, 'tis the familiar lore around these parts of the country sir!"
Mr. Spencer was told then to remain in his chamber. If there was something he needed that he could ring the bell inside, and her generous daughter would arrive afterward. At first, he thought her words to be odd and arcane, but he was in an acquiescent mood at that moment to comply with the special request.
Once alone and inside the chamber he felt the cold was becoming unpredictable, and the staid clouds above had darkened even more, as the ominous storm approached and approached. He had sensed that it was an omen or a precursor to the outcome of this variable night. He did not foresee the storm, but neither did he foresee once he stood before the murky mansion, the daunting phantom and the nightmare that would consume him, like a blazing fire. Unknown to him the phantom was no nightmare that he had ever seen before. It would be a phantom that was attached to the nature of the mansion. The chamber was pulveratricious as he perused, but utilitarian. It was exactly as the rest of the mansion, and not befitting of a reputable aristocrat.
Perhaps the loss of her husband had depleted her to abstract ruin and a miasma of sudden despair. The hollow walls were covered with numerous cobwebs around the corridors, and horrible squeaking and hissing rats were roaming in the corridor and below the ground. Oh the walls, the existing walls, he felt were staring at him attentively, and whispering murmurs of secrets he failed to understand. And the slight apertures or recesses upon the walls gave the firm impression that prying eyes were lurking behind the walls constantly. Ghastly was this direful consternation that was surmounting gradually.
He did not want to be disingenuous or ungrateful in his aperçu, but there was really something that was terribly unsettling about the situation. The chamber floor was tearing at the edges, and slivers were seen and felt as he paced upon the floor. The hour was getting late, and he sat within the armchair for a brief moment to ponder the oddity of the stately home that had been exuberant in wealth. There was dust as well to be seen, within the furnishings and decorations. There were paintings of what appeared to be the lineage of a family. Along the wall in the parlor he had also seen several of these imposing paintings.
The lingering evening was starting to become even more tumultuous and predictable by the hour, and the sign of a brooding storm was pressing at the windows of the chamber. His nerves began to fret, as the pollent knell of the bells of the church and ullagone raught his ears. He began to quaff some Sherry that was left unopened, by the previous guest to assuage the tension. The hours swiftly passed, as he mooted in his brain the events.
Suddenly, as he sat in the armchair near the fireplace, a blustery main of the levin roared, with the fierce intensity of the ire of God. And a lone clock in the corridor struck eleven, bringing soon the uncertain midnight—the active world of the dormant dead. Thereafter, the tussore silk draperies started to ruffle, quickly abating the once placid muffle that existed previously in the chamber. And from the fiery embers of the firelight rose past the andiron, a sinister sizzling sparkle, as the whistling birr stirred the core of the confined hollow walls that endured restlessly. The luculent embers had released on to the ceiling, the infamous and vile villain of lore that had skulked behind the nearby lamplight.
Mr. Spencer had tarried in his reaction, and he could not believe what was happening as his eyes distended, with his mouth agape. Was this even occurring he thought?The burning ember had swooped like a prompt flash of energy on the floor, causing his wooden door to close immediately, as a mysterious figure of malediction, slowly towered before his eyes then. Had he seen the phantom of his dirge appear? The anonymous specter emerged, behind the shadow of the walls standing so bold and upright. His heart beat faster, as the strange echoes of the bells and the tempest he could hear clearly from the room.
Thus stood before him, this ghastly and pallid guise of an imposing revenant of albedineity, shaped from some covenant unholy, between God and the Lord of the Underworld. His ghostly white eyes peered, with his potent sable guise of sheer terror that tormented any poor human soul. The phantasm was a vivid image of an indelible medieval doom, created by the horrid primeval maker, from the bottomless chasm of a horrific inferno that men dread to envision. He had remained still and petrified by the powerful image that was erect, and rose to his feet in haste, with a yell.
“Who are you intruding Devil haunting me now?”
The tempest surged and surged even more, as the shutters flapped back and forth. “Begone at once, you unbidden visitor, into those strong winds of tonight!”
Was this madness he had conjured in his mind, due to the initial alabandical effects of the quaff of Sherry—or had he encountered the wrought embers of a revenant dwelling in this abominable mansion of quotidian Hades? But the phantom did not flit or fluster, amid the chill and the bluster of the night, as he confronted him, with his posture of gallantry. Then his voice began to break in his tone, as he heard the murmurs of spirits speaking, speaking, as he knew that dreadful reaper unbroken in his conviction and will, had sought his whims, with a morbid delight of the unmerciful master of illusion.
The reverberation of the plangent knell was even more apparent, and the thunder had pounded and pounded, as the lightning had sounded and sounded. The rain began to fall on the ground, but the phantasm would not go away, and instead, his image had emboldened instantly, as if it shot through with the streaks of the electric bolts. Was this madness believable, and this spook was verily, pellucid and within this world of the mortals? He quaffed another glass of Sherry, as his apprehension grew and grew with irrepressible angst that overcame him. The sound of the bell rang anew, as the tempest stirred loudly.
“Are you the Lord of the death knell, from the hideous and calamitous abode, who was trapped forever, in this Ophelian mansion of rakehells of blight to wander astray?” Mr. Spencer asked.
He was uncertain of what to do except raise his voice, as the tonation could be heard from outside. Apparently, his vociferous uproar was heard by Miss Shaila, who opened the door with a key after tapping, tapping. He had heard the doorknob rattle before, but the door was shut by the menacing phantasm that fled so surreptitiously. When she entered he sighed in relief, as the ghostly fiend had swiftly disappeared into the walls of the chamber for the time being. He was still startled with this anomalous and riveting occurrence that had happened, evoking the horrendous alarum that was to be expected. He was lost for words, as he stood shocked and bemused by the distressing incident. The elements of mystery and horror were present and convincing.
“Sir, sir are you all right?” Miss Shaila asked.
“By Jove! Did you not see the revenant standing in the room?” He asked her as his voice quavered.
She looked at him, with a tremulous guise, “Sir, you are shaking, from what I see!”
Indeed he was quivering, and he quaffed another glass of Sherry to calm his impromptus agitation, before he inquired again, “Did you not see the wretched ghost that was in this chamber?”
Her response was timid, “Ghost, I did not see any ghost in the chamber sir?”
It was then that Lady Donovan had entered the chamber. “What has happened here, that has stirred abruptly your clamour sir?”
“Stirred my clamor you ask? The sight of a ghost Lady Donovan!" He responded.
Her expression was vague and subtle, “A ghost you say sir!”
She had paused before she continued, “Are you certain that you saw a ghost, and was not confused, with the effects of the unwavering tempest?”
"Nay, for what I saw—I am certain Lady Donovan was a ghost from the days of yore!" He exclaimed.
"Calm down sir, perhaps it would be better, if you rest the Sherry a bit, and taste some good tea, to soothe your anxiety!"
"Are you implying Lady Donovan that the wraith is nothing more than a figure of my imagination?" He retorted.
"Sir, I do not mean to doubt you, but as I alluded to before, the storm and the knell, can cause one to believe things that are not real at all."
"Perhaps you are correct Lady Donovan, for my nerves can at times, play tricks on my mind!"
"I shall have tea brought by Miss Shaila, and you will sip it and sit down tranquilly in your armchair, while we share a rational conversation. After further contemplation now, you will realise that perhaps there is some truth behind those sapient words of intuition. After all, the brazen stir outside had increased by the hour, and you need to allay your fretful state of unease so transparent."
"Yes, I want to believe that very much Lady Donovan," He replied.
"I am fain to see that the tea is soothing your nerves down sir. We are wont of the frights of the storm and the ringing of the knell and know how to react. I do apologise that you must hark to the tumult of the church bells so late in the night. They serve as a warning, announcing the storm and shelter for the poor sir."
I began to inquire of her late deceased husband, "How long have you been a widow my lady if I may ask?"
She had paused for a moment before she replied, with hesitation, "Rarely, do I have visitors much lately sir—but if you must know, I have been a widow for over ten years now. I must apologise if things seem to be, so dishevelled in this place. Things have not been the same since my beloved husband Seamus died."
"If I may intrude, what exactly did your dearest husband die of?" He inquired.
She paused for a moment to reflect before responding, "The mere thought of that horrible day of his demise, shakes the core of my bosom!”
“You speak of a death so terrible Lady Donovan!"
"The horrid thought of my husband's death, causes a commotion in my expressions, as I wince deeply, with the memory of that unfortunate day. Perhaps it would be better, if we left that conversation for the morrow, as it is getting late and the tempest now appears to be calming, and the levin as well."
Mr. Spencer did not want to be opportune, with the matter. Thus, he sought it prudent to adhere to her recommendation. "Of course my lady, the tempest seems to be abating for the moment. Good night Lady Donovan!"
"Good night sir!"
They left the conversation for the morrow—at least that was the suggestion. But at times, things that we wish do not effectuate or eventuate. Soon, he drank another glass of Sherry to appease his unsettling inquietude, as the bustling night was now early mourning. The tumultuous tempest was subsiding in an abeyance, but the indomitable phantom I had seen, was not the effects of the storm at all. He began to ponder, was he going mad, and the ghost was nothing more than the ill effect of his drinking? Had he succumbed to the phenomenon of the tempest, and to the trepidation of the occurrence of the knell outside? Had all these things captivated his vision, and contributed to his immediate consternation? Had he become a hypochondriac wretch? Oh no, no, he thought, it was only the transient lightning and the phenakism of the dim room!
Soon, he convinced himself that the phantom was nothing more than my unmodulated imagination. Surely, there is a rational explanation for all of this, he told himself. He took a deep breath and answered, “Yes, yes, it was no ghost, but the effects of the tempest and my imagination.”
The flapping shutters were closed, and he sat again upon the armchair. “I will be fine—I will rest upon this armchair, till the tempest has passed completely.”
Oh the tempest, the tempest, continued to beguile him, as the lightning still stirred perfervidly. He felt it was impossible to sleep that night and thus, he remained in the armchair, as he attempted to sleep the best he could. Both Lady Donovan and Miss Shaila had departed, as the door was closed again; but this time, closed by a mortal hand, and not a ghostly hand. Gradually, the sound of the dripping dew started to drop heavily on the roof, and the levin pounded upon his shutters strongly. The lamplight and the firelight were the lights he had to see, for the rest of the chamber was dim and drear. The boisterous din appeared to have concluded, but the tempest remained, as he feared that his attention would be arrested, by the unusual noises of the storm. The mystery, the insoluble mystery, personified the distressing ado, he had gradually unearthed. A half hour had transpired, yet the irrepressible storm did not have any surcease.
Anon, the striking of the clock sounded, as he listened to the heavy clang of the clock in the corridor. The horrible clang, struck and struck, until he bore no more, and rose from his armchair to investigate the unyielding sound that was drowning his hopeless sanity. He walked outside of his chamber and stepped into the corridor. He was becoming an unwilling participant intertwined in the dreadful lore of the mansion. Slowly, step after step he went forth, as he had sensed the presence of a stranger creeping nearby. Was the disquietude the sounds of Lady Donovan who he heard resounding? Or was it Miss Shaila rambling, within the mansion at that late hour perchance? His heart palpitated faster, with every step taken. He stood in the eerie corridor, and after ten minutes the clock finally stopped ringing. Had it malfunctioned, or had the storm disrupted its usual pattern of consonance? However odd it may have seemed he had felt the sudden urge to remain still, and thus he did not flinch or flit much.
The whistling wind echoed within the hallway, as some voices he began to hear coming directly from behind the walls. He had listened to the abstruse sounds and perceived them to be engrossing and engrossing, to the point that it became an unwanted obsession he could bear no more. He heard a creaking door open unhurriedly, as he scurried back to his chamber desperately. He waited inside the chamber, as the storm was still in effect, as the ponderous rain had entered through the window sill of his chamber. He then saw the revenant once again.
“Who are you, phantom of my unsettling nightmare? Am I dead, you daunting incubus? Have you come for my soul to take to the underworld, by the blazing brimstone you have risen from craven?” He asked.
Had his despair deviated him of a reality, imposing this dreadful alterity he conjured? “Know that I will not implore thee—with any mortal plea—then take me forever! For God or Devil standing, I will not tarry any longer helpless I say wight! But if I am taken, I will be brazen to dare. Get you back to the baleful glare that will quit into a fainting firelight!”
The pressing eagerness to solve this mystery was too compelling that he could not avoid the necessity to explore with resolution. He was becoming an insomniac corpse by the passing minute, gaunt and too perturbed. It was then that the striking image of the revenant gleamed before his very own eyes, causing him to be completely startled.
Thence, he heard the countless voices behind the tenantable walls speaking in inaudible murmurs. He harked, the restless clamors of respite, respite—that he had heard somehow, coming from the chamber nearby. The door opened, to the terrible darkness of the corridor that was urging him to follow, as the sparkling wraith led the way. It was possible that he was void of sanity, and his mind was lost in a light shone bright of the dead.
"Let this horror that I suffer ghost, be gone with the seraphim of might!" He said.
Stealthily, he had followed the bright light, as the rain of the tempest, suddenly drenched upon his disconcerting fear. He was not detected by Lady Donovan or her daughter Miss Shaila, as he passed the corridor and went outside through a secret passage that existed. The storm was still brewing, and the rain fell and fell continuously. His heart beat fast and fast, as he did not know what to anticipate, or where he was going next. The revenant led him to a row of tombstones that had lain before his very eyes. Written there on the epitaphs were the names of Seamus, Fiona and Shaila Donovan, with small portraits attached to the meaningful epitaphs. The shocking secret and mystery had been finally solved. Lady Donovan was stone dead, for ten years. Awe had left him bemused, with the gruesome discovery.
"Tell me—what will I call you ghost? Will I go straightaway with you, into the terrible embers of a burning flame alight?"
Mr. Spencer had fretted for a moment, as he felt a sense of yesteryear. Soon he was answered, by a voice from behind him. It was Lady Donovan, who stood with her daughter fervently by her side. "What are you doing here sir? My dear, you should have remained in your chamber."
He turned around impigrously, and rejoined, "These tombstones speak a hidden truth. You are not of the kindred. If you are not Lady Donovan, then who are you really? Lady Donovan is dead!"
She smiled and replied, "I am Lady Donovan. Do you not recognise me, Seamus? Oh, the madness has driven you completely mad."
"What are you talking about madam? I am William Spencer! Why do you call me Seamus? Is this a macabre jest? Do you not see his name on the tombstone?"
She then replied, "Seamus, do you not recall that horrid night, when you shot and kill Mr. Spencer, after he came to evict us? Do you not recall, the countless debts you accumulated that caused you to lose everything, including this mansion and your mind?" She paused, and then continued, "Do you not recall, how you killed Shaila your dearest daughter and me, your beloved wife?"
"Are you mad, what are you saying madam? I shall be leaving this abode of madness now!" He exclaimed.
"Go Seamus, whither will you go? You have nowhere to go, for your madness haunts you daily. Look closely, at the tombstone!"
"I remember now, I killed you, Fiona, and Mr. Spencer."
He had looked at the epitaph, as his madness had permitted him to see the unique truth at last, through a brief interval of his sanity. It was the undeniable and compunctious truth that his deranged mind had not allowed him to see before. The epitaph had read, William Spencer, as was mentioned. He began to realize that he was indeed the infamous Seamus Donovan, and not William Spencer, as he believed he was. Unbridled rage had enthralled his passions, and his unstoppable madness was an inception of the conception of his catatonic delirium at its cruelest form. He put his hands on his ears, as he heard the death knell from afar resound. The sonorous clanging again he deplored its sound abhorrently. Every detail of that atrocious day he started to remember again. He had yelled out loud.
"Begone, my madness, I admit the heinous deed!"
He had summoned the fearful and powerful revenant to take him, and he did afterward. He towered above him with intimidation, as the gorgonizing and threnetic knell was heard one last time, before his doomed departure. From behind the drear tombstone, the revenant rose like a sinister sizzling sparkle forthwith, and took him to the horrid world of the tormented souls chastised. It is said by the wary locals that his absolute dominion of a visible murk gleams after the orphic twilight, when his spectral guise of death is forever immortalized in the precarious winds that blow suddenly upon the vast land. To the discernible verge of the damping dew, and the strange flickering night light that emerged, with the burning embers of an unforgettable firelight that had quickened amain, by the revenant of the death knell.