Richie Tales – The Witch’s Tomb

Hi. My name is Richard. Richie for short. Yes. It is an alias, for reasons that will be clear shortly. I am a security guard. Specifically, I protect a not so small-town cemetery. I can’t reveal what town either. Same reasons. There are many stories that I can tell you about this cemetery, all true, and all very creepy. The first one I’ll tell you today is about the witch’s tomb.

Our town is pretty old. It goes all the way back to colonial days. I guess that narrows the location down to the east coast, but I must be careful to not say more. I’d be out of a job and more than a few people would be in trouble if I reveal too much. Most of what I’m about to tell you isn’t in the papers, at least not the truth. The leaders of the town know the secrets, but they’ve gone to great lengths in order to keep them silent. If need be, I wouldn’t even put it past them to hide some bodies…pun intended.

Anyway, back in the earliest days of the town there was a lady who practiced the dark arts, or at least that is how the tale goes. She was careful to hide her craft, but one day she was betrayed by a close friend when their daughter went missing. You see, the lady couldn’t have children of her own, and her friend’s daughter grew close to the lady, learning her ways. She spent nearly every day with the lady gathering herbs and learning about remedies. The mother grew jealous of the bond that they had formed. The story diverges here. Some say the mother killed the daughter in a jealous fit and then to avoid punishment pinned it on her friend. Others say the witch sacrificed the daughter in a ritual after the mother and her had a violent argument. Some say the daughter just left town to be with a secret lover. Whatever happened to the girl was never fully determined as a body was never found.

However, what happened to the accused witch was clear. She was quickly convicted and hung. She was then buried on a small hill outside of the cemetery as she was not allowed to be buried on hallowed grounds. The exact location would have been forgotten, except for the patch never grew grass or flowers again. A barren piece of land roughly 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. Over time the town grew and with it, so did the cemetery. It soon enveloped that hill and quite a bit more around it. The original records about the witch were lost in a fire, but the tale was passed down over the years. Some of the details changed depending on who told it, but the key features remained the same.

At some point during the growth, though, a rich family saw the hill with no graves marked on it. They believed the tales to be hogwash and thought that the hill would make a nice place for the family mausoleum. They paid a handsome price for the town to look the other way and built their mausoleum directly over the bare patch of ground. It is a grand structure, with ornate columns, a huge iron double door, complete with fancy locking latch and cherubim hanging off each door. There is also a large cross at the top of the awning in front. Several generations have been buried there, but as far as I know, there are no surviving members of the family. If there are any, they moved away a long time ago, and if so, it probably has to do with what happened after the mausoleum was built.

Some believe that the witch haunts the cemetery grounds. It is said that you can hear her cackling every night around 3 am. I personally have heard something that sounds like a cackle myself on several occasions and I try to never be near that hill during the middle of the night. That in and of itself is not the creepy part, though. Sure, a little unnerving, but not that odd to hear sounds in a cemetery at night. No, the creepy part and the reason for the secrecy is what happens about once a decade on Halloween night. Cliché, I know, but that is when it happens.

It started the fourth year after the mausoleum was built. Of the handful that know the truth, the common belief is that the witch is taking out retribution. Retribution not only for her wrongful death, but for having her resting place dishonored in such a cruel fashion. See, it is not uncommon for children to pick up on the superstitions and fears of adults, but unlike the adults, they tend to be reckless in treating those fears with respect. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to run kids out of the cemetery after hours. Especially around Halloween. Anyway, every few years some kids like to play a game of “Who’s afraid of the dark?” where one, or rarely two, unfortunate chosen are tasked with spending the night in the cemetery without a flashlight. More often than not, in our town, the story of the haunted mausoleum with the cackling witch draws the attention to a more targeted location. If only the kids knew what really happens there.

Coincidentally or not, the first time it happened, the kid chosen was the nephew of the rich family who built the mausoleum. When he didn’t show up the next morning for Sunday School his parents became worried. He was a good boy, after all, and it was unlike him to just disappear. The sheriff was called at once and he began his investigation talking to the town’s children. It took some coaxing, but before long one of the children confessed to the game. They searched the cemetery grounds, not finding him. The final place they searched was the mausoleum. They found it locked and summoned the grounds keeper to bring the key. Upon opening the tomb, they found the boy laying face up just inside the door, his eyes wide with terror.

His hands were bloody with no finger nails left on them. The inside of the doors was scratched with streaks of blood. The boy’s pants were damp. Not knowing what else to do, and having nothing else to go on, the sheriff marked the case closed, figuring that the boy somehow got himself locked inside and died from his fright. The boy was soon placed in his own coffin within the same mausoleum. As I said before, these records were lost in a fire, but the tale has been passed down over the years from grounds keeper to grounds keeper, and more recently to the security personnel, too.

Over the intervening years, more and more children have been found in the same state as the poor nephew. The sheriff tried his best to find who was responsible, but even posting sentries around the cemetery and the mausoleum never provided any results. Sometimes the sentries were scared off by the unnerving noises, some chased after apparitions catching no one, and some fell asleep, receiving severe reprimands. Others saw nothing, and yet children still went missing, only to be found in the tomb the next day.

After the first two, the mayor of the town thought it best that the public not know the truth. He feared that it would only further encourage the children to play their dangerous game. He ordered the gates to be locked at night and had a huge chain padlocked across the two cherubim. The number of deaths did decrease, but there have still been about one per decade since. Each time it happens, the child’s body is removed quietly and their death listed as exposure, drugs, or some other nonsense. Only the grounds keepers, the sheriffs, the mayors, and now security know the truth.

Both the current sheriff and my security team still keep watch, but there is never any evidence of a crime besides the kids trespassing. In fact, every time the padlock and chain are still in place when we find the bodies. No one knows how they actually get in the mausoleum. It has been checked top to bottom for a secret entrance and none has been found. Even the guards posted right outside report not ever hearing any cries for help or scratching, either. They only ever hear the evil cackling sound of the witch. Of course, we only post them there around Halloween as the ones posted there tend to request transfers shortly after. Who could blame, them?!

The tale goes that once, about one hundred years ago, a guard was posted inside the mausoleum. He was found the next morning alive, but babbling incoherent words. Depending on who tells the story he was committed to an institution, or he took his own life a few days later. Either way, nobody has been brave enough to spend the night in the tomb since. I’ve been working here for about thirty-six years now and during my service I’ve had to see the grim reality three times. I pray I never see it happen again, but kids will be kids.

Copyright May 13, 2021. All Rights Reserved.