There on the moon-kissed hilltop, some distance from the darkness that was the Morgan house, stood a frail silhouette that fluttered in the nocturnal breeze like a scarecrow. Every child in the neighborhood had been raised under the haunting shadow of the Morgan house, their ears tingling with the stories that grew out of those dark ruins. For me, they were nothing more than stories—until that night.
The appearance of the Morgan house specter—whether it was the shade of a childhood ghost story or something more tangible—should have warned us away, but no amount of chilling foreboding could keep a group of rambunctious teenagers away from a haunted house on Halloween night.
Stepping over that rotten threshold was like crossing into another world, one where the crumbling walls groaned around us like a dying beast, and the movement of the dust marked the passage of the house’s unseen residents.
We whispered timid stories to each other as we explored the hollow passages and dark holes, rehearsing the weird history of the Morgan house that we had all heard since childhood. In our minds we relived the sad tale of Elizabeth Morgan, renowned for her ravishing beauty, which no man’s heart could bear resist. But though her suitors were many, and could boast persistence to exceed their passionate charms, she turned each one away. It seemed she would die an old maid, but then one evening, just as the sun had set, a stranger came to call. It was as though a spell had been broken, and Elizabeth Morgan gave her heart to this man whom she had only just met.
But then she grew ill, and doctors, unable to diagnose her condition, feared the worst. Sensing the end was near, Elizabeth called for her lover, but he never came. And so, alone, she wasted away. The night she died, she made her family swear not to remove her body until her mysterious lover would come to look upon her one last time.
Wasting away, wasting away,
Waiting for her love to come,
And gaze upon what death has done.
Waiting still, waiting still,
Although her body falls to dust,
For her love to fulfill his trust.
One of us quietly sang the oddly cheerful children’s rhyme that related what we might discover upon forcing open the locked door on the second story, that locked door which we now approached with trembling footsteps, both terrified and eager in our youthful recklessness.
Five friends passed into the crumbling shell of the sickroom. I alone stepped out. My friends…my poor friends…I’ll be haunted by the sight of that to my dying breath.
It is said that on still nights, when the air feels heavy and the moon is blotted out by the oppressive shadow of the clouds, one who listens can hear the long wails of the Morgan house’s tortured victims. I shake my head at such tales. What have they left to scream with?