Friday, October 10, 2008

Graveyard Tales: The Voices in the Walls

If you have read the blog you know I worked at a local graveyard here in Erie.

Having a small non denominational start up church and a para church outreach organization does not pay the bills, so I found work when I could.

I went to work at Erie County Memorial Gardens in the spring of 2000; it was originally a sales position but two reasons led me to move from sales to maintenance. 1) I am a stinky salesman. No not a body odor thing but an inability to close a sale when I know the people I am selling to cannot afford it. My moral compass does not allow me to take advantage of the poor to make a quick buck –shame that some mortgage lenders over the past years did not share the same compass I had or we might not be in the mess we are now-. And 2) The people in the maintenance department made more money than any salesman at the cemetery.

Long story short I left the sales department and started mowing lawns and burying the dead.

A lot of odd things happen in cemeteries.

When you work around it day in and day out you kind of get used to it.

Then again sometimes such unexplainable things happen that you could never get used to.

One of the head maintenance men was clearing snow from the sidewalks and offices early in the morning one day in the middle of January. It was still dark, but the freshly fallen snow illuminated the landscape in an eerie glow. The maintenance man decided to save gas and walk the quarter mile from the office building to start shoveling the snow around the mausoleum. Halfway there he saw a figure walking behind the building. From the size it looked like a child had just walked behind the mausoleum, but the worker could not be sure. It was a little odd but not entirely out of the ordinary that someone would take an early morning walk around the cemetery for exercise. But it was downright peculiar for someone to do it after a heavy snowstorm let alone with a child. So wearily he surveyed the grounds for any site of the child or parents who might be getting some brisk morning exercise.

But he saw no one as he neared the building.

He circled around to where he swore he saw the figure of the child, but there were no footprints in the snow.

As he looked up from the new snow he saw a face peering from around the corner on the other side of the building just 50 feet away from him. He could not make out features but he saw the rough shading of eyes, mouth and nose from the shadowy figure that was examining him. It was about three feet tall, the size of a young child.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” he shouted and started to make his way through the drifts to the curious face. But as soon as he started to move the head quickly disappeared from the corner. The maintenance man added some speed to his gait but when he arrived to the corner the child was gone. But as he looked down to see where the young one had ran to he once again saw no footprints.

Amazed and disturbed he threw his shovel into the ground and mumbled to himself. He was sure someone was playing a trick on him, but he was clueless as to who it could be. For all he knew he was alone in the 70 acre cemetery.

Alone except for that small child who could disappear without leaving any tracks in the snow.

He shrugged and made a mental note to drill the other members of the crew when they came in to see if any one of them was up to shenanigans. If it was a trick they would probably edge him on a while but then get their jollies at his expense. So trying to push aside the oddness of the event, he went about shoveling the snow.

That was when he heard the voices.

At first he thought it might be the wind. The mausoleum was out in an open field and sometimes the wind whipped around the building fiercely and made all sorts of odd noises. But after a while he knew it was not the wind. He heard the whispering voices even when the air was still. The whispering voices were barely audible but to his ears they were clearly distinct and individual voices. It was as if there were a large group of people gathered together in the mausoleum having a conversation. He silently moved around the sidewalk to try and get a location for the voices. They seemed very close but at varying distances. It was as if many people were having a whispered conversation from a distance. Then one of the voices seemed to be a little closer, and his heart almost stopped when he realized where they were coming from.

The voices were coming from inside the crypts in the mausoleum walls.

Frozen in fear he thought he was going insane so he slowly moved closer to the cold ice layered marble slab. The icy slabs concealed the cement crypts which made up the inner and outer walls of the building. As he put his ear to the freezing stone he heard a distinctive whispering voice say, “Shhh. He hears us!”

In an instant he dropped the shovel from his hands and ran to the office building. He never heard the voices again, but he vowed to never shovel the snow around the mausoleum in the dark ever again either.

However that was not the end of caretakers and others seeing shadow people in the early morning twilight on the cemetery grounds.

One morning I had come in early to get ready for a trip to a neighboring cemetery that needed some help because someone had called in sick. The sun was just about to rise and the supervisor and myself were sitting at a desk drinking some coffee and discussing current events when an elderly lady came into the office door.

She seemed quite distressed.

She was barely able to get inside and was hanging onto the front door as if it were a lifeline. She must have been in her early eighties and almost collapsed just as my supervisor caught her and helped her to a seat.

She had visited her deceased husband’s grave to put out a fresh flower arrangement before she went to an early morning breakfast appointment with some friends. She was sitting on a blanket and arranging the flowers in the vase as the morning sun was just rising. Sitting there and taking in the bright sunrise she saw a figure move to her right. It was a lady dressed in a long black shawl about 40 yards away from her on the other side of the garden where her husband was buried. She saw no distinct features but from the silhouette in the sunrise she could tell it was a woman with a lithe figure who was standing erect with her head tilted down to the grave which she was standing over. She wondered who she was, because she had not seen her before as she had walked back and forth from her car to bring the flowers and water to her husband’s graveside. In fact she was sure at that time she was the only one on the outside of the property.

She was considering these things as the sun rose over the treetops to the east and the rays of light began to filter into the garden with intensity. The figure seemed to fade a bit.

Then it slowly sunk into the ground.

It was as if the earth sucked up the silhouette of the woman and ate her.

We calmed the woman down and gave her some water. I went out to investigate and found her small blanket at the foot of the grave and the fresh flowers arranged in the vase just as she said. But I saw no other person on the grounds. A few minutes later my supervisor came out with the woman and we asked her where she saw the figure. I walked out to the opposite side where she gestured but saw nothing out of the ordinary. So I called to her to have me move where she thought she saw the figure vanish into the ground. When she had finished directing me I looked down. I was standing over the grave of a young teenage boy who had shot himself earlier during the year with his father’s gun. He had been an honor student with a bright future to look forward to. Then a random school drug search found a few ounces of cocaine in his locker. He was kicked out of school and faced serious charges. Instead of facing a bleak future he chose to take his own life.

But the family tragedy did not stop there. Within a few months the father had gunned down the boy’s mother and a coworker he had suspected her of cheating on him with. And then he put a bullet into his own head as well, just as his son had done just a few months previously.

The graves were all together. Father, mother and son slept together for eternity.

But according to the woman something had visited the son early in the morning’s twilight. Was it the mother? A figment of her imagination? Or just an illusion of the diffused lighting coming through the pine trees in the East? Or was it a dark entity that had influenced the family to commit such tragic and needlessly violent acts that still lurks at the gravesite?

I have no idea.

All I could do was pray that God would have mercy on their souls and grant them peace.

Even though once in a while I did come in early in the twilight morning to help out now and then, I never came into the graveyard at night. I was a bit afraid of what I might see.

Especially after another frightening story that was told to me by the retiring supervisor that morning. But I think I’ll save that story and another interesting incident for a post that I will make this Halloween.

Until next time,

Pastor Swope


cryptidsrus said...

Great story as always, Swope. May God grant them peace indeed. Isn't it sad that the most seemingly "well put-together" families turn out to be the most dysfunctional? Harm begets more harm and so and so on. Sad.

Doodledash said...

That was one of your best. I really enjoy reading your stories. Thank you for sharing another view that a lot of us agree with but don't always talke about.

Jason Offutt said...

Enjoyed the post, as always. Keep up the good work.

Jason Offutt

Jason Offutt said...

Great read, as always. Keep up the good work.

Jason Offutt

Ferdinand said...

Pretty eerie Robin..... just makes me want to go take a walk in the cemetery in the middle of the night....NOT!!!

Daniel said...

Cool story. My Dad has worked at our local Veterans Cemetary for close to 30 years, but he has never come home with any cool stories like that.

NXavier said...

Fantastic! Keep 'em commin' Pastor! I can't wait to hear the supervisor's story.

Daniel said...

I wonder what a room full of dead people talk about all day?

Angela said...

I loved reading this post!

I too work for Memorial Gardens in WV, Talking about a rough living sales was hard to make, we had trouble keeping people in the telemarketing area as they stayed at the office in the middle of the cemetery, in the late evenings alone. LOL

Mojo Mom said...

Great story. It's the stories involving children that always spooked me the most!
Halloween 2002, I was seven months pregnant with my oldest son and the TV station I worked at was doing a "haunted series". I can tell you a million stories about the station itself and the things I saw and heard.(I worked the graveyard shift and more then once I had to call my husband to come sit with me) But this one Halloween, I hooked up with a Ghost Hunting group that liked to hang out in an older cemetary. Nothing completely chilling happened, but we did get EVP's and there was several pics taken of me (very pregnant) with many orbs following me around. The EVP's that were recorded were on voice-activated recorders had been placed in the four corners of the cemetary and several of them had comments on "baby" and "momma". The leader thought I was attracting activity because I was pregnant. I wish I had copied those tapes before I moved, oh well!
But nothing ever happened to me in that graveyard that was as chilling as your stories. I can't wait for the Halloween post!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pastor!
Since you want to focus on graveyard tales(which I admit your experiences are fascinating)how about the Mumy's Curse?
I had a client once from the middle east, whom I feel was under some kind of curse, although she did not appear to know it.

I am intuitive at times and picked up on the word Egypt when I first met her and not knowing where she was from I asked her if she was from Egypt. Turns out she was from some other country nearby, but had always been fascinated with Egypt.
Her fascination had begun with a family outing to a pyramid, the burial place of the king. Her father had paid someone to be let into the burial chamber of the king, which normally was off limits to tourists.
Strangely as soon as they entered the tomb her sisters began to experience extreme heat(it should have been cooler) and got sick, and she felt as though she was being pushed down the stairs.
Later on their father died younge of a mysteriouse fever, and she developed wierd allergies to anything that was warm, causing her to break out and itch, simotaneoously, she felt inexplicably "cold" all the time.
The allergies were bizarre and involved things that are normal for life. No western Doctor can find the reason.
I knew that thier "intrusion" in a King's burial chamber has something to do with it.
I could not reveal to her that I thought she was suffering from a curse. She did not appear to be very religouse at all. I am forced to leave out some medical details, but essentially it was clear that all that would comfort her and provide joy for her had been eliminated. Imagine feeling "cold" all the time and being forced to bathe in "cold water" as you are allergic to hot water, or to get sick from exposure to the sun, or hives from blankets, sweaters and the like. The sudden and younge death of the Dad, and the sudden sickness in the rest of the family...kinda point to something in that tomb, perhaps a poison or toxin, used to protect the King from burial chamber robbers.
Yup. Does look like there is danger around tombs.

Anonymous said...

These tales are really something. This is a rarity. They are remarkable. And well told, sir.