She sat back,
Crouching in the wood -
This still, dark house
That saw no good.
Sat there waiting
In a misty shroud,
Beneath a cold moon
And black, stormy clouds.
Her inhabitants filled the night
With desperate, mournful cries,
These souls of ages past,
Not seen by mortal eyes.
And as I warily approached her,
Fear embraced my soul -
A chilling wave swept through my veins
Where warm blood once had flown.
Yet I was drawn still closer,
With an obsession to know her fate,
And so laid a trembling hand
Upon her rusted gate.
The gate screamed its reluctance,
And with the screech of every hinge,
My heart beat faster and faster,
And every nerve would cringe.
I started walking down the path –
Closer I was drawn.
My mind said "Stop! Go no farther!"
My heart said "Go on! Go on!
I kept walking ever closer
Moving like the dead,
And as I drew nearer with each step,
My heart filled more with dread.
I finally reached the threshold,
After what seemed an eternity,
And pressed upon its oaken door -
Fighting the desire to flee.
The door swung slowly open
Upon a dusky room,
Full of cob-webbed corners,
And musky, oppressive gloom.
I stepped cautiously inside;
The floors creaked with every step.
The house moaned and groaned its rejection;
I felt that it almost wept.
The tension mounted in the room,
My body was bathed in sweat.
I felt my every muscle tense.
The hair raised on my neck.
It seemed I was in battle,
As the house forced me to flee,
Assaulting with violent emotions,
And screaming "Let me be!"
I started swaying where I stood
Fighting off each new blow.
As wave after wave swept over me,
The house kept crying "Go!"
I fought the impulse to run,
And there stood my ground.
Surely all of the world
Could hear my frantic heart pound.
A chilling wind swept through the house,
Whistling in my ears.
The floors seemed to rock beneath my feet -
I'd never known such fear.
And just when I felt I could stand no more,
I saw a grisly site -
A gaunt and bloody woman
With hair as black as night.
It fell almost to her knees
In matted, wispy strands.
Her teeth were bared - her eyes were fire,
She had talon claw-like hands.
I backed away and turned to run -
I heard her eerie laugh,
She hissed and lunged -like a panther -
And fell upon my back.
Her arms were wrapped around my neck.
Her nails dug in my flesh.
I fought to break her strangling hold
And saw the face of death.
Her fetid breath blew in my face;
She smelled of long decay.
Her screeching laugh filled my head.
I fought to get away.
As I staggered around the room
'Neath my gruesome burden's weight,
My head began to swim and throb.
I prayed I wouldn't faint.
Her cackling laugh rose higher,
Bouncing off the walls.
The wind blew ever stronger -
I bled from knife-like claws.
I swayed and staggered to the door -
A red mist before my eyes -
I fought to make my mind stay clear
In spite of her manic cries.
I fell across the threshold,
Rolling upon the ground,
And found - blessedly - I was free
From my ghostly hound.
I stumbled to my feet and ran
With a strength I'd never known,
And finally reached that rusty gate
I'd entered so long ago.
I stood there torn and panting.
The blood ran down my face.
I shook as if with fever.
Now free of that evil place.
The house seemed to settle back -
Her intruder successfully spurned.
I knew that there would come a day
When she would see my return.
Debra Shiveley Welch