A few years ago I was spending some time with friends exploring old, supposedly haunted, places. We were at the Edisto First Presbyterian Church, where a girl named Julia Legare was buried in her family mausoleum in 1852.
People reported hearing unearthly screams time and time again, but never investigating the cause of it. Fifteen years later, when they opened the door to the mausoleum to inter the next family member who had died, finding her corpse huddled in the corner next to the door, arms outstretched as if still trying to find the exit.
Well, my friends thought it would be a funny idea to shut the giant stone door (which was originally open) behind me and pick me up in the morning. The bastards left me there… I tried and tried, using all of my strength, but I couldn’t budge it, it had taken four people to put it in place. In the dark, I resigned myself to the night ahead of me.
Now, I normally don’t frighten easily, but sitting there in the relatively small place, surrounded by a looming pressure that I couldn’t begin to explain, the darkness itself seemed to try to consume me. From all around it felt like weight was pressing against my skin, making even breathing hard. I sat in the dark for what must have been hours.
Then I heard the scratches. They were faint at first, I was sure it was my imagination, but soon they became more and more frantic as time passed. I huddled up in one of the corners farthest from the door and tried to cover my ears but nothing could stop the growing cacophony. This all may have lasted for a few minutes, but each second was an unbearable eternity.
Then, a loud scream echoed through the darkness, it was a wail of unrestrained pain and fear. The scratching stopped. For the first time I could distinctly make out the sound of a girl sobbing to herself, the pitiful gasping of one without a shred of hope left.
I felt such sorrow at the moment, such pain, that I think I forgot how to be afraid. In my heart all her suffering seemed to resonate. Inexplicably, I found myself apologizing aloud for everything that had happened to her. Hell, a part of me wanted to reach out and feel for a body to hug, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it for fear that I truly would find one.
I don’t know whether or not she heard me or was even aware of my presence, the sobbing continued and I could again hear fingers against the stone slab that was the tomb door.
I fell asleep at some point, which I felt was a merciful gift from the fates. I’m not sure how long I was out, but I was woken by a loud and powerful thud as the door slammed against the ground outside. I could tell from the light gray outside that daybreak was near, so I must have slept for at least a few hours.
I stumbled outside and went to a small unlocked prayer house. I think previously it was a segregated mini-church, but regardless, I leaned against the door and waited nervously until my ‘friends’ arrived. I approached them as they clustered around the fallen door, two of them were kneeling next to it with faces of shock.
There were bloody streaks covering the interior of the door, some with light scratches from fingernails, many without. I think now that she must have shrieked when they broke away from her hands, but I can’t be sure.
At first, they looked to me, then checked my hands, then nervously glanced at one another. I was rightfully pissed with them and told them every detail of what I remembered, wanting them to know what I had been put through.
Finally, after I grudgingly got into the car and we started to head back, someone spoke up. My friend said to me “We were afraid to say anything, but look at your face.”
I later found out that many times people had tried to permanently seal the entrance to the mausoleum, including enough heavy locks and chains that it would require heavy equipment to remove it, only to have it found torn open with the door lying on the ground once more. This was in the 1980s, the last attempt of many through the decades. It seemed like some force was ensuring that it was impossible to ever repeat the mistakes of the past. This is something I am understandably quite grateful for, but to this very day I am chilled to the bone when I think of what happened that night.
When I reached from the back seat and adjusted the rear-view mirror, I saw that there was blood caked on my face. Just like the streaks upon the stone slab, there were dark red lines on either side, as if someone had gently cradled my face with torn fingers as I slept that night, feeling the warmth of another for the first time in over a hundred years.