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The Apparition

The Apparition

By David Blackthorn

 

Copyright 2014/2015 David Blackthorn

Shakespir Edition

 

 

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Author’s Note

 

 

Every city, town and village has a tale of some sort which stems from a tragedy. These tails grow over time, becoming a local legend, passed down from generation to generation. This story was originally published in the anthology Tales of Mystery, Suspense and Terror and pays homage to these legends.

 

 

 

Author’s Note

 

 

Every city, town and village has a tale of some sort which stems from a tragedy. These tails grow over time, becoming a local legend, passed down from generation to generation. This story was originally published in the anthology Tales of Mystery, Suspense and Terror and pays homage to these legends.

 

 

There are many things in this world which are far beyond simple explanation. These appear to be the things that intrigue us most, the more the danger or unexplained, the more we seek to let these mysteries consume us. Thus, it was this way with my dear friend, Oswald De’Augusta.

Oswald had long been a follower of the paranormal, a quaint little man with a desire to delve into the local stories of ghosts and occult. He wrote of such things and often took pen to paper to keep me informed of his progress throughout his investigations. Rarely was I concerned for the friend I had known from childhood. Recently, I have begun to feel a deep growing concern, due to the recent string of letters.

Let me begin by giving you a slight background regarding myself and Oswald. My name is Edward Aagaard. We were both the children of immigrants to a small village on the outskirts of the great city of New York. His family took up residence here from Italy. My family sailed over from Norway. This was still not uncommon in the late eighteen hundreds, when we both arrived.

We were instantly drawn as friends, being of the same age and interests. We would spend countless hours searching for abandoned houses, fable to be haunted. We would often add our own stories to the legends and pretend we saw apparitions. I, eventually, outgrew this stage in life. Oswald, though seeking truth, never did. He no longer pretended to observe ghosts hanging from rafters by centuries old nooses. He no longer added legends devised in his own mind. He sought to become a paranormal investigator, a trade only spoken of in short printed tales, sold for a penny in the general store.

I feel moments of fear for my dear friend each time I receive a letter from him but I keep this journal and attach his letters, as he requested of me. If he fails to return alive, I shall have record of his exploitation of a small farmhouse, further upstate.

His first letter was of little concern and is as follows:

 

My much respected friend Edward,

I have launched my quest for the truth of the Asgaard house as of this morning. As you know, there are some Norwegian families beginning to set up farms in this region of the state. I have stumbled upon a tale surrounding this particular homestead that I can scarcely shake from my thoughts.

The first thing I noted was that the last name is so very similar to yours. Are you familiar with the family? Perhaps they are of relation to you, were you to trace your lineage back far enough.

The young man who tends the farm, along with his pleasant wife, also tends to his father. He fears for the old man’s sanity, yet refuses to commit him to an asylum. The old man, Bjorn Asgaard, lost his wife two decades ago and has not recovered himself. Were it not for the boy and the hired hands, the farm would have been lost.

It is the death of this fair woman that begins my investigation. There are mutterings amongst the town folk surrounding this unfortunate demise. It is here that I shall cease my writing, for today. I have a meeting with the young man running the farm, though I confess I failed to inform him of my inquiring. Pray thee, my oldest friend, keep me in your thoughts as I set upon this task. I shall write you daily to keep record of my investigation. Keep these letters safe until my return.

 

Your friend,

Oswald De’Augusta

 

I was not required to wait long for is second letter, as it arrived only the next day. Keeping true to his word, he appeared to be recording his events to paper daily and sending them off to me. It was on this letter that I began to worry for his safety, not from some demonic apparition or hideous ghostly being but from the very people he interviewed.

I entertained the thought of writing him to come back to his home town but decided against this upon realizing the letter would unlikely reach him in time.

 

My most trusted confidant Edward,

My meeting with the old man’s son did not go as I had hoped. I found myself escorted off the property by two hired hands upon inquiring of his mother’s horrid end and the legend of her ghostly appearances. I shall tell you of these tales in this letter, as I have been informed of them by some of the local citizens.

Bjorn Asgaard’s wife was known by the name Katherine. She worked alongside her husband, along with their two sons and one daughter. As you know, Farm work requires the help of an entire family and each member has their assigned chores.

It seems that she was crossing the road with buckets of water for the cattle. The water was carried by hand in this fashion, gathered from a large river in the field alongside the road. There are no lamps beside these roads and it becomes difficult to see a person when it is dark. As she was crossing the road, she was struck by a horse drawn wagon and died almost immediately. A sad end to such a kindly soul, as I am told. The old man is said to still be mourning the loss of his beloved.

This is not the reason for my investigation, for as you know, I am not an officer. My reason revolves around a much more sinister part of this story. It is said that every year, after this horrible accident, she crosses the road on that same night. Were a person to ride their wagon along that road on that night, they would not only see her, but they would strike her down, having no time to react.

I know what you are thinking, my friend. This is too fantastic to be truth. In all actuality, I am not sure I believe it, myself, though there are many who claim it to be true and some who even claim to have seen her. They tell that those who have struck her see a terrifying ghost, an apparition so terrible that they are sure their very heart stopped for a brief moment. There is no sign of her after the accident but the driver and passengers disappear from existence only days after. The legend speaks of the belief that Katherine Asgaard’s ghost drags them to the very bowels of Hell.

I do not believe the latter part of the story, though I have been unsuccessful in tracking down a first-hand experience. It seems they barely have time to relate their story before they are no longer seen or heard from. It is my skepticism of this fact that drives me to my next step in this investigation. Tonight is the night she is to appear and I shall be driving along this road in hopes of solving the mystery. If I see her, you will be informed through my letters. If there is nothing, I shall relate the rest of my tale to you upon my arrival home.

 

Be well, my friend,

Oswald De’Augusta

 

I felt worry for my friend, thinking of him on the small, barely kept roads in the middle of the night, looking for a ghost. The roads we are accustomed to are regularly traveled. The wagons keeping them visible at all times, lit through the village by lamps upon posts and decks. He was far from his normal element.

Still, I had to trust he knew what he was involving himself in. It was the third letter that brought a deep seeded fear to me, unsure of the safety of my friend. I extracted the letter from the envelope in hopes of finding him writing to me of returning to his home. Instead, I read the words of a man determined to carry out his mission, no matter how detached it was from logic.

His lust for adventure had always far outweighed his common sense. Ever since childhood he would embark on journeys deep into the woods that I dared not accompany him on. I found myself dismayed that he seemed never to outgrow this strange obsession as I read his words.

 

My Dear friend Edward,

You would scarce believe the adventure I endured only last night. My God, I hardly know where to begin. It is like a blur, yet vivid in my memory, both at the same time. It is all too fantastic to believe unless you have actually SEEN it for yourself.

Forgive my handwriting, I am trembling as I write this. I have been unable to slow my heart rate. I have not slept a wink the entire night. The visions of my experience still haunt me every time I close my eyes.

Let me tell you of what I have seen. Then, you will understand. You know me, my friend. You know I speak no lies, in these cases. What I saw will sound like the ramblings of a madman. Let me assure you, I am quite sane. Though I doubted it for a moment, I am sure my sanity is stable.

As I wrote you last time, I decided to take a wagon along that road. It was dark but I had a lantern on either side of the wagon, enough light for me to see my way. There were few animals on the road. There was a coyote and some possums. Nothing frightened me about these creatures. The fright came as I approached the farm. Let me not jump ahead of myself, though. There is still more to tell, prior to that moment.

I took along two others with me. There was a young man named Ezekiel and a man named Wesley. These two made a promise to keep our journey quiet. I was already becoming unpopular by asking too many questions of the local population. They insisted on taking guns, though I confess, I do not know why. What good would guns do against a ghost?

Wesley shot one of the possums we saw. He told us it would be a good meal, should we require food during the night. He gutted and cleaned the creature in the back of the wagon as we continued on. The act of gutting it made me feel rather ill for a time, but I soon recovered.

As we approached the fields before the farm, I doubted we would see anything. How often do these legends turn out to be true? Let me assure you, it is true. There is no doubt in my mind, anymore. I was about to slow the wagon when a noise in the trees startled the horses. They took off running, pulling the wagon over the rough road. Wesley almost tumbled out of the bed as the wagon bounced along.

It was right after the horses bolted that the farm came into view. I tried to slow them but they were hell-bent to run. Could it be a mere coincidence that something caused the beasts to take off at a dead run? Could there have been something else at work? I do not know the answer for sure. I only know that the pace was now far beyond my control as we were almost passed the farm.

That was when I saw her!

It was not entirely frightening, at first. It appeared to be a woman, running with two pails of water. My only worry was that we would not be able to stop in time. I feared we would run her down. My fear turned out to be the grim reality but there was something far worse to fear. This is the thing that will haunt me until the day I pass from this world, however soon that may be.

She dropped the pails, turning to face us with a look of fear and horror upon her face. Her hands went to her chin as we closed the gap between us. At that moment, I saw her eyes, or should I say lack thereof. They were hollow. I do not mean they were a sad sort of hollow. I mean they were empty sockets, no eyes at all. Her face took on the look of a skull. The flesh melted away, leaving only a grim skull beneath. Her long black hair remained, though it seemed to flare out in the sudden wind.

I was frozen in fear, no longer trying to control the horses. I realized this was no human form, crossing the road with water. This was Katherine Asgaard! This was the ghost of a woman dead for two decades! The legends I had heard should have prepared me for this, but they didn’t. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

The woman’s jaw dropped open. I say jaw and not mouth because there were no lips, there was no skin. As I mentioned, there was only skull and hair. She let out a shrill scream as her tongue flopped over the side of her jaw. It was not a human scream I heard. This was something otherworldly. It was a sound I would imagine a banshee would make, if they existed. The sound sent waves of fear through my every nerve ending.

As we overtook her, the wagon struck her. It was not just a graze, we hit her dead on. The sound of the impact was sickening. I could hear the bones breaking. She was crushed beneath the wheels.

It was at this point, after the apparent demise of the apparition, that I managed to bring the horses to a stop. I am unsure how I managed to gather my thoughts, but I did. I looked back but there was no corpse in sight. The ghost woman who had been mangled beneath the left side wagon wheels was nowhere to be seen. I wiped the sweat from my eyes and glanced around the area again. There was nothing there.

Wesley and I left the wagon to search the area. Ezekiel refused to leave the false safety he felt behind the buckboard. Our search came up empty. She was no longer there. It was as though she was never there to begin with. We abandoned the search and returned to town to retire for the evening. In truth, our nerves were quite shaken.

My friend, do not think my mind unstable, for I am still quite in possession of my senses. I have seen the apparition of this woman in the dark corners since arriving back to town. She seems to be here with me at this very moment. I am quite sure my eyes are not playing tricks on me.

Now, you will recall I wrote of another piece to this legend. I told you that the men who had shared this experience on the past have disappeared. In fact, they were no longer seen a short while after they claim to have laid eyes and wagon wheel upon her. For this reason I have begun to fear my own demise. I do not wish to depart this world in some mysterious manner. I do not wish to be dragged to the very bowels of Hell by the ghost of Katherine Asgaard. I find myself wondering if the others saw her in the shadows before their disappearances, just as I do now.

I shall end this letter here. Rest assured I will send another should I survive this day. If you do not hear from me further, you might as well not come looking for me. Chances are, I would have already joined those who have passed beyond this world and into the next.

Be well, my brother.

Your friend in this world and the next,

Oswald De’Augusta

 

I realized my hands were trembling as I finished the letter. After securing it into the journal, I poured myself a glass of brandy to calm my nerves.

I did not receive a letter the next day, or the day after that. In fact, it has been two weeks and I have heard nothing of his condition. I have wrestled with myself until I arrived at a single conclusion: I must travel upstate and attempt to locate my friend. I am leaving this journal safely in the charge of another. I shall attempt to retrace Oswald’s every step in an effort to find him. I intend to continue this journal upon my return to keep record of his whereabouts.

If you read this journal and find nothing beyond this point, you will know I was unsuccessful in my quest. Chances are, I could be dead.

 

Edward Aagaard

 

 

About The Author

 

 

David Blackthorn is a horror author from Central Arizona. His first published short story appeared in Horror Society Stories, Volume One, a story called Dead Ringers. It was followed soon after by The Apparition, another short story which was published in an anthology in the United Kingdom titled Tales of Mystery, Suspense and Terror. Catalyst of Evil and Sacrifice are his first full length novels, which are now available in digital and paperback. He is currently working on new short stories, as well as his next novel.

David Blackthorn can be followed at:

http://davidblackthorn.wix.com/davidblackthorn

www.facebook.com/davidblackthornauthor

@DavidBlackthorn

 

 


The Apparition

  • ISBN: 9781311208552
  • Author: David Blackthorn
  • Published: 2015-12-25 04:05:07
  • Words: 3099
The Apparition The Apparition