They say that every town has a ghost story, every town has a “haunted house”. It could a shack belonging to an old hermit, an abandoned mental hospital or the charred ruins of a grand manor that burned down. In my hometown our haunted spot was the church of St. Michael’s. Built in 1896 on a hillside overlooking the road, it stood like a great monolith of beauty and terror. You see this church seemed to have a duality about it. During the day it was a stunningly beautiful place of worship and peace. However once the sun set, like a vampire from it’s coffin a dark energy rose. Every time we drove by at night it would send a chill down my spine. I remember once as a child I waiting outside for my mother to finish a pancake supper and I could literally feel eyes on me coming from the rafters. When I looked up I couldn’t see anyone there but out of the corner of my eye I could have sworn I saw some sort of movement. The feeling of that memory chills me to this day and I never liked to be there after the sun went down.
It didn’t help that the church had a whole bible’s worth of creepy stories surrounding it. The stories ranged from the traditional sounds of foot steps and creaking inside to full on sightings of spirits. One story that spread around my school was that of the priest’s daughter dying but her body went missing before she could be buried. Two years later her body was found in the parlor room downstairs in perfect condition. This would be a terrifying story if it wasn’t that catholic priests don’t get married and therefore have no children. Yes most of the stories were absolute nonsense created by the local school children but still I found myself fascinated by them.
As I grew older my child like fear turned into passion for the supernatural and the unknown. I spent my nights watching ghost investigations on tv or Youtube. My friend Ryan and I have even done a couple of our own in some local haunt spots. These never amounted to more then a few giggles and double digit views on tik tok. We had never found any genuine supernatural activity. That was until last night when Ryan called me up with an offer that would change everything. He told me that his mother was helping to host a bridal shower being done at St. Michael’s and as such she was given the keys and code to get into the church. Before he went any further I knew what he was going to suggest. He asked if I wanted to go in after dark and do an investigation into the haunted rumours. I had a flashback to that time as a child when that feeling of being watched came over me and for the briefest of moments I considered saying no. The moment passed as quickly as it came and I said to meet me here at 11:30.
I spent the next few hours preparing myself by researching the legends of the church online (as if I didn’t know them all off by heart already). I packed the essential’s including a voice recorder, mini cameras, flashlights and my fully charged phone. I felt excitement course though me like never before, I have wanted to investigate this church since I was a boy and tonight I would finally get to experience it. Ryan arrived precisely on schedule and we set off towards St. Michael’s. We went over our plans in the car and were giddy with excitement. We would park around the back as to not get caught and would set up some cameras to record key places through out the building. We would make the parlor room our base of operations and hopefully by the end of the night have our answer as to wither it was truly haunted or not.
Our plan was solid and set but it did little good to calm us as the church came into view. There it was sitting on top of the hill towering over us. Lit only by the light of the waning crescent moon it had never looked more foreboding to me. It’s exterior was a red brick that shone in the light now stood colorless in the dark. It’s steeple roof was completly obsidian and even in the moonlight. In the center of the building stood a stained glass window of the Star of David. When I was a boy someone threw a rock though that window sending a wave of rage through the perish. The next day a local teenager was found dead in his room with a look of absolute terror on his face. We school kids believed that he was the one who broke the window and the spirits of the church tracked him down. It seemed silly even then but now sitting in the shadow of the great steeple I was willing to believe anything.
We turned down the tree lined driveway towards the building. I always thought the curving trees gave the enterance an ethereal look but now in the darkness it too had changed. Darkness changed everything about this place and now those trees looked like macabre sentinels reaching for us. We slowly crept our car past the graveyard and the crypt. They sometimes stored bodies in the crypt because the ground wasn’t ready to accept digging yet. I placed my own Aunt in there a matter of years ago at her funeral. Were there any bodies inside ready to slide off their stone slabs at the scent of intruders? I shook my head trying to rid myself of the dark thoughts in my brain. This was not the time and definitely not the place to allow such thoughts to run rampant.
We drove to the back and parked our car. Ryan went inside to shut off the alarm quickly. Well he did his work I waited outside and stared up at the rafters. They looked just as they did when I was a child covered in the twisted shadows of the night. The more I stared the deeper into the shadows I went. For a moment I could have sworn on my life that I saw movement but a loud crash from inside had me staring into the building. In my trance I had completly lost track of time. How long had Ryan been in there? Should it have taken this long to simply turn off an alarm? My heart beat in my chest and I began to pant in fear. “Ryan?” I whispered into the darkness.
Then the light turned on and my fear abated me. There was Ryan standing in the kitchen of the church. He smiled at me. “Sorry about that I tripped over a chair in the dark.” He told me causing me to chuckle. I went inside and was relieved to find everything looked so normal in the light. This was after all just a church, one I had been to multiple times. Ryan closed the door and turned to me. “We should keep the lights off. The parlor is fine because it’s in the basement but we should rely on flashlights for most the night.” I chuckled silently to myself. Well I was worried about ghosts and demons Ryan had his mind on much more real threats. We were after all breaking and entering so stealth would be imperative.
We turned off the kitchen lights and turned on our flashlights. We made our way downstairs, every step we made echoed through the wooden floors. I have always hated a creaky floor, I always worried about them waking the dead. My foot jammed into a wall and in response I thought I heard an answering knock come from behind us. Ryan and I flicked our lights down the hallway but found only silence and emptiness. “It’s an old building bound to be some settling noises.” Ryan assured me. I gave a nod and we continued on our way in silence.
We made our way to the parlor and flicked on the lights. Once again I found a sense of calmness wash over me. The parlor was just as I remembered it with the piano in the corner and several tables around the room currently set for the bridal shower. We wasted no time in unpacking all of our equipment. Ryan set up his laptop and we configured the cameras to his screen. “We should set these up in the key areas around the church. Our primary focus should be the balcony and the sanctuary.” I said getting myself back into focus. “Should we have one in a window overlooking the graveyard?” Ryan asked. “Yes. We won’t go out so we don’t get caught but a set of eyes could get us some type of evidence.”
Ryan chuckled at me. “Be honest with yourself do you really think we are going to find anything here? I mean you know I believe in this stuff but a church of all places?” He asked with more sincerity then he usually had. I thought long and hard to myself for a moment. I knew for a fact most of the rumours about this place were nothing short of school boy mischief but with stories going back over 100 years there was a lot of smoke to be no fire. “One way or another we should have our answer by morning I suppose.” Ryan nodded and opened his bag. “Well one way or another we are going to have fun.” He said well pulling out a bottle of rum. I laughed out loud at this. “You brought alcohol into the church?” Ryan returned the laugh. “Hey if your savior’s blood is wine then something tells me booze is perfectly fine.”
We both erupted in laughter to the point I thought I was going pass out but then something happened that stopped us in our tracks. From almost directly above us came a bang so loud that it caused ringing in my ears. We both fell completly silent neither of us daring to so much as take a breath. We listened intently but no other sounds accompanied it. Finally I whispered over to Ryan. “I thought you said no one would be here.” Ryan looked confused. “No one should be here this late. Absolutely no one!” I considered the possibilities for a moment, there had to be an explanation. “One way or another we need to check it out. If someone is up there say you left your phone here when you were setting up earlier and you came to get it back.” Ryan nodded at this and we made our way upstairs.
As bad as the trip down had been, the trip up was much worse. Every subtle squeak from the floor sent very real fear through us like an electric shock. However there seemed to be no answering movement anywhere else in the building. Finally we made our way to the main part of the church where the noise had come from only to find it empty. We swept our flashlights through the pews finding them vacant. Finally my light fell on a lone bible laying on the floor. It looked like it had slipped from it’s wooden holder. Ryan and I looked at each other in confusion. Could one little bible have made the ear shattering bang we both heard? It didn’t seem possible but then the building was very old and designed for acoustics. Even a small sound could echo through it’s very wooden bones. We nodded to each other that this must have been the source when it hit us both at once where we were. We were in the heart of St. Michael’s after dark.
We slowly swept our lights around the room careful to keep the lights away from the windows. The church somehow felt even grander then when I was a child. Rows upon rows of pews filled the nave. Above us stood the great balcony overlooking the sanctuary. The Star of David looked down upon us looking almost like an ominous eyeball. Along the walls were several stained glass windows depicting various biblical scenes. During the day they were radiant but in the darkness they set me on edge. The sanctuary was massive with a large wooden altar dominating the centre. At the back was a colossal organ with it’s pipes stretching almost to the ceiling. That organ would give me chills every time the organist would start playing. All of it stood before a gothic wooden cross and the backdrop of dark red curtains. I never liked those curtains and never understood why the church would choose such a foreboding colour.
I shone my light towards Ryan who bore the same look of awe that I did. We smiled at each other and began circling the room. “Can you believe it? The source of half the haunted stories in town and here we are. That’s the pipe organ that played by itself scaring those caretakers.” I said with glee. Ryan smirked and pointed his light at the cross. “That’s where that priest saw blood dripping down to the floor.” I pointed mine to the confession booths at the back and told him about the whispering that could be heard from them from time to time. Ryan nodded and pointed to the carpeted stairs to the balcony. “That’s where the woman saw the ghost head rolling down to her feet.” I looked at him in confusion. “Was that really one of the stories?” He laughed. “Well of course it is, I just made it up so it’s a legit ghost story.” I gave him a stern look and told him to take this seriously even though I was laughing on the inside.
Satisfied that we were truly alone we began placing our cameras in the spots that we had chosen then went back to the parlor to watch the feed. Hours went by with the two of us cracking jokes, watching cameras and having more then a couple of glasses of that rum. Our “investigation” was turning out to be a bust but we didn’t care. Hanging out in creepy places with my best friend was the true fun of it all. I was about to take another swig of rum when we heard it. From above us came a series of loud bangs that rattled the very floors. This was no bible this time, they were unmistakably foot steps. We checked the cameras only to find no visible person walking up there. We looked at each other and nodded for this was the moment we had been waiting for our whole lives.
We grabbed our phones and voice recorders then made our ways upstairs. The bangs seemed to have had a strange effect on us for instead of frightened we found ourselves excited at our situation. In all of our investigations the best piece of evidence found was a squeak which we later determined was a creaky gate. We had never heard footsteps before and these were crystal clear. We made our way to the pews and began scanning the area with our lights. We found nothing and this may have gotten us even more pumped. Ryan turned on his phone’s camera and pointed it at me.
“This is Scott Vale and it is 2:30 in the morning. Ryan and I just heard what is unquestionably footsteps coming from this exact spot. We are now going to try and make contact with an lingering spirits that might reside here.” I pulled out my recorder and began the conversation. “Hello, to any spirits that linger here we mean you no harm or disrespect. Would any of you like to make contact with me?” We waited with held breath but no sign or sound met us. “If you made the footsteps we heard please give us a sign.” Once again we waited and again we found only silence. “Are you members of the congregation here?” This time we didn’t hear anything but an overwhelming feeling came over me. I could feel pressure and shaking all around my body. I tried to tell myself it was nerves but the pressure seemed to ebb and flow almost to a beat. After a moment the feeling subsided and we decided to return to the parlor to review the recording.
We listened to the audio again and again to no avail. The only sounds were my voice and our breath. I was disappointed for I was so sure that we had found something, the memory of that pressure kept haunting my mind. I listened with my ear to the speaker once more and I could feel it vibrating as if sound was coming out. I told Ryan to plug it in to the computer and we ran it though an audio enhancement software Ryan had installed. It displayed all sounds visually and to our surprise a faint sound did resonate after I said congregation. We amplified the audio as loud as we could and the results stunned us to our core.
There loud and clear were church bells ringing. I remembered the feeling I had in that moment and I could feel vibrations in a rhythm washing over me. We looked at each other with stunned silence. “Could it have been the wind blowing the bells in the tower?” Ryan asked. I shook my head. “There are no bells in the tower, not since 1932 when they fell down. They crashed right through the roof and the church decided not to reinstall them for safety sake. Ryan do you know what this means? We just recorded sound from over 90 years ago. We actually have real evidence that this place is haunted.” I couldn’t believe what was happening. All these years of hearing that this church was haunted and now we had proof. This was bigger then anything I could have hoped for. We would release the audio and damn the consequences. We had finally become real ghost hunters. If the night had ended there I would have been happy but the church was far from done with us.
We had just finished our 3rd victory shot of rum when Ryan looked at the screen and instantly turned white. “Umm Scott there is something outside.” I was so focused on celebrating I almost didn’t think I had heard him correctly. I followed his eyes to the screen and my blood went cold. Standing there on the lawn by the crypt was a figure. Adrenaline shot through my body and I almost instinctually went to dive under the table before I remembered the thing on the screen couldn’t see me. The figure had the silhouette of a human being but I could tell it was not a physical person. I could see the graves behind them meaning the person was transparent, it was a shadow. We looked all around and there was no physical person out there nor any light to cast a shadow. We simply stared at the shadow man, he wore a large brimmed hat and seemed to be doing the motion of raking the grass.
I looked at Ryan and asked if he could zoom in. He nodded and began pushing the camera closer. As we neared the camera’s limit the figure turned towards it. My heart nearly stopped and we both jolted back. The shadow man had no real face but there was no mistaking the feeling that it was looking right at us. The man then moved towards the screen and disappeared from it. We minimised that camera and began looking at all the others for any sign of the spectre. Then we saw it appear in the balcony for a moment. The figure seemed to look around and then he vanished right before our eyes.
We sat in complete stunned silence for a moment. This was no technical glitch, no trick of the mind, there was someone or something in the church with us. Ryan grabbed my arm roughly. “We have to check it out.” I wanted to say no, to go running straight for the car but he was right. We had come here to experience something incredible and here it was served up on a silver platter. We gathered our courage and began the trek back up to the main chapel.
No words were exchanged between us, none were needed. We both felt the same excitement, the same sense of dread. We stepped into the nave and found something fundamental had changed in the room. Before the room had felt peaceful with touches of a creepy undertone. Now the room had felt heavy and oppressive. It’s a hard feeling to describe but I felt unwanted and unwelcome. I tried to tell myself it was because we had broken in but if so then why was I only just now feeling it. Ryan stepped next to me and pointed towards the balcony where we had seen the shadow dissappear. I nodded and we began our assent up the curving staircase.
It’s amazing how when you are scared memories can flood back. I remembered how much those stairs creeped me out as a child. They had an unnatural curve to them and I always felt like Link making his through the castle to face Ganondorf. Now here I was about to face something far more frightening. We crept step by step up the ugly burgundy and brown carpets towards the peak. We stepped onto the balcony to find it vacant of people but not of feeling. The whole area was unnaturally cold and an unmistakable feeling of tension filled the air. There was an eerie feeling that we were not alone. We tiptoed around the pews but could find no evidence of anything out of the ordinary.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and I could almost feel my soul leaving my body. I turned and saw Ryan there with his finger over his mouth. “Did you light a candle?” He whispered over to me. How stupid of a question was that? We had been together the whole time, when could I have lit a candle? Ryan saw my confusion and pointed to the sanctuary. There a single candle blazed next to the alter. It had definitely not been lit when we came upstairs. Someone or something was in the room with us. I don’t know why but the thought filled me with anger. I felt like someone was toying with us and I wasn’t going to put up with it. “Hey whoever is out there stop it, this isn’t funny! So why don’t you stop creeping around the dark and show yourself you coward!” I screamed.
The response was almost instantaneous as a loud grumble went through the church. The sound froze me as it wasn’t the sound of an echo but it was as if the church itself was growling at us. That was the moment everything began to change, when the energy of this place truly came to life. Once again the sound of church bells rang though the building only this time there was no need for enhancement, the sound was deafening. Loud clangs rang though our ears and our blood causing us to fall to our knees. I pressed my hands to my ears trying to block out the sound in vain. How could the town not hear these bells? These bells could wake the dead.
I tried to shove that dark thought back in but it was too late for that seemed to be exactly what the bells did. From our vantage point over the nave we could see dozens of shadowy forms walk through the walls and into the church. The sound of ghostly whispering filled the air as the pews filled with more and more shadow people. From underneath I could hear someone in the confession booth telling the unseen priest of their sins. Ryan and I looked at each other in awe silently confirming that we were both experiencing the same thing. The pews filled up and the shadows stood still.
Were we about to witness a ghostly congregation? Somehow the idea seemed beautiful to me. The dead coming together for services to honor the lord was an incredible notion. Unfortunalty that wasn’t quite the case as the “service” started. One by one the rows of candles by the alter burst into life lighting themselves. The shadows began to sway back and forth. With their transparent bodies the rows of candles almost looked like burning orange eye balls. Then the pipe organ burst into life playing a blaring gothic note. I felt that old fear take over me as the organ started but this time the tune didn’t turn beautiful but continued on a macabre symphony.
The sound of voices chanting filled the air, they were speaking in some long dead language that I didn’t recognize. There was something haunting about the tongue in which they spoke, it felt sinister and absolutely demonic. I knew in an instant this was no Christian service but something much older and much darker. My new startling fears came to life as from the ground itself a new shadow rose in front of the alter. The shadow man’s silhouette bore a long billowing cloak, it’s fingers were pointed like claws. From the tops of it’s hood a pair of long curving horns burst forth. This figure also had a pair of red eyes made of fire. I knew that this was no illusion but true eyes of flame.
The demonic shadow raised it’s hands and in an instant the congregation fell silent. The figure spoke in a whisper that was difficult to hear from the balcony. My curiosity got the better of me and I began leaning in closer trying to hear. I knew I wouldn’t understand the dead language but I didn’t care, it was as if I was under a strong compulsion. For a brief and strange moment I almost thought I could understand him as the impression of the words “fallen king” flashed in my mind. I was so startled by the sensation I shot back, bumping my head on the pew behind me. Before I could stop it a loose bible fell from it’s holding and struck the floor with a thunderous crash.
The sound rang through the church and no creature within living or dead could have ignored that bang. The shadow priest stopped his whispering and his head slowly craned upwards towards our location. I saw those fiery eyes narrow as if trying to see in the dark. I felt those eyes on me, burning into my soul. Then the flame grew in shock and before we even knew what happened the shadow launched itself towards the back of the church. Ryan and I slowly turned our heads towards the winding staircase. For a moment it was deathly quiet but then the sounds of footsteps began climbing the stairs. Each step was harder and louder then the last as the creature neared. I was certain this thing could have just silently glided if he wished. He was doing this on purpose to build our fear with each clang. That only meant one thing, this demon knew we were here and he was coming for us.
Finally from under the pew I saw a pair of shadowy feet step onto the balcony floor. The creature stepped closer and I could see it’s feet were clawed. It began scanning the rows and for a moment I thought it didn’t know where we were. Perhaps the steps were bravado and he didn’t actually see us before. That was when the beast dropped to the floor and those red eyes were fixed right on us. A loud growl emitted from his mouth and he began a fast crawl straight towards us. I had never known fear like this as that shadow creature neared me. Tears rolled down my face and in desperation I sent out a silent prayer to the heavens.
The beast stretched it’s clawed hand towards me and I could see a patch of red shining through them. I thought this must be what the flames of hell look like and prepared myself for endless torment. However to my shock the beast stopped mere inches from my face. It was hard to tell with his lack to true facial features but he seemed to be exhibiting extreme impotent rage. The red light behind his hand burned brighter and I strained my eyes to see what it was. It took me a moment to realise that the red ball in the background was the first rays of sunlight steaming through the Star of David in the window. The beast grunted and tried to push his hand further yet he couldn’t. The light was taking away the beasts form.
The creature reared back and I could hear it loudly panting. All at once the church started to shake and I feared the building would collapse around us. From the very walls itself came a loud and mighty roar that rattled my bones. All at once the demon disappeared and a long stream of light began flooding the church. Ryan and I sat there for long minutes too afraid to move. As we lay there I could feel the energy in the building change before us. Where once there was cold dark fear, now a warm sense of peace washed over us. Finally I stood up and turned to face the church. Everything had changed and I once again I saw the beautiful place of worship it truly was.
Ryan joined me and together we stood silently basking in the peace. Without words we went down to the parlor to pack up the computer. We checked the cameras but something had erased all of the recordings from the entire night. Well I felt some disappointment, I was mostly relieved. I never wanted to see the phantoms I saw that night ever again. We gathered up all our gear, set the alarm and left the church as if we had never been. We drove in silence, it had been a long night and we both craved the comfort of home.
I just awoke from a long mercifully dreamless sleep. I have spent the last few hours trying to understand the events of the night before. I tried to blame it on the alcohol however a quick conversation with Ryan confirmed that we saw the exact same thing ruling out drunken hallucination. The effects were far too grand to be some sort of prank by the church who found out we snuck in. I have tried coming at it from every possible angle to no avail. The cold hard truth is that what we saw was real and that St. Michael’s is indeed extremely haunted. The question you may ask is would I ever go back? Well I have come to recognise the duality of the church’s nature. I would visit well the sun is up for during the day it is a place of beauty and peace. However no force on this realm or the next, not even God himself could ever get me to go back when the sun has gone down.
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