Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
Thomas Hughes was a boy of few words. Few people knew more than the obvious about Thomas’s life– he was a lonely child, and he had never known his parents. The story goes that they were killed when he was still very young, and he was subsequently placed into the permanent care of his grandmother. His grandmother was not only his closest friend, but his only friend. So, when she passed away, he concealed himself in a way the residents of his small town were previously unfamiliar with. He stopped coming to school, stopped caring for himself, and the only time he left his home was to visit his grandmother in the town cemetery. Every day Thomas would walk the few blocks from his home in which he –unknown, of course, to the town authorities– lived all alone. On one particularly gloomy afternoon, Thomas was on his way to the cemetery. He carried with him a bundle of crumbling flowers he had scavenged from the heap of dirt that was once his grandmother’s garden. His grandmother was not buried, however–her final resting place was in the large mausoleum located in the center of the cemetery. Thomas walked through the seemingly endless rows of tombstones and crypts until he at last reached the mausoleum. After entering, Thomas noticed something strange about the temperature inside. It is rather cold in here today, he thought to himself. But this did not bother Thomas, as he was soon on his way once more to see his grandmother. He knelt down and placed his hand onto the cool stone upon which his grandmother’s name was inscribed. Thomas was just beginning to put the flowers down when he heard a soft sob coming from the adjacent side of the mausoleum. He stood, and slowly turned his attention towards the source. He saw, in the dim lighting, a woman– no older than 30– standing, softly weeping into the veil of her extravagant gown. Thomas was at first unphased. How sad, he thought. Maybe I can help her. He started toward the woman, but suddenly stopped. Thomas thought to himself that this woman seemed to be very behind the times. Her dress was noticeably old, and her hair was done in such a manner that she appeared to have been plucked straight from a story his grandmother would have told him about her glory days. Despite this, Thomas felt sad for the woman and decided he would approach her. He walked across the leaf and cobweb ridden halls of the place and was soon no less than five feet from the base of the woman’s dress. Hesitantly, Thomas said to the woman “Excuse me ma’am, but I noticed you seemed sad. Is everything alright?” The woman did not answer. “I’m here visiting my grandmother.” Thomas looked across the hall and pointed. “Right over there.” The woman still did not answer, silent other than her somber weeping. Thomas felt as if he were bothering the woman, and apologized. “I’m sorry to bother you ma’am. I’ll be going now.” Thomas began to turn away from the woman, but realized he still held the dying flowers in his hand. “I’ve got some flowers, if you’d like them.” Suddenly the woman turned to him, her cries stopping abruptly. Thomas was startled, and dropped the flowers onto the ground. She looked at Thomas, her eyes piercing his. Suddenly Thomas felt himself becoming very, very upset. The sheer look of the woman’s face made Thomas sorry for her. He grabbed the almost completely destroyed flowers off of the ground and looked back up at her.
“Are those flowers for me?” The woman asked in an innocent manner.
“Uhm, yes,” Thomas replied, “I thought maybe they could help you feel less sad.”
The woman smiled at Thomas, and Thomas smiled back at her. She reached out and took the flowers from his hand. He noticed even through her lace gloves that her hands were clammy and cold. She smelled beautifully, as if she had doused herself in rose-scented perfume.
Through watery eyes, the woman said to him, “Thank you, you’re very kind.”
Thomas insisted that it was his pleasure.
The woman asked Thomas his name, and he replied honestly. “Do you live around here?” Thomas asked.
She smiled, and turning towards the wall of the tomb said, “Yes, I live very close.” Thomas nodded and was beginning to feel uneasy. “What is your name?” he asked.
She quickly replied, “Anne. Anne Patterson. But most people call me Annie.”
“Well Annie,” Thomas said, “I really must be going now.”
“Wait!” she said.
Thomas turned back to her. “What is it?” he asked.
“Will you do something for me?” said the woman.
Thomas didn’t want to seem rude, so he told the woman he would do her a favor.
She beamed with excitement. “I need you to bring me something. It’s for my husband.”
“Sure,” he said, “What is it?”
“I need you to bring me a candlestick. My husband should be coming soon, and I need him to know where I am. This old place gets dark at night, you know.”
Slightly startled by the woman’s bizarre request, he said, “Okay, I’ll bring you a candlestick. But wouldn’t you rather just use a flashlight? It’d be much easier.”
The woman was already turned around, and did not respond to Thomas. Thomas decided he would head home. On the way back, he told himself he would get a candlestick for the woman from his house and bring it to her the next day when he visited his grandmother.
The following day was no less rainy and grey than the previous. Thomas now had the candlestick in hand, along with more flowers for his grandmother. He walked up to the door of the mausoleum, and noticed that this time it was even colder than the last. The wonderful smell of the woman was gone, and the entire place smelled of death and rotting flesh. The leaves on the ground were still, and there was no breeze– just the cold air and the repulsive stench lingering the halls. Thomas walked towards where the woman was standing the day before, but found the halls to be empty.
“Annie?” He called. There was no answer.
Thomas set down the candlestick and started towards his grandmother’s location. He placed the flowers down onto his grandmother’s marker. Suddenly a click and a slam broke the silence of the place, and Thomas ran towards the door. It was locked. Thomas shook the door with all of his might, but it was to no prevail. He let go of the heavy handles and faced the blackness of the mausoleum. Thomas could not see more than 3 feet in front of him, as the open door provided the only light. He began to walk forward in the darkness, arms outstretched and eyes wide open, hoping to find something that could help him open the door. Thomas remembered that he had left the candlestick sitting on the floor near where the woman was standing, and he knew he could use that to help him find a way out. Thomas walked. He did not know where he was going, and knew nothing of what could be lurking in the darkness. Suddenly Thomas felt a sweep of air blow past him. It pushed the burning stench of death even closer to his nostrils. A hand touched Thomas on the shoulder. Thomas jumped, and turned to face the direction of the hand. He saw nothing but darkness. He was very frightened now. Thomas had the nagging sensation that someone or something was watching him through the shadows. He began to run, and eventually found himself where he had placed the candlestick on the ground. He ran his fingers along the dirty marble floor where he was sure he had placed it, but found nothing. Thomas backed himself into the corner of the hallway and found himself leaning against the ending wall, facing what he knew to be a long hallway lined with graves. Thomas was absolutely terrified. Never in his life had he felt so helpless and alone. He squinted towards the end of the hall. Out of nowhere there was a light, barely distinguishable. It was slowly growing larger, and Thomas realized what it was he was seeing. It must be the candlestick, he thought. It appeared to be floating at chest level, moving at such a slow pace it made Thomas incredibly uneasy. He was sure now that this was the candlestick. Who could be holding it? He thought to himself. The candle was now within twenty yards of him. Before he could react, there was a scratching noise to his right. It was coming from inside one of the tombs. Within seconds, the entire mausoleum was filled with intense scratching, as if the dead were so desperate for life they would have clawed themselves out of the thick stone walls. The candle was now only ten yards away. Thomas covered his ears and closed his eyes as tight as he could. He waited for what seemed like hours, and the scratching finally stopped. Thomas slowly uncovered his face and looked into the darkness once more. The lit candlestick was sitting on the floor directly in front of him. He reached out and grabbed it. Thomas stood up, and illuminated by the light of the candle was Annie’s face, staring at him, unblinking, with a horrible smile. Only this time, it was not the same Annie. This Annie’s face was rotting. Her eyes were only hollow sockets, bloodied and ghastly. Her teeth were falling out, and her hair was black and stringy. Thomas stared back into what used to be her piercing eyes and whispered out of pure terror, “Annie?”
At this, she let out a blood curdling shriek that sent chills through Thomas’s body. He dropped the candlestick and ran as fast as he could towards where he thought the door was. He slammed into the cold metal frame and burst into the brisk night air. He began to sprint through the cemetery, finally reaching the large cast iron gates at the end of the path. Thomas flung them open and turned around quickly to slam them shut behind him. He did so, and grabbed a stick to shove through the handles. He stood there for a moment, pure shock and dread still filling his veins. He heard Annie’s terrible wail from inside the mausoleum in the distance. No– it was growing closer. Thomas saw a figure at the end of the path, moving alarmingly fast. It was Annie. She was flying towards him, still wailing. Her feet did not touch the ground, and her gown rippled behind her as she hurtled towards the exit. Thomas jumped back, and when he looked back up, she was no longer at the gate. He stood, and when he turned around to continue on his way home, he was once more facing the empty sockets of the weeping phantom.
To this day, there is only speculation as to what really happened to Thomas Hughes that night. The police found Thomas’s lifeless body the next day inside of the mausoleum, leaning against the gravestone of Anne Patterson. Next to hers was the grave of her husband. Thomas’s lifeless eyes were wide, staring blankly into the halls of the tombs. His mouth was agape, in a twisted look of terror and death. In one hand, he clutched onto the bouquet of flowers he gave to Annie, and in the other was the candlestick. Legend has it that anyone who enters the mausoleum after dark will face the same horrible fate as Thomas Hughes.