McLean's Wager

A Halloween story in verse.
The house was dark, derelict, and deserted,
No one lived there any more,
Only the ghosts patrolled its corridors,
Strange reminders of what went before.

The dark history of mayhem and murder,
An urban legend, a classic myth,
A tale of madness, the locals warned,
A house of misery and death!

So many years ago a man went crazy,
Hacked his family all asunder,
And then he hung himself from the rafters,
Leaving the neighborhood to wonder.

As to why a well-respected man,
Could affiliate with the Devil's creed?
And prayers were said asking God's forgiveness,
But alas, it seems, He paid no heed!

Strange things happen in empty houses,
And this house was not exempt,
From ghostly shadows and eerie noises,
That throw their ridicule and contempt.

At any man who, brave of heart,
Should wander across the threshold,
For be it bet, dare, or curiosity,
Those who tried would lose their soul!

And so the story went to ponder,
Amongst those whose passion rose,
In debate they'd often parley,
To question the existence of ghosts.

"Nonsense!" Roared McLean with laughter,
"I never did believe the curse!"
"Then go," said Jones, in grimmest tone,
"And I shall win myself your purse!"

Throughout the village the gossip spread,
A man who's brave enough to dare,
To spend a night in that ghostly house,
To test the credence of local lore.

Then, gathered at the village inn,
Amid cheers and jeers and pints of ale,
Bets were wagered on McLean's resolve,
And whether he'd live to tell the tale.

That night, before the midnight hour,
McLean entered that ghastly house,
As silent as a mausoleum.
Not a single stir of sound, aroused.

A fear he'd never known before,
A silent, dark, and empty terror,
That filled his mind with dreadful thought,
Of probing, furtively creeping horror.

McLean quickly pulled himself together,
And shook the shiver from his spine,
He'd see this through, he was no coward,
Nothing should agitate his mind.

With fear and madness, nor ghostly ghouls,
And so he prepared to sit it out,
Until the morning sun would bring reprieve,
From that dark, oppressive house.

The seconds extended into minutes,
And the minutes into hours,
As the deathly silence probed the shadows,
With its mind provoking power.

To conjure mysterious illusions,
Of madness and insanity,
And was then, his fear and agitation,
The lone cause of his imagery?

For as he looked upon the dusty floor,
The floorboards seemed to heave,
As if the house itself were alive,
And yet, struggling to breathe?

Agog, he watched this strangest scene,
As the floorboards rose and fell.
Was it merely his imagination,
Or were the dead rising from Hell?

His ponder, broke by wails and screams,
Did cause his head to spin,
Toward a shuttered window frame,
From where, a little girl watched him!

Or was that simply dust motes dancing,
Within a beam of moonlight?
For in a blink the girl was gone,
As if swallowed by the night!

McLean was not prone to nervousness,
He was strong of heart and sound of mind,
He was logical and scientific,
And through these truths he'd pledged to find,
A reason for this so-called haunting,
He would not be compromised,
By a fleeting glimpse of a little girl,
Standing by the window blind.

And then a shriek of fearful pain,
That seemed to shake the very walls,
Went rumbling all throughout the house,
Like thunder, just before a squall.

It shook his bones and raced his heart,
Sending shivers up and down his spine,
And then he heard... was that a voice,
Saying, "Soon your soul will be mine?"

McLean stood up on shaky legs,
He'd never been so afraid before,
But just as he was about to leave,
He heard a banging at the door.

He staggered back a pace or two,
Before he tripped and fell,
He crashed hard upon the dusty floor,
And let out a mighty yell.

For what had caused McLean to fall,
He looked upon with horror,
The bloody corpse of that little girl,
Her eyes bulging with terror!

Her face and dress were covered in blood,
And her head sloped to the side,
Almost severed from her neck,
To reveal the way she'd died!

As the banging on the door grew louder,
McLean tried to crawl away,
And whilst looking for a place to hide,
He saw the hideous display,
Of corpses spread around the room,
All ripped and hacked unto death,
The nauseous stench of butchered meat,
Choking his attempts to breathe.

Upon the floor, a few feet away,
A teenage boy lay bleeding,
He seemed to stare straight at McLean,
His eyes terrified and pleading.

His heart, cut out, lay by his side,
There to beat no more.
Alas, the lad's pleas go unheard now,
A simple breath of silent shadow.

Huddled in a corner, he saw the mother's corpse,
A babe in arms at her breast,
In vain attempt to protect the child,
Both hacked and slashed to death!

This sight broke McLean's resolve,
And no more could he defy,
The fear and terror of ghostly goings on,
That his own logic can't deny.

Just then, an almighty wind did roar,
And blew the door open with almighty bang,
The wind chilled McLean to the marrow,
And in its wake there stood a man.

With ax and blade and dripping blood,
He stared through eyes as black as coal,
And with drew back lips he sneered his claim,
"I am here to take your soul!"

A cockerel crowd his alarm to the dawn,
The locals awaiting the news,
But when no news came, a few brave men,
Vouched to enter the house at noon.

Noon came around and enter they did,
To find McLean frozen and white with fear,
And they led him out, a broken man,
As the preacher said a little prayer.

Once the skeptic, no more the skeptic,
McLean abides in his lonely cell,
And the doctor's can find no logical reason,
To explain this poor man's living Hell.

Jones never did uplift the purse,
For what value be there in gold,
As taken from a broken man,
Who gambled away his soul?
Published: 10/17/2014
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