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The Ballad of Vincent Campbell

by Marisa Melo about a month ago in Mystery
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Submission for the Campfire Ghost Story Challenge

The Ballad of Vincent Campbell
Photo by zae zhu on Unsplash

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window.

The old and decayed cabin at the edge of Junos’ Creek was an old wise tale for many, and a piece of history for others. The most common retelling of this tale takes place in the Northern Bay town of Boychester, just on the cusp of Vermont as trees surround the place year round: a perfect place of isolation and despair, one could imagine.

During the beginning of the new century, there once was a man by the name of Vincent Campbell who lived as a prosecutor with his wife, Luanne. Having moved from Maryland to the Bay, Vincent wanted a fresh start in his life. He claimed to those who heard his woes how his reputation was tarnished with false accusations and lies. Some say that whenever he told his sorrows, tears would prick at the corners of his eyes, tempting to stroll down his cheekbones in a pitiful display of mercy. When he told his tale, people would flock to him with concerns and prayers in their hearts, for the most tragic aspect of his life was the loss of his son, Percy. His son was a young lad of twelve with eyes as bright as the sea and hair as coarse and pale as the sand beneath it. Vincent proclaimed that over the last few months, that his son became gravely ill and had no chance of recovery, yet some took the opportunity to blame him for his state. No matter how much he pleaded and begged, his community shunned him away, forcing him to move for a new start. Everyone had believed in him, thinking nothing else of him but a righteous man done wrong by the jealousy of his neighbors’ hearts. At least that was what they thought at first.

As soon as he found a job once more, the town could see just how fierce of a prosecutor he was. Tearing down his opposing team with the force of a raging storm, it suddenly didn’t matter whether or not the people on the stand were guilty or innocent. When he asked the questions, the defendant suddenly became a criminal. He was as graceful with his words as he was ruthless, seemingly bending the jury to his will with how often the results ruled in his favor. When he was prosecuting, there was simply no hope for the defendant.

It didn’t take too long for the town to fear the will of Vincent Campell whenever he was in court. Some say that at the last second, some attorneys would drop out of the case if he was prosecuting. What can be certain was that there was no show of mercy once Vincent took the court into his hands.

Yet over time, it seemed like Vincent became colder and even more heartless than before. In his later years as a prosecutor, he didn’t talk to anyone that wasn’t his own legal team, and even they never knew much about him. It didn't took too long to get to the point in his cases, now referring to the defendants with a harsher tone and snide attitude. When he wasn’t working, no one saw him within the town, opting to stay in his little cabin on Junos’ Creek. The only source that would remain consistent with the Campbell’s life was when Luanne arrived in town to purchase food from the local market. Some tried to talk to her then, only to be greeted with a simple “Hello” and nothing else. Reserved as she was, some said that the bags under her eyes gave the rest of the town a sense of worry. Others mentioned that she bought bandages and rubbing alcohol along with her groceries, and that for the most part, she wore clothes that covered every bit of skin on her, even during the most scorching summer days. Without either of them denying any rumors, it seemed as though the couple was back in their old town in Maryland once more.

Still, no one dared to visit Campell’s cabin due to the constant anxiety the neighbors felt trying to approach the man inside. Throughout the years, bottles of booze would pile up and then disappear in the span of a single night. Some townfolk spread a rumor that the cabin would be filled with screams and cries from both partners in the night, though whether from sorrow or fear was yet to be concluded. Perhaps the couple was cursed after the loss of their son, tormented by the spirit of his ghost that lead them to isolation. Still, whenever anyone in town would approach Luanne on the matter, she would dismiss it, putting on a smile and politely ignoring the rumors despite the tiring look on her face.

It wasn’t until a few years after they moved to Boychester that the people noticed the true instability of Vincent Campbell in one damaging incident. During the trial of a beggar woman caught stealing from the market, Vincent was notably quiet during the trial, his eyes hazy and blurred as if under a trance. Instead of the polished gentleman that the court expected, his attire was wrinkled and unkept, almost as if he hadn’t washed the suit in days, and the bags under his eyes made him look sunken and deceased. A walking corpse, one could propose.

It wasn’t until his turn to question the defendant that all hell would break loose. Instead of stern words and articulate speech, the woman in mind was greeted with a polished steel blade protruding from Vincent’s hand as he gripped the aged leather handle in a deathly grip. Before authorities could stop him, however, he uttered one single question to the woman, fainting the tiniest hint of sympathy.

“Do you think we’ll both be in Hell for the sins we’ve done, Miss Ethel?”

The crowd gasped and shrieked in horror as he swung his dagger and sliced the woman’s face from ear to ear. As the woman hunched over in agony and some of the juries fainted from the sight, Vincent immediately sought to escape the courtroom. He rushed out as fast as he could, blocking the path behind him by knocking over tables and throwing various objects to slow down the authorities chasing him down. He dashed all across town with a maddening look on his face, the townsfolk noticing tears dripping down his face and an eerie smile barring his yellowing teeth as his laugh echoed the streets in a singular chorus.

That night, the town was in disarray, panicking over the loss of the prosecutor’s sanity. After a long search, the authorities were not able to find Vincent anywhere in town, their next goal being to search for him in his own home. When the plan spread around town, many of its citizens opted to join forces with the authorities, wishing for justice among those who were caught up in the wrath of the madman. They ended up finding his cabin a long way from Boychester, seeing the porch stacked with bottles of beer as some had confirmed. The lights were dimmed, but the flickering motion of a candle behind the thin curtains gave a notion that it was occupied. Still, if anyone out of town were to see how much the building was covered in shrubbery and vines, one may suspect that it had been abandoned long ago.

The officers knocked loudly on the door a couple of times but never got a response. Still, they continued to bang on the door, yelling for whoever was inside to open up. When they heard rustling and footsteps from behind the door, hearing as they slowly became fainter and quieter, no one held back.

When they entered the home, the town was in no way prepared for the aftermath of the scene before them. Instead of finding Vincent as deranged as he was before, they instead found him lifeless on his own kitchen floor. His eyes were devoid of all life as he laid down motionless, the people looking in horror as the same dagger that was used on Miss Ethel was now found plunged into his chest, his white button-up now a fresh, silken crimson as it appeared that he was stabbed all over his torso. As some gagged at the scenes, most of the townsfolk trudged on inside the house, seeing as many of the furniture and decor had been mangled and torn apart. That’s when they had heard the rumbling once more, this time from down the hall into one of the bedrooms the couple had. Some of the mob immediately sought to rush to the source of the noise while others continued to investigate the house. Regardless, everyone who went to the source of the noises were in utter shock to see the disturbing display when they reached the room.

As if the scene from before had come back for an encore, the mob that appeared in the doorframe watched in horror as Luanne Campell kneeled at the side of the lone bed that furnished the whole room, her clothing and hands drenched in the blood of her now former husband. What startled the crowd the most, however, was the discovery of what had looked to be a mummy that was tucked inside the bed, though the bandages poorly covered the decaying and liquifying skin of the corpse as it’s two empty eyesockets hosted a whole colony of squirming maggots. As some of the townsfolk fainted at the sight of the balding and eyeless figure, Luanne turned to look at the group with a tearful, yet somehow cold look in her eyes. She gazed down at her body, examining the blood that dried up in her palms, before finally facing the crowd again.

“I couldn’t protect you,” she mumbled as if the group of people did not exist before her. “My sweet Percy, I thought I could protect you against your horrible father. I thought your death was but a figment of my imagination. I tried my best to take care of you as if you were still around; I bathed you, clothed you, fed you, and even moved out of that wretched town to make sure you would be safe. But I failed - You died, and I failed to cope with the circumstances! My dear boy, I spent my last few years thinking you were still here…”

As the rest of the group watched the scenario unfold, most of them couldn’t decide on whether to grieve with her or look at her in disgust as she continued to ramble on, her words turning to mere sounds as she wept. It wasn’t until officers took her into custody that she revealed everything, as the truth behind Percy was far graver than they had imagined.

For yes, it was in fact Vincent that caused the young boy’s death, as one night he ran over him in an unfortunate accident with his carriage. Yes, it was Vincent that soon turned to a life of drinking and violent tendencies to cope with the sins he had been forced to burden for years. And yes, it was Vincent who bribed officials in his town to keep the truth a secret, forging the story as though his son had succumbed to a disease that took his life. But it was in fact Luanne that refused to let go of her sweet Percy, keeping his body in the attic of their old home and treating him no differently than when he was alive. It was Luanne that made the couple move to the Northern Bay, for Vincent feared that his wife’s delusions were causing concerns in the neighborhood as the smell would soon permeate their household. It was Luanne who bought the bandages and the medicines not for her but to preserve her son’s likeness despite the decomposing process taking its toll long after she got access to them. And it was indeed Luanne that took Vincent’s life, believing it to be a sign of retribution for causing their son harm, then wanting to leave the town once more, with or without them. It wasn’t until Luanne gazed at the corpse of her son one last time that she had finally come to an acceptance of what had happened to her sweet Percy and her beloved Vincent. Now with the last of the Campbell family in custody, the town was relieved at the thought that they would no longer see the tragedy that haunted the rest of the town.

But on the day of Luanne’s trial, the deputy’s office went into a state of hysteria as the officers in the morning were greeted with a loud “BANG!” that shot throughout the entire station. Upon reaching the sheriff’s office where the sound came from, the deputies looked in shock to see what was left of Luanne Campbell, as she lay deceased on the floor with a handgun not too far from her. Her head bled out as some part of her brain had splattered on the wall, the carnage dripping on neighboring cabinets and the desk behind her. No one knew when or how she had escaped from her cell, but what was left of her was apparently too much for even the town’s detective to look at. The last remaining thing of Luanne was a single note that she had left behind:

“Do not worry about me, sweet Percy. Momma will be there with you in a moment’s time.”

Since then, Boychester has now become a place of tourism for those intrigued by the supernatural. Some say that after this incident, the cabin on Junos’ Creek has become a place where the spirits of the Campbell family roam forever more. Regardless if it’s Luanne searching for her son, Vincent looking for vengeance against his wife, or Percy wanting someone to play with him in his lonesome afterlife, the townsfolk say that anyone who enters that cabin never returns, tormented by the souls of the family until they die a merciless death. The one way that people know that the family remains in that house? On every night of a full moon, three candles will flicker in the windows of the house; One in the bedroom that Percy’s mangled body was tucked away in, one in the kitchen where Vincent lost his life, and another on the nightstand of the couple’s room where Luanne kept a photo of her family. When this legend came to be, the locals noticed a trend in recent deaths: Down by the cabin on Junos’ Creek, multiple victims have been found dead in the water, their torsos and faces mangled and torn apart beyond recognition.

But no matter how much anyone has tried, no exorcist nor tourist have been able to decipher how to expel these spirits from the cabin, leaving the place abandoned and riddled with foliage as no one has dared to visit the home on their own accord.

Mystery

About the author

Marisa Melo

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