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The Haunting of St. Bartholomew’s

Based on a True Story

By Matthew FrommPublished 2 years ago 15 min read
The Haunting of St. Bartholomew’s
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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

“Ugh, you told us this one already!” Logan said as he rolled his eyes.

Rain ran down the windows while the boys sat around their counselor Joseph in the darkened dormitory.

“I did not. And it’s a sin to lie. Sister Mary Margaret would be disappointed.” Joseph scolded the three boys with a sly smile.

“But you did! They go inside the cabin, and there’s no one there. That is until the door slams, and they are locked in. And then they see the figure in the window. And then–”

“Alright, alright. You win.” Joseph said to his eagerly attentive youth group. A stiff gust of wind blew down the chimney of the dormitory fire and rattled the embers that smoldered in the hearth.

“So tell us a new story!” Tommy stared up at their counselor wide-eyed. The rain on the window showed no signs of abating. Joseph looked around at the pink-faced semi-circle of boys in front of him. Drip. Drip. Drip.

“Yes, tell us a new one!” the chorus crescendoed. Lightning crashed outside, flashing a shadow from the crucifix on the mantle against the old wooden walls of St. Bartholomew’s school for boys.

“Okay, okay, okay, settle down, children. Hmm. I have one, but I’m not sure if I should tell it to you.” They leaned in closer as Joseph lowered his voice.

“What is it? Why not? We want to hear it!” Martin said to the nodding heads of the other two campers.

“If you insist,” Joseph said dramatically. He leaned in even close to the circle, “Did you know that the old school is haunted?” A roll of thunder followed another lightning flash.

The children waited on bated breath for the story to continue, not daring to interrupt their counselor. The rain ran down the gutters. Drip. Drip. Drip.

He took their silence for disbelief and continued, “Ohh yes, about twenty years ago, a student died. She’s walked the halls ever since, and they say she’s been waiting for a night like this to exact her revenge.” Joseph lunged forward as he finished.

“Ahh!” Tommy squealed and gripped his pillow.

“You’re making that up. There are no ghosts here.”

“Ohh Martin, not a ghost. Something way worse than a ghost.”

“What’s worse than a ghost?” Logan said as he leaned in closer.

“No, that’s enough. I shouldn’t even be telling this story. It’s late.” Joseph teased.

“Well, now you have to!” Came the chorus.

“You all need to go to bed. I’m already going to be in trouble tomorrow if you all oversleep.”

Drip. Drip. Drip. The rain and the children continued their relentless assault. Joseph checked his watch, half-past ten. Not terrible. The older boy looked around at the eager faces. Who was he to deny them some harmless fun at camp?

“Okay, I swear it’s a real story. Like I said, about twenty years ago, there was a girl who was acting strangely during her classes. It all started with her laughing during prayers. Then she started fainting when the priest would walk by in the halls. The nurse couldn’t do anything for her, so she called in one of the nuns, and this girl got sick all over her. So they called the bishop, and he arrived in the middle of a dark and stormy night when everyone else had already gone.”

Another gust of wind blew the low flame on the embers out.

“They put her in one of the rooms in the old dormitory. No one knows what happened then, but they say the sisters at the convent could hear the screams across the pond.”

“What was happening?” Logan asked as he clutched the pillow on his lap.

“What was that!” Tommy jumped as a door blew shut somewhere down the dormitory hall.

“Just the wind, don’t be such a baby, Tommy.” Martin said, still fixated on their counselor.

“They say the bishop pulled a foul thing from her. A demon. One of the servants of Satan! It couldn’t dare stand the holy oils. But when the bishop separated the demon from her, he couldn’t kill it. And when the storms blow, it still walks the halls. Looking for its next victim. They had to brick the room off, so no one wandered in there accidentally, but even that couldn’t contain it.”

“And what happened to the girl?” Logan raised his voice so they could hear him over the wind outside.

“She died, at least that’s what I was told.” Joseph said as he glanced toward the fire. “That’s enough, children, off to bed with you!” A groan went up from the three boys, but they obliged all the same.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

“So, do you think it’s real?”

“No way,” Martin said from his bed.

“I think it is. My brother told me something similar, and he was a counselor here too.” Logan said.

“They were just trying to scare you, Logan. Both of them. Don’t be a baby.”

The candle had long since burned out. The boys lay in darkness while the storm raged outside.

“There’s no way it’s real. There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

“But it’s not a ghost. Don’t you pay attention in Sunday school?” Tommy said as he stared wide-eyed at the black ceiling.

“I bet you that room isn’t even there.” Martin said as he turned to face the other two. Another flash of lightning illuminated the room.

Logan glanced at the door, “well, we could always go look.”

“What if we’re caught out of bed? We’ll get Joseph into so much trouble.” Tommy said. He pulled his sheets around him.

“Ohh, come on, no one’s even awake. Plus, with the storm, you won’t be able to hear anything at all.” Logan had already pulled his sheets aside and had his feet on the floor. “I’m going to go look. Come with me if you're not chicken.”

“Fine, only so I can see you get proven wrong.” Martin said as he slid on his slippers.

“You two go; I’m going to stay here.”

“Why Tommy? Too afraid of the dark?”

Drip. Drip. Drip.

A crash of thunder rolled across the roof. Martin recoiled as Tommy and Logan stared at one another in the dark.

“Come on; we’re going to find a door. What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Martin said as he pulled on his sweater.

“Plenty. If we get caught, I’m saying this was your idea.” Tommy reluctantly got up and followed them to the door of their room.

Drip. Drip. Drip. The rain drowned out the boys’ steps on the tile of the darkened school hallway.

“There shouldn’t be anyone in the offices. The old dormitories are just past them.” Logan whispered as they snuck through the shadows.

Crash. Tommy jumped as thunder cracked. Martin pushed his finger to his lips amid the shadows. The gesture died in the darkness. They continued on.

“Wait, hold on.” Logan whispered as he leaned around the corner to ensure the offices were indeed dark. Another bolt of lightning illuminated the hallway. Their shadows hung in the brilliant light; they were the only ones there. Winds whipped the outside walls of the school. Somewhere in the distance, a shutter snapped loose and smashed into a window with a dull thud in every gust like a nail being hammered.

Drip. Drip. Drip. The darkness of the older, smaller dormitory was thicker than a mourning shroud. The white bricks here faded with age and neglect to a grotesque yellow. The banging of the shutter echoed louder here, where there was little to muffle the sound.

“Did Joseph say what room it was?” Martin asked the pair. His whisper echoed off of the walls of the corridor.

“He didn’t.” Tommy said as he looked over his shoulder. The shadows behind them stayed still, except for the swaying of the trees in the storm.

“There’s only a few rooms. Let’s see what we can find.” Logan said. He stuck close to the wall, running his hands over the bricks as he searched for anything to break up the pattern on the wall.

“None of these are bricked up.” Tommy whispered. None of his friends responded. “Guys?” Tommy said aloud to the dead air.

“Yeah, there’s nothing here.” Martin said with a note of dejection.

“Hey Guys, what about this one?” Logan’s voice came from further down the hall.

Drip. Drip. Drip. They rushed down to where they heard their friends' voices, not caring about the noise their feet made on the tile floor. Logan stood in front of a door, the smooth wood broken up by a small window.

“It looks like a stairwell.”

“How can you tell?” Tommy said as he stared through the impenetrable blackness of the square window.

“The stairwell is the only door with a window on our floor.” Martin shrugged.

“Try the handle.” Logan said as he pushed his way past Tommy. The door clicked open. A crack of lightning illuminated cobwebbed-covered stairs going upwards and down before they faded back into darkness.

“I didn’t know this place had a basement.”

“Or an attic.” Logan responded to Martin. “Well, let’s go!”

“We can’t go down there! How are we going to see?” Tommy said while Martin followed Logan over the threshold.

“He’s got a point. We should check upstairs first. There might be windows. Maybe we can come back with a flashlight tomorrow?” Martin said.

“What was that!” The other boys could hear Tommy recoil at the scurrying sound from beyond the threshold.

“Sounds like mice. Come on, Tommy.” Martin pulled his arm over the threshold.

“Ouch, careful.” Logan said as he brushed his hands off. They climbed each stair on all fours. Drip. Drip. Drip.

“Hey, that’s my leg!” Logan said, not caring for how their voices carried in the dark and abandoned stairway.

“Can you go faster?” Martin said. Dust ripped at the palms of his hands as he crawled up the stairs.

Logan stumbled as he raised his foot for another step and found it not there; he brushed his hands on his shorts while he waited at the top of the stairs for the others to join him. The rain echoed off the rooftop while the wind lashed the walls as if it were about to blow the creaking building over. Another flash of lightning filled the room from a small window near the roof. Drip. Drip. Drip.

It stood there before them, illuminated in the light of the lightning—an arch of blood-red brick protruding from the wall. Martin almost slipped down the stairs as a sharp clap of thunder rang like a church bell.

“Well, I’ll be…” Martin said as Tommy took a step back closer to the stairs. In the light of the flash, Logan saw the terror reflected in Tommy’s eyes.

The shadow of the arch disappeared as the light abated. In the dark, Logan stepped forward and touched the bricks.

A scream ripped through the air that would have drowned out nails on a chalkboard.

“Ahh!” Logan pushed Martin to the ground as he lunged back to the stairs.

“Ouch, Logan!”

“Get me out of here!” Logan yelled as he tried to take the stairs two at a time in the dark.

Another shriek filled the stairwell.

“What was that?”

“I don’t know! Run!” Martin yelled to Tommy as he tried to navigate the stairs.

Thunder rolled. As it subsided, a dull thud reverberated through the stairwell.

“Logan, was that you?” Tommy stopped with a hand to the wall. Silence.

A whimper came in the darkness. “Guys, help.”

“Where are you?”

“I fell. I missed the landing.”

“Are you okay?” Martin asked to the darkened stairwell.

“I slipped; I can’t stand up. I think I hear you, Tommy. I’m right here. Just help me get to my feet.” Drip. Drip. Drip.

A vice gripped Martin’s arm. It was Tommy, still standing behind him on the attic stairs.

“Thanks, Tom–” Tommy and Martin never heard his last words.

The only scream was from Martin as he tumbled back into the old dormitory hallway.

“Where do we go? What was that?” Tommy huffed as terror and exhaustion stole his breath.

“Anywhere, just run!”

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Tommy glanced over his shoulder as they sprinted past the darkened offices. The dark hallways' shadows twisted around behind them as the rain belted the windows. His foot caught his heel, and he stumbled, catching his glasses before they flew off his face.

“This way!” Martin yelled from the darkness in front of Tommy. Surely someone must have heard them by now. Someone needed to go find Logan.

“Wait, our room is the other way, right?” Tommy yelled back. No response.

“I don’t know. Here, come this way.” Martin called back from the darkness.

They reached a set of double doors. Drip. Drip. Drip.

“Should we go back?” Tommy asked as they reached the double doors.

“Heck no.”

“But what about Logan?”

“You heard him! There was something there, and it’s coming for us.” Martin said. He tugged on the doors, but nothing happened. Tommy looked back into the darkness. He held his breath while he waited for a monster to jump from the shadows and consume him with razor-sharp teeth. Then he remembered what Joseph told them. Images of the devil and eternal damnation sprang to life within his young mind. He began to cry as the shadows rippled in the corridor as if hands were extending from Satan’s hall to pull them down to the flames.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

“I got it.” Martin pulled the doors open, and the two boys ran inside before the specters of their imagination dragged them to hell. Nothing else moved as they entered the church. Rain lashed the stained glass windows as the two boys ran down the aisle, logic no longer guiding their actions. Lightning illuminated the cross which dominated the altar.

Tommy saw a figure on the altar and jumped behind the pew. He peered out from between the gaps of the pews. It was the figure of Christ upon the cross. He curled up below the bench and slowly crept deeper into the aisle.

He saw it as he lay amongst the wooden seats of the congregation. In the dull light, the double doors opened ever so slightly.

Martin kept running up past the altar and up the choir stairs. He pulled out the bench for the organ, a perfect hiding place near the edge of the balcony. It was a solid piece of wood; no one would find him here. All was silent except for the rain. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Creak. The sound erupted from the old wooden stairs.

Creak. Martin pulled himself closer to the base of the organ.

Creak. Another flash of lightning filled the church and illuminated a stained glass window of the crucifixion directly across from where Martin hid.

Creak. His heart beat out of his chest.

Thud. The boot stepped in front of where he hid.

Dum. An echoing organ note filled the church as a hand came down on the keys.

The next thing Tommy heard was the thud. He screamed. The volume of it filled the nave. He sprinted, not caring where his feet took him, not wanting to know what that thud meant. Tommy ran like the rain ran down the roof of the church. Drip. Drip. Drip.

He rounded the darkened corner into a small chapel and tripped on the point where the wood met the carpet. This time, he couldn’t save his glasses. He reached about uselessly in the dark, not that they would do him any good. Drip. Drip. Drip.

His hand grasped leather, and Tommy looked up. Even in the dark, he knew those features. “Ohh, thank Jesu–”

Joseph set his bible down. It had been his goal to finish by the end of summer. He reached Luke 21:3 when he heard it. The pipe organ filled the silent halls of the dormitory. Those kids, they’re quite the troublemakers. He smiled as he set the book down and readied to go tell them off. There would be punishment for all of them tomorrow; best he get ahead of it, but they were good kids. And who didn’t deserve a little summer fun at camp?

Drip. Drip. Drip. The storm raged as Joseph walked towards the church, his path illuminated by his flashlight and thoughts of activities for tomorrow filling his head. The rain showed no signs of abating, and it would chase the children inside. Classroom work was never his strong suit.

Somewhere in the distance, a loose shutter banged against the wall, its cadence replacing the low note of the organ. Around him, the storm seemed to crescendo as he drew near the church. He pulled the double doors open as the hammering crescendoed.

Drip. Drip. Drip. He walked down the center aisle. A figure stood upon the altar.

“Why are you here?” Joseph yelled over the storm as he approached the altar. The figure stood with his back to him. As he neared, its form became clearer. Relief washed over him. “Apologies, I’m glad you’ve beaten me to it. I’ll make sure the children are properly punished.”

The rain ceased. Drip. Drip. Drip. The figure turned. Sister Mary Margaret smiled at him from the altar. “I’ve taken care of the children. What’s wrong, my child?” Her attention was fixed on the cross.

Her eyes were black as night, and she held a hammer. Drip. Drip. Drip. The blood ran down the wood of the cross above and pooled upon the altar.

The flashlight smashed into the wooden floor. Drip. Drip. Drip.

urban legend

About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to make it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wished to be found.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (6)

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  • Celia in Underland4 months ago

    Onomatopeia doing some great work here! Super freaky and did not expect the nun, until it was too late of course 🤍

  • Mother Combs4 months ago

    Oh, this is great! Love it

  • James Haider8 months ago

    very interesting and Suspenseful! Story

  • Jazzy 8 months ago

    Very suspenseful! I'm not a fan of horror, but this was so well written; I loved the use of repeating sounds!

  • Lol, Sister Mary Margaret for the win! That was a twist I did not see coming! Such a creepy and suspenseful story!

  • Alexander McEvoy9 months ago

    Oh excellent! Very very spooky! Did not expect the nun to be either evil or the demon, but the reveal was so good!

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