Over the next few days I’m going to take you on a journey into the most eerie places I know. I’ll start with one you might find the least threatening and if you decide to come alone, we’ll move on from there. It’s not for the faint-hearted, so be warned.
The church stands in the middle of a small village, close to the road, but bordered on all sides by pines trees that have run wild and now shadow the path to the main door. It was abandoned over twenty years ago. No one seems to know why, or else they’re not telling. The windows are broken, though small, sharp bits of coloured shards still cling to the strips of lead that once threaded through the ornate, stained-glass. Weeds sprout from between broken slabs lining the path; we must choose out steps with care. This is not the sort of place one would want to fall and lie injured, not as twilight draws in and the world of spirits comes to life.
Ivy snakes up the walls and crawls through every crack and opening. The windows can do nothing to stop its advance, but stare with silent, sightless eyes. The bell seems to be missing in the old tower; it’s hard to tell now the light is fading. Shall we go inside? OK, I’ll go first, but keep close and stop being such a baby.
That was some groan, wasn’t it, when I pushed against the door just now? It set my teeth on edge. Come back here, it was just the rusty hinges protesting the intrusion. Stay behind me, if you must. It’s dark in here, but the porch is small and the window smaller still. It’ll get brighter once we’re inside. The glass is still intact in the inside doors. Did you notice how the silence seemed to surge at us when we stepped inside? The ordinary, everyday sounds of traffic ceased once the door closed behind us and that’s weird because the windows are all broken. It’s as though some invisible barrier formed and now it’s just us and God, and let’s face it, he’s holding all the cards. Listen to how loud our footsteps are on the dusty tiled floor. There are other sounds, listen, soft scurrying, probably just mice or rats. Can you smell that? It’s something above the usual smell of candle wax. Take a sniff; it’s got a rotten butcher-shop smell, something I can’t quite put my finger on.
The altar is shrouded in shadow and many of the pews are still standing. Let your hand glide along their scarred wooden backs as we pass. It’s getting darker and I forgot to bring a flashlight. Stop holding on to my arm so tight, there’s nothing there. I can’t hear anything, other than the night breeze. What did you hear? I didn’t hear a groan, but you’re right about the shadows on the altar. They do seem to be moving in a strange way and that smell is getting worse. OK, we’ll leave, if you want, but I’m telling you now, you’re not coming to the asylum with me tomorrow night, not unless you stop being such a scardy cat.