Tale of the Hanging Lady
By Terence EDW Brumpton
The house which once stood proud at Hartsholme park is now a shadow of its former self. Only a small section still stands, which is used as a small nature exhibition centre. But not when Lizzy Cole was alive. When she lived there as the loving wife to her husband Henry Cole, the house was in its most beautiful glory, unrivalled by anything for miles around. But the story of Lizzy Cole was never a happy one, it's a horror story told by the few who know her grizzly tale.
“Dad, why do we have to stay in this place? Mum took us to France on holiday and you bring us here.” Billy Anderson moans from the passenger seat of his dads Ford Focus.
Billy is the oldest of three children, at only fifteen,he is at that age where he is neither man or child. His father split up with his mother only a year before, his mothers choice, but something which has scared Billy.
He and his two brothers live with their mum, only seeing their dad at the weekends. Billy loves his dad, but finds it hard when he has to stay with him. At home his mum has the money to buy him and his brothers what ever they like. They have the best clothes, games, anything. But their dad was left with nothing after the bitter divorce, leaving his wife everything. Even after she ran off with an older, richer man he still loves her.
For Tom though this is a chance to get close to his boys again, it may only be crumby camping site, but its chance to catch up with his boys again. Billy seems like he's grown up so much in the past year, most of it Tom sadly had to miss, and knows nothing will make up the time they lost. The divorce was not his choice, though he sees it as been the best thing at the time is now filled with regret. Regret not only for himself, but for his children too.
“Look son you know I don't have much money, I gave your mum most of what I have, and don't forget her rich man she now has.” Tom sighs before continuing, finding it most difficult to talk about his ex wife.
“I missed you guys this past year, and you are all growing up so fast I wanted to spend some time with you before it was too late.
“Well I think its great.” Tate says, answering before his brother has chance. Tate is the youngest of Tom's three boys. At only twelve he still has his innocence and boyish looks, but also a good grasp and understanding on life for someone his age.
“Look at this place this will be so fun, I bet it's really spooky at night.”
“Well I am glad someone thinks so, and just wait for later boys. I have the best ghost story to tell you about this place.”
“I doubt its as good as paranormal activity, that movie is amazing.” Billy drily replies, only half listen as the car pulls to a halt.
“Which one B?”
“Any of them Tate, you know they are all amazing.”
“Well maybe dad's story will be better, you never know. He always told good stories when we were kids.”
“Well I guess we will have to wait until later and find out. Nothing better to do round here I guess.”
“Is this it?” Sam finally says, pulling his headphones off and placing around his neck. One thing you will learn about Sam is if you see Sam, you will see his silver headphones.
“Yes Sam this is it, don't you think this will be fun.” Toms says, turning his head to look at Sam in the back seat.
“I guess so but its no France.”
“Oh not you as well Sam. As I explained to your brother I can't afford France, this is what we have. Don't let it get you down, we will have fun.”
“Sure dad, feeding the ducks and playing in the play park.”
“Hey I like feeding the ducks, not the geese though. I hate geese.” Tate says, screwing his face up like a young child does.
Over the next two hours Tom fights with his children to help put the tent up. The instructions say it should only take them a hour with two people. But with Billy not trying, Sam just standing around listen to Fall Out boy, that only leaves Tate. Tate though, like his brothers has little interest, he would rather kick his football around. But Tom manages to finally get it finished, with a lot of swearing and bloody fingers, and just in time for the sun to set.
The camp site itself is pretty plain, just two fields, one for tents and the other for caravans. The only facilities are a brick building with showers and toilets inside. Even with it been the beginning of summer the Anderson’s are the only ones there, which to the boys makes them feel further from civilisations than they really are. To them, especially Tate feels like he’s miles away from anyone. Reality is though they are just off a main road only few miles away from the City of Lincoln.
To the three boys the night goes slowly, their dad banning them from using their phones or any or devices doesn't help. But to Tom it's heaven, just him and his lads to talk the night away. Even cooking the basic tea of beans and hot dogs he finds it enjoyable. For Billy its the last place he wants to be, it's Friday night and for him its his night to go to the cinema, but instead he's sat with his boring dad and his brothers. Only person to blame is his dad for having a sucky job.
“I'm going to bed before I am bored to death, laters stinkers.” Billy says, standing up from his mat on the hard ground.
He rubs his painful legs, another thing about camping he hates. Having to sit on the damn floor all the time, how much he would kill to be in a comfy cinema chair with his best friends.
“B you can't go to bed yet, you not heard dads story yet.” Tate chirps up just as Billy starts to unzip his side of the tent, which he calls his bedroom for the next week.
“Tate I couldn't care less really, I am bored as hell and sick of this damn place already.”
“It will get better son, just wait and see. Now come and sit and listen to my story, it's too early for you to go to bed already.”
“Fine dad, but you best make it up to me tomorrow. I hate this so called holiday already.”
“It will now, so sit please son.”
“Yeah B sit down.” Sam jokes.
Reluctantly Billy takes his seat on the floor back around the fire, throwing on extra wood, which quickly starts to burn.
“Dad start the story, please dad. Before the B man decides to go again.” Tate says, playfully punching Billy on the arm, only to get a dirty glare back.
“Okay everybody comfy, this story I heard first from my dad on a trip to this park, long ago now. But it was much as you see it now. The building was the same, the trees, the feeding area. All but the play park, café and camp site were as they are. But that’s not the story.” For those of you wondering just what the story is, it goes like this.
Long, long ago, the owner of the house, Henry Cole met the love of his life Elizabeth. Henry loved Elizabeth, Lizzy to him. Lizzy was what you would call then, back in the 1700s a woman of none noble birth. She met Henry one day when she went for a job as a maid at Henry's home, not Hartsholme park. Henry was a young man still, only twenty-five when they met, Lizzy was nearly five years younger than him.
Henry was left the massive house and garden when his parents died years before. Henry was an only child, so he got left everything, but it never made him happy. He would spend nights wondering around the massive house, thinking of the happy times he spent as a child there, now replaced with torment of been alone. No matter what he did, what he bought he was never happy. That was until he met Lizzy.
Lizzy's parents were friends with the head maid of Henry's house, and when a opening came for a new maid, she made sure Lizzy was first to know. Lizzy though had worries about the job, she had worked all her life on her parents farm. Not a small farm, but not a big one. For the time she was bottom of the bottom, and working in that amazing home would be a jump in her class, and life.
Nervously Lizzy went for the job she was the last person of the day, and Henry had shown little interest in who was going to work in his house. But when he saw Lizzy out of his window he didn't see someone from the lower classes, but a lovely woman, and for the first time in years he smiled. He smiled because he knew he was in love. And of course he didn't tell her straight away, but he made sure she got the job.
For months she worked in his home without seeing the love he had for her in his eyes. From a distance he watched her, wanted her. Eventually he caught her alone in one of the bedrooms and they started talking, talking like old friends. From that moment on he knew he found true happiness. He would spend hours at night talking to her, and after a year they got married.
For the next few years they lived a happy life, until one night someone broke into their home and Henry was killed. Lizzy was devastated, it felt like her heart had been ripped out, her soul destroyed. Just like Henry felt when he was alone in the house, Lizzy felt the same pain and sorrow, until one night in her night clothes she went to the boat house and hung herself. Her body was found the next morning swinging in the wind, her skin cold and pale. Her eyes bulging out her head.
Its said though if you go to the boat house and shout 'I killed Henry!' three times, the ghost of Lizzy will come and take her revenge for her husband. And hang you from the tree next to the boat house she once died in.
“That boys is the legend of Lizzy Cole.” Tom whispers in his most haunting voice he can manage.
At first the boys say nothing, just stare at the fire. In a world with horror movies and violent games, it takes a lot to scare kids now. But the story of Lizzy Cole seems to have done its job.
“Is it true dad, the story?” Tate finally says, his voice shaky.
“No its not true you idiot, its just a story.” Billy replies.
“Actually boys their was a Lizzy Cole who lived here, and legend says she did hang herself. The rest though is just a ghost story made to scare little kids. Its not true. Now time for bed.” By the time the boys get to sleep its early morning, they couldn't sleep because of talking about the story.
Tate thought it was true and so did Sam. But Billy refused to answer, deep down he thought it was true, but been the older brother he knew he had to make out it was nonsense. But before they finally went to sleep they all agreed that they should sneak out the following night with their cameras, and find out what happened.
The following evening, with their father asleep they slowly sneak out, making sure they take their time to be extra quiet. If they are all caught then there is little they can do to explain what they are doing.
The darkness is like nothing they have seen before, even their own hands in front of their faces is impossible to see, but slowly they make progress. They planned the best route in the day when they could see, and after twenty minutes of stumbling they find what they are looking for, the boat house.
Stood in a line they all look through the bars into the darkness, they see very little, only what the moon lights up. For minutes they just stand in silence looking in, imaging the body of poor Lizzy Cole swinging from the rafters.
“Are, are we going to do this?” Tate says in a stutter.
“Yes we are Tate, we are.” Billy replies.
“Say it then B, or you too scared?”
“Damn it never say I am scared Sam. I will do it.”
“Go on then B say it.”
“Fine, here it goes... I killed Henry, I killed Henry....... I Killed henry.” Silence fills the air again after the last echoes of Billy's voice fade away.
At first nothing happens, just the sound of the trees in the wind can be heard.
“See its a damn story, nothing to I...” Billy shouts with joy, but suddenly he is cut off.
Tate and Sam look around, but can't see Billy, all they see his is camera on record on the floor. Then for some reason Tate looks up. From the branch of the tree above them is their brother, his body stiff as a board hanging still. Tate tries to scream but no sound comes out. He feels tightness in his throat, and the feeling of rope cutting into his skin. In a swift second he's up next to his brother, hanging still and dead.
That leaves Sam, shivering in the cold. For some reason he looks back into the boat house, this time its not empty though. Inside hanging is a woman in white bed clothing, hanging still with her eyes closed. Sam freezes in terror, his heart races as he stares in disbelief at the corpse hanging in front of him. She opens her eyes and stares at Sam, he feels her staring into his soul, and then she's gone.
Standing alone Sam can do nothing but mumble, “Its just a dream, its not real. This is a bad dream.” With a blink of an eye he's dead, strung up like a rabbit in a butchers window.
The next morning Tom wakes to the sound of sirens, and people rushing to the boat house. Seeing his boys are gone he knows something is wrong. Without even getting dressed Tom races to the boat house, only to get stopped by a policeman only metres from his dead sons.
All he can do is weep, falling to his feet and crying, for he now knows the story of the hanging lady is true, and if you don't believe it just you go and try.
I bet I will never see you again.