The Legend of White Sisters
His name was Henry Duke. What follows in an excerpt taken from the remains of his journal. Only a few pages were recovered from his investigation at White Sisters. The rest had been burned and destroyed. Of Henry Duke himself, there is still no sign.
July 16th 2015.
From the main road the track leading to White Sisters seems adequate enough to accept a family sized car. Yet no sooner had I swung the nose on to the weedy gravel path, I noticed the dense overhang of ancient trees and gorse bush. There was no way my car was going to squeeze past those. I braked just in time and reversed off, having no choice but to abandon my vehicle in a narrow lay-by. White Sisters lies back off the main road by a good distance; hidden amongst the trees like a shy child. Although, I suspect, there is nothing shy, nothing innocent about White Sisters. It’s all to do with reputation, you see. The same way a schoolyard bully is king of his castle. Don’t go near him, he’s a nasty piece of work. Steer clear.
And people do exactly the same thing with White Sisters – they steer clear; avoid it, try to forget it. The place is a ruin; a crumbling, fallen-down collection of smashed sandstone and creeping ivy. The front and rear walls still stand, with their arched Gothic windows empty of glass, and one half of a gable remains, jutting skyward like a broken monolith. From what research I have managed to compile, from the Internet and a book entitled British Legends and Lore, I know that a wealthy landowner named Jasper K. Harris built White Sisters in the year 1707. Originally, he wanted it as a family home for his wife and two children. But tragedy struck in 1710 when his wife, Elizabeth, contracted pneumonia and died. They had spent only three years under the roof and in that time Jasper’s behaviour had grown extremely bizarre. According to the author’s of British Legends and Lore, he often wandered into the local tavern in a ‘dishevelled state of dress,’ and would tell the publican, in a loud yet sober voice, about the strange goings-on in his new home. At his new home, rather, for Jasper insisted that something haunted the grounds on which his house stood. Of course, he was laughed at by all and sundry, including the publican who ejected him from the premises on many an occasion. Yet Jasper’s insistence did not fade, even after the sudden and tragic death of his wife. If anything, he got worse.
Year 1711:'Mr Jasper K. Harris, of unsound mind, has come to mine attention much too often. He doth wildly insist that his house in bedevilled and sick; claiming, more wildly, that this spectre did kill his wife of ten years, Mrs. ‘Lizbeth. He came in to my tavern many times, excited but by no means intoxicated, and did tell me of what he saw: ‘It doth spin and howl like a beast of the pit! It projects forth the blackest of smokes and doth move with the merest blink of an eye.
His tale never changes, but grows worse. The death of Mrs. ‘Lizbeth made his mind slip, I think. Yet he keeps up his story – that Mrs. ‘Lizbeth, whilst toiling in the garden, did see this spectre and before dying, insist that it passed through her; to quote: ‘So cold and foul of soul, it howled and screamed and did vanish after spinnin’ through me.’
The above, written by the tavern’s proprietor and given to the local church minister, ended up in the hands of Dr. Edward Kramer, a psychologist cum parapsychologist. He co-wrote British Legends and Lore in 2007 with another university boffin called Karl Otto. They claim in their book that the tavern’s proprietor hoped the minister would visit Jasper at his home – not then known as White Sisters – and arrange for an exorcism to take place. Whether one did is something the author’s do not know, although I suspect it did not. Besides, Jasper K. Harris died in 1712 of unknown causes. They found his body lying in the gardens; and because it was mid-winter at the time his corpse was frozen solid. Yet the look of sheer terror in his wide-open eyes was enough to convince many that he had seen something truly horrific; something that had, it seemed, stopped his heart at once.
For a year or more the house stood empty, before being acquired by the Catholic Church for use as a temporary convent. It was with these nuns that the name White Sisters was born – and the trouble really started.
Year 1721: 'Mine concern for Sister Ignatius grows day by day. She will not eat, nor will she drink. She simply sits in her south-facing rooms and gazes emptily out of the window. She will speak, however. Yet what blasphemy! What awful and disturbing devilment! She insists that our convent is subject to horrors of the night. She tells me of a ‘great swirling mist; sometimes of black, sometimes of a yellow-glow.’ She says that it howls and screams, ‘Like a creature in true agony,’ and that it speeds round and around our home. I told her to snap out of it at once, I read the Bible to her aloud, demanded that she know the Lord would never allow such a beast to dwell here. I have not heard this ‘howling and screaming’ and nor, I suspect, have any of the other sisters. Yet Sister Ignatius does not accept this – she firmly says it to be true. I worry for her; for she looks sallow and will not leave her rooms.
She says the howling spectre is an omen of death to come.'
How right Sister Ignatius was. Three days after the above passage was written, her body was discovered lying in White Sister’s gardens; just like that of Jasper K. Harris. Again, the causes of death are unknown – yet a report says she had bitten her tongue completely off. The most likely explanation is that she suffered a seizure. Yet the report, again written about in Kramer’s book, goes on to say about the expression on Sister Ignatius’ face – one of absolute, untold horror. It is clear she had seen something in her final, painful moments. Something had unhinged her mind with such a devastating blow that she had bitten off her own tongue and choked on the blood. And so the history of White Sisters went on. More sightings of this ‘swirling black mist’ were reported by other nuns during the summer months of 1722; and then again in 1723. Each story had one thing in common, too, and that was the howling noise this ‘spectre’ produced. The nuns, apparently, carried out many blessings on the land surrounding White Sisters, and even inside the building, but to no avail. Reports and sightings continued for years to come, and seeing how the building was only supposed to be temporary, it was used as a convent until 1814. A fire broke out in the November of that year from, it’s believed, an oil lamp that fell from a hook in the library and ignited the curtains. Within minutes the flames took hold and swept through the house, killing eight of the nuns and badly injuring five more. After that unfortunate event White Sisters was abandoned and left to rot. Although, weeks after the tragedy, it’s known that three of the surviving nuns came forward with a radical story that threatened the Catholic Church’s already tarnished reputation. All three insisted that during the blaze, as they fled the building, they all heard – and saw – the black swirling mist. One of the nuns, Sister Mary Beth, described it as, ‘A terrible, evil thing that seemingly spun and twisted in glee; howling not in sorrow for what was taking place, but for the enjoyment of the occasion; the laughter of something imbecilic and deranged.’
Both angered and embarrassed by such stories, the Catholic Church severed all ties with White Sisters and placed the nuns elsewhere. The building – charred and badly damaged – was left to stand a lonely vigil on land that swiftly overgrew. The coming years were not kind to it, either; for vandals and treasure hunters no doubt had a field day with the stuff left behind. I can imagine now, as I stand here in these modern times, the blackened roof-joists collapsing in; the walls crumbling, everything going to dust and silent memories. What remains is a forgotten sandstone relic; a skeleton strangled by creeping ivy and clematis. As soon as I walked up here and laid eyes on White Sisters I stopped in my tracks, my feet hidden by grass and dandelions. The ruin towers up towards a cobalt sky; a jagged tooth of stone. At first I expected to feel an air of sadness and melancholy; a sense of abandonment, and yet what I did feel in those brief seconds was a cold blast of tight-lipped arrogance. The empty Gothic windows felt like manic, glaring eyes; staring right at me as if I had no right intruding. I know that must sound rather clichéd, but the notion was impossible to shake off.
The sensation has not passed, as such, but I am able to stand here and look at the place without shivering. My rucksack is chafing my shoulder, so I shall go ‘inside’ now, and look around, although –
The rest of this passage was lost after the page got burned.
After countless, frustrating phone calls to the university where he works, I did manage to speak with Dr. Edward Kramer. I thought – foolishly – he would welcome my questions and queries, yet how wrong was I? Dr. Edward Kramer is, and no doubt always will be, a smug, self-centred bastard.
Our conversation went something like this:
Kramer: Edward Kramer speaking, who is this?
Me: Ah, Dr. Kramer. My name is Henry Duke. I’m sorry to disturb you, but I’m hoping you can help me with a project I wish to undertake.
Kramer: (Pause) Are you a student here?
Me: No, doctor, I’m not. I was hoping . . .
Kramer: Look, Mr. Duke, stop right there. I’m not interested in buying double-glazing or collecting for charity! I’ve got the first and don’t believe in the other.
Me: No, you’ve got me wrong, doctor; I’m not trying to sell you anything. I hope to do a paranormal investigation at White Sisters, and –
Me: White Sisters, in Shropshire? You wrote about it in your book!
Kramer: Oh. Why on earth would you bother doing that? White Sisters is a ruin.
Me: I understand that, but it’s a ruin with a terrifying past.
Kramer: That’s as maybe, but I still don’t think White Sisters warrants an investigation.
Me: Perhaps you don’t, doctor, but I most certainly do.
Kramer: (Pause) Do whatever you like – I have to go now, anyway.
Me: Please, doctor, wait. Just answer me a few questions!
Kramer: (Sighs) I’m a busy man, Mr. Duke. Make them quick!
Me: I will. Thank you.
Me: In your honest opinion, doctor, what do you make of the stories connected to White Sisters? I mean, do you believe the hype?
Kramer: Hype? I would hardly class those stories as hype, Mr. Duke. No, I do not believe them, to be truthful. I think the most likely explanation is natural gasses escaping from the ground; that or over-active imaginations.
Me: Would gasses escaping from the ground produce a howling noise, doctor?
Kramer: Yes, the chances are it would make a horrible noise – and a smell, too.
Me: Okay, but Jasper Harris insisted that the black mist ‘moved in the merest blink of an eye.’ How do you explain that?
Kramer: Fear, Mr. Duke. That is how I explain it. When the human mind reacts to a terror situation, chemical imbalances are released throughout the body. Adrenaline surges, the heart rate speeds up, and the brain demands a ‘fight or flight’ solution. In those split-seconds, one can imagine – and indeed hear – very peculiar things.
Me: So what you’re saying is the haunting was all in Jasper’s mind?
Kramer: No, not all of it. I believe he saw something that he thought to be supernatural, but actually had a scientific explanation.
Me: What about the nuns? Were they all deluded too?
Kramer: (Sounding annoyed) I never said anything about delusion, Mr. Duke! They were mistaken; simple as that.
Me: Do you think I will see anything when I’m there, doctor?
Kramer: It depends on your state of mind. When it gets dark, paranoia will kick in. The slightest noise will become amplified, and you will probably imagine movement in your peripheral vision. If you are not careful, you will become hysterical.
Me: I hope I shall be more professional than that, doctor.
Kramer: Whatever the case, Mr. Duke, I have to go now.
Me: Wait, just answer me one more thing.
Kramer: (Snapping) What?
Me: Will you be interested in reading a full report on White Sisters when I have finished my investigation?
Kramer: No. Contact some of those paranormal-themed magazines, they may publish your work, but I’m not interested.
Me: I get the feeling you don’t like me, Doctor Kramer.
Kramer: Goodbye, Mr. Duke.
Me: Wait . . !
Kramer: Goodbye, Mr. Duke! (Hangs up).
I tried to phone him back almost straight away, but the line was constantly busy. Anyway, it hardly matters now. I’m here, at White Sisters, with the sun gradually dipping down towards the western horizon. The ruin looms all around me; a massive jut of lichen-covered sandstone. I wandered in through the door-less doorway only a few moments ago and looked around what passes as the interior. Warm streaks of sunlight lance in through the empty windows and pool on the uneven floor, where weeds and blades of grass poke through like inquisitive fingers. I looked up to where the roof should have been and stared at the dark blue sky. I tried to imagine, as I stood there with my head tilted back, this place intact; buzzing with life and activity. I thought of the nuns walking silently along corridors, heads full of religious musings. And before that, of Jasper and his family living here so very long ago, when the house stood proud and newly built. Yet every distinguishing feature of the building is gone – leaving an empty shell, and silence that is rarely broken. A strong gust of wind blew in through the windows. I felt it tickle my face and ruffle my hair; sigh through the doorway at my back, carrying with it the scent of honeysuckle and rapeseed from the fields beyond. I breathed that fragrance in. Filled my lungs with it, and smiled. I like it here. At this present moment, White Sisters feels – and looks – dramatically different to the one described in Kramer’s book. Placing my rucksack near the doorway, I wandered further in, stepping over ancient pieces of stone and broken slabs. In the past, when I have visited ruins, I usually find evidence of kids or tramps using the place for illegal activities, but not here. I spotted no cold ashes from fires; no blackened spoons or used syringes. Pleased about this, I headed back towards my rucksack and began to unpack my small butane camping stove and flask. I think that I shall have to –
Again, Henry’s text is missing after the pages were burned. Also, this last page was badly crumpled and stained with a dark substance.
Going dark now. The sky is turning a luscious shade of purple, like shiny velvet. I’m not great with the planets but I’m sure I can see Venus shining low and bright on the horizon. It is truly beautiful out here; and peaceful too. I’m sitting outside the ruin on a slab of sandstone with the journal on my lap. Fifteen minutes ago I heated up some baked beans on the camping stove and ate them straight from the tin. Afterwards, I poured mineral water into my billycan and used it to brew up a flask of strong black coffee, enough to keep me going well into the night ahead. I’m drinking a cup now as I sit here writing my journal, enjoying the bitter taste. Must stop soon, for the shadows are lengthening rapidly; turning the ruin into a black silhouette. One can almost feel – no, imagine – the ruin staring back at me, arched windows like contemptuous eyes.
I have very little in the way of ghost hunting equipment. Things like EMF meters, laser thermometers, movement sensitive alarms and camcorders do not come cheap. All I have is a powerful maglite torch and a Nikon SLR digital camera. I toyed with the idea of bringing along a tape-recorder, in hopes of capturing the howling noise for others to hear, but certain people – sceptics like Doctor Edward Kramer – will say I produced the noise myself.
It is very dark now and, I hate to say it, Kramer was right. It would be very easy to get paranoid. Writing this by torch light. Will stop for now and sit inside the ruin to listen, and to wait.
The following page was badly charred and, yet again, smeared with that dark substance. I managed to decipher the words best as I could, although I may have got some of the text wrong.
It is now 11:34. I’m sitting here on my quilted sleeping bag with my back against the rough, cold wall. I have heard some noises – scratching, scrabbling sounds that, I suspect, are caused by rodents. Every time I hear them, I switch on the torch and swing the bright beam in all directions, but see nothing out of place. Rats can move swiftly. They keep to the walls and can squeeze through the smallest of gaps. The thought of their furry, diseased bodies makes me physically sick. Filthy vermin. Just like the ones in my . . . no, I shall not get into that now. I am here to hunt a ghost, not to think about that place.*
Up above me, stars shine. I wonder which ones still burn in the gulf of space, and which ones have long burned out; ghosts themselves, for I am sitting here looking at something that may have died eons before. That thought intimidates me and yet at the same time fills me with immense excitement. I know that –
Henry’s pen seems to jump at this point, leaving a thick ink line.
Somebody just called my name!
That’s how it went – loud and clear; a male voice. I sprang to my feet with the torch beam jerking in every compass direction. My hand shook as I aimed it out on to the grounds, making shadows wax and wane. ‘Hello?’ I called back. I stepped out though the doorway and hesitated. Did I detect movement, just over there, to my right? I hurriedly swung the beam in that direction, my heart smacking.
But there was nothing. Nothing.
*Not sure what Henry was referring to when he said ‘that place.’
This is the point where I began to have serious doubts about his mental state. I suspect, on the hearing a voice front, that somebody may have been playing tricks on him. I will leave you, the reader, to make up your own mind.
After checking everywhere – as well as I could in the pitch-dark and with only a torch to guide me – I returned to the ruin and sat down again. I know, for certain, that I heard a voice! Nobody knows I am here, I have told no-one; I have no-one to tell. Yet somebody called out my name and I heard it. Must stop this. I am rambling. Perhaps this is the start of it. Whatever it may be.
Time is now 00:25 hours and I am starting to feel a chill in the air. Have heard more of those scrabbling noises, but chose to ignore them. Rats are clever – they smell fear and home in on it, but I shall not allow them the privilege of panic. Instead, I walked around the ruin, torch in hand. It is amazing how different, how alien, a building can look at the dead of night. The feeling I sensed earlier – arrogance, I think I described is as – is stronger now, almost tangible. I went back to my rucksack and collected my digital camera. I stood in the wild, overgrown grass and began to take several photos, the flash washing across the jagged hulks of stone. What I hope to catch, I do not know. Maybe I will find evidence of light anomalies commonly known as ‘orbs,’ supposedly the very beginning of spirit manifestation. These things have baffled the scientific world for years, while others – Doc. Kramer perhaps – would explain them away as dust-mites, or even insects. I will check photographic evidence in the morning.
This next part of Henry’s text, written in a childish scrawl, gave me an ever greater challenge to decipher, and I can only hope I got most of it right.
My God – I have to write this quickly, put the words on paper before the event slips from my mind!
After I’d finished taking photos, I returned to the ruin and re-packed the camera back in my rucksack. Feeling slightly fatigued at this point, I poured myself a fresh cup of coffee from the flask and began to sip at the hot, bitter liquid. I’m not sure what made me turn my head and look through the doorway, but something must have caught my attention out on the grounds. Placing my cup to one side, I snatched up the torch and rose to my feet. I played the beam out through the doorway but caught nothing out of the ordinary in the glare. Moving outside, I swung the beam hither and thither; and there – over to my left, I caught fast, fleeting movement. Something tall yet impossibly slender – impossibly slender for a human being, I mean – darted for cover, beyond the reach of my torch beam. I froze on the spot, heart thudding sickly. I felt myself on the verge of calling out, but managed to clamp my mouth firmly shut. If somebody was playing a trick on me, I did not want to show them my fear. Instead, I edged forward, breath held. A million thoughts buzzed through my mind as I walked. I came upon the place where the slender shadow had fled, and stopped, torch light finding a dead-end of stone. I twitched the light to the left, and instantly felt a tight, strangled scream lock inside my throat. The black thing stood before me and did not attempt to move. I could not assemble, into any rational thought, exactly what I was seeing because my torch light seemed to be repelled from the thing, and writing that now I realise how ridiculous it sounds. I stood there, unblinking, for what felt like hours. I forced my legs to move me back two steps, not wanting – for reasons I do not understand – to be anywhere near this thing. I gathered a sense of wrongdoing about it; enough to turn my innards to ice. I took another step away, and it was then that I heard a soft prump and the thing literally burst apart like a ruptured sack of coal. My scream came involuntary this time, and I could only watch, torch trembling, as dozens of separate lumps hit the ground and scattered madly about my feet. I felt them darting over my shoes, scrambling at my trouser legs and making awful chittering noises. I spun around and tried to run, but my foot came down upon one of the . . . rats, by God rats . . . and I stumbled and tripped, sprawling headlong in the grass. My torch went flying, leaving me in total darkness with those terrible, furry monsters scrambling all over my arms and back. Heaving myself upright, I plunged blindly for the ruin, feeling one of the matted, furry beasts clinging to my thigh. I grabbed it, tore it off, and it threw it aside. At the very touch of it I felt my gorge rising. Striding on, stamping my feet in the hope that I would crush their frail skulls, I hurried in the direction of the torch, which I could see shining in the long grass. I stopped, snatched it up, and broke for the ruin. As I ran, I heard those monstrosities following me, wanting me with their yellow teeth, with their filth and disease. With a cry of disgust, I charged inside the wrecked building and spun around, jabbing my light in every possible direction.
Nothing – no rats; no beady black eyes or scurrying bodies, yet still I backed up until I struck solid stone. I stood there an age, breathing raggedly. After a few minutes, however, I began to question what had actually happened out there. Maybe, I thought, I was more tired than I realised, or perhaps I had knocked something over and my imagination did the rest; but I know that is not the case. It is easy to find rational answers to things we cannot explain away – doors that slam in the dead of night, floorboards that creak on their own accord; voices that whisper from behind walls. I have heard all of those things, in the past, and I do not doubt them.
I saw a shadow, out there on the grounds of White Sisters, and it burst apart and turned into dozens of vile black rats. It happened; it is fact. I must accept it and continue with this investigation.
Again, I worry for Henry’s mental state – he writes that he ‘heard voices’ coming from behind walls, but he does not elaborate where he heard such things. It may be that Henry heard the voices in his head, which could point to schizophrenia. The rest of the above page was badly charred and continues here:
For the past hour, the atmosphere in the ruin has felt like a tightly coiled spring. That may sound foolish, I know, but it is overly silent here, in such a way that it twangs at my nerves like guitar strings. At one point, I actually said out loud, ‘Is anybody here?’ but my voice sounded flat and slightly uneven. Besides, I got no reply and didn’t expect one. I moved over to the doorway and shone the torch beam out onto the grounds, looking for any sign of the rats. I saw nothing of them, and again a nagging sense of doubt struck me. As I went to turn away, however, I caught fleeting movement for a second time – a slender shadow-figure darting to my right. Heart thudding, I swung the beam after it, my teeth clenched in anger ‘Who's that?’ I demanded, ‘is somebody there?’
Again, I expected no answer and strode out, bravado overtaking fear. The shadow flitted, teasingly, in and out of the torch beam. Every time I tried to get a fix on it, it moved, avoiding the light as if enjoying a game of tag. It wanted me to follow it, or rather it wanted to lure me out of the ruin and deeper into the grounds, but for what purpose I did not know. Instinct made me retreat to the threshold, watching the shadow flitter left and right. How long I stood watching it I do not know but, eventually, it stopped flittering and the darkness of night seemed to absorb it. Breathless, I sank to the floor and pulled my knees up to my chin. It means to drive me away, or into it; to swallow me like the whale swallowed Jonah.
At this point, Henry’s text becomes very scrawled and untidy; the words drifting off the lines on the paper as if he’d written in the dark.
The temperature has plunged in the last few seconds – so much so that I am literally shivering as I sit here; my fingers numb and icy. I can hear sounds outside the ruin, scampering, pattering noises of tiny, clawed feet pawing through long grass. I know what they are – I feel their thoughts scratching at the back of my eyes, and I will NOT let them in; my thoughts are my own, rats are smart, rats are evil.
I will do my –
The rest of that page was destroyed in the fire.
Whatever lurks here, whatever haunts this site does not fall into a category that I can name – it is not an anniversary ghost, nor is it a psychic-imprint absorbed by the walls and atmosphere; for those things are harmless and have no sense of self-awareness.
This thing, however, is self-aware; and what is more it is looking into my mind and scrabbling through my thoughts. It is still flitting around the ruin, circling it like a preditor sighting its quarry. It means to lure me out, but I won’t go. The harm it wants to administer is obvious, and those rats . . . they cling to it like a demonic coat of armour, and just the thought of being drawn into their folds drives me to dispair.
So I will wait. I will sit here until this entity (I feel the need to remark here that it has not ‘howled’ or ‘screamed’ once) must surely grow tired of its antics and vanish. Only then will the temperature return to normal.
It toys with my mind now.
Moments ago I actually heard both walls groan, followed by the gritty sound of stone shifting against stone. Leaping to my feet, I almost bolted out of the doorway in a blind-panic, but caught myself at the last second. I grabbed the stone frame, jerking my body to a halt. I stepped backwards and groped out for my torch; the beam constantly on.
Shining the light on both walls I saw, of course, that those ancient blocks were perfectly still; just as they have been since 1707.
‘No!’ I shouted, ‘you won’t fool me! You won’t!’
More scampering noises sounded from out on the grounds, and I caught sight of low bulky shapes skulking through long grass. Revolted, I knelt down and closed my fingers around a largish chunk of stone. Without really thinking I stood up and pelted it through the doorway, as hard and fast as I could muster.
There came a dull thud; followed by a sharp and feral scream. I grinned, triumphant, yet it slipped quick-smart when my jangling nerves detected a sudden change in the atmosphere. The temperature didn’t just gradually fall away this time; it plummeted. My body reacted as if It’d been doused in icy water, snatching my breath away and causing me to gasp. I sensed movement behind me, in the building, and I whirled around so fast the torch clattered sharply against the doorway. The light died instantly and a tidal-wave of darkness rushed in. Rigid with panic, unable to swallow, I began to slap the torch frenziedly into my open palm, pleading to all the gods that exist I hadn’t shattered the lense and bulb.
And then – directly in front of me, swallowed by that impenetrable dark, came the deliberate scrape of footsteps. Time seemed to freeze. I stared into the black void and listened to the slow shuffling noises that drew nearer and nearer to me. Mad with terror now, I gave the torch one final slap into my open palm, sure that it wouldn’t respond and I’d simply implode with fear, when the light sprang to life and shot a swell of illumination out before me.
The face, caught in the bright glare, was inches from my own.
My heart lurched sideways. I didn’t scream, because I couldn’t. All I could do was stare silently at the deathly white flesh and hollow eye sockets; at the sunken cheeks and puckered nose-cavity. The mouth was wide open and inside something glistened wetly, like raw meat It opened wider still, allowing stringy red drools to slaver over the lips and drip from the chin.
How best to describe such an unearthly noise? If I had more time then perhaps I could wax-lyrical about it; but time is no longer on my side. So I will say only that it was like nothing I’ve heard before; a mixture of male and female vocal-cords, the howling of an express train thundering through a tunnel. It was a noise that drove nails of pain into my head and into my soul. The face screamed, and it screamed, and it screamed. For my part I merely stood transfixed, rooted in place by mind-numbing horror. I knew my bladder was emptying itself but could not prevent it.
Abruptly, the mouth closed and that awful din ceased. The face jerked back and was swallowed up by the surrounding dark. That broke my paralysis. It was my turn to scream myself hoarse. I swung the torch beam in all directions, hunting for the thing, still whimpering, but saw nothing – I had the ruin to myself!
It is circling the ruin.
I now understand I will have to go out and face it.
First, I shall finish writing this; put my last thoughts down on paper before stepping out to greet the ghost of White Sisters. It is not safe here, not safe at all. But didn’t I bring this on myself? After all, I insisted on coming here to carry out this investigation which, I might add, has been one-hundred per-cent successful. I think the rats will take me down first, and then it will come back and do to me whatever it must.
I hope it will be painless.
I suspect it will not.
This is where the journal ends. Apparently, one thing Henry got right is the fact that people do avoid White Sisters, and his belongings went undiscovered for three weeks. A group of kids playing a game of Chicken found his upended rucksack inside the ruin, most of the items smashed beyond repair. His journal, ripped and burned, was found outside in the grass, damp with dew and smeared with a strange dark substance. The police carried out numerous searchers but found nothing; no clothing, no blood, and certainly no corpse. His car was still parked in the lay-by where he’d left it; in which they found his credit cards and wallet. His disappearance leaves a whole load of unanswered questions, and I will leave you, dear reader, to decide whether Henry’s experiences at White Sisters were genuine or not.
What strikes me as ironic, bizarre even, is how these papers ended up in my hands, considering how I told Henry I wasn’t interested in reading his report. Yet here I am, sitting in my office copying these words to my laptop’s memory. I may go out and visit White Sisters for myself – not to muddy Henry’s name – but double-investigate his findings.
Unlike Henry, however, I shall take along a micro-recorder and video camera, for if I capture the ‘face’or ‘flittering shadow’ to film I may turn out to be a very wealthy man indeed.
Dr. Edward Kramer
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