The Devil Wears Black

October 28, 2011
My family has always been known as one that is sensitive to the hereafter, or the spirit world. I have been told many stories in the past about where the psychic lineage in my family first began and of various experiences relatives long-dead and even those still alive have had. Some of the experiences I learned about were lighthearted, others frightening... and some just plain evil. Truthfully, I haven’t had my own run-in with the paranormal yet. I am fourteen, and according to my father, whose mother was a well-known spiritual medium, The Gift, as my family calls it, isn’t fully developed until around the age of sixteen. My hope is that when I turn sixteen, I won’t be seeing opalescent, headless apparitions everywhere I go. There is only so much I am willing to see before I go completely insane.
One of my ancestors, my great-great-grandfather, or so I’m told, had an experience one afternoon that really did make him go insane. It’s a story that has been told and retold repeatedly in my family for many, many years and each time I hear it, it scares me just as much as it had the first time I heard it. The story goes like this...
One day, my great-great-grandfather was walking home from a friend’s house. It was an hour or two before sunset, and he was running late so he wouldn’t make it home before nightfall no matter how fast he walked. Now, even though he came from a family of psychics, my great-great-grandfather was a very down-to-Earth man for the most part. He had had ghostly experiences since turning sixteen, just like every other generation of my family, but he tried to hide his Gift. Some of my relatives went looking for ghosts; he didn’t. His Gift actually terrified him and he hated that he came from a family in which sensitivity to the afterlife was as genetic as brown hair and brown eyes. There was an old oak tree he passed a few streets from his home that was said to have been a spot for numerous hangings during the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692. The official hanging place of the accused witches (who, it turns out, weren’t really witches at all) was Gallows Hill, but to this day, no one knows for sure where the true Gallows Hill is. The oak tree that my great-great-grandfather passed was supposedly used as an unofficial hanging place for accused witches during that time who have been long since forgotten to history. There is no evidence in the library’s archives that this is true, but many believe it to be true.
As soon as my great-great-grandfather passed that oak tree, he started feeling really uneasy. He felt as though he was being watched, but the feeling seemed to be coming from all around him, like he was caught in a crowd of people where every single pair of eyes was staring at him. A sense of nausea swept over him, and something compelled him to stop walking and turn back to look at the oak tree he had just passed.
There was a man standing there at the base of the tree. He was dressed in black from head to toe. Everything but the lower portion of his face, which was so pale it was almost white, was shielded from view. Even his eyes were hidden by the brim of his hat, which covered the top part of his face in shadow. As soon as my great-great-grandfather’s gaze fell upon the man in black, the wave of nausea that had swept him up before became even worse, and he got the distinct feeling that the man meant him harm. Fear gripped him, but he didn’t run. He simply turned back around and continued on his way down the lonely street, trying to assure himself that the man wouldn’t follow him.
He was wrong. Soon, the sound of the man in black’s footsteps joined his own, and they were going at the same pace. If my great-great-grandfather quickened his step, the man would quicken his step by exactly the same amount. By the time he reached the end of the street and was almost home, my great-great-grandfather was running. The man was, too. My great-great-grandfather was terrified at this point, his breath coming out in ragged pants as he neared his home. He thought the strange man was going to kill him. In fact, he was certain of it.
At last, he could see his house in the distance. He ran faster, feeling as though his legs were going to give out on him. He noted that the man in black didn’t seem to be tiring at all, even though they had both run several blocks. He finally reached his home, his safe haven, and hurdled over the gate without bothering to open it. Maybe it would slow down his pursuer. He hurried up the footsteps and fumbled for his keys, but he dropped the key ring in his panic. He cursed, bending down to pick them up as quickly as possible, when he noticed that the man hadn’t come up the porch steps yet. The man should have gotten to him by now with how close behind him he had been. My great-great-grandfather chanced a glance toward the gate he had leaped over and found it to still be firmly closed. On the other side of that gate was the man, simply standing there. Even though he couldn’t see his eyes because of the shadows caused by the brim of his hat, he could feel that he was staring at him. Watching him.
My great-great-grandfather wasted no time in unlocking the front door once he had picked up his keys and he nothing short of slammed it behind him, locking it and testing the knob to make sure it was locked tightly. Still breathing heavily, he took off his coat and his hat, shivering even though the house was much warmer than the air outside had been. He walked slowly over to the window next to the door and drew the back the curtains just enough to peek outside. The man in black was nowhere to be seen.
Several hours later, he went back outside once he deemed it safe to do so and walked out to the street where the man had been watching him only hours prior. The dirt road had been muddy all day due to a rain storm that had occurred the night before. My great-great-grandfather could see his own tracks clear as day in the mud. There was no sign of a second set of tracks--the man in black’s--anywhere. Rattled to the core, my great-great-grandfather hurried back inside and stayed there for the remainder of the night.
The following day, he questioned the neighbors, asking them if they had seen where the man had gone after chasing him all the way to his house. Not a single one reported seeing the man in black, but they all reported seeing my great-great-grandfather, no one else, running down the muddy road like a madman as though the devil himself were snapping at his heels. From that day on, that was exactly what my great-great-grandfather believed, right up until the day that he died.

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witchy26 said...
Nov. 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm
excellent story. well told...I remember my mom (the authors grandmother) telling the story about our relative's experience...creepy! 
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