The Gates of Cleamore
by Faye Sizemore
forum: The Gates of Cleamore
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Gates of Cleamore


       The gates of Cleamore Cemetery loomed large against the night sky. Twelve feet tall and cast in iron scrollwork, they stood at the entrance to the Cleamore family cemetery...

       Why such large gates and so sturdy, to be just left standing open? Sarah slowly inched inside toward the family crypt.

       Sarah had never known these gates to be closed. They were too heavy to swing in the breeze. Wind alone could not move them, but looking at them now in the waning light, Sarah thought she could hear grating and squealing as though they were moving.

       Growing up near here, Sarah had often passed by these cemetery gates. It had always seemed to her that the Cleamores had had more money than brains to waste such an amount as these gates and fence must have cost... and then to leave them standing wide. To her knowledge the gates had stood open for the past forty years.

       Over the years the Cleamores had died one by one and been buried inside this secluded country place encircled by the black iron fence and huge gates. The last was interred just five years ago. It had been Arnold Cleamore, Sarah’s late husband.

       Yes, Sarah had married money, and at her husband Sir Arnold’s death, being the last of his line, the vast acreage and great house were now Sarah’s alone. This included the family cemetery and mausoleum, where her husband, the last Master Of Cleamore, was now lying.

       Sir Arnold Cleamore had not been an easy man to live with. He had been cranky and opinionated. He could be a most demanding, disrespectful brute.

       Sarah had never loved him and the favor was returned to her in kind. Sir Arnold had married her to be envied because of Sarah’s beauty.

       His money was enough for Sarah at first but then as he grew older he had become stingy, only doling out what he wished her to have, when with his riches, she was capable of having so much more.

       Sarah had begun to find her dislike of Sir Arnold actually turning to hate and disgust. Over the years Sarah had devised a plan. She would go to the kitchen and dress his food with arsenic in very small amounts.

       It had seemed to take forever but finally the arsenic had finally taken full effect and Arnold had sickened, dying during an influenza epidemic. The doctor had signed the death certificate as such… Poor Arnold, lost to the influenza. Sarah had happily sent him to the family crypt, overjoyed that her plan had worked.

       Arnold had lain there many years now, and up until yesterday, no one had been the wiser… Now there was chance of discovery. Sarah was almost panicking at the thought of being found out.

       There had appeared at her door a man who was so close in looks to her late husband that he could have been a twin brother. He said he was a Cleamore and he was there to claim his rightful inheritance. He claimed to be Arnold's son, born out of wedlock.

       Looking at him, Sarah knew that it must be true. His name was also Arnold, and he said he would take the solicitors and magistrate to the family crypt to compare features with the deceased elder Arnold, to prove his claim.

       Sarah knew that they were going to find Sir Arnold’s body in very fine shape, almost lifelike, for she had been told that arsenic was a preservative. She knew she must prevent their viewing of her husband's body at any cost.

       It was nearly three AM before Sarah ventured out to move Sir Arnold's body. It was the only way she could see to avoid discovery of her murderous deed.

       The moon slid behind some clouds and a chill came over her as she anticipated carrying Sir Arnold's dead body away from here and secluding it somewhere else or burying it in some place known only to her.

       Finally she had picked her way between the tombstones to where the crypt's entrance was, and she was shocked to find the door ajar. Slipping inside, after making sure she was alone, she lit her lantern and looked for her husband's coffin.

       Finally finding it, Sarah contrived to open the lid, which she found was no easy chore. After the somewhat difficult task, she steeled herself and flung the lid up. The coffin was empty!

       What! How could this be? She had not had a funeral for Sir Arnold. There was no family. She had paid the undertaker to put him in the family crypt... What had that man done with the body? What indeed?

       Grabbing the lantern, Sarah Cleasmore ran from the crypt and headlong into a tombstone, opening a gash in her head from which the blood began to flow profusely and very red.

       Sarah tried to rise, but she felt her strength, along with her blood, draining from her body. In the distance, she heard the squeal of rusty unused hinges and the slow scrape of the heavy gates on the ground. There was an echoing sound of the huge outside gates as they finally slammed shut.

       Sarah was fast losing consciousness but she felt herself being lifted and being carried back inside the crypt. There was her husband’s voice speaking... low and damning...

       "My dear Mrs. Cleamore, now I can tell you that the gates you always wondered about for so long were never meant to close until the last Cleamore was inside. Don’t worry about my so-called son; he is an imposter… You, Sarah, are truly the last one... Welcome home, my darling.”

       The crypt door swung shut and then Sarah heard no more... All was silent inside the huge iron gates.


copyright 2006 Faye Sizemore.

Faye Sizemore:
I am an imaginative grandmother, loose with pen in hand, who just loves a mystery from the unknown.