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...
such large gates and so sturdy, to be just left standing open?
Sarah slowly inched inside toward the family crypt.
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.
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.
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, Sarahs late husband.
Sarah had married money, and at her husband Sir Arnolds
death, being the last of his line, the vast acreage and great
house were now Sarahs alone. This included the family cemetery
and mausoleum, where her husband, the last Master Of Cleamore,
was now lying.
Arnold Cleamore had not been an easy man to live with. He had
been cranky and opinionated. He could be a most demanding, disrespectful
had never loved him and the favor was returned to her in kind.
Sir Arnold had married her to be envied because of Sarahs
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
knew that they were going to find Sir Arnolds 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
was fast losing consciousness but she felt herself being lifted
and being carried back inside the crypt. There was her husbands
voice speaking... low and damning...
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. Dont worry about my so-called
son; he is an imposter
You, Sarah, are truly the last one...
Welcome home, my darling.
crypt door swung shut and then Sarah heard no more... All was
silent inside the huge iron gates.