The following poem is one that I wrote a while ago, but didn't share because, well, I didn't want to. Okay, not exactly. In truth, though I like it, I don't consider it to be one of my best works (don't get any ideas though; I'm not saying it's rubbish!), and I don't want to share stuff with you guys that is below caliber. I reread it recently, and I've decided that it's suitable to share. Huzzah! Now, mind you, it is a little lengthy (I've decided to go ahead and post the whole thing at once instead of break it up into two parts as I've done before), but it tells a full short-story. So it's not just a bunch of rhyming that doesn't go anywhere. (I'd never do that to you!) Anywho, I've rambled long enough so, without further ado, here it is!
(Oh, one more thing; it has no title. If any of you have any suggestions, feel free.)
There was once a house upon a lane
Which, to all who looked, appeared quite plain
But within had many secrets dark.
So to this tale I bid you hark.
A wandering fellow who dared to dare,
And enter into that secret lair
Once took his luck and tried his fate
And entered through that house’s gate.
At noon’s height he entered in
But when the door shut behind, it was dark within
And soft scuttlings, as from unseen spies,
He heard beyond the reach of his eyes.
Yet forward he went, refusing to be cowed,
And entered the dining room, where it seemed a cloud
Had settled. But it was not so,
For there sat five, silent figures in a row.
Four men there were with faces forlorn,
And at their head sat a woman with eyes of scorn.
But the stranger at once felt sick and trembled,
For he could see right through the bodies of the folk assembled.
Their faces grey, their raiment white,
Shifted and shuddered before his sight.
And he perceived that these were no mortals true
But phantoms arrayed. Three and two.
Then at once the woman looked his way
And in her eyes arose a spark of play,
And from her chair she gave a gesture.
A wordless command from a silent specter.
At once the four men sprang each from his seat
And came at the stranger, never once touching their feet
Upon the ground. Their teeth turned fangs, their nails turned claws,
And hideous cries leapt from their maws.
Then the fellow gave a cry of his own
And ran back the way he had come alone.
But now the house revealed its will. The way out of that secret lair
Was gone. Instead now a stair
A stair was before the fleeing man.
And up it went to an unknown span.
But with things so fell and swift behind
He took hold of the banister and began his climb.
Four flights up he fled the wights
Till he discerned the presence of flickering lights,
And, coming to the door from which they glowed,
Dared to enter another secret abode.
Nine candles lit a dusty room,
Attempting to resist a clinging gloom.
But waiting not, he shut himself inside
Seeking respite and a refuge to abide.
At a whispering voice he spun around
And saw a maid-child sitting on the ground.
In one hand she held a written note,
And in the other the quill with which she wrote.
“You escaped,” she said without looking his way.
“Others would have been caught at once from they
Who chased you up the stair.”
“What place is this?” he asked. “What lair
Lies truly at the heart of this shrouded house?”
At that she stood, ruffling a velvet blouse.
“If you truly wish that answer to know
Then come with me. We shall walk below.
And as for your mistrust, written from eye to eye,
I swear to you to tell only a single lie.”
Then waiting not for an answer given
She walked over to a space wherein the wall was riven
A little cleft. Her little hand she stuck inside
And forthwith a hidden door opened wide.
It opened to blackness, and he shrunk back.
Said she, “If you will not dare to trek this track
Your life will be delivered to the ghouls outside.
For they cannot enter this room only as long as I abide.”
Then forward she went and was lost to sight.
And he followed after, being governed by fright.
His eyes were useless in that lightless hall,
And his ears heard almost no sound at all.
Yet one thing he did hear, if only so fleet,
And that was the sound of her walking feet.
Just before him she walked, but no comfort gave
In that lightless place like a closing grave.
Down they went for an unknown span,
A silent girl and a wavering man.
Suddenly, her voice came like falling stones.
“Should your life be in danger, you may use my bones.”
Before he could venture to ask of her why,
He gasped and released a shouting cry.
The ground beneath him had disappeared,
And down he fell and blindly veered
Toward an end unseen.
The end came soon, and the pain was keen
As he struck a patch of sandy ground
And discerned a new and dreadful sound.
A growling rose all around
And looking up he saw many a slavering hound.
Their hide was black, their eyes flamed red,
And gleamed in torches overhead.
To his hands and knees he softly rose.
But the hounds at once began to circle and close
About him. As despair took him, all alone,
He felt his hand brush against a bone.
Glancing toward it to see what the hounds had torn
He saw the velvet blouse that his guide had worn.
Beside it sat a pile of bones and a skull
That glared at him with sockets dull.
Now he realized her grim meaning.
Up he snatched her bones as the hounds, now springing,
Rushed upon him with bays of death,
And filled the air with the stench of their breath.
At once he threw them, bone by bone,
And heard the hounds’ baying change in tone.
From him they turned with greedy yaps,
And fought over those bones as dogs will over scraps.
But as he was about to cast the skull it cried,
“No! You will need me. Now circle wide
Around the hounds while they tear my bones,
To a door that will lead away from their growls and groans.”
Quelling the fear that flamed inside,
He did as she bade him, and circled wide
Till he came to a door of blackened glass,
And there he halted, despairing to pass.
But the skull he held in his trembling hand
At once spoke a hissing command
And the door opened silently.
And through it he went, speeding to flee.
Up now they went, the skull and he.
First two flights, then another three.
Then suddenly she bade him stop,
Though no sign was there that they had reached a top.
“Toss me ahead, then follow behind.
For in the gloom before us you will again be blind.”
Then gladly he cast that skull away.
But himself hung back. Loathing to go or stay.
She called to him in his uncertainty,
And a moment later, most innocently,
The maid-child that he had before seen
Came near to him with dark eyes keen.
He drew back from her, his own eyes wide.
“Truly,” said he, “hidden inside
This house’s walls are many a devilish host.
And you are among them. Why do you help me, ghost?”
The child looked upon him. “The answer,” she smiles,
“Is that I am the wandering spirit who beguiles.
I have no power but what is given to me
By desperate men who seek to flee
From the many horrors of this haunted abode.
From you I now have all the power that I was owed.
For every time you heeded my command
Your life was given little by little to my hand.
Now you are mine. And that, I fear,
Will be worse than all else you faced in here.”
“But the lie!” he stammered, his heart going cold.
“The one lie that you ought to have told,
Where was it?” From ear to ear her grin now burst.
“The lie was the thing I said second to first,
When I bade you follow me to escape the ghouls.
You could have fought off those wispy fools.
But fear had such a hold on you
That it seemed wise to do all I bade you do.
“The hounds as well you could have defeated.
Had you challenged them they would have retreated.
But far better it was, thought you in your dread,
To use the bones of one already dead.
Had you only stood firm and quelled your fear,
A way to escape would have made itself clear.”
And so saying, no longer a child she seemed.
Claws she had, and sudden fangs gleamed
Beneath a now skinless face.
A leering skull now took its place.
Then upon him the creature leapt without a word,
And his cries and screams went on unheard.
And if ever you pass by that house,
Wherein lurks the ghost-child in the velvet blouse,
You will know it by the half-imagined sound
Of a young girl’s laughter underground.