The Nine Gates of Hell wasn’t the real name of the crumbling cemetery in Franklin County, Va. Its true name wasn’t posted, and the teens that visited the old yard in the dark of night didn’t care enough to find out.
TJ, of Ft. Worth, Texas, host of The 13 Skulls paranormal podcast, grew up in Virginia and visited the cemetery twice as a teenager.
“I dared not go back a third time,” he said.
The L-shaped cemetery is on the slope of a hill, surrounded by thick trees. At the lowest point of the cemetery sat the house of the caretaker.
“The old man that owned the property would sit out on his porch at night,” TJ said. “He had a shotgun loaded with rock salt and would shoot anyone he noticed in the cemetery that did not have permission to be there.”
The first time TJ visited – during the afternoon – he brought two friends. As they drove toward the caretaker’s house, fear gripped the boys.
“After quite a while of talking he eventually agreed and we were allowed to walk through the cemetery,” TJ said.
However, it wasn’t the meeting with the caretaker that clawed their nerves – it was the cemetery.
“The cemetery was broken into nine separate sections each separated from the other by small iron gates,” he said. “The ground was eroding and sinking around the caskets which made them stick out of the ground at odd angles. Most of the tombstones were either leaning or fallen over. It was like no other cemetery I have ever seen.”
As the boys wandered the cemetery, surrounded by gnarled and leafless trees, they pushed open gate one.
Then they lost their nerve.
“We only went through the first three gates and nothing happened other than a few feelings of being scared, cold and getting goose bumps,” TJ said.
But goose bumps enough they left. When May rolled around, they returned.
“The second time was around 11 p.m.,” TJ said. “After getting permission to be there we went in.”
The cemetery was different at night.
“We walked through the first two gates taking in the overall creepy nature of it all,” he said. “I started to feel like someone was watching me.”
As the boys walked further into the cemetery, their flashlights the only illumination in the moonless night, they heard footsteps in the trees.
“As we approached the third gate I began to hear noises like something was walking in the woods,” he said. “At first I thought it was just an echo, but it continued until we got to the fourth gate. Once we crossed through the gate the noise stopped.”
Silence dropped like a hammer. Moments later, a voice drifted through the cemetery.
“It sounded like someone talking in unintelligible words,” he said. “We could not tell where it was coming from. It seemed as if it was all around us.”
They started moving again. Fourth gate. Fifth gate. Then something screamed.
“It sounded like the mixture of the scream of a small child and what you would think a banshee would sound like,” TJ said. “It was ear piercing and continued sporadically.”
One of TJ’s friends ran back to the car.
“That left two of us to keep looking around,” he said. “We headed to the sixth gate with the screaming continuing as we walked towards the back of the cemetery.”
A deep growling rose into the night as the boys stepped through the sixth gate. As they went into the grounds beyond the seventh gate, the world went deaf.
“We looked at each other not knowing what was going on,” he said. “We figured that if the sounds stopped then we were safe and could keep going.”
When TJ shown his flashlight ahead of him, he knew they weren’t safe. They weren’t safe at all.
“We saw a black figure standing directly in front of us,” he said. “The figure was the darkest black you could imagine, almost like looking into oblivion.”
The boys couldn’t move.
“This black figure was the darkest, most evil looking thing I have ever seen,” TJ said. “We stood there for what seemed like 10 minutes when the dark figure started to move towards us.”
TJ’s friend grabbed his arm and urgently hissed, “we need to leave.”
The words snapped TJ out of his trance and they turn and ran, occasionally chancing a backwards glance only to see the figure getting closer.
“The screaming started again only this time it was louder and seemed to come from many different places,” TJ said. “My heart was beating 120 miles per hour and I kept looking back at the black figure that was now gaining on us and was about 20 feet or so behind us. It was beginning to feel overwhelming, like I was going to pass out.”
When the boys burst from the first gate running toward their car, the screaming stopped and the black figure disappeared.
The caretaker sat on his porch, waiting for them.
“The old man walked off of his porch and yelled to us that now we know why we were to never come back and that we should tell everyone we know to stay away,” TJ said.
They dove into the car and tore away from the cemetery.
“Our friend told us on his way back to the car the old man met him half way and told him that there is evil in this place and that his friends would be lucky to make it back,” TJ said. “He said he just sat in the car trembling, which we all were.”
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.