As we have all painted our faces like La Calavera Catrina and are munching sugar skulls to honor our Dear Departed on this Day of the Dead, let us settle down among the marigolds for a ghost story. On previous holidays, we have met a faithful dead nun and a skeletal bishop with his evil raven companion. Today we go to a churchyard in San Juan where a seductive entity sought its prey.
There is a horrific tale called “The Croglin Grange Vampire” told by Augustus Hare in The Story of My Life (1896/1900). The hideous Thing in this story from Van Wert, Ohio is strongly reminiscent of Hare’s unearthly creature found in a churchyard vault.
There is something horrifyingly fascinating about accounts of the dead who stubbornly refuse to lie down quietly, but continue to walk as they did in life. They may be called revenants, or vampires, draugr, ghouls, or the Undead. They scare us.
The draught of blood seemed to intoxicate him. He swelled with it. It flashed red and fiery out of his eyes. It crimsoned his ghastly face. It thickened his thin fingers and made his arm round and easy. The monster grew less hideous and more devilish with every drop.
A tyrannical Russian governor forces a young girl to marry him, then extracts a death-bed promise that she will not marry her former beloved after he is gone. When she is persuaded out of that promise, on the very night of the betrothal feast, she is found beaten and bitten by what she said was the ghost of her dead husband. This went on, night after night, until she was at the point of death….