A Sad Cry In The Night
by Gregory Thompson
Last Journal Entry of Micheal O'Hannigan, New Year's Eve, 1906
Ireland is a great place for folklore.
I fear that these are my last words. I am a dead man. There is nothing I can do, so I must say goodbye. The Banshee has come for me. It's tears have touched my face and it's crying have hurt my ears. I will die just like my mother and father and their mother and father before them. I hope my death will not be hideous and long. I pray to God that the Banshee will safely carry my soul to His arms.
I will go to sleep and let Mary take me where she wishes. My store must be told and I pray only that I have enough time tot ell it.
As always, it started with the screaming. But maybe this time, I indulged a bit too much this New Year's eve, and my imagination played tricks on me. The bourbon went to my head and I felt too sick to stay up and welcome in 1907. I left the party and had pleasant thoughts of entering my bed and falling right to sleep. Sleep came easily. I could feel how tired my body was and knew that tomorrow morning I would have one hell of a hangover.
At first, I thought I was dreaming; but when I opened my eyes and realized I still heard the screaming, I jolted out of bed and lit the candles at my bedside. I saw nothing that could possibly be the source of that awful screaming. The sound was most unnatural; not like any human sound I have ever heard. I was definitely sure that the screaming did not come from the party downstairs--it was well after midnight, time enough for all the guests to have left.
I momentarily forgot about the screaming and wondered why my wife hadn't come to bed yet. Since I was up, I decided to see what kept my wife. No sooner had I touched the doorknob, then incessant screaming wailed into the bedroom. This time, it sounded distant, like it was coming from just below my window. I walked to the window and peered into the darkness. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust, but it didn't matter; I saw nothing.
I felt a presence in the room. I felt decayment; I felt fear. But the one thing I felt most was death. Before, if I had been asked to describe what death felt like, I could not have done it; but now I could. I could not see death, or maybe it wasn't in the room with me. Perhaps it was downstairs with my wife or sleeping with my son. I hoped not.
I ran out of the bedroom yelling. "Margaret! Where are you! Thomas! Are you all right! Please! Answer me!"
Before I hit the landing to the stairs, Thomas, his blonde hair sticking in clumps, emerged from his bedroom, rubbing his eyes. "Daddy, what is it? What's wrong? What was the screaming? Was that you, Daddy?"
I dropped the candle but the flame extinguished before it landed on the floor. "Thomas, never you mind. Just stay in your room until morning and don't come out until then. Otherwise, you'll be severely punished." I did not want him to see what awaited me when I returned to my bedroom, and I surely did not want him to see the Banshee take my life.
I started down the stairs; Margaret waited for me at the bottom.
"Dear, what's wrong? Why are you screaming?" she asked.
"Did you hear the awful noise just a few minutes ago?"
"No, I was outside greeting the last guests goodbye."
How could she not have heard it? The noise sounded like it came from the outside. "Are you sure? It was so loud; I don't know how you couldn't have heard it."
"I'm sure." She guided me up the stairs. "Now you go to bed, I am going to clean up a little bit before I join you."
She pushed me gently inside the bedroom and silently shut the door.
I was alone, but I didn't feel it. Returning to bed, I tried to go back to sleep, but thoughts of the Banshee and it's screaming filled my mind until I thought I was going to go mad.
When I was seven years old, my mother and father told tales of the Banshee to me. "Irish folklore once said that," they would say to start off another story. But I believed these tales to be only stories, and nothing more. About ten years later, during a violent storm, my father died. I thought there was nothing unusual about my father's death--I accepted it and moved on with my life. Later, after my mother died under the same circumstances, did I come to realize that the screaming that preceded the deaths of my mother and father, and their mother and father, came from the Irish folklore's Banshee.
I turned my head toward the window and saw low, black clouds beginning to form.
But now, as I lie in bed and wait for the inevitable, the truth is obvious. And it is the truth that must be passed on, not just from generations to generations of my family, but to my friends, colleagues, and peers. To others who may believe they are harboring a Banshee. The truth must be told to them that the death of their soul cannot be stopped. They can only pray that they will reach the Higher Place.
All I can do now is wonder when Mary will come for me.
And then I hear the screaming. Louder, this time, than all the other screams combined. This time I can tell where it is coming from. Not downstairs or outside, not from my son's bedroom, or in the vicinity of my wife. It is, in fact, in the bedroom with me. Now I can wonder no longer.
I can see Mary now. Her face, her torso, her clothes. She is dressed in a long flowing white gown, but it doesn't touch the floor. As she took a few steps toward the bed, I noticed her entity wasn't touching the floor; she hovered just a couple of inches above the wooden boards. What is the most distinguishable about this apparition, though, is her face. It is pale, but most beautiful. Her red hair waved in some magnificent, farcical wind created only by her; I cannot feel the wind, but I can guess how cold it must be. The lips, full and bright red, pouted as if in some selfish mode. Her eyes a pretty green and it is from these eyes that sparkling tears fall.
Getting out of bed, I cautiously stood near the foot of the bed.
I see small hands rise to cover her face. Perhaps she doesn't want me to see her cry. The screaming and the crying, the screaming and the crying--how she could do both at the same time was beyond my comprehension.
Then, as quickly as the screaming started, it stopped.
My vision became blurry and I had to hold onto the bedpost to keep from falling. I thought for sure that this was the time that she was going to take me now.
After my vision returned, I looked up at Mary. She had stopped crying. Her mouth opened, and looking me in the eyes, she screamed again.
I had to cover my ears for fear that my eardrums would explode. As I backed up, I kept my eyes on Mary. I watched as her face changed. Her teeth grew longer which pushed her lips up and back into her face. Her eyes changed from a vibrant green to black and her hair...and her hair simply vanished, leaving the white formation of a skull. I wanted to scream; God, did I want to scream. I wanted to let this horrible creature know what it is like to hear terrible screaming, but I knew screaming would no good. Ever.
I closed my eyes tight and fell to the floor, covering my face with my hands. I waited for her to take me, and after a couple of minutes, I slowly opened my eyes and looked at the spot where Mary had been. She was not there. Springing for the bedroom door, I quickly bolted it shut and went to the nightstand. I pulled out some paper and a pen and it is here that I write these words for all to see and understand.
There is no more screaming, and I have no doubt about my fate. I am exhausted. I feel like crying, but I am too tired.
Crying. I don't need to cry. Mary has taken care of that for me.
My wife. If you read this my dear, I love you.
My son. If you read this dear little one, I love you, but you will die the same way I have died, as did my mother and father. It is a sad, unbroken tradition.
I will wait for her now. I believe it won't be long now.