SCREAMS OF THE RIVER
It was a frosty Saturday morning in late December. The sun was struggling to cast its yellow light on the white snow covered fields and peek into the branches off the swaying trees as we drove down the country roads in our quest for a hobby farm.
My teenage kids were playing either on their iPad or iPod at the back of the jeep while my wife was snoozing to a guitar classic CD. I turned to her and held her hands,
"We've seen six properties so far. Are we ever going to find the right place?"
She dreamily muttered,
"We just have to keep trying; we decided to get a country property, so we can get away from the concrete jungle of the city in the weekends-remember."
Perhaps the seventh property, we were heading to, might capture our dreams. Irene was our real estate agent; she called me saying that she was waiting for us at that property.
There was something funny about the sky; the milky clouds seemed to form an unreal wicked smile in the distant horizon as I drove down the long driveway to this place. There was a sentinel of trees bowing to us as I drove down it.
Behold our wonderment when Sue and I saw that pretty red bricked Victorian farm house. Sue shouted out,
"This looks attractive, Tom. You are such a good hubby to have picked this place."
I agreed with her; the property was amazing. My kids, Helen and James said nothing, too busy with their own pursuits at the back of the jeep.
Irene was waiting outside the farm house door, a wiry woman who always seemed anxious.
She showed us around the house. It was empty, and we could just see bare hardwood floors and beautiful archaic large windows. The high ornate ceilings added a glorious sense of space to the place. Four bedrooms meant we could accommodate our family and the fourth I could turn to a study. Perfect. The grounds were even better -75 acres of level land, then a flowing meandering river on the edge with another 25 acres of woodland on the other side. The nearest neighbor was a good mile away.
This was certainly a lovely lonely retreat, and the rusty old metal barn added to its beauty.
I did not tell Sue or the kids about the whispering scream I heard when we approached that dark river. Was it screams or the swishing sounds from the river gliding over rocks and ice? It must have been just wild silly thoughts, so I kept quiet.
The price of this property was perfect, but I was surprised at how inexpensive it was and queried Irene,
"Why is this place so cheap?"
Irene uttered a nervous reply; her body seemed to tense,
"A couple of children drowned in the river in the summer just gone and the parents were so distraught that they quickly left and wed to get rid of the place."
"On top of that, there was a lot of publicity in the local papers and one neighboring farmer suggested that the ghosts of the kids scream from the river, just nonsense."
Helen shouted out,
"Come on Dad. This is terrible, there is no happiness here."
Sue was always a very logical woman, and she reasoned,
"Come on kids. This is all superstitious nonsense, and this is such a great property."
I joined her and put in my two cents worth,
"You guys can build tree forts, fish in the river-so many things to do here."
We clinched the deal, and in the following weeks arranged for the place to be decorated, and suitable furniture brought in.
Neither my wife nor I believed in the supernatural or ghosts, although our kids seemed to have quite an imagination!
At the end of January we went up to our hobby farm and spent our first weekend there. It would be a weekend that we would never forget!
Sue cooked a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs and fries which we all gobbled down. The sun was shining its fiery light with a marvelous intensity. It was cold but, the warmth of the rays almost melted the snow on the ground. It was a glorious day to explore this piece of paradise.
There were some further decorative touches that Sue and I wanted to do in the farm house, and we told the kids we would stay home. James shouted out,
"Helen and I are going down the river, and we want to explore the forest on the other side."
My 13-year-old son sounded very excited and my 15-year-old daughter joined in,
"Yeh it'll be great."
Sue looked at the kids intensely,
"Make sure you wear warm clothes and perhaps bring some blankets as I don't know how long you'll want to be down there."
They left with a duffel bag containing some sandwiches, thick blankets and a couple of thermos flasks of hot chocolate. They went on their adventure at 11.00 a.m. while Sue, and I started doing our job around the house.
At 3.00 p.m., there was no sight of our kids. I was getting concerned and she noticed my nervousness and said abruptly,
"They are enjoying themselves, let's finish our chores and if by 5 p.m., they are not back you can go down to the river to meet them."
At around 5 p.m. the kids rushed into the house. They said nothing and headed to their bedrooms. I followed them upstairs into Helen's bedroom and said,
"What's going on. You seem so quiet."
Helen's dark eyes flashed in anger as she replied,
"We just had a nice time playing along the river."
There was something very wrong, her voice sounded different and there was a funny wry smile on her face that I had not seen before.
James then said,
"We want to go to bed early as we are very tired."
There were strange grey curls twisted into his thick black hair and although his eyes were dark brown they looked like a misty green."
I was terrified and ran down the stairs shouting at Sue,
"There is something wrong with our kids. They look and sound so different."
Sue and I went back to Helen's bedroom, and they were both fast asleep. There was a noise coming from them, not snores but tiny wisps of whispering screams. We tried to wake them up and when we touched their skin; there was a dank stink of stagnant putrid water! They lay still as if dead, but they had a slow heartbeat.
Sue was in shock, almost frozen in fright and wells of tears flowed from her eyes as she cried out,
"What the hell is going on?"
She was starting to fall into a faint. I grabbed her and held her tight. We both cried.
I didn't know what to do, the wall of the bedroom was caving in on me,
"Sue, be calm. Let's go down the river to see what's going on."
We ran to the river and on the snowy bank, we saw two bodies lying there. James and Helen were in a silent sleep holding each other tight. Their breathing was irregular. We took the blanket from their duffel bag and placed it on them, and as we carried them to the house, we heard whispering screams coming from that dark river.
We were in complete confusion. We lay them on the living room sofa and went to Helen's bedroom. There was no one there just a deep brown stain like dried-up muddy water on the bed!
Sue and I, with terrified looks knew there was something very wrong with our kids. My heart beat very fast and I remembered my grandmother's tale of possession, many moons ago, which I discarded as fantasy. Her words rang through my mind,
"Only a priest can rid the soul when possessed by evil through prayers to God to cast out the Devil."
I told Sue that I thought our kids were possessed by the previous owner's dead children or that screaming river!
She agreed that we call our priest, Father Donohue. We had to wait a few hours before he arrived, and in the meantime we made our kids comfortable. They were still in deep sleep, but their eyes were open with a blank stare!
Father Donohue arrived and as soon as he saw our kids, there was a horrified look on his face as he shouted out,
"We must act quickly; they are possessed. Pile more blankets on them. I want them hot, so they sweat."
We did as he asked, and they were sweating. The Father then sprinkled sanctified water over their bodies and recited a Latin prayer.
Our kids' eyes closed and Helen's mouth moved,
"Help them. Their parents poisoned them and dumped their bodies in my river. I have tried to tell people about them. I can't rest until they are punished for what they did to them!"
We were in complete shock, and Father Donohue sighed,
"So this is it, Tom. Restless souls possessed the river and perhaps your kids so the world would know the truth!"
Our kids woke up from that nightmare completely unaware of what had happened to them. They looked great and like our kids again.
We had a hearty supper and enjoyed a blissful sleep. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from our souls.
The following week, the police took note of our complaint, and the kids' bodies were removed from their graves, and a postmortem examination showed they had been poisoned by arsenic. Their parents were eventually convicted.
We were thinking about selling and leaving this place, but we decided against it when one fine spring morning we saw the vibrant yellow of daffodils growing thickly with smiley faces on that piece of the embankment where our kids lay that fateful evening.
There were no longer any screams from the river, just peace and beauty that adorned our happy times at the farm.
We believe in the Lord but now know there are restless ghosts, lost souls and angry rivers out there. We are so joyful that we released these poor kids from their dark deep torment in that river that screamed to avenge their murder!