Scary Ghost Stories With Intent To Steal

Ghost stories can send shivers through your body. Scary stories like “With Intent to Steal” will spook you from the safety of your arm chair. So sit back and enjoy this taleif you can.

With Intent to Steal

Sleeping in a lonely barn when the best bedrooms in the house were at our disposal, seemed, to say the least, unnecessary. The barn in question was some distance from the house, on the side of the stables. At the moment I can only partially recall the process by which Shorthouse persuaded me to lend him my company. “But surely this story you tell,” I said, “has grown now by frequent repetition into an authentic ghost story? Besides, this head gardener of half a century ago,” I added, seeing that he still went on cleaning his gun in silence, “who was he, and what positive information have you about him beyond the fact that he was found hanging from the rafters, dead?”

“He was no mere head gardener, this man who passed as such,” he replied without looking up, “but a fellow of splendid education who used this curious disguise for his own purposes. Part of this very barn, of which he always kept the key, was found to have been fitted up as a complete laboratory, with athanor, alembic, cucurbite, and other appliances, some of which the master destroyed at once.

“The man undoubtedly possessed knowledge, dark knowledge that was most unusual and dangerous. But I have found many facts in the case which point to the exercise of a most desperate and unscrupulous will; and the strange disappearances in the neighborhood, as well as the bones found buried in the kitchen garden, though never actually traced to him.

“His suicide seems to have been only just in time to escape arrest,” he said, “But when he wants fresh material, he comes to steal from the living.”

“But is there evidence to show that something is likely to happen if we sit up there?” I asked, pressing him yet further. “Has anything happened there lately, for instance?”

He answered slowly; “for there has apparently been a fresh outburst, the fact is that three men this summer, on separate occasions, who have gone into that barn after nightfall, have been accosted. And one of the stablemen, a recent arrival and quite ignorant of the story, who had to go in there late one night, saw a dark substance hanging down from one of the rafters, and when he climbed up, shaking all over, to cut it down, he said he felt sure it was a corpse. The knife passed through nothing but air, and he heard a sound up under the eaves as if someone were laughing. Yet, while he slashed away and afterwards too, the thing went on swinging there before his eyes and turning slowly with its own weight, like a huge joint on a spit. The man declares, that it had a large bearded face, and that the mouth was open and drawn down like the mouth of a hanged man.”

Side by side, and in silence, we followed the path that skirted the East Woods, as they were called, which then led across two hay fields, and through another wood, to the barn, which thus lay about half a mile from the Lower Farm.

Shorthouse talked of his adventures, in some Eastern country. These adventures, real or imaginary, had quite a savor of the Arabian Nights, and did not by any means make it easier for me to keep my hold on reality. It was dreadfully hard to keep awake.

Something was clinging, like a great bat, to the side of the barn. Something trailed behind it, I could not make out what, and it crawled up the wooden wall and began to move out along one of the rafters. A numb terror settled down all over me as I watched it. The thing trailing behind it was apparently a rope.

Instantly, it all flashed upon me. I sprang to my feet and rushed headlong across the floor of the barn. How I moved so quickly in the darkness I do not know; but, even as I ran, it flashed into my mind that I should never get at my knife in time to cut the thing down, or else that I should find it had been taken from me. I climbed up by the hay bales and swung out along the rafter. I was hanging by my arms, and the knife was already between my teeth, though I had no recollection of how it got there. It was open. The mass, hanging like a side of bacon, was only a few feet in front of me, and I could plainly see the dark line of rope that fastened it to the beam. I then noticed for the first time that it was swinging and turning in the air, and as I approached it seemed to move along the beam, so that the same distance was always maintained between us. The only thing I could do was to jump at it through the air and slash at the rope as I dropped.

I seized the knife with my right hand, gave a great swing of my body with my legs and leaped forward at it through the air. Horrors! It was closer to me than I knew, and I plunged full into it, and the arm with the knife missed the rope and cut deeply into some substance that was soft and yielding. But, as I dropped past it, the thing had time to turn half its width so that it swung round and faced meand I could have sworn as I rushed past it through the air, that it had the features of Shorthouse.

It was the hay that saved us, first by breaking the fall and then by impeding his movements so that I was able to prevent his choking me to death.

He was close upon me. I had no clear idea of what exactly I meant to do. I could see his face plainly now; he was grinning cruelly; the eyes were positively luminous, and the menacing expression of the mouth was most distressing to look upon. Otherwise it was the face of a chalk man, white and dead, with all the resemblance of the living human drawn out of it. Between his teeth he held my clasp knife, which he must have taken from me in my sleep, and with a flash I recalled his anxiety to know exactly which pocket it was in.

The struggle that began by my fighting for his life ended in a wild effort to save my own, for Shorthouse was quite beside himself, and had no idea what he was doing. Indeed, he says that he remembers nothing of the entire night’s experiences after the time when he first woke from sleep. A sort of deadly mist settled over him, he declares, and he lost all sense of his own identity. The rest was a blank until he came to his senses under a mass of hay with me on the top of him.