The Black Spider is a scary ghost story about a family in Ireland who rent a house where an old man once disappeared. It is inspired by an old Irish ghost story recorded by Henry DeVere Stacpoole.
Many years ago, in the town of Ennis in County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland, there lived a man named Sir Michael Carey. The locals nicknamed him “The Black Spider” on account of his personality and general makeup. He lived all alone in Carey House, an old mansion on the outskirts of the town and he seldom left his home or spoke to any of his neighbors.
One dark night, there was a fierce storm that shook the windows and rattled the doors of every house in Ennis. The next morning, The Black Spider had disappeared and nobody knew what had happened to him. His house was simply abandoned and there was no trace of him to be found. Since he had no close family, the house was auctioned off to the highest bidder to pay off the old man’s debts.
The locals were a superstitious, God-fearing bunch and soon, wild rumors began to spread throughout the town. According to the legend, that dark and stormy night, the devil had come to Ennis and spirited the old man away, leaving neither hide nor hair of him behind.
The abandoned Carey House gained a fearful reputation and many people believed it was haunted by the ghost of The Black Spider.
The man who bought the house tried to rent it out, but nobody would dare to spend the night in it. The house lay empty for many years and everybody for miles around avoided it like the plague.
Eventually, the old house was rented by a wealthy family from Dublin by the name of Leftwidge. They owned a grocer’s shop and there was almost a dozen children, mostly boys and one girl.
The oldest child was a tall, red-headed strip of a girl named Nora who helped her mother with the cooking and took care of her younger siblings. The youngest child was named Patrick and he was not even the height of your knee.
The family lived in the house while the father remained in Dublin, taking care of the shop. The rent was only twenty pounds a year, but the owner had warned them not to go near the attic bedroom. He said there were rats in the attic and they couldn’t be gotten rid of. So that was the reason the rent was so low. He warned them to keep the door to the attic shut and to ignore any noises the rats made at night.
The family lived there for a full month without any problems. Then, one day, something very strange happened. Nora was cleaning the bedrooms on the top floor, when she happened to open the door of the attic bedroom by mistake.
She let out a blood-curdling screech, slammed the door and ran downstairs crying and screaming at the top of her lungs. When her mother saw her, she tried to calm her down, but it was no use. Eventually, she managed to get a few words out and told her mother exactly what she had seen.
She said that when she opened the door, there was a horrible figure sitting in the middle of the floor. Through her tears, the girl described it as an old man in a black coat and hat. The most horrible thing, she said, was that he didn’t have a face. It was more like one of those masks that children make out of a bit of paper with holes cut in it.
The other children didn’t believe her and her mother told them all it must have been a rat she saw. Still, that night, all of the children slept in their mother’s bedroom. They kept a dozen candles burning all night because they were afraid to sleep in the dark.
Some time after midnight, the mother was awoken from her sleep by the youngest boy, little Patrick.
“Mammy,” he said, “Do you hear the scratching too?”
She sat up in bed to listen and she was shocked when she could hear a distant scratching sound as well. It seemed to be coming from the attic bedroom.
Within minutes, all of the other children were awake and out of bed, listening to the scratching sound. Their teeth were chattering and their knees were knocking. They opened their bedroom door and peered out into the darkened corridor.
As they watched in horror, the handle of the attic bedroom door began to turn. They didn’t wait to see what was coming out. Instead, they locked themselves in their mother’s bedroom and didn’t come out until the next morning.
As soon as it was light, the terrified family began packing their bags and ordered two cars to take them back to Dublin. They were all ready to go when the mother suddenly stopped and looked around her like a hen counting her chickens.
“Where’s little Patrick?” she said.
They all froze and stared at each other, eyes wide with fear.
“I don’t know,” replied one of the other boys, “but I thought I saw him go upstairs…”
Without another word, the whole family rushed up the stairs and when they came to the landing, they saw little Patrick standing near the door of the attic bedroom.
Before any of them had a chance to call out to him, the door suddenly creaked open and a grimy black hand emerged from the darkness. It grabbed little Patrick and dragged him into the attic bedroom.
They ran to the doorway and got there just in time to see Patrick being dragged up the chimney. Nora dived into the room and just managed to get a hold of the little boy’s foot before it disappeared up the chimney.
The girl pulled and struggled and screamed and bawled until the thing in the chimney let go of the child and he came tumbling down into the fireplace, kicking and thrashing and squealing like a little piglet.
Nora didn’t pause for a moment. She grabbed her little brother by the scruff of the neck and ran back downstairs with him and out into the front garden.
There, his mother managed to calm him down and the little boy told them what he remembered. He said he had been grabbed by a big black spider.
The mother immediately called the police and within minutes a car pulled up carrying the sergeant and one of his officers. When the sergeant heard the little boy’s story, he went up to the attic bedroom and took a look around. When he came down again, his face was pale as a ghost.
“Go back to the police station,” he said to his officer, “and fetch me two shotguns with ammunition. Be quick about it. I’m a brave man, but I don’t want to here any longer than is necessary.”
The police officer hurried off and ten minutes later, he returned with the shotguns.
“Maybe it was a ghost they saw,” said the officer. “Maybe it’s a priest and holy water we need for this job instead of you, me and these guns.”
“Take off your boots,” replied the sergeant. “This is no ghost. Ghosts can’t pull children up chimneys.”
They took off their boots and, with the loaded shotguns in their hands, they crept up the stairs as quietly as possible, without making a sound.
When they got to the attic bedroom, they squatted down on each side of the chimney and waited. For a while, all they could hear was the ticking of the sergeant’s watch, and the sound of their own hearts beating fast.
Then, all of a sudden, they heard a noise like something scratching and scrambling down a drain pipe.
“It’s coming down,” hissed the officer.
“By God, it’s not,” said the sergeant and with that, he shoved the muzzle of his shotgun up the chimney and pulled the trigger.
There was a deafening bang and the chimney exploded with the force of the blast. When the dust settled, they found something black and twisted curled up in the fireplace.
When they hauled it out and stretched it out on the floor, it looked like it was an old man… or at least something that had once been an old man, but it had the arms and legs of a spider and a horrendous face that didn’t look like it had ever been human.
There it lay on the floor, as dead as a doornail with a hole in its chest the size of a man’s fist. But the strangest thing of all was that there wasn’t a drop of blood to be found anywhere.
“Cover that wretched face,” said the sergeant and they threw a blanket over it so they didn’t have to look at it a moment longer.
Later, when they took that chimney apart, they found a little hidden room behind it, all littered with the bones of rats and birds’ feathers.
The police determined that the room had been secretly put there by Sir Michael Carey when he built the house and he had been living in it for years, ever since he supposedly disappeared. He must have been over a hundred years old.
They say at night, he would come out scavenging for food and they say they found the bones of small children in the hidden room as well.
After that, they set the house on fire and burned it to the ground. Today, all that’s left of it are some charred stone walls among the trees. They burned the remains of the black spider in the house as well to destroy it forever, and if you had ever laid eyes on it, you wouldn’t blame them…