The Tomb is a scary story about a man who has strange dreams about a pack of ghouls who lurk in the tunnels beneath a cemetery.
Fate can play strange tricks on you and sometimes your life doesn’t turn out the way you expect it to. Just 6 months ago, I was a successful psychiatrist with my own practice. Today, I am an inmate in an asylum for the mentally ill.
Look at me, trapped in this strait-jacket and left to bang my head against these four padded walls. I’m not really crazy. At least, I don’t think I am. They locked me up in here because I tried to tell the truth. It’s a truth that nobody seems to want to believe. Perhaps I should tell you how I came to find myself in this wretched situation.
It all began one day when a new patient came into my office. His name was Chaupin and he was a college professor. He was tall and thin and spoke with a lisp. His skin was a pallid grey and his face was lined with wrinkles.
He said he was troubled by strange dreams and nightmares. I asked him to describe them for me. He said that the dreams were always the same. He would find himself walking through an old, dilapidated cemetery. In the pale moonlight, he could make out crumbling gravestones and decaying burial vaults.
Stopping at one tomb in particular, he found the rusted chains were hanging off the doors, so he went inside. Among the coffins that were leaning against the walls, he saw a small, hidden lever. When he pushed it, a narrow hole opened in the floor with a set of stone steps that led down into the earth.
He smelled a foul stench coming out of the darkness, but despite this, he ventured down the stone steps and found himself making his way through a maze of tunnels and burial vaults. He wandered silently in the darkness, through cellars and crypts. As he was telling me this, his voice suddenly dropped to a whisper.
“And that’s when I stumbled upon them,” he hissed. “That’s when I saw the horrors. As I remained hidden in the shadows, I watched them go about their gruesome work. I watched those things… Those twisted creatures who live in the labyrinth below the cemetery… the ravenous monsters who prey on the dead… the vile ghouls who feast on human corpses. They live down there in dark caves lined with human bones and decorated with human skulls. They don’t restrict themselves to the dead. Sometimes, when the hunger takes them, they venture out into the world above ground and stalk live prey, dragging their victims back down into the depths where they devour them.”
He told me that was when his dream would end and he would wake up in a cold sweat. Night after night, he said, these disturbing visions continued. He had become convinced that these visions were true.
As an educated man, I have never paid any attention to tales of the supernatural. Of course, I was convinced that he was simply imagining these wild visions of monsters and ghouls. they were just the product of a disordered and diseased mind.
I told him that there was only way to convince him that these dreams were not real and that was to go to the cemetery and see for himself. I said I would go with him to persuade him that he had simply dreamed all of those things. He happily agreed and promised to lead me to the tomb in the cemetery where he claimed he had seen them.
That very night, I accompanied him to the cemetery. He was grinning like a little boy who had just been given a new toy. I must confess, I felt a strange uneasiness as he led me through the iron gates and past the moonlit tombstones. We stopped at the tomb he claimed to have entered. Sure enough, there were rusted chains hanging from the door.
When we went inside, he showed me the secret lever among the coffins leaning against the wall. When he pressed it, a narrow hole opened up in the floor. I was horrified to find that at least part of what he had been telling me was true. A wave of fear washed over me as I gazed down into the darkness below. I had the strangest suspicion that something was down there… watching us… waiting for us.
Despite my reservations, we walked down the stone steps and explored the hidden place beneath the graveyard. Reluctantly, I followed him as he led me down the winding stairs. The only light came from torches hanging on the walls. It was hot and humid and the air smelled like rotting flesh. It was like a journey through a nightmare, a journey that led to the unknown secrets buried under the cemetery.
As we walked, fat, bloated rats scurried out of our way. Down, down, down, we went as the staircase became increasingly narrow, before it ended abruptly in a cave. I began to tremble and my teeth started chattering, but Chaupin grabbed me tightly by the arm and warned me to be silent.
We stood there together, side by side, in that dark and gloomy underground cavern. I could hear faint whispering in the dark. He stopped and told me to wait there while he went on ahead to make sure it was safe. I stood there in the shadows and waited for him to return, not daring to go one step further. I was too scared to even move a muscle.
As I waited I wondered if Chaupin was crazy or if all the things he had told me were actually true. Was it all some kind of sick joke? Was it all just the fevered ravings of a lunatic? If so, what was he planning? What would happen to me when he came back? I had been a fool to come. The whole thing was crazy.
Then, suddenly, I heard a scream. A shriek of sheer terror. I broke out into a cold sweat. My stomach was churning and I felt like I was about to throw up. I knew very well what that cry meant. Everything Chaupin had told me was true.
Then I heard a soft footsteps coming from the depths of the darkness. I heard frantic scurrying movements and the sound of cackling laughter. I didn’t dare to stop to think, I just turned and ran back the way we came, through the cavern and up the winding staircase, without ever looking back.
Behind me, as I ran, I could hear the sound of running feet and the rasp of claws scratching on stone. I kept running, the rhythmic thunder of the steps below. I dared not look back, but I knew they were hot on my trail.
When I finally reached the top of the stairs, I staggered out of the narrow opening, gasping and choking for air. Then, I heard a howl on the stairs directly beneath me. A wild, feral howl accompanied by foul and hideous laughter. The hairs on my neck stood on end. They were coming! Up, up, up, closer, closer, closer, while my body was shaking with fear and dread.
I ran out of the tomb and slammed the doors behind me. I managed to lock the doors and then I fled from the cemetery. I hope that when I die, they cremate my body. Burn me up, but whatever you do, don’t bury me in a grave.
I’ll never forget the last thing I saw as I struggled to get the rusted chains back on the doors. That last horrible glimpse will remain embedded in my mind forever. The memory of it haunts me because, for one terrifying moment, I saw the gruesome gathering of drooling, monstrous ghouls in the moonlight and at the front of the slavering pack was the familiar face of Professor Chaupin.