My name is Jack Kelton, and this is the testimony of me and my family. No matter where this story is finally told, I swear on my beloved wife and children that what follows is true.
When my wife, Jenny, found the job opportunity in the small town of Hallowville, we thought it would be the perfect escape from the city; a peaceful place to raise our young family. She was hired at the local veterinarian clinic, and I was soon to transfer to the area as a state trooper. Our three children, Mary, Tommy, and Jane were thrilled with the idea of living in such an idyllic rural setting.
The only property available that we could afford was an old farmhouse situated on five acres of land. The house wasn’t anything special, but it had potential. The soil was rich and perfect for planting a garden. It also held the remains of Hallowville’s original cemetery, a site long since abandoned when the town decided to relocate it in the late 19th century after a grave-robbing incident.
It was oddly romantic to look off our back porch and see the sun setting over the old cemetery. Our neighbors told us it wasn’t of any real concern. Most didn’t even recall who’d been buried there. At the worst, it provided an interesting conversation piece at our annual summer cookouts.
As the years passed, our children grew older filling our lives with school events, piano recitals, and Little League games. The cemetery remained nothing more than a picturesque oddity.
Until that summer.
Jenny announced she was pregnant with our fourth child. The kids were excited to have a new baby brother or sister, and we began to make preparations for the arrival. Around that time, Tommy’s curiosity led him to spend time exploring the cemetery. He’d wander in and out of the crumbling headstones pondering on who might have once rested there.
It was Tommy who first noticed the name on the most prominent headstone, a name that would haunt me for the rest of my days: Ezekiel Stone.
In a town so small, it was easy to ask around about Stone’s history. I stumbled upon some old newspaper accounts from the 1800s that painted a terrifying picture. Stone had been the local undertaker. His life became a series of bizarre coincidences, with each success followed by tragedy. His three wives died in cruelly creative ways, as did his four children – each on their fourth birthday. We were shocked to discover that Stone had been buried right there, in our own backyard.
All the while, Tommy seemed unusually drawn to the cemetery. He’d spend hours sitting near Stone’s grave, as if in quiet contemplation. Eventually, we tried to discourage his visits by pointing out the poison sumac that had sprouted near the headstones.
It was not long after the discovery of Stone’s past that Tommy, then eight years old, became convinced that he could communicate with the spirits of the deceased. Nor was it long after that it became clear that Tommy was not simply imagining things.
At night, we’d hear him whispering and giggling alone in his room. When asked about it, he’d insist he was talking to “the dead people” from the cemetery. We passed it off as a child’s imagination or perhaps an odd side effect of puberty.
The summer turned oppressive with strange earth tremors that rattled windows and dishes. It felt as if the land beneath our home was coming to life, leaving us with an eerie feeling we couldn’t shake.
As Jenny’s pregnancy progressed, Tommy’s behavior became noticeably darker and erratic; he’d sit in the cemetery for hours, sometimes muttering to himself or scribbling odd symbols in the dirt with sticks.
Only weeks before the baby’s due date, Mary discovered Tommy’s secret buried beneath the floorboards of his room: a dozen dead cats and squirrels, rotting and twisted into demonic shapes.
We never saw Ezekiel Stone, but felt his presence like a malignant tumor that could not be excised.
The night our son was born, my wife begged me to destroy Stone’s grave. I went out to the cemetery with my sledgehammer, fury and fear propelling me forward. As I approached the crumbling headstone, I heard the cries of my wife, and I knew my newborn had slipped from this world.
I cried out in rage and pain. Swinging the hammer, I shattered the stone bearing Stone’s cursed name. Then there was a sudden roar as a howling wind rose up around me, followed by darkness.
Ezekiel Stone’s curse died with my son. Tommy returned to being the bright, happy child we knew before. We named our new baby Jack Jr. after my father and buried him next to Stone’s grave.
We no longer hold summer cookouts in our backyard. The cemetery remains a place for quiet contemplation and a grim reminder of the darkness that once engulfed our lives. My story will surely be passed on as legend, but those who truly care to know the truth will find it etched in the stone above my son’s grave:
*Here lies Jack Kelton Jr., Innocent Victim of Ezekiel Stone’s Curse.*