The gates of Cleamore Cemetery loomed large against the night sky. Twelve feet tall and cast in iron scroll work they
stood at the entrance to the Cleamore family cemetery.. Why such large gates and so sturdy, to be just left standing open?
Sarah slowly inched inside toward the family crypt.
Sarah had never known these gates to be closed. They were too heavy to swing in the breeze. Wind alone could not move
them but looking at them now , in the waning light, Sarah thought she could hear grating and squealing as though they were
Growing up near here, Sarah had often passed by these cemetery gates. It had always seemed to her that the Cleamores
had had more money than brains to waste such an amount as these gates and fence must have cost...and then to leave them standing
wide. To her knowledge the gates had stood open for the past forty years.
Over the years the Cleamores had died one by one and been buried inside this secluded country place encircled by the
black iron fence and huge gates.. The last was interred just five years ago. It had been Sir Arnold Cleamore, Sarah’s
Yes, Sarah had married money ..and at her husband, Sir Arnold’s death , being the last of his line, the vast acreage
and great house were now Sarah’s` alone.
This included the family cemetery and mausoleum.where her husband ,the last Master Of Cleamore was now lying in
the family crypt.
Sir Arnold Cleamore had not been an easy man to live with. He had been cranky and opinionated. He could be most demanding
disrespectful brute. Sarah had never loved him and the favor was returned to her in kind. Sir Arnold had married her ,just
to be envied , because of Sarah’s` beauty.
His money was enough for Sarah at first but then as he grew older he had become stingy, only doling out what he wished
her to have, when with his riches ,she was capable of having so much more.
Sarah begun to find her dislike of Sir Arnold actually turning to hate and disgust. Over the years Sarah had devised
a plan. She would go to the kitchen and dress his food with arsenic in very small amounts.
It had seemed to take forever but finally the arsenic had finally taken full effect and Arnold had sickened dying during
an influenza epidemic. The doctor had signed the death certificate as such….
Poor Arnold, lost to the influenza. Sarah had happily sent him to the family crypt, overjoyed that her plan had worked.
Arnold had laid there many years now , and up until yesterday ,no one had been the wiser…Now there was a
chance of discovery.. Sarah was almost panicking at the thought of being found out and losing everything.
There had appeared at her door a man who was so close in looks to her late husband that he could have been a twin brother.
He said he was a Cleamore and he was there to claim his rightful inheritance . He claimed to Arnolds` son ,borne out of wedlock.
Looking at him, Sarah knew that it must be true. His name was also Arnold and he said he would take the solicitors and
magistrate to the family crypt to compare features with the deceased elder Arnold, to prove his claim.
Sarah knew that they were going to find Sir Arnold’s body in very fine shape. Almost lifelike., for she had been
told that arsenic was a preservative ..She knew she must prevent their viewing of her husbands body at any cost
It was near three AM before Sarah ventured out to move Sir Arnolds body. It was the only way she could see to avoid discovery
of her murderous deed..
The moon slid behind some clouds and a chill came over her as she anticipated carrying Sir Arnolds dead body away from
here and secluding it somewhere else or burying it in some place known only to her..
Finally she had picked her way between the tombstones to where the crypts entrance was and .she was shocked to find the
door ajar. Slipping inside, after making sure she was alone, she had lit her lantern and looked for her husbands coffin.
Finally finding it , Sarah contrived to open the lid, which she found was no easy chore. .After a somewhat difficult
task , she steeled herself and flung the lid up. The coffin was empty!
What!….How could this be? She had not had a funeral for Sir Arnold ..There was no family .She had paid the undertaker
to put him in the family crypt..What had that man done with the body?.. What indeed?
Grabbing the lantern, Sarah Cleamore ran from the crypt and headlong into a tombstone ,opening a gash in her head from
which the blood began to flow profusely.Knocked to the ground by her impact with the marble tombstone,she laid there helpless.
Sarah tried to rise but she felt her strength ,along with her blood, draining from her body.
In the distance, she heard the eeire squeal of rusty unused hinges and the slow scrape of the heavy gates on the ground.
There was an echoing sound of the huge outside gates as they finally slammed shut.
Sarah was fast losing consciousnessr but felt herself being lifted and carried back inside the crypt. There was
her husband’s voice speaking. ..low and damning..
"My dear Mrs. Cleamore, now I can tell you that the gates you always wondered about for so long were never meant to
be closed until the last Cleamore was inside.Now they can at last be closed. Don’t worry about my 'so -called
son', he is an imposter…You, Sarah, are truly the last one.. Welcome home, my darling.”
The crypt door then swung shut and Sarah heard no more.. All was now silent inside the huge iron gates…
©2006 Faye Sizemore