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Haunt of William P. Robertson--Master of the Macabre & Gothic Horror: Readings

The Spirit of Catherine Pt. 1

(William P. Robertson)
November 15, 2010
William P. Robertson

"The Spirit of Catherine" was one of the first folktales told to me by my superstitious Swedish grandmother, Bernadine Johnson, when I was a mere child. It left a lasting impression on me, to say the least. When I retold it with my own twist years later, it was published in Stride Magazine, Cheshire, England. The story also was included in my first horror collection, Lurking in Pennsylvania.

 

THE SPIRIT OF CATHERINE (Part I)

 

Excitement had me by the throat as I skidded along the mossy rocks bordering the headwaters of Five Mile Brook. Although I had left my car well before noon, I was now just nearing my destination. I had been so immersed in fishing for scrappy native brook trout that my exploration had taken far longer than I had anticipated. When I disassembled my fly rod and hightailed it upstream, the evening shadows had already begun creeping out from beneath the hemlocks.

The scabby cherry trees seemed blacker than I had ever before seen them. The wind also began acting like the plaything of a perverse magician. Although I was an experienced woodsman, I had difficulty pinpointing from which direction it came. Its howling seemed almost cyclonic in nature and was rising fast. In the fading light only my stubbornness pushed me onward. Finally, without warning, I stumbled through an orange screen of beech leaves and skidded to a halt on the shore of the blighted swamp I had been seeking.