Dr. Myth’s archaeology 101 class was antsy as they waited outside the old church for him to arrive. Most of the class would not have stepped foot into this part of the woods if given the choice, but this was for class points. Some, however, did choose to fail the class than risk being Father Duncan’s next victim.
“Morning class,” Dr. Myth said as he finally made it up the trail. “Let’s go in.”
The class remained still, looking around at each other. No one dared move.
“Sir,” Jenny said. “Do you really –”
“Oh, don’t tell me you all believe in fairy tales,” Dr. Myth said, cutting through the group. “Inside or no credit.”
Fifteen grumbling college freshman clambered into the old church where Father Duncan ruled the village with an iron bible. The next few hours were spent recording, sketching, and learning how to document an archaeological site. Nothing spectacular happened unless you count the time prissy princess Patty turned over an old hymnal and a spider ran for its life. Her screams echoed all the way through the catacombs under the church.
“Class!” Dr. Myth called from the catacombs. “Bring your supplies and come down here.”
Whatever courage they built upstairs left them the moment they stepped into the dank, musty downstairs. None wanted to call it what it was. No one was sure if the state had removed all the bodies after taking possession of the church and its land over a hundred years earlier.
“I feel like Indiana Jones,” Michael said.
“Adventurous?” Dr. Myth asked.
“Nah, worried that a snake or skeleton is going to jump out at any minute.”
The class laughed while Dr. Myth huffed. “You are in an archaeology class, get used to skeletons, snakes, scorpions, spiders, and kinds of messy things.”
While recording the catacombs, Dr. Myth uncovered writing under layers of dirt on a wall. After gathering the students, he poured water from his canteen over the wall hoping to be able to read the inscription.
“Seek not in oneself, but in the Lord. No pleasure on Earth is worth displeasing the Lord. Fear the Lord not, for I am his sword,” Dr. Myth read aloud.
Everyone jumped when Elizabeth dropped her notebook as the professor stopped reading.
“We need to leave,” several students pleaded.
Dr. Myth was beginning to lose his patience with the class as more students began whimpering and begging to leave. Jonathan announced the grade wasn’t worth it and ran from the church. As soon a young lady turned to follow, Dr. Myth began screaming and accidentally slammed his canteen into the inscribed wall. The wall broke, revealing a secret chamber under the crucifix above in the main church. Three more students fled for their lives, never looking back.
“Now you get to experience being a real archaeologist,” Dr. Myth announced to the remaining students as he pushed more stones into the secret chamber making the hole large enough to step through.
Inside the chamber was an old wooden desk covered in parchments and scrolls, iron crosses sitting on a small table, and a cloaked skeleton laying behind the desk.
“Must have slid out after death,” Dr. Myth muttered to himself.
Michael shone his flashlight around the room as his heart was leaping from its chest. “This must be Father Duncan’s hiding place.”
“They never did find him after they found the townfolk murdered in the pews,” another student added.
“Must’ve been down here listening the whole time,” a young lady added.
“Nonsense!” Dr. Myth said, walking around the room. “Don’t believe all the fairy tales your parents told you to keep you from getting hurt by exploring this place.”
“You’re stupid,” Michael said, grade be dammed. “We all know what Father Duncan to his parish. The only reason I’m here is because my seventh great-grandmother was sick that day as a baby so the family stayed home to care for her.”
“All a myth,” the professor said, starting to examine the papers and scrolls on the desk.
Michael and three other students managed to make it out of the chamber, through the catacombs, and were halfway up the stairs when Dr. Myth finished reading the first curse aloud. His screams echoed throughout the church and rattled what few window panes that were left. Screams of their fellow classmates followed as the four made it up the stairs only to find themselves in the middle of his victims rising from the pews.
“Oh, shit!” Michael yelled.
“Man, don’t swear in church!”
Victims clawed at their front, Father Duncan coming up from behind, there was nowhere for them to go. Michael started praying to his eighth great-grandmother to protect them like she her daughter. The church filled with light that repulsed the victims allowing the four to make it to the door where a short lady in puritan clothing was standing.
“Thank you,” Michael said, as he recognized his mother’s eyes and nose. Tears began flowing down his face.
“Thank you!” the other students yelled as they ran out of the church and started down the trail.
“Michael! What are you doing? Come on!”
“Father Duncan. His victims. We can’t–”
The lady at the door placed her hand on his arm and smiled. “Go child. Leave them with us. We will bring them home and deliver him unto Satan.”
Michael gulped as more people appeared behind her and nodded. As he headed to join the others on the trail, the ghostly mob entered the church. Cries and screams followed the students as they ran down the trail.
The newspaper reported a fire in the woods destroyed the old church and Sheriff Plumber inquired as to the events of the previous day when Dr. Myth and the other students were reported missing. Michael was afraid to tell the truth, but he was more afraid of Father Duncan coming to find him. The sheriff listened and chuckled as Michael told the story of the lady at the door.
“Why are you laughing? I’m not making it up.”
“I know you’re not. I was just laughing at how small the world really is. We must be cousins of some sort.”
Michael looked at the sheriff confused.
“The only reason I am here is because my fifth-great-grandmother was sick that day.” The sheriff winked as he left.
Everyone mourned the lost students, cursed the naive professor, and never stepped foot onto the unhallowed ground again.