THE BURNT CHAPEL
By Russ Hobbs M.A.
Jenny Rathskeller was sophisticated, a cultured lady with dark brown hair, eyes that matched and a mysterious winsome smile. She was a teacher whose sophistication would have fit well into a London, France or European school. But, she had been hired to teach a class of ten students at a small country chapel in Brickerville, Pennsylvania.
“It will be good for our daughter to learn some culture,” Mrs. Redwood told the pastors wife. “And our son Joshua may finally learn some table manners.” The pastor’s wife smiled.
The class started on Halloween, ironically. The students of Ms. Rathskeller’s class began to exhibit fresh new learning skills as they mastered English, writing, mathematics and science skills. The kids loved their teacher.
The parents were delighted at the progress of their children. Mrs. Kelly, the pastor’s wife called Jenny, “a God send.”
But, not everybody thought that was true! Harry Shelly had more sinister stories to tell. “That woman ain’t natural.” Harry told Pastor James Kelly. “I done saw that woman in the woods behind Grenner’s Park after dark dancing nude around a campfire. She was waving a bottle of Jack Daniels and chanting something.”
“Oh NONSENSE the pastor retorted. “You’re crazy Harry, you drink too much of that whisky yourself.” Pastor Kelly smirked and shook his head in disbelief.
“They say she’s got some altar in her room and it ain’t built for the almighty.” Shelly insisted as he blew his boozy breath in the pastor’s face.
As the weeks passed by a change could be seen in each of the Chapel students. Their happy innocent laughter disappeared. The children became harsh and disobedient. The kids became rude to their parents and they had a defiant hard edge in their voices. The children would exaggerate truths and tell outright lies to people they didn’t even know.
Harry Shelly told Pastor Kelly, “the woman’s a damn witch and you can take it or leave it.” Pastor Kelly told Harry Shelly to get the heaven out of his study. He didn’t say heaven.
Mrs. Frockenmeyer over on Elm street was shocked one Thursday evening to hear her son Ira saying his nightly prayers. He was repeating the Lord’s prayer..backwards.
Three days later little Ira could be heard screaming at the top of his lungs, “Somebody come quick, the CHAPEL’s on FIRE.”
The building was ablaze as frantic parents tried to extinguish the flames that appeared as giant demon tongues. Harry Shelly could be heard cackling unrepentantly from the South side of the tiny Chapel. The screams of the students and their teacher was heart wrenching.
The fire blazed with a supernatural force and Pastor Kelly thought he heard Jenny Rathskeller laughing in the flames! Mourning parents tried to find something of their children to bury. The chapel burnt for several hours and Harry Shelly wisely disappeared from Brickerville. He believed his mission against the work of Satan was completed.
The teachers burnt body was buried deep beneath and within a brick tomb. To this day voices can be heard in the graveyard of the burnt chapel chanting unintelligible words as the school children and their teacher once chanted in the woods outside of town. Sometimes ghosts are present as dark roamers slide through the graveyard at night. And folks in Brickerville say that a brick taken from the grave of the evil teacher can set fire to objects on which they are placed.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! But wait, read Psalm 101.