Craig Groshek tells this short tale about an Irish parish priest named Father McSweeny, who was unpopular but respected in life and who died young, to the relief of many. But rather than rest in peace, Father McSweeny had other plans.
Original story source: http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t12596.html
Father McSweeny, an Irish priest, returned to the town of his birth. He was conscientious and hardworking, and performed all his duties with merit.
However, for some reason, nobody liked him, and ever since he was born, people felt uncomfortable in his presence.
On many nights, long after the town had retired, a light could still be seen burning in Father McSweeny’s study. People often wondered if there was something sinister going on, but it was never discussed as Father McSweeney’s widowed mother adored her son and would not hear a word against him.
While he was still fairly young, Father McSweeny suddenly took ill. The nature of the illness was a mystery, and different doctors diagnosed different opinions. However, they all agreed on one thing – that it was extremely serious and that there was nothing that could be done for the priest.
Father McSweeny accepted this silently and without argument. He seemed to know all along that he would die, as he did within a few weeks. He just seemed to waste away.
Despite their reservations about him, the town decided to give Father McSweeny a big funeral. After all, he had worked hard and been the town’s priest for many years. But the townsfolk may have also felt a little guilty about the secret thoughts they had had about him, and perhaps even relief that he would no longer be among them.
The cemetery was in the hills several miles outside of town. The priests’ mother was too old and frail to attend the graveside service, but practically everyone else from town was there. When the service was over, everyone got into cars and rode back into town to pay a courtesy call on the priest’s mother.
It was growing dark by the time the procession of cars was leaving the cemetery. A mile or so from the graveyard, the driver of the lead car noticed a figure walking up the road toward him. Walkers were rare in this part of the country, so the passengers were anxious to see who this individual might be. As the figure was illuminated by the car headlights, its face could be seen.
The figure on the road was indeed a familiar one: it was Father McSweeny, who had just been buried! There was no doubt about who it was, yet he had changed…
His always pale skin was now an ashen white. His eyes were wide open and unblinking, and they glittered with an unnatural brightness. His lips were drawn back, exposing strong white teeth and bloodless gums.
The figure walked the entire length of the entire funeral procession, and gave no sign of recognition. Everyone, except a dozing few saw it, but not a single car would stop. Indeed, they began to drive faster and the passengers began whispering to each other about what they had seen.
The badly shaken mourners arrived at the house of Mrs. McSweeny, and agreed not to mention anything about what they had seen, for she was deep in grief and did not need to hear this horrible story.
There was no reply when they knocked on the door, and when one of the women looked through the window, she saw the old woman lying face-down on the floor.
They broke down the door and found the woman was not dead, as they had feared, but merely unconscious. When she had come round, she told them that a short time ago she had heard a knock at the door. Knowing that everyone in town was at the funeral, she peered through the window to see who her visitor might be – and saw her son.
“You saw his face?” someone asked. The old woman hesitated and began to cry.
“Yes I saw his face. It was my son but he had changed. He looked different – so fierce and wild. His eyes – they were wide open, his lips drawn back. And his skin – he was white as…”
“As a ghost?”
‘Yes, I believe I saw the ghost of my son.”
The old woman said that she wanted to open the door for him, but the sight made her feel so weak that she had fainted.
Father McSweeny was never seen again, but for years people talked about that night. The ghost wore an expression of inhuman cruelty. Perhaps this was something in his character that he was able to disguise during his lifetime, and that may have been why he made people feel uncomfortable and even a little fearful.
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