A howling wind surrounded the antiquated Victorian style house that sat atop Cherry Hill, overlooking the tiny hamlet below. From the bottom, the abandoned house looked as if it were an ominous presence staring at those who dared to step outside of the safe confines of their home. It stood silent in the night as dark storm clouds tore through the sky like a riptide in the once calm ocean. Thunder and lightning clashed as the wind whipped and whirled around the house. The wind and rain gravitated towards the house as if it was their master beckoning to them. The house seemed to be alive and created an eerie feeling to anyone who dared to look.
The house used to belong to one of the meanest wardens of the state penitentiary down the road. He ruled with an iron fist and had no tolerance for anybody disobeying him. Anybody who ended up having to serve time for their wrongdoings always prayed for their souls if they were placed at Hawthorn Penitentiary. It was as if they thought it was an automatic death sentence – not that they were wrong.
He was one of the oddest looking men you would ever meet, and the least expected warden on the planet. Tall and gangly, he always wore an ill-fitted suit, and mismatched tie. Physically he had an oddly shaped head and a hook nose. He wore wire-rimmed glasses that covered piercing blue eyes that he always managed to look over when speaking to you. And while he was frail looking and awkward, he still managed to create an uneasy presence whenever he walked into the room.
He did not tolerate disobedience of any form. If you were a prisoner and did not abide by his rules, you were severely punished – no exceptions. It was said that he liked to take misbehaving prisoners into a separate and deliberately secluded area of the prison to “talk”. Everybody knew it was so they wouldn’t be heard, but nobody really knew what he did with the prisoners in there. What they did know was the prisoners never returned.
Rumours penetrated the walls of the prison and into the surrounding towns. They began to fear what they didn’t know, and it only got worse as the stories became tall tales. Some stories say the warden implanted a chip in his prisoner’s brains, trying to erase all erratic behaviour. But because the product was untested and virtually illegal, most “patients” ended up going insane. Others believed he was a mystical creature, forcing himself to change to his true form and revealing himself to the prisoners. But because this magic was so unbelievably gruesome, they reverted inside themselves, too scared to face the true horrors that were before them.
Statistics showed Hawthorn as having the highest number of unusual and/or unexplained deaths in the country. Prisoners would go missing, or be taken away due to mysterious illnesses. Guards would stop showing up to work, only to be found they checked themselves into an asylum the night before. No visitors dared step foot into the joint either, all fearing the consequences of coming across the Warden.
Until one day the Warden didn’t show up for work. In fact, nobody heard from him in an entire week so they stupidly began looking for him. The most logical place was the house he called home – the Victorian on Cherry Hill. What the search crew found though wasn’t what they expected. The Warden’s body was emaciated like you couldn’t imagine. It was as if the life had literally been sucked right out of him. Thin cuts covered what was left of his body, and the sockets of his eyes were hollow. He didn’t even look human.
The rumours spread once again. Some believed he was murdered by some prisoners who managed to escape the confines of hell, while others believed he left his celestial body to haunt over the town for the rest of time. The house was never lived in again after that. It remained empty and haunting, overlooking the troubled town. You would think the townspeople would try and destroy it, start over with something new. But strange things happened every time they tried to step foot on the grounds that once belonged to the Warden.