Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Poetry » Horror

E - Everyone

The Spectre of Hatchitt Hill

by Traves


If you ever wandered into the small town of Diant

And stopped for a hot meal, some talk and a pint

You would find naught that piques the mind.

But if you buy the old men something stronger than a cold beer

You would find a story few would like to tell but many to hear

A legend, no; a myth really, of darkness that lay very near.

When the folks are deep in their cups,

and you, slowly, call their bluff

Will one of them begin to whisper quieter still,

The story of the legend of Hatchitt Hill.

“On your way into town, you must’ve found,

A patch of road blocked off and a way around.

Had you gotten off and followed the gravel path of the hill

You might’ve seen an old graveyard near a dried up rill.

Most sensible folk don’t go anywhere near that place,

And although the occasional brash young man would stay

there for a cigarette and the right to boast

Come night and he would be gone faster than you could say 'ghost'. ”

And when you make a skeptical face, pat comes the call,

“Oi boy, this isn’t a crazy town, and we’re earthy folks all,

But only a fool, would dive head first into a waterfall.”

He would say with a meaningful look.

“Well where was I? damn boy doesn’t know wheat from rye.

Many decades ago, there wandered a Spectre in the night,

It would torment the dead souls and desecrate the graves,

And its merest sight, was enough to make a brave man piss with fright.


But just after the end of the War there came into town,

A cracked old lady and her young son, who always looked down.

When she found work, 

as a seamstress or a cook,

I can’t remember.

she was quietly told to leave, come september;

For her scars and her dead smile 

made the others tremble inside.


They were a pathetic pair, and when son the fell ill,

They new the end was near.

And end they painfully did.

The son with the pox, and the mother with a sliced wrist from a tin lid.

It was a sight some folks wanted to give a miss,

Because it was rumoured that they came from Auschwitz.

And mistakenly, it was decided, to quickly bury them up on Hatchitt Hill.

Before they were lowered in the grave, people were itching to get going,

It was a dark, desolate place, as everyone was knowing.

As the grey sky grew darker, the darkness coalesced into something starker.

A cloaked container of foul misery, with ebony eyes and bone-white hair.

The Spectre had come for its share, to see fresh fun come into its lair.

It came upon what remained of her, and already smelled something off,

For at its sight the woman merely seemed to scoff.

What are you!  it cried,

for the poor thing seemed too damaged to give it any delight.

She merely gazed back with blank eyes, obviously not there,

and said “ Oh is this a new one? Hmm... almost looks nice ! “

The Spectre shrank back at that, hissing,

What has been done to you, I’ll double it in a minute !

“What can you do to me, that hasn’t been already done by man,

I’ve been stripped , flogged ,sewn and laid open again.

My oldest son, left to hang till he tore his arms free,

My daughter hung herself from a tree.

Their father’s dead body I loaded into a truck,

But I lived on, curse my luck.

What can you do that they didn’t do in block 11,

When they stuck me in a standing cell for seven

days, forgot all about me until they needed more space.

My dear Peter left lame by gangrene,

‘cause when we tried to escape he was hit by a bullet unseen.

What can you do to me that hasn’t been done by this world,

Even when we were free, most left us shunned.”


The spectre tried to find out if she was lying,

and stupidly tried to gain her memories from her brain unknowing.

What he saw and felt thence must not have been good, 

because he saw, and then he understood.

A hideous scream tore from its dreadful face,

Waves of agony hit it again and again like a ghastly mace.

It began to move, and then flee,

and in its flight it ruptured the railing near the woods.

To this day this can be seen,

for what earthly force could rend true iron clean.

And thus ran away the spectre of Hatchitt Hill,

Only to be replaced by something more wretched still.



(The image of the graveyard was the pictorial prompt provided, and I wrote this rather hastily.)


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
2631 Reviews


Points: 5735
Reviews: 2631

Donate
Sun Dec 02, 2018 12:48 pm
View Likes
Rydia wrote a review...



Hello, here as requested! I'm going to start with pulling out things which grab my attention as I read through an then I'll talk more about general things like themes/ length at the end.

Specifics

1. Nice title - the alliteration is fun and spectre is a much cooler word than ghost and immediately gives me a good, spooky vibe.

2.

If you ever wandered into the small town of Diant
A quick skim down shows me you're using present tense elsewhere and I think that's perfect because my immediate reaction to this line is make it present tense. So it should be 'If you ever wander to the small town of Diant' [I dropped a syllable to be closer to the next line) or perhaps 'Should you ever wander through the small town of Diant'.

And stopped for a hot meal, some talk and a pint
Which means this should be stop instead of stopped. Nice half rhyme!

3. So your rhythm is a little off because some of the lines run too long and I think if you aimed for a more set pace this could be really wonderful. For example, I'm going to do a side by side comparison. I hope you don't mind me playing with your words!

If you ever wandered into the small town of Diant
And stopped for a hot meal, some talk and a pint
You would find naught that piques the mind.
But if you buy the old men something stronger than a cold beer
You would find a story few would like to tell but many to hear
A legend, no; a myth really, of darkness that lay very near.

Should you ever wander through the small town of Diant
and stop for a hot meal, some small talk and a pint
you will find naught that piques the mind.
But if you buy them something stronger than a beer
there is a story few like to tell but great to hear
a legend, no; a myth of darkness close behind.

I thought the call-back rhyme could be fun as well, though then you'd need to consider doing this all the way through. You asked me before about the length though and the way to make a long piece effortless to read is with a strong rhythm - that's why the ballad format was invented and I'm a huge fan of them.

4.
But only a fool, would dive head first into a waterfall.”
He would say with a meaningful look.
“Well where was I? damn boy doesn’t know wheat from rye.
I don't think these lines are adding much to the story or the poem and could easily be cut. I'm enjoying the sort of rambling feel of the old men but we'd really like something spooky since that's what you've promised us and this is taking a while to get there.

5.
When she found work,
as a seamstress or a cook,
I can’t remember.
she was quietly told to leave, come september;
For her scars and her dead smile
made the others tremble inside.
Where you switch to the shorter lines here it's a bit awkward. Try to avoid that unless it's to change the pace and then it needs to be a really clear, firm shift with a clear impact.

6.
The son with the pox, and the mother with a sliced wrist from a tin lid.
This has a nice beat to it - good work.

7.
What has been done to you, I’ll double it in a minute !
“What can you do to me, that hasn’t been already done by man,
I’ve been stripped , flogged ,sewn and laid open again.
My oldest son, left to hang till he tore his arms free,
My daughter hung herself from a tree.
Their father’s dead body I loaded into a truck,
But I lived on, curse my luck.
What can you do that they didn’t do in block 11,
This section is really great. The line about the daughter hanging herself from the tree perhaps feels like it's a little forced to make the rhyme since it's hanging two lines in a row but the rhythm is strong so you can get away with it.

8.
When they stuck me in a standing cell for seven
days, forgot all about me until they needed more space.
The break in rhythm again here and the flow over of the days after seven is a really big drop off. Try to avoid doing this as in a long poem you can't afford to lose the reader's interest even for a moment.

Overall

I like the ending and I like how you used the picture prompt - I think that was clever and the knowledge of the woman still lingering in the graveyard is really nice.

The thing you really need to work on with this poem is the rhythm and the consistency. There's a difference between using half rhymes and having a slightly up and down flow and then what you have here which is jerking in and out of different structures.

In terms of changing this into a short story or shortening this, I think the length could be trimmed a small amount but not much more than those lines I suggested cutting. The rest could be tidied and you'd have a nice ballad style poem. Shorter ballad poems are still quite popular today! Whenever I did readings in my group, people were always asking for my ballad of botany bay because people love a good story-poem.

On the story side, this could be a ghost story, yes but I think you'd need to flesh out the details more and also more carefully research what happened to Jewish families during the war. The part about the people she has lost was a bit muddled and that's fine in a poem because it's lines flashing by and the sound of them makes up for when the words may not quite fit. In a short story though people are going to be much more focused on whether you're handling the material correctly and you have to work a bit harder on crafting something which is accurate and compelling.

In all honesty, I think poetry might be the better form for this. Ghost stories these days which are successful are usually comical or very heavy, spooky, psychological. This poem is able to be both of those things but doing that in a short story is more difficult because you have to go into more detail and once you do that and start making what happened to this woman real and awful, it's hard to also make a joke of that without it feeling like it's in bad taste.

I hope that helps! Are there any more questions you'd like me to try and address or any part you'd like a closer reading of?

~Heather




Traves says...


Thanks a lot for the great review!
I agree with most of your criticism here. Tbh I realized a lot of the same things you did since I wrote this poem almost 2 years ago and which is why I haven't written something similar since xD

I think all my questions have been answered, thanks!



Traves says...


It'd be great if you could point to some of your ballads too!



Rydia says...


No problem, I'm glad it was useful!

And sure, I've got a few on here.



Rydia says...


Oops, wrong button! Here's the Pirates of Botany Bay which my group liked - The Pirates of Botany Bay and I also have a zombies one - The Zombies of Xavier Lane :)



User avatar
53 Reviews


Points: 210
Reviews: 53

Donate
Fri Jun 01, 2018 2:11 am
View Likes
jumpingsheep wrote a review...



Hi Traves!

I've always loved narrative/epic poems and this was no exception. I enjoyed the way you ran with the image you were prompted by to create a chilling story. It's as if Edgar Allen Poe adapted something like "The Cremation of Sam McGee" in the best way possible. A few suggestions:

1) Instead of using quotations, consider using italics to frame your dialogue. It might help the poem flow better. So instead of "What are you!" it cried you would have What are you! it cried.

2) I like the rhyming, but some of the lines stray from a consistent syllable count and it disrupts the rhythm. I think the lines that rhyme should have a similar number of syllables to keep up the flow. On another note, I liked your use of half-rhymes and the way you didn't always go with what would be an obvious rhyme. It kept me on my feet. Nice!

3) You end most of your lines with punctuation and maybe this is a personal preference, but you could probably take out some of that. I don't think all the punctuation is needed when there's a line break and by taking some of it out, the spots where punctuation is needed and used will really stand out.

Best of luck! I had a ton of fun reading this!
--jumpingsheep




Traves says...


Thanks. Makes sense.

And this was written a year ago, when I didn't know what metering was, and in 2.5 hours.
I'll keep the tips in mind.



Traves says...


Thanks. Makes sense.

And this was written a year ago, when I didn't know what metering was, and in 2.5 hours.
I'll keep the tips in mind.



Traves says...


Thanks. Makes sense.

And this was written a year ago, when I didn't know what metering was, and in 2.5 hours.
I'll keep the tips in mind.



User avatar
58 Reviews


Points: 2202
Reviews: 58

Donate
Thu May 31, 2018 10:07 pm
View Likes
AkeliaTaske wrote a review...



Hello there! Akelia here for a review!

First of all, let me say that this was well done! For having been written fast, it was quite entertaining to read, especially near the end. For the review I will divide the critiques into two parts, the sours and sweets. The sours are things that you can work on to make it better, and the sweets are things that you did well. Let's get into it.


Sweets: You did an excellent job in bringing out the horror in the creature that lived on Hatchitt Hill when the old woman was being brought up. I loved how you presented the true person to be afraid of, by the different descriptions in the story, such as her being from the Nazi concentration camp, or her explanation of how she was worse than him. That was good! Also, you did well with describing how the people were afraid and terrified of both her and the hill, and giving an eerie aesthetic to both the scene and the whole poem.

Sours: The first thing I noticed was that the rhyming was a bit inconsistent. It got a little better towards the end, but throughout the poem I noticed that two lines would rhyme, and then 1, and then three, and then none at all. Some of the rhymes caused sentences to be broken up, such as this sentence:

-she was quietly told to leave;
her scars and her smile made the others tremble. -

I recommend that in conjunction with the first sentence you try to find a way to make this more smooth, either a word that rhymes or breaking up the sentence in a different spot.


Other than that, the poem was well written! I liked your descriptions and your aesthetic. Well done! Remember, never stop writing!

-Akelia




Traves says...


Thank you!
Quickest review I ever got tbh.

I've stopped rhyming at all, and that has produced no discernible difference in my poems, except that the sentences are a bit less awkward now.



Traves says...


Though yeah, I will try to make the rhymes in this one better.



AkeliaTaske says...


Sounds good! Thanks for the follow.



Traves says...


No problem. Is the edit I did in the place that you mentioned any better?



AkeliaTaske says...


Yes!



Traves says...


Alright.




We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove.
— Mark Twain