This is a story that doesn’t involve me, but it really does freak me out.

I never knew my grandfather on my mum’s side, but I always heard that he was a strong, frightening yet loving kind of man. Someone who you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of, but also who would protect those he loves without hesitation. My mum would always tell me stories about him, in order for me to have some kind of connection with him; he seemed to be a light hearted and boisterous man who was friends with almost everyone, but he did seem to be the type of no-nonsense guy who was NOT easily spooked.

For this reason, I was surprised to find that there was one story that my mum refused to tell me, and I knew of it only as my “grandfather’s experience”. When I pestered my brother for him to tell me it (he’s quite a bit older than me, and so was entrusted with this story a couple years before), he said that it gave him nightmares for a week, and that I should NEVER ask my mum to tell me about it again.

And for about 10 years, I didn’t.

But I’m a sucker for anything creepy or scary (I’ve read these contest stories religiously every October for the last 4 years), so one rainy day a few weeks ago, I brought it up. My mum looked at me and said “Are you sure you want to know?” I nodded, and she proceeded to tell me.

This is how it goes.

My grandfather worked in a coal mine throughout the 50s to 70s, and was well respected throughout the community. Coal mines were notoriously dangerous, and men quite often died deep within the shafts. One day, three men had suffocated at the mine, and they were brought to the surface, wrapped in sheets, and sent off to be buried. My grandfather had the unfortunate job of collecting their clothes and burning them, a horrible task for someone who knew these men as friends.

He decided to go down to the coal pit at dusk, in order not to be disturbed while he completed his macabre job. The clothes were in the lamp room; a long, wide chamber that was lit solely by a red security light at the door. It extended so far that the last quarter of the place was plunged into complete darkness, with no end to the room in sight. My grandfather spotted the clothes, headed towards them and bent to grab them.

His hand did not reach those clothes that night.

As he extended his arm, he heard a slight sound coming from the end of the room.

*swish* *pause* *swish* *pause*

He paused, staring at the clothes as he strained for the noise again.

*swish* *pause* *swish*

My grandfather turned carefully towards the end of the corridor, and spotted one of the lamps, now lit, swaying in the centre of the room, about 20 feet from where he was standing.

The noise, however, was not coming from the lamp, but instead what was holding it.

An eight foot, waif-like figure was lingering in the dim light, hunched slightly under the low ceiling, its cloven feet stepping silently towards the opposite end of the room. Its head was partially obscured by the lamp’s glow, but even then it was clear that his head was sweeping from side to side, side to side. Searching. The source of that sound, the only one in the room, came from the stone floor, where a thick forked tail slid in time with its steps.

*swish* *pause* *swish*

The Devil.

My grandfather left the clothes, backed through the door and booked it home.

According to my mum, my grandfather was not a religious man, and any mention of a ghost in the house would simply be “nonsense thought up by an over excited child”. Before this incident, he was sceptical as they came in regards to the paranormal.

But that night changed him; he became more quiet, reserved, and started having horrific night terrors that would be chalked down to “stress at work”. He only told mum my about 10 years after it happened, when my grandmother happened to mention it to her sister.

My mum says that my grandfather finished his story with these words;

“I don’t believe he was there for me that night. I believe that he was searching for the souls of the men who died. He could smell their clothes. All I know is that if he had looked directly at me, dead in the eyes, I would’ve taken their place.”