The Scary Tale of the Purgatory Box – a short story


The Scary Tale of the Purgatory Box

By Harrington A. Lackey

A long and sombre procession of a family’s oldest member who had died after 100 years of life took the longest path toward an ancient dark cathedral in Portugal. The entire family ranging from the youngest great-grandchildren to the oldest widowed wife were all dressed in black from shoulder to foot. The deceased widow wore a black shawl around her head as she cried throughout the service while the others held back tears. The husband and widow whose marriage lasted 75 years were devout; they never missed Mass.

The priest said the funeral service was in Latin, which nobody understood. After the service, the widow slowly walked to the back of the old church and approached the ancient box where indulgences were dropped in. She was taught the medieval quote that “as soon as money in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory’s fire springs.” She knew her husband had to be in purgatory because he committed many sins for which he confessed a few.

When the widow reached the coffer she knelt down on her knees, gently put her hand into her pocket and took out an old silver “real” coin that she had saved for this occasion. She slowly angled the real above the slot, then she dropped it down.

When she heard the coin hit the bottom with a thick, metallic sound, she felt assured he would be in heaven soon enough. Then she bowed and silently said a prayer. After several minutes, the coffin began to shake violently at the front of the cathedral.

Everyone including the priest turned around to see the coffin lid shoot open. Their eyes opened wide when they saw the deceased head of the family rise up from the coffin with smoke curling around the corpse. He turned his head and looked around slowly until he saw the family at the back of the church.

He groaned loudly as he tried to get out of the coffin. His widow stared at the coffin and cried, “Arturo! You’re back!!” She didn’t walk toward him because she became afraid as smoke continued to encompass his body. He grunted loudly, saying, “Am… in… hell!” The body now stood in front of the coffin and it walked with great difficulty, like a zombie, down the aisle toward the widow. She opened her arms, ready to run to him, but the priest stopped her.

As the corpse made its way, it grunted like the Frankenstein monster. Its face and hands opened to the widow and began to decompose as well. After a minute, the head turned brown which morphed into a skull as its white hair shrunk into nothing. The smoke cleared as the body became a skeleton in the black suit stopped, it said, “Love… you… all.” in a faint, bloodcurdling gurgle. Then the body turned to dust as its suit crumpled to the ground.

The horrified faces of all the family members stared at the black suit lying in the aisle. All ran out of the cathedral, including the priest who crossed himself. Later, he entered the church carrying a cross to spiritually and physically defend himself as he stared at the ash-covered black suit. Then he stared at the diabolical coffer that he decided to burn.

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