I’d purchased this house on a remote section of the Maine coast as a weekend getaway. Built sometime in the late sixteen hundreds, the house had a long and often colorful history, and as I discovered earlier today, perhaps some of its history darker than most of the rest.

I’d spent the last few days reorganizing what I refer to as the basement storeroom, the old wooden shelves lining its stone walls, stacked with dusty canning jars. I was boxing up the old canning jars and moving the shelf units out to the barn. Everything went as planned until I tried to move the last of the shelf units that lined the room’s back wall. I couldn’t move it, and it seemed to be attached to the wall, but I didn’t see any brackets or screws. Grabbing a flashlight, I started removing the shelves to see if they might be concealing any nails or screws. I found it when I removed the top shelf, a small sliding latch, the same kind of iron latch you’d find on most colonial-era farm gates.

Intrigued, I pulled the latch, and the entire shelf unit swung away from the wall on concealed hinges, revealing a dusty stone staircase descending into the darkness. Overcome with curiosity. I started down the steps, pushing through the cobwebs as I went. The staircase was longer than expected, slowly curving to the left as it descended. Finally, reaching the bottom of the steps, I continued along a short stone-walled corridor that ended in a heavy-looking, iron-reinforced, oak plank door. Surprisingly, the door turned out to be unlocked.

The chamber beyond was large, with what looked like an ornately carved stone crypt at its center, but it turns out it wasn’t a crypt. It was an altar. Cut from a block of solid stone, the alter was massive. Ominously, rusted iron manacles hung from chains attached at all four corners of its smooth upper surface, while on the wall directly behind hung a large iron pentagram. I suddenly recalled from the house’s history that its original owner, Elizabeth Selwyn, was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake in the village square. I’d always believed that those poor women accused of witchcraft during colonial times were all falsely accused. Now I wasn’t so sure. Turning, I quickly left the chamber, closing the door behind me and retracing my steps back up to the house’s basement, closing the tunnel’s secret entrance.

Coming up from the basement, I noticed that it was dark outside, and it had started to snow while I’d been down below. Pausing to light the fireplace, I decided to take a hot bath, then open a bottle of wine. Returning downstairs, wearing my heavy fleece robe over my lingerie, pulling a glass and a bottle of Merlot out of the cabinet, I returned to the serving table in front of the fire. Then, after taking some time to bask in the warmth of the fire, I opened the book I’d borrowed from the village library, a book on the village’s colonial history.

It was all there. Elizabeth Selwyn burned at the stake for witchcraft, February 23, 1693. That same year five more women, also convicted of witchcraft, died on the gallows. Then, in early 1694 over half of the villagers died of a mysterious plague. Setting aside the book, I noticed it was almost midnight. Pausing to add a few new logs to the fire, I decided to open a fresh bottle of wine as I pondered the village’s dark history.

Heading toward the kitchen to get the wine, I’d just passed the door to the basement when two large men wearing black hooded capes seized me from behind. I tried to scream, but one of them covered my face with his hand as they dragged me toward the kitchen. In the struggle, I’d lost my robe, so when they pushed me down against the edge of the table, I assumed the worst, that they intended to rape me. I was wrong.

Instead of ripping off my panties and taking me sexually, they roughly forced my arms behind my back and tied my wrists. At the same time, the man covering my mouth finally removed his hand, only to stuff a large rubber ballgag into my mouth and clinch its strap painfully tight before I could scream. Then, picking me up, they carried me down into the basement and passing through the concealed passage, down the steps toward the waiting altar.

Reaching the torch-lit chamber, the two men carrying me placed me at the center of the altar. I thought they would chain me down, but instead, one held my shoulders while the other held my ankles. Half a dozen women in heavy robes surrounded the altar, chanting something in what sounded like Latin, the deep shadows from the hoods of their robes concealing their faces.

Suddenly, as the clock started to chime midnight, the witches changed their chant. They were now counting, in Latin, the rings of the clock’s bells. As they reached six, one of the hooded women stepped close to the altar and drew a large razor-sharp-looking dagger. Pausing to sweep back her concealing hood, I was shocked to see it was Mrs. Newless, the proprietor of the village inn where I’d stayed while I’d negotiated the purchase of the house.

Raising the dagger high over my chest, “I Elizabeth Selwyn, offer up this damsel’s mortal life as annual payment to my eternal dark lord Lucifer, on the eve of my death, on February 23, 1693, three hundred, twenty-eight years ago. Accept this sacrifice of virgin blood from your devote servants.”

As the clock chimed twelve, that dagger plunged downward into my chest, mortally piercing my heart. My last thought, virgin blood? Seriously, they’re going to be so incredibly disappointed...

In the morning, a new for sale sign went up on the street outside the house.