Sunderland’s First Horror Story: The Curse of Thorney Close

Kelly’s life was not going according to plan. Didn’t stick in at school and kicked out of home after falling out with her parents, what should have been life ahead of her instead descended into a struggle to make ends meet and keep a roof over her head.

But things weren’t going too well. She always thought about the short term, not the long term. She wanted the latest smartphone and television, so even though she was stuck a lowly paying job in a cafe she floated herself on high interest, pay-day loans “I’ll work it out” she always said.

But things weren’t about to get better. One day, a frail and wrinkled old lady came into the cafe on Sunniside. She was dressed in a jet black skirt and jacket, as if she was attending a funeral or even in the wrong century. With a crooked glasses and wooden almost branch like cane, she walked up to the counter and eyed the young Kelly who was serving:

“I’d like a cup of coffee please” she croaked.

“That will be £2.50” Kelly said with limited enthusiasm, contemptuous of her own existence.

As the elderly woman stretched forwards to pull out some coins, Kelly’s eyes fell and gazed upon a glittering, extravagant necklace around her neck which looked as though it was made of pure diamond.

Kelly took the money and then slowly made a cup.

“Hurry up! Hurry up!” She bickered. As she waited, she picked up a newspaper on the table: “Two Thorney Close young women still missing” the headline read.

But as Kelly took her time, the woman was not impressed and cried out in a frail but angry voice: “This tastes disgusting! It’s freezing! I’m never coming back here!” She then at a slow pace got up and hobbled out of the cafe.

“What was all that about?” said a deep voice, Kelly’s manager as he walked out of the kitchen.

“I don’t know, old lady with a chip on her shoulder”- she shrugged, without any empathy for her customer’s complaint.

He moved to the door and looked outside: “That lady there? She’s been here before but never had any trouble like that.” He said sternly.

“Never seen her before, it’s all new to me”- Kelly replied.

“Well aye, regardless try not to piss the customers off. You’ve had complaints before, I’ll take that as another. Now get back to work”.

That evening as Kelly got off the bus home, it just so happened that she then from a distance saw the same old lady walking along the street. Trying not to be seen, she watched carefully as the elderly woman slowly trundled into a small house with a crooked gate.

However suddenly and unexpectedly, the woman turned her head round at lightning speed facing Kelly, staring in a blank and inhuman way. Startled, Kelly walked backwards with unease and then headed back to her flat.

Once home, she took a sigh of exhaustion and picked up a letter that had arrived. Her face soured as she opened up an invoice which stated “You owe £2496” by March 13th (two weeks time) “and if this demand is not met we will escalate this to a court level”

“Shit!” She shouted out loud to herself, almost crying in panic. She had taken out a loan which had now escalated without interest and far exceeded her budget. “I’ve got this to pay on top of rent and bills!” she gasped to herself.

“My new I-phone can forget it” she groaned. “Nowt to show for this shitty life”.

The next day she returned to the cafe, but was met with an unpleasant surprise. Her manager was standing outside his arms folded, almost in a state of disbelief.

“I’ve been meaning to call you Kelly, did you check your messages?” He asked in a cold voice. “I don’t know what happened…” he said looking onwards to the property “The place was suddenly overrun by rats when I came in to open up this morning. They’ve eaten everything, gnawed holes through everything.”

“Oh my god…” Kelly gasped

“So I’m sorry to break it to you pet, but we’re closed for the foreseeable future.” He groaned.

“Do I at least get my wage?” Kelly asked without a pause for consideration

“Look Kelly, we were going under as it is and I haven’t caught up on insurance payments. Everything is going to have to go on the exterminator. I can’t help you love, and given yesterday was not the first customer you’ve pissed off it’s best we go our separate ways, sorry pet… you might be a canny lass but you’re really not what we need”

In disbelief, she walked away down the street murmuring and cursing to herself “That creepy old bitch, what’s her problem?”

“Not like she’s drowning herself in debt with diamond necklaces and what not..”

She continued to walk and then stopped for a moment, questioning to herself  and emphasizing: “Diamond necklace?” her face lit up, as if she came across an idea. “I’ll teach that dirty old hag a lesson, kill two birds with one stone. After all, shy bairns get nowt”

Her composure calmed down, and she walked home.

Night fell, and Kelly waited in her flat tensely. She got changed into a black jumper, jeans, gloves and popped a black woolly hat over her platinum blonde dyed hair after tying it into a bun.

Midnight struck. She ventured slowly out of the flat and into the street, which was empty and silent. Discreetly she made her away over to the house which saw the elderly woman enter the day previously. The lights were off, as if no one was home.

Kelly climbed carefully over a back wall and into the yard. It was messy and distorted with wild, extensive and overgrown plants and grass everywhere, as if nobody had tended to it for years.

She stepped forwards, and then her foot felt something wooden underneath her foot. She reached and picked up the wooden object, to discover a carved Pentagram shape. She looked at it with surprise and confusion, and then discarded it.

“Now, how do I get in?” she whispered to herself, looking around carefully. Much to her luck, she noticed a window slightly open coming from the kitchen.

“Daft cow” she sniggered to herself quietly, putting her hand into the gap and prying it open completely. Then quietly, she hoisted herself up and edged in, entering a dark kitchen.

Immediately, Kelly sensed an “old people smell” in the room, but one which was much stronger and more noticeable than usual, more like a wafting stench of putrid decay. But it also looked as if nobody had used it for a long time. As a kitchen it wasn’t just messy, but almost unfeasible.

The tiles on the floor were dirty and crumbling, the appliances rusty and battered and the wallpaper peeling and curdling yellow. Yet on the counter sat a number of unusual shaped knives and tools, with an extreme variety of points, edges far beyond ordinary everyday use. Kelly’s heartbeat shot up, how could such a home could belong to an elaborately dressed lady with Diamond jewelry? Feeling insecure, she picked up a knife and carried it with her.

Quietly, she made her way out and into the hallway, which was in no better condition; step by step to avoid being heard and feeling her way through the darkness. Dazing up at the staircase, she took her shoes off to reveal several layers of socks to avoid creaking, and began ascending upwards slowly into the blackness.

Reaching the top, she stopped to observe three different bedrooms, thoughts racing through her mind on which one to choose and where it might be, her heart pounding at the worry she may have to confront the lady herself.

But before moving forwards, she stopped. Above one of the doorways stood another Pentagram seal, painted with a glossy red. Without a thought, she chose that one and pulled the handle softly to enter. Much to her disdain however, it produced a light creaking noise, as is common from doors.

“Shit…” she cursed to herself as she sneaked in.

What she saw however, was no ordinary bedroom. Whilst it was not the one the lady was sleeping in, as it stumbled before her eyes Kelly put her hands over her mouth gasping in horror, struggling to breathe in shock.

A gigantic pentagram was marked across the floor in yellow, with a burnt out candles at each point. A mangled human body was crucified to the wall, eyeless and in a mummified state.  But at the far side of the room sat a table with a black sheet over it and a rectangular box sat on it.

Still shocked, she stepped across the room avoiding the drawing on the floor and picked it up. Seeing it was unlocked, she flipped a switch to open it. There it was before her eyes, a glittering diamond necklace.

“Yes..” she said with a sigh relief. “Now… let’s get out of here…” as she turned around and…

The necklace crashed to the floor, she dropped it. In front of her, stood the woman, despite the time of night she was elaborately dressed and did not appear to have been sleeping. She said nothing, but simply simply stared, but her eyes were now a shining, rancid green.

“Give it back!” the lady snarled in a monstrous voice which seemed almost inhuman.

Kelly gulped, her mind was whirring on what to do, the old lady then took one step forwards. She did not appear frail this time. However, reflecting on the messed up and horrific nature of the house, she decided to take a chance.

“Honestly, get to f*** you old bitch!” she screamed and grasping the knife she had brought up with her, lunged at the green eyed lady and rammed it into her chest. The lady stumbled, blood pouring out, and without a whimper fell flat to the floor.

“I might not have done well at school but am not thick. Shy bairns get nowt!” she said to herself softly, yanking the knife out of the now lifeless corpse, picking up the necklace. She darted downstairs, put on her shoes and flew out of the back window back home.

The next morning, before any news could suffice Kelly took the necklace and much to her luck, sold it at a value of £3000, with the diamonds being of an authentic high quality.

The Jewellers were astounded at where she had got an item of such a high value, but accepted her aliby that it was a family herloom… for there was no news of a break in murder…

and conspicuously… neither did any emerge. The woman’s death went strangely unnoticed by the community. Kelly felt relieved as she paid off her debt and quickly got the newest edition I-Phone as she desired. She got a new job in a convenience store, which she attended to with an equally abysmal attitude.

But… a few days later she came home from work and her heart stopped… on entering her flat, her eyes could not believe what she was seeing. The necklace which she had sold was now, somehow… sitting on her living room table along with a crumbled old paper note. She picked it up and opened it

“Give it back” it said coldly in old school ink.

In horror, she dropped the items onto the floor. Picking them up she took them out of the house and ventured down carefully to where the elderly woman lived. However, there was a change. The property was now boarded up with wooden panels across the door and windows, as if the building was completely derelict and nobody had lived there for years.

She took a look at the necklace and froze in shock. There was still no news about the killing and whilst this was a relief to her, nevertheless Kelly was disturbed by the development. Panicking, that evening she went down to the Wearmouth Bridge and threw the jewelry into the river.

But again, as she entered home later. The necklace was back yet again on her table along with a new company of the note. Seeing it again, she screamed. This created a frantic push to try and conceal the evidence.

She tried burying it, taking it to further distances, even breaking it with a hammer. Yet each time, the necklace returned again and again to the same position on her table with the note.

Never however, did she contemplate trying to return it to where it seemingly came from despite the ruined circumstances of the house and the implications of murder.

All that came to her mind was that if it was keep doing that, that she could make more money out of it. Thus she gave up trying to get rid of it and instead planned to go around every town, selling it.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. She turned towards it, sweating with panic and stuffing the necklace under the sofa. Turning to open the handle, a policeman was standing on the doorstep.

“Hello, is this Kelly Clough’s residence?” He asked.

“Yes, what can I do for you?” She asked nervously

“May I come in?” I have some questions to ask you.

Timidly yet willingly, Kelly moved away from the door and let the officer enter. Tactfully, she then sat on top of the spot where she had concealed the necklance

“Okay” he grunted. “Last week you sold a diamond necklace to Aengoth’s, right?”

“I did, yes…” she replied attempting to be calm, her thoughts racing.

“Well we received a report just today that a similar item was stolen from an old lady’s house near here, and we later received a complaint that when the jeweler went to look for the necklace you on record had sold them, it was gone.”

“You told them that this was a family item” He continued.

“Yes it was my grandmothers entrusted to me for a long time since she passed away, but I had to sell it due to financial problems”- Kelly lied in a voice so evidently trying to win sympathy and compassion.

“So your grandmother had an identically valued diamond necklace so similar to one owned by an elderly woman just streets away from here?” The officer asked in a probing, sarcastic voice

“I don’t know any elderly women with diamond necklaces around here.” Kelly snapped back in a lull of confidence “This is Thorney Close, not Beverly Hills!”

“Oh but you do…” The officer said suddenly in a mysterious tone which lurched away from his usual police style.

“Ha’way then… tell me then” Kelly hit back, again trying to whip up false confidence to fabricate her innocence given the logic of the situation to her did not make sense. Despite all the strange happenings, how could a woman who was technically dead or even never lived there.. now be reporting a robbery?

“You know what you did…” “You know what you did…” the officer started repeating suddenly in a cryptic and dark tone which seemed to veer away from the reality of the situation. “Give it back!” he hissed.

Kelly started breathing heavily and gasping as the policeman’s flickered green as he glared at her. She screamed, grabbed the necklace from under the sofa and dived up out of the room in a desperate attempt to flee, but the door slammed shut on its own in front of her face and locked.

The “policeman” then slowly got up out of his chair. Defiant, Kelly ran into the kitchen, threw a chair through the window smashing it open and climbed out frantically, her hands bleeding from the shards of glass.

She then belted down the empty, night time street, panting and puffing in agony as she approached the house where the purported woman had lived. Once again, it was back its normal occupied, albeit semi-derelict state.

Approaching the front garden, she clutched the necklace in her hand and screamed “You want it back? Here it is!” hurling it over the wall and into the backyard. She then wiped the sweat off her forehead and turned round slowly.

“I don’t want it back…” Said an old, frail voice. In front of Kelly there she was again, dressed in black and seemingly void of the stab wound which had apparently killed her a week earlier.

“Please…” Kelly said breaking down into tears “Just leave me alone, I was desperate, me life’s a mess” She pleaded.

“I asked you to give it back.” She suddenly snarled in a demonic voice, her eyes turning a venomous green once again. But this time as her eyes changed colour, her face also began to transform. Her skin started distorting into a twisted texture and a murky grey colour, her hair changing from silver to a rugged jet black. She started walking towards Kelly, and snarling.

“I gave you time to make your choice, but you already decided to keep it. You only tried to return it once you feared for yourself, not because you ever felt guilt or remose” she hissed.

“The lust of jewelry may satisfy your needs for a short while, but it will curse your soul for eternity and cursed you are.” She said in a calm, but demonic voice.

Kelly was static with shock, barely able to breathe.. she looked down. No longer was the necklace in the backyard, but she was now wearing it. However far from its starlike diamond twinkle, it was now pulsing green.

She suddenly felt an excruciating pressing feeling all over her body, causing her to tremble uncontrollably. She tried to scream and rip off the necklace, but couldn’t. The shaking intensified in as much as she could barely make out her surroundings, descending into a dizzy incomprehensible blur.

Suddenly, her whole body lit up and she screamed as she combusted into a flash of green light. The light was then vacuumed into back into the necklace which then turned back to normal.

The witch cackled quietly as she picked it up. “There you are Kelly, you got what you wanted.

“Shy bairns get nowt” she cackled “and greedy bairns get cursed”.

Then she disappeared.