Excerpt 2 – The Cursed Tombstone

The following is one of many entries from the Phantoms Fill The Southern Skies book. I am producing it here from the original manuscript file for visitors to sample and see if they would be interested in the full text available on Amazon.

Please respect the copyright owners – Jeff Lawhead, J.S. Lawhead and 23 House Publishing – and do not reprint or reproduce any portion of this text on any monetized formats and without permission. Reproduction for hobbyist or academic interest (as well as “fair use”) is ok as long as sources are explicitly cited. Contact me at Meteo.Xavier@gmail.com for any permission inquiries regarding this or any other excerpt.


Love as a marital bond is one of the largest driving forces in ghostly legends that derive from the grave-site – after all, they only vowed to part at death… that didn’t mean they wouldn’t try to come back. Love is an inescapable force to which all things are subsequent. It is a force beyond logic and reason, and when that bond is shared, it creates an illumination that divides the darkness and leads us through the path of life. When that bond is broken, the darkness may consume us and end that path without warning.

Such is the story of The Cursed Tombstone from Eastern Kentucky, as darkness consumed Southern man Carl Pruitt and turned him into an invisible and unstoppable killing machine.

In 1938, Carl came home after a long day at work completely unaware it was the last day of work he would ever have. He expected his wife to be cooking their dinner as she always did about the time he returned, but this evening, the kitchen was empty and she was nowhere else to be found in the house… or so he thought, until he opened the door to their bedroom and found her in bed with another man.

Carl was not able to exact his rage on the quick lothario that scrambled to the front door with his clothes falling behind him, but his wife had nowhere to go. Insane with a million questions running through his mind at the speed of light, Carl grabbed a chain from nearby and strangled his wife to death. When he was able to see through his blinding fury, he saw what he had done to his once-lovely wife and what that was going to mean for him. Carl committed suicide before dawn the next morning.

His wife’s family was not able to sympathize with Carl’s plight and they refused to forgive him for taking her away from them. He was buried in a different county where he could rot for his sins by himself.

But barely a week after Carl was buried, a series of circles started forming around his tombstone. In two months time, the circles formed what seemed to be a cross pattern of chains around his burial plot. Visitors to the grave started taking notice, and being superstitious mountain folk, it wasn’t long before they started whispering rumors to one another about what could be going on there.

A month later, some local boys rode their bikes to the cemetery to see the tombstone they had been hearing about. One boy felt the need to throw a rock at the tombstone to prove how brave he was against curses and broke off a small piece of the edge. When they were riding back home, the boy who successfully chipped the tombstone suddenly lost control of his bike and slammed into a tree. The collision somehow snapped his sprocket chain and caused it to wrap around his neck with such voracity that he couldn’t get it off. It choked him until he was dead.

Many thought the boy died of an near-impossible freak accident, but not his mother. She was well aware of the tombstone’s reputation and went to get revenge with an axe. She struck it several times but, reportedly, was not able to damage it (which seems strange considering how easy it was for her son to chip it with a rock) and left the cemetery with a weight of disappointment on her shoulders. The next day, she was found strangled to death too, by some bizarre altercation with the laundry clothesline in her backyard.

Now the neighbors were getting worried and one of them tried to take it into his own hands to stop the curse. He went to the graveyard with three members of his family, driving past it by horse and buggy, and proceeded to shoot it with his pistol (a very odd choice of weapon for a stationary stone monument). He managed to break off some more stone from the edges, but the discharge of the weapon scared the horses and they took off wildly down the road. They came to a sharp curve; the neighbor fell forward and was strangled by the trace chains of the buggy, becoming the third victim of the curse.

What in the world was going on here? The townspeople were now terrified and went so far as to pressure their congressman to do something about it. Likely rolling his eyes and groaning at the request, he at least sent two policemen to investigate and try to pacify their fears. Neither officer took the assignment seriously and mocked the curse as they took pictures and trod on the scene. When they left, one of the officers saw an orb of light following them from the cemetery in the rear view mirror. The driver lost control of the car and hit a chained link between two posts, throwing both out of the windshield. The passenger officer survived, but the driver did not. He got caught in the chain and was nearly decapitated from a mortal wound the chain inflicted on his head and neck.

The last death attributed to the tombstone came years after, as another emboldened citizen tried to break the curse by breaking the slab in the 1940s. He was also found strangled around a chain somehow.

It seemed like Carl’s writhing anger would never be satisfied. Even in death, he could not find the answer for why the love of his life betrayed him, and the darkness that festered with his twisted soul fed on his anguish until it needed more. What could stop this very literal of chain of disasters from continuing?

The fate of Carl Pruitt’s tomb today is not know for sure. Some accounts suggest that the infamy surrounding the murderous gravestone got so bad that every other person buried in the cemetery was exhumed and moved to another location until Carl’s tomb remained by itself and forgotten over time. Other accounts suggest that his lonely burial plot was finally destroyed once and for all during a strip-mining operation in 1958.

Amazingly, no deaths from the strip-mining account are reported. Was there just not a chain handy this time?

Images used in this post do not belong to me or 23 House and are not part of the original manuscript. They were pulled from Google Images or Snappy Goat and only serve as graphical decoration. They are not being used for any monetizing purposes whatsoever.