If you hike along the Appalachian Trail, you will eventually come to a section in Southwest Virginia known as Dragon’s Tooth. The trail is so called because a rock at the very peak of the mountain looks like a giant tooth jutting from the ground. Partway up this trail, there is a place known as the “Sarver Cabin”. Technically, it was never owned by the Sarvers. My great-grandparents just rented it.
The cabin is gone now. Some idiot managed to burn it down. Mom says we walked up there one time, when I was about four years old. She even took me upstairs. I don’t remember much of that at all. I just have a vague recollection of being simultaneously happy to be walking up that big trail and feeling hot and cranky.
My granddad, and his surviving siblings, all told the same story about that place. I’ve heard it over and over again throughout my life, but it never gets old. Maybe it’s the way Granddad tells it. He has a knack for storytelling. I think it runs in the family. I’ll try to do the same for you.
When they lived there, there were ten kids altogether. They were a rowdy bunch, for sure. Granddad remembers throwing the cats off the second story porch to watch them land on their feet. It was, by all accounts, a fairly big place for the time, which was necessary with that large a family.
But the place had its drawbacks.
Every night right after everyone went to bed, a ghost would walk through the house.
First would come the clomping of boots on the old wooden porch.
The door would creak open, and there would be a moment where no sound was heard.
Then, the steps would enter, and the door would creak again, and they would hear the distinct sound of a door being latched and locked.
The steps would move across the room, and then they would hear it.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Steps moving slowly, methodically up the stairs. Then, they would reach the top. And there would be silence.
The first night, no one moved from their beds. Who was this stranger, walking in to their cabin so far out in the woods? But when nothing happened, the next night the kids all ran to their doors and flung them open. No one was there. Though the footsteps had just ceased, no one would be visible. The word ghost was soon used in abundance.
Eventually, my granddad came up with a scheme. They would wait at the top of the stairs, he said, and see who this was that kept walkin’ up the stairs. So one night, all ten kids crowded on the landing, waiting with bated breath.
The clock chimed ten.
Still they waited. The clock chimed fifteen after. No one moved.
When the clock chimed thirty after, great-granddad came out and yelled at the kids to get to bed. Reluctantly, they left the landing.
The moment the last door shut, they heard it.
Clomping, right across the porch.
The door creaking open, then creaking closed and latching.
The steady thump thump thump up the stairs.
And then, silence.
They decided not to wait up anymore.