A friend of mine once told me this story on a Halloween many years ago. It chilled me to the bone. Whether it is true or not, I am not sure, although he swore on his mother’s grave that it was.
In the late 1970s, the central cemetery in west Hull was a real eyesore. It was overrun with trees, bushes and weeds, and it was used as a place for all sorts of illicit activities. Most people gave it a very wide berth indeed. Many of the graves in the cemetery are Victorian, and they are grandiose monstrosities of a bygone era. It is a pretty damned creepy place in fact. These days, the whole area has been cleaned up, tidied and is actually worthy of a visit. However, back then, it was a place to be avoided if at all possible.
My friend was walking home, somewhat tipsy, from the pub with a couple of other friends that night in the late 1970s. They thought it might be scary fun to take a trip through the cemetery. Who wouldn’t? They decided to walk across it, and while picking their way between overgrown and fallen tombstones, heavy undergrowth and trees, to their horror, they came to an area where many of the graves had been tampered with. Whether for theft or some other macabre reason, in this area in the middle of the cemetery lay scattered bones and open graves with coffins and contents partially exposed. Horrified, the three friends began to hurry, totally creeped out by the place and what they saw there.
This is where it gets interesting, however, because at this point, my friend accidentally kicked something as he moved as swiftly as possible through this darkened field of bones. To his utter horror, he realized that it was a human skull as he watched it rolling away into the undergrowth.
He told me that in a moment of pure madness, he decided to take it with him. Gingerly picking up the skull, he ran with his two friends to the nearest way out of the creepy cemetery. Having escaped from the cemetery, he stuffed the trophy skull in his bag, and they all went home.
When he arrived home, he took out the skull and examined it. It grinned back at him and was in good condition. He was actually quite proud of his fearlessness and, with some satisfaction, he placed the skull on his bedside table for further inspection and cleaning the next morning before he passed out to sleep.
Awakening the next morning, instead of the skull that he and his friends had collected the night before, he was shocked to find a large, carved ivory chess piece sitting on the table. The chess piece was carved in the form a man. This freaked him out no end. Where was the skull? Where had this come from? He later confirmed with his mates that he had taken a skull from the cemetery, but that skull was now a large ivory chess piece. The chess piece was even scarier to him than the skull. It seemed to have a dark presence around it and, after a couple of days, he and his friends returned it to where they had found it—during daylight. They left it back in the cemetery where they felt that it belonged.
Did the chess piece turn back into a skull, we wonder? Or did he simply imagine that it was a skull initially? We will never know.