What is Going on at Liberty Chapel

📅 Published on June 4, 2022

“What is Going on at Liberty Chapel”

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 8 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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I’m from a smallish town.  In a town like that, you know everyone’s business, for better or for worse.  You all go to the same school, shop at the same stores, show up on Sundays at the same churches.

More or less, anyway.  My town had five churches.  We had a Methodist church, where my family went.  We had a Lutheran church for folks who meant well.  We had two Baptist churches from some schism a half-century back that no one was willing to talk about yet.

And then there was Liberty Chapel.  It was an attractive little place from the outside.  Covered in clean white siding, surrounded by neatly trimmed grounds, and topped with an elegant yet modest bell tower.  Out front, where a lot of the churches just had the changeable letter signs, Liberty Chapel had a nice brickwork piece surrounding an electronic sign to display the church’s events.  For some reason, though, all it ever said was:

WHAT IS GOING ON
AT LIBERTY CHAPEL

Nothing else.  There were never any events listed.  No times for services, no calls to worship at Easter, no food drives or community outreach opportunities.  Just those seven words.  Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, those words shone out onto the nearby street.

Funny thing was, I never knew anyone who went to Liberty Chapel.  I knew all of the Methodists, obviously, and a good chunk of the Lutherans.  A bunch of my friends were Baptists of one congregation or the other.  There was even a Jewish family in town for a while, though they moved away after a few years.  Point is, I knew where people went.  We all knew each other’s business, like I said.  And I didn’t know anyone who went to Liberty Chapel.

Somehow, it wasn’t until I left town to go to college that this struck me as unusual.  It wasn’t until I was back for summer break after my sophomore or junior year that it really hit me.  I was nearly home, smelling the familiar smells and looking forward to a visit with my family before going off to work for the summer when I drove past Liberty Chapel.  The walls were clean and white as always, the bushes and grass carefully trimmed, and yet that sign still blared out its single, unchanging message:

WHAT IS GOING ON
AT LIBERTY CHAPEL

That day, for some reason, I really wanted to know the answer.  So I turned into the small lot, parked my car, and walked up to the front doors of the church.

I felt somehow like I should knock, but I squashed the impulse.  It was a church, after all.  They welcomed people, right?  So I opened the door and poked my head inside.

It was cool within and brighter than I’d expected.  Large windows let in great shafts of light, giving it a welcoming, comfortable feel.  Row upon row of empty pews stretched up toward a tabernacle at the front, and the space felt bigger inside than the humble outside had suggested.  But although the space was able to house a sizeable crowd, I was completely alone.

“Hello?” I called out hesitantly, my voice echoing in the empty chamber.

Far away, I heard the soft squeak of a door opening, and then footsteps padding toward me.  Soon after, a slightly hunched figure came into view, appearing around a corner.  It was Dr. Arbogast, the old man who’d been in charge of Liberty Chapel for as long as I could remember.  He was the preacher, caretaker and landscaper all rolled into one.  Frankly, I was a little surprised to see him still running the place.  I remembered him as being old when I was a child.  Yet he was clearly still spry and able to continue his one-man operation.

“Yes, can I help you?”  He smiled as he approached, holding out his hand for me to shake.  I took his hand in mine.  His skin felt papery and delicate, his bones almost bird-like.

“Yeah, I—I don’t know, I just realized that I’d never been in here, and I kind of wanted to take a look.”

“Come on in!” he beamed, gesturing for me to follow him.  “I’ll show you around.”

I followed him down the aisle, his shuffling pace somehow managing to cover the distance at a reasonable rate of speed.  I looked around at the wooden pews, the stained-glass windows, the table covered in white linen and set with candles.  It all looked so normal, like every other church I’d been in.  So then why did it have no parishioners?

“Reverend Arbogast?  What denomination are you?” I asked.

He waved a hand at me.  “Not Reverend, please.  That’s much too grand.  Shepherd, if you would.”

“Shepherd Arbogast?”

“Indeed, indeed,” he chuckled.  “A much more apt term.  I’m no Reverend.  Clay, the same as everyone.  I just have a job to do.”

We passed the altar, and he led me down a short hallway to his office.  I took a seat in a chair that he motioned to.

“Would you like a glass of water?  You look parched,” Shepherd Arbogast asked, and I nodded.  It was a full summer’s day outside, and the A/C was out in my car.  Even driving with the windows down could only do so much.

Arbogast disappeared around a corner for a moment, and I heard the sound of running water.  He came back with a tall glass of water with condensation already beading on the outside and passed it to me.  I took a deep draft, enjoying the chill of the water against the heat of my throat.

“It’s from our well,” said the shepherd.  “Same as I fill the fount with.  I won’t say it’s got restorative properties, but it’s certainly kept me young!”

He laughed, the wrinkles on his face creasing, and I laughed with him.  Then he started to talk, something about the church’s history, but my attention was drawn to a plain wooden door behind him.  Set as it was, it should have led just about to outside, but I didn’t remember any door on that side of the church.  Maybe it was just a closet?  Possibly, but the door bore a lock more appropriate to a secure office building, maybe even a vault of some kind.  With Arbogast the only person here, what could he possibly need such a lock for?

“Anything in particular you’d like to ask about?” Arbogast asked, startling me from my reverie.  I cast about for something that would suggest that I’d been paying attention.

“What’s with the sign out front?” I asked.  “It only ever displays that same message.”

The shepherd laughed.  “We had that installed in the ’90s.  The man who put it in showed me everything it could do, all of the options it had, and set up the basic screen for me.  Then he left, and I promptly lost the remote that let me program it.  It’s said the same thing ever since.  I kind of like it this way, to be honest.  I think it inspires people to think about us.”

“But no one ever comes here,” I said, then regretted it.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude.”

“No, no, you’re right,” said the shepherd, smiling slightly.  “It’s not yet our time.  But I have faith that the time will come, and my congregation will arise and stand with me to meet the Lord.”

I wished him luck, shook his fragile hand again, and was on my way.  When I walked out of the door, I thought that was the last of my interaction with Liberty Chapel.  But all that night, while I was greeted back at home and the joyful chaos of family roiled around me, my thoughts kept drifting back to that plain wooden door behind the shepherd’s desk.

I decided that evening to go back the next day and ask him about it, to put my curiosity to rest.  But as I myself lay in bed that night, I couldn’t put the door from my mind.  It was so out of place, out of character for the rest of the small chapel.  And what if it was something interesting?  There was no chance that Shepherd Arbogast would just confess.  With no congregation, how had he kept the church going all these years?  Maybe the answer was behind that door.

Some thoughts only make sense in the dead of night.  Which is how I found myself creeping down the streets of my hometown dressed in dark clothing, a crowbar concealed up one sleeve of my sweatshirt.  I told myself that I just needed a quick peek, that I wouldn’t take anything.  But I had to know what was behind that door.

The church doors opened silently at my touch, and for the second time that day, I found myself walking down its aisle, the silent pews lined up in serried ranks beside me.  I took the turn to the shepherd’s office, moving by the moonlight shining in through the tall windows.

At the door to his office, I froze, standing motionless.  I could hear a faint, steady sound, a far-off murmuring.  I waited for a minute or more, listening to it, but it never became clear or increased in volume.  Finally, I gathered my courage and moved forward into the office.

To my surprise, the locked door was ajar.  I stole around the desk to peer inside and found that it led to a narrow niche with a long metal ladder leading down.  A faint, wavering light shone up from below, casting a subtle bluish tinge over the carpet.  Leaning over the ladder, the distant murmur intensified.  It was clearly coming from below.

Although this was nothing like what I’d expected to find, I’d come too far to turn back now.  I leaned my crowbar up against the wall, slid past the door into the shallow nook and made my way silently down the ladder.

I traveled down for what felt like a hundred feet or more.  The walls surrounding me were earth and stone, clearly hand-carved.  And when at last the shaft I was in widened, it opened onto an enormous natural cavern, softly lit by blue lights strung along its ceiling.  At first, I thought more lights lined the floor, but I abruptly realized that I was looking at the reflection from an immense, perfectly still lake.

The ladder let out at one side of the cavern.  On the far side, glowing in a blue nimbus, was a lectern, behind which stood Shepherd Arbogast.  He was reading from a book that was open before him, and although the echoes in the cavern distorted his voice and made the words difficult to understand, I caught occasional lines about redemption, judgment and resurrection.

Keeping to the shadows as best I could, I crept carefully forward, trying to hear more.  I had only made it a few steps, though, when Arbogast’s voice rang out, clear as a bell, echoing across the waters.

“I thought you’d be back.”

I froze, unsure what to do.

“Be not afraid,” he continued.  “You are here because you are meant to be here.  Look upon the answers you sought.  See my congregation!”

He spread his hands wide, encompassing the entire cavern in his gesture.  For a moment, I thought him delusional, but then I glanced down at the waters and my breath caught in my throat.

Although I had at first seen only the reflection of the lights on the water, from my current vantage point I was able to see into the lake itself.  The still waters were crystal clear, allowing me to see all the way to the bottom, dozens of feet below.  And there, standing in orderly rows stretching all the way to the far side of the cavern, were corpses.  Thousands upon thousands of corpses, perfectly preserved by the icy waters.  All dressed in their Sunday best, all standing at mute attention, listening with eternal patience to the shepherd’s speech.

I fled back up the ladder then, paying no attention to the words the shepherd shouted after me.  I ran back to my family’s house, collected my bags and left that night.  I called them later to apologize and made up an excuse about an emergency.  What could I tell them?  That a preacher in town had been robbing the graveyards to build a congregation of the dead?  That I’d seen Grandpa in there, standing near the back, dressed in the suit we’d buried him in?

Or worse, the thing I tell myself I could not have seen, could not have happened.  That I did not just happen to catch sight of Grandpa.  That he turned his head toward me, his milky, sightless gaze searching in my direction.  That he had raised one hand limply in those icy waters, and beckoned gently for me to join him.

I will never in my life return to that town.  But I’m haunted by the half-heard sermon of the Shepherd Arbogast, and I’m deeply afraid that run though I might, I may end up there after I die.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek and N.M. Brown
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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