The Haunting of The Three Cheeses

In the heart of the small, sleepy town of Eldridge, nestled deep within the Appalachian Mountains, there either is, or was, an old, clap-board mansion known as the Jura House. This eerie abode was long abandoned, its windows shattered, and its walls covered in intrusive ivy that had crept into the house, filling every room.

The townsfolk tell tales of dust sheet covered furniture, colonies of bats and whispered tales of demons trapped within its walls.  None dared to enter after dark. The strangest and most chilling tale passed down was the story of the haunted cheeseboard.

Last year, as autumn set in and frost’s fingers began to redraw each morning’s landscape of sharp peaks, still lakes and silent trees, a group of friends gathered around a crackling campfire. All of the group lived in New York, but one, Markus, had grown up locally. He had heard the stories of the Jura House but had never dared to look for it.

“Tonight, my friends,” Markus began, his voice quivering with excitement, “we will unravel the mystery of the Haunted Cheeseboard.”

Markus was a muscled, adventurous young man with a shaped beard and a sleeve of tattoos.  He had a chain of coffee bars.  Like most of his age, he dismissed the supernatural, but wished a spiritual dimension to his life and brought that to his company branding, naming it The Gallows Cup.

With Halloween approaching he had convinced his friends to join him in this camping expedition, with tales of ghost stories and farmers market cheese.  For added spice he said they would look for Jura House by moonlight.

The group consisted of Aster, an out of work banker who had a habit of questioning everything; Jayden, a nepo-kid addicted to expensive thrills; and Elise, a French economics student.  She was short, sharp, skinny and the kind who has two dozen scarves and three dozen shoes, none suitable for camping.  She was a regular at one of Markus’s coffee bars and had come along at the last minute because she knew no one in New York. She assumed Markus would make a move at some point.

It was a surprise to everyone when they found Jura House.  Markus tried to pass it off as part of the plan, but he’d never actually met anyone who’d ever seen it.  With flashlights in hand, they approached the Jura, the sound of their footsteps disappearing as they left the leaf strewn woods and came onto the open lawn. The door was partly off its hinges and stiff.  The air grew colder as they crossed the threshold, and they couldn’t help but feel as if the very walls were watching them. They began to huddle together.

In the dim light of their phone lights, the group stumbled through vine infested rooms.  The dusty sheets were rags, suspended on generations of growth, while down below, chairs and tables had rotted away, as if oppressed and crushed by the house’s history of evil deeds.  Markus had had a plan.  He had brought cheese for the supposed cheese board, he had told his friends, and they should eat it on the Haunted Cheeseboard if they found it.  He never expected to find it, but now felt compelled to carry it through.  

Unwilling to separate they wandered the ground floor until they reached the long dining room in the west wing.  There, on a long, wooden table, sat a cheeseboard.  A carved mouse, as big a rat, at one end looked at a similarly carved but bigger cat at the other. Stuck into slots in the board, their handles exposed, were eight cheese knives with dark hardwood handles in the shape of figures, like the figureheads of Elizabethan galleons.

Aster exclaimed sharply at the sight. “Haunted cheeseboard? This is ridiculous.”  She implied Markus had set this up.  It may have unnerved Markus that this was by far the most rational explanation, and he knew it wasn’t true, but he said nothing.  

He was, however, emboldened that their adventure had come so far. He got out his pack, and after wiping the board down, unwrapped his cheeses.  “Come, friends, dine with me” he said, opening his arms as if he had exposed a lavish feast. He turned and found a chair strong enough to take his weight, and pulled it up. The harsh sound of the chair on the boards sounded weirdly normal, and the other three looked for chairs for themselves. 

“Legend has it that this cheeseboard holds a dark secret.” He hissed in a whisper. His cheeses were carefully selected from Murrays Cheese shop: a vacherin Mont d’or, a cheddar, and some halloumi.

`The thick accent of Elise scoffed.  “Halloumi? really?”

“Why, what is wrong with it?”

“Halloumi needs to be cooked, Markus”

“I have a lighter”, said Jayden.  He pulled out one of those cigar lighters that looked like a baby jet engine, and, having sat down, started to fry the halloumi, holding it lightly at the other end.  To Aster it looked like he was burning hashish resin.  Caramelised cheese fumes lifted into the chandelier above.  Jayden put four pieces back on the board.  Aster thought the board rippled slightly at their hot touch.

Jayden pulled a knife from the board.  The blade was bright, not a shiver of rust. The other three took one likewise, curious for the single things in the whole house that appeared not to have aged.  The cheese, despite its eerie surroundings, looked tempting and delicious. Markus used his knife to cut some cheddar.

“This is amazing!” Markus exclaimed. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before.”

The others followed suit, sampling the cheeses. The sharp cheddar was richly flavourful, with hints of meadow grasses, horseradish and freshly churned butter.  The Mont D’or was unctuous with pine and liver that lingered on their tongues and coated the inside of their mouths. The surprisingly well cooked halloumi gave dreams of wild goats on stark island hills and notes of fresh mint and Mediterranean salt. Despite the strange circumstances, they couldn’t help but enjoy the cheeses.  

As they indulged in their unexpected feast, the room around them seemed to come alive with a strange energy. Shadows danced on the walls, and a faint whispering filled the air. The friends exchanged nervous glances.

Silence fell. The feeling of good cheer and light hearted adventure disappeared. “This place is creepy,” Elise whispered, her voice beginning to tremble and she pushed her chair back from the cheeseboard. She wanted to get back to pavements and air conditioned shops.

Just as they were about to make a hasty exit, the room plunged into darkness. Their phones flickered and died, leaving them in utter blackness. Panic set in as they fumbled for any light.

When the feeble light of their phone screens finally cut back through the darkness, the group gasped in horror.

The dining room had transformed. The walls were now covered in ancient, rotting tapestries that depicted grotesque scenes, tunnels and pits filled with suffering and torment. Soldiers in leather and white tabards threw women, young and old into these caverns. 

Larger than life dark browed and high hatted puritans stood by directing the scene, their cuffs and collars as white as the pits were black. The table itself had disappeared, the cheese board had become a gnarled, twisted wooden stump. Eight dead bodies, old and decayed, were pinned to the stump. 

Four had knives, larger now, pinning their bodies down and they writhed and spat at their binding.  Four – the four in front of our band, began to rise.  As the four visitors watched in horror, the hands of the dead reached for the cheese, grabbing it and stuffing it into their dead mouths.  They lifted themselves, each one looking at the living, eyes intent as lions on prey. 

Stumbling they reached for them, the dead hunting the living.  Markus was the first caught, boney hand on thick well fed wrist, spinning him around until his back crushed against the stump.  Quick as quicksilver the knife skewered him. Jayden and Aster quickly followed, screaming as they lost their will to fly, trapped in the terror of the moment. 

Elise fell back from her chair, putting a quick distance from the walking body that reached for her.  Both her and her pursuer turned to see the once dead bodies suck life from Markus, Aster and Jayden.  Their bodies fattened, becoming pink with life, their hands falling to touch themsleves and believe in their newness.  Elise understood.  

She lifted her chair and smashed against the walking corpse, grabbing the knife she had dropped in her fear.  She charged, knife ahead in two hands like a spear recapturing the weight and re-pinioning it to the cheeseboard. 

Silence fell.  Elise looked to the newly less-dead, expecting the attack.  The three looked at Elise but raised no hand. Elise saw fear in their eyes, spirits smashed and crushed offering a glimpse of freedom.  Then as one they turned and ran out the door, as afraid of Jura House as the living had been.  Then Elise ran too.

If they had paused and looked back, they would have seen that the cheeseboard now sat innocently on the dining table. The bodies of the newly imprisoned New Yorkers were gone.  A close eye might have seen the handles of the cheeseboard knives had changed.

Elise abandoned her course and returned to France, never explaining her reasons.

If Jura House still stands, it remains abandoned. 

No searchers for the missing ever found the House, nor any bodies living or dead.

Halloween Cheeseboard:

Vintage Lincolnshire Poacher 

  • Rich lactic yet savoury cheddar, with hints of condensed milk and brambles
  • Pair with Vampire Relish from The Garlic Farm: a hot tomato and garlic salsa

Vacherin Mont d’Or

  • Winter’s cheese – available only from Halloween to the first day of Spring
  • The softest cheese in France, with flavours of pine and offal and unctuous savoury in cream from the Savoie mountains
  • Infuse with whole pickled garlic and bake until piping hot


  • Slice into soldiers
  • Lightly griddle until browned
  • Dip in Black Garlic Ketchup

To Drink:

  • Clove spiced aquavit served warm with a sprig of burnt rosemary
  • Black Zambucca over ice and a drop of cream

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