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"The Woman in Black" is the third story in Haunted Mansion #2. It was writen by Serena Valentino and illustrated by FSc.

SynopsisEdit

The Ghost Host introduces the story, asking if the reader has ever heard the tale of the Woman in Black, whom he describes as the spirit of a woman named May. He says there are not many who have visited the mansion that remember her. However, as a horse-drawn hearse approahces the mansion, the Ghost Host says that a mortal friend of his does, and that he will tell her story. The narrative then shifts to an old man driving the hearse, who begins his tale:

As a child, he was was always warned by his mother to avoid straying to far from home, lest he cross paths with the Woman in Black who haunts the bayou. She is said to search for children to steal away, and though it is unknown what she does with the kids, the boy imagines it is not very good. One day, the boy becomes preoccupied hunting for snakes in the swamp and the sun goes down before he has a chance to return home. Thoroughly lost in the dark, he climbs a tree and ends up falling asleep, only to be awakened by a barely audible, forlorn voice.

Thinking it's his mother calling for him, the boy rushes toward a shadowy figure and hugs her, feeling relieved...only to feel long fingernails on his head when the woman ruffles his hair. He looks up to see a frightening woman with dark, voidlike eyes and runs away in a panic, rushing into an antebellum mansion he stumbles across, slamming the front door closed behind him.

Now alone in what seems to be an abandoned mansion, the boy wanders into the Stretching Room and is startled by the Ghost Host when a secret panel opens. Running into the ballroom, he meets another boy called Victor, who says he can show the newcomer around. The lost boy at first insists he needs to get back home, but Victor tells him he can't go home again, and would only frighten his family, since he's now a ghost. The boy tries to explain that he's not dead, but Victor shrugs it off by saying he felt the same way once too, and offers to take the boy to Madame Leota, who also doesn't realize she's dead (and is crazy, or so he says).

In the seance room, Madame Leota meets the boys and tells the living one that he needs to take the paths he took before to go home, though he protests because of the woman lurking outside. Leota tells him he must face his fears and leave at once, that he doesn't belong. Victor laments at the unfairness of why he can't leave, with Leota saying that Victors "belongs," while the other boy does not. She tells Victor to show him the way out. The living boy is baffled by everything going on, to which Victor chuckles and reminds him that Leota is a bit batty.

The living boy is terrified of venturing out again, but checks to make sure the coast is clear first. A barrier in the door keeps Victor from leaving - ghosts can come in, but they can't go out again. The boy feels bad for victor, but Victor wishes him luck finding his way home. As the boy leaves and heads toward the swamp, he spots a dark, feminine figure on the path ahead, and instead of running away cringes and faces his fears, as Leota told him to do. The Woman in Black leans down toward him and asks; "You're not my Victor, are you?"

Shocked, the boy looks up as the woman begins to cry. She explains her boy got lost in the swamp long ago, and she's been looking for him ever since. No one will help her, as they always run away in terror. Relieved and cheerful, the boy takes the woman by the hand and leads her back to the mansion, where Victor still stands in the door. The lost mother and son embrace happily, having found each other after so long.

The scene returns to the present, as the old man reminds the reader that "things are never really what they seem." Smiling, he ushers a posse of ghosts into the mansion from his hearse who thank him for the lift. He waves to them and asks them to send his regards to Victor and May if they see them.

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