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Spooky times

Coming into mid-October it’s hard to ignore the blatant signs that Halloween is fast approaching. As a kid, I was never really into the scary aspect of the holiday as I lamely get frightened extraordinarily easily. My costumes consisted of things like ballerina, genie (three times running), jester, butterfly, Peter Pan and the like. I preferred to be silly or cute rather than gory or haunting.

Candy—gobs and gobs of candy—aside, for we all know that’s the greatest part of the holiday, I’ve always found the tradition and storytelling around Halloween fascinating. The same stories have been told for years. Classic horror tales are succinct and hard forgotten and I’m sure that kids are still getting spooked by the one about the two prom goers stuck in a broken down car, with the hook methodically tapping on its roof even though cell phones are ubiquitous nowadays.

The scariest story for me, however, was The Girl with the Green Ribbon. It wasn’t particularly chilling or really that horrifying at all. Just a story about a girl who always wore a green ribbon around her neck, referenced throughout the story of her life until the day her curious husband implores her to untie it, despite her protestations. The story simply ends (spoiler alert!) with her head falling off. No aftermath, no more to say. The simplicity of the tale might have been the part the got to me, because I remember being chilled to the bone by this one growing up.

Whenever I mention the story to friends or anyone with whom I happen to be discussing scary things with (happens all the time, guys), I’m often met with blank stares, so it was with delight that I saw the tale hitting #13 on Buzzfeed’s 14 Books That Traumatized You As A Kid the other day. I wasn’t making it up! And I’m not alone!

In the spirit of the season, what are your favorite scary stories (to tell in the dark or the light)?

4 Responses to Spooky times

  1. Regina says:

    Growing up, I had a set of three hardback books – The Bumper Book, Gateway to Storyland, and Stories that Never Grow Old. I believe they were published in the 1930s. I loved these old books. They had classics like “The Owl and the Pussycat,” “The Little Red Hen,” “The Pied Piper,” and “The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat.”

    There was also a very strange story, entitled “Teeny-Tiny.” It was about this little old woman in a little old house, and one day she noticed a little scarecrow with a nice dress, and she stole that dress, even though her conscience told her not to.

    The little old woman looked remarkably like my own grandmother, which probably made it really stand out in my mind.

    Well, at the end of the day, she hung the dress in the closet, and then she heard this voice from her closet, saying “Give me my clothes!” and it got louder and louder until she shouted, at the climax, to take them back.

    And as a bonus, the closet was one of those old-fashioned not-built-in type of things, and the handles on the cabinets looked like eyes. And they were looking right at the little old woman. It was terrible. Truly terrible, nestled in among the ugly duckling stories and Robert Louis Stevenson poems.

    So yeah. I’ve seen horrific movies, gone through dozens of haunted houses, read every Stephen King book and scared myself silly in all kinds of ways, but when I think of what scared me as a kid, it’s Teeny-Tiny. Creepy, creepy Teeny-Tiny.

  2. Gill Avila says:

    Once on a campout I related the Derleth/Lovecraft story “Wentworth’s Day” as if it had happened to me. A traveling salesman’s car conks out and he seeks shelter at a lonely country house. He knocks, the owner shouts “That you Wentworth?” The salesman says no and is let in. After a bit of chat the owner says that years ago his shotgun accidentally went off and killed Wentworth. Every year after that Wentworth comes at midnight on the anniversary and pounds on the door seeking revenge. Suddenly there’s a pounding on the door and thee owner checks his watch. “Past midnight” he says and opens the door. The salesman checks his watch and sees that the owner’s watch is 5 minutes fast.// My story was the last related that night. One woman had to be escorted back to her tent, she was so terrified!

  3. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    As a kid, I was a hard-bitten monster nut who could watch the Wolfman snarling and collected every Creepy & Eerie magazine I could get my hands on without turning a hair until I tuned in on a Saturday afternoon showing of Dracula’s Daughter, an old Universal film from 1935. No blood, fangs, or overt violence…Just an ominous-looking woman with really big eyes and loads of foggy atmosphere which scared the holy crap out of my poor 8-year-old self and made me sleep with the lights on for 2 weeks. One of my favorites now-trouble then was that I freaked out and turned off the TV when things were getting weird, and when curiousity got the best of me 5 minutes later, I turned back on just in time to miss the comic relief scenes and found myself right back in the middle of another scary part. It’s a must-own film that you’ll never find at Redbox, to say the least…..

  4. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    Well, I see from the sparse number of entries that a lot of people who cruise this site probably turn off their lights and pretend to be out when the trick-or-treaters arrive, so here’s another Halloween lit story: When I discovered H.P. Lovecraft in high school, I was impressed enough to take out a map of New England and try to see if places like Innsmouth and Dunwich really existed. I loaned the book to a buddy of mine who asked to see it who was a born-again Christian with his own mythological set of presumptions (hey, it’s a small town of west Texas, I’ve gotta hang out with somebody…) who got halfway through “The Haunter Of The Dark” and tore my mass-market paperback to shreds because he felt that Satan lurked therein. I had to threaten to send him to the pearly gates early to get my 1.95 back, and preemtorily refused to loan him my new Moody Blues album as an addition sanction for his silliness. (I doubt if he’d have found that satanic, but one errs on the side of caution when you’re on a high-school budget) Anyway, I like to think that H.P. would’ve found the episode vaguely flattering.

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