2011 Countdown to Halloween
Eight new spooky stories from the annual Countdown to Halloween.
|Ghosts and ghoulies and the devil come out to play in this collection of the scariest stories published on American Folklore. Great for Halloween|
2011 Countdown to Halloween
Eight new spooky stories from the annual Countdown to Halloween.
2012 Countdown to Halloween
Take a walk on the spooky side with these Halloween ghost stories and scary tales retold by the reknown folklorist S.E. Schlosser.
Axe Murder Hollow
Susan and Ned were driving through a wooded empty section of highway. Lightning flashed, thunder roared, the sky went dark in the torrential downpour. “We’d better stop.” Said Susan. Ned nodded his head in agreement. When he stepped on the brake, the car started to slide on the slick pavement. They went off the road and slid to a halt at the bottom of an incline.
The Master of the plantation was a firm supporter of the Confederate President and had committed to send as much food as he could to the Southern army. Things were going well at first, until the Yankees began attacking the Master's supply lines. The Master suspected a traitor among his slaves, and soon discovered that the Yankee spy was a slave-woman named Big Liz.
When Felix Agnus put up the life-sized shrouded bronze statue of a grieving angel, seated on a pedestal, in the Agnus family plot in the Druid Ridge Cemetery, he had no idea what he had started. The statue was a rather eerie figure by day, frozen in a moment of grief and terrible pain. At night, the figure was almost unbelievably creepy; the shroud over its head obscuring the face until you were up close to it. There was a living air about the grieving angel, as if its arms could really reach out and grab you if you weren't careful.
Mad Henry was a hermit who lived alone in a decrepit mansion at the edge of town. Rumors were rife about the wild-eyed man. Some folks said that he was a magician who called upon the powers of darkness to wreck havoc upon his neighbors. Others called him a mad doctor who could restore life to foul corpses from the local cemetery. No respectable citizen in town had anything to do with Mad Henry
I found it extremely annoying that one of the bathrooms on my dorm was permanently closed. Especially since the cause was an urban legend. An urban legend, I tell you!
She lived deep in the forest in a tiny cottage and sold herbal remedies for a living. Folks living in the town nearby called her Bloody Mary, and said she was a witch. None dared cross the old crone for fear that their cows would go dry, their food-stores rot away before winter, their children take sick of fever, or any number of terrible things that an angry witch could do to her neighbors.
Bloody Mary Returns
My stepmother was vile. I guess most kids think that when their father remarries. But in this case, it was true. She only married Father because he was rich, and she hated children. There were three of us – me (Marie), my middle brother Richard and my youngest brother Charles. We were the price my stepmother Gerta paid for being rich. And we were all that stood between her and inheriting Father’s money when he died. So she took steps against us.
Bloody Mary Whales
Old Man Whales was an evil man who loved money more than anything in the world, except his wife. In his lust for wealth, he supplemented his farm income by catching runaway slaves who were escaping to freedom through Indiana. Whales would chain the ex-slaves up in his barn cellar until he could collect the reward on them. When he couldn't find slaves, he'd capture free men and sell them into slavery.
She was sophisticated, poised, and cultured. In retrospect, this should have made them suspicious. A teacher like her should be presiding over a girl’s school in London or New York, not seeking a position in a small town in Georgia. But at the time, they were too delighted by her application to ask any questions.
There was something odd in the tone of the dispatcher’s voice when he called to tell me a person needed picking up at Bramlett Road late one summer night in 1947. I shuddered when I heard the name of the street. I did not want to go anywhere near that area, especially at midnight. But I drove a Yellow Cab, and it was my job to pick up a call when it came. So I swallowed and headed toward Bramlett Road and the slaughter yards.
Don't Sell My House
Life seemed perfect to Mark when the widower brought his new bride Lisa home to the lovely two-story cottage he had build for his deceased first wife Things were very happy for about a year, and Mark was ecstatic when he learned Lisa was expecting twins. The house was rather small for a double addition to the family, so Mark and Lisa put the cottage up for sale and started searching for a bigger house. That’s when the problems began.
Don't Turn on the Light
She commandeered the room in the basement of her dorm as soon as she realized she would have to pull an all-nighter in order to prepare for tomorrow’s final exam. Her roommate, Jenna, liked to get to bed early, so she packed up everything she thought she would need and went downstairs to study . . . and study . . . and study some more.
I roam alone in the woods, listening to the enchanted children's voices calling to me. "Little girl, come and play," they sing over and over in my ears. Sometimes I hear them from the window of my room. They giggle and whisper words that I cannot make out. They sound like so much fun that I run outside my house as fast as I can to try to catch them. I plunge into the woods, calling back to the children, but no one answers. So I stand still as a mouse, trying to hear where they are hiding.
There is a story told in Troy and Albany about a couple returning home from a trip to New England. They were driving home in a carriage, and were somewhere near Spiegletown when the light failed and they knew they would have to seek shelter for the night...
Ghost in the Alley
Rumors were rife about the alleyway behind the tavern. It was haunted, folks said. Haunted by the ghost of a young girl who had been found murdered in that self-same passage. People avoided the small street after dark, for the spirit was said to be a vengeful one. Of course, no one could name anyone whom the ghost had actually killed, but the tales were enough to keep people away from the alley at night.
Ghost in the Stacks
saw her out of the corner of my eye while I was studying in a remote corner of the second-level stacks in the library. She was pretty, with reddish hair and pensive, wide eyes in an intelligent face. I straightened up, patted my hair to make sure it was smooth, and took another look. She was gone...
Ghost of Pearl White
When I was a kid, my grandparent’s bought a huge old boarding house in Jersey City. It had once housed the actresses working for a big silent film studio across the street, but the film studio was long gone, and the boarding house was unused. My grandparents converted it into a 3-family home...
J. Dawson had two goals in life: to find a rich vein of gold and to find a bride. So far, he hadn’t had any luck either with the gold or the ladies. His smooth, eastern manners seemed rather sissy and irritating among the rough miners and rowdy residents of a wild western town. He’d courted the schoolteacher, the local farmers’ daughters, and even took to visiting a few of the other entertainers at the saloon. All to no avail.
He never paid much attention to the neighbors living on his city block until the day the pretty middle-aged widow moved in two doors down from him. She was plump and dark with sparkling eyes, and she always wore dark gloves on her hands, even indoors.
Once there was an old woman who went out in the woods to dig up some roots to cook for dinner. She spotted something funny sticking out of the leaves and dug around until she uncovered a great big hairy toe. There was some good meat on that toe which would make a real tasty dinner, so the old woman put it in her basket and took it home.
There were warnings all over campus about a Hatchet Man who was supposedly abused and killed a woman in Bloomington. All the girls were warned to walk in pairs and to stay in brightly lit areas if they had to go out at night.
The soft thud of following footsteps echoed behind him as he hurried through the snowflakes toward home. They kept pace with him, quickening when he quickened and slowing when he slowed. It was creepy. His flesh crawled at the sound and he sped up, cursing himself for walking home alone from the midnight Christmas Mass.
Something was going on. Jason felt it in his bones. Polly was too happy, too cheerful. No woman could be that upbeat and still be faithful to her husband. Jason sat down to a delicious, warm meal every night, and Polly sang to herself as she washed up. What kind of woman could be cheerful doing dishes? Try as he might, Jason never heard anything that hinted of a secret romance. It drove him crazy. Life was not this perfect.
Hold Him, Tabb
Yep, I remember what it was like before the railroad came through these parts. I used to earn my living by carting supplies from town to town on horse-drawn wagons. Not easy work, no sir. Especially in winter. One cold December day, I was traveling with my buddy Tabb, when it began to snow. Gee wilikers, it was cold! We needed to find shelter quick, and I was delighted when I spotted an abandoned house.
I Know Moonrise
Mama told me I should never to walk along the marsh shortcut that led from our plantation to the town of Brunswick. She said it was dangerous and I’d get myself killed if I didn't listen to her. That didn't make any sense. The march shortcut was a wide, sandy path that my buddies used all the time when they went to the store in town. None of them ever got hurt. And at the age of thirteen, I was perfectly capable of taking care of myself.
After a long day of unlucky hunting, I found myself stuck in the middle of the marshlands for the night, without a flashlight or a lantern to guide my stumbling steps. So I settled beside a fallen log to rest until daylight. As I tossed and turned, I recalled the story my great-uncle told me about a ghost that haunted the marshlands.
Jack and the Devil
Jack was a nasty fellow who beat his wife and kids and was an all around bad chap. So the Devil came and hauled the poor fellow away with him. On their way to hell, Jack asked the Devil if he was thirsty, and ol' Lucifer said he was. So Jack somehow persuaded the Devil to turn himself into a coin so Jack could buy them both a drink from a handy tavern.
Marie-Josephte Corriveau was a beautiful but ruthless woman. She married a good-looking man but soon grew bored with him. So late one evening, she stunned her husband with a blow to the head, then took a whip to his horse, which trampled him to death. The death was ruled an accident and La Corriveau was free to marry again.
She climbed the sand dune swiftly, giggling nervously at her daring, as the soft mist of an early evening fog swirled around her. Around her, her friends were scrambling their way through the sand and long grass, heading steadily upward toward the haunted lighthouse on the summit.
As a special treat, we decided to take the sunset cruise around lower Manhattan the Sunday before Labor Day. It was a silly thing to do – totally tourist – but sometimes playing tourist is fun, even for someone living and working daily in the shadow of the Big Apple.
Peggy and her boyfriend Tommy were driving down a lonely stretch of highway at dusk when a thunderstorm came crashing down on them. Tommy slowed the car and they crept their way past a formidable abandoned house. Plastered all over the fences and trees were NO TRESPASSING signs.
Old Granny Tucker
There were just the two of us—Mama and me. The only other relative we had was a cousin -- old Granny Tucker. Mama never talked about Granny Tucker, and we never visited her, though, because Granny Tucker was a witch
She was always in the garden. Day after day after day. It drove him crazy. Supper never came when he wanted it and he had to go outside and kneel down in the dirt every dad-blame time he wanted to have a conversation with his wife. When he complained, she told him to get his own supper. Ha! She knew he couldn't boil water without burning it.
Dah-dah-dum-dum-BLAT! Charlie winced when his wife hit the wrong note on the piano for the thirty-second time that day. He knew it was the thirty-second time because he’d kept count as he went about his daily chores, cleaning the lighthouse, checking the supplies, mending the rowboat. Charlie blamed himself for his wife's latest obsession. He should never have taken Myrtle to attend the concert when that high-flutin’ concert pianist came to town...
Adam Gimble was the very best fiddler in Texas. Folks came from miles around to the weekly barn dance, just to hear Adam play. Adam was right proud of his reputation. He liked to boast of his prowess with the fiddle and often said that he could charm rattlesnakes out of their dens. One evening, upon hearing this boast, a dark stranger spoke up from the far end of the bar.
I don’t know what exactly draws me back to Sachs Bridge each time I visit Gettysburg. I just know that I feel compelled to drive there and take pictures. Of course, it is a beautiful spot - a covered bridge that was used by the Confederate Army to cross the creek when they withdrawl from Gettysburg . But after all, how many pictures can you take of the same place? Well, okay, if you’re a photographer, that’s a silly question! Hundreds in all weather, season, lighting… But really, I’m only an amateur, so why I personally felt compelled to record the bridge over and over was a mystery my boyfriend was obsessing about as he drove through the darkening countryside one evening in the late fall.
Sifty Sifty San
There was once a beautiful old house right on the edge of a lake, surrounded by woods. But no one would live there because a spirit calling itself Sifty-Sifty-San drove everyone away.
The Barn Dance
As I drove down the seemingly endless dark road, I cursed my friends. “A quaint little bar in the middle of nowhere,” they said. Well they got that right, there was not one blessed sign of civilization anywhere to be seen. Just then, I caught a glimpse of a lighted barn on down the road. Civilization at last!
The Black Cat's Message
I came home late one night after work and found my wife Ethel puttering about the kitchen with a big yellow cat at her heels. “And who is this?” I asked jovially. “This is our new cat,” said Ethel, giving me a hug and a kiss to welcome me home. “She just appeared at the kitchen door and wanted to come in. None of the neighbors know where she came from, so I guess she’s ours. It will be nice to have some company around the house.”
The Bloody Mary Ritual
We were having a sleepover at my house that Saturday night. Me and my four best friends; Alex, Bianca, Sabrina, and Lacey. We made cookies and watched movies and did our hair and makeup. By midnight, we’d run out of planned activities. It was time to improvise. “Let’s try that Bloody Mary thing,” Lacey suggested.
The Blue Rocks
The story was told furtively, in lowered voices. Buried treasure. Near the blue rock. A long time ago, an unknown ship dropped anchor in the surf near Wasque Bluff. A small boat carrying a mysterious figure, six sailors, and a large box landed on the beach. The sailors dug a deep hole inland near the blue rock, and the box was lowered into it. As the sailors stepped back, their leader threw a small green package onto the box. With a huge crash and a flash of blinding green light, the hole disappeared!
The Brick Wall
Massey was a soldier unfortunate enough to cross me, his commanding officer. He did not live to regret it. There was something very satisfying in the moment when I thrust the tip of my sword into the soldier’s heart during our duel. I watched him fall to the ground with the satisfaction of a job well done.
The Brothers' Revenge
The blizzard was raging fiercely around them as the brothers stumbled down the long road. they were miles from any farm, and knew they had to seek shelter or freeze to death. So it was with gratitude that the two brothers spotted a saloon and pushed their way through the door.
The medical student toppled into love as soon as he set eyes on Sheila, the beautiful new transfer student. She had masses of long black hair and eyelashes so long they got tangled in her curls when she leaned over her desk. The medical student had a withdrawn nature, though not by inclination. He’d learned the hard way that people avoided him when they heard about his insane father; locked away in an asylum.
She was nervous and excited as she approached the psychic's store. Normally, she didn't go in for fortune telling. But her best friend had visited the psychic a few months ago, and everything the woman had predicted came true. Everything!
Polly was the sweetest, prettiest girl in Goldsboro, yes sir. All the local boys were chasing her, and quite a number of the fellows from the surrounding countryside were too. All the girls were jealous of Polly ‘cause they didn’t have no sweethearts to take them to the local dances. They all wanted Polly to choose her man so things could go back to normal. But Polly was picky. None of the local boys suited her, and neither did the fellows from the back country.
The Headless Bride
Once there was a lovely young woman growing up in a wealthy shipping family in New York. In those days, wealthy young women were expected to make their debut in society and to marry a wealthy young man from a good family. But our young lady was a bit of a rebel. When she grew old enough to marry, she scorned the wealthy young society men in favor of an older man who was working as a servant in her house.
The Headless Horseman
One cold winter night, early in the New Year, a certain Dutchman left the tavern in Tarrytown and started walking to his home in the hollow nearby. His path led next to the old Sleepy Hollow cemetery where a headless Hessian soldier was buried. At midnight, the Dutchman came within site of the graveyard...
The Jersey Devil and the Hat
I was putting the finishing touches on a nice big dinner - meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pie - when Charlie blew in the back door. He'd spent the day ice-fishing in the quarry, and I expected him to be in a jolly mood. But he stood there with his gray hair standing on end, his cheeks bright red with rage and his coat and pants covered with snow.
The Lady in the Veil
He had not expected to meet the woman of his dreams, but there she was strolling along in the moonlight beside the cemetery. Carlos quickened his pace until he was level with her, hoping for a glimpse of her face under her veil.
The Old Bridge
Old Man McManor was the foulest-tempered fellow you ever did see; but he owned and operated the only sawmill over in Camden, so folks had to deal with him. Whenever anyone didn’t pay on time or crossed him, he’d take out his horsewhip and flail at them until they ran away cussing or broke down crying.
The White Dog
A traveling salesman came to Goshen Hill for a few days, selling his wares from door to door. He was a friendly man with a warm grin and a joke for everyone. He was accompanied by a large white dog that rode on the wagon beside him; companion, friend, and guardian of his wares.
She was nervous when her husband said they were to stay in the abandoned house, for it contained the corpse of the hermit who once lived there, enshrined in a coffin in the loft. It was an old custom and one no longer popular among the Iroquois people, but the hermit had insisted upon it before his death. There was good hunting in this place, her man had declared, and so they moved in and she unpacked their few belongings in the front room, refusing to go up into the loft where the hermit’s body lay.
When the samurai warrior Kane first came to California from Tokyo, be brought his new wife, the beautiful Ishi. She was an ideal wife: gentle, attentive, and a wonderful cook. Kane was the envy of his new neighbors. But he was a proud man. When a wealthy family moved into the neighborhood, Kane cast his eye upon their lovely daughter, Aiko, and desired her...
Where's My Liver
“Go straight to the store and don’t fool around,” his mother said sternly as she handed over the money. “Your father’s boss is coming to dinner tonight and we’re having his favorite meal of liver and onions. It’s important that we make a good impression, so get the best liver they’ve got.”
They were not even close to the main camp when the sandstorm storm hit, blasting hot sand into their eyes, hair, and skin. The wind whirled above, around, and under the hasty shelter the two cowboys had set up, offering no protection at all. They took small sips of water every hour or so to relieve the dryness of their throats and to shift about to keep from being buried completely under the sand.
She snapped awake out of a deep sleep, screaming aloud in terror. In her nightmare, a large white wolf had been chasing her around and around the house, gaining on her with every step until it finally pounced on her and ripped out her throat. She lay shaking for hours, unable to sleep after such a terrifying dream.
Wraith of the Creek
When he left his tribe to work with the white lumbermen, he changed his name to William Cloud, and the lumberjacks started calling him “Cloudy.” They liked to hear Cloudy tell the story of the wraith that lived in the creek that powered the local log chute. The wraith was an evil creature that desired nothing more than to wrap its long arms around humans or animals and pull them down into the water to drown.
Jane wore a yellow ribbon around her neck everyday. And I mean everyday, rain or shine, whether it matched her outfit or not. It annoyed her best friend Johnny after awhile. He was her next door neighbor and had known Jane since she was three. When he was young, he had barely noticed the yellow ribbon, but now they were in high school together, it bothered him.
About the Author: S.E. SchlosserS.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more