Don’t Turn on the Light ~ S.E. Schlosser

MD Spooky TalesShe 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.

It was two o’clock, when she realized that she’d left one of the textbooks upstairs on her bed. With a dramatic sigh, she rose, and climbed the stairs slowly to her third-floor dorm room.

The lights were dim in the long hallway, and the old boards creaked under her weary tread. She reached her room and turned the handle as softly as she could, pushing the door open just enough to slip inside, so that the hall lights wouldn’t wake her roommate.

The room was filled with a strange, metallic smell. She frowned a bit, her arms breaking out into chills. There was a strange feeling of malice in the room, as if a malevolent gaze were fixed upon her.  It was a mind trick; the all-nighter was catching up with her.

She could hear Jenna breathing on the far side of the room—a heavy sound, almost as if she had been running. Jenna must have picked up a cold during the last tense week before finals.

She crept along the wall until she reached her bed, groping among the covers for the stray history textbook. In the silence, she could hear a steady drip-drip-drip sound. She sighed silently. Facilities would have to come to fix the sink in the bathroom…again.

Her fingers closed on the textbook. She picked it up softly and withdrew from the room as silently as she could.

Relieved to be out of the room, she hurried back downstairs, collapsed into an overstuffed chair and studied until six o’clock.  She finally decided that enough was enough. If she slipped upstairs now, she could get a couple hours’ sleep before her nine o’clock exam.

The first of the sun’s rays were beaming through the windows as she slowly slid the door open, hoping not to awaken Jenna. Her nose was met by an earthy, metallic smell a second before her eyes registered the scene in her dorm room. Jenna was spread-eagled on top of her bed against the far wall, her throat cut from ear to ear and her nightdress stained with blood. Two drops of blood fell from the saturated blanket with a drip-drip noise that sounded like a leaky faucet.

Scream after scream poured from her mouth, but she couldn’t stop herself any more than she could cease wringing her hands. All along the hallway, doors slammed and footsteps came running down the passage.

Within moments other students had gathered in her doorway, and one of her friends gripped her arm with a shaking hand and pointed a trembling finger toward the wall. Her eyes widened in shock at what she saw. Then she fainted into her friend’s arms.

On the wall above her bed, written in her roommate’s blood, were the words: “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”

Spooky Maryland: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore, retold by S.E. Schlosser

batbar

Axe Murder Hollow ~ S.E.Schlosser

PA Spooky talesSusan 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. He stepped on the brake, and suddenly the car started to slide on the slick pavement. They plunged off the road and slid to a halt at the bottom of an incline.

Pale and shaking, Ned quickly turned to check if Susan was all right.  When she nodded, Ned relaxed and looked through the rain soaked windows.

“I’m going to see how bad it is,” he told Susan, and when out into the storm. She saw his blurry figure in the headlight, walking around the front of the car. A moment later, he jumped in beside her, soaking wet.

“The car’s not badly damaged, but we’re wheel-deep in mud,” he said. “I’m going to have to go for help.”

Susan swallowed nervously. There would be no quick rescue here. He told her to turn off the headlights and lock the doors until he returned.

Axe Murder Hollow. Although Ned hadn’t said the name aloud, they both knew what he had been thinking when he told her to lock the car.  This was the place where a man had once taken an axe and hacked his wife to death in a jealous rage over an alleged affair. Supposedly, the axe-wielding spirit of the husband continued to haunt this section of the road.

Outside the car, Susan heard a shriek, a loud thump, and a strange gurgling noise. But she couldn’t see anything in the darkness.

Frightened, she shrank down into her seat. She sat in silence for a while, and then she noticed another sound.  Bump. Bump. Bump.  It was a soft sound, like something being blown by the wind.

Suddenly, the car was illuminated by a bright light.  An official sounding voice told her to get out of the car. Ned must have found a police officer.  Susan unlocked the door and stepped out of the car.  As her eyes adjusted to the bright light, she saw it.

Hanging by his feet from the tree next to the car was the dead body of Ned.  His bloody throat had been cut so deeply that he was nearly decapitated. The wind swung his corpse back and forth so that it thumped against the tree. Bump. Bump. Bump.

Susan screamed and ran toward the voice and the light. As she drew close, she realized the light was not coming from a flashlight. Standing there was the glowing figure of a man with a smile on his face and a large, solid, and definitely real axe in his hands. She backed away from the glowing figure until she bumped into the car.

“Playing around when my back was turned,” the ghost whispered, stroking the sharp blade of the axe with his fingers. “You’ve been very naughty.”

The last thing she saw was the glint of the axe blade in the eerie, incandescent light.

Spooky Pennsylvania: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore, retold by S.E. Schlosser

batbar

The Handshake ~ S.E. Schlosser

NC Spooky TalesPolly 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.

Then one day, George Dean came home from university, and Polly was smitten.  Polly completely dropped all her other beaus when George came courting, and it wasn’t long before George proposed and Polly accepted.

Polly started making preparations for the wedding and shopping for items to fill her new home.   George wasn’t too interested in all the fripperies and wedding details.  He left the womenfolk to get on with it and started spending time down at the pool hall with some of his buddies.  And that’s where he met Helene, the owner’s saucy daughter.  She had bold black eyes and ruby red lips, and a bad-girl air that fascinated George.  He spent more and more time at the pool hall, and less and less time with Polly, who finally noticed in spite of all the hustle and bustle.

Of course, Polly was furious.  She immediately  confronted George with the story, and he couldn’t deny it.  Suddenly, George had to toe the mark.  His pool-hall visits were over, and he spent every free hour he wasn’t at work by her side.  That didn’t sit well with George, but his family backed Polly up, so he  went along with it.

The day of the wedding dawned clear and bright.  The guests filled the sanctuary, and the pastor and the best man waited patiently in the ante-chamber for the arrival of the groom.  But George didn’t come.  Eventually, they went searching for the missing bridegroom, and found out he’d left town with Helene an hour before the wedding.  With dread, Polly’s mother went to tell her daughter what had happened.  Polly, all bright and shining and lovely in her long white dress and soft wedding veil, turned pale when her mother broke the news.  Then she stiffened, grabbing her left arm as a sudden pain ripped through it.   She was dead from a massive heart attack long before she hit the floor.

A few days later, Polly was buried in the churchyard, still wearing her white wedding dress and veil.  The whole town came to the funeral and wept at the passing of such a beautiful young girl.   George and Helene, who had spent the week happily honeymooning in the Outer Banks, arrived home at the very moment that the black-clad crowd exited the churchyard.  Their arrival caused a commotion.  The minister had to pull Polly’s father off George before he killed him.  And both George and Helene’s family disowned the couple right there in the street in front of everyone.  The couple fled town in disgrace.

Time passed, and eventually the scandal was forgotten.  Until the day George’s father passed away.  It was rumored that he was to be buried in the local churchyard just a few plots away from the girl who had almost become his daughter.  Suddenly, the story of Polly’s jilting was revived and folks wondered aloud if George would dare attend his father’s funeral.  But George was too clever for them.  He waited at an inn outside of town until it was dark, and then he went to the churchyard to pay his last respects to his father.

As he unburdened himself at his father’s graveside, George heard a sweet female voice calling his name.  “George.  Sweetheart.”  George looked up in sudden hope.  Was that his mother, come to forgive him?  Then he saw, rising up from a grassy mound under a spreading oak tree, a figure in a long white gown and a soft veil.  Her eyes and her lips were yellow flames beneath the veil, and the rotted wedding dress glowed with a white-yellow light.  It was Polly.

George’s body stiffened, shudders of fear coursing up and down his arms and legs.  He put a shaking hand to his mouth and staggered backward, the other hand outstretched out ward off the specter floating toward him.  The spectral bride cackled with angry laughter and swooped forward until its hand closed over George’s outstretched one in a terrible parody of a handshake.  The grip of the spectral bride was so cold it burned the skin, and so hard that the bones crunched as it squeezed.  “Come along into the church, George,” the glowing bride whispered.  Through the veil, George could see maggots crawling in and out of Polly’s flaming eye sockets.

“Nooo!  Polly, no!”  George screamed in terror, but he could not wrench his hand free.  The ghost dragged him step by halting step toward the front door of the church.  His hand was a red-hot agony of pain, though the rest of his body was shaking with cold.

“No!” George gave a final cry of despair and wrenched again at his hand.  And suddenly, he was free.  The spectral bride gave a roar of rage as George ran pell-mell down the church lane and out into the street.

“You’re mine, George Dean!  If not in this world, than in the next,” the spectral bride howled after him.

By the time George reached his room, the fiery pain in his hand and arm was seeping through his entire body.  He rang desperately for the house maid and begged her to send for a doctor.  Then he fell into bed and stared at his hand, which was black and withered, as if it had been scorched long ago by a fire.  Black and red streaks were climbing up his arm so fast he could almost see them move.

George was unconscious when the doctor arrived, and the swelling was already extending into his chest and neck.  There was nothing the physician could do.  The injury was too severe and had spread too far.  Within two days, George was dead.   Polly had gotten her man at last.

Spooky North Carolina: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore, retold by S.E. Schlosser.

batbar

8 Books that are scarier than most horror movies

bat16

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to list 8 books that I personally found to be scarier than some horror movies I have watched, others may disagree.  So, if you’re looking for a scary read to take you  through the days leading up to Samhain, browse the list below and maybe you’ll find something that catches your eye… just remember to leave the lights on and don’t sit with your back to the door!

14064I Am Legend ~ Richard Matheson:  Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth…but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville’s blood.

By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn.

How long can one man survive in a world of vampires?

The haunting of hill houseThe Haunting of Hill House ~ Shirley Jackson:  Past the rusted gates and untrimmed hedges, Hill House broods and waits…Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, and occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and light-hearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable noises and self-closing doors, but Hill House is gathering its powers and will soon choose one of them to make its own…

lord of the fliesLord of the Flies ~ William GoldingLord of the Flies , William Golding’s classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island, is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, “the boy with fair hair,” and Piggy, Ralph’s chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island’s wild pig population. Soon Ralph’s rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: “He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet.”

The ruinsThe Ruins ~ Scott B. Smith:  Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine. Two young couples are on lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.

Something wickedSomething Wicked This Way Comes ~ Ray Bradbury:  A masterpiece of modern Gothic literature, Something Wicked This Way Comes is the memorable story of two boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the evil that grips their small Midwestern town with the arrival of a “dark carnival” one Autumn midnight. How these two innocents, both age 13, save the souls of the town (as well as their own), makes for compelling reading on timeless themes. What would you do if your secret wishes could be granted by the mysterious ringmaster Mr. Dark? Bradbury excels in revealing the dark side that exists in us all, teaching us ultimately to celebrate the shadows rather than fear them. In many ways, this is a companion piece to his joyful, nostalgia-drenched Dandelion Wine, in which Bradbury presented us with one perfect summer as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, he deftly explores the fearsome delights of one perfectly terrifying, unforgettable autumn.

Hell HouseHell House ~ Richard Matheson:  Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newspaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death.

Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the town folks refer to it as the Hell House.

triffidsThe Day of the Triffids ~ John Wyndham:  In 1951 John Wyndham published his novel The Day of the Triffids to moderate acclaim. Fifty-two years later, this horrifying story is a science fiction classic, touted by The Times (London) as having “all the reality of a vividly realized nightmare.”

Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever.

But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind. Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia.

IgnoredThe Ignored ~ Bentley Little:  Bob Jones is ordinary, from his appearance right down to his very name. No one seems to take notice of him, not his co-workers, his girlfriend, or even his own parents. But Bob learns he’s not alone when he’s taken in by a band of people that suffer similarly. Calling themselves “The Ignored”, the deadly vengeance they intend to wreak is sure to make them more than just memorable.

Also, as next week is Halloween week there will be no book reviews, instead three spooky short tales and a poem will be posted for your enjoyment.

divider