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October & November 2016

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Author Topic: Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai  (Read 919 times)

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Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2013, 05:32:04 AM »
Brrr!  Thank you very much, Lilias and Oniya, for those chilling offerings.  You won't mind if I now scooch close, though, will you?  I mean, only because it's getting so cold in here, you understand...

Ah, much better.  I must say that I'm reinvigorated.  How about another creepy tale?

Cuddled by Something

I'm 23 and live in the small city of Billings, Montana.  I've had many encounters with the paranormal over the years I lived with my parents, and it continues to this day, even though I now live on my own.  There are always specific experiences with the paranormal that stick out more than others, so here's one of mine.

It was the summer of 2010 and I was out of college for four whole months.  I was ready to party, hang with my friends, and be lazy.  I still lived with my parents at the time, so I watched my siblings during the day while they worked in order to live at home rent free and earn a little extra money for gas and other expenses.  It was your typical Friday, hot and sunny, too hot for the kids to go outside and play, so they stayed inside and harassed the heck out of me all day.

What a relief it was to finally be able to head out on my own to meet up with my friends to hit up the mall and gossip.  I stayed out until ten, then headed home where everyone was watching horror movies, but I decided watching Harry Potter in the comfort of my own quiet room was a better idea.

Not long after I put in the first movie, I ended up passing out.  I can't remember how long I was asleep, but I do remember when I woke up... I couldn't move.  I tried to scream, but it sounded muffled behind my lips, which felt as if they had been super glued together.  The TV flickered, as did the lights, then my bedroom curtains started lifting up on their own while I was still stuck in my bed.  The curtains were yanked off the curtain rod and flew across the room, and I finally found the strength to run to the door, which I had trouble getting open and I beat on the door several times before I finally managed to free myself from my bedroom.

My family claimed to have not heard a thing, not even me pounding on the door for help.  I was completely baffled by what just happened!  I stayed up with them until everyone decided to go to bed, leaving me to go downstairs and be alone in my bedroom once again.

This time I wasn't pleased at the thought of being alone.  I shut off the light and left the TV on, which provided comfort for me, snuggled under the covers, and turned so my back was facing the rest of the room.  I liked my face pressed against the wall for some weird reason.  I got comfortable, shut my eyes, and for some reason just felt like someone was staring at me, so I pulled the covers up over my head.

Big mistake!  A few minutes passed by and I felt something slip underneath the covers with me.  Whatever it was wrapped itself around me, as if it wanted to cuddle with me.  I stayed absolutely still as I felt whatever it was breathing against my neck.  Its breath was warm.  I couldn't tell if it was a person or a ghost.  Perhaps it was even a demon.  To this day I'm still not sure.

I went to smack it away from me, but found nothing.  Even the feeling was gone.  I was left feeling violated in the dark by whatever it was that decided to spook me.  I'll never forget that feeling.  It made me feel disgusting and fear for my life, but I never had another experience with the "thing" that wanted to cuddle ever again.

So they say.

I'm snuffing out a candle.  Six candles remain...


Hold on to anyone...

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai
« Reply #26 on: October 24, 2013, 05:32:18 AM »
You know, after that story, perhaps I'll scooch back over here...

As Amber's tale demonstrates, we sometimes don't know which ghosts and ghoulies are watching us, waiting for us, cuddling us.  Maybe ignorance can be bliss, however.  For although people are often frightened by those bumps in the night, none seem so frightened as those who know exactly what is prowling.  Take, for instance, the ill-fated Bowes-Lyon family and what they know of Glamis Castle...

The Monster of Glamis

"If you could even guess the nature of this castle's secret," said Claude Bowes-Lyon, 13th Earl of Strathmore, "you would get down on your knees and thank God it was not yours."

That awful secret was once the talk of Europe.  From perhaps the 1840s until 1905, the Earl's ancestral seat at Glamis Castle, in the Scottish lowlands, was home to a "mystery of mysteries" -- an enigma that involved a hidden room, a secret passage, solemn initiations, scandal, and shadowy figures glimpsed by night on castle battlements.

The conundrum engaged two generations of high society until, soon after 1900, the secret itself was lost.  One version of the story holds that it was so terrible that the 13th Earl's heir flatly refused to have it revealed to him.  Yet the mystery of Glamis (pronounced "Glams") remains, kept alive by its association with royalty (the heir was grandfather to Elizabeth II) and by the fact that at least some members of the Bowes-Lyon family insisted it was real.

Glamis Castle is mentioned by Shakespeare -- Macbeth, that most cursed of characters, was Thane of Glamis -- and in 1034 the Scottish King Malcolm II died there, perhaps murdered.  But the present castle was constructed only in the 15th century, around a central tower whose walls are, in places, 16 feet thick.  Glamis has been the family seat of the Strathmore Earls since then, but by the late 18th century it lay largely empty, its owners preferring to live somewhere less drafty, less isolated and less melancholy.

In their absence, Glamis was left in the care of a factor, or estate manager, and it was to this factor that a young Walter Scott applied in 1790 to spend a night in one of its rooms.  Scott became the first of several writers to note the castle's oppressive atmosphere.  "I must own," he wrote in an account published in 1830, "as I heard door after door shut, after my conductor had retired, I began to consider myself as too far from the living and somewhat too near to the dead."  What was more, the great novelist added, Glamis was said to hide a secret room -- a useful addition to any residence in 15th-century Scotland, where violence was seldom far away.  Its location was known only to the Earl, his factor and his heir.

In one sense, however, the most interesting thing about Scott's account is what it doesn't say.  The novelist wrote nothing to suggest that the castle's hidden chamber had an occupant.  Yet, within half a century of his visit, it had begun to be rumored that the room concealed an unknown captive -- a prisoner who had been held there all his life.

The first reports of Glamis' unknown prisoner appear to date to the 1840s.  According to a correspondent to the journal Notes & Queries, writing in 1908,

The mystery was told to the present writer some 60 years ago, when he was a boy, and it made a great impression on him.  The story was, and is, that in the Castle of Glamis is a secret chamber.  In this chamber is confined a monster, who is the rightful heir to the title and property, but who is so unpresentable that it is necessary to keep him out of sight and out of possession.

Just who this elusive captive might be was the subject of considerable speculation.  It was generally believed that he must have been a member of the Bowes-Lyon family, and commonly suggested that he was the first-born of the 11th Earl, or the heir of that Earl's son, Lord Glamis.  Supporters of the theory point to Douglas's Scots Peerage, which records that after Lord Glamis married Charlotte Grimstead in 1820, their first child was "a son, born and died 21 October 1821."  What if that son, the thinking goes, did not die so quickly and conveniently?  What if lived on, hidden away somewhere inside the castle?

Several Victorian-era guests at Glamis made it their business to pry into the Earls' supposed secret, and by the second half of the century it was frequently reported that a child had been born to the Bowes-Lyonses horribly deformed -- whole in mind, perhaps, but so hideously twisted in body that he could never be allowed to inherit the title.  This may sound like the plot of some Gothic novel, but believers in the theory point out that the family has dealt with some of its members in ways that outsiders might consider harsh.  After the First World War, Katherine and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, both cousins of the present queen, were born mentally disabled.  Both spent their lives locked away in homes and hospitals, ignored by their family.

What this "Monster of Glamis" might have looked like has been the subject of debate.  There are tales of strange shadows seen on battlements in a part of the castle known as "the Mad Earl's Walk."  A story dating to about 1865 says that a workman at the castle unexpectedly came upon a door that opened into a long passage.  Venturing in, the man saw "something" at the far end of the corridor, and -- on reporting the circumstances to the clerk of works -- was pressingly encouraged to emigrate to Australia, his passage paid by an anxious Earl.  Other 19th-century accounts referred to the Monster as "a human toad."

The only detailed description emerged early in the 1960s, when the writer James Wentworth-Day spent time at Glamis while writing a history of the Bowes-Lyon family.  From the then-Earl and his relatives, Wentworth-Day heard the legend that "a monster was born into the family.  He was the heir -- a creature fearful to behold.  It was impossible to allow this deformed caricature of humanity to be seen -- even by their friends.  ...  His chest [was] an enormous barrel, hairy as a doormat, his head ran straight into his shoulders and his arms and legs were toylike."  But "however warped and twisted his body, the child had to be reared to manhood," kept safe and occasionally exercised.  That job was given to the factor.

If Glamis really does have a secret chamber, its location remains a mystery.  Estate papers record the construction of one such hidey-hole adjacent to the charter room in the base of the tower, but others probably exist.  One aristocratic guest, Lord Ernest Hamilton, wrote of discovering a passage concealed beneath "a trapdoor in the floor of the Blue Room dressing room," while other sources suggest the chapel as a likely location.  And the New York Sun reported in 1904:

On one occasion a young doctor, who was staying in the castle professionally, found on returning to his bedroom that the carpet had been taken up and relayed.  He noted that the mark [pattern] of the carpet was different at one end of the room.  By moving the furniture and raising the carpet, he laid bare a trap door, which he forced open and found himself in a passage.  This passage ended in a cement wall.  The cement was still soft, leaving the impress of a finger.  He returned to his room -- and next morning received a cheque for his services with the intimation that the carriage was ready to take him to the station for the first train.

Not all accounts of the Glamis mystery are so anonymous.  Sir Horace Rumbold, a British diplomat who first visited the castle in 1877, wrote of the frustration felt by successive Countesses, who were denied all knowledge of the secret.  He told of an event that took place in 1850, when the 12th Earl's wife asked her guests to aid her in a hunt while her husband was away.

The guests began by reasoning that the room probably had a window.  Then, "the coast being clear," Rumbold wrote, "somebody hit upon the ingenious device of opening the windows all over the castle, and hanging out of each of them a sheet, or towel, or pocket handkerchief."  Soon "innumerable white signals were... fluttering in the summer breeze, when Lord Strathmore unexpectedly returned."

The Earl, Rumbold added, bitterly upbraided his wife and quickly divorced her.  It is true that the marriage ended, and that the countess ended her unhappy life in Italy, but the results of her experiment remain disputed.  Some accounts of the incident suggest that one tightly locked window in the tower remained unmarked by a towel; others say four.

The 12th Earl, in Rumbold's account, was a "heedless man of the world, with few prejudices and possibly still fewer beliefs."  His heir and that heir's son, though, were very much more more sober characters.  This change was popularly attributed to their initiation into the family secret, which was thought to occur on the heir's 21st birthday.

"It is related," Rumbold continued, "that on his death bed [in 1865, the 12th Earl] told his brother that he must now endeavour to 'pray down' the sinister influence he himself had in vain tried to 'laugh down,' and which for so many years had darkened the family history."  Again, there is at least some evidence that this is what occurred.  One of the first orders given by the 13th Earl was for the family chapel to be restored.  It was solemnly rededicated in 1866, and shortly thereafter, according to the Penny Illustrated Paper, "a guest who had been staying at the castle, leaving early in the morning passed the little private chapel.  There he saw kneeling in prayer at the altar his host, still dressed in the evening clothes which he had worn overnight."

Accounts of Claude Bowes-Lyon and his children vary sharply.  Ernest Hamilton remembered a boisterous, musical family, forever engaged in pranks and theatricals.  But other visitors recalled a different Earl.  According to the society gossip Augustus Hare, "only Lord Strathmore himself has an ever-sad look," and it is to Hare that we owe another anecdote suggesting that, whatever the secret of the castle was, Claude thought it so terrible that it placed him beyond all normal aid:

The Bishop of Brechin, who was a great friend of the house, felt this strange sadness so deeply that he went to Lord Strathmore and said how, having heard of this strange secret which oppressed him, he could not help entreating him to make use of his services as an ecclesiastic.  ...  Lord Strathmore was deeply moved.  He said he thanked him, but that in his most unfortunate position, no one could ever help him.

Yet another visitor to Glamis was Virginia Gabriel, a singer who, according to her niece, returned from a long stay in 1870 "full of the mysteries, which she said had greatly increased since the death of the previous owner."  It is to this visit that we owe a strange reminiscence of the Glamis factor, Andrew Ralston -- a dour, hard-headed man who, Gabriel reported, refused ever to spend a night in the castle.  During her stay, a sudden snowstorm one evening blanketed the estate with drifts several feet deep.  The Earl begged Ralston to take a spare room, but the factor refused, instead rousing every servant in the house to have them dig a path to his home a mile away.  Gabriel also recorded an ominous conversation that she had with the Earl's wife:

Lady Strathmore once confessed to Mr Ralston her great anxiety to unravel the mystery.  He looked earnestly at her and said very gravely: 'Lady Strathmore, it is fortunate that you do not know it, and can never know it, for if you did, you would not be a happy woman.'  Such a speech from such a man is certainly uncanny.

What drove Victorian society to distraction about all this was the endless discretion of the Glamis Earls, who might have provided a solution to the mystery.  Charles Dickens' weekly, All the Year Round, made precisely this point in 1880, when speculation was at its height, noting that as each new Earl succeeded to the title

there is generally much talk of the old story being exploded at last.  Gay gallants in lace ruffles, beaus, bucks, bloods and dandies have, until their twenty-first birthdays, made light of the family mystery, and some have gone so far as to make after-dinner promises to tell the whole stupid story in the smoking-room at night.  ...  This promise has been made more than once.  ...  It has been pledged in burgundy and Tokay, in Laffite and champagne, in steaming toddy and in cooling lemon-squash.  But it has never been kept.

Rumbold, too, had something to say about this.  His information was that Earl Claude's heir noted the terrible change that came over his father after he was told the family secret, and declined to be initiated himself.  At this point, it would appear, the family lawyer was also in possession of the secret, having been enlightened in order to deal with the emigrating workman a few years earlier.  "On being told," Rumbold recorded, "that the time had come to for him to be initiated... [the heir] is said to have inquired whether that secret was not in the safe-keeping of three persons, as prescribed.  ...  On this being admitted, he had then replied that his immediate initiation not being indispensable, he preferred to wait until it should become so."

It may have been then that Glamis's secret began to pass from human knowledge; it may have been later.  The 16th Earl, speaking to James Wentworth-Day in the 1960s, insisted that he knew "not a thing.  ...  It may have died with my father, or with my brother, who was killed in the war."

At the time, it was generally assumed that the mystery was not passed down to further generations because there was no longer any need for it; the Monster had died, and hence the scandal was at an end.  When -- or if -- that happened, though, remains uncertain.  The New York Times published a story as early as 1882 suggesting that "it is now believed that the mystery has been in part solved, and that the room contained some person who died a week or two ago at a very advanced age."  Other accounts suggest a death took place around 1904, around the time the 13th Earl passed on.  Soon afterwards, the New York Tribune reported, "Glamis castle is to let, at a very high rent.  ...  The fact that the new Earl of Strathmore should be willing to lease his ancestral historic home suggests that the celebrated mystery in connection with this castle... is now at an end, and the necessity of keeping secret and secluded one or more chambers... no longer exists."

Was the Monster of Glamis ever more than mere gossip?  The story is outlandish, and there are other legends of hidden rooms and nervous heirs, which strongly suggests that it was no more than a fable.  At least one well-placed witness evidently suspected that the family spun tall tales themselves: David Lindsay, the urbane Earl of Crawford, visited Glamis in 1905 and noted in his diary that "The Lyons talk freely about ghosts and invent stories to suit the idiosyncracies of each guest."  Added Lindsay: "As to the alleged secret, I soon fathomed the mystery.  The secret is 'that there is no secret.'"

Against that, though, is the evidence that many members of the Bowes-Lyon family took the mystery very seriously.  The last word goes to Rose, Lady Granville, another of Wentworth-Day's informants and aunt to Elizabeth II.  She had been born in the castle, and, asked what she knew of the story, she "looked serious, was silent for a moment, then said: 'We were never allowed to talk about it when we were children.  Our parents forbade us ever to discuss the matter or ask any questions about it.  My father and grandfather refused absolutely to discuss it.'"

So they say.

I'm snuffing out a candle.  Five candles remain...


It's a broken heart that dreams...

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2013, 05:32:29 AM »
Awful things are always simmering just beneath the surface.  Although we might try to hide the truth -- sometimes even from ourselves -- fear, pain, and death are never far away.  We can run, granted, but we're all caught eventually.

Subway Stare

A woman was riding the subway late one night and she noticed that the woman sitting across from her was staring blankly at her.  She pretended not to notice but every time she glanced up her staring continued.

At the next stop another passenger got on; he sat down beside her.  After a couple of minutes he whispered to her that he thought that she should get off at the following stop.  She was a little unnerved by a stranger suddenly suggesting this, but she returned his advice with a polite smile; it was her stop anyway.

When her stop came up, she got off of the train.  The man did, too, however; and when he rushed toward her, her heart leapt.

"Thank God!" the man then exclaimed.  "I didn't mean to scare you, but I had to get you off that train.  That woman sitting opposite you was dead, and those two guys on either side of her were propping her up."

So they say.

I'm snuffing out a candle.  Four candles remain.  Yes, four: the number of death.  So close now...

Do you have a spooky story to share?  Dare you?


I can stare for a thousand years...

Offline Lilias

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Re: Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai
« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2013, 05:35:49 AM »
Beyond the Wall
Ambrose Bierce

Many years ago, on my way from Hongkong to New York, I passed a week in San Francisco. A long time had gone by since I had been in that city, during which my ventures in the Orient had prospered beyond my hope; I was rich and could afford to revisit my own country to renew my friendship with such of the companions of my youth as still lived and remembered me with the old affection. Chief of these, I hoped, was Mohun Dampier, an old schoolmate with whom I had held a desultory correspondence which had long ceased, as is the way of correspondence between men. You may have observed that the indisposition to write a merely social letter is in the ratio of the square of the distance between you and your correspondent. It is a law.

I remembered Dampier as a handsome, strong young fellow of scholarly tastes, with an aversion to work and a marked indifference to many of the things that the world cares for, including wealth, of which, however, he had inherited enough to put him beyond the reach of want. In his family, one of the oldest and most aristocratic in the country, it was, I think, a matter of pride that no member of it had ever been in trade nor politics, nor suffered any kind of distinction. Mohun was a trifle sentimental, and had in him a singular element of superstition, which led him to the study of all manner of occult subjects, although his sane mental health safeguarded him against fantastic and perilous faiths. He made daring incursions into the realm of the unreal without renouncing his residence in the partly surveyed and charted region of what we are pleased to call certitude.

The night of my visit to him was stormy. The Californian winter was on, and the incessant rain plashed in the deserted streets, or, lifted by irregular gusts of wind, was hurled against the houses with incredible fury. With no small difficulty my cabman found the right place, away out toward the ocean beach, in a sparsely populated suburb. The dwelling, a rather ugly one, apparently, stood in the center of its grounds, which as nearly as I could make out in the gloom were destitute of either flowers or grass. Three or four trees, writhing and moaning in the torment of the tempest, appeared to be trying to escape from their dismal environment and take the chance of finding a better one out at sea. The house was a two-story brick structure with a tower, a story higher, at one corner. In a window of that was the only visible light. Something in the appearance of the place made me shudder, a performance that may have been assisted by a rill of rain-water down my back as I scuttled to cover in the doorway.

In answer to my note apprising him of my wish to call, Dampier had written, “Don’t ring - open the door and come up.” I did so. The staircase was dimly lighted by a single gas-jet at the top of the second flight. I managed to reach the landing without disaster and entered by an open door into the lighted square room of the tower. Dampier came forward in gown and slippers to receive me, giving me the greeting that I wished, and if I had held a thought that it might more fitly have been accorded me at the front door the first look at him dispelled any sense of his inhospitality.

He was not the same. Hardly past middle age, he had gone gray and had acquired a pronounced stoop. His figure was thin and angular, his face deeply lined, his complexion dead-white, without a touch of color. His eyes, unnaturally large, glowed with a fire that was almost uncanny.

He seated me, proffered a cigar, and with grave and obvious sincerity assured me of the pleasure that it gave him to meet me. Some unimportant conversation followed, but all the while I was dominated by a melancholy sense of the great change in him. This he must have perceived, for he suddenly said with a bright enough smile, “You are disappointed in me - non sum qualis eram.”

I hardly knew what to reply, but managed to say: “Why, really, I don’t know: your Latin is about the same.”

He brightened again. “No,” he said, “being a dead language, it grows in appropriateness. But please have the patience to wait: where I am going there is perhaps a better tongue. Will you care to have a message in it?”

The smile faded as he spoke, and as he concluded he was looking into my eyes with a gravity that distressed me. Yet I would not surrender myself to his mood, nor permit him to see how deeply his prescience of death affected me.

“I fancy that it will be long,” I said, “before human speech will cease to serve our need; and then the need, with its possibilities of service, will have passed.”

He made no reply, and I too was silent, for the talk had taken a dispiriting turn, yet I knew not how to give it a more agreeable character. Suddenly, in a pause of the storm, when the dead silence was almost startling by contrast with the previous uproar, I heard a gentle tapping, which appeared to come from the wall behind my chair. The sound was such as might have been made by a human hand, not as upon a door by one asking admittance, but rather, I thought, as an agreed signal, an assurance of someone’s presence in an adjoining room; most of us, I fancy, have had more experience of such communications than we should care to relate. I glanced at Dampier. If possibly there was something of amusement in the look he did not observe it. He appeared to have forgotten my presence, and was staring at the wall behind me with an expression in his eyes that I am unable to name, although my memory of it is as vivid to-day as was my sense of it then. The situation was embarrassing; I rose to take my leave. At this he seemed to recover himself.

“Please be seated,” he said; “it is nothing - no one is there.”

But the tapping was repeated, and with the same gentle, slow insistence as before.

“Pardon me,” I said, “it is late. May I call to-morrow?”

He smiled - a little mechanically, I thought. “It is very delicate of you,” said he, “but quite needless. Really, this is the only room in the tower, and no one is there. At least - ” He left the sentence incomplete, rose, and threw up a window, the only opening in the wall from which the sound seemed to come. “See.”

Not clearly knowing what else to do I followed him to the window and looked out. A street-lamp some little distance away gave enough light through the murk of the rain that was again falling in torrents to make it entirely plain that “no one was there.” In truth there was nothing but the sheer blank wall of the tower.

Dampier closed the window and signing me to my seat resumed his own.

The incident was not in itself particularly mysterious; any one of a dozen explanations was possible (though none has occurred to me), yet it impressed me strangely, the more, perhaps, from my friend’s effort to reassure me, which seemed to dignify it with a certain significance and importance. He had proved that no one was there, but in that fact lay all the interest; and he proffered no explanation. His silence was irritating and made me resentful.

“My good friend,” I said, somewhat ironically, I fear, “I am not disposed to question your right to harbor as many spooks as you find agreeable to your taste and consistent with your notions of companionship; that is no business of mine. But being just a plain man of affairs, mostly of this world, I find spooks needless to my peace and comfort. I am going to my hotel, where my fellow-guests are still in the flesh.”

It was not a very civil speech, but he manifested no feeling about it. “Kindly remain,” he said. “I am grateful for your presence here. What you have heard to-night I believe myself to have heard twice before. Now I know it was no illusion. That is much to me - more than you know. Have a fresh cigar and a good stock of patience while I tell you the story.”

The rain was now falling more steadily, with a low, monotonous susurration, interrupted at long intervals by the sudden slashing of the boughs of the trees as the wind rose and failed. The night was well advanced, but both sympathy and curiosity held me a willing listener to my friend’s monologue, which I did not interrupt by a single word from beginning to end.

“Ten years ago,” he said, “I occupied a ground-floor apartment in one of a row of houses, all alike, away at the other end of the town, on what we call Rincon Hill. This had been the best quarter of San Francisco, but had fallen into neglect and decay, partly because the primitive character of its domestic architecture no longer suited the maturing tastes of our wealthy citizens, partly because certain public improvements had made a wreck of it. The row of dwellings in one of which I lived stood a little way back from the street, each having a miniature garden, separated from its neighbors by low iron fences and bisected with mathematical precision by a box-bordered gravel walk from gate to door.

“One morning as I was leaving my lodging I observed a young girl entering the adjoining garden on the left. It was a warm day in June, and she was lightly gowned in white. From her shoulders hung a broad straw hat profusely decorated with flowers and wonderfully beribboned in the fashion of the time. My attention was not long held by the exquisite simplicity of her costume, for no one could look at her face and think of anything earthly. Do not fear; I shall not profane it by description; it was beautiful exceedingly. All that I had ever seen or dreamed of loveliness was in that matchless living picture by the hand of the Divine Artist. So deeply did it move me that, without a thought of the impropriety of the act, I unconsciously bared my head, as a devout Catholic or well-bred Protestant uncovers before an image of the Blessed Virgin. The maiden showed no displeasure; she merely turned her glorious dark eyes upon me with a look that made me catch my breath, and without other recognition of my act passed into the house. For a moment I stood motionless, hat in hand, painfully conscious of my rudeness, yet so dominated by the emotion inspired by that vision of incomparable beauty that my penitence was less poignant than it should have been. Then I went my way, leaving my heart behind. In the natural course of things I should probably have remained away until nightfall, but by the middle of the afternoon I was back in the little garden, affecting an interest in the few foolish flowers that I had never before observed. My hope was vain; she did not appear.

“To a night of unrest succeeded a day of expectation and disappointment, but on the day after, as I wandered aimlessly about the neighborhood, I met her. Of course I did not repeat my folly of uncovering, nor venture by even so much as too long a look to manifest an interest in her; yet my heart was beating audibly. I trembled and consciously colored as she turned her big black eyes upon me with a look of obvious recognition entirely devoid of boldness or coquetry.

“I will not weary you with particulars; many times afterward I met the maiden, yet never either addressed her or sought to fix her attention. Nor did I take any action toward making her acquaintance. Perhaps my forbearance, requiring so supreme an effort of self-denial, will not be entirely clear to you. That I was heels over head in love is true, but who can overcome his habit of thought, or reconstruct his character?

“I was what some foolish persons are pleased to call, and others, more foolish, are pleased to be called - an aristocrat; and despite her beauty, her charms and graces, the girl was not of my class. I had learned her name - which it is needless to speak - and something of her family. She was an orphan, a dependent niece of the impossible elderly fat woman in whose lodging-house she lived. My income was small and I lacked the talent for marrying; it is perhaps a gift. An alliance with that family would condemn me to its manner of life, part me from my books and studies, and in a social sense reduce me to the ranks. It is easy to deprecate such considerations as these and I have not retained myself for the defense. Let judgment be entered against me, but in strict justice all my ancestors for generations should be made co-defendants and I be permitted to plead in mitigation of punishment the imperious mandate of heredity. To a mésalliance of that kind every globule of my ancestral blood spoke in opposition. In brief, my tastes, habits, instinct, with whatever of reason my love had left me - all fought against it. Moreover, I was an irreclaimable sentimentalist, and found a subtle charm in an impersonal and spiritual relation which acquaintance might vulgarize and marriage would certainly dispel. No woman, I argued, is what this lovely creature seems. Love is a delicious dream; why should I bring about my own awakening?

“The course dictated by all this sense and sentiment was obvious. Honor, pride, prudence, preservation of my ideals - all commanded me to go away, but for that I was too weak. The utmost that I could do by a mighty effort of will was to cease meeting the girl, and that I did. I even avoided the chance encounters of the garden, leaving my lodging only when I knew that she had gone to her music lessons, and returning after nightfall. Yet all the while I was as one in a trance, indulging the most fascinating fancies and ordering my entire intellectual life in accordance with my dream. Ah, my friend, as one whose actions have a traceable relation to reason, you cannot know the fool’s paradise in which I lived.

“One evening the devil put it into my head to be an unspeakable idiot. By apparently careless and purposeless questioning I learned from my gossipy landlady that the young woman’s bedroom adjoined my own, a party-wall between. Yielding to a sudden and coarse impulse I gently rapped on the wall. There was no response, naturally, but I was in no mood to accept a rebuke. A madness was upon me and I repeated the folly, the offense, but again ineffectually, and I had the decency to desist.

“An hour later, while absorbed in some of my infernal studies, I heard, or thought I heard, my signal answered. Flinging down my books I sprang to the wall and as steadily as my beating heart would permit gave three slow taps upon it. This time the response was distinct, unmistakable: one, two, three - an exact repetition of my signal. That was all I could elicit, but it was enough - too much.

“The next evening, and for many evenings afterward, that folly went on, I always having ‘the last word.’ During the whole period I was deliriously happy, but with the perversity of my nature I persevered in my resolution not to see her. Then, as I should have expected, I got no further answers. ‘She is disgusted,’ I said to myself, ‘with what she thinks my timidity in making no more definite advances’; and I resolved to seek her and make her acquaintance and - what? I did not know, nor do I now know, what might have come of it. I know only that I passed days and days trying to meet her, and all in vain; she was invisible as well as inaudible. I haunted the streets where we had met, but she did not come. From my window I watched the garden in front of her house, but she passed neither in nor out. I fell into the deepest dejection, believing that she had gone away, yet took no steps to resolve my doubt by inquiry of my landlady, to whom, indeed, I had taken an unconquerable aversion from her having once spoken of the girl with less of reverence than I thought befitting.

“There came a fateful night. Worn out with emotion, irresolution and despondency, I had retired early and fallen into such sleep as was still possible to me. In the middle of the night something - some malign power bent upon the wrecking of my peace forever - caused me to open my eyes and sit up, wide awake and listening intently for I knew not what. Then I thought I heard a faint tapping on the wall - the mere ghost of the familiar signal. In a few moments it was repeated: one, two, three - no louder than before, but addressing a sense alert and strained to receive it. I was about to reply when the Adversary of Peace again intervened in my affairs with a rascally suggestion of retaliation. She had long and cruelly ignored me; now I would ignore her. Incredible fatuity - may God forgive it! All the rest of the night I lay awake, fortifying my obstinacy with shameless justifications and - listening.

“Late the next morning, as I was leaving the house, I met my landlady, entering.

“‘Good morning, Mr. Dampier,’ she said. ‘Have you heard the news?’

“I replied in words that I had heard no news; in manner, that I did not care to hear any. The manner escaped her observation.

“‘About the sick young lady next door,’ she babbled on. ‘What! you did not know? Why, she has been ill for weeks. And now - ’

“I almost sprang upon her. ‘And now,’ I cried, ‘now what?’

“‘She is dead.’

“That is not the whole story. In the middle of the night, as I learned later, the patient, awakening from a long stupor after a week of delirium, had asked - it was her last utterance - that her bed be moved to the opposite side of the room. Those in attendance had thought the request a vagary of her delirium, but had complied. And there the poor passing soul had exerted its failing will to restore a broken connection - a golden thread of sentiment between its innocence and a monstrous baseness owning a blind, brutal allegiance to the Law of Self.

“What reparation could I make? Are there masses that can be said for the repose of souls that are abroad such nights as this - spirits ‘blown about by the viewless winds’ - coming in the storm and darkness with signs and portents, hints of memory and presages of doom?

“This is the third visitation. On the first occasion I was too skeptical to do more than verify by natural methods the character of the incident; on the second, I responded to the signal after it had been several times repeated, but without result. To-night’s recurrence completes the ‘fatal triad’ expounded by Parapelius Necromantius. There is no more to tell.”

When Dampier had finished his story I could think of nothing relevant that I cared to say, and to question him would have been a hideous impertinence. I rose and bade him good night in a way to convey to him a sense of my sympathy, which he silently acknowledged by a pressure of the hand. That night, alone with his sorrow and remorse, he passed into the Unknown.

Three candles remain.

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai
« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2013, 05:19:06 AM »
Thank you, Lilias!  You've always been willing to bring us closer to doom, and I admire that.

Well, we're nearing our destination now, whatever it may be.  Here's a tale that's just "Plane Spooky"...

Several years ago, a flight crashed shortly after takeoff.  When authorities recovered the black box, they found that the pilots' last conversation was about the dating habits of the flight attendants working that day.

A few years later, two pilots and an off-duty crew member were talking about the details of that tragedy in the cockpit of their own flight just before takeoff.  They remarked on how hard it must be for families to hear those final words.  Shortly after takeoff, their own flight crashed, leaving no survivors.  The last sentence was, "So we had better make our conversations good for our families."

So they say.

I'm snuffing out a candle.  Only two candles remain...


I will take that plane tonight...

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai
« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2013, 05:19:27 AM »
So many stories to choose from, so little time.  Perhaps I'll go with this one -- another traditional tale as retold by S.E. Schlosser.  Will it prove a harbinger of what's to come?

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.

We thought we were real lucky, finding such a good shelter.  As we unhitched the horses, a fellow stopped by to talk to us.  Claimed he was the owner of the property.  Told us we were welcome to stay but the house was haunted.

The owner said that no one who had ever stayed in that house had made it out alive.  That was good enough for me.  I hitched Ol' Betsy back up to the wagon and moved up the road to a stand of trees that offered some shelter from the snow.  Tabb said he wasn't afraid of no ghosts, and he didn't plan on perishing in the snow.  I wasn't about to risk my neck in a haunted house.  I built a fire as best I could and waited through the long night, wondering a couple of times if Tabb wasn't the smart one.

Well, just about dawn, I gave up trying to sleep and went back down the road to see how Tabb had fared for the night.  I peeked through the windows on the first floor.  I saw Tabb snoozing peacefully in a big bed.  He looked warm and happy.  Then I saw a movement on the ceiling.  I looked up, and there was a large man dressed all in white, floating flat against the ceiling.  The man was right over Tabb, looking down on him.

"Tabb," I hissed, tapping at the window.  "Tabb, get out of there you fool!"

Tabb woke, but instead of looking toward the window, he looked straight up and saw the man on the ceiling.  Tabb gave an awful yell, but before he could move out of bed that man fell and landed right on top of him.  Now Tabb was a big, strong fellow, but that ghost was powerful.  They wrestled back and forth on the bed.  I gave a shout and smashed the glass in the window, shouting, "Hold him, Tabb, hold him!"

Just then, the ghost flung himself and Tabb right at me, knocking me back out of the window and into the snow.  The ghost levitated himself and Tabb onto the roof of the front porch.  I kept shouting, "Hold him, Tabb.  Hold him!"  The ghost and Tabb were wrestling frantically on the porch roof.  The ghost gave a mighty leap and threw Tabb onto the roof of the house.

"Hold him Tabb," I shouted.  "Hold him!"  Then the ghost lifted Tabb right into the air.

"I got him," Tabb cried.  "But he got me too!"

They were floating a few feet off the roof, still grappling with each other.  And then the ghost carried Tabb straight up into the air and they vanished.  I never saw Tabb again.

So they say.

I'm snuffing out a candle.  Only a single candle remains: one tiny flame in a sea of darkness.


Hold my hand and I'll take you there...

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai
« Reply #31 on: October 31, 2013, 05:19:50 AM »
The final candle.  Watch its flame quiver beneath my breath.  Listen to its steady hiss.  Smell that sweet aroma.  Feel its warmth.  Who would have thought that this one of all of them would be the last?

One last candle; one last story.  And when I blow this candle out, the ghosts will come.

Do we proceed?

Naturally.  Or supernaturally, as the case may be.

Before I tell the final story, please let me once more thank Jagerin, Lilias, Oniya, and all of you other thoughtful souls who contributed to our round of hyakumonogatari kaidankai over the past five years.  I sincerely appreciate it.  Please let me thank you listeners, too: Stories are worthless without listeners, after all.  I hope that everyone was thrilled and chilled.  It's been a pleasure, a privilege, to know you.

As hyakumonogatari kaidankai is a Japanese tradition, I think that it would be ideal to end with a Japanese story, just as we started with a Japanese story.  Cunningly, I've saved the best for last -- the most horrifying story of them all -- "Cow's Head."

Cow's Head

Now, if you've heard of "Cow's Head," you've probably heard that it's been lost to the mists of time.  I mean, it must have been, right?  Anyone who's heard it has gone insane, they say, and anyone who's come across even the smallest written fragment of it has prudently destroyed said fragment -- to protect others, to protect themselves.  Some of the people who've heard it have even died of fright.

Well, they say that it's been lost, and they most probably believe it, but that's more because they want it to have been lost, you know?  Because if it has been lost, forgotten, obliterated, then they don't have to worry about it.  It's not out there, waiting for them; they can rest easy.

For better or for worse, though, it has not been lost, as you're about to find out for yourself.

You might be compelled to counter, "Ah, but if anyone who hears it goes insane, even dies outright, then how could it ever be told in the first place?  How can there be any tellers to tell it?  Hmmm?"

That's true, and it is a good point.  There's a simple explanation, though.  Yes, anyone who hears it goes insane, but that works out, because anyone who'd be willing and able to tell it would have to be insane.

As for the dead... I don't know whether they tell it.

Consider, for example, what has become probably the most famous telling of "Cow's Head" in modern history.  Several decades ago, in Japan, a teacher and his class were travelling together by bus on a field trip deep into the mountains.  The first couple of hours went all right, but in time the children grew restless.  The teacher decided to tell the children some spooky stories, therefore, to take their minds off of the journey.  Perhaps they were even playing an impromptu round of hyakumonogatari kaidankai -- minus the candles, naturally!

Unfortunately, this teacher wasn't quite right -- teaching will do that to you -- and he ended up telling them "Cow's Head."  At first the children listened eagerly.  Who doesn't like a good spooky story?  The bus driver, too, listened while he steered the bus down those narrow mountain roads.  Soon, however, the children started to fidget; soon after, they shivered; finally, they screamed, sobbed, and, along with the bus driver, begged the teacher to stop.  The teacher continued, though, as if entranced.

When rescue workers discovered the wrecked bus at the bottom of a ravine, they found that the bus driver and many of the children had been killed.  Strangely, some of those that had died seemed to have no physical injuries.  Those children that had survived were catatonic -- or, conversely, ranting and frothing at the mouth.  The few that eventually recovered their sanity had no recollection of what had happened during that fateful trip.

And the teacher?  Dead -- or catatonic -- or ranting and frothing at the mouth -- or amnesic.  Take your pick; people say different things.

Yes: That's what they say.  But people don't always tell the truth, do they?  They don't always know the truth, either -- or seek it out.  They tell the story this way for the reasons that I noted above: It permits them to discount their fears of hearing "Cow's Head" themselves.  "Ah, but why is this story about the teacher and his class so vague?" they'll ask.  "Why aren't we told the teacher's name, or the name of the school that he worked at and the students attended, or the exact location of the accident?  We don't even know what year this supposedly happened!"  Of course, they don't try to find out.  Others will wonder rhetorically, "But if everyone involved was killed, or catatonic, or ranting and frothing, or amnesic, how do we know that the teacher told 'Cow's Head'?"  It comforts them; they can forget about it, relegate it to the status of campfire tale or urban legend.

As I said earlier, however, there's no incongruity.  The details of the accident are out there for anyone who's willing to dig for them.  And we know that the teacher told "Cow's Head" simply because he survived and stated that he'd done so.  Those children that survived concurred, although the psychiatrists and psychologists and therapists that tried -- and failed -- to cure them of their madness dismissed what they said as fantasy.  Madmen can tell the truth, too, though, even if no one believes them.

Incidentally, if you've never heard of "Cow's Head," please don't underestimate its strength.  I know, I know, it might sound rather comical -- "Cow's Head"?! "Cow's Head"?!  "Cow's Head"?! -- but you'll quickly come to respect its menace.  No one knows who first told it or when, but it dates back to the Edo period, if not before.  I'm afraid that it's best that I don't tell you where I first heard it.

So, without further ado: "Cow's Head."  Goodness, this is exciting!  I myself have never told this story to anyone before.  My heart is pounding.  Are you ready?


Oh, I'm sorry!

It seems that I've accidentally blown the last candle out.  How embarrassing!

I am sorry about this.  I admit that I was leaning a little close to the flame, and I am rather excited.  I hope that the ghosts won't be angr

Five yea