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Author Topic: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?  (Read 299 times)

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Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« on: October 01, 2020, 05:22:52 AM »
Missed trains.  Missed flights.  Missed boats.  Missed jokes.  Accidentally deleting that perfect pic.  Being shot down.  Being stood up.  Your favorite jacket left on the subway.  A broad smear of blood leading down into the cellar of that dilapidated old house.  Mangled setups.  Spoiled punch lines.  Grim-faced cops trudging up the front steps.  A freezer stuffed with body parts.  Crumbling castles.  Sterile hospital rooms.  "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"  A starving stray huddled between garbage cans.  Amber alerts.  That strange scratching coming from the other side of the door.  Parched lakebeds.  Sunken lands.  Suddenly realizing that yesterday was a dear friend's birthday.  A spider draining a butterfly.  A hook on the handle of the car door.  "The results have come back; I have bad news."  A scream, deep in the moonlit woods, abruptly twisting into a beast's howl.  Spilled milk.  Burned cookies.  Burned bridges.  Something going bump in the night.  "Our song" when "we" are long since through.  Fumbled balls.  Fumbled words.  What-ifs.  Would-have-beens.  Could-have-beens.  Should-have-beens.

This world is haunted by the forgotten, the neglected, the missing, the excluded, the fallen, the discarded, the lonely, the cast out, the conquered, the rejected, the premature, the overdue, the used up, the worn out, the decayed, the grieved, the ungrieved, the abandoned, the hopeless.  Each of these tragedies is, well, a tragedy: a story for mourning, a story for warning.  Certain tragedies may feel more tragic than others, true, but all of them compel us to remember that cruelty, callousness, ignorance, misfortune, and injustice pervade life, and pervade death, and, still further, pervade what waits beyond death.

In deference to the season -- for we are indeed creeping into the season of tragedy -- I suggest that we, the good ghosts and goblins of Elliquiy, share some of these spooky stories.  Yes, in focusing on the denizens and forces of the Otherworld they will in turn focus on us, but this is an occupational hazard that cannot be avoided.  Free, or at least low-cost, life insurance policies may or may not be provided to those participants who request them.

As a reminder: For a few years we engaged in a round of hyakumonogatari kaidankai, the ancient Japanese tradition where people tell stories amid one hundred candles, extinguishing them as they go.  That went just about as well as we could have hoped, so we began a round of de duizenderotischeprikkennacht, the ancient Dutch tradition where people gather together to tell one thousand spooky stories.  When that one-thousandth story is concluded, we will experience a wonderful and strange visitation from the Otherworld.

So they say.

If you have a spooky story to tell, please post it in this thread.  It might have happened to you; it might have happened to a friend of a friend; it might have been something that you heard whispered by the wind.  It can be short or long, simple or complex.  It can be completely true or even perhaps slightly less than completely true.  All tragedies are welcome: ghost stories, urban legends, hairy yarns, chilling news reports, anecdotes of disconcerting supernatural encounters, eerie folktales.  What a delight it would be if you were to tell multiple stories! -- though for accounting purposes I do ask that you include only a single story per post.  Finally, please give credit where credit is due.  Editing or tweaking a source is perfectly acceptable.  Your own stories are not only permitted but encouraged.

To begin, I'd like to bring you a story concerning something that happened in a forsaken place once meant for forsaken people...

Company in the Abandoned Asylum

It was about 16 years ago (I'm old now haha), when I lived in Topeka, Kansas.  Now some of you will know what I'll be talking about already, but for those of you who don't, keep reading.  I was a keen urban explorer, there was just something thrilling about breaking into abandoned buildings and exploring them.  I had always known about the Topeka State Hospital due to the numerous 'haunted' stories around it, but I had never really thought about exploring it.  My friend of mine, Reece, was also an avid urban explorer, and one night he suggested to me that we go check it out at night.  Not believing in ghosts or scary stories as such, I instantly agreed to go.  We got our bags ready with torches, phones and a snack or two (you have to travel light) and waited for sunset.

On arriving it was already pitch black, there were no lights as the place had been closed since 1990, so we flipped on our torches and crunched our way up the gravel to the front entrance.  It was locked, as we expected, so we made our way around the red bricked exterior, looking for a way in.  About halfway around, we came across a boarded up window, I offered Reece a parting glance and a slight nod of his head indicated we were thinking along the same idea.  I braced my shoulder and bashed into the window.  The sound echoed around the empty halls and the surrounding forest for what seemed ages.  A second bash proved successful as the wood splintered and fell to the ground in a large bang.  Reece whispered in my ear 'honestly if nobody comes after us after that then we're safe'.

I climbed in through the small gap, before lending a hand to Reece to do the same.  Once we were inside, we flipped on our torches and were met with a view of peeling wallpaper and a heavy, musty smell.  We crunched our way through the first room, just enjoying the rush of adrenaline as we tiptoed our way through the halls before we heard footsteps running in the room above us.  Immediately my heart skipped a beat and I glanced at Reece who put up his finger to his lips and indicated that we should turn our torches off.  In the pitch black, I must admit I started getting scared, but I carried on and we made our way up to the second floor to see who was with us in the house.  After three minutes of looking, we turned up empty and were about to leave when we heard more footsteps running, and this time we were sure that we weren't just hearing things as a light rain of dust fell from the room.  We immediately thought we were being pranked, so we ran up to the third floor in hope to catch this person.  But once again, it turned up empty.  We had had enough and just started going down when we heard a door creak from above.  This was it, our chance; we sprinted up, barged though the door and we ended up on the roof of the Asylum.  Empty.  Just then we heard a door being slammed from the floor beneath us and some guttural whispering noise.

I can't tell you how fast we got out of there, but I can tell you that we probably ran faster than the time we got chased by the police.  To this day, I still have no idea what was running around with us in that asylum, I'd like to believe it was some bad prank, but I have this nagging feeling that it wasn't.  Ghosts and spirits don't exist do they?...

They do, though, don't they?


Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2020, 05:25:43 AM »
Sometimes terror is born when what should not be suddenly is.  At other times terror is born when what should be suddenly is not.  With the latter circumstance in mind, please allow me to introduce you to Oliver Larch -- even if, alas, you won't have the opportunity to know him for long.  (I'll be drawing from the classic book Strangest of All, by radio pioneer Frank Edwards.)

The Disappearance of Oliver Larch

Is it possible for a human being to walk off the earth?

Science says that it is not, but if that is correct, then what happened to Oliver Larch?

Christmas Eve of 1889 found the countryside around South Bend, Indiana, covered with several inches of soft snow.  A few miles out of the city, at the farm where Oliver Larch lived with his parents, an old-fashioned Christmas party was under way.

The family minister and his wife were there, along with a circuit judge from South Bend and an attorney from Chicago who had long been a friend of the family.  After dinner they all retired to the parlour for conversation and for singing to the accompaniment of the old-style pump organ which Mrs. Larch played quite well, having been church organist for many years.

It was a delightful get-together which had become an annual event for this little group.  The attorney from Chicago had lost his wife a few years before, and she was buried in the country churchyard a mile or so from the Larch home.  The minister had been a schoolmate of Mr. Larch.  Everybody knew each other well, and they made a very congenial group, reminiscing, laughing, singing, and eating the popcorn which eleven-year-old Oliver Larch was popping on the big kitchen range.

Outside, the snow had stopped falling.  It was about five or six inches deep, a soft, fluffy blanket that lay as it fell, for there was no breeze on this black, starless night.

A few minutes before eleven o'clock, Oliver's father noticed that the grey granite bucket which held the drinking-water needed filling.  He asked Oliver to run out to the well and bring in a bucket of fresh water.  Oliver slipped on a pair of overshoes and went out the side door as his father went back into the parlour to be with the guests.

About ten seconds after Oliver closed the door behind him the adults in the front room heard him scream for help.  They ran out the same door Oliver had used.  Mr. Larch brought a kerosene lamp which sent its flickering yellow rays out over the snow for a few feet.  Scream after scream chilled the little gathering.

"Help!  Help!  They've got me!  Help!  Help!  Help!"

The witnesses afterwards agreed that the cries for help were coming from overhead.  Somewhere up there in the stygian blackness Oliver Larch was in mortal fear, his screams growing fainter and fainter until they finally became inaudible.

By the light of the lamp the men made out Oliver's footprints in the snow.  He had gone about half way to the well, which was about seventy-five feet from the house across the open yard, when his tracks ended abruptly.  The grey granite bucket lay on its side in the snow about fifteen feet away on the left side of Oliver's track.  There were no other marks of any kind in the soft snow.  Just Oliver's footprints... and the bucket... and silence.

To quell our nerves let us break that silence.  Do you have a spooky story to share?


Offline Lilias

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Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2020, 08:51:20 AM »
Patient Zero
by Tananarive Due

September 19

The picture came! Veronica tapped on my glass and woke me up, and she held it up for me to see. It’s autographed and everything! For you, Veronica mouthed at me, and she smiled a really big smile. The autograph says, TO JAY—I’LL THROW A TOUCHDOWN FOR YOU. I couldn’t believe it. Everybody is laughing at me because of the way I yelled and ran in circles around my room until I fell on the floor and scraped my elbow. The janitor, Lou, turned on the intercom box outside my door and said, “Kid, you gone crazier than usual? What you care about that picture for?”

Don’t they know Dan Marino is the greatest quarterback of all time? I taped the picture to the wall over my bed. On the rest of my wall I have maps of the United States, and the world, and the solar system. I can find Corsica on the map, and the Palau Islands, which most people have never heard of, and I know what order all the planets are in. But there’s nothing else on my wall like Dan Marino. That’s the best. The other best thing I have is the cassette tape from that time the President called me on the telephone when I was six. He said, “Hi, is Jay there? This is the President of the United States.” He sounded just like on TV. My heart flipped, because it’s so weird to hear the President say your name. I couldn’t think of anything to say back. He asked me how I was feeling, and I said I was fine. That made him laugh, like he thought I was making a joke. Then his voice got real serious, and he said everyone was praying and thinking about me, and he hung up. When I listen to that tape now, I wish I had thought of something else to say. I used to think he might call me another time, but it only happened once, in the beginning. So I guess I’ll never have a chance to talk to the President again.

After Veronica gave me my picture of Marino, I asked her if she could get somebody to fix my TV so I can see the football games. All my TV can play is videos. Veronica said there aren’t any football games, and I started to get mad because I hate it when they lie. It’s September, I said, and there’s always football games in September. But Veronica told me the NFL people had a meeting and decided not to have football anymore, and maybe it would start again, but she wasn’t sure, because nobody except me was thinking about football. At first, after she said that, it kind of ruined the autograph, because it seemed like Dan Marino must be lying, too. But Veronica said he was most likely talking about throwing a touchdown for me in the future, and I felt better then.

This notebook is from Ms. Manigat, my tutor, who is Haitian. She said I should start writing down my thoughts and everything that happens to me. I said I don’t have any thoughts, but she said that was ridiculous. That is her favorite word, ridiculous.

Oh, I should say I’m ten today. If I were in a regular school, I would be in fifth grade like my brother was. I asked Ms. Manigat what grade I’m in, and she said I don’t have a grade. I read like I’m in seventh grade and I do math like I’m in fourth grade, she says. She says I don’t exactly fit anywhere, but I’m very smart. Ms. Manigat comes every day, except on weekends. She is my best friend, but I have to call her Ms. Manigat instead of using her first name, which is Emmeline, because she is so proper. She is very neat and wears skirts and dresses, and everything about her is very clean except her shoes, which are dirty. Her shoes are supposed to be white, but whenever I see her standing outside of the glass, when she hasn’t put on her plastic suit yet, her shoes look brown and muddy.

Those are my thoughts.

Keep reading...

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2020, 06:16:29 AM »
Thank you very much, Lilias!  How lovely it is to have such fine company as I dive headlong into the abyss.  You know, after reading your moving story, I felt the urge to disinfect my big googly eyeballs with grain alcohol.  Whoops!  Not recommended!

It's difficult to say exactly what happened to poor Oliver Larch, above.  What -- or who -- were "they"?  And what did "they" do with him?  Heck, for all that we know, Ollie's still up there somewhere.  We have so few clues -- only the screams overhead and the footprints that so suddenly stopped...

Then again, sometimes, as with our next story, clues seem to do us little good: They serve to confuse things rather than clarify them.  I hope that you will be as perplexed as I am by "'Bizarre as Hell'"...

"Bizarre as Hell"

Joe Shones was having a heart attack.  The 55-year-old Californian had felt fine just a few minutes previously, navigating his Volkswagen on a desolate mountain road near Rogers Cow Camp in the Plumas National Forest to see if weather conditions were good enough to bring his family along for a weekend excursion the following day.  But as he drove further into the night, snowdrifts slowed his tires.  When he got out to push his car, the exertion brought on a searing pain in his chest.  It was February 24, 1978, and Shones was miles from help.

As he sat in his car wondering what to do, he noticed two sets of headlights, one belonging to a pickup truck.  Hoping he could flag down the passerby, he exited his vehicle and began screaming for help.  He would later say he saw a group of men, one woman, and a baby.  They continued walking, ignoring him.  Hours later, back inside his car, he saw what he thought were flashlights.  When he went back outside to yell into the darkness, no one responded to the sound of his voice.

Hours into his ordeal and with his car still stuck and now out of gas, Shones felt well enough to begin walking down the mountain road and toward a lodge roughly eight miles away.  He passed a 1969 Mercury Montego, but the vehicle had no occupants.  Perhaps, Shones thought, it belonged to the group he had seen earlier.

At the time, Shones was preoccupied with his own emergency.  But authorities would later realize the biggest story to emerge from that dark, desolate road wasn't his brush with death.  It was the fact that Shones had likely wound up being the last person to see Ted Weiher, Gary Mathias, Jack Madruga, Jack Huett, and Bill Sterling alive.

How these five men came to be on an inhospitable mountain road more than 50 miles from their homes in and around Marysville and Yuba City, California, was just one of the mysteries surrounding their disappearance.  None of them was known to have any business on that part of the mountain.  All five had intellectual disabilities or psychiatric issues to various degrees; all of them lived with family, who kept a close eye on them.  They were often lovingly referred to as "boys," despite being from 24 to 32 years of age.  An impromptu road trip was definitely out of character.

If authorities couldn't make any sense of how the group's day had ended on February 24, they at least had some idea of how it began.  Madruga, who owned the Mercury, drove his four friends to a collegiate basketball game at the California State University, Chico.  All were fervent basketball fans, and even had a game of their own scheduled for the following day, playing on a team representing the rehabilitation center they all frequented.

At 32, Weiher was the oldest, a former janitor who was closest to the youngest of the group, 24-year-old Huett.  Sterling and Madruga, an Army veteran, were another set of best friends.  Mathias had been in the Army, too, but was discharged because of psychiatric problems.  He was schizophrenic, a condition controlled by medication he hadn't bothered to bring along.  There was no reason to believe he wouldn't be home in time for his next dose.

The game ended around 10 p.m.  The "boys" stopped at a convenience store for junk food: Hostess pies, soda, candy bars.  All five piled back into the Mercury and took off.  But instead of driving south toward their homes roughly 50 miles away, they inexplicably drove east.  And they traveled for a very long time.  When Shones spotted their abandoned Mercury, the car had been driven roughly 70 miles away from the Chico basketball game.

In the early morning hours of February 25, Shones made it to the lodge and was able to get medical treatment.  There was no reason to mention having seen the Mercury until newspapers began to blare out notices about the five men who had gone missing that Friday.  When Weiher and Sterling didn't come home, their mothers began calling the parents of the others, and soon the police were involved.

On Tuesday, February 28, authorities found the Mercury on the same mountain road where Shones had last seen it, and where a park ranger had reported its location after hearing the missing persons bulletin.  The junk food had been consumed, save for one half of a candy bar.  The keys to the vehicle were gone.  It had enough gas to continue on, but a snowbank had likely caused its tires to spin out.  Madruga and the four other able-bodied men should have been able to dislodge it without a lot of difficulty.  Instead, it looked abandoned.  Around them, police saw nothing but rugged, dense forest, hardly an appealing option for the lightly dressed young men.

"This case is bizarre as hell," Yuba County undersheriff Jack Beecham told reporters.

Organizing a search party in the midst of winter was no easy task, especially when it meant combing through rough terrain filled with rocky surfaces, wooded paths, and snow-covered slopes.  Helicopters surveyed the area from above.  On the ground, officers tried to use horses to get around on the rocky roads.  They entertained a number of eyewitness sightings of the men, including one where they were driving the pickup Shones had mentioned, but none seemed plausible.  Their families raised a $2600 reward for information, petitioned psychics, and waited by their phones, but heard nothing.  Not until the thaw came.

In June of that year, a small group of weekend motorcyclists came across an abandoned forest service trailer on a campground site.  Curious, they went inside.  They found a body tucked into a bed, draped in sheets from head to toe.  When authorities lifted the veil, they found Weiher, his shoes missing and his feet badly frostbitten.  The trailer was over 19 miles from the Mercury.

Soon, police found two other corpses -- those of Sterling and Madruga -- 4.5 miles away from Weiher's remains.  Police believed their bodies had simply given up before they found shelter while Weiher and others marched on.  Madruga had held on to the keys to the car.

Huett's bones were found not long after.  There was no sign of Mathias, aside from his tennis shoes, which had been left in the trailer.  Almost certainly, he had taken Weiher's leather shoes, though police had no real idea why.

If police and the families of the men were expecting closure from the discovery of their bodies, they weren't about to get it.  What puzzled them most was how Weiher was found emaciated, despite the fact that the trailer been stocked with plenty of canned and dried food and a can opener.  From his beard growth, they knew Weiher had been living there anywhere between eight and 13 weeks.  Yet only about 12 cans had been opened, and he had not bothered to turn on the propane tank, which would have provided heat for the entire trailer.  Several paperback books -- perfect for fires -- were also left untouched.  No one had even bothered to cover the broken window they had smashed in to get inside.

Talking to Shones proved even more frustrating.  It was reasonable enough that he had seen the men strike out from a car they believed to be stuck, but who was the woman and the child?  Shones would admit he was very ill at the time of the sighting and could have hallucinated some of the details, but that didn't explain why the men bothered to abandon the car at all, or why they didn't acknowledge Shones's cries for help -- unless he had somehow imagined the whole thing.

"Why" was a common question for investigators and the relatives of the men, but no answers were forthcoming.  Why did the men turn east in the first place?  Why didn't they attempt to move the car once it got stuck, instead of walking to nowhere in the middle of the night?  Was it by chance they came across the trailer, or did someone lead them there?  Why not start a fire for warmth?  If Mathias went for help, where was his body?

Authorities would later discover that a Snowcat vehicle had pushed snow aside to cut a path toward the trailer on February 23, which may have given the men some hope they were in an area where Forest Service employees might soon return.  There was also the theory that Mathias convinced the group to head toward Forbestown, an area between Chico and the mountain road, so he could visit a friend who lived there.  It was possible that Madruga had missed the turn-off and gotten lost, driving deeper into darkness until the snow ground the Mercury to a halt.  The men, panicking, may have believed their car was stuck and that they needed to get help.

A year after their disappearance, police were no closer to solving the mystery.  Mathias's body has never turned up.  There was never any accounting for their strange decision to turn toward unfamiliar territory.  Weiher seemingly walked nearly 20 miles to the trailer in frigid conditions, despite having left his coat at home.  None of the men thought to walk downhill, from where they came, and instead faced the treacherous and unfamiliar path ahead.

Police never ruled out foul play, nor did the families.  Melba Madruga, Jack's mother, told The Washington Post that she believed "some force" had led the group astray.  "We know good and well somebody made them do it," she said.  To the Los Angeles Times, she said it was impossible for her to believe Madruga would ever drive his car, which he prized, into an area where it might be damaged.  He had even left a window rolled down, something he would never normally do.  "I'm positive he never went up there on his own," she told the paper.  "He was either tricked or threatened."

Ted Weiher's sister-in-law has theorized that the men may have seen something take place at the basketball game that prompted someone to chase them.  Police were never able to establish evidence for pursuit, but no one could shake the idea that the men seemed to be determined to move forward.  Why do that unless something more frightening was right behind them?

"Bizarre as hell" was Beecham's summary.  To date, there hasn't been any evidence to contradict him.

Well, if Hieronymus Bosch's artwork is any indication, Hell is indeed bizarre...


Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2020, 06:16:40 AM »
Clue is a pretty interesting word, actually.  It was originally derived from the word clew -- a clew being a ball of thread or yarn or string or twine -- and referenced specifically the ball of thread that the Cretan princess Ariadne gave to the hero Theseus so that he could trace his way back out of the Labyrinth after he slew the Minotaur.  So often we find ourselves lost, thwarted, baffled, desperate for a clue to lead us out of some quandary or another...

Then again, threads should not be followed carelessly, as the next tale stresses.  Otherwise we may end up lost not just for now, but forever.  (I'm adapting what I found here, which is ultimately based on an episode of the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents -- although I wouldn't be shocked to learn that the core of the story precedes even that.)

Final Escape

An arrogant con artist was serving a long sentence in prison.  Resentful about her situation, she decided that she didn't deserve to spend her days behind bars.  She began plotting ways to escape.

In her search for a way out, she ingratiated herself with one of the prison caretakers.  His job was to bury any prisoners who died in a potter's field just outside the prison walls.  Whenever a prisoner died, the caretaker tolled a bell, which was heard by all of the prison inmates.  The caretaker then got the body and put it in a casket.  Next, he entered his office to fill out the death certificate before returning to the casket to nail the lid shut.  Finally, he put the casket on a wagon to take it to the graveyard and bury it.

Knowing this routine, the woman devised an escape plan and shared it with the caretaker.  The next time the bell tolled in the evening, the woman would sneak out of her cell -- she had some months prior figured out a way to get out of her cell -- and into the room where the coffins were kept.  She would then slip into the coffin with the dead body while the caretaker was filling out the death certificate.  When the caretaker returned, he would nail the lid shut and take the coffin outside the prison with the woman in the coffin along with the dead body.  He would then bury the coffin.  The woman knew there would be enough air for her to breathe until the caretaker could sneak back out to the graveyard alone and, under cover of darkness, dig up the coffin and set her free.

The caretaker was reluctant to go along with the plan, but the con artist was a persistent and talented manipulator, and finally he agreed to do it.

Late one evening, the woman was asleep in her cell when she heard the death bell tolling.  She got up, picked the lock of her cell, and crept through the corridors.  When she came to the room where the coffins were kept, she slid inside.  In the pitch black, she found the coffin that contained the dead body, opened it, carefully climbed into it, and pulled the lid shut again to wait for the caretaker.

Soon she heard footsteps and the pounding of the hammer and nails.  Even though she was very uncomfortable in the coffin with the still-warm dead body beneath her, she knew that with each nail she was one step closer to freedom.

The coffin was lifted onto the wagon and taken outside to the graveyard.  She could feel the coffin being lowered into the ground.  She didn't make a sound as the coffin hit the bottom of the grave with a thud.

Finally she heard the dirt dropping onto the top of the wooden coffin.  She grinned.  Soon she would be free.

Feeling morbidly curious, she decided to light a match to find out the identity of the dead prisoner beside her.

She froze.

She was lying on top of the dead caretaker.

Do you have a spooky story to share?


Offline Lilias

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Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2020, 04:57:00 AM »
Hello, Moto
by Nnedi Okorafor

“African women in general need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are – to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.”

—Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel Laureate


This is a tale you will only hear once. Then it will be gone in a flash of green light. Maybe all will be well after that. Maybe the story has a happy ending. Maybe there is nothing but darkness when the story ends.

We were three women. Three friends. We had goals, hopes and dreams. We had careers. Two of us had boyfriends. We owned houses. We all had love. Then I made these… wigs. I gave them to my two friends. The three of us put them on. The wigs were supposed to make things better. But something went wrong. Like the nation we were trying to improve, we became backward. Instead of giving, we took.

Walk with me. This is the story of How the Smart Woman Tried to Right Her Great Wrong.


With the wig finally off, Coco and Philo felt more distant to me. Thank God.

Even so, because it was sitting beside me, I could still see them. Clearly. In my head. Don’t ever mix juju with technology. There is witchcraft in science and a science to witchcraft. Both will conspire against you eventually. I realized that now. I had to work fast.

It was just after dawn. The sky was heating up. I’d sneaked out of the compound while my boyfriend still slept. Even the house girl who always woke up early was not up yet. I hid behind the hedge of colorful pink and yellow lilies in the front. I needed to be around vibrant natural life, I needed to smell its scent. The flowers’ shape reminded me of what my real hair would look like if the wig hadn’t burned it off.

I opened my laptop and set it in the dirt. I put my wig beside it. It was jet black, shiny, the “hairs” straight and long like a mermaid’s. The hair on my head was less than a millimeter long; shorter than a man’s and far more damaged. For a moment, as I looked at my wig, it flickered its electric blue. I could hear it whispering to me. It wanted me to put it back on. I ran my hand over my sore head. Then I quickly tore my eyes from the wig and plugged in the flash drive. As I waited, I brought out a small sack and reached in. I sprinkled cowry shells, alligator pepper and blue beads around the machine for protection. I wasn’t taking chances.

Keep reading...

Offline Valerian

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2020, 06:33:56 PM »
This is a story of the Mi'kmaq North American Indian tribe, called The Girl-Chenoo.  The old magics are strong...

Of the old time. Far up the Saguenay River a branch turns off to the north, running back into the land of ice and snow. Ten families went up this stream one autumn in their canoes, to be gone all winter on a hunt. Among them was a beautiful girl, twenty years of age. A young man in the band wished her to become his wife, but she flatly refused him. Perhaps she did it in such a way as to wound his pride; certainly she roused all that was savage in him, and he gave up all his mind to revenge.

He was skilled in medicine, or in magic, so he went into the woods and gathered an herb which makes people insensible. Then stealing into the lodge when all were asleep, he held it to the girl's face, until she had inhaled the odor and could not be easily awakened. Going out he made a ball of snow, and returning placed it in the hollow of her neck, in front, just below the throat. Then he retired without being discovered. So she could not awake, while the chill went to her heart.

When she awoke she was chilly, shivering, and sick. She refused to eat. This lasted long, and her parents became alarmed. They inquired what ailed her. She was ill-tempered; she said that nothing was the matter. One day, having been sent to the spring for water, she remained absent so long that her mother went to seek her. Approaching unseen, she observed her greedily eating snow. And asking her what it meant, the daughter explained that she felt within a burning sensation, which the snow relieved. More than that, she craved the snow; the taste of it was pleasant to her.

After a few days she began to grow fierce, as though she wished to kill some one. At last she begged her parents to kill her. Hitherto she had loved them very much. Now she told them that unless they killed her she would certainly be their death. Her whole nature was being changed.

"How can we kill you?" her mother asked.

"You must shoot at me," she replied, "with seven arrows. And if you can kill me with seven shots all will be well. But if you cannot, I shall kill you."

Seven men shot at her, as she sat in the wigwam. She was not bound. Every arrow struck her in the breast, but she sat firm and unmoved. Forty-nine times they pierced her; from time to time she looked up with an encouraging smile. When the last arrow struck she fell dead.

Then they burned the body, as she had directed. It was soon reduced to ashes, with the exception of the heart, which was of the hardest ice. This required much time to melt and break. At last all was over.

She had been brought under the power of an evil spirit; she was rapidly being changed into a Chenoo, a wild, fierce, unconquerable being. But she knew it all the while, and it was against her will. So she begged that she might be killed.

The Indians left the place; since that day none have ever returned to it. They feared lest some small part of the body might have remained unconsumed, and that from it another Chenoo would rise, capable of killing all whom she met.

Offline Lilias

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Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2020, 08:51:05 AM »
Click-clack the Rattlebag
by Neil Gaiman

'Before you take me up to bed, will you tell me a story?”

“Do you actually need me to take you up to bed?” I asked the boy.

He thought for a moment. Then, with intense seriousness, “Yes, actually I think you do. It’s because of, I’ve finished my homework, and so it’s my bedtime, and I am a bit scared. Not very scared. Just a bit.

“But it is a very big house, and lots of times the lights don’t work and it’s a sort of dark.”

I reached over and tousled his hair.

“I can understand that,” I said. “It is a very big old house.” He nodded. We were in the kitchen, where it was light and warm. I put down my magazine on the kitchen table. “What kind of story would you like me to tell you?”

“Well,” he said, thoughtfully. “I don’t think it should be too scary, because then when I go up to bed, I will just be thinking about monsters the whole time. But if it isn’t just a little bit scary then I won’t be interested. And you make up scary stories, don’t you? I know she says that’s what you do.”

“She exaggerates. I write stories, yes. Nothing that’s been published, yet, though. And I write lots of different kinds of stories.”

“But you do write scary stories?”


The boy looked up at me from the shadows by the door, where he was waiting. “Do you know any stories about Click-clack the Rattlebag?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Those are the best sorts of stories.”

“Do they tell them at your school?”

He shrugged. “Sometimes.”

“What’s a Click-clack the Rattlebag story?”

He was a precocious child, and was unimpressed by his sister’s boyfriend’s ignorance. You could see it on his face. “Everybody knows them.”

“I don’t,” I said, trying not to smile.

He looked at me as if he was trying to decide whether or not I was pulling his leg. He said, “I think maybe you should take me up to my bedroom, and then you can tell me a story before I go to sleep, but a very not-scary story because I’ll be up in my bedroom then, and it’s actually a bit dark up there, too.”

I said, “Shall I leave a note for your sister, telling her where we are?”

“You can. But you’ll hear when they get back. The front door is very slammy.”

We walked out of the warm and cosy kitchen into the hallway of the big house, where it was chilly and draughty and dark. I flicked the light-switch, but nothing happened.

“The bulb’s gone,” the boy said. “That always happens.”

Our eyes adjusted to the shadows. The moon was almost full, and blue-white moonlight shone in through the high windows on the staircase, down into the hall. “We’ll be all right,” I said.

“Yes,” said the boy, soberly. “I am very glad you’re here.” He seemed less precocious now. His hand found mine, and he held on to my fingers comfortably, trustingly, as if he’d known me all his life. I felt responsible and adult. I did not know if the feeling I had for his sister, who was my girlfriend, was love, not yet, but I liked that the child treated me as one of the family. I felt like his big brother, and I stood taller, and if there was something unsettling about the empty house I would not have admitted it for worlds.

The stairs creaked beneath the threadbare stair-carpet.

“Click-clacks,” said the boy, “are the best monsters ever.”

“Are they from television?”

“I don’t think so. I don’t think any people know where they come from. Mostly they come from the dark.”

“Good place for a monster to come.”


We walked along the upper corridor in the shadows, walking from patch of moonlight to patch of moonlight. It really was a big house. I wished I had a flashlight.

“They come from the dark,” said the boy, holding on to my hand. “I think probably they’re made of dark. And they come in when you don’t pay attention. That’s when they come in. And then they take you back to their… not nests. What’s a word that’s like nests, but not?”


“No. It’s not a house.”


He was silent. Then, “I think that’s the word, yes. Lair.” He squeezed my hand. He stopped talking.

“Right. So they take the people who don’t pay attention back to their lair. And what do they do then, your monsters? Do they suck all the blood out of you, like vampires?”

He snorted. “Vampires don’t suck all the blood out of you. They only drink a little bit. Just to keep them going, and, you know, flying around. Click-clacks are much scarier than vampires.”

“I’m not scared of vampires,” I told him.

“Me neither. I’m not scared of vampires either. Do you want to know what Click-clacks do? They drink you,” said the boy.

“Like a Coke?”

“Coke is very bad for you,” said the boy. “If you put a tooth in Coke, in the morning, it will be dissolved into nothing. That’s how bad coke is for you and why you must always clean your teeth, every night.”

I’d heard the Coke story as a boy, and had been told, as an adult, that it wasn’t true, but was certain that a lie which promoted dental hygiene was a good lie, and I let it pass.

“Click-clacks drink you,” said the boy. “First they bite you, and then you go all ishy inside, and all your meat and all your brains and everything except your bones and your skin turns into a wet, milk-shakey stuff and then the Click-clack sucks it out through the holes where your eyes used to be.”

“That’s disgusting,” I told him. “Did you make it up?”

We’d reached the last flight of stairs, all the way in to the big house.


“I can’t believe you kids make up stuff like that.”

“You didn’t ask me about the rattlebag,” he said.

“Right. What’s the rattlebag?”

“Well,” he said, sagely, soberly, a small voice from the darkness beside me, “once you’re just bones and skin, they hang you up on a hook, and you rattle in the wind.”

“So what do these Click-clacks look like?” Even as I asked him, I wished I could take the question back, and leave it unasked. I thought: Huge spidery creatures. Like the one in the shower that morning. I’m afraid of spiders.

I was relieved when the boy said, “They look like what you aren’t expecting. What you aren’t paying attention to.”

We were climbing wooden steps now. I held on to the railing on my left, held his hand with my right, as he walked beside me. It smelled like dust and old wood, that high in the house. The boy’s tread was certain, though, even though the moonlight was scarce.

“Do you know what story you’re going to tell me, to put me to bed?” he asked. “It doesn’t actually have to be scary.”

“Not really.”

“Maybe you could tell me about this evening. Tell me what you did?”

“That won’t make much of a story for you. My girlfriend just moved in to a new place on the edge of town. She inherited it from an aunt or someone. It’s very big and very old. I’m going to spend my first night with her, tonight, so I’ve been waiting for an hour or so for her and her housemates to come back with the wine and an Indian takeaway.”

“See?” said the boy. There was that precocious amusement again. But all kids can be insufferable sometimes, when they think they know something you don’t. It’s probably good for them. “You know all that. But you don’t think. You just let your brain fill in the gaps.”

He pushed open the door to the attic room. It was perfectly dark, now, but the opening door disturbed the air, and I heard things rattle gently, like dry bones in thin bags, in the slight wind. Click. Clack. Click. Clack. Like that.

I would have pulled away, then, if I could, but small, firm fingers pulled me forward, unrelentingly, into the dark.

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2020, 12:23:40 PM »
Thank you very much, Lilias and Valerian!  The tales that you two introduce into our rounds of storytelling always creep in like black widow spiders, elegant and menacing.

Just about anywhere, it appears, can be haunted: houses, apartment buildings, hospitals, cemeteries, asylums, prisons, churches, hotels, castles, restaurants, pubs, schools, amusement parks, mountains, valleys, rivers, and, of course, bathrooms.  But what about a haunted blast furnace?  Well, Sloss Furnaces certainly seems like somewhere one wouldn't want to spend the night.  Heck, it sounds as if it might in fact be one of the world's gates of hell, joining Lake Avernus, that mysterious cave near the town of Taenarum, Mount Osore, Mount Etna, Fengdu Ghost City, and a few others besides.  You can read more about Sloss Furnaces here... if you dare.  (I think that it goes without saying that I said that in a scary voice.)


From 1882 to 1971, Birmingham's Sloss Furnaces transformed coal and ore from surrounding acres into the hard steel that would pave the way for the industrial revolution.  From skyscrapers in New York's glittering skyline to automobiles being built in Detroit, America came to rely on Birmingham and Sloss Furnaces for providing materials needed to produce thousands of products.  Birmingham grew to a metropolis almost overnight, earning it the nickname of "The Magic City."  But as with all progress, a price was paid... in the currency of blood.

In the late 18th and early 19th century, James "Slag" Wormwood was foreman of the graveyard shift, where a skeleton crew of nearly 150 workers toiled to keep the furnace fed.  During the stifling summer months, temperatures throughout the plant would reach more than 120 degrees.  Lack of sleep, the heat, and low visibility made working the furnace literally a "living hell" and only the poorest of workers, desperate for employment, would work it.  These workers, mostly recently-arrived immigrants, were forced to live in cramped housing located on the furnace site, and could be forced at any moment to return to work.

To impress his supervisors, Wormwood would make his workers take dangerous risks, forcing them to speed up production.  During his reign, 47 workers lost their lives, ten times more than any other shift in the history of the furnace.  Countless others lost their ability to work due to accidents, mishaps, and even a recorded explosion in the small blowing engine house in 1888 that left six workers burned blind.  There were no breaks; there were no holidays.  There was only the furnace -- and its constant hunger for coal.

In October of 1906, Slag Wormwood lost his footing at the top of the highest blast furnace, known as Big Alice, and plummeted into a pool of molten iron.  His body vaporized instantly.  It was reported that Slag must have become dizzy from the methane gas created by the furnace and lost his balance -- but Slag had never set foot on top of furnace during his years of employment.  Although many whispered that the workers had in fact finally had enough of Wormwood's slave driving and fed him to the furnace, no workers were ever brought to trial.

The legend of "Slag" grew each year after his disappearance.  Workers complained of an "unnatural presence" they increasingly encountered throughout the work site.  Sloss Industries soon discontinued the graveyard shift, citing numerous reports of accidents and "strange incidents" that decreased steel production.  For example, in 1926 a night watchman sustained injuries after being "pushed from behind" and told angrily by a deep voice to "get back to work."  The man, upon searching the grounds, could find no sign of any other living person.  Similarly, in 1947, three supervisors turned up missing.  Found unconscious and locked in the small boiler room in the southeastern part of the plant, none of the three could explain exactly what happened to them; all agreed, though, that they had been approached by a man whose skin appeared badly burned and who angrily shouted at them to "push some steel."

Probably the most horrifying tale occurred in 1971, when the night before the plant closed, Samuel Blumenthal, the Sloss Night Watchman, who was nostalgically taking a last look about, found himself face to face with "the most frightening thing he had ever seen."  He described it simply as "evil," a "half-man, half-demon" who tried to push him up the stairs.  When Blumenthal refused, the monster began to beat him with his fists.  Upon examination by Dr. Jack Barlo, Blumenthal was found covered with intense burns; he died before ever returning to Sloss.

There have been more than one hundred reports of suspected paranormal activity at Sloss Furnaces recorded in Birmingham Police records -- from minor incidents such as steam whistles apparently blowing by themselves to major sightings and the rare physical assault.  It is interesting to note that the majority of these reports happen in the months of September and October at night during the old "graveyard shift."

The season of chills is starting to heat up.  Do you have a spooky story to share?


Offline Valerian

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2020, 02:22:03 PM »
This is a more lighthearted tale of the Dakota tribe, called Little Brave and the Medicine Woman, about a boy who tries a little too hard to live up to his name.

A village of Dakota moved out of winter camp and pitched their tents in a circle on high land overlooking a lake. A little way down the declivity was a grave. Chokecherries had grown up, hiding the grave from view. But as the ground had sunk somewhat, the grave was marked by a slight hollow.

One of the villagers going out to hunt took a short cut through the chokecherry bushes. As he pushed them aside he saw the hollow grave but thought it was a washout made by the rains. But as he essayed to step over it, to his great surprise he stumbled and fell. Made curious by his mishap, he drew back and tried again; but again he fell. When he came back to the village he told the old men what had happened to him. They remembered then that a long time before there had been buried there a medicine woman or conjurer. Doubtless, it was her medicine that made him stumble.

The story of the villager’s adventure spread through the camp and made many curious to see the grave. Among others were six little boys who were, however, rather timid, for they were in great awe of the dead medicine woman. But they had a little playmate named Brave, a mischievous little rogue, whose hair was always unkempt and tossed about and who was never quiet for a moment.

“Let us ask Brave to go with us,” they said; and they went in a body to see him.

“All right,” said Brave; “I will go with you. But I have something to do first. You go on around the hill that way, and I will hasten around this way, and meet you a little later near the grave.”

So the six little boys went on as bidden until they came to a place near the grave. There they halted.

“Where is Brave?” they asked.

Now Brave, full of mischief, had thought to play a jest on his little friends. As soon as they were well out of sight he had sped around the hill to the shore of the lake and sticking his hands in the mud had rubbed it over his face, plastered it in his hair, and soiled his hands until he looked like a newly risen corpse with the flesh rotting from his bones. He then went and lay down in the grave and awaited the boys.

When the six little boys came they were more timid than ever when they did not find Brave; but they feared to go back to the village without seeing the grave, for fear the old men would call them cowards.

So they slowly approached the grave and one of them timidly called out:

“Please, grandmother, we won’t disturb your grave. We only want to see where you lie. Don’t be angry.”

At once a thin quavering voice, like an old woman’s, called out:

“Han, han, takoja, hechetuya, hechetuya! Yes, yes, that’s right, that’s right.”

The boys were frightened out of their senses, believing the old woman had come to life.

“Oh, grandmother,” they gasped, “don’t hurt us; please don’t, we’ll go.”

Just then Brave raised his muddy face and hands up through the chokecherry bushes. With the oozy mud dripping from his features he looked like some very witch just raised from the grave. The boys screamed outright. One fainted. The rest ran yelling up the hill to the village, where each broke at once for his mother’s tepee.

As all the tents in a Dakota camping circle face the center, the boys as they came tearing into camp were in plain view from the tepees. Hearing the screaming, every woman in camp ran to her tepee door to see what had happened. Just then little Brave, as badly scared as the rest, came rushing in after them, his hair on end and covered with mud and crying out, all forgetful of his appearance:

“It’s me, it’s me!”

The women yelped and bolted in terror from the village. Brave dashed into his mother’s tepee, scaring her out of her wits. Dropping pots and kettles, she tumbled out of the tent to run screaming with the rest. Nor would a single villager come near poor little Brave until he had gone down to the lake and washed himself.

Offline Lilias

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Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2020, 07:21:13 PM »
The Bog Girl
by Karen Russell

The young turf-cutter fell hard for his first girlfriend while operating heavy machinery in the peatlands. His name was Cillian Eddowis, he was fifteen years old, and he was illegally employed by Bos Ardee. He had celery-green eyes and a stutter that had been corrected at the state’s expense; it resurfaced whenever he got nervous. “Th-th-th,” he’d said, accepting the job. How did Cillian persuade Bos Ardee to hire him? The boy had lyingly laid claim to many qualities: strength, maturity, experience. When that didn’t work, he pointed to his bedroom window, a quarter mile away, on the misty periphery of the cutaway bog, where the undrained water still sparkled between the larch trees. The intimation was clear: what the thin, strange boy lacked in muscle power he made up for in proximity to the work site.

Peat is harvested from bogs, watery mires where the earth yawns open. The bottom is a breathless place—cold, acidic, anaerobic—with no oxygen to decompose the willow branches or the small, still faces of the foxes interred there. Sphagnum mosses wrap around fur, wood, skin, casting their spell of chemical protection, preserving them whole. Growth is impossible, and Death cannot complete her lean work. Once cut, the peat becomes turf, and many locals on this green island off the coast of northern Europe still heat their homes with this peculiar energy source. Nobody gives much thought to the fuel’s mortuary origins. Cillian, his mother, and several thousand others lived on the island, part of the archipelago known to older generations as the Four Horsemen. It’s unlikely that you’ve ever visited. It’s not really on the circuit.

Neolithic farmers were the first to clear the island’s woods. Two thousand years later, peat had swallowed the remains of their pastures. Bogs blanketed the hills. In the Iron Age, these bogs were portals to distant worlds, wilder realms. Gods travelled the bogs. Gods wore crowns of starry asphodels, floating above the purple heather.

Now industrial harvesters rode over the drained bogs, combing the earth into even geometries. On the summer morning that Cillian found the Bog Girl, he was driving the Peatmax toward a copse of trees at the bog’s western edge, pushing the dried peat into black ridges. True, it looked as if he was pleating shit, but Cill had a higher purpose. He was saving to buy his neighbor Pogo’s white hatchback. Once he had a car, it would be no great challenge to sleep with a girl or a woman. Cillian was open to either experience. Or both. But he was far too shy to have an eye-level crush on anyone in his grade. Not Deedee, not Stacia, not Vicki, not Yvonne. He had a crush, taboo and distressing, on his Aunt Cathy’s ankles in socks. He had a crush on the anonymous shoulders of a shampoo model.

Keep reading...

Offline Valerian

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2020, 06:31:39 PM »
A story by Robert Chanate:

As a teenager I was told a story about a residential advisor (RA), who worked at a nearby Indian Boarding School.

The R.A was working the night shifts during a school break period. There were no students on campus so he didn’t have much to do except sit on the bottom floor of one of the dorms and read. It was in the middle of the night when he heard footsteps going down the hallway on the floor above him.

Surprised, the R.A figured someone must have somehow climbed into the second floor window and he ran up the stairs to catch the intruder. Walking into the second floor hallway, the R.A turned on the lights and began going from room to room, searching under the beds and closets. At the last room he was certain he would find someone but that room was empty too. Puzzled he stepped out into the hallway. It was then the lights to the second floor went out.

Startled, he stood there in the dark for a few seconds. Down the hallway a light from one of the middle rooms came on. As he stood at the end of the darkened hallway, staring at the light coming from the middle room, a woman’s voice came out of the room, singing a soft song. He told people it was the most beautiful song he had ever heard, even if he could not make out the language it was being sung in. He began walking towards the room as if he was in a dream in which he could not control his own body. Looking into the room, he saw a woman standing with her back to him. She was wearing a long white dress, her long black hair flowing down past her waist as she gently rocked from side to side, singing.

It was a few moments before he noticed the woman was singing to something standing right in front of her. What she was singing to was a large, shadow black figure. The figure extended both arms and said, “Come with us.”

The man wanted to run but couldn’t move. Barely able to whisper, he closed his eyes and began singing an old prayer song. The stronger his voice became, the softer the woman’s voice went, until she was silent. Opening his eyes, he saw the room was lit for a moment, completely empty. The room then went dark and the second floor lights came back on. The man went downstairs, out the door, jumped in his car and left for good.

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2020, 05:26:28 AM »
Thank you, Valerian and Lilias!  More eerie and enjoyable stuff.

As concerning as it may be to lose one's head, I would argue that it is more concerning still to find someone else's lost head.  Please let me offer you now a tale that begins with a student's shocking discovery in a field in western Pennsylvania and, well, has not yet ended, so far as I can tell.  (I'm lifting from this page, where you can learn more about the macabre case.)

The Human Head in Beaver County

In December of 2014 a grim discovery was made in the middle of a field in Economy, Pennsylvania, just about a dozen yards off a rarely traveled rural road called Mason Road.  The person who stumbled upon it, a middle school student, had been walking through the field when he spied what he at first thought to be deer guts but which would prove to be something much more startling indeed.  There lying in the grass was a severed human head.

Police enacted an intensive search of the area using aircraft and tracker dogs, yet no other signs of the rest of the body or who had dropped the head off could be located.  A look at the mysterious head showed that it was that of a woman who appeared to be perhaps in her 50s or 60s, and which seemed to be remarkably smooth and fresh for having been sitting out in the wilds as it had been.  This was mostly due to the fact that it had been embalmed, and it had all of its teeth as well as silver hair that had rather creepily been styled and set either before or after death.  The cut that had removed the head from the body seemed to be precise and professional, with the careful removal of a piece of the cervical spine, indicating that whoever had removed it had known what they were doing.  All of this led police to at first suspect that this was a lost part from some medical school, a piece of a cadaver, or a case of grave robbing, but no one really knew.

A quest to identify the dead woman through dental records turned up nothing, and when sketches and clay sculptures of what she must have looked like in life were released there were several tips and leads that ultimately went nowhere.  Since the head was professionally embalmed it was suspected that the woman had originated from a funeral home or mortuary, yet none in the area reported having any missing corpses, and neither were there any desecrations of local graves.  The cause of the woman's death, the reason why just her head had ended up out in that field, and who she even was were all seemingly impenetrable mysteries.

An official autopsy would uncover more strangeness and mysteries to add to everything else, when the fact that someone had bothered to embalm it was already strange enough.  The woman was found to have had extensive, almost obsessive, dental work done, and there were signs that she had received medication for a heart ailment, specifically the trace amounts of Lidocaine and Atropine.  It was even speculated that she may have originally died of heart disease, and there were signs that she may have received CPR, but this is totally unknown.

There were also found to be eye caps inserted under the lids, which are a tool used by morticians to keep a cadaver's eyes open, in each of her eyes, and weirder still there were discovered to be small red rubber balls under these set within empty eye sockets where her actual eyes should have been.  This was completely baffling, as there was no discernible reason for why anyone should want to replace eyeballs with rubber balls.  It was thought that the eyes had been perhaps removed to be given as donor organs to an "eye bank," but these typically only require the removal of the corneas, not the entire eyeball, and it certainly is not common procedure to replace them with red rubber balls.  It would be more common to perhaps put cotton in there, which is cheaper, so why the rubber balls?  Why would anyone do this?  No one knew.  Kevin Moran, an embalming instructor at the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service in New York said of this oddity:

In my 40 years of doing this, I have never seen that.  The use of caps in Jane Doe's eye sockets was very professional.  And yet part of it is the rubber balls you get with a ball-and-jacks set.  It doesn't make sense.

A look at the cut that had actually removed the entire head showed some interesting clues as well.  Although the outer skin seemed quite rough and ragged, the inner tissue had been cleanly severed in a professional way, and someone had gone through the trouble of removing the spine.  It was meticulously deliberate and careful, and this, plus the embalming, the state of the eyes, and the fact that absolutely no medical school, mortuary, graveyard, or organ donation organization had reported a missing body or body part, led authorities to suspect that this poor woman had been a victim of the illegal black market body parts trade, which sadly is rampant.  The eyes might have been sold whole to a medical school or research facility, and the professional quality state of the decapitating cut also gave hints that it was perhaps done for this purpose, with an anatomy professor and forensic artist named Michelle Vitali saying:

When we lifted the flap at the back of the neck, we could see that the whole purpose of that was to access the key joint that would preserve both the head and the vertebral column, thereby maximizing the profitability of both.  This is not anybody going with a kitchen knife or anything remotely like that.  It was well done, and it was placed perfectly.  She was dismembered professionally.  It's part of the body parts trade.

On this tip, investigators then went about trying to actually purchase a human head on the black market, which they suspected might give them clues as to whether this is what had become of the mystery woman, such as whether the cuts and condition of the head were the same, but police eventually abandoned this macabre idea.  A Reuters reporter by the name of Brian Grow then launched his own investigation into this matter and located a body parts broker that claimed to sell human heads for $300 a pop, which Grow bought two of.  The cuts made on all of the heads were then compared with photos of the mystery head, and it was found that they were remarkably similar, practically identical, further supporting the dark theory that this Jane Doe had been butchered for the body parts trade, although considering the embalmed state of the head it was thought that she hadn't been murdered to do so, with her corpse probably stolen post mortem.

Of course there have been investigations into the chance that she may very well have been murdered, but a detailed review of missing persons reports from 14 states turned up no viable match, and there were no bodies that had turned up without a head.  In the meantime, all forensic efforts to track down just who the woman was have hit dead ends.  DNA testing has proven to be fairly useless, as the embalming process did great damage to such evidence, and the little usable DNA that could be gleaned from the head has not matched with anyone in any database.  Analysis of the woman's dental work and efforts to find out her identity that way have also met with failure, even though considering the considerable amount of work she had had done it should be relatively easy to get at least some clues from this.  Nothing.

Pleas to medical institutions and official body brokers (yes, this is a thing) didn't get very far either, as there is actually a disturbing number of human cadavers that have been donated to science, where they end up in medical schools, research facilities, and even in NASA, crash test or military simulations, and these bodies and body parts are regularly donated and sold or leased all over the country with shocking ease and little in the way of tracking them.  The sheer number of these corpses and the lack of much effort made to mark or identify them make it well nigh impossible to trace the woman's identity that way.  One frustrated Andrew Gall, chief of detectives for the Beaver County district attorney's office, lamented in 2016:

Two and half years plugging away at this thing.  Got nowhere.  It drives me crazy.  I've been doing this job for a long time.  I hadn't had anything where I had a body part like this turn up.

Makes "Yes: That's a human ear, all right" sound relatively trivial...!


Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2020, 05:26:46 AM »
When we metaphorically lose our heads we tend to get them back before too long.  When we literally lose them the opposite is true and, sadly, few of us have replacements...

Few of us -- but not all of us, evidently.  Our next tale is derived from this curious blog post, itself derived from this blog post in Japanese.

"There's Something Wrong with My Head, So I Want You to Replace It"

On September 3, 1974, Mr. F, a 31-year-old truck driver in Japan, had to deliver a load of furniture by 7 am.  While driving in the early morning, he noticed a body of silvery-white light in the sky.  The light, of course, was a flying saucer, and it noiselessly landed some 10 meters (32 feet) away.  What happened next was a bit hazy, but after falling unconscious, he woke up to find a strange woman sitting in his passenger seat.

Mr. F's unexpected visitor had a face that resembled a mask, with two eyes and no other features.  Her hair fell to her shoulders, her height looked to be about 160 cm (5'3"), and her clothes looked like they were made of rubber.  Oh, and she had a horn-like antenna on the top of her head.  Naturally, Mr. F didn't feel very comfortable at the sight of what must have been the galaxy's homeliest female.

Speaking in a mechanical voice, the woman said she'd come to Earth, but complained that "There's something wrong with my head, so I want you to replace it."  When the confused trucker asked how, the alien instructed to press three buttons on her chest.  After following her instructions, Mr. F popped his passenger's head off.  Next, he was told to press the buttons in the reverse order, and then he put a new, identical-looking head on the alien.  (Just where Mr. F got this other head is not immediately clear.)

During the rest of the encounter, Mr. F and the alien talked for a while.  She said there were more of her people on Earth, but they weren't interested in conquering the planet.  They were essentially refugees, settling on our planet because their sun had collided with another star.  They were also more advanced than humans, and had computers in their heads, which allowed them to speak in earthly languages.  Before disappearing -- and Mr. F couldn't remember how that happened -- the alien promised they would meet again someday.

The next thing Mr. F remembered, he was back driving on the road, nearly at his destination.  He was right on time too, at 7 am, yet he couldn't account for some 20 minutes.  Later, when he got home, Mr. F bluntly told his wife, "I talked to an alien today and replaced its head."  The news went about as well as expected: Mrs. F laughed and asked if her husband was tired.

Apparently, Mr. F hoped his colleagues would be a bit more open-minded.  He wrote about the encounter in a company newsletter, to equally mocking results.  A year-and-a-half later, Mr. F caught a break though, and was featured in the June 1976 issue of UFO and Universe magazine.  After the encounter, Mr. F said he felt no mental or physical changes to his body, though he thought he saw the UFO again during another drive a few months later.

Do you have a spooky story to share?


Offline Lilias

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Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2020, 01:56:38 PM »
How to Get Back to the Forest
by Sofia Samatar

“You have to puke it up,” said Cee. “You have to get down there and puke it up. I mean down past where you can feel it, you know?”

She gestured earnestly at her chest. She had this old-fashioned cotton nightgown on, lace collar brilliant under the bathroom lights. Above the collar, her skin looked gray. Cee had bones like a bird. She was so beautiful. She was completely beautiful and fucked. I mean everybody at camp was sort of a mess, we were even supposed to be that way, at a difficult stage, but Cee took it to another level. Herding us into the bathroom at night and asking us to puke. “It’s right here,” she said, tapping the nightgown over her hollow chest. “Where you’ve got less nerves in your esophagus. It’s like wired into the side, into the muscle. You have to puke really hard to get it.”

“Did you ever get it out?” asked Max. She was sitting on one of the sinks. She’d believe anything.

Cee nodded, solemn as a counselor. “Two years ago. They caught me and gave me a new one. But it was beautiful while it was gone. I’m telling you it was the best.”

“Like how?” I said.

Cee stretched out her arms. “Like bliss. Like everything. Everything all at once. You’re raw, just a big raw nerve.”

“That doesn’t sound so great,” said Elle.

“I know,” said Cee, not annoyed but really agreeing, turning things around. That was one of her talents.

“It sounds stupid,” she nodded, “but that’s because it’s something we can’t imagine. We don’t have the tools. Our bodies don’t know how to calculate what we’re missing. You can’t know till you get there. And at the same time, it’s where you came from. It’s where you started.”

She raised her toothbrush. “So. Who’s with me?”

Keep reading...

Offline Valerian

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2020, 02:39:17 PM »
A tale of the Algonquian tribes about a curse by three Algonquin women that apparently seems to still work today.  The story takes place a hundred years before the settlement of Jamestown.

Though the land near what is now Washington, D.C., was rich with farmland and game and everyone did well, peace did not reign here. To the north were the Iroquois and Susquehannocks and they would raid the Algonquin tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy in the Virginia area, the battles fierce and bloody.

After a long siege, one Powhatan chief felt it was safe enough for his warriors and him to hunt for food. He forbade though, three of his young sons to go with them, feeling they were not old enough to defend themselves if trouble came.

The young men decided to show their father how well they could go out and bring enough fresh fish to feed the women, children, and old men in the village. They did this after the hunting party left.

Now the greatest abundance of fish lived in the waters near the northern shore where the Susquehannocks warriors might still be. Using a canoe, they pushed it into the river and struck out. Not long after, a Susquehannock scouting party captured them and they were brought before the village, tortured, and killed. Of the Algonquin villagers, three young daughters of the village shaman who were in love with the young men watched with horror and growing anger.

They devised among themselves that they would cross the river to the village of the Susquehannocks to demand the warriors that killed the men they loved. They would take them back to their village to beguile them with their beauty and their father’s medicine. But afterwards, they would kill them by a long, agonizing death.

The sisters lashed several logs into a raft and pushed it from shore. But the current from the river proved too strong and fast and soon, they found themselves racing downstream. Still angry over the senseless deaths of the men they loved, the sisters cursed the river and said if they couldn’t cross it, no one would ever be able to do so.

The raft broke up and they sank to their deaths, lightning striking the spot where they went down. That night the storm continued and the river’s waters went crazy. The following morning all grew calm as the sun rose into the sky. But three boulders had risen out of the spot where the sisters drowned, boulders that hadn’t been there before.

From that time on, these rocks take their toll on those who dare to try and cross the river there. Old-timers claim that you can hear moaning over the river during a storm, warning of another impending drowning.

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2020, 05:12:09 AM »
Thank you very much, Lilias and Valerian!  Creepy indeed!

So, when there's something strange in a Pueblo, Colorado funeral home, who's it gonna call?  Well, according to this article, it's actually going to call the fuzz.  "Probably just line trouble, right?  Let's go with that."

Weird 911 call spooks Pueblo police

Dead silence on the line, with Pueblo police officers following up on the unexplained call by responding to its source.

A local funeral home.

Dark and shuttered, without a soul around.

At least not in sight.

On the night shift, police have to be prepared for anything.

Including a possible phantom in the dead of the night.

Recently, the department's communication center received, at 3:30 a.m., a 911 hang-up call that originated from a local funeral home.

Per protocol, a dispatcher called the number back.  The call was picked up but the dispatcher's attempts to initiate a conversation were met only with silence.

"We're not sure what happened," said Capt. Tom Rummel, who first broke this bizarre occurrence via Twitter.  "Sometimes line trouble will cause what we call an 'abandoned 911.'

"But the weird thing about this one was the fact that when dispatch called the number back, it was picked up.  No verbal response, though."

As a dispatcher called an after-hours contact number associated with the funeral home and left a message, officers were dispatched to the funeral home but discovered nothing amiss.

At least not visibly.

"Apparently, everything was OK, because as far as I know, nobody was dispatched back there after daylight," Rummel added.

"Probably just line trouble, right?  Let's go with that."

But then there's this.

In folklore, the witching hour is a time of night associated with supernatural events.  Unearthly creatures are thought to appear and to be at their most powerful.

In the Western Christian tradition, this witching hour is between 3 and 4 a.m.

Do you have a spooky story to share?


Offline Lilias

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Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2020, 12:34:14 PM »
The Third Bear
by Jeff Vandermeer

It made its home in the deep forest near the village of Grommin, and all anyone ever saw of it, before the end, would be hard eyes and the dark barrel of its muzzle. The smell of piss and blood and shit and bubbles of saliva and half-eaten food. The villagers called it the Third Bear because they had killed two bears already that year. But, near the end, no one really thought of it as a bear, even though the name had stuck, changed by repetition and fear and slurring through blood-filled mouths to Theeber. Sometimes it even sounded like "seether" or "seabird."

The Third Bear came to the forest in mid-summer, and soon most anyone who used the forest trail, day or night, disappeared, carried off to the creature's lair. By the time even large convoys had traveled through, they would discover two or three of their number missing. A straggling horseman, his mount cantering along, just bloodstains and bits of skin sticking to the saddle. A cobbler gone but for a shredded, bloodied hat. A few of the richest villagers hired mercenaries as guards, but when even the strongest men died, silent and alone, the convoys dried up.

The village elder, a man named Horley, held a meeting to decide what to do. It was the end of summer by then. The meeting house had a chill to it, a stench of thick earth with a trace of blood and sweat curling through it. All five hundred villagers came to the meeting, from the few remaining merchants to the poorest beggar. Grommin had always been hard scrabble and tough winters, but it was also two hundred years old. It had survived the wars of barons and of kings, been razed twice, only to return.

"I can't bring my goods to market," one farmer said, rising in shadow from beneath the thatch. "I can't be sure I want to send my daughter to the pen to milk the goats."

Horley laughed, said, "It's worse than that. We can't bring in food from the other side. Not for sure. Not without losing men."

Horley had a sudden vision from months ahead, of winter, of ice gravelly with frozen blood. It made him shudder.

"What about those of us who live outside the village?" another farmer asked. "We need the pasture for grazing, but we have no protection."

Horley understood the problem; he had been one of those farmers, once. The village had a wall of thick logs surrounding it, to a height of ten feet. No real defense against an army, but more than enough to keep the wolves out. Beyond that perimeter lived the farmers and the hunters and the outcasts who could not work among others.

"You may have to pretend it is a time of war and live in the village and go out with a guard," Horley said. "We have plenty of able-bodied men, still."

"Is it the witch woman doing this?" Clem the blacksmith asked.

"No," Horley said. "I don't think it's the witch woman."

What Clem and some of the others thought of as a "witch woman," Horley thought of as a crazy person who knew some herbal remedies and lived in the woods because the villagers had driven her there, blaming her for an outbreak of sickness the year before.

"Why did it come?" a woman asked. "Why us?"

No one could answer, least of all Horley. As Horley stared at all of those hopeful, scared, troubled faces, he realized that not all of them yet knew they were stuck in a nightmare.

Clem was the village's strongest man, and after the meeting he volunteered to fight the beast. He had arms like most people's thighs. His skin was tough from years of being exposed to flame. With his full black beard he almost looked like a bear himself.

"I'll go, and I'll go willingly," he told Horley. "I've not met the beast I couldn't best. I'll squeeze the ‘a' out of him." And he laughed, for he had a passable sense of humor, although most chose to ignore it.

Horley looked into Clem's eyes and could not see even a speck of fear there. This worried Horley.

"Be careful, Clem," Horley said. And, in a whisper, as he hugged the man: "Instruct your son in anything he might need to know, before you leave. Make sure your wife has what she needs, too."

Keep reading...

Offline Valerian

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2020, 07:07:52 PM »
A tale of the Luiseño People of Southern California:

Once a year the People of Kamak left their village and went up Palomar Mountain to gather acorns. Everyone went, young and old, and even the ill were carried along on litters so that the village could stay together at this important time. The house were left empty, no one was afraid to thieves in those days.

While the village was deserted, a man from another nearby village called Ahoya came to Kamak. He found everyone gone. He knew where they had gone, and why, so he knew he could not see his friends this trip. He decided to spend the night and go on his way the next morning. He did not go into anyone's house, but rather he took a large basket normally used to store grain and turned it over. He crawled under the basket, where the wind could not bother him. He fell asleep.

In the early evening, but long after dark, he was awakened by someone calling people out to dance. At first he thought the People of Kamak had come back from acorn gathering. Then, being a old man, he began to recognize the voices of People he had known many years ago, but who were now long dead He began to realize that the voices were spirits of the Dead! While the People of Kamak were away, the Dead had returned to dance.

The old man lay quietly under the basket, listening to the voices of all the People, all the way back to the ancient days. He heard the Woman-who-was-turned-into-rock as she sang, He heard the Man-who-scooped-rock-with-his-hand as he sang. All the People of the ancient days were here n the village again.

The old man could not stand to wait any longer. After he had listened for hours, he wanted to look at the People he had known as a young man and the faces of the People he had only heard about in old stories. He threw the basket off and looked where the Dead had been dancing.

There was only a flock of birds, and they flew away, startled by the basket overturning. The turtle-shell rattle the Dead had played all night as they danced lay on the ground. It was now just a piece of soaproot.

The old man was not allowed to see the Dance of the Dead.

Offline Lilias

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Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2020, 08:59:50 AM »
Premium Harmony
by Stephen King

They’ve been married for ten years and for a long time everything was O.K.—swell—but now they argue. Now they argue quite a lot. It’s really all the same argument. It has circularity. It is, Ray thinks, like a dog track. When they argue, they’re like greyhounds chasing the mechanical rabbit. You go past the same scenery time after time, but you don’t see it. You see the rabbit.

He thinks it might be different if they’d had kids, but she couldn’t. They finally got tested, and that’s what the doctor said. It was her problem. A year or so after that, he bought her a dog, a Jack Russell she named Biznezz. She’d spell it for people who asked. She loves that dog, but now they argue anyway.

They’re going to Wal-Mart for grass seed. They’ve decided to sell the house—they can’t afford to keep it—but Mary says they won’t get far until they do something about the plumbing and get the lawn fixed. She says those bald patches make it look shanty Irish. It’s because of the drought. It’s been a hot summer and there’s been no rain to speak of. Ray tells her grass seed won’t grow without rain no matter how good it is. He says they should wait.

“Then another year goes by and we’re still there,” she says. “We can’t wait another year, Ray. We’ll be bankrupts.”

When she talks, Biz looks at her from his place in the back seat. Sometimes he looks at Ray when Ray talks, but not always. Mostly he looks at Mary.

“What do you think?” he says. “It’s going to rain just so you don’t have to worry about going bankrupt?”

“We’re in it together, in case you forgot,” she says. They’re driving through Castle Rock now. It’s pretty dead. What Ray calls “the economy” has disappeared from this part of Maine. The Wal-Mart is on the other side of town, near the high school where Ray is a janitor. The Wal-Mart has its own stoplight. People joke about it.

“Penny wise and pound foolish,” he says. “You ever hear that one?”

“A million times, from you.”

He grunts. He can see the dog in the rearview mirror, watching her. He sort of hates the way Biz does that. It occurs to him that neither of them knows what they are talking about.

Keep reading...

Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2020, 07:00:44 AM »
Thank you very much, Lilias and Valerian! -- you two are the freakin' Golden Ghouls!  ("Thank you for being a fiend...")

Ultimately horror stories are stories about pain, aren't they? -- about physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain -- about pain past, pain present, pain impending.  People will do all kinds of things to avoid or ameliorate pain: dip a toe into the swimming pool to make sure that the water's not too cold; binge on ice cream or a television series; meditate; self-medicate; deny the undeniable; abandon others in a crisis; or, when all else fails, abandon their very sanity.  (As you may guess, I myself am particularly partial to that last one.)

Surgery is an intriguing case.  It represents a sort of gambit: a willingness to endure some pain now to potentially, hopefully, prevent greater pain in the future.  Because surgery involves amusing little devices like needles, scalpels, scissors, staplers, rongeurs, and bone saws, however, and because we are indeed predisposed to minimize pain as much as possible, we usually employ some form of anesthetic when performing it.  Now, while local anesthetic simply numbs part of our body, permitting us to engage in pleasant conversation and watch the blood spurt as someone else slits us up a treat, general anesthetic allows us to slumber and entirely ignore the whole nasty business...

Doesn't it?

What happens when anaesthesia fails

One in 20 patients remain aware but paralysed during major medical procedures -- though the vast majority will not remember it afterwards.  Why?

It can be the smallest event that triggers Donna Penner's traumatic memories of an operation she had more than ten years ago.

One day, for instance, she was waiting in the car as her daughter ran an errand, and realised that she was trapped inside.  What might once have been a frustrating inconvenience sent her into a panic attack.

"I started screaming.  I was flailing my arms, I was crying," she says.  "It just left me so shaken."  Even the wrong clothing can make her anxiety worse.

"Anything that's tight around my neck is out of the question because it makes me feel like I'm suffocating," says Penner, a 55-year-old from Altona in Manitoba, Canada.

Her panic attacks began after a small medical procedure that she had before her 45th birthday.  She was working in the accountancy department of a local trucking company and had just celebrated the wedding of one of her daughters.  But she had been having severe bleeding and pain during her period, and her family physician had suggested that they investigate the causes with exploratory surgery.

It should have been a routine procedure, but, for reasons that are far from clear, the general anaesthetic failed.  Rather than lying in peaceful oblivion, she woke up just before the surgeon made the first cut into her abdomen.  With her body still paralysed by the anaesthetic drugs, she was unable to signal that anything was wrong.

She remained helpless on the operating table, in indescribable agony, as the surgeon probed her body.  "I thought, 'This is it, this is how I'm going to die, right here on the table, and my family will never know what my last few hours were like because no one's even noticing what's going on.'"

The lingering trauma still causes her to have "two or three nightmares each night".  Having been put on medical leave from her job, Penner has lost her financial independence.  She suspects that she will never fully escape the effects of that day more than a decade ago.  "It's a life sentence."

For years, anaesthesia awareness has been shrouded in mystery.  Although extreme experiences like Penner's are rare, there is now evidence that around 5% of people may wake up on the operating table -- and possibly many more.

Thanks to the amnesiac effects of the drugs, however, most of these people will be unable to remember anything about the event -- and whether or not that is something we should be concerned about is both a practical and a philosophical question.  It is all the more significant given just how often general anaesthesia is now used.

"Almost three million general anaesthetics happen each year in the UK alone," says Peter Odor, a registrar at St George's Hospital in London.  "As a consequence, it is more probable than not that someone, somewhere in the world, right now is aware during their surgery."

Inducing anaesthesia is as much art as science, and in the vast majority of cases, it works astonishingly well.  More than 170 years after its first public demonstration, anaesthetists across the world plunge millions of people each year into comas and then bring them out safely.  This doesn't just reduce patients' immediate suffering; many of the most invasive lifesaving procedures would simply not be possible without good general anaesthesia.

But as with any medical procedure, there can be complicating factors.  Some people may have a naturally higher threshold for anaesthesia, meaning that the drugs don't reduce the brain's activity enough to dim the light of consciousness.

In some cases, such as injuries involving heavy bleeding, an anaesthetist may be forced to use a lower dose of the anaesthetic for the patient's own safety.

It may also be difficult to time the effects of the different drugs, to ensure that the so-called induction dose (which gets you to sleep) doesn't fade before the maintenance dose (to keep you unconscious) kicks in.

In some situations, you might be able to raise or lower your limb, or even speak, to show the anaesthetic is not working before the surgeon picks up their scalpel.  But if you have also been given neuromuscular blockers, that won't be possible.  The unfortunate result is that a small proportion of people may lie awake for part or all of their surgery without any ability to signal their distress.

Penner talks about her own experience, during a lengthy telephone conversation from her home in Canada.

She says that she had felt anxious in the run-up to the operation, but she had had general anaesthetic before without any serious problems.  She was wheeled into the operating theatre, placed on the operating table, and received the first dose of anaesthesia.  She soon drifted off to sleep, thinking, "Here I go."

When she woke up, she could hear the nurses buzzing around the table, and she felt someone scrubbing at her abdomen -- but she assumed that the operation was over and they were just clearing up.  "I was thinking, 'Oh boy, you were anxious for no reason.'"  It was only once she heard the surgeon asking the nurse for a scalpel that the truth suddenly dawned on her: the operation wasn't over.  It hadn't even begun.

The next thing she knew, she felt the blade of his knife against her belly as he made his first incision, leading to excruciating pain.

She tried to sit up and to speak -- but thanks to a neuromuscular blocker, her body was paralysed.  "I felt so... so powerless.  There was just nothing I could do.  I couldn't move, couldn't scream, couldn't open my eyes," she says.  "I tried to cry just to get tears rolling down my cheeks, thinking that they would notice that and notice that something was going on.  But I couldn't make tears."

The frustration was immense.  "It felt like someone was sitting on me and holding me down and there was absolutely nothing I could do."

Eventually, she tried to focus all her attention on moving one foot, which she managed to wiggle very slightly -- and felt astonishing relief when one of the nurses placed his hand over it.  Before she could move it again, however, the nurse had let go.  She tried a total of three times, all with the same result.  "It was very frustrating for me knowing that was the only way to communicate and it wasn't working."

Penner's torment should have finished after the surgeon had ended his work.  But as the neuromuscular blockers began to wear off, she started to move her tongue around the tube stuck down her throat; it was a way, she thought, of signalling to the staff that she was awake.

Unfortunately, the staff misread her attempts at communication, and began to withdraw the tube prematurely, before the paralytic agent had faded enough for her lungs to be able to operate on their own.  "So here I was lying on the table and he took away my life support, my oxygen, I could not take a breath," Penner says.  She assumed she would die.

At this point, the operating room began to feel more distant, as she felt her mind escape in an out-of-body experience.  A committed Christian, she says she felt the presence of God with her.  It was only after the staff restored her oxygen supply that she drifted back into the operating room, to wake, crying.

That pain, the fear, the sense of absolute helplessness, all still linger to this day.

"It's hard to sit at home here and watch all the neighbours hurrying out of their house in the morning, jump in their cars, and go off to work, and I can't."

Various projects around the world have attempted to document experiences like Penner's, but the Anesthesia Awareness Registry at the University of Washington, Seattle, offers some of the most detailed analyses.  Founded in 2007, it has now collected more than 340 reports -- most from North America -- and although these reports are confidential, some details have been published, and they make illuminating reading.

Nearly all the patients included said they heard voices or other sounds under general anaesthesia (patients' eyes are typically closed during surgery so visual experiences tend to be less common).

"I heard the type of music and tried to figure why my surgeon chose that," one patient told the registry.

"I heard several voices around me," another reported.  "They seemed to be panicking.  I heard them say they were losing me."

As you might expect, a large majority of the accounts -- more than 70% -- also contain reports of pain.  "I felt the sting and burning sensation of four incisions being made, like a sharp knife cutting a finger," wrote one.  "Then searing, unbearable pain."

"There were two parts I remember quite clearly," wrote a patient who had had a wide hole made in his femur.  "I heard the drill, felt the pain, and felt the vibration all the way up to my hip.  The next part was the movement of my leg and the pounding of the 'nail'."  The pain, he said, was "unlike anything I thought possible".

It is the paralysing effects of the muscle blockers that many find most distressing, however.  For one thing, it produces the sensation that you are not breathing -- which one patient described as "too horrible to endure".

Then there's the helplessness.  Another patient noted: "I was screaming in my head things like 'don't they know I'm awake, open your eyes to signal them'."

To make matters worse, all of this panic can be compounded by a lack of understanding of why they are awake but unable to move.

"They have no reference point to say why is this happening," says Christopher Kent at the University of Washington, who co-authored the paper about these accounts.  The result, he says, is that many patients come to fear that they are dying.  "Those are the worst of the anaesthesia experiences."

Estimates of how often anaesthesia awareness happens have varied depending on the methods used, but those relying on patient reports had tended to suggest it was very rare indeed.

One of the largest and most thorough investigations was the fifth National Audit Project carried out by British and Irish anaesthetists' associations, in which every public hospital in the UK and Ireland had to report any incidents of awareness for a year.  The results, published in 2014, found that the overall prevalence was just 1 in 19,000 patients undergoing anaesthesia.  The figure was higher -- around 1 in 8,000 -- if the anaesthesia included paralysing drugs, which is to be expected, since they prevent the patient from alerting the anaesthetist that there is a problem before it is too late.

These low numbers were comforting news.  As the media reported at the time, you were more likely to die during surgery than to become aware during the operation, confirming many doctors' suspicions that this was a very remote risk.

Unfortunately, these figures are probably underestimates, as Odor explains to me at St George's Hospital in London.  For one thing, the National Audit Project relied on patients themselves reporting directly to the hospital -- but many people may feel unable or unwilling to come forward, and would instead prefer to just put the experience behind them.

There are also the amnesiac effects of the drugs themselves.  "Anaesthetic drugs disrupt your ability to encode a memory," said Odor.  "And the dose that you give to obliterate memories is lower than that you need to obliterate consciousness.  So memory goes well before consciousness goes."

This suggests many more people might be conscious during surgery, but they simply can't remember it afterwards.

To investigate this phenomenon, researchers are using what they call the isolated forearm technique.  During the induction of the anaesthesia, the staff place a cuff around the patient's upper arm that delays the passage of the neuromuscular agent through the arm.  This means that, for a brief period, the patient is still able to move their hand.  So, a member of staff could ask them to squeeze their hand in response to two questions: whether they were still aware, and, if so, whether they felt any pain.

In the largest study of this kind to date, Robert Sanders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently collaborated with colleagues at six hospitals in the US, Europe and New Zealand.  Of the 260 patients studied, 4.6% responded to the experimenters' first question, about awareness.

That is hundreds of times greater than the rate of remembered awareness events that had been noted in the National Audit Project.  And around four in 10 of those patients who did respond with the hand squeeze -- 1.9% across the whole group -- also reported feeling pain in the experimenters' second question.

These results raise some ethical quandaries.  "Whenever I talk to the trainees I talk about the philosophical element to this," says Sanders.  "If the patient doesn't remember, is it concerning?"

Sanders says that there's no evidence that the patients who respond during the isolated forearm experiments, but fail to remember the experience later, do go on to develop PTSD or other psychological issues like Donna Penner.  And without those long-term consequences, you might conclude that the momentary awareness is unfortunate, but unalarming.

Yet the study does make him uneasy, and so he conducted a survey to gather the public's views on the matter.  Opinions were mixed.  "Most people didn't think that amnesia alone is sufficient -- but a surprisingly large minority thought that as long as you didn't remember the event, it's OK," Sanders says.

Do you yourself have any surgeries coming up?  Just curious, naturally...


Offline Spookie MonsterTopic starter

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2020, 07:00:59 AM »
Although the memory loss that occurs as a consequence of Alzheimer's, Lewy body dementia, and similar diseases truly is heartbreaking, there are times when the thought of retaining our memories feels worse than that of losing them.  Too often we ache for a nepenthe to cleanse us of that lost love, that lost opportunity, that biting word, that swallowed word, that unextended hand, that ineffective anesthetic.

In that vein, I'd now like to retell a tale regardless of the fact that you have no doubt not forgotten it.  Fortunately, however, though said tale be twice-told, it is certain to vex few ears, dull or otherwise.  There are numerous performances of it out there, each with its own character: The magnificent Vincent Price brings his frenzied rendition; Basil Rathbone offers what might be the finest traditional delivery yet recorded; Christopher Lee's is permeated with a fiery fatalism; criminy, and then there are Christopher Walken's, Morgan Freeman's, Neil Gaiman's, Anne Waldman's, William Shatner's, John Astin's, Lou Reed's, Stan Lee's (!), and, of course, Darth Vader's.  On this specific occasion I hope that you will welcome James Earl Jones and his hypnotic voice.  (This is not the lighthearted version used in The Simpsons, for the record, though it is used as the foundation for the Darth Vader one mentioned above.)

Do you have a spooky story to share?  (Don't quote, prithee, "Nevermore!")


Offline Valerian

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2020, 05:18:24 PM »
The Soap Factory—a cavernous 1883 warehouse on the Minneapolis riverfront, once an experimental art venue—is ferociously haunted.

It is “one of the most paranormally thick environments I have ever had the displeasure to investigate,” says Adrian Lee, founder of the International Paranormal Society. And while Lee is loathe to speak in religious terms, he considers the entities there “bordering on demonic.” His four-year investigation of the space has found men getting attacked, a darkness so profound it blotted out infrared imagery, and—perhaps most disturbingly—the smell of sulfur. It seems this is the one place that truly flaps the unflappable. Lee doesn’t go in without a couple of pastors.

The Soap Factory was, of course, an old soap factory, pumping out suds during the soap boom of the 1880s. And you know what soap’s made from, right? Animal carcasses. Thousands of them. The flow of bloody skins through the factory rivaled the current of the great river next door, and at the turn of the century, the building’s appetite for flesh made it a repository for stray dogs that the city paid to be rounded up and strangled. Not gruesome enough for you? Consider, then, that before the warehouse was built, the site was home to a small business that produced artificial limbs for soldiers wounded in the Civil War. That’s some creepy stuff.

For many Halloweens brave souls were invited to venture into the Soap Factory’s bowels for the gallery’s annual Halloween Haunted Basement event. Even braver souls volunteered to play ghouls for the production. But exorcists take note: “There’s a spirit that kind of takes over our actors,” says Tom Loftus, a past director. “It can get pretty wild.”

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Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #23 on: Yesterday at 10:19:49 AM »
Abraham's Boys
by Joe Hill

Maximilian searched for them in the carriage house and the cattle shed, even had a look in the springhouse, although he knew almost at first glance he wouldn’t find them there. Rudy wouldn’t hide in a place like that, dank and chill, no windows and so no light, a place that smelled of bats. It was too much like a basement. Rudy never went in their basement back home if he could help it, was afraid the door would shut behind him, and he’d find himself trapped in the suffocating dark.

Max checked the barn last, but they weren’t hiding there either, and when he came into the dooryard, he saw with a shock that dusk had come. He had never imagined it could be so late.

“No more this game,” he shouted. “Rudolf! We have to go.” Only when he said have it came out hoff, a noise like a horse sneezing. He hated the sound of his own voice, envied his younger brother’s confident American pronunciations. Rudolf had been born here, had never seen Amsterdam. Max had lived the first five years of his life there, in a dimly lit apartment that smelled of mildewed velvet curtains and the latrine stink of the canal below.

Max hollered until his throat was raw, but in the end, all his shouting brought only Mrs. Kutchner, who shuffled slowly across the porch, hugging herself for warmth, although it was not cold. When she reached the railing she took it in both hands and sagged forward, using it to hold herself up.

This time last fall, Mrs. Kutchner had been agreeably plump, dimples in her fleshy cheeks, her face always flushed from the heat of the kitchen. Now her face was starved, the skin pulled tight across the skull beneath, her eyes feverish and bird-bright in their bony hollows. Her daughter, Arlene—who at this very moment was hiding with Rudy somewhere—had whispered that her mother kept a tin bucket next to the bed, and when her father carried it to the outhouse in the morning to empty it, it sloshed with a quarter inch of bad-smelling blood.

Keep reading...

Offline Blanc de Neige

Re: Dare We Share Some Spooky Stories?
« Reply #24 on: Yesterday at 05:55:02 PM »
A Ghost Taught Me How to Sew. Probably?

This, is a weird story I've never shared with anyone outside of my immediate family. For some background, I am the child of well meaning, but utterly hopeless parents. My father was perpetually unemployed and my mother wrestled with addiction well into my adult life. Despite this, we lived a fairly structured routine and my parents were extremely picky about who they let into their home to interact with their children. I consider this a ghost story because it is not likely a strange person would have come into our house without my parents knowing them very well.

When I was seven years old I found my great grandmother's sewing kit. It was a broken down chaotic sewing basket filled with unspooled thread, loose needles and tangled bias tape. I was delighted by it, and I still own the pair of circa 1950s Gingher fabric scissors. I totally fell in love with the idea of sewing, but my mother didn't know how to so much as sew a button and I was the only girl out of three children. This was pre-internet (for our home at least) and I'd made my discovery over summer break so I had no access to a library. I took scraps of old clothes and pretended to sew but mostly ended up pricking my fingers.

A week or so later I was sitting on the couch, trying to sew a button back onto one of my shirts. It wasn't going well. Then a woman sat next to me and asked me if I needed some help. I remember feeling the couch dip beside me, and smelling her perfume. It was that powdery, floral scent that always reminds me of old women. I can't remember what she looked like, when I try to think of her phase it's a literal blur, all I can picture is short cropped blond hair.

I wasn't afraid of her at the time, even though it was weird for a strange lady to be in our house when my mom wasn't home. My father was sleeping in another room, and I am not sure where my brothers were at the time. I was alone in the living room.

I said sure, and she took the needle and thread, showing me how to thread through the eye (I still use this technique today for embroidery floss. It's a finicky method where you wet the end of the thread and pull it down between pinched fingers, then bring the eye up to push the thread through. Ah, I am probably not describing it clearly, sorry.) Then she made a point of not doubling the thread, she said something about that not making it stronger, and then she complained that cotton thread would be better.

She showed me how to sew on the button and secure the thread with a hidden knot. Then, she showed me how to do a running stitch. I don't know how long this took, but it felt like a short while. After she was satisfied I could copy her instructions she told me to keep practicing, and left. She didn't disappear, she got up from the couch. Again, I felt the movement of a body, but I didn't look up to see if she walked out of the room or disappeared.

Being the weird, and kind of clueless kid I was (and arguably still am), I didn't mention the incident. Later that year, it was around Christmas because we were sitting around the Christmas tree, my mom folded clothes while I helped her out. She found that one of her favorite pairs of jeans had a busted inner seem and she was upset, because we didn't have money to replace clothes easily. I told her it was ok, and got out my sewing kit, then proceeded to mend the seem. She watched me do this incredulous, and when I was done asked me where I'd learned to sew. She didn't teach me, and no one in our immediate family knew how to do it.

I told her the Nice Lady showed me one day when she was at work.

Whew, that caused a HUGE dust up at our house. My parents argued all night, accusing one another of leaving us unsupervised. My extremely vague description of the woman, short blond hair, knows how to sew, didn't align with anyone they knew. And they hadn't invited anyone to our home to babysit us. It really pissed my mom off when I told her that dad was asleep when she came by. Eventually, they came to the conclusion that no one had come to visit us without their knowledge and to this day it's an eerie and weird family story.