Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"The Hook" and "The Girl Who Stood On A Grave"

Welcome darklings to this week’s spooky folk tales! Ah youth, how full of life, and filled with a sense of invincibility! It takes most of us a few years to understand how fragile life can be. A few years or the dodging of an anvil before it crashes down on your skull once or twice. Things like that do tend to speed up the realization of your own mortality quite a bit, but enough about silly pranks to play on your siblings. Perhaps the young ones in these stories will be the wiser and avoid becoming a cautionary tale. But, we think it might already be too late for one of them. Take a seat on the rack and find out for yourself, as we present two fun little ditties called, “The Hook” and “The Girl Who Stood On A Grave”.

The Hook

Donald and Sarah went to the movies. Then they went for a ride in Donald’s car. They parked up on a hill at the edge of town. From there they could see the lights up and down the valley.
Donald turned on the radio and found some music. But an announcer broke in with a news bulletin. A murderer had escaped from the state prison. He was armed with a knife and was headed south on foot. His left hand was missing. In its place, he wore a hook.
“Let’s roll up the windows and lock the doors,” said Sarah.
“That’s a good idea, “said Donald.
“That prison isn’t too far away,” said Sarah. “Maybe we really should go home.”
“But it’s only ten o’clock,” said Donald.
“I don’t care what time it is,” she said. “I want to go home.”
“Look, Sarah,” said Donald, “he’s not going to climb all the way up here. Why would he do that? Even if he did, all the doors are locked. How could he get in?”
“Donald, he could take that hook and break through a window and open a door,” she said. “I’m scared. I want to go home.”
Donald was annoyed. “Girls always are afraid of something,” he said.
As he started the car, Sarah thought she heard someone, or something scratching at her door.
“Did you hear that?” she asked as they roared away. “It sounded like somebody was trying to get in.”
“Oh, sure,” said Donald. Soon they got to her house.
“Would you like to come in and have some cocoa?” she asked.
“No,” he said, “I’ve got to go home.”
He went around to the other side of the care to let her out. Hanging on the door handle was a hook.

The Girl Who Stood On A Grave

Some boys and girls were at a party one night. There was a graveyard down the street, and they were talking about how scary it was.
“Don’t ever stand on a grave after dark,” one of the boys said. “The person inside will grab you. He’ll pull you under.”
“That’s not true,” one of the girls said. “It’s just a superstition.”
“I’ll give you a dollar if you stand on a grave,” said the boy.
“A grave doesn’t scare me,” said the girl. “I’ll do it right now.”
The boy handed her his knife. “Stick this knife in one of the graves,” he said. “Then we’ll know you were there.”
The graveyard was filled with shadows and was as quiet as death. “There is nothing to be scared of,” the girl told herself, but she was scared anyway.
She picked out a grave and stood on it. Then quickly she bent over and plunged the knife into the soil, and she started to leave. But she couldn’t get away. Something was holding her back! She tried a second time to leave, but she couldn’t move. She was filled with terror.
“Something has got me!” she screamed, and she fell to the ground.
When she didn’t come back, the others went to look for her. They found her body sprawled across the grave. Without realizing it, she had plunged the knife through her skirt and had pinned it to the ground. It was only the knife that held her. She had died of fright.

Thanks again for popping in to hear the tales we dug up for you this week. We hope they made you giggle with fiendish glee! Until next time…

Xane and Dane Dravor

Stories taken from: Scary Stories Treasury, collected from folklore and retold by Alvin Schwartz

ISBN 0-06-026341-5

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

From the Master of the Macabre

This week I thought we’d take a break from the ghostly tales I’ve been digging up for you lately and present a work from the most morbid of bards, Mr. E.A. Poe. Today, I’ve drawn up a little lovely from his collected work of poems, so pull up a tombstone and gather round for, “The Sleeper”…

At Midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon,
An Opiate vapour, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The rosemary nods upon the grave;
The lily lolls upon the wave;
Wrapping the fog about its breast,
The ruin moulders into rest;
Looking like Lethe, see! The lake
A Conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not, for the world, awake.
All Beauty sleeps! – and lo! Where lies
Irene, with her Destinies!

O, lady bright! Can it be right –
This window open to the night?
The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
Laughingly through the lattice drop –
The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
Flit through thy chamber in and out,
And wave the curtain canopy
So fitfully – so fearfully –
Above the closed and fringed lid
‘Neath which they slumb’ring soul lies hid,
That, o’er the floor and down the wall,
Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!

Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
Why and what art thou dreaming here?
Sure thou art come o’er far-off seas,
A wonder to these garden trees!
Strange is thy pallor! Strange they dress,
Strange, above all, they length of tress,
And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
For ever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, my her sleep
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold –
Some vault that oft has flung its black
And winged panels fluttering back,
Of her grand family funerals –
Some sepulcher, remote, alone,
Against whose portal she hath thrown,
In childhood, many idle stone –
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne’er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
It was the dead who groaned within.

We’re so glad you dropped by this week I hope this little poem of Mr. Poe’s has set the mood for a most morose and morbid day! Until next time kiddies and remember to keep a watchful eye on those closest to you, as they say; you only hurt the ones you love…everyone else is just target practice.

Xane and Dane Dravor

Poem taken from: Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Works. Gramercy Books, New York, Copyright 1985 by Random House Value Publishing, Inc.

ISBN 0-517-05358-6

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"One Sunday Morning"

Welcome kiddies to our Wednesday spine tingling tale! This time we step back into folk lore and learn that the old notion of sacred spaces being a safe haven from the dead doesn’t always hold true. This short little tale is called “One Sunday Morning”…

Ida always went to the seven o’clock Sunday morning service at her church. Usually she heard the clanging of the church bells while she was eating breakfast. But this morning she heard them while she was still in bed.
“That means I’m late,” she thought.
Ida jumped out of bed, quickly dressed and left with out eating or looking at the clock. It was still dark out-side, but it usually was dark at this time of year. Ida was the only one on the street. The only sounds she heard were the clatter of her shoes on the pavement.
“Everybody must already be in church,” She thought.
Ida took a short cut through the cemetery, then she quietly slipped into the church and found a seat. The service had already begun.
When she caught her breath, Ida looked around. The church was filled with people she had never seen before. But the woman next to her did look familiar. Ida smiled at her. “It’s Josephine Kerr,” she thought. “But she’s dead! She died a month ago.” Suddenly Ida felt uneasy.
She looked around again. As her eyes began to adjust to the dim light, Ida saw some skeletons in suits and dresses. “This is a service for the dead,” Ida thought. “Everybody here is dead, except me.”
Ida noticed that some of them were staring at her. They looked angry, as if she had no business there. Josephine Kerr leaned toward her and whispered, “Leave right after the benediction, if you care for your life.”
When the service came to an end, the minister gave his blessing. “The lord bless you and keep you,” he said. “The lord make his face to shine upon you…”
Ida grabbed her coat and walked quickly toward the door. When she heard footsteps behind her, she glanced back. Several of the dead were coming toward her. Others were getting up to join them.
“The lord lift up his countenance to you…” the minister went on.
Ida was so frightened she began to run. Out the door she ran, with a pack of shrieking ghosts at her heels.
“Get out!” one of them screamed. Another shouted, “You don’t belong here!” and ripped her coat away. As Ida ran through the cemetery, a third grabbed the hat from her head. “Don’t come back!” it screamed, and shook its arm at her.
By the time Ida reached the street, the sun was rising, and the dead had disappeared.
“Did this really happen?” Ida asked herself,” or have I been dreaming?”
That afternoon one of Ida’s friends brought over her coat and hat, or what was left of them. They had been found in the cemetery, torn to shreds.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s spook tale, morbid ghouls and ghoulies! Just remember if you’re going to crash a party for the dearly departed, make sure you wear your running shoes! See you next week!

Xane and Dane Dravor

Taken from “Scary Stories Treasury” collected from folklore and retold by Alvin Schwartz.

ISBN 0-06-026341-5

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Face in the Window

Morbid Greetings, to all of our friends and welcome back to another ghostly tale to chill your bones! Today as I combed over the various tomes on my shelves I came across a book that recants local ghost tales and haunted spots from our region, the North Carolina Piedmont, and thought you would enjoy a selection from it. Today’s tale is called, “The Face in the Window”.

When she heard about the house in rural Forsyth County, Peggy thought it sounded too good to be true. But she drove out with the realtor, Barbara, just to take a look.
The driveway was long and twisting, lined with young pine trees and azaleas. There was, the realtor said, the burned out skeleton of the main house about half a mile farther down. This was the gardener’s cottage, where the Morely family lived after the fire. It’s amazing that the cottage was spared. Even parts of the woods burned. That’s why there were so many young trees around – because of replanting.
Peggy asked, “Was anyone hurt in the fire?”
“Well, the oldest children were away at school. The father died, but the mother and youngest daughter, Sarah, escaped. The woman was burned, I think, and had some scares and Sarah suffered from smoke inhalation. She had weak lungs for the rest of her life. She became a recluse, never married, and rarely spoke above a whisper, they say.”
“How long did they live in the cottage?”
Barbara thought for a moment. “I’m not sure. The childe lived here for the rest of her life, about sixty years, I think. Her brothers sold the place when she died. That buy updated the kitchen area and bathroom. New furnace, new roof. This place and its two acres are separate from the rest of the estate, which is still owned by the Morely family. I don’t know why they don’t clean it up and make use of it, a beautiful area like this. Just the right place for an artist, don’t you think? Shall we have a look?”
Small and neat, the cottage offered Peggy everything she wanted. Colorful area rugs turned the hardwood floor into a jigsaw puzzle with the obligatory missing pieces. There were only three rooms. The living area was one large room, the kitchen at the far end, a stone fireplace on one wall, and a sleeping alcove across the room. A door led to the small but adequate bathroom. On the back of the house was a large room, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on a clearing. Peggy knew that civilization was only a mile away, but there was no hint of it here.
“There are no ceiling lights out here,” Barbara said, “but you could always plug in a lamp.”
As Peggy admired the room, a voice whispered to her, “You can paint here.”
“What direction are we facing?” Peggy asked.
“North,” Barbara said.
“North. I think I can paint here.”
The voice whispered, “You can paint here.”
“I can paint here,” Peggy whispered back.

* * *

Peggy knew she was dreaming, but she felt helpless to change it. She stood near a large house, wondering exactly where she was. Lost? Could someone in the house help her find the way home? As she walked towards the house, it seemed to move away from her. She couldn’t quite reach the front door. The she noticed a face at one of the windows. It was a child. The little girl was crying.
“I want my house. I want my house. Give me my house. Please!”
Peggy wanted to go to her, to help her.
Then Peggy woke up, tangled in the sheets. She’d moved into the cottage a week earlier, and each night the dream and voice haunted her. Each night she saw the young girl, crying, in the window of the house.
“This is ridiculous,” Peggy said. “I can’t work if I can’t get any sleep.”
She grabbed her warm flannel robe from the foot of the bed, and went to the room she called her studio. Moonlight flooded the room, lighting a blank canvas. Peggy picked up her brush and palette and began to mix some paints. Working in the moonlight, she made a few tentative stokes on the canvas. Then a few more. By morning, the painting had taken form. A house. A large house. The house in Peggy’s dreams.
“That’s good,” a voice whispered.
After that night, Peggy became obsessed with her painting. She slept fitfully, dreaming of the house and the child. When the moon waned so that there wasn’t enough light for painting, she decided to surround her easel with candles. As she lit the first candle, a voice, the one from her dream, shrieked:
“Fire! Fire! Help me!”
Peggy’s hands shook. Slowly, she removed the candle. She decided to paint only during the day.
Finally, after weeks of work, the house was finished. “Now,” Peggy said, “I just have to paint the child’s face at the window.” She tried, but the face in her dreams would not transfer to the canvas, could not be captured. At last Peggy gave up. “I like it better without the face anyway, “she said. Peggy took the frame from another painting. Proudly, she hung the new painting over the fireplace.
As she admired it, the voice whispered to her again. “Thank you.”
Peggy felt suddenly cold. And alone.

* * *

An elderly neighbor, Ruth, stopped by for a visit.
“I have been such a hermit since I moved in here,” Peggy said. “It’s nice to have a visitor.”
“It’s nice to see the inside of this cottage, “Ruth said. “I’ve often wondered what it looked like. I thought that, just maybe, if I took a walk along your road, I’d meet up with you. It worked!”
“You mean that you’ve lived less than a mile from here for twenty years and you’ve never been inside this place?”
“That’s right,” Ruth said. “Old Miss Morely died right after I moved here, and the people who bought the place then weren’t very friendly. Besides that, they were weird. They kept talking about ghosts in this house. Nothing sinister, just a presence. They said it sort of whispered to them sometimes.”
“Ghosts? Whispers?” Peggy felt suddenly weak. “Do you know much about the history of this place?”
“Well after the fire, Sarah and her stepmother move in here.”
“Stepmother? I thought it was her mother.”
“No, “Ruth said. “Her mother died when Sarah was born. People said that Sarah hated her stepmother, even tried to stab her once. I think while her husband was alive she wanted to send Sarah away to school, but the child couldn’t stand the thought of being separated from her father. They were very close, I guess.”
Peggy nodded. “What happened to the stepmother?”
“She was badly burned in the fire. She lived with Sarah until the girl was old enough to take care of herself. Then she just disappeared. Maybe Sarah finally did away with her. Some said the woman killed herself. Some said she went back to Raleigh, to her family. There was plenty of money, so she could have gone anywhere.”
“And Sarah?”
“Old Sarah lived here until she died. They said she was kind of crazy. She really missed the house she grew up in, the one that burned. You have a painting of it, I see. Did it come with the cottage?”
“What painting?”
Ruth pointed. “The one over the fireplace. It’s really very nice.”
“Thanks. I painted that recently. It’s a house I kept seeing in my dreams. I had to paint it or go crazy.”
“Incredible,” Ruth said as she walked over to the fireplace for a closer look. “You may have seen it in your dreams, but it’s the Morely house. Just the way people described it. When Miss Morely became ill, she kept crying for her house and her daddy. She didn’t remember that the house was gone, or that her daddy was dead. There was a nurse who said the poor lady cried most of the day and night. Sad.”
“What caused the fire?” Peggy asked.
“I’ve heard stories that Sarah started the fire. Accidentally.” She frowned. “They said she used to sit in front window with a candle, waiting for her daddy to come home from Winston-Salem. That night, as he was riding down the lane, he saw flames. Sarah’s candle had sparked a curtain, and the fire spread like mad. By the time Mr. Morely got into the house, the front room was ablaze. After he got Sarah out, he went back in for his wife. He had trouble finding her – supposedly she’d been locked in her bedroom. Accidentally, they said again. A faulty lock, they said. Then, as Mr. Morely tried to get his wife out of the fire, the staircase fell in on them. She got burned terribly, but she managed to get out. He died. The house burned to the ground. It was the night before Sarah was supposed to go away to school, I think. Naturally, she didn’t go, and she and her stepmother moved in here.”
Ruth crossed her arms. “I don’t know how they could have said the fire was an accident. I’ve always wondered why Sarah wasn’t arrested for attempted murder. The family didn’t want the scandal, I suppose. Maybe they thought the loss of her father was punishment enough.”
“That’s quite a story,” Peggy said, nervously think of her dreams. “You say she sat at the window?” Are you sure?”
“That’s what folks said.”
“Which window?”
“The front one, second from the front door, but you must have know that because you’ve painted her right in place!” Ruth pointed to the window in the painting.
“What?” Peggy rushed over to look. There, in the second window from the front door, was the face of a child. The child from Peggy’s dreams. And she was smiling.
“Well,” Ruth said, “I guess she got her house back after all.”

As an artist you never know when your muse is going to strike with your newest creative endeavor, let just hope that muse doesn’t turn out to be a ghostly one! Well kiddies, that’s our story for this week. We hope you enjoyed this creepy little tale and dare you to join us again for our next installment!

Xane and Dane Dravor

Story taken from, “Ghost Tales From The North Carolina Piedmont”. Collected and retold by Linda Duck Tanenbaum & Barry McGee.

ISBN 1-878177-13-3