Monday, October 31, 2011

Scary Halloween Stories



Axe Murder Hollow:

A Pennsylvania Ghost Story 

Susan and Ned were driving through a wooded empty section of highway. Lightning flashed, thunder roared, the sky went dark in the torrential downpour.      “We’d better stop,”  said Susan.       Ned nodded his head in agreement. He stepped on the brake, and suddenly the car started to slide on the slick pavement. They plunged off the road and slid to a halt at the bottom of an incline.     Pale and shaking, Ned quickly turned to check if Susan was all right.  When she nodded, Ned relaxed and looked through the rain soaked windows.
“I’m going to see how bad it is,” he told Susan, and when out into the storm. She saw his blurry figure in the headlight, walking around the front of the car. A moment later, he jumped in beside her, soaking wet.       “The car’s not badly damaged, but we’re wheel-deep in mud,” he said. “I’m going to have to go for help.”      Susan swallowed nervously. There would be no quick rescue here. He told her to turn off the headlights and lock the doors until he returned.      Axe Murder Hollow. Although Ned hadn’t said the name aloud, they both knew what he had been thinking when he told her to lock the car.  This was the place where a man had once taken an axe and hacked his wife to death in a jealous rage over an alleged affair. Supposedly, the axe-wielding spirit of the husband continued to haunt this section of the road.      Outside the car, Susan heard a shriek, a loud thump, and a strange gurgling noise. But she couldn’t see anything in the darkness.      Frightened, she shrank down into her seat. She sat in silence for a while, and then she noticed another sound.  Bump. Bump. Bump.  It was a soft sound, like something being blown by the wind.       Suddenly, the car was illuminated by a bright light.  An official sounding voice told her to get out of the car. Ned must have found a police officer.  Susan unlocked the door and stepped out of the car.  As her eyes adjusted to the bright light, she saw it.      Hanging by his feet from the tree next to the car was the dead body of Ned.  His bloody throat had been cut so deeply that he was nearly decapitated. The wind swung his corpse back and forth so that it thumped against the tree. Bump. Bump. Bump.     Susan screamed and ran toward the voice and the light. As she drew close, she realized the light was not coming from a flashlight. Standing there was the glowing figure of a man with a smile on his face and a large, solid, and definitely real axe in his hands. She backed away from the glowing figure until she bumped into the car.        “Playing around when my back was turned,” the ghost whispered, stroking the sharp blade of the axe with his fingers. “You’ve been very naughty.”      The last thing she saw was the glint of the axe blade in the eerie, incandescent light.

Black Aggie:

A Maryland Ghost Story

When Felix Agnus put up the life-sized shrouded bronze statue of a grieving angel, seated on a pedestal, in the Agnus family plot in the Druid Ridge Cemetery, he had no idea what he had started. The statue was a rather eerie figure by day, frozen in a moment of grief and terrible pain. At night, the figure was almost unbelievably creepy; the shroud over its head obscuring the face until you were up close to it. There was a living air about the grieving angel, as if its arms could really reach out and grab you if you weren't careful.
It didn't take long for rumors to sweep through the town and surrounding countryside. They said that the statue - nicknamed Black Aggie - was haunted by the spirit of a mistreated wife who lay beneath her feet. The statue's eyes would glow red at the stroke of midnight, and any living person who returned the statues gaze would instantly be struck blind. Any pregnant woman who passed through her shadow would miscarry. If you sat on her lap at night, the statue would come to life and crush you to death in her dark embrace. If you spoke Black Aggie's name three times at midnight in front of a dark mirror, the evil angel would appear and pull you down to hell. They also said that spirits of the dead would rise from their graves on dark nights to gather around the statue at night.
People began visiting the cemetery just to see the statue, and it was then that the local fraternity decided to make the statue of Grief part of their initiation rites. "Black Aggie" sitting, where candidates for membership had to spend the night crouched beneath the statue with their backs to the grave of General Agnus, became popular.
One dark night, two fraternity members accompanied new hopeful to the cemetery and watched while he took his place underneath the creepy statue. The clouds had obscured the moon that night, and the whole area surrounding the dark statue was filled with a sense of anger and malice. It felt as if a storm were brewing in that part of the cemetery, and to their chagrin, the two fraternity members noticed that gray shadows seemed to be clustering around the body of the frightened fraternity candidate crouching in front of the statue.
What had been a funny initiation rite suddenly took on an air of danger. One of the fraternity brothers stepped forward in alarm to call out to the initiate. As he did, the statue above the boy stirred ominously. The two fraternity brothers froze in shock as the shrouded head turned toward the new candidate. They saw the gleam of glowing red eyes beneath the concealing hood as the statue's arms reached out toward the cowering boy.
With shouts of alarm, the fraternity brothers leapt forward to rescue the new initiate. But it was too late. The initiate gave one horrified yell, and then his body disappeared into the embrace of the dark angel. The fraternity brothers skidded to a halt as the statue thoughtfully rested its glowing eyes upon them. With gasps of terror, the boys fled from the cemetery before the statue could grab them too.
Hearing the screams, a night watchman hurried to the Agnus plot. To his chagrin, he discovered the body of a young man lying at the foot of the statue. The young man had apparently died of fright.
The disruption caused by the statue grew so acute that the Agnus family finally donated it to the Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C.. The grieving angel sat for many years in storage there, never again to plague the citizens visiting the Druid Hill Park Cemetery.

Black Magic:
A Massachusetts ghost story

Mad Henry was a hermit who lived alone in a decrepit mansion at the edge of town.  Rumors were rife about the wild-eyed man.  Some folks said that he was a magician who called upon the powers of darkness to wreck havoc upon his neighbors.  Others called him a mad doctor who could restore life to foul corpses from the local cemetery.  No respectable citizen in town had anything to do with Mad Henry 
Then one year a new family moved to town with a lovely daughter, Rachel, who caught Mad Henry’s eye. He showered the maiden with gifts—goblets of pure gold, necklaces of pearl, and a pot of daisies that never dropped a single petal. Despite the gifts, Rachael fell in love with another, Geoffrey, a handsome young man just home from university. A week after meeting they eloped, leaving behind a stunned Mad Henry.  
When Rachael and Geoffrey returned from the elopement, they threw a big ball and invited everyone in town. While Rachel was waltzing with her father, she heard a  clap of thunder. Lightning flashed again and again. Suddenly, the double doors blew open and a breeze whirled in, bringing with it the smell of dead, decaying things. Mad Henry loomed in the doorway, pupils gleaming red with anger. He was followed by the grotesque figures of the dead, who came marching two by two into the room. Their eye sockets glowed with blue fire as they surrounded the room.Two of the corpses captured Geoffrey and threw him down at the feet of their lord. Red eyes gleaming, Mad Henry drew a silver-bladed knife and casually cut the bridegroom’s throat from ear to ear. Rachel screamed and ran forward, pushing through the foul, stinking corpses of the dead, and flung herself upon her dying husband.  
“Kill us both,” she cried desperately.  
But Mad Henry  plucked the lass out of the pool of blood surrounding her dead husband and carried her out into the thundering night. Behind him, the army of the dead turned from the grizzly scene and followed their master. The sounds of thunder and lightning faded away as the alchemist and his dead companions disappeared into the dark night.  
Geoffrey’s father and Rachael’s father gathered a small mob and followed the evil hermit, intent upon saving Rachel.  When they searched Mad Henry’s house, they found it completely empty save for a light, which shone from a series of mysterious globes that bobbed near the ceiling of each room. Mad Henry had vanished.  
Search parties scoured the countryside for days, but turned up nothing. Geoffrey was buried in the local cemetery, and the dance hall was torn down. No one in town spoke about what had happened, and no one dared imagine what had become of poor Rachel.  
A year to the day after the ball, a timid knock sounded upon the door of Rachael’s parents’ home. When her father opened it, he saw a gaunt, gray figure on the stoop. Her eyes were dull with exhaustion and pain. It was Rachel! Her tongue had been cut out so she couldn’t speak.  But when she produced a knife from her tattered garments—the knife with a silver blade that they had last seen in the hands of Mad Henry— the gleam of satisfaction in Rachel’s eyes told them that the streaks of blood that coated the knife were those of Mad Henry. That night, Rachel died in her sleep with a peaceful smile upon her ravaged face.

Bloody Mary Returns:
A Montana Ghost Story

My stepmother was vile.  I guess most kids think that when their father remarries.  But in this case, it was true.  She only married Father because he was rich, and she hated children.  There were three of us – me (Marie), my middle brother Richard and my youngest brother Charles.  We were the price my stepmother Gerta paid for being rich.  And we were all that stood between her and inheriting Father's money when he died.  So she took steps against us. 
     She sent my youngest brother Charles away to boarding school overseas.  It had a good, scholarly reputation, but it also had the reputation for being a hard school that was full of bullies and strict discipline.  Not a place where a delicate child like Charles, who had been sickly as a baby, would thrive.  He was miserable there.  Somehow, Gerta contrived to keep him there for all but the summer holidays, and when he came home the first year he was pale and thin with dark circles under his eyes that looked like bruises.  He cried – he actually cried! – when Father told him he had to go back to the school.  But Father didn’t listen to him.  Gerta thought it would be good for Charles to go there, and so Charles went.  
  I did everything I could – encouraging letters and daily phone calls – until Gerta said it was too expensive and restricted calls to five minutes once a month.   I even got Father to book me a ticket to Europe so I could visit Charles.  Gerta was enraged when she found out.  Her blue eyes went so cold it made chills run up my spine, and her pink mouth thinned into a bitter line that bade ill for me since I had dared to interfere.  Two days before my plane left for Europe, the school called and told us that Charles had climbed up to the tallest tower and flung himself off.  He was dead. 
     Father was shocked, of course, and Gerta was quietly triumphant.  For a few months, Father paid more attention to Richard and myself then he had since our mother died.  But Gerta was beautiful and had winning ways about her that soon drew my Father’s attention away.  And now that one of her hated step-children was dead, she focused on another.  Poor Richard was next. 
     Richard was a sturdy chap who was about to enter high school, and he was really into sports.  He would have thrived at the boarding school that had killed Charles.  So Gerta sent him to an arts school instead.  He hated it, but Gerta had told Father he had “talent”, so there he went.  (You’d think my Father would have learned his lesson with Charles!)  But Richard was a survivor, and he grimly practiced piano and violin when he would rather have played soccer and football.  But Gerta was clever.  She introduced Richard to a couple of high school boys who were everything Richard craved to be – rich, popular, on the football team.  And into drugs.  Gerta made sure Richard had a very large allowance, and kept increasing it as Richard was drawn deeper and deeper under the influence.  Until one day Richard overdosed, and Gerta only had one step-child left.  Me.
     I was sure (sure!) that Gerta knew Richard was doing drugs in his room that day.  She knew he was ill and possibly dying in there.  If she’d “found” him even ten minutes sooner, his life would have been saved.  So said the doctor, and I believed him.  But Father wouldn’t believe me.  He was angry whenever I said anything against Gerta, and told me to hold my tongue.  Still, I knew I was next, and I was sure that Father would not live long after willing his fortune over to his wife.  I decided that if Gerta got too bad, I would run away and live secretly with my aunt in New Jersey until I turned 18.  
     From the moment Richard’s body was found in his room, I forced myself to be a model child.  My homework was done on time, I was polite to Gerta and all her friends, I went on all the family excursions with Gerta and Father – even the dangerous ones like shark-fishing.  You can be sure that I took care to be “sea-sick” indoors and stayed away from the edge of the boat.  Gerta was clever with her tricks.   Everyone thought it was an accident the time we were out shopping and I fell onto the subway in front of an oncoming train.  I managed to roll out of the way on time, but it was way too close for comfort. 
       I had almost decided to run away when my father brought me the sad news that my aunt in New Jersey had died suddenly in her sleep, poisoned by person or persons unknown.  I was appalled. How had Gerta known?  But she had – I could tell from the smirk on her face. 
      I went to my room that night and locked myself in to think.  I could run away, but the money wouldn’t last long.  And I’d need to finish high school or my chances of getting a good job were nil.  Besides, Gerta would still be out there somewhere.  If she could hire someone to poison my only living relative (besides Father), she could hire someone to kill me, whether I was living at home or not. 
      There was only one thing I could think of.  And it was a terrible thing.  A family secret passed down from my Mother’s side for many generations.  It involved a witch named Bloody Mary, who had once tried to kill my many times great grandmother and use the child’s blood to make herself young and beautiful forever.  The witch had been stopped by the child's father (my many times great grandfather) in the nick of time, and the witch had cursed him as she burned at the stake.  Cursed his mirror, and the mirrors of all the men who had condemned her to death at the stake, so that anyone saying her name in front of those mirrors would invoke her vengeful spirit. 
       The story had gotten mixed up over the years, as it was passed down first in their village and then all over the country.  These days, school kids everywhere scared themselves silly chanting Bloody Mary’s name in front of darkened mirrors during sleepover parties, and nothing happened to them.  So no one really believed in the curse.  Of course, no one knew the real story of Bloody Mary.  That was a deep secret handed down by the villagers of long ago.  But I was a direct descendant, and I knew how to summon the witch.  You had to use a mirror owned by someone in the direct blood-line of one of the original families that lived in Bloody Mary’s village.  And the witch's name must be spoken by candlelight a certain number of times in their native tongue.  
       It was an evil thing to do, I knew.  But it was the only way to save my life.  It was either Gerta or me.  If I didn’t fight back, I was dead.  So I took my hard earned money and went out to a specialty store to buy hand-dipped, beeswax candles.  Black ones.  I followed my mother’s directions carefully, placing them at certain intervals around the living room so that they reflected in the huge mirror behind the couch.  Then I lit each one, speaking the spell passed down in my mother’s family.  And I waited.  Father was away on a business trip, and Gerta was out at a party with her latest boyfriend.  She came home late, and scolded me for staying up to study.   Her voice was playful and light – I hated that voice.  It made her sound like she was nice.  But there was also a note of suspicion underlying her words, and she stared hard at the flickering black candles. 
       “Holding a séance, little Marie?” she asked, emphasizing the word little, knowing I hated when she called me that. 
        “I just like working by candlelight,” I said mendaciously, turning a page in my text book. 
        Gerta frowned.  “You know, little Marie, I think it’s time we had a talk,” she said, walking over to the mirror behind the couch and primping her hair. 
        “Yes,” I said softly.  “We should.  You killed my brothers.  And my aunt.  But I won’t let you kill me.”
          Gerta laughed.  “As if you stood a chance against me!” she said, fluffing her long blond hair up behind her shoulders. 
         I spoke the name of Bloody Mary in the native tongue of my ancestors.  Once.  Twice.  Three times.  Inside the mirror, the image of Gerta burst into flames, and another face looked out.  It was the malevolent face of a twisted old crone, ruined with age, and altogether evil.  I ducked behind the chair as Gerta gave a scream of sheer terror, her eyes fixed on the witch.  As I watched from my hiding place, heat burst forth from the mirror, blistering her beautiful alabaster skin.  I could hear the flames roaring as the witch laughed evilly and held out her arms toward my step mother. 
      “Gerta,” crooned Bloody Mary.  “Come to me, Gerta.” 
        And she took my step mother into her arms. 
        Gerta’s terrified scream was suddenly cut off.  The flames disappeared as suddenly as they had come.  When I peeked out from behind the couch, Gerta and Bloody Mary were gone. 
       I called Father at his hotel the next morning to tell him that Gerta hadn’t slept at home.  (Well, it was true!)  He wasn’t pleased.  He called a few of her friends from his hotel room, and quickly discovered she had been carrying on with another man.  With several, if the truth be known.  Father hated infidelity.  He flew home at once to confront Gerta, but she was still missing; presumed run away with one of her flames. 
      Somehow, Father managed to divorce Gerta without ever trying to find her.  And since she had no family in the area except us, everyone accepted the cover story, and no one ever tried to locate her.  Gerta was gone for good.  And Father and I were safe at last. 

The Brick Wall:

A Massachusetts Horror Story

Massey was a soldier unfortunate enough to cross me, his commanding officer.  He did not live to regret it.  There was something very satisfying in the moment when I thrust the tip of my sword into the soldier’s heart during our duel.  I watched him fall to the ground with the satisfaction of a job well done.

The men under my command seem depressed in the following weeks. They mention Massey frequently, but I ignore their conversations.
One night, I retreat to my chambers to sulk and soon was joined by a delegation of men who were friends of Massey. I am surprised and delighted to learn that they had come to their senses and now saw the impertinent lieutenant for the cheat he really was. We share a round of drinks and laughed together.   I’m afraid I drank far too much that evening.
The other soldiers suggested we explore the lower dungeons. That sounded like a fine idea to me.  We set off in merry spirits, drinking and singing and laughing, our voices echoing through the narrow passages. Deeper and deeper we went.  My head started spinning and my legs felt like rubber after all that drinking. I am afraid I passed out from drunkenness, much to my shame.
When I came to, I was lying on my back with my wrists and ankles shackled to the floor. Drunken men, fooling around, I thought.
“Very funny, lads,” I called out. “Now set me free.”
The soldiers didn’t answer me. A moment passed and Massey’s best friend appeared in the doorway, holding mortar and a mason’s trowel.  The other men began handing him bricks and I realize that the soldiers are bricking up the entrance to the cell in which I lay shackled. “Very funny,” I said again.
No one answered me. They worked in silence, laying brick after brick until one row is done, then two. They were playing a nasty joke on me, of course.
Then Massey’s best friend paused in his work and looked directly into my eyes. At that moment I realized that this joke is no joke. Scream after scream ripped from my throat as I struggle against my bonds. But the dungeon was too deep within the fort, and no one heard my screams.  
They were on the final row of bricks. I was reduced to bribery now, desperately using my wealth in an attempt to escape my fate.  But no one listened to my bribes.    I watched in heart-thudding horror as the last brick is put in place, as the last chink of light faded from my sight. I have been entombed alive in the deepest, darkest dungeon of the fort.  I howled in panic, writhing against the iron manacles binding hands and feet and twisting my body. Eventually I fell back against the floor, my wrists and ankles wet with my own blood.
My fingers were torn and throbbing from their intense scrabbling against the hard floor. I found myself weeping angrily, though I have never shed a tear in my lifetime.
The agony of the thought sent me writhing again in spite of the horrible pain racking my wrists, ankles, and hands. Daylight. I must see daylight again. Just once more.
“Don’t leave me here to die alone! Don’t leave me!”  
But I was alone, and the sheer brutal horror of it overwhelmed me. My eyes strained against the complete and utter darkness, and I wondered if they were even open.
Dear God, I can’t get out. I can’t get out. I CAN’T GET OUT!

The Brothers' Revenge:

A Wisconsin Ghost Story

The blizzard was raging fiercely around them as the brothers stumbled down the long road.  they were miles from any farm, and knew they had to seek shelter or freeze to death.  So it was with  gratitude that the two brothers spotted a saloon and pushed their way through the door.  Every eye in the room turned upon them, as the boys ordered coffee with the last of their money. As the bartender went to fetch the hot drink, most of the regulars returned to their conversations.  But one man continued to stare;  a massive butcher with a mop of red hair and a long red beard who was the worse for drink.

“You’re looking at me funny,” the butcher slurred, looming over the two boys.
“We weren’t looking at you,” said the older boy. “We were just warming ourselves by the fire.”
“Are you calling me a liar?” he shouted. Around the room crowd grinned; they loved a good fight. 
 “We didn’t say that,” said the older boy quickly, waving his hands and accidentally  striking the butcher on the arm. That did it. The butcher grabbed the boy by the collar. “No one hits me and gets away with it,” he roared and threw the boy headfirst into the huge fire raging in the hearth. There was a moment of stunned silence in the saloon, and then the elder boy screamed in agony as the flames engulfed him from head to toe. The younger lad shouted in terror. The older boy stumbled out of the fireplace, as the little brother tried to beat out the fire with his small hands.The butcher loomed above them, grinning sadistically as the flaming boy lost consciousness, his screams dying away.
“Your turn,” the butcher said to his brother. The younger boy gasped in fear and fled for his life out into the raging snow. The boy’s little frozen body was not found until the spring.
One evening, a decade after the death of the two young boys, a burly man with a long red beard came strolling down the road one taken by the brothers. The butcher had heard rumors of a ghost but had discarded them as so much poppycock and tavern talk.
As he meandered down the road, he became aware that a silence had fallen. In the odd silence, he heard the footsteps of a large animal. They walked when he walked and stopped when he stopped. Pulse pounding madly, the butcher turned. Behind him, large as an ox, stood a black dog with blazing blue eyes and sharp teeth. The butcher had seen those blue eyes once before, gazing at him from the face of a young boy trying to save his burning brother.
The black dog growled softly and took a step forward. The butcher whirled around to flee and found himself face to face with tall figure covered from head to toe in flames. The burning boy reached out toward the butcher with hands withered and blackened by fire. The butcher gave a terrified scream and fell, blood gushing from eyes and nose. He was dead before he hit the ground.  
      To this day, the black dog and the flaming figure still appeared in that vicinity to harass travelers and speed them on their way.

Death Waltz:
A New Mexico Ghost Story

Within an hour of my arrival at Fort Union, my new post, my best friend Johnny came to the barracks with a broad grin and a friendly clout on the shoulder. He'd hurried over as soon as he heard I had come, and we talked 'til sunset and beyond.
As soon as Johnny mentioned Celia's name, I knew he had it bad for her. To hear him talk, Celia was the most amazing woman who had ever graced God's green earth. She was the sister-in-law of the captain, and all the young men on the base were infatuated with her. Celia was the prettiest of the eligible ladies that graced Fort Union society. She liked the spice of adventure to be found so near the wilds.
Johnny alternated between elation when Celia talked with him and despair when she flirted with another man. I watched their courtship from afar and was troubled. There was something about Celia that I didn't like. I never mentioned it to Johnny, but I thought she was too much of a flirt. I wished Johnny had fallen for a nicer woman.
About a month after I arrived at Fort Union, a birthday dance was given for one of the officers. To Johnny's elation, Celia agreed to be his partner at the dance. Johnny was dancing on cloud nine all night, until a messenger came gasping into the room to report an Apache raid. With a small scream of terror, Celia clung shamelessly to Johnny and begged him not to go even though he was the lieutenant put in charge of the mission. Well sir, Johnny proposed to her right then and there and Celia accepted. Furthermore, Celia told Johnny that she would wait for him, and that if he didn't come back she would never marry. I doubted Celia's sincerity, but Johnny just ate it up.
I was assigned to Johnny's troop, so I had to leave too. We started out the next morning, and had a rough week tracking down and fighting the Apaches. Johnny split up the troop; taking command of the first group and giving me command of the second. My men reached the rendezvous point with no casualties, but only half of the other group arrived, and Johnny was not among them. They'd been ambushed by the Apaches. I had to take command of the troop. We searched for survivors, but never found Johnny's body. As soon as I could, I ordered the men to turn for home.
Celia made a terrible, heart-rending scene when she found out Johnny was missing. She flung herself into my arms when I gave her the news and sobbed becomingly. The display turned my stomach, it was so obviously insincere. I excused myself hastily and left her to the ministrations of the other soldiers. From that time on, I was careful to stay away from Celia, who mourned less than a week for my friend before resuming her flirtatious ways.
About a month later, a rich handsome lieutenant arrived at Fort Union. He was from the East, and Celia took a real shine to him. Johnny was completely forgotten and so was her promise to him. It wasn't long before Celia and the lieutenant were engaged and started planning a big wedding. Nothing but the very best would suit Celia, and her bridegroom had the money to indulge her.
Everyone in Fort Union was invited to the ceremony, and the weather was perfect on the day of the wedding. Everyone turned out in their best clothes and the wedding was a social success. After the ceremony, all the guests were invited to a celebratory ball.
We were waltzing around the ballroom when the door flew open with a loud bang. A gust of cold air blew in, dimming the candles. A heart-wrenching wail echoed through the room. The music stopped abruptly and everyone turned to look at the door. Standing there was the swollen, dead body of a soldier. It was dressed in an officer's uniform. The eyes were burning with a terrible fire. The temple had a huge gash from a hatchet-blow. There was no scalp. It was Johnny.
The whole crowd stood silent, as if in a trance. No one moved, no one murmured. I wanted to cry out when I recognized Johnny, but I was struck dumb like the rest of the wedding guests.
Johnny walked across the room and took Celia out of her bridegroom's arms. She was frozen in horror and could not resist. Johnny looked at the musicians. Still in a trance, they began to play a horrible, demonic sounding waltz. Johnny and Celia began to dance. They swept around and around the room, doing an intricate waltz. Johnny held the white-clad bride tight against his dead body while a deathly pallor crept over her face. Her steps slowed but still Johnny held her tight and moved them around in a grisly parody of a waltz. Celia's eyes bulged. She turned as white as her gown and her mouth sagged open. She gave one small gasp, and died in his arms.
Johnny dropped Celia's body on the floor and stood over her, wringing his blood-stained hands. He threw back his head and gave another unearthly wail that echoed around the room. Then he vanished through the door.
Released from the trance, the crowd gasped and exclaimed. The bridegroom ran to Celia and knelt beside her, wringing his hands in the same manner as Johnny. His cries were all too human.
Unable to bear the sight of the stricken bridegroom, I took my captain aside and asked permission to take a small detail back to the place where our troop had been attacked by the Apaches to search once more for my dead friend. He sent a dozen men with me. We combed the area, and finally found Johnny's body hidden in a crevice. It looked exactly the same as it had appeared on the night of Celia's wedding.
We brought Johnny back to the fort with us and the captain buried him beside Celia. Celia's bridegroom went back East shortly after we buried Johnny, and I resigned my commission a few days later and went home, never wanting to see that cursed place again.
I heard later that Celia's ghost was often seen at dusk, weeping over Johnny's grave, but I never went back to Fort Union to see it for myself.

Ghost in the Alley:

A ghost story from Canada

Rumors were rife about the alleyway behind the tavern. It was haunted, folks said. Haunted by the ghost of a young girl who had been found murdered in that self-same passage. People avoided the small street after dark, for the spirit was said to be a vengeful one. Of course, no one could name anyone whom the ghost had actually killed, but the tales were enough to keep people away from the alley at night.
Then one night, while the tavern was full of drinkers, a nasty character named O’Hare wandered into the bar. Women and children were not safe in his presence, but especially not women. After O’Hare had consumed far too much alcohol, he suddenly announced to the bar that he’d seen a pretty young thing in the alley out back of the tavern. The bartender froze in the middle of polishing a glass, and the men around the bar exchanged covert glances. No one said a word, but everyone was thinking about the ghost of the vengeful young girl.  Everyone in the bar looked down at their glasses as he stumbled to his feet. No one made a move to stop him, and there was a quiet air of “he deserves what’s coming to him” about the bar as O’Hare left the building. It’s just too bad that there isn’t really a ghost, thought the bartender, setting down the shining glass and picking up another one to polish. O’Hare sorely needed a lesson in human kindness and respect for others.
At that moment, a horrible scream came from the alley. Everyone in the tavern looked up in shock and fear. Had there really been a ghost out there? Or was O’Hare up to his old tricks and even now accosting one of their womenfolk?
The men leapt to their feet and raced to the back door of the tavern. Pouring out into the street, they were met by an unnatural cold, and their eyes were dazzled by a blaze of light.
The bartender thrust his way to the front of the crowd and saw the body of O’Hare lying in a pool of bright white light. His throat had been torn to pieces, and blood was spilling out in gushes. Above him hovered the semitransparent figure of a young girl, her eyes gleaming with red fire, her mouth covered with blood. She glared down at O’Hare and then turned to look at the crowd. The specter licked the blood from her lips thoughtfully, her eyes on the bartender’s neck. Then she vanished, taking the light with her.  At their feet, O’Hare gasped out his last breath and died.
The local authorities were summoned to deal with the body of O’Hare. Though skeptical at first, they were finally convinced, since there had been so many eyewitnesses who had seen the ghost hovering over the dying man.
The bartender resigned his position the next morning and took a job across town, the memory of the ghost’s hungry stare at his neck prompting him to look elsewhere for employment.

Fortunately for the owners of the tavern that backed onto the alley, their front door faced a well-lit road and so business was not slack.

Vampire Hermit:

A Scary New York Folktale
She was nervous when her husband said they were to stay in the abandoned house, for it contained  the corpse of the hermit who once lived there, enshrined in a coffin in the loft. It was an old custom and one no longer popular among the Iroquois people, but the hermit had insisted upon it before his death.  There was good hunting in this place, her man had declared, and so they moved in and she unpacked their few belongings in the front room, refusing to go up into the loft where the hermit’s body lay.
When her husband left to hunt, she immediately put her daughter in the sling on her back and went to look for roots and berries, staying away until her husband returned with the meat.  As she prepared the evening meal for them, her husband, tired from his hunting, climbed up into the loft to rest.
The hut soon filled with the delicious smell of roasting meat. She was sorting through the berries when she heard a muffled cry and the crunch of breaking bones. As she stared upward, frozen in horror, blood started to drip from the rafters.
She crept silently to the far corner of the room where she could see up into the loft. A skeleton with glowing red eye sockets was feasting on the body of her husband. Its teeth and chin covered with blood,.
Her daughter stirred restlessly at her back, and she knew that she had to get away immediately.
“I am going to run down to the stream to fetch water for the broth,” she called toward the loft. “I will be right back.” She took the pail and walked toward the stream, trying to appear normal. As soon as she was out of sight among the trees, she started to run as fast as she could. She heard a terrible howl from the direction of the house as the creature heard them escaping and started to pursue. The young mother stumbled desperately through the woods, the creature’s howls growing closer as it pursued them.  Her little daughter wailed  in fright at her back as she fled in terror, sobbing and was almost without hope The monster was gaining on her.
In a last act of despair, she shouted the Iroquois distress cry, hoping someone would be near enough to hear it. Her call was taken up and answered by the warriors from the village. She could hear the creature breathing behind her as she sprinted to the trees at the edge of the village. Here, her strength failed her, and she collapsed to the ground,
Just before the monster could pounce on them, a party of warriors burst through the gates of the village chasing the skeleton away. They swung their torches wide, and the skeleton retreated farther into the woods.  The warriors chased the creature back to the hermit’s house, and set fire to the cabin. As the flames encompassed the house, a terrible howling and roaring came from the loft, and the vampire hermit fled into the woods in the form of a rabbit, never again to plague the young woman or her daughter.

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