Announcing Ghost Light Stories

Sentinelle_de_théâtre

By LouisHeon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17896781

I’m a firm believer that you can never get enough scares in your life! That’s why I’m so excited to introduce a new feature to this site: Ghost Light Stories. Once a month you’ll be treated to a spooky tale either from myself, a guest horror author or from readers just like you!

A Ghost Light is a single naked bulb left burning in an empty theatre. For practical reasons, this light keeps someone from accidentally walking into to the orchestra pit or off the side of the stage, but it’s also surrounded by superstition. There is a widespread tradition that most theaters are haunted. One story goes that the Ghost Light allows the spirits to take to the stage in otherworldly performances when the living actors have left the building. In a little darker version, the Ghost Light keeps the spirits with evil intentions away from the theatre ensuring safety and success. Either way, you may wish to fire up your own Ghost Light before you hear these creepy tales!

If you have a story of your own you’d like to share with us, please email it to info@joyyehle.com  Fellow authors encouraged to play! You can also follow Ghost Light Stories on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7yz0LWLYNbdv-02mUvq0Aw

Enjoy!

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5 Halloween Games to Scare You Silly

I love a good Halloween party. The costumes, the spooky refreshments, and of course, the games! 

I think we all know about Bloody Mary and Light as a Feather Stiff as a Board, but you know how I like to stretch your knowledge, it must be the teacher in me! Here are five lesser-known spooky games you can try for yourself. Play at your own risk, however. I don’t claim any responsibility for your safety!

Sweet Tooth Gnomeimp-945890_1280

The worst thing that can happen with this game is that a gnome will come and nibble at your chocolate bar. Personally, I don’t like to share my chocolate bar, so, no thank you. Furthermore, where does the little bugger go after he helps himself? Is he now loose in your house to nibble on other things? Like your hair in the middle of the night? Again, no thank you.

To Play:

  1. In a room with a ceiling light, place a mirror on the floor directly under the light, so the light is reflected in the mirror
  2. Suspend the chocolate from the light with a long string so that it is dangling just above the mirror
  3. Everyone sits down in a circle around the mirror
  4. One person should then pose with scissors ready to cut the string
  5. One person turns off the light and quickly rejoins the circle
  6. The scissor holder cuts the string (you should hear the chocolate bar hit the mirror)
  7. Everyone chants “ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Tooth, Please come” three times
  8. Everyone must remain completely still and silent and wait, soon you will hear a rustling sound (that’s the gnome unwrapping the chocolate)
  9. When the rustling stops, count to ten
  10. You may now turn the light back on

You will see that the gnome has either eaten some of the chocolate, left teeth marks where he nibbled, or possibly leave more chocolate behind.

Cat Scratcheyes-218185_1280

If you don’t mind being scratched by a ghost or possible demon cat, then this is the game for you! I mean, who doesn’t love evil unseen claws drawn across your tender flesh?

To Play:

  1. Two players, player one lies down with their head in the lap of player two
  2. Player two gently caressing player one’s temples while telling this story (there are a couple of different versions, but I like this one):
    “You are walking down a darkened road. You are alone with only the light of the moon to guide your way. Dark and lonely woods line each side of the road. Dry leaves rustle in the wind and the gravel crunches under your feet. You see a shadow moving in the trees. You hear something rustling in the underbrush. You pick up your pace, desperate to get past the woods. Then you see it. A dark shape of a large cat. Glowing red eyes focus on you. You run, but the demon cat chases you and jumps on you. It scratches you. One. Two. Three. Cat scratch, cat scratch, cat scratch!”
  3. The person sits up as the story-teller lifts the back of their shirt. Red claw marks will appear!

Charlotte’s Webdoll-1640841_1280

No, not the cute grammatically talented spider (did I just say cute in reference to a spider?). The name refers to the ghost of a little girl named Charlotte whose mother was supposedly hanged as a witch. If Charlotte likes your token, you will get the nice Charlotte. If she hates your offering, or you, you will get the bad Charlotte. According to players who have gotten the bad Charlotte, you don’t want her, at all.

To Play:

  1. Find a dark room with a large mirror
  2. Place two chairs facing the mirror with some space between them
  3. Place a table behind the chairs
  4. Put your token offering (a toy for a girl) on the table. Be sure you can see it in the mirror when you and your fellow player are seated in the chairs
  5. Together, say: We Want to Play Charlotte’s Web
  6. You may hear her moving around the room
  7. You may see her take the toy in the reflection
  8. Together say: Goodbye Charlotte
  9. Whatever you do, don’t turn around during this game, you aren’t allowed to look anywhere except at the mirror. If bad Charlotte shows up and throws a tantrum, well, I did say to play at your own risk!

The Midnight Gamedeath-1299194_1280

Remember playing hide-and-seek? A little tame for you? How about hide-and-seek with an entity who, if he finds you, will either trap you in a hallucination of your worst nightmare or rip your guts out? Now that’s a whole new level of motivation! This game takes real commitment, all night kind of commitment.

To Play:

  1. Turn off all the lights in your house and stand at your front door.
  2. Write your full name on a piece of paper
  3. Prick your finger and put a drop of your blood on the paper
  4. Place the paper on the ground just outside the front door.
  5. Place a candle on top of the paper and light it (adult supervision please)
  6. Close the door
  7. At precisely the stroke of midnight, knock on your front door 22 times, you must have completed the knocking before the clock reads 12:01 am.
  8. Open the front door and blow out the candle
  9. Bring the candle inside and immediately relight it, you have just invited the Midnight Man into your house!
  10. Now you move around your house with the candle to light your way, hoping to avoid the Midnight Man.
  11. If your candle goes out, it means that the Midnight Man is near. If you can relight it within 10 seconds, you are safe and can continue to move around to avoid him. If not, your only hope is to surround yourself with a circle of salt where you must remain until 3:33 am. Otherwise, he’s got you! If you make it to 3:33 am without having to resort to salt, you win…I guess!
  12. During the playing of this game, you may also feel cold spots, hear whispering, or see the shadowy figure of the Midnight Man in the darkness!

Seanceseance

The idea of summoning ‘who knows what’ not appeal to you? That’s ok; I have a game for you. This one isn’t real spirit communications; it’s just to scare your friends. Why? Because it’s fun!

To Play:

  1. Gather everyone around a table or sit in a circle on the floor.
  2. Hang a bottle cap from string to use as the pendulum (unbeknownst to the crowd, you have placed a tiny piece of tape or other sticky substance to the bottom of the bottle cap and layered it in sugar before hand).
  3. Light a candle and hold the pendulum just above the candle flame by the end of the string.
  4. Tell your victims that back and forth means a yes answer and around in a circle means no.
  5. Have them ask the “spirit” questions and watch the pendulum move
  6. Move the pendulum closer and closer to the flame until it is passing through the flame. Do this a little at time, so the victims don’t notice.
  7. Eventually, the sugar will catch fire and send out a burst of flames scaring everybody!

If my sister and cousins are reading this, now they know I’m a fake!

If you play one of these games or have one of your own, feel free to post in the comments! I hope everyone has a spooky, fun, and delicious Halloween. Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights!

Wild West Haunt

The Buckhorn ExchangeSome people wait until this time of the year to do one of my favorite things. But heck, life is short so I do it all year round. That activity is to visit areas around my state that are reportedly haunted. It’s my kind of fun. Just a couple of weeks ago I had dinner at The Buckhorn Exchange in Denver. This place embodies the spirit of the wild west like no other place I know.

The two story building opened for business in 1893 on Osage Street, the upper floor served as a lodge for railroad workers. The Rio Grande Railroad yards were directly across the street, today it is still rail yards and the light rail commuter train. The Buckhorn Exchange also hosted cattle barons, miners, gamblers, and Native American chiefs in the saloon and restaurant. As time progressed, astronauts, Presidents, and Hollywood legends have dined there as well. Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Hope, Charleton Heston, Roy Rogers, and Jack Swigert have all stopped in for a meal and likely a beer. After all, The Buckhorn Exchange holds Colorado Liquor License No. 1.

They have a terrific menu that offers some exotic fare including ostrich, alligator, and Rocky Mountain oysters (no, I did not eat those and they do not come from the ocean!). We had the best fried artichoke hearts to start with. Then I had a steak that was absolutely superb. I also bellied up to the bar for a cocktail.

The ornate white oak bar and back-bar, made in Essen, Germany in 1857 and brought here by the the family of the original owner, Henry H. "Shorty Scout" Zietz.

The ornate white oak bar and back-bar, made in Essen, Germany in 1857 and brought here by the the family of the original owner, Henry H. “Shorty Scout” Zietz.

The decor reflects the rich history of the Buckhorn. Most notably, a 575 piece taxidermy collection with everything from a two-headed calf to a jackalope. On display is also a 125 piece gun collection with firearms dating as far back as 1889. There is an abundance of photographs and other historic pieces.

Some of the collection at the Buckhorn

Sample of the collection at the Buckhorn

Reports of footsteps, voices, and tables moving by themselves are reported. Considering how long it’s been around and all the artifacts it’s not surprising that a spirit or two is there. Sadly, on the evening I was there the only spirits I saw were coming from the bar area. I could see why some of the railroad workers, miners, and such would want to stick around; it’s comfortable and the food is wonderful. I was hoping for a pleasant surprise in the photos I took, like what happened at the Stanley Hotel. I didn’t see anything, let me know if you do.

If you are ever in this neck of the woods give this place a visit. If you’ve been there and had an experience share it with me, I’d love to hear about it. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights.

The Stanley Hotel Does Not Disappoint (chapter one)

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IMG_0010

Me, at the fabulous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

It was a bit overcast but warm when we headed for the Stanley Hotel a week ago today. However, I had put my ear muffs and mittens in my purse on the way out the door. When we were about 30 minutes away from Estes Park, Long’s Peak snowy appearance told me I had made a wise decision, you just never know in the Rocky Mountains.

longspeak

Driving up through Longmont, CO the still visible scars of last year’s flood were shocking to see. We knew it had been bad but to actually see it drove the point home. It was a sobering moment on an otherwise light-hearted trip.

IMG_0001

View of the Stanley from the highway.

Some people might be shocked to find out that the movie The Shining was not shot at the Stanley Hotel, even though a stay here gave Stephen King the idea for the story. For the movie Stanley Kubrick used the Timberline Lodge in Oregon so this hotel looks nothing like that hotel. It’s clean white exterior and welcoming red roof are clearly visible from most of Estes Park. The mini-series of The Shining was filmed here and some upgrades were made to the interior for that shoot, including painting some of the interior plaster to look like wood.

The first thing your eye is drawn to when you enter the front doors is the split main staircase. Flora and F.O. Stanley’s ghosts have both been reported being seen on this staircase. I thought they had not shown up for our stay but when I started examining my photos closely to write this post I noticed something surprising just to the left of the staircase. Granted it’s in a window so it could be a reflection of some type, but hmmm. As you can see from the next photo looking down the staircase from the first landing there isn’t anything that could really be reflecting from behind me when I took the photo.

IMG_0014

Main staircase of the Stanley Hotel view from the lobby.

staircaseghost

Close up of area in question. ~ Looking down the staircase.

 

 

Blissfully unaware, we headed over to get our film festival passes and schedules first thing and to see if we could get on the Stanley Tour sometime during our stay. This area has a small display of Stephen King’s books and memorabilia from the movie. There was a lot to do and see and we knew we wouldn’t be able to hit everything.

IMG_0077This hotel was first opened in 1909 and the creaking floor boards hidden under impeccable carpet sang out to prove it as we headed for our room. The room we stayed in was clean and cozy with an oversized plush bed. Right below our window was a waterfall and outside patio. We opened the window because it was warm in the room, high mountain hotels rarely have air conditioning. I thought the sound of the falling waterfall would pose a problem when we were ready to sleep but it proved exactly the opposite. However, every time someone walked in the hallway or opened or closed a door our door would bang and rattle. The door didn’t quite sit square in the frame and voices from the hall carried very clearly into our room. I could see how someone could mistake that for ghostly activity.

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Our guest room at the Stanley Hotel

A shot of the waterfall through our window.

A shot of the waterfall through our window.

Hallway outside our room. No, that is not Zak Baggans.

Hallway outside our room. No, that is not Zak Baggans.

I was stretched out on our bed, lying on my side facing the headboard, as my husband and I chatted about what screenings we wanted to see, where we should eat some dinner, and the fact that I wanted to have cocktails in the hotel bar at some point (just like Stephen King did). He was facing the window and reading the schedule to me.

I saw a brief shadow cross the massive headboard from right to left and at first thought someone was walking past our window, then I remembered, we are on the second floor!

To be continued…

Spooky Fun Writing Challenge

I was cleaning up my files this week, a lame exercise that I use to avoid working, and I came across some files that were from a writing challenge I participated in last Halloween. You had to write a scary tale every week in under 500 words for eight weeks leading up to the holiday. Not as easy as it sounds. Some of them were embarrassingly terrible, some may be spun off into something more, and some just need to never see the light of day.

For some Friday fun I thought I would share one that was based on something that really happened to someone I know. Enjoy.

telephone

Long Distance

Her passing had impacted us all, him worst of all. Since our aunt who had raised us died three months ago he had spiraled down with booze and other poisons. I hadn’t spoken to my brother, Jack, for almost two weeks. That, in and of itself, was not that unusual.

The unexpected nature of Auntie’s cardiac aneurism had amplified the blow for everyone and I knew he needed help but I also knew I had to have good boundaries with him. Otherwise, he would suck me down to crazy town with him. My aunt had spent years trying to save him from himself and I truly felt her inability to do so had broken her heart to the point of death.

I thought a little TV would crowd out these thoughts and I was thrilled to see a spy movie marathon was happening. I don’t think I got to see more than 20 minutes of it. I woke with a start to the shrilling of the phone. I reached for it and groggily brought it to my ear.

“Hello?”

“Mickey, I’m so worried about your brother.  Please help him.”

“I’m sure he’s fine, Auntie.  Just on a binge…” I sucked my breath in. “You can’t be calling me, you’re dead,” I whispered. I could feel my insides dropping to the floor.

The line became full of static and a hissing sound followed by a screeching that hurt my ear.  I threw the phone down hard and it went silent. I eyeballed it like it was a big poisonous spider looking for a snack.

My head felt a little foggy, maybe I was dreaming. I bit down hard on my lower lip and the bitter taste of blood told me I was wide awake.

My head slowly cleared. There was no way the phone could have rang. After all the funeral expenses I was a little strapped and I had the landline disconnected to save some money.

“What the hell?” I said aloud to the empty room, relieved not to get an answer.

I went into the bathroom to wash my face. I had to be hallucinating. Maybe I was having a waking dream. That’s a thing, right? After all I had been thinking about this stuff before I dozed off.

I was inspecting the injury to my lip when the buzzing of my cell in my front pocket made me jump. I checked the caller ID, unknown. I thought about letting it go to voice mail but instead I slide my finger to answer it and slowly lifted it to my ear.  My heart was pounding so hard my hand was bouncing in rhythm with it.

“Hello?” I croaked.

“Mickey?”

“Jack?”

“Hey. I just wanted to tell you that I’m ok and I’ll be sober from here on out. I was just trying to dull the pain, ya know?”

“Where the hell have you been? Are you in jail?” I demanded.

“Mickey?”

“Ya, Jack, where are you?”

“Auntie says hi.”

And the line went dead.

©Joy Yehle, 2013

Well, I hope this makes you never want to answer your phone and Never Turn Off the Lights. Try your hand at a 500 word or less story and email me at joy@joyyehle.com or post in the comments, I’d love to read them!

Happy Mardi Gras and National Pancake Day!

It must be fate, National Pancake Day and Mardi Gras on the same day!

What an exciting time in perhaps the most haunted city in America.The origins of Mardi Gras go way back to medieval Europe and perhaps even as far back as ancient rituals of fertility that celebrated the coming of Spring. But in New Orleans it’s time for parades, throws (beads and such thrown from the floats), costumes, lavish parties, and reveling in the streets before the penitent time of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

Some say that the excitement and energy of the events attract the dead of New Orleans just as readily as the living. Some of the parade routes include passing by cemeteries, funeral homes, and other supposed haunted locations. According to some, as the parade passes these areas they pick up some otherworldly participants and they have photos to prove it.

I found a few of these photos on line at Haunted New Orleans Tours. I know photos can be faked and manipulated, what do you think?

French Quarter Parade

French Quarter Parade

southern-decedence-ghosts

GHOST-WALKS-THE-STREETS

Balcony-ghosts-in-french-qu

If you’re like me and can’t go yourself, books are the next best thing. Ruined, a Novel, by Paula Morris is a terrific choice. It takes place in New Orleans where we follow newcomer Rebecca as she struggles with moving into her Aunt Claudia’s strange and spooky house and navigating the alien social structures of her new life. Ghosts, a haunted cemetery, New Orleans’ lifestyle, a mystery, Mardi Gras Krewes, a cute boy, and some mean girls. What more could you ask from a book? Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

51A06Sy2mcL

If you are lucky enough to go to Mardi Gras take as many photos as you can. If you get anything weird, feel free to share with those of us who can’t be there. By weird, I don’t mean topless folks or broken fingers of those who tried to grab throws that hit the ground but any non-humans or former humans who might be partying with you.

If you can’t go to Mardi Gras you could head over to IHOP to celebrate with some free pancakes and make a donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Having had preemie babies in a NICU for many long weeks this cause is near and dear to me. At any rate, celebrate away! Tomorrow marks the start of the Lenten season.

Valentine Cards to Die For!

Valentine’s day can be kind of scary and raise all kinds of uncertainty. What to give? Will I get anything from anyone? If I give will it be received or thrown back in my face with a hardy laugh? Will I be gracious, by gracious I mean have the pepper spray ready, when the creepy person in my life gives me a valentine? Yes, truly terrifying.

In my quest to find the perfect Valentine gift for my valentine I ran across some pretty amazing cards. The kind of cards that just really celebrate the darker side of this love-fueled holiday.

Let’s begin with sweet and paranormal:

ghost ghostlove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for some pop-culture creepiness:

vampire hannibal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifically for the vegetarian in your life:

forthevegetarian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In case that wasn’t gross enough, try this one:

puke

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing says “be mine” like these lovely examples (or should I say threats?):

stocks drowning skunk

Let’s just call it like it is:

stalker

 

 

 

 

 

 

A romantic dinner suggestion:

cannibal

 

Speaking of cannibals, nothing is more romantic than zombies:

wlkingdead zombie brains

 

 

 

The one thing we all think of when we think romance:

clown

 

Let’s not forget the demonic:

demoncat devil

 

What every teacher wants to find on his/her desk:

teacher

 

You can’t go wrong with hand-made, right? It shows how much thought and time you put into the gift. It’s a creative way to show what is truly in your heart.

miatowoody

Valentine from Mia Farrow to Woody Allen via Perez Hilton. Click image for the full story.

Well, there you have it. I told you Valentine’s day was scary. I hope these lovelies help the day live up to your expectations.

Happy Valentine’s day and remember never turn off the lights, especially if you got one of these, and particularly if it’s from Mia Farrow.