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!

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Just in time for Halloween, Dread is Now Available!

We’ve all heard them. A terrifying tale that happened to a friend of a friend or my second cousin’s sister’s brother’s niece. That’s right, urban legends. One my favorite Halloween topics.During some research for a project, I found that some of these tales have roots in reality. A modern example of this is the Black Eyed Kids.

During some research for a project, I found that some of these tales have roots in reality. A modern example of this is the Black Eyed Kids.

It’s thought to have started with a story as told by a reporter for the Abilene Reporter-News, Brian Bethel. In 1996 he was sitting in his car, using the light from the nearby movie theater marquise to write a check. A knock on his driver’s side door pulled his attention, and he saw two boys in hoodies. The boys claimed that they wanted to see a movie, but had left their money at home. They asked him for a ride. He was overwhelmed with an irrational fear of the young boys. He hesitated and the boys got a little pushy. He looked away to check the time and when he looked back their eyes had changed, or maybe he could see clearly. They stared back at him with “soulless orbs like two great swathes of starless night.” Flight or fight kicked in, and he peeled out of there. As he pulled away one of the boys angrily shouted: We can’t come in unless you tell us it’s OK. Let us in!

After he shared his story on-line in 1998 stories of similar encounters flooded into paranormal podcasts and message boards. Hence, it’s status as an urban legend. But, digging a little deeper, David Weatherly writes in his book Black Eyed Children, that he discovered accounts predating television and the internet with similarities to Brian Bethel’s story. The sense of deep fear the children instill, the demanding persistence to be let in, and not noticing at first that their eyes are not normal are all common themes.

One of the stories I heard that really got my hair up was told by a fellow mom. I think this story resonated with me because I could so closely identify with her. We are both busy moms, and she lived in a semi-rural area like I do.

One evening on her way home, with her young son in the back seat, they made a pit stop at the local convince store/gas station. She parked in front of the store and ran in to get milk, leaving her boy in the car with his iPad. This is all pretty mundane everyday stuff in small towns.

When she returned to the car, she peeked in her rear-view mirror to check on her passenger. She was startled when she saw a boy sitting next to him. His head was covered by the hood of his jacket, and he bent to look at the iPad. She asked her son who his friend was.

“I dunno. He said he needed a ride, so I let him in,” was the reply.

Much to her horror, the strange boy lifted his face to her. His eyes shining damp black orbs against his pale skin. She screeched, jumped out of the car, grabbed her kid, and ran back inside the store. She tried to tell the clerk what was happening, and he assumed she was the victim of a car-jacking, so he called the sheriff. When the sheriff arrived, there was no sign of the strange boy.

She was too shaken up to drive her car. Her husband came and switched cars with her. On his way home in her car, he was involved in a car accident. Thankfully, despite his bumps and bruises, he was fine. The woman remains convinced that the Black Eyed Kid was somehow tied to the accident; either he caused it or appeared as a warning.

As far as I know, no one has ever come up with physical proof of these beings. No iPhone photos or video, for example. But stories have been shared from all over the world by people from every walk of life. Some from very credible individuals. There hasn’t been any proof of a hoax either.

So, what are they? Vampires? Aliens? Demons? Imagination? Hallucination?

What do they want? Your soul? Your body? Your blood?

No one knows.

In my novel Dread, I explore what would happen if these beings invaded a perfectly normal neighborhood and tormented perfectly normal people, just like you. What would happen if they let the BEKs in? Can they figure out what they are and what they want before it is too late?

All I can tell you for sure is that once you encounter the Black Eyed Kids, your perfectly normal life will cease to exist.

Dread is available for purchase from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and NobleTolino, 24Sybmols, Scribd., Inktera.

dreadcsfrontFourteen-year-old Nate Camden, who dreams of becoming a Navy SEAL, has just moved into Dark Pine Hills, a subdivision that has sat neglected and unfinished for some time. His father’s company has taken on the task of recrafting the area into a high-end development, a big opportunity the family can’t pass up. Nate does his best to settle in, and he quickly makes friends, even securing a starting spot on the football team. But it doesn’t take Nate long to suspect things are not as positive as they seem, just under the surface darkness lurks. It’s not just the discovery of neighbors’ family issues, or the protesters that claim the area is a paranormal vortex and should not be developed, or even the rumors that the surrounding forest is haunted. It is something much worse. Kids have come knocking, wanting to come in. The only problem is that judging by their soulless black eyes, they may not be human. Forced to believe the unbelievable, Nate will have to face his worst fears to protect the ones he loves.

 

I <3 Horror, Deal With It

I have a problem. Like many writers, I feel uncomfortable telling people that I write when I first meet them, let alone that I write Horror. You have to know me a little better first, or at least, buy me dinner. My neighbor of four years didn’t know until she stumbled on my Facebook profile and she told me she was shocked.

Shocked? I asked her why.

She stuttered and hemmed and hawed, but eventually she said that I just didn’t seem like the type of person who liked that kind of thing. I had to laugh. What type of person is the kind of person that likes that kind of  thing?

My dear cousin sent me this meme on Facebook because she knows. I commented that I would crack up because things just got FUN! It made me think about an experience I shared with one of my daughters, she definitely knows.12744564_660596094078920_6204107145974811045_n

It was the night after my favorite holiday, Halloween. I picked up said daughter from a late practice at her high school and we were driving home.

At that time we lived in the western suburbs of Denver, butting up to the Rocky Mountain foothills. Our streets were wide, the houses spaced nicely apart, and the street lights were of the decorative variety, pretty but not efficient in their job. That left the roads alarmingly dark at night.

The street we were driving on was the long straight backbone of the neighborhood, the other streets shot off from it like teeth on a comb. As we drove through the dark we saw a lone figure in the distance standing in the weak pool of light cast by the street light at the only stop sign.

It was slowly formulating in my mind that someone had left a Halloween decoration too close to the road. A dark lower portion made the white top appear to levitate. As we approached, I could see that it was a person. A person wearing dark coveralls and a white Micheal Myers mask.

We slowed down as we got right next to him because of the stop sign. He moved towards our car, reaching his hand out as if to grasp the passenger side door handle.

“Mom, go!”

I pulled away from the stop sign and looked in my rearview mirror. I saw him standing in the road behind us, his white face glowing red in my taillights. He stood motionless, watching us drive away. I thought he looked dejected.halloween-4-03

“Holy crap! What was that?” my daughter said.

“I don’t know, but let’s go back! That was awesome!” I said, glee overfilling my heart.

“No way!”

I looked at her sweet face. She really was freaked out.

“Come on. It’s just a Halloween prank. We’ll just drive back around one time, ok?”

“It. Is. Not. Halloween. What if they want to carjack us! Or he just killed all the neighbors and needs a get away car?”

I love her dearly, so we drove on home. She relieved, me disappointed. I was sorry to miss out on that glorious feeling of terror, that thrill that I love so much.

It took the sensible voice of my husband to keep me from getting in my truck and driving back over there by myself. The girl was right, it probably wasn’t safe. You never know about people these days. He joked that if we don’t hear about neighbors being slashed tomorrow, we would know it was a late Halloween prank.

I never told them that I looked in my mirror one last time before turning off on our street. I saw him cross the road and go in between two houses, as if headed to one or other backyard. There was still hope that Michael Myers was creeping around the neighborhood. I peered out into my own heavily wooded and dark backyard hoping for a jolt.

My heart sank a little deeper to see that no one was there.

My current neighbor would probably rethink every interaction we ever had if she knew that story about me.

There you have it. Just like a book, you can’t judge a horror fan by their cover. It could be anyone. Even the people you least expect. Take Guillermo Del Toro, R.L. Stine, or Stephen King. They all look perfectly normal. My neighbor thinks I’m a normal, upstanding, kindly, law-abiding citizen who listens to NPR. While I am all those things, I am a creator and fan of horror. Even little Mikey Myers appeared normal, at first.

My husband was right. You just never know about people these days.

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

Halloween Horrors That May be Waiting for You!

Halloween is upon us once again. It is the night that many believe the veil between the living and the dead is drawn back allowing spirits to roam the earth. Bonfires are lit, jack-o-lanterns are set aglow, and children dress up to confuse and drive malevolent spirits away.

I’m a strong believer that knowledge of your enemy is the basis for victory. As many of you get ready to dress up and head out into the darkened streets to battle these spirits, it’s a good idea to know who, or what, you may meet.

Bloody Bones

glass-975494_1280

This is a guy who comes and spirits away lazy or disobedient children in the night. In the tales told to me he is never described, and it is never disclosed what he does with the kids he takes. In my imagination (a dark place to be sure), he was humanoid with no skin, exposing his blood vessels and sodden muscles. The children he took? I supposed it had to do with replacing his missing skin.

El Coco or the Coco Man

He concentrates on kids who will not go to sleep at bedtime. If you are not asleep when he happens by he’s going to eat you. He is only described as having a coconut for a head. If that’s not incentive for some shut-eye I don’t know what is.

Bubak

dusk-1004436_1280His appearance is similar to a scarecrow, however, he can cry just like a baby to lure unsuspecting humans to their doom. Unlike the monsters previously mentioned, the Bubak targets everyone, including adults. He gets around in a cart driven by black cats and as you know that is no small feat. He’s crafty too, he weaves cloth from the souls of those he lured to himself.

Skinwalker

These are witches that have the ability to change into any animal they please. Not the anglo version of witches with pointy hats, but a shaman who has decided to use his knowledge and powers for evil rather than healing. It is a subject rarely spoken of out in the open. Who knows, the person you are speaking with could be a Skinwalker. It is believed they are usually seen as coyotes, wolves, foxes, owls, or crows. My grandpa told me that the way to tell if an animal is an ordinary animal or a Skinwalker is that if its eyes don’t reflect light, it’s a Skinwalker and you should run for your life. However, by that point it is presumably too late.

By LuxAmber (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Slender Man

Created by Erick Knudsen, Slender Man has a featureless face and a black suit covers his thin, tall body. He stalks, abducts, and generally disturbs people, especially children. Slender Man has become somewhat of a media star and is the subject of many stories, artworks, video productions, and video games. There are many variations on his mythos, but the one that tormented my little guy is that he lives in the storm culverts around our country town (there is one right behind our house). From these culverts, he lies in wait for any child that happens by. Slender Man has caused plenty of sleepless nights and may have been a catalyst for a depraved crime in 2014. Photo credit: By LuxAmber (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Black Eyed KidsBlack_eyes_by_megamoto85

I would say that a professional newspaper reporter can be trusted. In this case, the narrative of just such a person brought this phenomenon into the mainstream. Brian Bethel, a reporter for Abilene Reporter-News, recounted a strange encounter he had with two boys on a summer night. They approached him as he sat in his car and asked for a ride. Brian found himself gripped by an inexplicable fear. He soon realized that the boys had black orbs instead of human eyeballs. Like any sane person, he got the heck out of dodge. As he was pulling his car away, one kid banged on the window and angrily shouted, “We can’t come in unless you tell us it’s OK. Let us in!” Since then numerous others have recounted encounters with these beings. Sometimes they show up at your door insisting on being let in. Vampires? Aliens? No one knows. I found this subject so compelling that my debut novel Dread is based on it. 

Keep your eye out for these characters and when trick-or-treat is over, GO TO SLEEP. Take extra precautions and avoid carts pulled by cats. It’s might just be a good idea to avoid animals of any kind. Those kids ringing the doorbell? Don’t worry it’s only neighborhood kids looking for a treat, isn’t it?

Thanks for stopping by, and I wish you a safe and fun Halloween. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

Tomorrow is the Big Night!

halloween

Halloween is finally here! I’ve been gorging myself on scary movies all week. Next week I’ll be gorging myself on my kids’ candy! Shh, please don’t tell them. In past years they have actually hidden their Halloween candies from me. I’m going to need all that sugar to fuel my first ever participation in NaNoWriMo!

Usually on Halloween night, after all the trick-or-treaters have gone to bed, we like to listen to spooky tales. I have a few shows that I would like to recommend if you are up for the same type of entertainment.

Jim Harold is the king of paranormal podcasting. He has a show called Jim Harold’s Campfire where listeners call in with their own paranormal experiences. The stories are always entertaining and some are downright terrifying. The thing I like most about Jim is how respectful and engaging he is with his guests.

I listen to The Darkness on the Edge of Town regularly. It is  hosted by Dave Schrader (you may recognize him from guest hosting of Coast to Coast). This show delves into various paranormal topics from diverse viewpoints. Dave is a talented interviewer and makes each episode entertaining, no matter how “interesting” the guest. Once a week listeners can call in or email their own paranormal experiences and tales. Darkness Radio can be heard live out of Minnesota, by podcast, TuneIn, I heart Radio, and Stitcher.

For the younger crowd, the well known scary story crafter R.L. Stine, has some audio stories on his website in a feature called Rainy Night Theater. The stories are as spooky as his Goosebumps and Fear Street book stories.

You could always sit around and read aloud from by blog! Whatever you do, have a safe and fun time. This is one night that you should turn off the lights!

How a Drunk and the Devil Shaped Our Most Iconic Halloween Symbol

fire-398808_1280

I’m taking a break from NaNoWriMo preparations to enjoy the holiday. We slammed some Halloween fun and a birthday celebration into the last couple of days. The weekend festivities ended with the traditional carving of the pumpkins.

You are likely aware that most Halloween traditions have roots in the Celtic holiday of Samhain which marked the end of summer and final harvest time. It was also a period when supernatural forces were particularly active. On this night the door to the spirit world opened and spirits were allowed to freely roam the Earth. To keep evil spirits away, raging bonfires were lit.

In the middle-ages the festival morphed into All Hallows Eve. Eventually the bonfires were toned down to hallowed out gourds and turnip lanterns. When Irish immigrants came to America they found that the native pumpkin was a superior way to create these lanterns. Ta-dah, the jack-o-lantern was born.

You might not believe this looking at my profile picture but my Pop is pure Scotch/Irish with the surname to prove it! There is an Irish folktale that tells a much more interesting story about how jack-o-lanterns came to be.

Stingy-Jack forever doomed to roam the Earth.

Stingy-Jack forever doomed to roam the Earth.

There once was a man named Stingy-Jack. He liked to drink, hang out at the pub, mooch off of everybody for drinks, and to play tricks on them because he fancied himself so much smarter than they. He wasn’t an especially likable fellow. So much so, that one Hallows Eve he found himself face to face with the Devil.

Stingy-Jack was sure he could outsmart the Devil, so he offered his soul in exchange for a drink. The Devil quickly changed himself into a coin to pay for the drink. He didn’t know that Stingy-Jack had already mooched a coin from another patron to pay for the drink. He snatched up the coin and put it in his pocket next to a silver cross that he always carried. Because of the cross, the Devil could not change into his real form and was trapped as a coin. Stingy-Jack refused to free the Devil until he promised not to claim his soul for ten years. The Devil agreed and Stingy-Jack released him.

Fast forward ten years. Stingy-Jack was walking along a darkened country road when the Devil came to collect what was due to him. Again, Stingy-Jack used his tricky ways. He told the Devil he would go but could the Devil please climb the tree and get him an apple first?

For whatever reason, the Devil went up the tree to get the apple and Jack quickly etched a cross on the trunk. The Devil now could not climb down from the tree. Jack made the Devil promise not to collect his soul now or when he eventually died. The Devil was furious but had no choice other than to agree.

Several years later Jack passed-away. He presented himself to the gates of heaven but was told he could not enter because of his deceitful, drunken life. He then presented himself to hell. The Devil remembered the promise he had made and refused him entrance. Instead, he was banished to roam the Earth forever with only a turnip lantern to light his way. This doomed ghostly figure was referred to as Jack of the Lantern and eventually Jack O’Lantern. In Ireland and Scotland people began placing their own version of Jack’s lantern in windows and doorways to keep evil spirits at bay.

As you carve your own jack-o-lanterns keep poor Stingy-Jack in mind. I think he actually got it easy compared to an eternity in hell!

My Family's Creations this Halloween.

My Family’s Creations this Halloween.

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

True Urban Legends

2

Urban legends are one of my favorite things; passed on from person to person with just a bit of “well maybe that could happen” to make it interesting. On doing research for some writing, I discovered that some urban legends are based in truth. Doesn’t that make them even more disturbing? I thought so. Here are few of my favorites to make you laugh, paranoid, freaked out, and just plain unsettled.

Tainted food urban legends abound, from bodily fluids in your fast food to spider eggs in your bubble gum. While some of those are plausible (maybe even likely and true!) I ran into one regarding my favorite food.

I love coffee. I make no apologies for my unabashed love of the stuff. When on a writing binge I’ve been known to drink a pot with maybe a Starbucks thrown in for good luck. At work the most annoying thing ever was to find the coffee pot empty and have to wait for a pot. Well, after I found this story I’m happy to make my own coffee and I’m very glad I work from home now.

badcoffeeIn 1994 workers at Wire Rope in Missouri knew their morning joe just didn’t taste right. These sleuthing workers set up a camera and discovered a fellow employ, Milton Ross, relieving himself right into the coffee pot. The information I found said the video made it to the news but I haven’t been able to locate it. Ross said his actions were due to an ongoing feud with a coworker. He was charged with assault and sentenced to 100 hours of community service cleaning public restrooms. Yes, very glad I work from home.

Ah, revenge. I used to have a scorched earth policy when it came to revenge but I have mellowed a bit with age. The longer I live the more I see that “what goes around comes around” is a true statement. It may take a long time for it to get back around but it always does. And when it does, it’s extra special when the fates allow you to watch, particularly if the baddies sin against innocents. There are many urban legends about getting yours but this one is true.

In 1982 two guys, David Grundman and James Joseph Suchochi, decided to do a little target shooting at saguaro. In case you don’t know, saguaros are tall cactus which grow in Arizona, California, and Mexico. They can live for an upwards of 300 years, get as tall as 60 feet, and weigh up to 8 TONS. For this excursion, Grundman picked a 100 year old specimen that stood about 26 feet tall. His crack shooting severed a 4 foot arm from the cactus which promptly fell and crushed him to death. My dad always told me to respect nature because it doesn’t respect you, it can kill you if you are reckless or disrespectful. Good advice, Pop.

Saguaro Cacti Specimen

Saguaro Cacti Specimen

Dumb criminal stories are a favorite around here. But a story about a criminal that ends with the criminal learning a lesson is truly treasured. I’ve heard urban legends about criminals getting stuck in the chimney (true, it turns out) or calling 911 on themselves (also true) but this one has a poetic justice that appealed to me.

Darker_nights_are_here_–_burglary_advice_(8124500096)In New Zealand, a young man illegally entered what he thought was a vacant home to burglarize it. He ran screaming after bumping into a hanging corpse in the darkened home. To his credit he phoned the police to report the body and turn himself in. It was determined that the person had hanged themselves a day or so before. Inspector Greg Nicholls is quoted by the New Zealand Herald as saying “I’m hopeful that this might be a career-changing moment for that burglar.” You think?

Halloween has become one of the highest grossing holidays in America. Americans spent nearly $7 billion last year on costumes, decorations, and candy. Halloween attractions, such as haunted mazes or haunted houses can earn an upwards of $3 million in just a little over a month. I’ve seen some really well done holiday displays in front yards. Some I had to take a second look at they seem so real. I thought that’s what I would find behind the urban legend of people mistaking a real corpse for décor but I was wrong.

In 1990 as part of a haunted hayride attraction, a young man was supposed to pretend to be hung on a gallows set. He had successfully pulled it off for several nights but on this night something went terribly wrong and he accidently hung himself. The hayride driver became concerned when the boy didn’t finish his spoken lines as the wagon came by. There have actually been several tragic reports of accidental hanging during Halloween pranks.

This one is little more macabre and a twist on the first story. A few days before Halloween of 2005, a Delaware woman committed suicide by hanging herself from a tree near a busy road and in sight of many homes. She was first spotted around 7:30 that morning but people thought it was part of a Halloween prank. She stayed there until the police were notified at 11 am being observed by numerous passers-by. It’s quite sad and astonishing that it took that long for anyone to report it. Around here the HOA police would have been all over it in about 10 seconds, not that I’ve been in trouble for over the top Halloween displays or anything.

hangingtree

Hanging Tree by Joy Yehle

That’s just a small sampling of true urban legends that I found. So the next time someone starts a story with “my cousin’s-best friend’s-uncle’s-sister” keep these in mind. Lastly, never turn off the lights because that roommate in the dark…well she may not be what you think she is…alive, that is! Tell me if you know what urban legend that is and I will be very impressed!