It's Time For Our Annual Spooky Stories Contest

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As the grass grows deader and an otherworldly chill fills the air, thoughts turn to the march of darkness into waning summer days, and the unknowable, and sometimes horrifying secrets that it holds. It's here. It's finally here. It's our annual Spooky Stories contest.


In celebration of next week's celebration of Samhain, we're continuing our annual tradition of asking you — our ghoulish readers — to share with us the creepiest, freakiest, spookiest, most hair raising true story that you know. It could be something that happened to you, or your friend, or something that your grandmother swears, wide-eyed, happened to her. Be as descriptive as is fitting. The object of the game is to make us want to crawl out of our skins, to wonder if the room just got a little colder, if something formless watches us from a vantage point unseen. For us to — for a little while, at least — wonder if that shadow racing through our peripheral vision is just our imagination ... or something much darker.

To get you in the mood, here's one of our winners from last year, LadySparrow's "The Little Girl Who Wasn't."

I lived in a house from hell for four years, from age eleven to almost sixteen. There was constantly something happening. Doors flying open and shut, voices, footsteps. Nothing ever stayed where you put it. I was alone there a lot because both my parents worked and I was constantly terrified.

One of the most gut-level disturbing things though was the little girl in my bathroom. Every time I walked past my bathroom door (which was constantly since it was right outside my bedroom) I saw a little girl with blond curled hair and a rose-colored dress. She just stood there, staring, looking like a photograph from 1905. I started keeping the door closed so I could walk by without seeing her, but she was always there when I opened it. Once I stepped in past her, I couldn't see her anymore but I could feel her there. She scared me, but I felt really sorry for her because she was trapped there, just like me, but probably forever.

As the years went by and things in the house continued to get worse, she started seeming... darker. I started feeling like she wasn't really a little girl. I knew there was something ugly in the house and I felt like it was presenting this sympathetic image to me. Then I started thinking I was completely losing my mind.

One day, when I was 14, I had a friend from out of town come stay with me for a week. I hadn't told her anything whatsoever about the house because I didn't think she would come if I did. Right after she got there we were sitting in my room and she left to go to the bathroom. About a minute later she walked back in with a puzzled look on her face and said "So, there's a little girl in your bathroom". "Um, I, yeah she hangs out in there. Blond hair?" "Curls? Pink dress? Yeah. You know that's not really a little girl, don't you?" I almost threw up. I was so relieved and terrified and excited and ready to run out of the house screaming. She wouldn't use my bathroom the rest of the week and I started using it as little as possible without pissing off my parents (who did not want to believe).

Eventually we moved out and I could not have been happier. I distanced myself from it mentally as much as I could. Then, when I was 18, I took another friend on a road trip to pack up a few things I'd left in the house (my parents hadn't managed to sell it, and wouldn't for 5 more years). The minute we got on the property, my friend seemed uncomfortable. When we came around the bend in the long, steep driveway, he went completely white. I could tell something was wrong, but he insisted he was OK, so we got to work. After a while he asked to use the bathroom and I directed him to mine. Not 20 seconds after he left, he came running back in, gasping for breath, andand slammed the bedroom door behind him. He started babbling about a little blond girl who isn't really a little girl. All of a sudden he went dead still, looked me in the eye, and very solemnly said "She's not happy. With you. You left, and you weren't supposed to". We threw whatever we could grab in two trips in my car (after I walked him to another bathroom and waited outside the door) and got the fuck out at top speed.

We will plow through all of your stories and feature the winners with a special post a week from now, on Halloween.

But, for now, cuddle under some blankets and turn on all the lights. It's going to be a long night.

Illustration by Jim Cooke



So I told what I thought was the one story I had that was spooky story worthy. But then this happened over Christmas:

I was visiting my parents over the holidays. My mother loves nothing more than to break open a bottle of cheap chardonnay (Kendall Jackson if it's a fancy night) and watch home videos of us kids when we were little. It's pretty harmless, if a little embarrassing, so we indulge this habit with her.

We were watching videos of my sister and me dancing and singing and generally hamming it up for the camera when I was 4 or 5-ish. We watch like four of these videos and I notice in everyone that I talk to the camera about my younger brother. I keep saying things like "When I was 10 and my brother was 7 we did X" or "When I was 8 and my brother was 5 we did Y". I don't remember ever talking about this. There was a consistent 3 year age gap between this younger brother and me and all the things we did were activities on a large, rural farm. Between the ages of 0-7, we only ever lived in major metropolitan areas, my immediate family has never lived on a farm.

I asked my mom about it because it was weird. She said she always brushed it off because I was an imaginative little kid, I was always telling stories and I really wanted a younger brother. She said I stopped talking about it around the time my younger brother was born when I was 6. She said there was one time that I said something that really weirded her out. One time I apparently said, "When I was 12 and my brother was 9, I fell out of the tree near the silo. It hurt really bad. Buzzy went to get Mama but when she got back I was dead." I don't remember every saying this, my mom said I was really nonchalant and when she asked me about it, I wasn't bothered. I just said it again like it was a fact. My mom said that my brother was born a few months after that and I never mentioned it again so she let it go. She wrote it off as me trying to get attending with a new sibling on the way.

Flash forward about 3 days and my mom's mom and stepdad are there for Christmas. My mom's stepdad married her mom when my mom was in her late 20's and I was a baby, my mom didn't grow up with him and she doesn't know his extended family well. A few glasses of wine and back to the baby videos. One of them has me mentioning my brother again. My mom retells the creepy story from earlier. Her stepdad goes white. My mom knew that he had a sibling pass away when he was young, I had never heard that before. His oldest sister, Shirley passed away when he was 9. She was three years older than him. They were raised on a grain farm in Iowa. They were playing on a tree and she fell head first out of the tree when her foot slipped. My mom's stepdad was right there when it happened. He went to get help but she passed away from the fall.

The part that not even my grandmother knew: His sister couldn't say his name when she was little and mispronounced it as Buzzy. No one called him that after his sister died. He got really mad at me and was convinced that someone told me and that 5 year old me was messing with him. I had no idea he had lost a sibling. My grandma is the only one in our family who knew all the details about it, but even she didn't know about the nickname.

I have no memory of telling these stories as a little kid and even seeing all the videos hasn't helped my remember it. My mom and I haven't talked about it since. My mom's stepdad hasn't talked to me at all since.

TL;DR I may have had a past life that makes a relative not speak to me anymore.