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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

The Dark Hour Cometh: It's Time For Jezebel's 2021 Scary Stories Contest

Spooky season returns, bringing chilling new scary stories
The Dark Hour Cometh: It's Time For Jezebel's 2021 Scary Stories Contest
Illustration: Angelica Alzona
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A light flickers. A voice calls to you from the great beyond and she asks for your soul...or at least a very scary story. It’s time to dust off your quill pens and fill those oil lanterns because Jezebel’s Scary Stories contest is back and poised to be the scariest year yet. We know you’ve been stuck at home sharpening those storytelling skills waiting for the most haunted time of year to unleash your inner demons, monsters, ghosts, and witches. Come my pretties, the dark hour has finally arrived.

If you are a sacrificial virgin upon the Scary Stories altar this year, here are the rules:

  • Drop your scary stories in the comments below. This is the most important rule for entering the contest and for ensuring that you scare the most people possible. If you’re shy and feel compelled to hide your scary side under an email, you can send one to smelero@jezebel.com OR tips@jezebel.com with the subject line “Scary Story Contest.” Stories that aren’t in the comments section of this post or in my inbox with that exact subject line will not be considered. Nothing scarier than strict rule adherence!
  • The story must be true. Liar, liar, pants will catch fire if you submit an untrue story. You have now been cursed. If you want to break the curse either submit a (true) scary story or pass this post to 10 friends. If not Bloody Mary will find you, I have her on speed dial.
  • It must be scary! Do your absolute worst and you will be blessed with infamy and the power to invade the nightmares of others. Here are some of last year’s top scary stories to get your haunted juices flowing.

What’s In the Bucket by Eek_afreak

A few years back Alex moved with his family to their dream, multi-acre property in Upstate New Yor-England that backed up to a national/state forest. Alex and his partner, Joan, were looking forward to the peace, quiet and security that they thought would come with the move. They had two kids, also thrilled to get out of their crappy rental in town. They even got a dog.

During their first fall, things took a turn for the disturbing. The boys had made friends with the three kids of the nearest neighbor, Lupe. On the afternoon in question, Lupe is watching the kids while Alex and Joan are finishing up some renovation work. She brings the kids back up unexpectedly in the early afternoon. She then asks Alex to come down to the woods with her while the kids stay in the house with Joan. She was very insistent about the kids staying in the house. Lupe, normally calm and easy-going, is visibly worried.

She shows Alex the hole the kids and dog had excavated down at the edge of the woods. They’d found a plastic bucket, a five gallon model from a big box hardware store, two-ish feet down. The kids had gotten the lid and some of the sides uncovered before Lupe found out what they were doing. She has no idea what it could be, but sensibly did not want the kids anywhere near it.

Alex calls the cops but, this being the country, it’s going to be awhile before anyone got there. The dispatcher asks Alex to give a description so she could work out how much of a priority this call is. There are no visible wires nor is the barrel unusually wet, so they decided it probably isn’t a bomb. She tells Alex not to touch the barrel but to stay there to keep any people or wildlife from disturbing it more. The cops arrive about two hours later. One officer talks with Alex while the other pries the lid off the bucket (yes, probably they should have done more checking to be sure it wasn’t an explosive but small town PD).

The officer at the bucket suddenly starts repeating what the f**k over and over. Alex and officer 2 walk over to see what’s up. Officer 1 pulls the following out of the bucket: duct tape, zip ties, safety goggles (like you’d wear if using a saw or in a chemistry lab), a gun scope, a large hunting knife, a dark-haired wig and a bundle of something soft wrapped in black plastic bags.

The cops promptly radio for backup, which shows up in under ten minutes.

They escort Alex back to his house where Lupe, Joan and the kids are all starting to freak out. As is Alex. All the police in a twenty miles radius arrive, local cops, sheriff’s deputies, highway patrol, everyone. They tape off the entire back part of their yard and some distance into the woods. No one is telling the family anything. They won’t even let Lupe and her kids go back to their house until late that night with a police escort AND armed cops are roaming around both properties.

The next day, even more law enforcement appear, including the freaking FBI. It is suggested that the family find somewhere else to stay for a few days while law enforcement ‘work the site.’ Alex and the kids are questioned by several law enforcement personnel, including federal agents.

Some questions they asked Alex: have you noticed evidence of people accessing your property without your knowledge, like footprints or discarded cigarette butts? Have you noticed evidence of anyone trying to force entry to your house, broken locks or windows, cut screens? Do you know of anyone who has gone missing in the area in the past few months or years? When they learn that Alex has recently moved in and that the house was vacant for several years before he bought it they then ask if he’s noticed any ‘disturbed ground’ (other than the bucket I guess) around the property, especially IN any of the outbuildings.

Then, after about a week, everyone leaves. Alex and his family are told to just go back home.

First thing they do when they get back is head for Lupe’s, checking up on her. She too has been questioned, as have her kids. Since Alex is new to the area, he asks Lupe about the missing person question. She says she can’t think of anyone who has gone missing in the area in the five years she has been in her house but is still deeply shaken. As is Alex. He heads down to the bottom of the yard to see what’s happened. Law enforcement has torn up about ten meters square of the yard. In the woods, they’ve marked trees at seemingly random intervals AND they’ve dug up parts of the root cellar under a shed.

To this day, Alex doesn’t know what law enforcement was looking for. He’s called and asked for updates, but has been told that the activity on his property is related to an ongoing investigation and they couldn’t share information. His kids now all but refuse to play in the yard, not that he and Joan really want them to anymore. Alex changed all the locks, added multiple new ones, security lights and an alarm system. The entire family suffers from nightmares about the incident. Joan and Alex even bought and learned to use guns, which are now kept in a safe in their bedroom. Lupe and her kids moved away as soon as their lease was up, but Alex and Joan couldn’t afford to sell. All they can do is lock up tight, watch the woods, wonder who left that bucket on the property and worry about what to do if that person comes back.

Untitled by Parasite Eve

This happened to me a few years ago, and I still get chills every time I think about it.

I agreed to watch my nieces and nephew for my brother and his wife at their house since they had to be out of town for the day. My nephew and one niece had school that morning, but my other niece was only 4 so she stayed home with me. We spent the morning watching cartoons and coloring until it was finally time for her nap.

She was lying down on the couch, so I tucked her in with a blanket, making sure she was completely cocooned in the blanket all nice and cozy. I turned the volume on the TV down till I could barely hear it, taking care not to wake her up, and went into the kitchen to work on my math homework.

I’m really short (only 4’10) - my feet often don’t touch the ground when I’m sitting down, so I tend to sort of swing my feet absentmindedly when I’m sitting. As I sat at the kitchen table looking at my laptop and swinging my feet, I kick something. I assumed it must have been the leg of another chair, so I move my foot back. As I go to move that leg again, I feel something touch higher up on my leg, almost up to my knee. I jerk myself back in the chair and look under the table, and there’s nothing there that would’ve been close to my knee. I brush it off and get back to my homework.

About 15 minutes later I hear the little pitter patter of small feet in the next room. Assuming my niece had woken up and was trying to be sneaky, I walked into the living room and was surprised to see my niece still lying on the couch, perfectly cocooned in the blanket. She was awake now, and asked me “did you hear that too?” At this point I was a little freaked out, but I explained to her that the noise was probably the wind outside knocking twigs off the tree onto the roof. She didn’t seem worried about it at all, and, since it was the middle of the afternoon, I stopped feeling creeped out.

We went into the kitchen so I could get lunch ready, and she crawled under the table to get her doll that had somehow managed to end up under there. While she was down there she started making a raspy noise, almost like a quack but not like how kids will say “quack” when they’re imitating ducks. She did this a few times, and still hadn’t come out from under the table. So I asked her “Are you being a silly little duck?” She stopped for a second and stuck her head out from under the table and asked what I said. I repeated, “Are you a cute little silly duck, quacking under there?” She calmly looked at me and said “I’m not quacking”. “Well then what noise are you making if it’s not a quack?” She shrugged her shoulders and said “I’m making the same noise as the boy.” “What boy?” I asked. “The boy under the table. He keeps making that noise and going like this” to which she starts touching her throat. A huge chill went up my spine as she made that noise when my brain made the connection - she was mimicking choking. She was imitating a little boy who appeared to be choking under the table. The same table under which I had felt something touch my leg not even an hour earlier.

I pulled her out from under the table and told her we were going to go to the park until it was time to pick up her siblings, and we stayed out all day until their parents got back and I have NEVER even stepped foot back in that house. I was very relieved when they moved a couple years ago.