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Long Time Gone - Scary Stories That Aren't (Better Not Be) True

Being scared has never been a sensation I enjoyed.

I’m not talking about the “scared” some people feel when getting on a horse they don’t know (which has never been a problem for me—although the horse may have felt differently) or they try technical climbing the face of a mountain in Boulder Canyon and then rappel back down to ground level. (I’m not saying I made a pretty sight; I’m just saying I wasn’t scared to do it).

I’m talking about scared scared. When I was younger (much younger) I was able to fake the easy ones. As all my friends ran to be first on the roller coast at Elitch’s, I’d run “gleefully” right along with them, hoping the entire time that, when the roller coaster did its roller coaster thing, the uncontrollable sounds that came out of my mouth didn’t sound to others as unnatural and downright embarrassing as they sounded to me. But the fear of death-by-roller-coaster that I was sure was my fate every time I got on that device from hell was nothing compared to what I experienced when, during slumber parties, my (annoyingly brave) friends told really horrible ghost stories and then promptly fell asleep, leaving me alone and wide-eyed wide awake in my sleeping bag while my friend’s benign basement seemed to morph into a chamber of horrors right before my eyes.

So, it seems to be an unnatural fit (understatement of the year) that, somehow, I ended up being the one to write down the scary—and sometimes, pretty dang scary—stories local people have told me about things they’ve seen or things people they’ve known have seen or…well, you get the drift. I would like to say, without reluctance, that none of what follows is true. (I would especially like to tell myself that.) But who knows what is true and what is not? All I know is what I’m told, which I’m getting ready to repeat in writing, right now.

In the meantime, can anyone tell me what genius came up with the idea of an annual holiday that has the sole purpose of scaring the bejoobies out of people and calling it fun?

and scary stories that better not be aren’t true.

This story was told by a young woman about a night, not that long ago, when she and a high school friend went on an “adventure” in the country and ended up getting exactly what they asked for.

Okay, so, yes I know what we did was stupid, but we did it, and you wanted to hear the story, so, here it is. (She laughs, slightly embarrassed.)

So, a few years ago, when I was in high school, my friend and I were always talking about what it would be like to go out to one of the old cemeteries way out in the country at night just to see what it was like. So, one night, we decided to go. So we went in his truck—he was driving—and we drove a long ways out of town and pulled into one of those old cemeteries out there. The minute we got there, we got really weird vibes. It’s kind of hard to describe it. We just sort of felt like…like we weren’t alone, you know?

So we were just sitting there—I couldn’t believe how dark it was—and, all of a sudden, I saw there was something on one of the graves, right up at the top like right next to the headstone. And I told him, “Look at that…” And he said there was nothing. So I told him to look again, and he took out some binoculars from the glove box of his truck and looked through them. And his whole face changed. And then he handed them to me so I could look through them. And when I did, I saw that it was some sort of a doll, not leaning against the headstone or anything. It was just sitting there, all on its own. It was really dark, so it was hard to see it completely clearly, but we both knew it was a doll. And you just wonder, what was a doll doing on a grave all the way out there? And why hadn’t it fallen over? I told him I was going to go look and he told me, “Don’t get out of the truck. Stay in here.” At first, I wasn’t going to listen to him but then he said, “Don’t be stupid. Just stay in the truck.” So I did. I kind of wish I’d gotten out and walked up to it, but, then again, I’m really glad I didn’t. Like…I’m really, really glad I didn’t. Anyway, that isn’t exactly a ghost story or anything like that, but it sure scared the crap out of us.

This story was told by an elderly woman about a time long ago when, as a child, she and her family moved into a very, very old house out in the far end of the county.

I remember the house had an old cellar—I guess you’d call it a basement now—where we used to keep the milk we got from the cows. It was always dark down there and cool. Almost cold. As far as my experience in the house went, walking back up after I churned the butter always gave me a feeling of wanting to run up the steps like someone was about to chase me. And walking down those steps, well, that always sent a "hairs on end" feeling all over my body.

My little sister had much worse experiences than me in that house. When we got electricity out there, you know, sometimes that light in the kitchen would act up and go off at all hours, especially when she was alone. My dad said it was just the wires but us kids knew different. One time, Sis yelled out loud at "it" in the kitchen and she swore something put its hand around her throat and tried to scare her you know. She said it was suffocating her because she couldn't breathe.

One time, she got so scared that she tried to call our mother who was outside hanging up the wash. But she said when she tried to yell, nothing come out of her mouth. It’s like it took all her voice away. Mother saw her through the window and came running inside. She said Sis looked just that scared.

My uncle come from Kansas one time and took pictures of us kids standing in front of the house. Years later, my aunt told us that in that picture he took there was faces in the window looking out. Like just outlines of faces. I was older then, but my sis’ friends, they wouldn’t stay over at the house or nothing. One time, my little cousin talked about the monsters in the house. He cried until my aunt let him crawl into bed with her. He slept with her every night that whole time they were visiting.

My dad told us all once that something real bad must have happened in that house, although he never did say what he thought it was. Sis and I was just so happy to move out of there! We all were. I don’t know if that old house is still standing or not. If it was, I wouldn’t even want to drive past it.

This story was told by a woman about the “very interesting” house she grew up in out in the country.

The first time I remember seeing something, I was maybe about ten years old or so. I’d already lived there for, well, most of my life at that time, but I’d never seen anything before. Anyway, we were all in the living room watching television. My sister and I were laying on the floor on beds we’d made up, and my mom and dad were behind us sitting on the couch. There was this doorway that opened up from the living room on to the porch, and I just happened to look over at that door, and there was this lady just walking past the doorway. I asked my folks who that lady was, and neither one of them said anything for the longest time. Then my dad just said, “I don’t know.” I do remember how his voice sounded. It sounded strange. I don’t think my mom said anything.

Well, maybe ten or fifteen minutes later, she walked by again, but that time she stopped and looked in at us. I think, if I remember right, she even looked right at me. But, do you know, I wasn’t scared at all. Not at all. I think I said, “Dad, is she a ghost?” Or something like that. Or maybe I just thought it. I don’t quite remember. But she must have stood there for gosh, I don’t know, ten or fifteen seconds and she was just smiling at me in the nicest way. How would I describe her? Oh, cripes…I can’t remember. Well, let me think. I remember she looked kind of tall and had her hair fixed in that way women used to do. And she was wearing a white dress that looked like it was sort of old-fashioned like. But then she just sort of went away. We didn’t see her very often, but when we did, it wasn’t scary, at all. After a while, she just sort of became part of the furniture. Oh, I don’t mean it that way! (Laughs.) For heaven’s sake!

This story was related by several teenage girls who were at one of the businesses in town.

I was at the…well, you know…the place, working. It was about 3 months ago, and there were 2 other girls working there, too. And I looked over at them, and one of the girls had this really weird look on her face, and she showed me this Snapchat she had just taken. (Snapchat is like a photo app on cell phones.) She had just put this other app on her phone that puts, like, cats’ ears and whiskers on people’s faces. You know what I mean? Have you seen that?

So, anyway, she’d set it so that it put cat’s ears on her face. So, there was her face on her phone, looking like a cat. And, okay, that looked kinda weird. (I don’t like apps like that.) But what was super weird was that, right behind her on the wall that’s painted white and is kinda shiny, you know, the camera had caught another image. And it was an image of a face…a face, I’m not kidding, with cat’s ears on it. That camera had caught something—it had caught like a spirit. I mean it, really like a spirit. And if you’d seen it, you would have seen how creepy it looked to have this face right behind her. And then they started talking about how they can take pictures in other places around here and see other faces around them, too. It was really creepy. Those girls were pretty freaked out. After they left, I was working alone, and I got so freaked out I could hardly stay.