Dear 100 Hour Board,
It's Halloween. Ghost stories?
I don't have a lot of time this week to write up any ghost stories. But, if you haven't gathered, I fricking love ghosts. So I'll give you some leads on excellent spook literature, and some favorite old horror radio show episodes. I won't go into movies [such as Lights Out (2016), Rear Window (1958), The Others (2001)] because your question is about ghost stories, which to me is about getting scared because of words exclusively.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is a quick little novella. A governess takes a new job at a remote estate. The kids might be haunted, and the servants are creepy. Though a little hard to follow, it is so so so good. The original psychological/paranormal thriller, it is one of the most effective cases of "Is it real or is she crazy?"
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury is just soaked in windy October spookiness, and delicious descriptive morsels of two little boys growing up through very different choices.
The Judge's House is a short story by Brahm Stoker and this one is the most accessible spook I've named. It's the shortest and most easily comprehended read. Gets right into your skin, really well paced and graduating.
The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson is pretty good too. It has a creepy feeling throughout and then one good serious spook at the end.
Ghost Hunt: An irreverent radio-show host stays the night in a haunted house as a stunt. Possibly my favorite horror radio episode of all time. It's spooky, minimally campy, has some real plot to it, actually very scary.
The Judge's House: If you're trying to get spooked on the go, or with a group of people, this is a very effective adaptation of the short story. There are some differences but I liked it.
The House in Cypress Canyon: A couple with car trouble stay in an abandoned house, but there's a noise coming from the closet. This one is outright campy (and maybe a little sexist?), but employs the radio medium most effectively. Something about the aged audio, and audio being the only stimuli, makes scary sounds way way scarier, and they use it against you and it's awesome.
I haven't listened to this one yet, but I hope to try it this Halloween:
The Screaming Woman: Adapted from a Ray Bradbury story about a woman hearing screams from under a parking lot.
So there you have it. Get some friends together who don't mind old things, and don't feel the need to go to a dance party for Halloween. Give them a blanket, homemade pumpkin pie, and the choice of hot chocolate or cider. Cast these episodes to your TV and turn out the lights. Listen closely, and kindly shush those who don't take it seriously. Hold the hands of those who are more afraid than they want to be. Happy Halloween!
I had a babysitter who used to tell me stories about nightmarchers, and I was absolutely terrified of them (still am, if I'm being honest...) So, for me, there are really no other ghost stories that can compete.
Recently, I was asking my sister (not Alta) if she believed in ghosts. With that setting the tone for the conversation, she told me the following story:
I was just three or four at the time, making my sister eleven or twelve. Our parents were out and so it was just the five of us kids in the house. My sister was probably reading a book when I interrupted her, saying there was a strange woman underneath my bed. Of course she didn't believe me, but to soothe my fears she agreed to check. And found a woman under my bed. According to my sister, this woman had bright red hair that wasn't the natural shade of red, but red like blood. Her lips matched her hair with everything else pure white. Except for her burning green eyes. That were staring straight from under the bed.
My sister promptly collected me and said we were just going to play outside the house for a while.
I have absolutely no memory of this, and a couple weeks ago was the very first time my sister had ever told this story. Apparently she thought it was too weird or something to inform our parents about when they got back from wherever they were (to the horror of our mother when she heard this a couple weeks ago), and never saw a reason to tell it. To my knowledge, no one else in our family ever saw this woman, and by the time my sister ventured back into my room, the woman had disappeared.
One more thing. This sister has a rare condition where she can't visualize things. Like, she can't picture anything in her mind. All this makes it especially unlikely that she would have imagined a face from innocuous objects from under the bed.
Why make up a ghost story when we can talk about HOW KEY LIME PIE WAS INVENTED BY A GHOST.
Key lime pie is the official dessert of Halloween now. That's just how it is, I don't make the rules.
I don't know a lot of ghost stories, but here is a really strange New York Times article from 1898 about a ghost moving a box of macaroni and a man of "intelligent appearance."
We need more journalism like this today. More ghosts. More macaroni. That is my soapbox.
Dear Spooooopy Halloween,
Oh, you mean this Ghost Stories? Good call.