A Scary New York Folktale
Excerpted from Spooky New York
retold by S.E. Schlosser
She was nervous when her husband said they were to stay in the abandoned house, for it contained the corpse of the hermit who once lived there, enshrined in a coffin in the loft. It was an old custom and one no longer popular among the Iroquois people, but the hermit had insisted upon it before his death. There was good hunting in this place, her man had declared, and so they moved in and she unpacked their few belongings in the front room, refusing to go up into the loft where the hermit’s body lay.
When her husband left to hunt, she immediately put her daughter in the sling on her back and went to look for roots and berries, staying away until her husband returned with the meat. As she prepared the evening meal for them, her husband, tired from his hunting, climbed up into the loft to rest.
The hut soon filled with the delicious smell of roasting meat. She was sorting through the berries when she heard a muffled cry and the crunch of breaking bones. As she stared upward, frozen in horror, blood started to drip from the rafters.
She crept silently to the far corner of the room where she could see up into the loft. A skeleton with glowing red eye sockets was feasting on the body of her husband. Its teeth and chin covered with blood,.
Her daughter stirred restlessly at her back, and she knew that she had to get away immediately.
“I am going to run down to the stream to fetch water for the broth,” she called toward the loft. “I will be right back.” She took the pail and walked toward the stream, trying to appear normal. As soon as she was out of sight among the trees, she started to run as fast as she could. She heard a terrible howl from the direction of the house as the creature heard them escaping and started to pursue. The young mother stumbled desperately through the woods, the creature’s howls growing closer as it pursued them. Her little daughter wailed in fright at her back as she fled in terror, sobbing and was almost without hope The monster was gaining on her.
In a last act of despair, she shouted the Iroquois distress cry, hoping someone would be near enough to hear it. Her call was taken up and answered by the warriors from the village. She could hear the creature breathing behind her as she sprinted to the trees at the edge of the village. Here, her strength failed her, and she collapsed to the ground,
Just before the monster could pounce on them, a party of warriors burst through the gates of the village chasing the skeleton away. They swung their torches wide, and the skeleton retreated farther into the woods. The warriors chased the creature back to the hermit’s house, and set fire to the cabin. As the flames encompassed the house, a terrible howling and roaring came from the loft, and the vampire hermit fled into the woods in the form of a rabbit, never again to plague the young woman or her daughter.
A California Ghost Story
retold by S.E. Schlosser
When the samurai warrior Kane first came to California from Tokyo, be brought his new wife, the beautiful Ishi. She was an ideal wife: gentle, attentive, and a wonderful cook. Kane was the envy of his new neighbors. But he was a proud man. When a wealthy family moved into the neighborhood, Kane cast his eye upon their lovely daughter, Aiko, and desired her. In his mind Ishi was second best. So Kane plotted to rid himself of his wife so he could woo and win the fair Aiko.
On a stormy night on the way home from a great banquet, Kane pushed Ishi over the cliff and into the bay. No one heard her scream though the howling wind. No one suspected foul play when Kane came rushing back to the banquet hall, shouting for help because his poor wife had slipped and fallen over the cliff.
Kane acted the part of the bereaved husband to perfection. He gave Ishi a splendid funeral. It wasn’t until he was alone in his house that Kane relaxed and drank to his success.
Outside, the wind whipped against the house, making the walls rattle and shake. A stray breeze swept through the sleeping-room with a whisper: “Vengeance. Vengeance.”
Kane sat up and blinked as a dark figure stepped into the room. Its long tangled black hair hung over the dirty, bloodstained kimono. Its face was crushed and broken, with one eyeball hanging from the socket. The ghost of Ishi reached out a broken hand toward her husband, smiling through the shattered remains of her teeth. “Vengeance,” she whispered, “Vengeance.”
Kane screamed in terror, leapt out of the window, and ran to a neighbor’s house. Mistaking his fear for grief the neighbors took him in and insisted he stay with them during the first weeks of his bereavement.
A month passed as Kane waited for Ishi’s ghost to reappear, but she’d vanished. Relieved, Kane decided it was safe to bring Aiko and her family to see his home. As he escorted Aiko’s parents around the garden, he felt a hand on his arm. Kane turned around and found himself facing a beautiful Ishi, who kissed him and whispered in his ear: “Vengeance.” Laughing, Ishi danced away, waving to Aiko and her parents as she passed. Aiko glared after her in jealous rage.
Fearing that Aiko might end the betrothal, Kane pressed forward with his suit, arranging for a grand engagement feast to prove his devotion. Friends, neighbors, and family came to the banquet hall to laugh and toast over food and wine.
Kane was very pleased with his success. But when he looked across the hall, he saw the ghost of beautiful young Ishi walk into the room and stand demurely in the corner. He paused mid-sentence and stared in horror as she laughed and began to change. Her body twisted and broke before Kane’s eyes, her face collapsing inward and bleeding, her black hair tangling, her eyeball popping out of its socket.
“Vengeance,” she whispered.
“No! No!” Kane shouted.
Around him, Akio, her parents, and the guests stared. None of them could see the ghost. As Ishi drifted out of the door Kane followed, vowing she would haunt him no more.
The ghost drifted along the cliff path with Kane running after her, shouting and cursing. Suddenly the ghost stopped at the place where Kane had pushed her. She turned to face Kane and started to grow, her crushed body bloody and dirty, her eyeball swaying, her shattered teething gleaming in the moonlight.
“Vengeance!” she screamed and lunged at Kane. The samurai stepped backward, face contorting in fear. His foot slipped suddenly on the loose earth, and he plunged backward over the edge of the cliff, his body fatally smashing into the rocks far below.
That same night a terrible storm beat against Kane’s house. Lightning hit the roof and the house burned to the ground. Neighbors claimed they could hear a voice in the wind saying one word, over and over: “Vengeance.”
Where's My Liver
retold by S.E. Schlosser
“Go straight to the store and don’t fool around,” his mother said sternly as she handed over the money. “Your father’s boss is coming to dinner tonight and we’re having his favorite meal of liver and onions. It’s important that we make a good impression, so get the best liver they’ve got.”
“I will, Ma,” Tommy sulked. His mother had really been after him since he brought home a failing report card.Tommy grabbed his bicycle from the garage and rode down then street. Then saw his friend Chad. “Come on, Tommy!” Chad called. “The gang’s playing baseball over at the park, and we need a pitcher.”
Immediately, all thoughts of his errand fled from Tommy’s mind. The boys headed towards the park. Tommy pitched a no-hitter to win the game for his team, but by the time it was over, it was dark. Then Tommy remembered his errand. “The liver!” he gasped. “I’ve got to get to the store!”
But, all the local groceries were closed. “My mom’s going to kill me,” he gasped. First the bad report card, and now this! He would be grounded for life.
As he rode home past the cemetery, he got an idea. It was an awful idea, but it would save him from the even more awful fate that awaited him if he came home without a liver. His great-uncle had died a few days ago and had been buried in the cemetery. What harm would it do to remove it? His uncle certainly didn’t need it anymore.
Tommy hurried home as silently as he could and got his father’s shovel. He returned to the cemetery and began digging up his great-uncle’s grave.
That night, his mother cooked up the liver and onions and the boss raved about the meal and had such a good time that he didn’t leave until quite late.
Tommy went to bed that night relieved he had gotten away with it. He fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow but woke with a start soon after, sure that he had heard a voice.
“Where’s my liver?” A ghostly voice rose up from the staircase, deep and guttural. Tommy gasped in fear and flung himself under the covers as the thud of heavy footsteps reached the top of the steps.
Thump. Thump. Thump. The footsteps drew nearer, until they reached Tommy’s door. “ Who’s got my liver?” the horrible voice asked again.
“Go away. Go away,” Tommy whispered repeatedly. His whole body trembled in terror as once more the voice asked, “Where’s my liver? Who’s got my liver?”
Sheer terror made him suddenly bold. Tommy threw back the covers and found the shriveled white face of his great-uncle right above him. “We ate your liver!” he shouted.
“I know you did, Tommy,” the rotting corpse of his great-uncle said softly, stretching out his bony hands toward the boy’s shaking body. Tommy screamed.
The next morning, Tommy’s parents discovered their son lying dead on top of his bed. His liver had been ripped right out of his body, but the autopsy proved that the boy had already died of fright before his liver was removed.
Excerpted from Spooky Texas
Retold by S.E. Schlosser
She snapped awake out of a deep sleep, screaming aloud in terror. In her nightmare, a large white wolf had been chasing her around and around the house, gaining on her with every step until it finally pounced on her and ripped out her throat. She lay shaking for hours, unable to sleep after such a terrifying dream.
But morning finally arrived, and the day was completely normal. Celia forgot all about her dream, until the moment her parents reminded her that they would be going out that night to celebrate their anniversary. Celia turned milk-white. In her dream, the white wolf had come to kill her while her parents were out celebrating their anniversary! She started shaking and begging them not to go. Her parents were astonished at her behavior, and finally shamed her into staying home alone that night.
Fearfully, Celia locked herself into the house as soon as her parents left, checking every door and every window. She tried to laugh it off as she got into bed, and finally she shook off her irrational fear and fell asleep.
Celia snapped awake suddenly, every muscle tense. She heard the tinkling of falling glass from a broken window, and the snuffling sound of a snout pressed to the floor. It was the sound of a hunting wolf. A werewolf. Real wolves did not break into houses when there was plenty of game outside. She could hear the click-clicking of the creature’s claws on the wooden floor. The musky, foul smell of wet animal fur combined with the meaty breath of a carnivore, drifted into the room.
She could hear the werewolf’s panting right outside her bedroom. Then her body was out of bed and she sped through the bathroom and down the back stairs. She heard a soft growl and then the sound of animal feet pursuing her as she raced down the steps and tore open the back door. A glance at the window beside her showed a reflection of the werewolf leaping down the last few steps behind her.
Celia’s feet screamed in protest as she ran painfully across the sharp gravel driveway toward the tool shed with its shovels and baseball bats. Anything she could use as a weapon. But the huge, red-eyed wolf was suddenly between her and the toolshed, stalking toward her. The cold wind pierced her skin as she turned and fled around the side of the house. She gasped as the white wolf howled and took off after her. She could hear the terrifying sound of the creature’s pounding feet.
Faster, faster, she commanded her legs, panting desperately against the fear choking her. She would run around the house and back down the driveway, she thought with the clarity of sheer horror. She felt the wolf snap at her back leg and felt the sting of teeth. She put on speed.
The wolf veered away from her suddenly, and she felt a rush of hope. She couldn’t hear the wolf now, couldn’t see it in the cloud-darkened night. She kept running around the house, heading back toward the tool shed. To her intense relief, she heard the sound of a car coming down the road in front of her house. Her parents were back and would save her from the wolf!
Then her heart stopped in panic as she turned the last corner and saw the shape of the white wolf as it stood balanced on the porch railing right in front of her. It sprang upon Celia, huge teeth tearing into her flesh and ripping out her throat. She fell under the weight of its body, hot blood spilling all over the ground, and died seconds after she hit the ground. One minute later, her parent's car pulled into the driveway, its headlights blinding the white wolf as it pulled toward the house. Frightened, the wolf backed away from its kill and then ran away.
A Texas Scary Story
retold by S.E. Schlosser
Peggy and her boyfriend Tommy were driving down a lonely stretch of highway at dusk when a thunderstorm came crashing down on them. Tommy slowed the car and they crept their way past a formidable abandoned house. Plastered all over the fences and trees were no trespassing signs.
A mile past the house, the car hydroplaned. Peggy screamed as the car slid off the road, plunging down into a gully. The car slammed into a large boulder, throwing Peggy violently into the door, before it came to a rest under a pecan tree. Her head banged against the window, and a stabbing pain shot through her shoulder and arm.
Tommy turned to her. “Are you all right? You’re bleeding!”
“Arm, shoulder. Feel bad,” Peggy managed to gasp.
Tommy glanced cautiously at her right arm. “I think your arm is broken,” he said, and he tore a strip off his shirt and pressed it to the cut on her head. “I’m going to call for help,” he said when it became obvious that the bleeding was not going to stop right away. But neither of them had their cell phones.
“That house we just passed will have a phone I can use.” Tommy said.
Peggy’s eyes popped wide open at this statement. Despite her pain, she remembered the creepy abandoned house. “Stay here. A . . . car . . . will come,”
“I can’t stay, Peggy,” Tommy said, “It could take hours for another car to come, and you‘re losing too much blood.” He tore another strip of his shirt and placed it gently on the cut on her head. Then he went out and retrieved a couple of blankets from the trunk to cover her with. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” He raced out into the storm, shutting the dented car door behind him.
Peggy drifted in a kind of daze. Something at the back of her mind was making her uneasy. She slid down on to the floor and put her head on the seat, completely covering herself with the blankets, head and all. Feeling safer, she allowed the weariness caused by the wounds to take over and fell asleep.
Peggy wasn’t sure what woke her. Had a beam of light shown briefly through the blanket? Did she hear someone curse outside? She strained eyes and ears, but heard nothing save the soft thudding of the rain, and no light shown through the blanket now. If Tommy had arrived with the rescue squad, there surely would be noise and light and many voices. But she heard nothing save the swish of the rain and an occasional thumping noise which she put down to the rubbing of the branches of the pecan tree in the wind. The sound should have been comforting, but it was not. Goosebumps crawled across her arms – even the broken one -- and she almost ceased breathing for some time as some deep part of her inner mind instructed her to freeze and not make a sound.
She did not know how long fear kept her immobile. But suddenly the raw terror ceased, replaced by cold shivers of apprehension and a sick coil in her stomach that had nothing to do with her injuries. Something terrible had happened, she thought wearily, fear adding yet more fatigue to her already wounded body. Then she scolded herself for a ninny. It was just her sore head making her imagine things. Somewhat comforted by this thought, she dozed again, only vaguely aware of a new sound that had not been there before; a soft thud-thud sound as of something gently tapping the roof. Thud-thud. Pattering of the rain. Thud-thud. Silence. Sometimes she would almost waken and listen to it in a puzzled manner. Thud-thud. Patter of rain. Thud-thud. Had a branch dislodged from the tree?
Peggy wasn’t sure how long she’d been unconscious when she was awakened by a bright light blazing through the window of the car and the sound of male voices exclaiming in horror. A door was wrenched open, and someone crawled inside. She lifted her head and looked up at a young state policeman.
“Miss, are you all right?” he asked and then turned over his shoulder to call for help. Peggy told the officers her story and begged them to look for Tommy. They deftly avoided answering her and instead called the paramedics.
As the paramedics carried her carefully up the slope of the incline, Peggy looked back at the car—and saw a grotesque figure hanging from a branch of the pecan tree. For a moment, her brain couldn’t decipher what she was seeing in the bright lights of the police car parked at the side of the road. Then she heard a thud-thud sound as the foot of the figure scraped the top of the totaled car, and she started screaming over and over in horror. One of the police officers hastened to block her view and a paramedic fumbled for some valium to give her as her mind finally registered what she had seen. Tommy’s mangled, dead body was hanging from the pecan tree just above the car, and nailed to the center of his chest was a No Trespassing sign.
Elephant, Croc and Toad
Many years ago, believe it or not, the elephant had a little pug nose. It was a large beast, of course, and it roamed the jungles of Asia and Africa, hoping to become the king of all beasts!
Now it had not rained for some time, and the elephant decided to go down to the river for a drink. There, swam the long brightly green crocodile& back and forth...its eye out for a tasty bite of something!
Now it so happened that a brightly green toad liked to tease the crocodile...it would often hop onto its back and let the croc take it for a spin down the river.
Croc soon got tired of giving free rides and would often shake its body to rid itself of the toad pest. Unfortunately, it just could not.
So, each and every day it would yell out to the toad, "Get off of my back!"
Not only was the croc irritated with the toad, but it also resented that large beast of an elephant drinking the very water that it swam in each day...especially since water was getting scarce!
So, as soon as the large head of elephant would reach into the water for a drink& SNAP! The croc would tug at elephant’s nose.
Elephant would pull back to protect its little nose, but alas, each time this happened, Croc would tug a little more. It soon seemed as though elephant’s nose was becoming a hose!
"Le go of my nothe, pleathe," shouted the elephant, nicely, of course. Oh dear, poor elephant’s voice was changing as well!
"I thed, pleathe le go of my nothe!"
And with that, the elephant pulled away with all of its might!
Its nose soon drooped onto the ground. KERTHUD!
Elephant glared at the croc and that pesky little toad hopping along its back with glee.
Elephant then stuck its nose into the river and sucked what was left of all of its water, mud, and sediment... leaving croc and toad high and dry.
With one full blow of its nose, all water, mud, and sediment sprayed all over croc and toad!
To this day, this is WHY croc and toad are not bright green anymore. Instead, they are muddy looking due to their dastardly deeds.
As for elephant? It is still not the king of the jungle, but it certainly does not get thirsty very often nowadays!
The City Mouse and the Country Mouse
There once was a mouse who liked his country house until his cousin came for a visit.
"In the city where I live," his cousin said, "we dine on cheese and fish and bread. Each night my dinner is brought to me. I eat whatever I choose. While you, country cousin, work your paws to the bone for humble crumbs in this humble home. I'm used to finery. To each his own, I see!"
Upon hearing this, the country mouse looked again at his plain brown house. Suddenly he wasn't satisfied anymore. "Why should I hunt and scrape for food to store?" he said. "Cousin, I'm coming to the city with you!"
Off they went into the fine town house of the plump and prosperous city mouse.
"Shhh! The people are in the parlor," the city mouse said. "Let's sneak into the kitchen for some cheese and bread."
The city mouse gave his wide-eyed country cousin a grand tour of the leftover food on the table. "It's the easy life," the city mouse said, and he smiled as he bit into a piece of bread.
Just as they were both about to bite into a chunk of cheddar cheese, In came the CAT!
"Run! Run!" said the city mouse. "The cat's in the house!"
Just as the country mouse scampered for his life out of the window, he said, "Cousin, I'm going back to the country! You never told me that a CAT lives here! Thank you, but I'll take my humble crumbs in comfort over all of your finery with fear!"
The Lion and the Mouse
A small mouse crept up to a sleeping lion. The mouse admired the lion's ears, his long whiskers and his great mane.
"Since he's sleeping," thought the mouse, "he'll never suspect I'm here!"
With that, the little mouse climbed up onto the lion's tail, ran across its back, slid down its leg and jumped off of its paw. The lion awoke and quickly caught the mouse between its claws.
"Please," said the mouse, "let me go and I'll come back and help you someday."
The lion laughed, "You are so small! How could ever help me?"
The lion laughed so hard he had to hold his belly! The mouse jumped to freedom and ran until she was far, far away.
The next day, two hunters came to the jungle. They went to the lion's lair. They set a huge rope snare. When the lion came home that night, he stepped into the trap.
He roared! He wept! But he couldn't pull himself free.
The mouse heard the lion's pitiful roar and came back to help him.
The mouse eyed the trap and noticed the one thick rope that held it together. She began nibbling and nibbling until the rope broke. The lion was able to shake off the other ropes that held him tight. He stood up free again!
The lion turned to the mouse and said, "Dear friend, I was foolish to ridicule you for being small. You helped me by saving my life after all!"
Rabbit Plays Tug-of-War
Now Rabbit had a favorite place on the river where he always went to drink water. It was on a bend in the river, and two Snakes lived there, one on the upper side of the bend and one on the lower. Rabbit soon learned that neither of the Snakes knew that the other Snake lived there.
Ho, ho, ho, thought Rabbit. I am going to have a bit of fun!
Rabbit went to the Snake that lived on the upper bend of the river. "I am a very strong Rabbit," he told the Snake. "I bet I can pull you right out of the water."
"I bet you can't!" said the Snake, who was very strong indeed.
"I will go get a grape vine," said Rabbit. "You will pull one end and I will pull the other. "If I pull you out of the water, I win the contest. If you pull me into the water, then I win."
The Snake on the upper bend agreed. Then Rabbit went to the Snake on the lower bend and made the same deal. He told both Snakes that he would be standing out of sight on top of the river bank and would give a whoop when he was in place and ready to start the contest. Both Snakes were pleased with the arrangement. They were sure they would win against such a feeble little Rabbit.
Rabbit took a long grape vine and strung it across the wide bend in the river. He handed one end to the first Snake and the other end to the second Snake. Then he gave a loud whoop from the middle of the river bank and the two Snakes started tugging and pulling with all their might.
"That Rabbit is really strong," thought the Snake on the upper bank. He would tug and tug and the vine would come a little closer to him and then he would nearly be pulled out of the water.
"My, Rabbit is much stronger than he appears," thought the Snake on the lower bank after he was almost hurled out of the water by an extra strong pull from up the river.
Rabbit sat on the bank above both Snakes and laughed and laughed. The Snakes heard him laughing and realized that they had been fooled. Letting go of the rope, they swam to the middle of the bend and met each other for the first time.
Both Snakes were angry with Rabbit for making them look foolish. They agreed that Rabbit could no longer drink from his favorite place on the river bend where they lived. In spite of his protests, they sent Rabbit away and would not let him come down to the riverbank anymore. So whenever Rabbit grew thirsty, he had to turn himself into a faun in order to get a drink from the river.
After that, Rabbit decided not to play any more jokes on Snakes.