I spent last week with a lovely group of girls at Boy Scouts’ Camp (there were no boys, we took the place over) near the Mississippi River south of the Quad Cities. The girls I got to work with were considered “first years” and they were eleven and twelve-year-olds. We had fifteen girls and four more youth leaders who helped us. (Who am I kidding, they ran the show and we helped them!) The girls stayed in the cabin with bunks and the other adult leader (Val) and I stayed in a tent about fifteen yards in front of the cabin.
The first night, the youth leaders came to me and asked me to tell ghost stories. I hesitated, not wanting to frighten the young campers, but the youth leaders were insistent. They had spoken with all the girls and they all wanted to hear a story. So, I gave in. But I only told two very tame ghost stories (in my opinion) and the second one was about the ghost that lives in my house. The girls seemed fine – so we wished them all a good night sleep and went to bed. Easy-peasy, right?
At 1:30 in the morning, my phone rang. I pulled myself out of my sleeping bag and reached for it as quickly as I could. I saw that it was one of the youth leaders. They were frightened and needed me to come over to the cabin. I slipped on my jacket (it was chilly) and my flip-flops and went over to the cabin. I was immediately greeted by two of the youth leaders and four of the girls. They were SURE they heard voices right outside the cabin (you know, just where I walked all by myself in the dark.) They also heard someone knock on the cabin door. (We are assuming they were pranked by some of the older girls.) The Christmas lights we’d hung for decorating had fallen from the ceiling (but, they were only suspended with duct tape and it was humid), and the power flickered at the same time. (Okay, I have no explanation for that one.)
So, I spent about fifteen minutes calming them down, telling them that ghosts are people too and they really don’t have to be afraid of them. And that they would be safe.
But now, since the terror was over, they all realized they had to go to the bathroom. But, they couldn’t use those disgusting pit toilets – we had to walk to the Mess Hall – about a half-mile away.
I finally got back to bed at about two-thirty. But that was okay because I didn’t have to get up until six. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!
So, now I’m going to tell you some really scary camping ghost stories – and I don’t want any calls! Read at your own risk!
American Folklore shared an old favorite – Axe Murder Hollow!
“Susan and Ned were driving through a wooded empty section of highway. Lightning flashed, thunder roared, the sky went dark in the torrential downpour.
“We’d better stop,” said Susan.
Ned nodded his head in agreement. He stepped on the brake, and suddenly the car started to slide on the slick pavement. They plunged off the road and slid to a halt at the bottom of an incline.
Pale and shaking, Ned quickly turned to check if Susan was all right. When she nodded, Ned relaxed and looked through the rain-soaked windows.
“I’m going to see how bad it is,” he told Susan, and when out into the storm. She saw his blurry figure in the headlight, walking around the front of the car. A moment later, he jumped in beside her, soaking wet.
“The car’s not badly damaged, but we’re wheel-deep in mud,” he said. “I’m going to have to go for help.”
Susan swallowed nervously. There would be no quick rescue here. He told her to turn off the headlights and lock the doors until he returned.
Axe Murder Hollow. Although Ned hadn’t said the name aloud, they both knew what he had been thinking when he told her to lock the car. This was the place where a man had once taken an axe and hacked his wife to death in a jealous rage over an alleged affair. Supposedly, the axe-wielding spirit of the husband continued to haunt this section of the road.
Outside the car, Susan heard a shriek, a loud thump, and a strange gurgling noise. But she couldn’t see anything in the darkness.
Frightened, she shrank down into her seat. She sat in silence for a while, and then she noticed another sound. Bump. Bump. Bump. It was a soft sound, like something being blown by the wind.
Suddenly, the car was illuminated by a bright light. An official-sounding voice told her to get out of the car. Ned must have found a police officer. Susan unlocked the door and stepped out of the car. As her eyes adjusted to the bright light, she saw it.
Hanging by his feet from the tree next to the car was the dead body of Ned. His bloody throat had been cut so deeply that he was nearly decapitated. The wind swung his corpse back and forth so that it thumped against the tree. Bump. Bump. Bump.
Susan screamed and ran toward the voice and the light. As she drew close, she realized the light was not coming from a flashlight. Standing there was the glowing figure of a man with a smile on his face and a large, solid, and definitely real axe in his hands. She backed away from the glowing figure until she bumped into the car.
“Playing around when my back was turned,” the ghost whispered, stroking the sharp blade of the axe with his fingers. “You’ve been very naughty.”
The last thing she saw was the glint of the axe blade in the eerie, incandescent light.”
Cue the really creepy music!
This one, from Ultimate Camp Resource, is kind of sweet, in a creepy macabre sort of way. It’s called “The Grave.”
“A young woman lay suffering on her deathbed, her stillborn baby lying against her chest. Her young husband crouched close, stricken with grief. His beautiful wife crooned a lullaby to her dead baby, her voice growing fainter as death drew near. Finally, she looked at her husband and asked him to bury her back East, beside her dead mother. Choked with grief, the young husband agreed.
But after his wife lay still in death, her husband could not bear to be parted from her and their dead child. He had them buried together beneath a lonely pine tree on a gently sloping knoll near their home, where he could visit the grave. As spring drew near, fragrant wildflowers bloomed across the knoll and the small grave.
One night, the husband threw himself across the flower-strewn grave, head buried in his arms as he tried to control his grief. As he lay there, the stillness of the night seemed to deepen. A light breeze tousled his hair and swayed the branches of the pine tree. At that moment, he heard a soft voice crooning a lullaby. He started upright, searching about for his wife. He heard a gurgle from an infant, a happy sound of contentment. Then the breeze died away, and the branches of the pine tree stilled. Then a shining light seemed to descend from the dark sky and hover over the young husband and the small grave under the tree. The husband heard the singing again, and the happy laugh of a small child. And then there was darkness. The husband went home that night with peace in his heart for the first time since the death of his wife.
People say that on dark, summery nights you can still hear the young mother singing a lullaby and hear the happy chuckles of her tiny child.”
See, sweet – kind of…
This one is just plain creepy. It’s from American Folklore and it’s called “Milk Bottles.”
“She was just another poor, bedraggled woman, struggling to feed her family. He saw them all the time, their faces careworn, and blank. The Depression had created hundreds of them. He was one of the lucky ones who still had his grocery and money coming in to feed his family.
She came one day to his shop, carrying two empty milk bottles, and wordlessly placed them on the counter in front of him. He took the empties and replaced them with full bottles, saying: “Ten cents, please.”
She did not reply. She just took the bottles and left the shop. He might have gone after her to demand his money or called the police, but he did neither. Her need was in her face, and he always felt a little guilty at being one of the lucky ones with money and a job. She was probably one of the migrant workers, he decided.
She was back the next day with two empty milk bottles. He replaced them with full bottles and watched as she hurried out the door. She looked so worried that he wondered if she had a job at all. If she came back, he would offer her a part-time position cleaning the store.
She came again the next morning and exchanged her empty bottles for full without saying a word. He tried to talk to her, to ask if she wanted a job, but she practically ran from the store with the milk. Her urgency worried him. He followed, wondering what he could do to help.
To his surprise, she headed away from the migrant camp outside of town. She went instead to the graveyard by the river. As he watched, she hurried up to a stone marker and then disappeared into the ground. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief. Then he heard the muffled cry of a baby. It was coming from the ground underneath the stone marker where the woman had disappeared!
He ran back to the store and phoned the police. Within minutes, the graveyard was swarming with people, and the workers started digging up the grave. When the casket was opened, the store owner saw the woman who had visited his store lying dead within it. In her arms, she held a small baby and two full milk bottles. The baby was still alive.”
That’s kind of a happy ending, right?
The final one is from my neighboring state, Wisconsin and it’s featured in the book “Spooky Wisconsin” by S.E. Schlosser. It’s called “Yellow Ribbon.”
“Jane wore a yellow ribbon around her neck every day. And I mean every day, rain or shine, whether it matched her outfit or not. It annoyed her best friend Johnny after a while. He was her next-door neighbor and had known Jane since she was three. When he was young, he had barely noticed the yellow ribbon, but now they were in high school together, it bothered him.
“Why do you wear that yellow ribbon around your neck, Jane?” he’d ask her every day. But she wouldn’t tell him.
Still, in spite of this aggravation, Johnny thought she was cute. He asked her to the soda shop for an ice cream sundae. Then he asked her to watch him play in the football game. Then he started seeing her home. And come the spring, he asked her to the dance. Jane always said yes when he asked her out. And she always wore a yellow dress to match the ribbon around her neck.
It finally occurred to Johnny that he and Jane were going steady, and he still didn’t know why she wore the yellow ribbon around her neck. So, he asked her about it yet again, and yet again she did not tell him. “Maybe someday I’ll tell you about it,” she’d reply. Someday! That answer annoyed Johnny, but he shrugged it off because Jane was so cute and fun to be with.
Well, time flew past, as it has a habit of doing, and one day Johnny proposed to Jane and was accepted. They planned a big wedding, and Jane hinted that she might tell him about the yellow ribbon around her neck on their wedding day. But somehow, what with the preparations and his beautiful bride, and the lovely reception, Johnny never got around to asking Jane about it. And when he did remember, she got a bit teary-eyed, and said: “We are so happy together, what difference does it make?” And Johnny decided she was right.
Johnny and Jane raised a family of four, with the usual ups and downs, laughter and tears. When their golden anniversary rolled around, Johnny once again asked Jane about the yellow ribbon around her neck. It was the first time he’d brought it up since the week after their wedding. Whenever their children asked him about it, he’d always hushed them, and somehow none of the kids had dared ask their mother. Jane gave Johnny a sad look and said: “Johnny, you’ve waited this long. You can wait a while longer.”
And Johnny agreed. It was not until Jane was on her death bed a year later that Johnny, seeing his last chance slip away, asked Jane one final time about the yellow ribbon she wore around her neck. She shook her head a bit at his persistence, and then said with a sad smile: “Okay Johnny, you can go ahead and untie it.”
With shaking hands, Johnny fumbled for the knot and untied the yellow ribbon around his wife’s neck.
And Jane’s head fell off.”
I hate when that happens.