With the Autumn season upon us, we arrive at that great holiday where spooks, ghosts, and goblins rule the night. Of course, what fall season is complete without Halloween?
Halloween, where we actually celebrate imaginary horrors of all sorts. One of the most interesting traditions of Halloween is the telling of a story, whether it was in front of a campfire or in sitting in a circle with a candle lit and all the lights turned off.
Stories are probably the backbone of All Hallows Eve. Everyone had that story, whether it was about witches or ghosts to dangers most foul such as the Hook or the Wendigo. We tell stories of forewarned death, such as stories with black cats and owls to even stories of departed loved ones trying to warn others of danger from beyond.
Perhaps the best example of a campfire tale was the story of Bloody Mary. Summed up, Bloody Mary was an urban legend involving saying the name Bloody Mary, three times in a closed bathroom alone, in complete darkness. There are variations of this story and what is supposed to happen to the protagonist who attempts this.
One variation went such as this:
Some girls Kat didn’t know invited her over for a sleepover. That night they played Truth or Dare. When it was Kat’s turn she picked dare. One of the girls said, “I dare you to do Bloody Mary.” Kat accepted.
They gave Kat a lit candle and pushed her into the bathroom. Kat spun around three times and said, “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.” When nothing happened, she walked to the door. Before she could reach it, her only light blew out.
She banged on the door, begging the girls to open it, but they just laughed. She backed up against the door.
The sink and the bath started to run. It poured out thick blood. It soon was overflowing onto the floor. Kat screamed a blood-curdling scream as Bloody Mary rose from the water then crawled out. When she reached Kat she slit her throat and dragged her back to the bath.
The next morning, the girls cheeked on her. When they saw her, their screams could be heard for miles.(1)
Of course there were also stories told of the horrors of the outside world. Real-life horrors such as deranged babysitters and crazed psychopaths and of course cryptids.
One of the most told stories involving danger in the real world is the “Hairy Armed Hitchhiker.” The gist of the story is that a motorist picks up an “elderly woman.” During the trip the motorist, getting an uneasy feeling, decides to lose the old lady and finds out after reaching safety that the old lady was a killer in drag.
An example of this story is this:
This lady had finished her shopping, and she went back to her car with her packages. When she got to the car, there was someone sitting in the back seat. As she approached, she saw it was an old woman.
She asked the woman what she was doing in her car, and the woman said that she had gotten lost looking for the bus and got so tired that she just had to sit somewhere to rest, and asked if she could possibly see her way to driving her home or just to the nearest bus stop.
Well, this lady was suspicious, so she said that she would be right back, and she returned to the mall and asked security if they could do something about the old woman. When a security guard got to the car, they found out she wasn’t an old woman at all, but a man; and in her purse was a small hatchet. (2)
What scares us in this day and age of smartphones and internet and social media? What actually scares a technology oriented society (sorry loss of power or signal doesn’t count)? What spookies and ghosties and madmen could possibly be our generation’s campfire tales or urban legends? The rise of Internet horror stories gave birth to the form called the “creepypasta.”
From the Urban Dictionary:
Essentially internet horror stories or a myth passed around other sites, to frighten readers and viewers. The word, “Creepypasta” comes from the term, “copypasta,” an internet slang term for a block of text that gets copied and pasted from website to website. Creepypastas are sometimes supplemented with pictures, audio or video footage related to the story. Typically with gory, distorted or, otherwise, shocking content. (3)
Yes, creepypasta is now the new norm for spreading myth and rumor. There are even video game pastas and lost TV episode pastas. So what sort of new horrors arise from this method of spreading myth and horror?
Of course the old standbys are still there — ghosts, ghouls, and madmen — but they have been updated to the 21st century. Probably one of the most widely known of Internet creepypasta is the “Slenderman.” Slenderman was created by the Something Awful forums (please refer to Know Your Meme for more info).
A typical Slenderman Story goes like this:
Follow The Leader
There once was a boy named Chris who loved to meet new kids and play games but on September 16, 1988 he got more than he could have ever imagined.
It was a normal day and Chris was sitting on the front steps of his porch. He had seen a little boy and two little girls walk by, so Chris asked them if they wanted to play, and their reaction was naturally yes. Ricky, the other boy, said that they should play follow the leader. Luckily, this was Chris’s favorite game. He stepped off his porch and followed the boy, doing several things to mimic his moves, but after a while of playing Chris noticed that Ricky was taking him and the girls into a forest. Chris got worried and asked the girls where they were going, they just responded “Follow the leader.” After a couple of minutes in the forest Chris seemed to notice something moving, like the branches on the trees, yet he just ignored it and kept playing.
About ten minutes later Chris saw the same weird branch movement on several different trees and he was really getting worried. He decided to ask Ricky where they were going and he just said “Follow the leader.” What does that mean? He assumed Ricky was the leader, but who was really doing the leading?
About five minutes later Chris saw the branches again but this time they looked almost like … a man. A man wearing a suit. He had weird tangled arms and was super tall. Chris was frightened by this thought, but he assumed it was just his imagination. They finally made it out of the woods and into a playground that was inhabited by other children. Chris was relieved and ran over to the slide, he noticed that the other children were walking over to one big oak tree and sitting under it. Chris didn’t mind this at all, he continued to play.
After ten minutes of playing he saw the kids still sitting there, but Chris had noticed a bare tree seemed to appear in the shadow of the massive oak. Chris played for another couple of minutes and he saw the tree move towards the kids, he just thought the heat was getting to him. A park employee with a Polaroid camera told Chris to smile when he was at the top of the slide and as he did the employee snapped the picture and waited for the Polaroid to develop. The employee stamped it with the city’s seal and gave it to the boy. Chris looked at the picture and chills rushed through his whole body.
He saw the kids sitting next to the tree and the same man standing in front of them as he seen in the woods. Chris turned around to see the kids and the smaller tree missing. He backed up, tripping over a fallen branch. He remembered that there was no tree by the slide. Chris looked up to see a blank face staring back down at him. He went to scream but nothing came out. He tried to run but the man’s branch-like hand was grasping his foot. There was no escaping …
Afterwards his mother came to the park to find her son completely missing, in his place was this photograph. (4)
As with all generations nothing goes over as well as a good ghost story.
An excellent example of a ghost story for the technology-driven generation is this particular story about a man and a hotel:
White with Red
A man went to a hotel and walked up to the front desk to check in. The woman at the desk gave him his key and told him that on the way to his room, there was a door with no number that was locked and no one was allowed in there. She explained that it was a storeroom, and that it was out of bounds. She reminded him of this several times before allowing him upstairs. So he followed the instructions of the woman at the front desk, going straight to his room, and going to bed.
However, the insistence of the woman had piqued his curiosity, so the next night he walked down the hall to the door and tried the handle. Sure enough it was locked. He bent down and looked through the wide keyhole. Cold air passed through it, chilling his eye. What he saw was a hotel bedroom, like his, and in the corner was a woman whose skin was incredibly pale. She was leaning her head against the wall, facing away from the door. He stared in confusion for a while. Was this a celebrity? The owner’s daughter? He almost knocked on the door, out of curiosity but decided not to.
As he was still looking, the woman turned sharply and he jumped back from the door, hoping she would not suspect he had been spying on her. He crept away from the door and walked back to his room. The next day, he returned to the door and looked through the wide keyhole. This time, all he saw was redness. He couldn’t make anything out besides a distinct red color, unmoving. Perhaps the inhabitants of the room knew he was spying the night before, and had blocked the keyhole with something red. He felt embarrassed that he had made the woman so uncomfortable, and hoped she had not made a complaint with the woman on the front desk.
At this point he decided to consult her for more information. She sighed and said, “Did you look through the keyhole?”
The man told her that he had and she said, “Well, I might as well tell you the story of what happened in that room. A long time ago, a man murdered his wife in there, and we find that even now, whoever stays there gets very uncomfortable. But these people were not ordinary. They were white all over, except for their eyes, which were red.” (5)
In conclusion, the need to scare, through imaginary horrors, will never end. The warning tales, the ghosts stories and the folklore will always exist. As technology moves forward, there will always be folklore and mythology for future generations. As technology evolves, who knows how we will spread the perennial ghost story?
Whether it be through campfires, living rooms, or Internet forums and chats, we as a society will always find a way to give someone the willies.
Content posted to MyMPN open blogs is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to MintPress News.