Shop Indie eBooks. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD 0. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Explore Now. Buy As Gift. Leading a life as a petty criminal, he believes he knows his final destination. But when he dies he seeks escape from Hell and its punishment by convincing Satan he could have a lot more souls with a good public relations man. But once Rick returns to the living he finds it a challenge to pull the con game off. His terrible crime opens an evil can of worms leading him to a dark adventure in which his nasty sister-in-law gets entangled.
When the Devil seeks Todd out to atone for his sins, Todd realizes his nightmares have just begun. He needs a spokesperson to spread the word that he's actually a friendly guy. Unfortunately on the day Death decides to take action, his only choices are a texting teen, a gangbanger, and Larry, a smoking, overweight car salesman. We read through all 2, of the comments left on our original call for spooky stories. And buried deep in the comments were some real, terrifying gems. What follows are the final 11 stories we've chosen as winners for our Spooky Stories contest.
When I was little, my family had a weekend cottage in the mountains not far from Stowe Vermont. Back then, it was still to some extent the back country, and quite unspoiled. Our cottage was surrounded by woods, and there was a gravel road that formed a horseshoe, where about 7 or 8 neighbouring cottages were.
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Often times, there was nobody in those cottages, and we were pretty much alone for miles. Needless to say, night-time was extremely dark. One summer night, we're all sitting around on the orange shag carpeting and watching Star Trek or something, and someone knocks softly at the screen door. It's a woman, wearing a house dress, and looking very sweaty and out of breath. I must have been about 7 yrs old, and had a brother slightly older. My dad talks to her for a little while, as she explains that she needs a lift down to the village. My dad, ever the good Samaritan, says, sure, no problem, let me get my keys.
They both leave in my dad's Cutlass, leaving my Mom, brother and I sitting, still with the screen door open, watching tv on this warm but pitch-black summer night. Meanwhile, my father is driving this woman down to the village, a good 30 minutes each way, and he begins to talk to her and pay closer attention to her.
He notices that she is barefoot, and her dress is all torn and muddy. She explains that her husband lives with her in a cabin in the woods, and that they have had a huge fight, and that she has run away through the woods, since he intends to kill her. She has lost her shoes in the woods, and run through brambles and branches in her panic to escape. Now, my dad is at least 30 minutes from home, and he knows that the first house a murderous guy would encounter as he chased his wife through the woods, would be our cottage, where we're all still sitting around, completely oblivious, with every door and window wide open.
Cell phones haven't even been dreamt of in this era, and he has no way to reach us. He drives the woman to some friend's house, urges her to call the cops, and motors back to the cottage, wondering if he's going to be greeted by our massacred corpses. It was a different era, I guess, because it never occurred to anyone to call the cops just in case.
I still remember him getting home and calmly, icily locking every door and sitting by the door, trying not to convey to us how scared he was. That's not even the creepiest part, though. A couple of days later, my brother and I were looking around the outside of the cottage, and we noticed hand and face marks on the back windows, where a tallish person had pressed his face against the glass.
We also explored the woods over that summer, and actually found the woman's shoes stuck in the mud, as well as their utterly trashed cabin. Someone had absolutely destroyed the place, breaking every glass and picture frame, and throwing all their belongings out into the woods. That was ONE creepy place. We heard later that the woman had committed suicide. For years afterwards, my Dad and I would often walk the dog out on the gravel road, and at the turn of the horseshoe that was closest to where these people's cabin was, we always, always got a really bad feeling.
They were long gone, but the hairs would stick up on the back of my neck, and I would always feel watched and terrified. I always assumed my Dad, a calm and rational guy if there ever was one, didn't feel scared. But years later, he confided in me that he always hated that spot and felt very bad vibes, some kind of immense sense of foreboding, when we walked by there. A few years later we left our little cabin in the woods to move to a new house a bit closer to town.
I had my very own room and spent a lot of time in it playing alone and reading in it. Every now and then, I would hear what sounded like footsteps or banging coming from below my floorboards.
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I guessed it was just normal house sounds, maybe pipes, and I got used to it. After a few months of pretty non-stop banging - which no one else could hear - things started to escalate. Heavy furniture started falling down on its own. A solid oak dresser simply toppled over as I was sitting on my bed, across the room, reading. A few days later, I was playing with my Teddy Ruxpin doll when it suddenly drained of batteries. I asked my father to put new ones in, only to find that they ran down again almost immediately.
We assumed the toy was broken and forgot about it. From the day we had arrived in the house, I had known I wasn't alone in that room. I had grown up in isolation and know what that felt like - this was different. I started responding to the knocking sounds, "Stop it! I'm trying to read. My mother was moderately concerned, but assumed I was just playing with an imaginary friend. A few months later, I had started to experience odd dreams in which I relived very commonplace memories in the house.
For example, I remembered in vivid detail walking between the laundry room and my mother's art studio, sliding my little body between the framing. I knew for certain that the framing had been up for some time before they got around to sheet rocking. I asked my mother over breakfast one morning when it was that we'd finished the basement.
She looked at me, puzzled, and responded that the basement had in fact always been finished. The banging sounds got louder, nothing battery powered would last more than a few minutes in my room and things were constantly moving around. Small items - diaries, stuffed animals, keep sakes, would rearrange themselves on a near daily basis. I felt that whatever I was sharing my room with was angry, scared - like the puppy we had adopted years ago. I started speaking to 'it' more, and at this point started to feel strongly that whatever it was I living with, was female.
The more I spoke out loud, the less things moved about. I felt a kind of longing, like I had knocked on a door and was waiting to be let in. One night I woke from sleep inexplicably. I decided to get up to have a drink of water, and walked across the hall into the bathroom. Now, I should mention that this house had been built in the s and there were many small mirrors, gold flecked, throughout. The bathroom, however, had an entire wall of mirrors that you looked into as you sat to pee.
Bleary eyed I shuffled into the bathroom and sat down. Suddenly my skin turned to gooseflesh and I felt as though cold water had been poured down the back of my neck. I stood up, panicked, only to line my reflection up with a figure standing to face me. A figure that wasn't mine. I tilted my head to the right and to the left. Our reflection did the same. It was me, but it wasn't me. She had shorter hair and slighter features. She wore blue pajamas where I wore a long sleeping shirt. We regarded each and I lifted my hand slowly to wave.
She smiled and faded out. I waited for an hour, sat on the bathroom floor, waiting for her to reappear.
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Finally, I crept back to bed but couldn't sleep. The next morning I was riding along in the car with my mother and asked, "Do you know who lived in this house, before we did? She knew that I was a strange child, and I suspect at this moment she realized that in fact my imaginary friend might be something entirely different.
I sat quietly for a moment and then, as my mother reports it, said very slowly, "She never left our house. I thought I was in trouble. You see, when my parents looked at our new home they had wondered about the low price. The house had been foreclosed when its previous occupant had been sent to jail. A few families had come to look at it, but in a small and very religious community, people were hesitant to move in to a house associated with so much darkness.
We were poor, and my parents had two children living on top of one another in a cabin with no central heating - they didn't have the luxury of worrying about the stigma of living in a house with a complicated history. A few months later we moved into a condo on the other side of town.
My parents never explained the move to us, as children, but I always suspected that it was because my mother was afraid of my relationship with the girl in my bedroom.
See a Problem?
In the few months we lived in the house I had never been able to look in the crawl space, a dark, meter high area that ran the length of the house. It had clay, dirt floors and a small light you had to crawl to on all fours. The day we moved our things away, I went down to the basement to say my good byes. She had been kept there, I was sure of it. How else would I have had her memories of the basement unfinished? As I turned to walk up the stairs, the lightbulb in the crawlspace flickered on, swinging.
Just for a second. She was reaching out one more time, telling me where she was, asking me to free her, too. When I was in high school, one of my friends was very into playing with ouija boards. She was living with her grandparents because of her family situation and I was living on my own because of mine.
I really liked going over to her house, because I was very lonely a lot of the time, and her grandmother always had a full pantry. My friend and I used to hang out in her room for hours, smoking and trying to contact dead celebrities. And the ouija board worked— the planchette moved, we had conversations with whoever although never Marilyn Monroe as we both secretly hoped would happen. We did talk to someone whose name started with M— actually M was the only name they ever gave. The planchette would start to move in a really fast, aggressive triangle when M showed up, and M was bad news.
At all. M would always spell out terrible things about me, about how and when I would die, that kind of thing. I know, the ouija is subconscious or not-so-subconscious movement, right? But it seemed very Even if we invited other people over to play, M would show up. It was creepy. Eventually we moved on to some other pasttime, and I stopped thinking about it. A few months into our senior year, my friend and I had a falling out and stopped speaking.
I didn't have a lot of other friends at the time. Hard to believe that a manic-depressive poetry nerd with a ouija enemy wasn't very popular, but it's true. After school I used to go back to my little apartment where I lived alone and listen to music and read and try to get the one channel I could get on my ancient tv.
I was bored. I wanted someone to talk to. Guess where this is going. I started to play ouija by myself, using a ouija board that I'd drawn. And it worked. Or I made it work. Or whatever. Eventually M showed up again with triangles and nasty words and messages of doom, and even though I was pretty sure M was some kind of creation of my self-hating subconscious, I decided not to play anymore.
Things started to get a bit weird. First it was dishes clattering in the kitchen. Not constant, just occasionally. The first few times I went to check it out, but I didn't see anything. After a while, I stopped getting up to look, but the noises kept happening. I started to get uncomfortable in the apartment.
Have you ever had a bad feeling about a place? Like serious bad vibes? I felt that way in my apartment, particularly in the bathroom. But I figured I was just being silly, lonely, over-imaginative. One night, I was doing some drawing in my sketchbook. I did some paintings too, because I was painting some props for a play I was on the crew for at school, and I was waiting for them to dry.
I went to bed with everything laid out on the living room floor. The next morning when I woke up, I went out into the living room, I didn't have my glasses on, so everything was kind of blurry. I saw my paintings and the finished props and thought "oh good, those are dry" and I was about to go get dressed when I noticed something else on the floor. It looked like another painting. I went closer. It was a page torn out of my sketchbook, and turned over so the image was on the back. It was a message. It looked like it had been written by a finger dipped in paint, in red paint.
In the bottom right hand corner was an M. And the paper Burnt around the edges, with big brown singes in the middle of the page. That was the worst part. Because for a second I thought "well, maybe I was sleepwalking and legibly wrote a message to myself on this piece of paper and cleaned everything up when I was done". But the scorching made it REAL. I stood there, feeling like someone had dropped a cold stone down into my stomach for quite a while, holding this horrible thing.
And my choices were really that I had done it and couldn't remember, that someone else had broken in and done this very specific thing and left without me hearing, or that no one had done it. All of the choices were too unsettling. And I decided to get out of the apartment. But I brought the paper with me, because I wanted to tell someone about it and I knew no one would believe me without the proof.
I went to school, but didn't go to class. I told a couple of friends about this and they agreed that the message should be destroyed, so we took it out in the field behind school and burned it. And I hung out at a coffee shop as long as I could after school so I wouldn't have to go home, but of course eventually I had to. There was something that looked like purple lipstick on the wall next to the door to my apartment. When I got closer, I could see it was an M.
I left the apartment a couple of weeks later.
I haven't heard from M since. But 20 years later, thinking about playing ouija still makes me very, very nervous. I pride myself on my car trip taking patience. I never rush, I take frequent breaks, and I try to generally enjoy the car trip as much as is possible. Sometimes this leads to overnight stays in random hotels in Connecticut. My friend's wedding came and went and I needed to get home as I didn't really know my friend's family all that well and my daughter, who at the time was 2, was busy being cute.
There's a general rule about my kid being cute - I need to be there to see it. As I'm not really anywhere near home, I figure I'll stop at the first hotel I can find. THe next hotel I find is off the beaten path and very It's late and I'm so tired I don't really care so I check in and they hand me a key. A real, made of metal iron? That's the kind of place this was. I found my room, unlocked it, walked in, relocked the door there was no deadbolt or other safety feature , sent a quick text to my wife to let her know I wasn't going to be home until tomorrow afternoon, then crashed.
Around 4 o clock in the morning I woke up. I'm not really sure why I woke up but I found I couldn't get back to sleep. Everything was too quiet. I usually sleep at home with a box fan for white noise but here there was nothing. No air conditioner to hum loudly. No refrigerator to hum. No neon lights to buzz noisily outside my window. The night was still. What's weird is that I never heard footsteps. Or a car. You'd think with it being so quiet I would have heard something. But all I heard was the sound of a key rattling in the lock.
It seemed to take an extraordinary amount of time.
So long that I remember clearly having the thought, "Someone must just have the wrong room. For 3 eternity like seconds or so, nothing happened. Then the doorknob turned. I'm not sure if the moon was super bright that night or if I had been tossing and turning so long that the sun had just started to come up but I could see the outline. It was tall, maybe 6 foot or so. It was wearing a hat, like a baseball cap. Whoever it was had long hair, down to their shoulders.
They were thin, but not skinny and they must have had a quilted vest on or something because they seemed kind of In my head I've gone over the next 30 seconds a trillion times. In my head, I get up and run to the door and shout and raise a scene. I'm brave and I scare this person off, or at least turn on a light and let them know that they shouldn't be here. I am courageous in the face of this unexpected intruder. In reality I lie there.
Data Protection Choices
I hold my breath. I don't move a muscle. My eyes feel like they should fall out because I have them opened so wide, desperately trying to make sense of the situation. To have some detail come into focus that will right this so obviously wrong scene. Nothing happens. The figure stands in the doorway. I know it's just my eyes playing tricks on me but his fingers seem to get longer then shorter. They aren't moving either. Just standing there with arms akimbo, like they're posing for "creepy stalker" magazine.
And so we sit there. I'm not sure how long we stay there. Time in situations like this really hammers home that it is a construct of human imagination. There is no measurement here. Lifetimes pass. Finally the figure clears their throat. An ugly gutteral sound. They turn about and walk away, leaving my door wide open. I spend about 30 minutes of just sitting there, waiting for my heart to calm down, or maybe trying to convince myself that it was a dream. To put enough temporal distance from the event that the edges of unreality creep in.
Eventually I climb slowly from the bed, convinced that a noise is going to alert the figure that I am here, and yes, I am very edible. I grab my bag, creep out to my car, and I drive away as fast as I possibly can. I was visiting my parents over the holidays. My mother loves nothing more than to break open a bottle of cheap chardonnay Kendall Jackson if it's a fancy night and watch home videos of us kids when we were little. It's pretty harmless, if a little embarrassing, so we indulge this habit with her.
We were watching videos of my sister and me dancing and singing and generally hamming it up for the camera when I was 4 or 5-ish. We watch like four of these videos and I notice in everyone that I talk to the camera about my younger brother. I keep saying things like "When I was 10 and my brother was 7 we did X" or "When I was 8 and my brother was 5 we did Y". I don't remember ever talking about this.
There was a consistent 3 year age gap between this younger brother and me and all the things we did were activities on a large, rural farm. Between the ages of , we only ever lived in major metropolitan areas, my immediate family has never lived on a farm. I asked my mom about it because it was weird. She said she always brushed it off because I was an imaginative little kid, I was always telling stories and I really wanted a younger brother.
She said I stopped talking about it around the time my younger brother was born when I was 6. She said there was one time that I said something that really weirded her out. One time I apparently said, "When I was 12 and my brother was 9, I fell out of the tree near the silo. It hurt really bad.
Buzzy went to get Mama but when she got back I was dead. I just said it again like it was a fact. My mom said that my brother was born a few months after that and I never mentioned it again so she let it go. She wrote it off as me trying to get attending with a new sibling on the way. Flash forward about 3 days and my mom's mom and stepdad are there for Christmas. My mom's stepdad married her mom when my mom was in her late 20's and I was a baby, my mom didn't grow up with him and she doesn't know his extended family well.
A few glasses of wine and back to the baby videos. One of them has me mentioning my brother again. My mom retells the creepy story from earlier. Her stepdad goes white. My mom knew that he had a sibling pass away when he was young, I had never heard that before. His oldest sister, Shirley passed away when he was 9. She was three years older than him. They were raised on a grain farm in Iowa.
They were playing on a tree and she fell head first out of the tree when her foot slipped. My mom's stepdad was right there when it happened. He went to get help but she passed away from the fall. The part that not even my grandmother knew: His sister couldn't say his name when she was little and mispronounced it as Buzzy. No one called him that after his sister died. He got really mad at me and was convinced that someone told me and that 5 year old me was messing with him.
I had no idea he had lost a sibling. My grandma is the only one in our family who knew all the details about it, but even she didn't know about the nickname. I have no memory of telling these stories as a little kid and even seeing all the videos hasn't helped my remember it. My mom and I haven't talked about it since. My mom's stepdad hasn't talked to me at all since. When I was 18, I lived with my now ex boyfriend in a basement apartment in a town in Wyoming.
It was not a happy time in my life for various reasons boyfriend was abusive, I was pregnant with his child but it also didn't help that the apartment was creepy as shit. Even for a basement apartment, it was unusually dark and cold all the time. As soon as we moved in, weird shit started happening. Scratching noises would seem to be coming from inside the walls. I attributed this to mice, but not a single trap that was set ever caught one. I would be doing dishes in the kitchen and I would hear an enormous crash from the living room.
It would sound so much like the TV had fallen over, taking my boyfriend's shelf of Star Wars memorabilia with it, that I would rush into the living room expecting to find a complete mess and not a thing would be out of place. Sometimes I would be coming down the dark, narrow hallway that connected the living room to the rest of the apartment and I would swear that I heard whispering coming from the bathroom at the end of the hall.
I would often wake up in the middle of the night after hearing something like a camera shutter clicking right in my ear. As unsettling as these things were, they didn't really disturb or frighten me so much as annoy and puzzle me. When I started finding out the history of the apartment from the locals and I had some context to put them in, that's when it got scary. A few months after we had moved in, a guy from my hometown came to visit me. He was living in the same city at the time, attending the same college that my boyfriend was. He brought a friend with him who was local.
I greeted the two of them outside the apartment, and the friend introduced himself and said that he used to know a guy who lived in these apartments. When I invited them inside and we went down to the basement apartment, the friend got a really weird look on his face. I asked him what he meant, and he told me that the guy he knew who had lived here had been a meth dealer and self-proclaimed Satanist who used to host weird group sex parties in the name of the dark lord or some shit. The friend said that the guy was now in prison for beating his girlfriend almost to death and pushing a TV over on top of her.
Well, that spooked me. I told my boyfriend who hadn't taken me seriously up to that point and he, being a non-practicing Catholic, decided that calling a Catholic priest over to come bless the place was the best solution. He sprinkled some holy water around, said a few prayers in Latin, and was gone.
Later that night, we were invited to a small gathering at our neighbor's apartment. He lived in the apartment directly above us, and we had told him earlier in the day about the priest coming over to bless the place because of the spooky shit that was going on. When we arrived at his apartment that evening, he asked us how it went.
We shrugged and said fine. My boyfriend and I exchanged puzzled looks. I told him I hadn't been screaming. Nobody had. The whole thing had been pretty uneventful. The neighbor swore up and down that he had heard a woman screaming coming from our apartment while the priest was there. He had thought it was me being "exorcised" or something. I had hoped that was the end of it, but it wasn't. Things actually started to get worse over the next few months. The weird noises came more frequently. The camera-shutter sound woke me up every night instead of just once in a while.
My boyfriend began experiencing the phenomena as well. Around this time, the fights we were having started to escalate and my boyfriend became very violent. He had never been a nice guy, exactly, but I had never thought he would actually hit me with closed fists, but he did, and quite often. It was a very bad time. Early one morning, I woke up suddenly and saw that my boyfriend was still asleep in the bed next to me.