Haunted Writing Workshop
Recently the Campus Writing Program hosted a Haunted Writing Workshop in honor of the National Day on Writing. A total of 53 undergraduate students attended three different iterations of the workshop throughout the day. Students were invited to respond to writing prompts about haunted, mysterious places, Halloween traditions, and personal “monsters” that may haunt us. The short timeframe of the event was just long enough to compose rough drafts that the following participants have agreed to share.
On The Knowledge of Good and Evil
I opened the moldy tome, and immediately I was overtaken by its musky, malignant scent: the scent of tears and suffering, but not the scent of death. As if something within the ancient volume of text was crying out, nonverbally.
Its thin leaflets stiff and yellowed, I carefully flipped through each page. I soon found it bilingual—written in Latin, and a stranger, ancient language. It was neither Greek, nor Hebrew, nor Arabic, nor anything seemingly of this world. It was written in thicker, heavier ink; every appearance of this mystery language bled through the paper, and imprinted itself on pages following.
I saw mysterious images of horror and violence; Ghoulish robed figures eviscerating the bodies of women and children, as sacrifice to the gods of an arcane cult. The ghosts of the cult’s dark deeds would make their way to the surface world. Robbed of their souls, they could be nothing more than hollow people, forced to wander the never-ending plains of a paranormal landscape, lest a practitioner of black magick summon them.
Despite these unsettling images, I accepted them and read on. I was enamored, and I couldn’t explain why. Was it I opening myself up to the book, or the book prying me open?
The thick ink of the lost language bled deeper into the paper. Coupled with illustrations, my understanding grew. It all made sense to me. The book made sense. And as it made sense, the ink grew thicker. Thick as blood. And I read on; I felt enlightened. That’s what these tomes or ancient knowledge were written for, right? Enlightenment. That word kept coming into my head. Even though it shared headspace with suffering and death.
I turned the page; I couldn’t let go. My greed for ancient knowledge had taken ahold of me. Or was it the tome I grasped so dearly that was controlling me? It mattered not.
What mattered most was this page.
It featured an ancient star map, drawn with precise detail, stretching to each corner of the page. The constellations superimposed over the starry sky were not any I was familiar with, nor any of a typical astrology.
Upon further examination, I find that the strange map makes connections between the positions of the stars relative to lunar phases, which is then connected to a specific character in the Latin alphabet. Tracked over a year, “words” could be found in the stars.
But are these “words” the systematic jargon of the tome’s devisor? Or are they the astral writings of an ancient god?
The next page had it.
“Uas'bbogothau! En'usaundaqur! Udaqughrungothag! Zsh-huaar!” it said, a chant of the cosmos. As I read it, it echoed throughout my mind. Ever-repeating in my subconscious. I spoke it aloud, sounding audibly for the first time in untold millennia.
And I was overtaken. A mental construction of ancient knowledge flooded my essence; it was the knowledge of good and evil. All of reality was exposed to me, my presence—I felt—was infinite, and the mysteries of the universe unfolded at my questioning.
I became enlightened, and I became a god in mind.
At this realization the tome began to drip its thick ink. Its symbols and lettering slid into the binding, and poured out to the floor. A puddle of black formed beneath my feet. The book grew cold—robbed of its magic and reduced to nothing more than a collection of unintelligible writing.
The black pool expanded and enveloped my feet, encircling me within its otherworldly grasp. I could feel the weight of the substance settle into the floorboards under me, and heard the boards creak against the weight.
I could feel the festering puddle calling to me. The scent of tears and suffering filled my nostrils once again. Time slowed down, I became further aware of everything—including my own mortality. I was a worthless miniscule speck on our plane of reality. All time and space opened before me, and I had nothing to live for. For in my all-knowingness, I found nothing.
I threw down the tome; I lay in the pool; I clawed at my wrists; I tore open my veins. My own blood mingled with the black inky mixture! All my blood spilled silently, and nary an audible cry came past my lips.
But all the while, I had one last thought prior to my death.
I though a
feel I god.
as am help.
It was a chilling October evening Billy’s parents waved good-bye to their fourteen-year-old son and drove to a party at their friend’s home. Once out of sight, Billy plopped down on the couch and turned the television on. He reveled in his newfound freedom as he watched multiple shows his mother often disapproved of when she was around. For months Billy worked endlessly to prove he was old enough to stay home alone; tonight was that night. After his show ended, he decided that he was hungry and made his way towards the kitchen. Billy noticed some money on the counter with a note to order pizza attached to it. He called, put his order in, and returned to the living room for some more quality TV time.
Thirty minutes passed and Billy grew impatient. He stared at the front door willing the bell to ring. A few more minutes went by and still nothing. Suddenly, a knock came from the back of the house. Billy’s golden lab Ruby growled as the knock became louder. Billy hushed Ruby as he walked towards the door grabbing the money in the processes. Walking into view of the door, Billy could see the deliveryman through the window. The strange looking man standing in the door unnerved him. There was something…eerie about him. The kind of eeriness that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Billy shrugged it off as soon as he paid the man and shut the door. The aroma of the pizza turned his thoughts to his rumbling belly.
After his satisfying feast, Billy to get ready for bed. He turned off all the lights with the exception of the upstairs ones, just in case he thought, and made sure all the doors were locked. Billy and Ruby finally turned in for the night. As he started to fall asleep, a scrapping noise jolted him from his bed. At first he thought it could be from the trees outside the window. However, the sound grew louder and more noticeably from somewhere downstairs. Ruby’s ears perked up and she walked towards the staircase. Billy, stupidly curious, followed behind her. As the reached the bottom step Billy noticed the downstairs had grown colder. He walked towards the back door and noticed it was opened. This frightened him a bit since he was positive it was locked a few minutes ago. Billy quickly relocked the door and made his way back to the staircase when the sound of footsteps from the second floor echoed downwards. He took off towards the opposite direction. He grabbed the home phone and hid in the bathroom. Cliché, yes, but his bathroom had a lock on the inside of the door.
Fear took over Billy. He shrunk between the toilet and the cabinet hoping he was hidden from view. Then he dialed 9-1-1. Each ring seemed loud enough to draw attention to where he was hiding. They answered. Billy told them his address and pleaded for help immediately. They said units were on their way. At that moment, Billy realized Ruby wasn’t with him. He was scared for his childhood friend’s life and scrambled to the door. Billy hesitated at the lock. There was a scraping noise outside the door. Paralysis seized his body and he forgot all about unlocking the door. Minutes later sirens blared from outside the house and officers entered guns raised. One cop found Billy in his bathroom hideout and brought him outside. The others searched the house for the man Billy claimed was there. No one believed him until they reached Billy’s room. On the wall above his bed the skin from Ruby’s body hung, dripping fresh blood onto the mattress. The rest of her was nowhere to be found.
As a practicing Catholic, I have very complex views of the supernatural. While I am compelled to admit my conviction that it exists, I am not one to readily believe in spooks and specters. There are times, though, when an unaccounted sense of eeriness has filled me. One such time was last fall, in early November. I and my girlfriend at the time went to Shryock’s corn maze, something I enjoy immensely. But we entered the maze late in the afternoon and dark fell quickly. The only light we had was a small flashlight; the ambient light from the highway signs cast strange shadows. The corn rows were filled with a gloomy, thick darkness. Wind rustled in the dry stalks. She and I were among the few left, as it had gotten pretty cold. Walking through the dark maze, I saw many strange shapes in the shadows and there was apprehension in turning corners. My thoughts strayed from solving the maze to all the horror movies I had seen, all the books that had kept me up at night. There was no moon, but I remember a dull orange glow in the sky which seemed odd, and lent nothing to ease my disquiet. I chided myself for foolishness, but the feeling persisted that there was something just out of sight, just beyond my senses. My eyes strained to cut through the shroud of darkness beyond the flashlight, and my ears stretched to hear anything amiss. All I could see were shadows and all I heard was rasping of the corn. We decided to quit the maze, and I felt a sense of relief from the oppressing dark.
Any time I enter an unfinished basement it automatically becomes ten times creepier than if it was finished. It didn’t help that my own basement was unfinished, so every time I was down there I made it my goal to get out of there as quickly as possible. Just the creepiness of the walls not being painted and the insulation showing, the concrete/cement floors, and the overall coldness of the basement creeps me out. Every time I went down there I swear I would see someone’s face out of the window, or the scary dog that lived in our neighborhood. This is one part of Halloween that stands out to me.
Haunted Writing Workshop
Once upon a time, I visited the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. Now, the Winchester Mystery House has a unique and chilling history. Lady Sarah Winchester of the Winchester rifle fame, built the house guided by the voices of ghosts that she claimed to have heard. The blueprints for the house confound any who look upon them. Doors lead to walls, stairways twist and wind straight up to the ceiling, windows adorn walls and open up to other walls, and rooms vary in size, like a twisted mockery of perspective. One weird moment I experienced in my visit to this maze-like house included one of the windows found deep within the house, far away from the outside world. Curtains adorned this window and billowed as if wind had come gusting through the room. A little shocked, I slowly reached out my hand to touch the waving curtains and as soon as my finger touched the cloth, it stopped billowing and fell flat. I was thoroughly disturbed, but also couldn’t contain my laughter at how absurd it was. I knew that the house conjured up a bevy of urban legends, such as tourists getting separated from their group and never seen again, and that my story would get lost in the shuffle of weird happenings at the Winchester Mystery House.
During the fall of my junior year of high school in the town of Lebanon, me and a couple of my buddies would always try and find supposed scary places and explore them. There really wasn’t much to do in Lebanon so driving around and messing with people and things were some of the only things we could do to past time. We’d go to supposed haunted house, buildings, as well as graveyards just to past the time during the school week. One story that I can really recount was when we went out to the Phillipsburg cemetery that was said to be haunted, upon arriving there we met some people that gave us their business cards that said they were professional ghost hunters and after that we headed out to a rock quarry where we were told that some worker hung himself in a shed up there.
It was a group of about 12 of us and when we arrived at the quarry we headed to the shed where he hung himself and there was chair and noose in it. None of us really believed in anything to do with the supernatural, so we locked a couple of our buddies in it for a couple minutes and nothing seemed to happen. After that we cut down the noose and took the chair and headed back to town. This is my only account of experiencing or really trying to experience something eerie or haunted and I am really not sure if there is such thing.
The birthplace of Emilia Earhart and home to Benedictine College located along the Missouri River in the Northeast corner of the glorious state of Kansas, but this is no ordinary town. Atchison is considered to be one of the most haunted towns in the Mid-west because of its rich history with the paranormal. The Travel Channel has done a Halloween special about the town and it is called Haunted Atchison. Although there are many, one story in particular is my favorite of a haunted place in the town. Jackson Park is where the story starts, in particular, and area of the park called Molly’s Hollow. The story goes that a young African-American slave girl named Molly was caught seeing a white boy from a prominent Atchison household. When the father of the boy found them sneaking around together he sent a lynch mob after her and they hanged her from a tree in Jackson Park. Some say that if you go to Molly’s Hollow around midnight you can hear Molly’s blood curdling scream and sometimes you can even see her spirit wandering around looking for her lost love.
Its funny to think about the fact that maybe hundred years ago or even today in the wrong country I would be called a witch and burned, drowned, or worse. I have always been a spiritual sensitive person, so I learned to deal with ghosts at a young age. I think the most terrifying moment that involved ghost for me was when I lived in Louisiana. I do not remember the city I was living in at the time or the name of the plantation and to protect the identity of my friend I will refer to her as Sophie.
The plantation that I am referring to is, to my knowledge, still preserved with the original family still living in it and still owning it. The fact that the original family still owns this house is important because very few families were able to keep their houses and land intact after the Civil War. The story behind the plantation goes that the man of the house, the original owner and builder, was a proud, arrogant, mean man that owned 150 slaves and had one wife and seven children. His wife, however, was kind, gentle soul that treated everyone, including the slaves, with respect. When he left to fight in the war he left his wife in charge. While she was in charge she dismissed, what they referred to as, the "slave wranglers". Life went on at the plantation for many months this way until late one night the husband returned home after finding out that the slaves had been freed by Abraham Lincoln. Already angry because of the outcome of the war he flew into a rage shooting his wife and leaving her for dead in their marriage bed, he gathered his "slave wrangler" and went on a hanging spree. He hung all 150 of his slaves, himself, and his wranglers in the trees in front of the house leaving his house and land to his sixteen year old boy.
Sophie is an African American who was my best friend. Sophie and I decided to visit this house with our parents and a group of others on a tour. Sophie and her parents were not the only African Americans in the group, our very first experience occurred right after we crossed the gate due to this fact. The man of the house appeared before us along with a couple of men with muzzle loader and shot into the crowd. It was then that we found out as people, including Sophie and her parents, ran out of the gate that the ghost of the man doesn’t like African Americans or African American sympathizers on his land. As we walked though the yard, the man and his lackeys continued to try to scare us away but I knew that ghosts can't hurt a living human. Many other people in the group didn’t make it to the house. The man would use cheap tricks like having the bodies appear hanging from the trees in the yard and galloping at us on horses. As we reach the house and walked in the door I turned around to watch the ghosts and the door was slammed shut by a beautiful women, that everyone told me wasn’t there. As I watched her she smiled gently and floated away.
As the group and I left the plantation we were told that the ghost of the man was never seen in the house nor was the women ever seen on the grounds. It is believed that they protect each area to their own area happily and that anyone that makes it to the house is considered honorable enough to be on the land. This I believe because as we left the only thing that happened was the ghost of the man watching the group exit the grounds without scaring anyone.
Deep in the banks of the Current River within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Southern Missouri, there lies a cold, natural spring that looks as if it should be descending out of a glacial region in Norway. It was early fall, and my boyfriend Tommy and I were running along these muddy paths, barefoot as the mud oozed form every direction and canoes gently passed behind us. In a quick glance, we came across a narrow, overgrown path next to the Northwest corner of the spring. Without hesitation, Tommy and I leaped over the tall grass and tumbled in the vines until we ended up just on the edge of an extremely old, mansion-looking house with missing windows and rotting wood. A fireplace with an old chimney was the only visible items inside. Void of another story, the main floor was all that remained, inside of the sloping porch that sat atop a tiny mound. Inside, graffiti and signatures lined the old wood, some dating back to the early 20th century. “What was this place? Why is it not restored?” we asked ourselves, curious and unknowing. As we explored the old home that sits next to the river a little ways back, we heard voices bellowing from every direction, of laughter and nostalgia. “This old house is still standing?!” we heard, repeated over and over. It was a few locals, and when they came around the corner we spoke with them for a moment about this mysterious place. They enlightened us of their memories of the attic as children, playing inside and hiding from their parents on the river. In the middle of listening intently to their childhood memories, I noticed a sign, small and barely visible in the brush. After nearly falling through a gaping hole on the porch that looked like it had been burned through, I noticed the small, wooden sign was painted on with black ink and appeared extremely weathered. It faintly read, “Please Help Us Protect this House as a Cultural Resource…” and it went on to describe precautions to take. Unsure of the origin or credibility of this sign, my experience grew even more mysterious. I have still to this day have not been able to gather any information about the property, but I assume homesteaders may have settled here due to the location next to the river and away from civilization! It was quite an experience, and I will be curious to see what will happen to the property in years to come.
I am from O’Fallon, Mo, about 40 minutes out of downtown Saint Louis. There is a place near my house about 20 minutes farther west called ‘Molly’s Grave”. Young people that live around me have been known to go to this spot for years. It Is an old creepy run down house that has been vacant for many years. To get to molly’s grave one has to also drive down a scary gravel road with overgrown trees, and grass. People always tried to take me there, but I would always change the subject or pitch a better idea for the night.
One night over the summer of 2010, I couldn’t talk my way out of it and my friends finally forced me to go. The ride there gave me enough anxiety I couldn’t imagine what it was going to be like when we actually reached our destination. We finally got there after 20 minutes. It was scary enough because visiting Molly’s grave was considered trespassing, so I knew I could receive a fine. When we got to the door I could barely handle the anxiety. The house in general was just plain creepy. The wind was very loud that night, making the trees blow. Since I was so nervous I was making everything scarier then it really was. To say the least I didn’t even make it inside. I am a baby when it comes to real haunted houses. I made my friends get back in the car, they were pretty scared also.
I never visited Molly’s grace again after that. I would much rather do other things in my free time then visit spooky places. The only Haunted places I will visit is the fake houses set up around Halloween time. I do believe in ghosts and spirits, so to me I would rather keep them a mystery, than to make one mad, by entering haunted places I shouldn’t enter. I’m sure people around my hometown will keep doing this for many years. This is something for the young kids to entertain themselves with, although it is not the safest thing to do.
A time or place that made me pause? The only place I can think of that fit that description was the old abandoned vulture house that used to reside across the street to mine. I went there once, just out of curiosity. I peered through the window, and could tell right away that the cause of the abandonment was a fire. A fire that must have occurred along time ago for the items that were left intact were very outdated; they seemed to be things from the fifties. There barely was any roof, having been caved in at some point in time. The walls and beams, at least what were left, were black, covered in ash, burned. When I was done looking around I entered through the window I was peering from. It gave me some difficulty but not too much. My first step is what made me pause, a chill going up my spine. A shoe; a child’s shoe was under my foot, scarred, blackened. Above me I heard a clawing sound. Looking up I found myself staring into the eyes of the vultures that have made that place their home. I left as soon as I could scramble myself back through the glassless window and headed back home, never realizing till I reached my home and closed the door behind me that in my hand I carried a shoe; a child’s burnt, blackened, scarred shoe.
After coming from Chicago to Columbia my horizon widened. Not only did the culture around me change but also the opportunity to listen and connect with others stories was made much available now that I belonged to a diverse campus. In this case the spooky story came from a small northern town of Missouri called Cameron. My roommate, Abby, has been a resided in the same Cameron home from infancy to the present. After watching a popular horror film, Abby told began to tell me her encounters with the supernatural in her own home. As an infant Abby moved into a house that had quite a history, which was not particularly pleasant. The house formerly was owner by drug dealers that brought evil things into the house and ravaged it. As a child Abby said that the eeriness of the house directly affected her. Abby would sleepwalk in the middle of the night frequently and was found slowly rocking back in forth in the family rocking chair. When Abby got older she had more encounters with the supernatural things in her house. Abby was homeschooled, which left her and her younger brother alone for sometime during the day to do schoolwork. Abby was listening to music while she did her schoolwork completely alone in the kitchen when the music stopped. Thinking that it was her brother Abby then realized that her brother was in the basement far from the radio. Abby turned the music back on and returned to the kitchen. Once again the radio turned off. Abby became spooked but again turned the music back on. When Abby sat down again in the kitchen her felt something strange in the air and suddenly felt a heavy hand upon her shoulder. Terrified Abby turned around to find no one in the kitchen. Abby has not encountered anything since that moment but she definitely has not been the only one to encounter some supernatural presence in that house: everyone from her dad and to her eight other siblings have said they also faced it. Many stories which they do not like to repeat because of their terrifying content. Although the Curtis family has no knowledge of what actually happened in the house the strongly believe many evil things occurred where they now reside.
I once worked as a salesman of home improvement products. As I traveled across the state, I frequently encountered many homes that seemed to be isolated from the rest of civilization. I had quite a few moments when I had to approach strange doors with an uneasy feeling. I recall one home that looked a lot like the old Conley house. Perhaps it was built in the same era. I drove three to four hours out in the middle of nowhere to get there. When I finally arrived, it was just after nightfall. There were no other visible houses in the area and this one looked like it was built on the set of a classic horror film. It had the big wooden porch, the squeaky wooden screen door, the bare tree branches that scraped the windows with every gentle breeze, and loud dog that sounded as if it wanted to eat me. After knocking on the door, I listened as someone struggled with the beast for nearly five minutes. A tall white-haired gentleman opened the door and invited me in, and as we talked, the dog, which was confined to a nearby room, seemed to grow more and more agitated with every passing minute. I assumed that at some point, before the conversation was over, the door that was restraining him would be destroyed, followed by myself. I do not recall many details about what was said or the location of the home, but I do clearly recall the sounds of an angry beast that craved human flesh.
As soon as the leaves begin to change, from bright evergreens to hues of red, brown, and gold, every child knows what’s coming. Every year when I walked from school into a home filled with the comforting aroma of spice from the Apple Cider my mom had been simmering all day long I knew it was finally here, Halloween. Halloween has always been a holiday I cherished, not because of the fun associated with dressing up as your favorite character, but because of the sense of family and community that has developed around it. Every child has its favorite aspect of a holiday; mine have always been picking my favorite Carmel apple from Amy’s Apple’s.
It would always happen about a week from Halloween, my dad would pick me up from school and I could already tell by the grin on his face the mission we were about to undertake. If you’ve never been to a store that sells solely Gourmet Carmel Apple’s you might not understand the difficulty this mission possessed, so I’ll enlighten you. Imagine walking into a small store where you’re surrounded by Carmel apples of all different variations. There are the ones that have been dunked in caramel and then Belgian chocolate, not once but twice, and then there are the ones with Reese’s attached to them, the ones with peppermint, and ones with designs, and of course any other combination you could imagine. Now try being limited to four choices for your family to share, the pressure is suddenly great and you find yourself taking way too much time to pick out apples. This outing with my dad has become something that I have anticipated with excitement every single year, it has become a tradition and more importantly it has become a tradition that I get to share with my dad.
When I was a child my Halloween tradition at a very young age was to go in the beginning and pick out a costume for myself with my father and younger brother. We would search for hours to figure out which costume was the most perfect costume to wear for the holiday. It definitely was something I looked forward to during the school year. The tradition was during the elementary school years that we would have a party in the classroom with the whole class wearing their costumes and then bring something to share for the whole class. So people would bring bags of candy, some students would bring chips, and others brought Halloween themed cupcakes. We would wait the whole day for the part to begin and anticipate getting ready to put our costumes on for the actual party. Then that night or that weekend, whenever trick or treating was, we would begin to go out around sunset and go around to collect candy. The first few years my dad would come home early from work and take my brother and I out or we would go with the neighborhood kids and their parents when we were young. The best part was when I was a little older and I was able to go out and trick or treat with my friends alone. When I was able to go out on my own this meant that I was able to hit a lot more houses than when I was only with my father. I definitely enjoyed this the most. After awhile of getting we weren't really supposed to trick or treat any longer because we were a little too old. So at that time we would have sleepovers and watch scary movies with each other and then be a little destructive and go out toilet paper houses for jokes. There really isn't anything that I would necessarily change about my Halloween traditions, there are definitely some great traditions and memories that I hold onto.
When I was younger, my family partook in some of the classic traditional Halloween activities. We carved pumpkins (albeit not very well, but it’s the experience that counts), dressed in costumes (my mother even made a few costumes by hand), went trick-or-treating, and even went to a few commercial haunted houses. Now though as I am older I do not do any of these things. Trick-or-treating is for children, and though I could be an escort for my younger cousins when they trick-or-treat, I do not have a desire to hang around with lots of annoying kids, plus there’s the fact that I would have to travel to the St. Louis area to do this. Sometimes I consider carving a pumpkin, but then I remember how messy and time consuming it is, and I also do not have any good carving equipment. I do have ideas for costumes, but I do not really have the money to execute the ideas (for example, I really want to dress up in a classic Star Trek miniskirt with the beehive hairdo and boots, because that just sounds like tons of fun). A Halloween themed party and costume contest is fun, but I usually have other things to invest my time and money in. Lastly, I don’t go to commercial haunted houses because I don’t see the allure of paying something like $10 to go to a subpar Halloween themed “haunted” house.
Fall and Halloween Traditions
The fall season and Halloween are some of my favorite times of the year. I celebrate many traditions each year with my family. My whole family and I go to at least one pumpkin patch each year, where we also get pumpkins. After we get back my dad and I carve a pumpkin each year on the front porch, seemingly no matter how cold it is. As a child, we would usually take the guts from the carving and bake the seeds with my mom, but we do not really do this anymore, nor have we for some years now. This is something I would change, I wish we could continue this tradition nowadays. The next tradition we partake in is, of course, the actual trick-or-treating. Since I am too old to go myself, now I take my nieces and nephews out and it’s so much fun. Usually some of my 5 brother and sisters come, so it’s a good time to catch up. Usually the grandmas stay home with the babies and pass out candy while the rest go with the older kids. At the end of the night we all meet back up at my sister’s house and share the interesting events that happened that night. I’m excited to see what will happen when more siblings have children and how the tradition will continue. Another tradition that my family has passed along is when we sort out our candy once the night is through, trading the kinds we don’t like with our siblings. It’s funny because we always hated when our parents stole our candy, but now we do the same thing to our nieces and nephews. I’m sure they don’t mind too much J
Another reason why I love the fall season is because of the weather. It’s the perfect time for warm bonfires on chilly nights and the leaves changing is absolutely beautiful. Of course you can’t forget the apple cider, caramel covered apples, and pie that brings people together too. Fall is truly one of the best times of the year.
When I was little during Halloween, my sister and I would always decorate white pillow cases as our trick or treating bags. We never, used actual baskets to trick or treat with because we would always end up with so much candy that the normal baskets would overflow.
Also, before we went out to get candy, my mom would always make us a delicious dinner, followed with pumpkin bread as our dessert. My mom’s pumpkin bread is fabulous. As we got older, nothing really changed too much. We still decorated pillow cases, and got a big meal. I miss trick or treating in general. It was so much fun to go from house to house and get free candy. Halloween is my favorite holiday, but not getting free candy makes it not as fun. If I could change anything, I would make the acceptable age to trick or treat older. Since it would look quite awkward for a 17 teen year old to walk up to someone’s door and yell “Trick or Treat”. I’m pretty sure the owner of the house would think it was a joke. If there was one thing I would associate with Halloween time, it would be going to haunted houses with all my friends. Since I was 15, a group of friends and I always go downtown, and visit the big haunted houses. This is always accompanied by hot chocolate, warm sweaters, and a lot of screaming. Halloween has many things associated with it and I think that’s why it is my favorite holiday!
My dad use to tell my sister and I a story about a heartbeat in the woods. When I was little this story use to scare me a lot .He would talk about driving down a dark, scary road, and hearing a heartbeat. The farther they would drive the louder the heartbeat would get. My dad would make awesome sound effects and tell the story in just the right tone, to make you want to pee your pants. As I got older the story was not as scary. It sure used to give my sister and I the goose bumps though. I wil probably tell this story to my kids one day. It was good enough to remember, scary enough to get goose bumps, but not scary enough to not be able to go to sleep. I enjoyed this story and so did my family.
The biggest monster I encounter daily is I. I constantly second guess my decisions, answers, choices etc. I think that I have grown a lot because I second guess myself. This allows me to see the little details in life, and things I might have overlooked. Sometimes I scare myself as a monster scares others. My biggest fear is letting myself and my loved ones down. I want to show myself and them that I can succeed above and beyond. I always strive to do my best which is something I do fear. I am scared of failure, and I’m always trying to beat myself. Being my own monster comes with downfalls but also strengthens me everyday.
I had a very fun and interesting holiday tradition during Halloween. Every Halloween as a child, I would go trick-or-treating and get lots of candy. And I also dressed in various costumes when I went trick-or-treating. As I got older, I started getting over trick-or-treating since I felt like it was something mainly for little kids, and therefore I felt like I was too old to do that. There were definitely some things that I miss about trick-or-treating. One thing in particular that I miss is getting and eating lot of candy. I really liked the joy of going around door to door and getting lots of candy. Another thing that I really miss about this tradition is dressing up in costumes. I really liked dressing up as many different characters and monsters, and sometimes scaring people with my costumes. One thing that I would change is probably skipping trick-or-treating for a Halloween day and wait until people came to my house for candy so that I could play various tricks on them. I think that would have been funny. Trick-or-treating was really the only tradition that I did to celebrate Halloween.
When Halloween would come around, as a child, I would prepare for the most fantastic holiday of the year – Trick-or-Treating. My grandmother would present me with a disguise I had requested, which I would then don and go to join the Wild Hunt. Looking back, my costumes were fairly silly and not very frightful, but what else would a child choose?
There were two parts of Trick-or-Treating that would make it special, which were the candy and spooky set ups. I always looked forward to Halloween for the bagfuls upon bagfuls of free candy. I would not look forward to the scary yards with their tricks to scare the pants right off little me. I would try to avoid them, but now I wish I hadn't avoided them as much. It was those spooky times which actually made Halloween what it was.
Eventually, I grew out of Trick-or-Treating. I'd still go along and watch my little brother as he would go house to house, a spectator from afar. Privy to all the secrets of the spooks and would-be poltergeists, the magic of Halloween had died off. However, it was still pretty great watching my little brother get so scared. As big brother, his ghosts gave me plenty of ammunition to tease him with year round.
The years go by, and the dead holiday with it. However, it always asks just one question with each passing – can the dead return to the realm of the living? Just in case, I remain vigilant for its return with each passing year.
I wish to apologize to Sally Conley for any disrespect perceived in today’s visit to her former and current home. I am not sure if Jonathan Cisco’s warning was shared with humor or with sincerity in mind. Either way, I feel an apology is needed. If this warning was anything but sincere, then I wish to apologize for participating in the mocking of Sally Conley’s life and death. If the warning stemmed from genuine concern, then I wish to apologize to both Sally Conley and Jonathan Cisco for disregarding the advice. I still haven’t determined how to apologize to a ghost characterized as “disagreeable.” Will a written apology seem insufficient? Will returning further insult Sally? Much like the choice given earlier, either option holds the potential to antagonize Sally Conley’s ghost.
I may not be a big believer in ghosts or other aspects of the Conley House but I, like most people, have demons that lurk inside me. I have aspects of m life that have always haunted me and continue to haunt me to this day. The area of my life that has always haunted me is my fear of failure. I have always been haunted by the fact that I may be letting people down or not achieving my own personal goals. The fear that I may not be succeeding in everything that I was meant to accomplish. There are so many ways of life that I feel I could be doing better at. I am not sure why this fear has always nagged away at me. I do pretty well in school, I have never gotten into serious trouble, and I have a great support system around me. Still though I think about it constantly and I probably will for the rest of my life. It is like a small gnat buzzing around your ear. It is small, minute, and should not be impactful. It is though constantly with you, bother you, and consuming you.
Conley House Reflection
I’ve never really spent any time in a place that’s said to be particularly haunted. As a matter of fact, this is my first tour of any sort of haunted location. The introductory story given to the class did more to set the mood than anything though. Within such a large group and in such ample daylight, even the creepiest of settings lose a lot of their power.
Having said that, I can certainly appreciate how terribly this house could be when alone. Even now as I sit in the dining room with the class, observing the stoic portraits and the old furniture, I can truly appreciate the eeriness that can accumulate in a house after 100 plus years. I can hear how every pane of wood creaks at the slightest disturbance. I can imagine what it must be like as a student living here, knowing all the stories surrounding this place, and how hard that might make it to find sleep alone at night.