Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Scary Stories to Scar You for Life

It’s almost Halloween, and in the spirit of one of my favorite holidays, I have signed up for the blog party going on at Book or Treat. It’s run in support of UNICEF which is a great cause! So click the link to the right ---------------------> 
and join the fun.

I was at Books a Million last night, killing time before work (pun absolutely intended) when the sight of a book made me jump.

This is what I saw:

 Until that moment, I had completely blocked these books from my mind, probably due to trauma.

Alvin Schwartz has gathered a collection of creepy urban legends in his books Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones

Despite the target age of these books (9 and Up—as if!) I read these books when I was 13 and couldn’t sleep without the lights on for a week. The stories are creepy, and to completely push you over the edge if you’re not as much of a wimp as I am, are these horrific pictures I have thoughtfully scattered throughout my blog. 

The illustrations look like something that would crawl out of your nightmares (or a mirror!). Reading about a bride being stuck in a truck, dying, only to be found a year later, a hitching ghost, a man’s face melting off, and other such fun activities at the tender age of 13 and you’d be scarred for life too.

Despite my childhood trauma, I still want to own these books. I saw an updated version of the books in the store, but sadly they didn’t include the nightmare-inducing illustrations by Stephan Gammell. One of the best parts about these books is the stories give stage directions. So if you’re reading the story out loud over a campfire, one story might advise you: (now jump up and ran at your friends screaming).

It teaches you in painstaking detail how to scare the pants off your friends (or little brothers *cough cough*) What’s not to love…and be HORRIFIED by?

I just had a frightening thought…what if Stephan Gammell illustrated a Stephen King novel? One of his really creepy ones, like Pet Cemetery?

I don’t think I would ever, ever, ever sleep again. 

I think the worse part about stories like these is they get inside your head and won’t leave you alone. One day when I was about 15 I was sick with the flue, and spend the day reading urban legends on the Internet. In broad daylight. On the Internet. This was back in the Stone Ages, when we had dial up, and loading a page took forever.

I read a story about two college roommates.

One girl wanted to go to a party downstairs, but the other one wants to stay and study. So the girl packs her bags, and goes downstairs to the party.

She realizes in the middle of the night she forgot her toothbrush, and goes upstairs. Not wanting to bother her roommate, the girl walks into the bathroom in the dark, grabs her toothbrush, and leaves.

The next day she goes upstairs, to find the police swarming around the floor. Worried, she asks what’s going on, and one of the police officers tells her a girl’s been murdered. Horrified, the girl goes to her room, only to find police everywhere. She wanders the room in a daze, and walks into the bathroom.

Scrawled across the mirror in blood are the words, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”

Uggggggghh that creeps me out. I mean, the killer was RIGHT THERE LOOKING AT HER.

Then I continue reading urban legends, and come across a particularly nasty one about Bloody Mary. This version asserts that if your mirror is possessed, then Blood Mary can reach out of the mirror and grab you when you walk past.

Pleasant, right?

So that night, I go to sleep. I’d had dinner and watched a movie, forgetting about my little afternoon of creepy fun.

Until I wake up in the dead of the night, needing to use the bathroom. I quickly counter the number of mirrors in my room—two. Not good, but they were on the far side of the room. I jumped out of bed, and ran down the hall to the bathroom. The bathroom had a huge mirror that ran the length of one wall, and I went to quickly turn the light on, least Bloody Mary catch me unaware, but then I stopped. I remembered the chilling line –Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?—and I froze from indecision. Either way I was doomed. I flicked the switch on, and was relieved I was alone.

And that is why to this day I am still afraid of mirrors in the dark.

And now you are too. You’re welcome. It’s okay though, we can be scared together.  


  1. I love those illustrations! Wow! Ahem. I guess I'm weird though. I first stumbled upon Bloody Mary and that first one through, um, the TV show Supernatural. They actually did episodes based on them, yes.

    Really scary, especially the Bloody Mary one but it's still sort of fascinating too.


  2. @ Mia: It IS fascinating! I can't look away even as I am terrified!

  3. Oh, these books! Definitely gave me more than my fair share of nightmares. I remember one about a girl who wore a yellow ribbon around her neck. And one about a car that followed a girl home.

    The only one that didn't completely terrify me was the Big Toe. That one was actually kind of fun.

  4. @ Wannabe Writer: I remember the story with the yellow ribbon! It scared me half to death! Thanks for commenting!

  5. I know exactly What book your talking about. This is one of my favorite childhood books, and i still been looking 4 it. Thanks 4 the name cause i 4 got it. I could only remeber the cover.

  6. i read this book when i was 13, i remember me and my cousin were addicted to reading horror stories while sleeping out,, we were so weird. lol