Residence: Decatur, IL
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/12/18
Primary Language: English
DM: You remember the Shed Monster story, right?
JH: You mean the one Zurbier or whatever his name told?
DM: Yeah! The Dutch fella that lived up the hill from you guys
JH: OH! Yeah, the Barn Monster. First time he told us was around the bonfire back behind my place. Scared me shitless.
DM: Do you think you can re-tell the story?
JH: Oh for sure! Yeah so we was around the fire, and Jos is a big ol’ Dutchy, right? Like – 6’8” or some shit. In a circle of Midwestern fellas, he looks like a fuckin’ giant. Has hands and teeth like one too. So he’s smokin’ a cigarette, Bud in hand callin’ us over to tell us a story and he goes points over at the pole barn a ways off and says, “Heard you boys been messin’ around in the barn recently after sundown”.
And of course you and me were, like, lookin’ around at my dad who knew damn well that we had been and we weren’t supposed to.
DM: Right, yeah.
JH: Anyway, Jos goes on and scares the shit out of us, right? Starts talkin’ about a shadow that can slide up walls and under doors about the size of a man. But he can change shapes and make the floor drop out from under you under the hay, too. He can trip you and touch you with a cold hand, and he moves from barn to barn on the New Moon. ‘Bout the scariest story I’ve ever heard. I don’t know that we went back in the polebarn for a year after that.”
Story originally told by Jos Zurbier in Decatur, IL.
Jos was a dutch, immigrant carpenter from the Netherlands. He fit in extremely well in rural, Southern Illinois.
This story reflects the Shadow Person motif which has been popularized in a variety of contexts. Similar stories describe a dark figure which does not speak, though Jos’ localization to the barn is particularly eerie. Additionally, most polebarns don’t have overhead lighting – meaning that shadows are cast by flashlights whenever someone enters them in the dark.