Tag Archives: horror

The Puppy in the Basement

Context: KC is a friend of a friend who volunteered to share her story with me when she found out I was interested in hearing people’s stories. She heard this story at her summer camp, although she failed to tell me where it is located.


KC: This story is called the puppy and the basement, I heard it from summer camp.

Mommy told me never to go in the basement, but I wanted to see what was making that noise. It sounded like a puppy, and I wanted to see the puppy, so I opened the basement door and tip toed down a bit. I didn’t see a puppy, and Mommy yanked me out of the basement and yelled at me. Mommy had never yelled at me before, and that made me sad and I cried. Then Mommy told me never to go in the basement again, and gave me a cookie. That made me feel better, so I didn’t ask why the boy in the basement was making noises like a puppy, or why he had no hands or feet.


This is a short story but it still reveals much about cultural ideas of the sick and twisted. The story plays upon the childhood innocence of the narrator and the presence of a puppy to subvert the listeners expectations of what would be normal to have in ones basement. Upon the reveal that the thing in the basement is actually a mutilated boy it becomes clear that the horror aspect of the story comes from the fact that a seemingly normal suburban home, common in American culture, could house something so deranged and sick.

Buried Alive

This story um… is from our Paine side of the family and it goes back to I believe around 1727, the year 1727. And we had a relative named William Winston and. . . he wasn’t a wealthy man, but he worked hard, but he was relatively poor. And he lived up in Northern Virginia and he met a woman who he fell deeply in love with. She was. . .she became his paramour. She was all he had hoped for in a mate and he decided this is going to be the woman that. . . I. . . I am going to marry, and her name was Sarah Dabney. And, so he started courting her as they did back in that day, and the courting process went on for quite a while. Um. . . long enough for him to save up a lot of the money that he had and he had made from work in order to buy her what was going to be one of the most beautiful rings that anyone in Northern Virginia had ever seen as an engagement ring. And. . .they were going to get married in mid spring, and it had been a terrible winter, and William Winston lived in a small, small house. You know back then it was probably a shack. But, the poor weather continued and it snowed and then the snow to rain and sleet for quite a while but he and Sarah went ahead and got married. I think it was. . . late. . . late April of 1727 if I am correct on the date, and word got out that she had this incredible engagement ring that he had gotten for her that was (you know) a sign of their betrothal. And, the word got out. . . and she fell sick with pneumonia and he thought um she became really really sick and. . . to the point to where the doctors pronounced her dead. And this was like a month. . . this was not long after they had been married. And he was devastated, he was totally traumatized. And he buried her . . . I guess he buried her in a somewhat shallow grave and the word had gotten out that his wife who had this beautiful ring. . . that this–this laborer who had married a woman and given her this just almost priceless wedding ring–that she had died.

And  three–I guess they would have been equivalent to highway men,robbers, grave robbers–after she had been buried, they dug her up, and because the ring fit so tightly on her finger that they couldn’t slide it off of her finger, and they cut her finger off! Well he was back in his home, and they dug her up in this dark and stormy night, and he’s (you know) probably sitting at his little table in his little shack with the candle flickering and the wind howling and the rain beating and the roof leaking and you know just crying into his hands. . . and there was a scratching at the door! And he’s– and he (you know) he’s just just sobbing and the scratching continued and it got louder and louder and louder and he finally realized somebody or something is scratching at my door! And he got up and he went to the door and he opened the door and there was Sarah and she hadn’t died, she had been buried alive! When they dug her up and cut the ring off of her finger it. . . it. . . it resuscitated her enough, along with the oxygen that she was able to breathe again. . . and that’s the story. And they lived happily ever after after that.


“The idea is that there is a man that lives in the woods, he is very tall and lanky, he wears a suit and has tentacles on his back but the biggest thing is that he doesn’t have a face, when you look at him it’s just a white head, a flat nothing. I honestly don’t remember how I first heard about- it was probably just through talking to other kids because it became such a big deal because Slenderman started as a creepy pasta where someone wrote a story and it just spread through the Internet. There’s a whole bunch of scary photos with a child next to him and the whole idea is that he would lure kids into the woods and kill them. One of the things that was scary about him was that the more you research the Slenderman, the more likely he is to get you. So like as you look stuff up, he’s like gonna put you on his list like this person looking too much into it. I don’t fully know how that started and it made it scarier because we can’t find anything about him.”


My informant is a 16-year old from Kansas City, Missouri. She is active on the Internet and has been on YouTube since early 2010. In the early days of the Internet, people invented short stories that would be spread throughout the Internet via copy and pasting, earning the name copy pastas. Eventually, this act of sharing stories transformed to fit the horror genre and this subculture was known as creepy pastas. These stories are shared in Internet circles as short and creepy stories and are subject to reinterpretation with each telling. My informant, being invested with the Internet, learned of several of these throughout the years and remembered this one in particular. 


My informant brought up this story during a walk around her neighborhood when I asked her about scary stories from her childhood. 


This story is interesting as it represents several fears for a generation that is heavily present on the Internet. Firstly, the Slenderman takes from similar urban legends of the past featuring a man in the woods who seeks to hurt others. It should be noted though, that this specific story states he only seeks to hurt children, which is done to emphasize his cruelty and evil nature. Furthermore, it is tailored to fit those who would stumble upon the story, most of which would be younger children using the Internet. Being entirely on the Internet also changes how people could discuss the story, which features prominently in this telling of the story. The informant told me that she heard you could not look anything up about the creature, as it would make you his target. This is fascinating, as it plays into the fears of a generation with seemingly unlimited access to technology, which is a restriction of said content. If nothing else, the Slenderman also represents an entire shift in the methods by which stories are told. Whereas other classic horror stories are primarily told orally, the Slenderman’s origins are entirely on the Internet. This pushed the content of the piece to better fit this audience, and it adapted to address fears of this generation of kids on the Internet.

For an in-depth look at the history of this legend, see: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/movies/slender-man-timeline.html

Vietnamese Friday the 13th

 Main Story: 

The following is transcribed between myself and the informant, from this point forward the informant will be known as TT and I will be MH. 

TT: Are you familiar with Friday the 13th? 

MH: Yes, I am. 

TT: In Vietnam we also have Friday the 13th, but it has a different context then the commercialized one in the United States. The story goes, in the early 2000s there was a storm in a city in Vietnam and that city was semi-destroyed in the storm and many people were displaced. The people in the surrounding regions banded together and came into the town to deliver aid and help out. Then one day, well Friday the 13th, two busses carrying people who were supposed to be delivering aid crashed and almost everyone died in the collision. And now the day is cursed. 

MH: Is there any relevance of Friday the 13th as we know it in America, or like are the two ideas completely separate? 

TT: From what I remember the two are not linked but purely by coincidence. 


The informant grew up in south Vietnam, however he moved here for school alone when he was sixteen. While adjusting to America he found this to be an interesting coincidence and parallel between the two vastly different cultures. 


The conversation happened over FaceTime during quarantine. We were talking about tattoos and how tattoo parlors do “flash tattoos” (pre-designed tattoos that clients can pick from that usually only cost no more than 50$) on Friday the 13th,  and how often they are spooky themed. This then got us talking about the concept of Friday the 13th and the odd parallel between the culture of it here in the USA versus in Vietnam. 

My thoughts: 

I think the concept of the unlucky number 13 is fascinating as it centers from the western christian ideal of the 13 disciples – the 13th being Judas the traitor of jesus- so there were really only 12 proper ones. The fear around the number  was popularized in the 1890s in England. This trickled in building codes as most western buildings, especially in the U.S. omit the 13th floor. However, my friends and I are familiar with the fear of 13, and Friday the 13th, from popular slasher films in the 1980s-90s. It’s interesting to see the presence of fear surrounding Friday the 13th in a non-western culture.

Annabel Lee

Main Piece:

Charleston is known to be like one of the most haunted cities in America, because there have been lots of tragedies like fire, earthquake, and more crazy stuff. So there are ghost tours all around the city, and a lot of places are supposedly haunted. One spot that’s pretty famous is the Unitarian Church graveyard. People claim to have seen a young woman there at night, and that woman is supposedly the ghost of Annabel Lee. There’s an old Charleston story, like Antebellum era, where a Virginian sailor falls in love with Annabel Lee, a sweet Charleston girl, while he was stationed in this city. But her father disapproved, and while separated she died of syphilis. Where it gets interesting is that Edgar Allan Poe wrote a poem about Annabel Lee. Poe was actually enlisted in the navy and was actually stationed in Charleston, and he met his wife Virginia there. His wife also died young from tuberculosis, and people speculate how Poe wrote the poem based on the local Charleston legend and combining it with his own story. The poem is also the last thing Poe ever wrote, he died two days after finishing that poem. So when people say they see the ghost of Annabel Lee, it’s more likely that it’s actually the ghost of Virginia, because Annabel Lee was a fictional character.


My informant currently resides in Los Angeles, but was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. Sullivan’s Island, a region in Charleston, is where the historic forts used during the colonial era. This region has rich history and lore about spirits and ghosts, and it’s also where my informant is from. Ghost stories of Charleston, from what my informant has described to me, are very common and are tossed around especially amongst younger children. While not all of the residents of Charleston may believe these stories, the city still attracts plenty of tourists enticed by these spirits.


The conversation took place at my apartment in Los Angeles, and no other person was present during our conversation. It was a comfortable setting with no notable distractions.

My thoughts:

I found this piece particularly interesting, more so than other ghost stories, because it’s a mixture of actual folklore and literature. The myth of Annabel Lee predated Poe, but it was his poem that made this story mainstream to the rest of the world. And because his poem was so heavily based on his own life, it resulted in an interesting amalgamation of an author inserting himself into a folklore to enrich the myth even further.