Tag Archives: scary story

Humans lick too

Date: April 25, 2022 

Source and Relationship: G, younger brother

Type: Scary Story, Legend

Folklore/Text: Humans Lick Too Story: “My friend Quincy told me this story at a sleepover and I still think about it a lot. So this girl who’s my age was staying home alone for the night with her golden retriever. She started hearing strange noises around the house so she stayed in her room and put her hand under the bed so that her dog would lick her, so that she knew she was safe. She felt her dog’s tongue on her hand, so she decided she was fine and tried to go to sleep. But then she heard the faucet running in her bathroom, which was weird because no one was home. When she walked to the bathroom to turn it off, she saw across the wall, written in blood, ‘HUMANS LICK TOO.’ The body of her dead dog was also lying on the floor in front of her. When Quincy told me the story I didn’t sleep for three days, I still need to get him back for it.”

Explanation/Context: I have actually heard many versions of this story over the years, with some details being added or discarded based on who I’m talking to. It clearly is an urban legend that found its way through the power of the internet and/or spoken word to the minds of current high schoolers, which is fascinating to me since I first heard the story when I was his age as well. After further investigation, this tale is actually quite famous since it was originally printed in a 1871 novel by M. R. James. It is remarkable to me that such stories have stood the test of time and continue to strike fear into children globally. I still refuse to leave any of my limbs hanging off the side of the bed at night because of this very tale. 

PAC ghost


Date:
April 14, 2022 

Source and Relationship: Elaine, High School Theater Teacher

Type: Scary Story, Superstition

Folklore/Text: The PAC Ghost: “A long time ago, on a cold and windy night, a tech theater student was working late at night in the rafters of the Jesuit High School performing arts center. Suddenly, lightning struck the building and the student was flung from the rafters, 90 feet above ground, into the orchestra pit to their demise. Their body was never found, but we believe that they became a ghost to haunt Jesuit theater productions to come. Now, every time a door closes randomly or a gust of wind blows throughout the theater, we know that the PAC ghost is watching over us. This is why we always leave one light in the center of the stage at the end of the night, so our ghost friend can find his way around.”

Explanation/Context: While growing up I thought that my high school theater was the only school that attributed a ghost to the strange happenings around the performing arts center, as it turns out, theaters around the world experience this phenomenon as well. Theater buildings are often very historic and carry years of storytelling in its walls – the pieces that were put on linger just as hauntingly as an apparition might. There is an undeniable folklore with tragic mishaps in the theater, dating back to gladiatorial performances in ancient Europe; the most notable theater mishap, of course, being Abraham Lincoln’s assassination while he was watching a play. For centuries, the idea of leaving a “ghost light” in the center of the stage once everyone else has gone home has been customary in protecting the space from bad energy. In this case, though, the tale of the fallen student from the rafters has darker connotations that have warranted an even further superstition that any unexplainable noise or movement comes from that deceased students’ spirit. 

The Five Inch Fingernail Lady

Informant Information – GD

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 57
  • Occupation: Teacher
  • Residence: San Pedro, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: March 20, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant first heard this story at a sleepover with several friends as a child in the late 1960s. She shared this information with me in an in-person interview.

Informant: 

The Five Inch Fingernail Lady could supposedly be heard scratching at windows. We would tell this story at sleepovers, and we had a scary ending that we told each other and a funny ending that we told to younger siblings. The story goes: 

One night, when a teenage girl was home all alone, she thought she heard a sound at her bedroom window. At first, she ignored it, but as she walked to the window she realized that someone was scratching at it. She crept up to the window very slowly because she was afraid. Suddenly, she threw back the curtain, but no one was there!

Then, she heard the same sound, but now it was coming from inside the kitchen! She ran to the kitchen to investigate. 

So the funny ending goes: She ran into the kitchen and found a lady with long, long fingernails. Five INCH fingernails! And with those fingers with long, sharp fingernails… She was eating chips that she found in the kitchen! She was just a ghost looking for a snack! 

The scary ending goes: She ran into the kitchen and found a terrifying monster with sharp teeth and long, pointed fingernails that were dripping with blood. She chased down the girl, grabbing her with her long, pointed, claw-like fingernails and ate her with her sharp, pointed teeth… I guess she was looking for a snack in this version, too.

Analysis:

It’s very interesting that this story has two alternative endings that are specifically designated for different age groups. It makes a lot of sense, given that this is a story meant to be told at sleepovers and parties– events that should be fun and enjoyable. I can understand using a sillier version of the story to make sure that telling and listening to the story remains fun, rather than actually upsetting.

Moss Back.

L is a 78-year-old Caucasian male originally from Meridian, Mississippi. L is a retired drill sergeant and veteran of the American war in Vietnam.

While visiting Phoenix, Arizona I met with L to discuss folklore, as he had previously helped me collect war stories for an oral history project. I met L at his Phoenix office where he provided me with two scary stories he remembered from his past. The following is the second of these two stories, which he first heard as a boy in the late 1950s.

L: Moss Back, Um.. I think it was a Cherokee Indian… What happened? Trying to think, guess we’ll see, he gets his head cut off.. and uh, then he goes around looking for his head. You know laughs and you could hear him moaning at night when he’s coming through the brush and through the trees. So you didn’t want to go out at night and you didn’t want to hear “Moss Baaack.. Moss Baaack’s coming..” laughs Oh God, probably seven eight years old when I first heard it. It was really funny, uh, so at church we had a group called “RA’s” Royal Ambassadors. So we had a ball team we played softball and that kinda stuff so we had, I’ll never forget him. He was our assistant pastor to church and he did all the stuff with the boys. We had some friends that had a lake out in the country about ten miles outside of Meridian.. and so he fixed up a deal to throw us camping out there and fishing, an overnight stay at the lake. So, we fished that day and you know uh did some swimming and fishing and all kinda stuff. And then that evening, they built a big ol’ camp fire. And they started telling us ghost stories you know laughs and Moss Back was one of ‘em and all kinds, all kinds of stuff and here’s a bunch of boys from.. seven eight, to ten maybe twelve. Um, so we listened to all these stories.. and there was somebody I don’t remember who it was, but there was another man there helping the Pastor out. And they said ok said, uh, “you boys”, uh, you know “go on to bed and do whatever you’re going to do and we’re going to go on and fish for a while there’s good fishing out here at night.” So they got in this boat and paddled out into this lake. Well, they went to the other side and came around through the dark laughs and we’re all sitting around here heard all these ghost stories you know laughs and here they come you know they got right up close to us and they went “Moss Baaack’s a comin Moss Baaack’s a comin!” laughs imitates scream we jump up running in every direction laughs oh my God! laughs boy they got us good. They, they likely scared us out of a year’s growth you know.

Reflection: L provided a great example of a common way folk have historically interacted ostensively with scary stories, pranking. The ”insiders” with knowledge of a scary story tend to prank the ”outsiders” (those without knowledge of the scary story) as an act of initiation for transitioning from ”insiders” to ”outsiders” of the story. As L’s account demonstrates, this often takes the form of the ”insiders” pretending to be the monster featured in the scary story in order to frighten the ”outsiders.” Moss Back as a character appears to be based on racially problematic history, as beheading is a known method of execution that American settlers used to punish Native American populations.

Muscle White.

L is a 78-year-old Caucasian male originally from Meridian, Mississippi. L is a retired drill sergeant and veteran of the American war in Vietnam.

While visiting Phoenix, Arizona I met with L to discuss folklore, as he had previously helped me collect war stories for an oral history project. I met L at his Phoenix office where he provided me with two scary stories he remembered from his past. The following is the first of these two stories, which he first heard as a teenager in the 60s.

L: Ok so this is the story of Muscle White… and Muscle White.. was a really bad man, he was always in trouble and been to prison two or three times, and uh been in a bunch of fights and stuff and he got in a fight where he was hurt really bad one time.. and he lost his right arm. And uh, they fixed him up a hook in prison, so he had this hook on his, on his right arm… Well he was in prison, in Parchman Prison in Mississippi… and he broke out, he escaped. And there was this state wide manhunt for Muscle White because he, he was a bad man. They, everybody was looking for him because uh.. he’d been in fights he’d killed some people I mean, he, he robbed some banks this was a bad guy. So everybody was out looking for him.. So, around Meridian where I lived, there were several places where, uh, teenagers liked to go and uh, park and pad, and.. you know and, and uh.. So, one of ‘em was a place that we called Lover’s Lane. And it was a place out in the country. And so uh, this boy and, and girl went out there, they were I think sixteen years old or so, and they went out there and they’re talking. And.. and uh.. um. The girl said that uh, she thought she heard something. And, the boy said “no it’s just your imagination there’s nothing out here there’s nobody out here” and they look, there’s no other cars out here, so there’s nobody here. And she says “no I really thought I heard something, you know or somebody or something” and he goes “no no it’s ok there’s nothing, there’s nothing out here.” And uh, she says “well, see I’m scared.” She says “I really wanna go.” He says “well no, see it’s ok really no no no” she says she really really wants to go and she’s really scared. He says well ok. Uh.. I, I guess we’ll go. And, and then he heard some—a bump on the car. Just as he was cranking up, and that kinda spooked him, and he threw it in drive and he took off real quick. And went down the road, and he said well “the night is ruined so I might as well take you home.” So he took this girl over to her house.. he got out and walked around to the side of his car to open the door for her, and there was a right arm hanging on the door with a hook on the door handle. Muscle White had been there.

Reflection: I have heard the Hook Man urban legend enough times over the course of my life to assume it offered me no more surprises. Yet, L managed to offer a version of the story that was both compelling in its execution and completely unfamiliar to me. I found it fascinating how fleshed out the Hook Man was in L’s telling of the narrative, as most versions of the story I know reduce the Hook Man to a faceless, nameless escaped convict. I believe the local geographical details that L imbues Muscle White’s backstory with provide excellent insight into Mississippi’s cultural history. Specifically, I believe L’s linkage of Muscle White to Parchman prison (a real prison in Mississippi) speaks to the prison’s historical notoriety in Mississippi. As Parchman prison is linked to a storied past of forced labor and terrible conditions for its inmates, it’s not hard to imagine how the story of the Hook Man and the prison eventually melded together through a shared association with evil in the Mississippian collective conscience.

 “For another version, see Brunvand, Jan Harold. 2014, Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends, Page #1659