When I was little, the Halloween story that scared me the most was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.
I could not handle this story for some reason, which is probably why is has become my favorite ghost story to tell at this time of year.
My next door neighbor had a record (those were little black, round things that played songs and such when you struck them with a needle.....think of them as prehistoric CD's) with the story of the Headless Horseman on one side and a goofy little song on the other. Whenever my friend played it, I had to go home. I just couldn't hear it and not have it play in my brain, over and over again at bedtime.
And then, when I was in middle school, I went to a Haunted House (something I HATE TO DO) that was hosted by the National Labs where my dad worked. Yeah, Scientists put it on. I am going out on a limb here, but let me just say that it is my opinion that Scientists should NEVER be allowed to create Haunted Houses for Little Kids. Never.
Naturally, it was terrifying. There were rooms for each scary thing....a Frankenstein room (with those electrode things zapping across the room as if they were being hit by lightening....nice job, Scientists), a vampire room, a wolfman room (the werewolf actually chased us into the next room, some mad Scientist/human experiment room that I still can't think about (yeah, nice going, Scientists!)
But I survived them all, because I was the ONE kid out of hundreds that made their dad go inside, too.
But then, in the parking lot, as my dad dropped his car keys and was fumbling around on the ground for them, I heard the distinctive clip-clopping that could only be horse hooves. I was afraid to turn around, but somehow I did anyway.
And there he was. Clip-clopping his way across the parking lot on a black horse, black cape, no head, carrying a jack-o-lantern carved into a hideous smile. The Headless Horseman.
Yeah, nice going, Scientists. It's not enough that you scare the pants of little children INSIDE the Haunted House, you have the keep the fun going on the OUTSIDE. (and we were the only ones in the parking lot because I wanted to leave early....all the other kids were still inside having, err, um, FUN I guess you would call it.)
I probably didn't sleep well for months....maybe years.
So now, each year, I treat my fifth graders to a retelling of the classic tale. I mean, there are those things which you just HAVE to pass on to the next generation.....
what's your favorite scary story?