Ghostly Campfire Tales for Halloween Jessica Broverman October 31, 2020 For thousands of years, storytelling has played an integral role in connecting one another and building communities. We engage in storytelling all the time, whether it be at work, through social media, or while sitting around the dinner table. It’s the act of storytelling that makes us human. We tell stories to share our experiences, better-understand cultures and traditions, and to simply have some fun. As the leaves continue to fall and we soak up the final weeks of autumn, there’s nothing more enjoyable than spending time with friends roasting marshmallows and telling spooky stories around a campfire. In the spirit of Halloween, here are three spine-chilling stories that can be told at your spooky get-togethers this weekend. The following stories are fictional, dramatized tales based on stories provided by local residents. A MAN AT THE DOOR Julian was visiting his grandparents on a summer’s day in Wheeling, W.Va. — a long ways away from his home in Long Island. As his family’s car turned within view of his grandparent’s driveway, Julian looked up at the white, statuesque house on the hill. A long driveway led them slowly with care to the old garage apartment where Julian’s family would be staying. The home, however, was splendorous. It stood proud, strong and even a little bit arrogant. As the day went on, light turned to dark and Julian went to walk across the driveway to get ready for bed in the apartment. Julian took calculated steps on the steep, cement stairs. Upon reaching the pavement, he heard a harsh, loud, singular cough in the darkness. A silence fell over the large driveway with nothing being heard except Julian’s short, panicked breathing. “Julian! Time for bed,” his mother called out from the window, breaking the dead silence. Julian sprinted to the garage apartment door. Once he had made it to the doorframe, he felt a chill run down his spine as he swung the door shut. He ran to the landing and looked back only to see the door wide open after he had just slammed it closed. He silently walked to his room, composed of fear and calculation, and kept the door locked all night with his light on until dawn approached. The following afternoon, Julian was gazing out the kitchen window to the garage apartment door. His cousin noticed he had been peering through the glass for an unusual amount of time without a word being spoken. “Julian, what are you looking at?” Julian didn’t move. He didn’t respond. His cousin spoke urgently once more. “Why are you staring at the apartment door?” Julian finally turned to her and said, “I’m not looking at the door. I’m looking at him,” Julian said while pointing out the window. Julian’s cousin looked out the window, seeing no one. “I don’t see anyone. Nothing’s there, bud,” said Julian’s cousin, assuming he was being imaginative. “He’s there. He’s looking at us,” rebutted Julian. At this point, several family members, including Julian’s grandmother, had taken an interest. Julian’s mother asked, “What does he look like, sweetheart?” Without pause, Julian said, “He’s old and has a mustache. He’s dressed nice, too. He’s staring back.” Julian’s mother grew uncomfortable and removed her son out of view of the window. The other family members kept staring — waiting to see this invisible old man. The grandmother, however, remained seated, sipping her tea while the rest of her family stood frozen. Julian’s cousin approached the grandmother to make sure she was alright. “Oh, yes, dear. That’s just Charles.” Everyone nervously turned towards the grandmother, unsure of what she meant. Julian’s cousin calmly questioned the grandmother in search of some reason. “Is Charles the man that Julian saw?” “Yes. He was our driver several decades ago. Good man, good man.” “How do you know it was Charles, grandma?” The grandmother directed her attention to Julian, who was still being kept away from the window. “Julian, did this man have a white mustache and a black suit?” Julian was silent with his eyes pacing back and forth nervously. With reservations, he responded. “… Yes.” “And did this old man keep both of his hands behind his back and stand just below the door frame to the garage apartment?” Young Julian struggled to deliver a response. “How- How, uhm, how did you know that?” As the grandmother stood and made her way to the next room, she said, “I’ve known Charles since I was a young woman. He won’t harm you. Just don’t take any cigarettes if he offers them to you. He has a nasty cough.” THE TAKING OF ADENA A family purchased a home in Mozart. Known as a quiet, friendly area in Wheeling, W.Va., a mother, father and their teenage son looked forward to a peaceful existence in their nearly 100-year-old home. The teenage boy, Marcel, decided to venture into the woods on the family’s newly-purchased property in an effort to stay out of the contractors’ way. He felt the texture of the tree trunks and listened to the crunch of fall leaves beneath his feet. As he continued his brisk walk, his foot became stuck in what he assumed to be a rabbit hole. He struggled to remove himself, but even with great effort, his foot wouldn’t budge. As he shifted his eyes upwards, he saw a little girl hiding behind a nearby tree. “Hey! Can you come help me?” She stood motionless in a homely dress that was quite filthy and upon further investigation, Marcel noticed she had buttons over her eyes. Marcel went to call out to the little girl again, but she had vanished. He then pulled his foot once more and it was removed with great ease. Upon further investigation, Marcel saw that his shoe was wet. While he assumed it was mud, he soon realized that it was blood. Marcel sprinted back to his home and didn’t look back until he was safely inside, all the while trying to rationalize what he had just seen. Once the door was locked, he looked towards the woods and saw the same little girl, staring at him with her button eyes through the glass, grinning at him. Marcel knew something sinister was happening to him. As he made his way up the stairs to try and tell his parents, he heard a heavy thud on the ground floor. Marcel leaned his head down over the railing and saw one of the contractors laying on the ground, reaching for him, red in the face. Marcel wanted to help him. Marcel wanted to call out, but he was too frightened, knowing that whatever was happening, was being caused by the little girl in the woods. The next day, Marcel was told that the contractor had a massive heart attack and had passed away. “I want you to know that it wasn’t your fault,” Marcel’s mother said. Marcel, however, knew in his gut that no one could have done anything. “Mom, I think there’s something wrong in this house. We can’t live here,” he told his mother. Marcel’s parents both shrugged, but stood firmly that unfortunate things happen everywhere. While his parents were correct, Marcel knew that this was not just an unfortunate event. Marcel decided he would do some research on the home. After all, it was 100 years old. There had to be some type of explanation. Marcel went to the local library in Downtown Wheeling and discovered that this was not the first death at his new family home. In the 1920s, an 11-year-old girl named Adena was found murdered and strangled to death. Her killer was never discovered, though police made great efforts. It was later found that the officer in charge of searching for her offender, was found to be unstable and arrested for assault and battery in an unrelated case. Adena’s story is no longer spoken of and is not included in the county’s cold case files to this day. This child never received justice, nor did her family, and this upset Marcel. He felt that the little girl was haunting the grounds where she was murdered and now murdered others, like the innocent contractor. Marcel assumed he was the key to ending her eternal suffering and decided to take on the responsibility of protecting his family. It was dusk when Marcel pulled into his family driveway. As he slammed his door shut, he peered towards the woods and saw a dark trail that wasn’t there before. As his eyes followed the trail, he saw the little girl, again, hiding behind a tree, grinning, her button eyes focused on him. He decided he would follow the trail and find out just what he had to do to save his family. As he approached the trail, he noticed it wasn’t a paved walkway or even a cattle trail. The grass was pained dark red and was wet, as though it had just appeared. He knew this trail wasn’t mud just like he knew it wasn’t dirt on his shoes, but despite the fear that now lived in the pit of his stomach, he walked forward into the woods. Nightfall came and his mother called him, but the line was dead. She stayed awake, hoping he was alright, but trying not to overreact. She waited hours and those hours turned into days and days turned into search parties and search parties turned into news stations reporting a missing boy. No one would find his trail. No one would know the fear he felt and no one would know just how sinister that house in Mozart is… until it is too late. A MOUNT WOOD HAUNTING Three friends decided to venture through the Mount Wood Cemetery in North Wheeling on a beautiful fall day. The sun was slowly being taken over by a gray sky, but the cemetery was untapped ground for Daniel, Finn and Tammie. As they strolled through the more recent headstones with fresh granite, the three friends kept trudging along in search of more seasoned gravesites. As they began to lose their breath more and more as they climbed uphill, they noticed a looming, cracked headstone. As the friends traveled upwards to observe this gravesite, it was noticeable within seconds how cold it had gotten. What was just moments ago mild, brisk weather that hardly required a light jacket, now caused the college-aged adults to see their breath in the air. Upon arriving at the decrepit headstone, the three of them took in its massive size. “It has to be at least seven feet tall. It’s so old you can’t even see who’s grave it is anymore,” said Daniel. “Look at that crack! It’s practically a hole,” said Tammie. Finn reached forward and ran his fingers over the crack that had defaced the gravesite many years ago. “Go ahead, Finn! Look inside the crack. Unless you’re scared,” said Daniel. Reluctantly, Finn put his head inside of the large crack, but saw nothing except darkness. He kept his head inside of the cold headstone for a few seconds, feeling as though he was being watched from the inside. He removed himself from the gravestones crack only to see that the sky had gone from gray to being riddled with large, dark clouds and lightning dangerously close to them. The three of them made the snappy decision to leave the graveyard. As they turned and made their first few steps down the hill, Finn felt a sharp pain strike his back. “Ow! Who did that?!” Finn exclaimed. A stone fell at his heels, but there was nothing except the cracked gravesite behind him. The three students looked around at each other with their eyes wide and filled with panic. “Go. Just go, now,” whispered Tammie. As the three made their way hastily down the hill, through the entryway and into the car, they felt a sense of relief wash over them. “That was such a rush! I’m sure it was just a bird or something that dropped the rock near you Finn,” said Daniel. Finn, however, clearly didn’t feel as though this was just a fun experience like his two classmates. “That rock was thrown at me. A bird would have dropped it from above. I’m never going back there again,” Finn said with a straight, resolute face. Tammie, always the steadfast friend, replied, “We don’t have to. Let’s just get something to eat, okay?” Finn shrugged in agreement. The three made their way down to Woodsdale for some food and Daniel, being the social celebrant that he is, brought up how strange the weather had been to the server. “It was sunny out when I woke up and then it got so cloudy and cold. Those lightning strikes too! And now it’s sunny again. It’s so strange,” said Finn. The server looked at Finn with concern and confusion and said, “I mean, it’s been pretty clear here all day. It’s been sunny without a cloud in the sky and definitely no lightning. I’ll be right back with your drinks though.” The friends were silent throughout the entire meal and went home immediately afterward. Tammie noticed her back hurting and upon investigating, she observed a red bump in the same spot that Finn had gotten the mysterious stone thrown at him. Daniel noticed the same pain as well in the same exact spot when he went to take a shower that evening. Finn, however, didn’t have a red spot. He had a bruise that was not blue, nor purple, but black as night. The three friends never spoke of their visit to the Mount Wood Cemetery again, but all three would always carry those mysterious markings on their back, forever wondering who was buried at that demoniacal gravesite. All of the above stories were derived from the following: A MAN AT THE DOOR, Jessica Broverman; THE TAKING OF ADENA, Jeramiah Freeland; and A MOUNT WOOD HAUNTING, Tara Adamczyk. 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