Saturday, September 18, 2010

Shocktober Preview/Horror Hook - My Mom's Story

We absolutely love Halloween and horror role-playing in general around here. Last year I tested myself and tried to write a horror hook every day in October (otherwise known as Shocktober 2009). While we have different/lots of new plans for Shocktober 2010, I wrote up a bit of a horror story based on a very short little experience my mom told me about from when she was a kid. I changed some details, but it's mostly true. And no, the picture to the right here is not my grandma and grandpa's farm but rather the house from Night of the Living Dead, which is suitably creepier. Keep Reading for the story, and I hope you enjoy! * Details are left vague to protect the innocent.

My mom's family used to own a farm out in the country about 10 minutes from the nearest small town. The farm was the family business, and this was before farmers had machines that could do everything. Everyone would help out with the harvesting and the milking. This meant lots of early mornings and late nights where the house was empty of all working-aged family members. Cows simply can’t be bothered to be ready to be milked at two o’clock in the afternoon.

My mom has an older brother and three older sisters, and she's 10 years younger than the next youngest sister. What this means, besides the fact that God decided grandma and grandpa weren't done having kids, is that my Aunt Judy, the second youngest, was down on the farm across the old country road with all the other grown-ups doing farm work while my mom was left alone in the house often as a child. One of her favorite shows was Lost in Space, but she always told me how much the aliens scared her. This being a farm family, my Grandpa never was one to waste a cent, and so my mom was only allowed the lights on in the room she currently occupied. You better believe she'd catch hell from Grandpa the next day if he ever saw both the living room and kitchen lights on at the same time. The house wasn't huge by any means, but it did have two stories and an exposed basement in the back of the house full with back door that had been sealed shut long ago - before my mom was even born - by my grandpa.

This is a creepy enough set up on its own. Imagine a seven year-old alone in a house, the nearest family across the road down in the barn near loud farm equipment running at full-bore. However, keep in mind that this was the 60's, and the few houses that surround the old farm in modern times - and it is still only a few - were no where to be seen. The farm was in perfect isolation as the land around it, when not converted into farm field, was thick with trees.

So my mom spent a lot of time on her own watching old Lost in Space reruns after dinner when the rest of the family went down to the farm to work. No, she didn't report any stories of alien abductions or little green men coming into the house uninvited. If she did, I would probably just smile at her and write it off as a child's imagination run rampant due to the incredibly goofy designs of those 1960's alien costumes. No, what she reports is much more chilling as it has absolutely no correlation to what she would see on TV as the Family Robinson explored new, outlandish planets.

My mom explained to me that, on more than one occasion, she was distracted by a sound she heard coming from the area behind the house. Wisconsin may be known for our winters, but trust me, our summers can be unbearably hot and uncomfortable. During those summer months the house was always wide open. With no air conditioning, grandpa would have left the screen door open at the front of the house if it wouldn't have let all the bugs in and would have made the house a little cooler. In this setting my mom could easily hear all the noisy machines running down in the barn or the cow house and had to turn the TV volume way up to hear Dr. Smith's terrible suggestions to poor young Will Robinson.

And yet, somehow she heard something above the din of the farm and the blare of the ancient television set. My mom described it first as the echo of a song. It sounded to me like how you can hear music playing in the background of someone you're talking to on the phone. Whenever she heard this she would turn the TV down, almost muting it, and try to figure out where the noise was coming from. Everyone was down on the farm across the road, and no one lived for miles around. Given grandpa's frugality, no one dared forget to turn off the radio before heading to the farm, and besides that, the stations my aunts listened to were more likely to play Elvis or the Beatles than the kind of music my mom had heard.

Each time she sought it out it was a kind of curious naivety only a child could possess that pushed her to search high and low for the music. As she described these experiences to me, I experienced the sensation you get when watching a horror movie and desperately wanting to yell at the seven year-old version of my mom to get out of the house and run to the safety of her family across the road. However, being a seven year-old means she was more curious than cautious, and she would search through the house turning each light off in the room as she left and turning each light on in the room as she entered. She was choreographing her every move to anyone outside that was paying even the slightest attention.

The part that got to me was what the song was. Each time she searched she ended up wandering to the same spot - it was the open window of the bedroom she had all to her self. Like I said above, the house wasn't that large for the big farm family and the upstairs consisted of three bedrooms - one for my uncle, one for my three aunts - all at least 10 years older than my mom - to share, and one for my mom which had basically been the baby room for all those years.

What was the song she heard? It was a lullaby. She can't remember the words to it now, but she knows it was something comforting. She never remembers being exceptionally bothered by it as a child. This happened several times over the course of her seven year-old summer, but she explained to me that she never told her mom or dad about the song. To the best of my knowledge she never asked my aunts or uncle if they'd ever had the same experience, and at this point, being a second-hand story, I'd feel too crazy to ask them about it myself. The part that bothered me the most was that she never heard the song when there was another soul in the house. You'd think it might sing when she was trying to fall asleep or something, but no; it would always end long before anyone made it back from the farm, and my grandma always took the time to tuck my mom in before bed.

What this means, I don't know. I don't tend to believe in the supernatural (although I absolutely love it all in general), but I do know there has been some pretty unusual activities that have taken place in the backwoods of Wisconsin. I mean, we're the state that produced both Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer and one of my aunts actually lives on Bray Road, which is only about a half hour drive from the farm. The woods behind the old farmhouse have only been pushed back a tiny bit as one house has been built back there. However, and I swear this is true, that house seemed to always be for sale whenever we'd visit grandma and grandpa as I was growing up.

And that's my one creepy story. I did get lost in the woods once at a Boy Scout camp in Northern Wisconsin, but a deer darted out in front of me, scaring the bajesus out of me and causing me to turn tail and run right back to my camp. It was scary, and that deer might have saved my life (for all I know I was heading out into the woods towards no where and could have had a huge manhunt to find me before I died of some terrible fate), but hardly supernatural.

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