Scary-Stories-coversI was ten years old, and in 5th grade. One of my friends in the rural grade school I attended had a sleep over at his place, which happened to be one of the many farm families that populate the area of my neck of the woods. We built a fire outside by a dense grove of trees behind the house, and come night time after the requisite ritual of roasting hotdogs and such, we all began telling ghost stories, to see how freaked out we could get each other.

The stories told were your basic campfire ghost stories: classics like “The Golden Arm” and that one with the guy with a hook for a hand that just escaped the mental hospital, along with some others that I only remember having been told at that campfire that night. All told with the earnestness that only young boys with some very fertile imagination can conjurer up.

I was completely enraptured by that night of storytelling. It was cut short after a couple of hours, when some coyotes began howling in the distance, and we retreated to the warmth and safety of the indoors. But the images that the stories told that night continued to fascinate me, long after that night. Soon after, I began checking out books of ghost stories and juvenile-aged horror stories that I could find at the library, feeding my growing interest in the macabre. I never had nightmares, really…well, nothing I would consider nightmares, personally. Even at that young an age, I found myself more fascinated rather than scared by ghost stories.

Besides, what’s Halloween without a good, old fashioned ghost story? It’s an art form, really. And when told right, like any other story, it can open up a sense of wonder and mystery, as well as scare the dickens out of you.