Scary True Stories. Told Ahead of Halloween. Just In Case.

I’m definitely an implant as far as Halloween is concerned. Growing up in northern Europe, I never knew spooky and scary things were supposed to happen on a certain day, or even in a certain month. Instead, I grew up knowing that 1st of November was All Saints’ Day. Cemeteries would look peaceful with candles burning on the graves of departed loved ones on the Eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31st. There was nothing spooky about that.

So on my first Halloween in the US, just three months after we’d arrived here, I was not prepared for what was to come. I got off the bus a couple of blocks from home, tired after a stressful work day, when a glowing skeleton ran towards me on the darkened suburban street. Spooky. And as it came closer, it spread its arms, ready to grab me.

Instead the skeleton hugged me. And then it spoke. My son’s voice, no doubt. He had already caught on to the local customs and was on his way to trick-or-treat with his new friends. I realized the whole neighborhood was spooky. Ghosts and skeletons hung from the trees. Carved pumpkins threw a ghostly light on the manicured lawns through their hollow eyes and irregular teeth. I had never seen anything like that. It felt rather silly to me as I was still mulling over the outcome of my last meeting. On a very ordinary Monday night. But then, I was no longer a kid.

Not that I was a stranger to skeletons. I actually had one as my front seat passenger when I drove through Addis Ababa to a health care conference a few years earlier. The skeleton had been our guest for a couple of days before the event, so I felt compelled to provide him transport to the venue. I had lovingly made him a hoodie out of a bedsheet for this chilly January day. And I did put his seat belt on. He sat there silently next to me as we navigated our way through this lively city. A few pedestrians spotted my pale passenger, and there was some finger pointing. But we arrived safely. He did his job and I did mine. We even posed for a photo together before our ways parted. So I was used to skeletons. Sort of.

Tiny with a skeletonBut the first Halloween was embarrassing. I didn’t have large stacks of candy for the many trick-or-treaters, who knocked on our door. But luckily I always kept a small stash of treats in my pantry. That lasted for an hour. I was not up to any tricks so I had to put the lights out when my candy was gone. A real outlier. But I was a quick study. The following year I had both pumpkins and candy. Whole pumpkins on the stairs. And wrapped candy in a basket.

However, my scariest spooky experience was not on a Halloween. You see, such things can actually happen any time. This was years earlier. In the dark underground city of the dead. In the catacombs under the city of Rome.

When I walked down there, in those long, narrow, winding tunnels surrounded by damp earth, stone or ancient brick, I was moved far back in human history. To the dark times of persecution. I could feel the suffering in those walls. All my senses we spooked. And the skeletons, skulls and other reminders of those who died or were buried there added to the scary and somewhat claustrophobic experience.

All roads lead to Rome, as they say.  If yours does too, the catacombs may be the place to visit. In the unlikely event that your Halloween is not scary enough.

So what am I going to do this Halloween? You guessed it, right? Visit the salt marsh, of course. In case you don’t see an update on my feathered friends over the weekend, I might’ve been caught in the web of this glowing giant spider. Just so you know.

Well ahead of this upcoming scary walk, I wish you all Happy Halloween and a Peaceful All Saints’ Day.

54 thoughts on “Scary True Stories. Told Ahead of Halloween. Just In Case.”

  1. I had the same experience in the catacombs in Rome…very surreal! Visiting the salt marsh sounds much tamer. I enjoyed seeing your earlier photo and stories. 🙂

    1. One never knows what will happen at the salt marsh…but at least it’s not 100+ feet underground. I thought the skeleton posed more naturally than me in the photo 😀

    1. Oh, I was at my most sensitive there. Felt it. And couldn’t get out fast enough. Mr. Skeleton was cool, I mean cold, and you should’ve seen how we looked on the front seats of my car. I hope the marsh will be calm 😉

    1. I never went trick or treating as a kid, but I can see the fun of the costumes and the excitement for the little ones. But like many other holidays, it’s become a commercial one…

  2. I don’t bother with Halloween either. I had a little taste of what you experienced in that catacombs though and it really creeped out. I had to walk through a very dark and long tunnel before I arrived at my destination … water falls. I could not see and almost tripped and fell. I was petrified that rats were on there with me. And yes I was walking in water. It certainly does not have to be Halloween to get frightened! Great post, Tiny! ❤

    1. Thank you Amy. Just imagine your tunnel 100+ feet underground, very long and in some places very tight. I remember needing to turn sideways several times to pass through. No Halloween needed to experience real spooky. Hugs ❤

    1. Thank you Carol! I had some relaxing fun with the art work :)The “skeleton ride” in Ethiopia was rather funny too, but I wouldn’t go back to the catacombs.

    1. Thanks Brad! You should definitely try digital art. It’s the best stress reliever. You just take a few of your photos, mix them up and see what you can create. Sometimes it’ll be spooky and other times rather beautiful 🙂

  3. It is interesting that we have such a fascination for skeletons and scary things. I was in Hawaii on one Halloween night and some of the tourists (from various countries) were rather frightened by all of the wandering ghosts and ghouls. I guess, if you didn’t know about the Halloween tradition, it would be rather frightening to see this sort of strange behavior.

    1. I can easily see how people not used to Halloween, could feel out of place with all the ghosts and skeletons running around. I still remember that night when I came home and saw all the decorations and costumes for the first time. They had all come up over the weekend and I had not seen them when running to the bus in the morning.

  4. I decided not to visit the catacombs while in Rome, sounds like I made the right choice. Halloween is not as big here in Ausralia, although it is growing unfortunately ha! I enjoyed your spooky

  5. The catacombs under the city of Rome do sound very spooky. Celebrating Halloween must seem very strange to people from other cultures who find themselves suddenly immersed in the experience. I like the idea of burning candles on the graves of our ancestors that night, and what a perfect time of year to spruce up cemeteries. Not sure that would catch on in this country, except perhaps among those who love to visit cemeteries while researching their family histories. Interesting how cemeteries can seem like peaceful resting places and yet the catacombs do not because of the way the people there died. Amazing how you could feel the suffering in those walls after all these years. Lots to ponder today from your post.

    1. The customs of Halloween were a bit strange for me, but as a child our son jumped right into it. Somehow the catacombs felt very different from cemeteries, although about 80 percent of those buried there did not die there, but were bought there for burial. While I was interested in visiting them after reading about their history, I would not go there again. I would just do those parts of the tour that are above ground.

  6. OM,om,dear Tiny!What a wonderful approach to the event!All your stories and your photos are so impressively connected and finely woven with culture,tradition,art,history,and a bit of suspense!
    The catacombs experience in Rome,is one that I wouldn’t like to relive. Can’t wait to see the moments,you’re going to live in the salt marsh!
    Have a wonderful weekend with or without Halloween surprises 🙂 xxx

    1. Thank you dear Doda for your kind comments! As you could see I’m fine with the kids having fun today (Halloween), but can’t really relate to the adults overdoing it 🙂 Had so much fun doing the pictures though. I agree with you, I wouldn’t want to enter the catacombs again. But as to the salt marsh….soon is the time. It’s getting dark 😀 Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, my friend XX

      1. Good morning dear friend Tinny!I was away from WP for a week and now I have started playing catch up again.It’s really a very frustrating duty.My inbox is nightmarish 😦 Off I go to enjoy your recent work,my friend 🙂

  7. A skeleton as passenger with safety belt around 😀 gosh, I am not sure if I will be shocked or smiling when seeing such thing! My mother refused to visit the catacombs in Rome when we were there after visiting the Capuchin Crypt. She said it was more than enough skeletons to see until the rest of her life..But I hope someday I will the catacombs myself, sounds spooky and mysterious..
    Have a nice break and enjoy your weekend!

    1. I’m sure you’d laugh at me and the skeleton cruising in an SUV together 😀 And since you love adventure, you should visit the catacombs ~ it’s a different experience, so to speak. Have a great rest of the weekend, and thanks for your kind comment, Indah!

    1. Oh, I prefer those too, Sylvia! My son “face timed” us today with the girls and they were so excited about Halloween. The little one (1.5 years) will be a Monster and the big one (5) will be a Peacock when they go trick or treating tonight. Can’t wait to see the pics 😀

  8. I recall coming to the US and running out of candy as well! I had no idea it was such a big deal ….. and a lot of fun for the kids!
    I hope you survived last night’s antics and got some time at the salt marsh Tiny!

  9. Amazing digital art, Tiny. The skeleton road-trip story is classic – it sounds like something I would do! Hope you had a wonderful Halloween 🙂

    1. Thanks Tahira! I’m sure you would have done the skeleton ride too 🙂 My Halloween was quiet, went twice to the salt marsh and those birds did lots of tricks 🙂 Have a wonderful week ahead!

  10. Love this story ~ and also this beautiful twist with your art work – amazing. Halloween is such a great memory for me growing up, and HK has a bit of it in the international neighborhoods but nothing like the effort & fun seen in the States. Your first encounter with it is a fabulous story 🙂

  11. Thank you, Randall. Sometimes I like to play with digital art. It’s fun to see what can be done by using bits and pieces from several photos and drawings, and Halloween seemed like a good theme. My first Halloween is a lasting memory for sure 🙂

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