The Storyteller

I met a wonderful storyteller at a mountain resort. She offered to tell me ghost stories in a private session. It was an experience I would never forget.

by Lynn WL

My parents used to bring me on vacation as part of my birthday present which I really cherished. For my 10th birthday they took me to Disney World, and I had the time of my life (see the link to this fun story at the bottom).*

The following summer I went with them to the Smoky Mountains for my 11th birthday, and it was a time I would never forget. We were staying in the same resort my parents did on their honeymoon. “It’s very beautiful there. You’re gonna love it, Lynn,” my dad told me as he knew I loved nature.

We arrived there early evening on Sunday, and I was indeed thrilled to be there. The beauty of the mountains was unparalleled. Our resort was surrounded by forest, and we stayed in a rustic cabin overlooking the mountains.

As mom and dad were unpacking, I stood in the veranda admiring the magnificent surroundings. Although the view was breathtaking, it was also slightly eerie as the sun was setting, and there was a thin layer of fog blanketing the trees. I had read a few ghost stories from the Appalachian, and I wondered what spooky creatures lived in those mountain woods. I had goosebumps and shuddered as I walked back inside.

storyteller
The storyteller
The resort offered a number of activities for kids, and one of them was called Story Time With Grandma where kids ages 6 to 12 would gather in a big hall and listen to the storyteller – an older lady they called Grandma. Mom said the same lady was already there when she and dad were on honeymoon. I loved reading and listening to stories, so mom and I went to the activity center to register for the program which was held every Tuesday and Friday at 7 pm.

We were trying to decide which day I should register for, and Nancy, the lady at the counter, suggested that I register for both days if I really liked stories since different stories were told each day. So that’s what we did.  As we were talking, an older lady walked in, and Nancy immediately said, “Oh, here’s Grandma the storyteller!”

She looked very friendly and was quite jolly. She smiled at me and said, “Good evening, pretty young lady. I look forward to telling you some stories.”

I smiled back and asked, “Do you tell ghost stories?”

“Ohoho, I’m afraid not, sweetheart. We have a lot of younger kids, and we don’t want them to have sleepless nights now, do we? But I guarantee you’ll love my stories!” replied Grandma.

I smirked and was like, “Okaay…” She and mom then chatted briefly. They told us that during the summer the activity was held outside under a large gazebo overlooking the mountains so we all could enjoy the view and breathe the fresh air. I just couldn’t wait.

On Tuesday night right after dinner I walked over to the gazebo by myself. My parents thought it would be ok since I was old enough, and it was just a short walk from our cabin. Although it was summer, the air was a little chilly as we were in the mountains. I still decided to wear my favorite outfit -  t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops.

Nancy greeted me at the gazebo as I arrived, and ushered me to sit on a large mat on the floor with the other children. Grandma soon arrived and the show started. She was dressed in a period costume, and she was quite lively. She made the stories interactive, which was very exciting for the kids. One of the stories about a local legend was actually quite spooky, but it wouldn’t make anybody have a sleepless night.

After the program was over I walked up to Grandma and told her how much I enjoyed the stories, and I definitely looked forward to Friday night to hear more. That made her very happy. She remembered me from the other night at the activity center. She smiled and asked me, “Hey, do you have any plans Thursday night after dinner?” to which I said no. “Well, how would you like to come to my office, and I’ll tell you some ghost stories? Just you and me. It’s right over there,” she said pointing to a little hut with a thatched roof about 50 yards from the gazebo.

What? Did I hear that right? She offered to tell me ghost stories in a private session? How could I refuse? I was very excited, and immediately said, “Sure, I would love to!”

“Great, I’ll see you Thursday night at 7:30,” she said. I hurried back to our cabin and told my parents all about it. They both thought it was wonderful. The storyteller's favorable reputation and stature assured them that I would be in good hands.

7:25 pm Thursday. Again I walked out by myself. The air was even chillier than a couple nights ago. I was actually shivering a little, but I still couldn’t be bothered wearing anything other than my favorite outfit.

I knocked on the door as I got to Grandma’s hut. There was no answer. I waited a few seconds and knocked again. Still no answer. After the third time I was about to give up. “Shit,” I muttered to myself thinking that she had forgotten.

I was starting to walk away when the door slowly creaked open. I turned around and Grandma was standing in the doorway wearing a long black dress. “I’m sorry sweetheart, I was dozing off and didn’t hear you knock the first time. I’m just a little tired today.”

“Oh, it’s ok Grandma. You probably should have stayed home.”

“Aah, nonsense! I love telling stories as much as you love listening to them. Come on in!” She stepped aside to let me walk in.

The hut was dimly lit, giving it a rather eerie atmosphere. There were many paintings on the wall. Not just any paintings, but paintings of monsters! All kinds of them. I knew some like the vampire, werewolf, and mummy. I even recognized Cthulhu, but the rest I wasn’t familiar with. They all looked scary. “What’s with all these paintings, Grandma?” I asked thinking she probably put them up just for the occasion, sort of like props.

“Oh, can’t you tell? I’m actually a horror story lover just like you. Surprised? Just because I don’t tell them to little kids on the show doesn’t mean I don’t like them,” she replied.

There was one particular painting that caught my eye. It was a weird creepy looking creature, sort of like an alien. I asked her about it and she said, “Oh, that’s a forest ghoul. I’ll tell you a story about it later as a bonus. Have a seat, my child!”

Her demeanor was totally different than it was on Tuesday.  She wasn’t jolly and lively. In fact, she was quite somber. I wasn’t sure if that was because she was tired or she purposely tried to adjust her expression to the spooky stories she was telling me.

She claimed that all the stories (save for the one about the forest ghoul) were true. She had personally experienced them growing up in the area. That fact, combined with the storyteller's gloomy disposition and the creepy atmosphere of the room created a virtual nightmare for me. I was sitting there with my heart pounding and all the hair on my body standing up.

As much as I loved horror stories, I was actually glad when the session was over. I felt relieved, like being awakened from a nightmare. Grandma walked me to the door as I thanked her and bade her goodnight.  “I’ll see you tomorrow evening, Grandma.“

She smiled weakly and said, “Have a good night, sweetheart. Sleep tight!” Again, the door creaked as it slowly closed. As I started walking I thought I heard a faint laugh, but I dismissed it as my imagination going wild. The session had fucked me up.

Meanwhile, the night had gotten colder, and I didn’t see anyone else around outside. The exterior lights on some of the buildings had been turned off, making the resort look like a spooky ghost town. I wanted to get back to the cabin fast. So I took off my flip flops and ran barefoot all the way. It probably took me less than five minutes to get there, but it felt like an eternity.

My parents asked me how it went, and I couldn’t lie. I told them I was really scared, and asked if I could sleep in their room that night. Mom laughed and told me that my love for horror stories came with a price tag. She also said Grandma must have been a great storyteller to get me scared like that. But dad couldn’t say no to his baby girl, so I slept in between my parents that night.

The following night after dinner I headed to the gazebo, looking forward to another fun night with Grandma. It wouldn’t be scary this time, I told myself. I could definitely use a break from horror stories.

There was a huge sign at the entrance to the gazebo saying that Story Time With Grandma had been cancelled. My heart dropped. What had happened? Was she sick or something?

Nancy was standing there by the sign, and I asked her what was going on. She hesitated but finally said, “I’m so sorry my dear, but I have bad news…”

“Wh… what happened?” I asked nervously. “Is Grandma sick?”

“No… she got into a car accident. She was badly hurt, and she uh… she didn’t make it.”

“What?! When did it happen?”

“It happened yesterday evening around 6 pm as she was driving here,” replied Nancy.

My brain had a hard time processing what I just heard. “Bu… but I…” I couldn’t finish my sentence. I felt like everything around me was spinning, and my legs were getting weak.

Nancy quickly hugged me and said, “I’m sorry my dear. I’m so sorry…”


*Traveling to Disney World for my 10th birthday (this is not a ghost story).
 

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