At summer camp, there are exactly two kinds of people: those who cower in their tents, terrified by every strange noise emitted from the creaking, dark woods, and those who relish the scare factor of campfires, full moons, and haunted forests. While some campers see the setting sun as a portent of doom, others know it signals the best time of the day: the time when you get to tell ghost stories.
Summer camp may be months away (or years ago), but you can relive the experience thanks to Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown, collaborators on 2011’s eerie and magnetic illustrated book Picture the Dead, about a girl whose brother and fiancé both die in the Civil War–but may not be gone forever. On Griffin and Brown’s website, PicturetheDead.com, they’re inviting readers–like you!–to share their own stories of the supernatural.
Need some inspiration? Check out this ghastly tale by Jon Scieszka, author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. (It’s filed under #I Swear This Happened!, #Family Tree, and #Spooky Stranger.)
I’ve never told anyone about this before.
So don’t go spreading it around, okay?
It happened out at the lake. The night my five brothers and I decided to sleep out in a tent. My older brother Jim and I were supposed to be watching the little guys. And we did a pretty good job.
Tom didn’t fall off the dock and sink in the deep dark water. Gregg didn’t trip and burn himself hideously in the giant bonfire. Brian didn’t poke out his eye with the sharpened hotdog roasting stick. And Jeff was still a baby so he spent the night safely doing what babies do—filling his diaper.
We ran around like maniacs until late into the night. We burned every stick of wood. We ate every scrap of food. We threw every throwable rock into the lake or the fire. And then we collapsed inside the tent covered with sand, stuffed full of half-roasted hotdogs, and smelling like smoke.
Maybe it was the smell that attracted the thing.
Maybe it was the Donald Duck nightlight. I told Gregg we shouldn’t use a Donald Duck nightlight. Real camping guys don’t use nightlights.
Because just as we were all drifting off to sleep, I heard a scratching at the tent flap, and then a whispery voice going, “eeeee eeeee.”
I said, “Shut up, Tom. And go to sleep.”
“That wasn’t me,” said Tom.
“Feeeee meeeeee,” said the voice.
Jim said, “Knock it off, Gregg. Or I will punch you in the head.”
“That wasn’t me,” said Gregg. And we knew it wasn’t Gregg because then the voice spoke perfectly clearly, from outside the tent.
“Go away,” I said. “We ate all the hot dogs.”
“FEED ME.” Whoever or whatever it was fumbled with the tent flap.
“We haven’t got anything to eat,” said Jim.
“FEED ME!!!” The thing shook the tent.
Now I’ve read enough ghost and horror stories to know that if you don’t do what a ghost or monster asks, you are in big trouble. Both ghosts and monsters will keep after you until they get what they want. I looked around for something, anything to feed the ghost monster. The flap opened. And by the dim yellow Donald Duck light, we saw a giant scrawny hooked claw hand reach into our tent.
I knew we were all goners if we didn’t feed the thing, and feed it quick.
So I did what we had to do.
I gave it Jeff.
The hand, and Jeff, disappeared out the tent flap.
We heard a horrible slurping and smacking noise.
“Did you just give it Jeff?” said Jim.
“He was the smallest,” I said.
“What are we going to tell Mom?”
Before we could even think up a half-good story, we heard a sudden roar and a disgustingly gigantic bark burp barf. Something wet and heavy slapped down the whole front of the tent.
And I’m not going to lie. Jim and I and the surviving brothers were just about to scream … when Jeff crawled through the flap.
Jeff was covered in slime, and his diaper was hanging seriously low.
Otherwise he looked fine.
Jeff sat down with a wet squish and said, “Quaa.”
“What is that terrible smell?” said Brian.
“It’s Jeff,” said Gregg.
“It’s Jeff’s diaper,” said Tom.
Jim shined his boy scout flashlight over slime-dripping Jeff sitting on his oozing yellow and brown diaper.
“You know what happened? I think Jeff smelled so bad, the monster ghost thing puked him up.”
“Quaa,” said Jeff.
Because that is exactly what happened.
No one around the lake ever saw, or heard from the Feed Me ghost monster ever again after that night. Jeff and his diaper must have ruined his taste for humans.
And since Jeff seemed mostly okay after that, we didn’t think he, or my mom really needed to know about the whole thing.
So like I said—don’t go spreading it around, okay?