The Legend of the Hodag

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

If you ever visit the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, located in a small town of the same name in northern Wisconsin, you’ll come across a large fiberglass statue of a monstrous creature sitting out front. With its red eyes, cheshire grin, and raised paw it looks both fearsome and mischievous – like something from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. This eye-catching monument exists to make one thing clear: you’re in Hodag Country now. As you explore the town of Rhinelander you’ll notice a common word cropping up when you’re eating at the Hodag Store, bowling at the Hodag Lanes, and shopping at the Hodag Farmers Market. Like many urban legends this creature has become the town’s mascot.

But what exactly is a Hodag? And why is it so woven into the fabric of Rhinelander?

Hodag statue in Rhinelander, Wisconsin

According to local legends, the Hodag is a mythical beast that has “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end”. It’s believed to be seven feet long and thirty inches tall, and it’s diet consists mainly of turtles, snakes, and white bulldogs. Modern reports of the Hodag have been few and far between, but there was a time when the creature was gaining national attention.

History of the Hodag Legend

Back in the 1800s, Rhinelander was a lumber town. Loggers working the surrounding forests would tell stories of a monster that stalked the woods, which they thought might be the agitated spirit of a dead lumber oxen. In 1893, a timber cruiser named Eugene Shepard released photographic evidence of the creature’s charred remains. He’s said to have gathered up a group of men to capture the beast, but they failed and ended up destroying it with dynamite. 

Sketch of Hodag local legend

Then, in 1896, Shepard was back claiming he had captured a live Hodag from its cave with the help of several bear wrestlers and a generous amount of chloroform. He debuted the mythical creature in the back of a dark tent during the first Oneida County Fair, where frightened onlookers caught glimpses of it moving about in the shadows. It became such a hit that Shepard began touring county fairs with his sons, promoting the legend and raking in profits. He kept the beast in a shed behind his house, and people would pay to come see it there as well.

Word was beginning to spread and people would come from far and wide to get a look at the Hodag. It wasn’t until a group of scientists from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. came to visit that Shepard’s claim was unmasked for what it truly was – a hoax! He’d simply fashioned a puppet of sorts with wood, ox hides, and cattle horns that he could move with hidden wires. And yet Shepard had done such a successful job of advertising the legend that people still came to see it, even after it was declared a gimmick.

The Hodag in Modern Times

Welcome Sign for Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Not only is the Hodag the official symbol for Rhinelander, but it has become a part of the town’s very livelihood. Various statues and billboards featuring the legend dot the main streets. Pennants bearing its image fly from flagpoles downtown. It’s the mascot of the local high school and the Hodag Country Festival. Souvenir shops, museums, restaurants, and more all carry the Hodag brand. 

But does this local legend, beloved by residents and tourists alike, actually exist? Is it just a mascot, or is it something more? There have been occasional reports in recent decades. Golfers claim it is eating their golf balls, anglers state it is stealing the fish straight from their lines, and so on. But whether or not the legend is true, one thing is clear: the Hodag is alive and well in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Sources

The Phantom Hitchhiker of Black Horse Lake

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Vanishing hitchhikers are one of the most widespread and commonly reported urban legends in the US, a phenomenon which gained notoriety as the title-story in Jan Brunvand’s The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and their Meanings (1981). Puzzle Box Horror’s Scariest Urban Legends series continue with The Phantom Hitchhiker of Black Horse Lake.

The Vanishing Hitchhiker Legends

There are two primary manifestations of the vanishing hitchhiker legend, the first being particularly famous around Britain and the US. So it goes; Someone is driving home at night when they spot a young girl hitching from the roadside. She sits in the back and, at some point in the journey, mysteriously disappears. Having been given her address, the driver goes there anyway, where he learns that the girl died in a car crash years before. In some renditions of the story the driver then visits the graveyard where she is buried, only to find a jacket hung over her gravestone. In the story’s other depiction, one rarely heard around the UK, the hitchhiker is a male, supernatural being. He tells of some great misfortune or disaster that will befall the earth before disappearing into the night. So the legend says, all of the entity’s predictions come true, leading drivers to believe they witnessed an angel or even Jesus Christ himself.

Hitchhiking at its core is inherently scary for both parties involved; both hitchhiker and driver are at equal risk during the age-old favour and neither usually knows quite who they’re sitting next to, at least at first. This fear has been milked throughout the ages in horror cinema and literature, most notably in the Rutger Hauer road-horror classic, The Hitcher (1986).

Black Horse Lake

Map view of Black Horse Lake

Great Falls in Cascade County, a county named for the falls on the Missouri River, is the third-largest city in Montana. Just outside Great Falls sits the seasonal Black Horse Lake, which only sees water during the spring and early summer. If you’re driving down a stretch of road adjacent to the lake, just off highway 87, toward Fort Benton, you might be unlucky enough to encounter a very different kind of phantom hitchhiker.

Phantom Hitchhiker of Black Horse Lake

Reports tell of a tall Native American man with long black hair, inconspicuously hitching a ride. Some claim to spot him in bib overalls, others say he dons a denim jacket and jeans. However, when drivers get close enough to the figure he suddenly appears in front of the car, rolling onto the windscreen with a deathly thud. Many people react in the obvious manner, screeching to a halt and getting out to check the poor fellow is okay. Of course, in true spectral fashion, the man is nowhere to be seen, and the car is always without a scratch. This is both a positive and a negative, as though no physical damage has been dealt, the driver must now continue their lives with no proof to themselves or others that they really witnessed what they think they did. With no proof, the whole ordeal can easily be passed off as a trick of the overactive imagination, though this particular phenomenon has occurred so frequently and with such similarity that it has cemented itself in the annals of international urban legends forever.

Many believe that this is the ghost of a transient Native American who’s nomadic lifestyle was violently interrupted one night by a passing car that struck him. Many renditions of the tale say that the man is forced to relive his last brutal moments on earth in a Palm Springs-esque infinite loop, conjuring an even greater horror to the nightmare.

References

https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803115204971
https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/montana/hitchhiker-of-black-horse-lake-mt/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Horse_Lake
http://northwesternghostsandhauntings.blogspot.com/2010/11/phantom-hitchhiker-of-black-horse-lake.html
https://list25.com/25-urban-legends-in-every-us-state-part-2/
https://www.facebook.com/113499007016906/posts/the-phantom-hitchhiker-of-black-horse-lake-while-driving-on-along-black-horse-la/140796014287205/
https://www.hauntedplaces.org/item/hitchhiker-of-black-horse-lake/

The Rougarou: A Fictional Story About Louisiana Folklore

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers Short Horror Stories

Houma, Louisiana, July, 1985

Tara Stillman shouldered her black Guess purse, closed the door to her brown Pinto, and bent down to the side mirror to check her make up. She stood up, tucked her straight blonde hair behind her ears, and walked around the front of the car. Tara was a junior at Ellender Memorial, and she scored a baby-sitting job with the Miller’s this past year.

Mr. Miller worked for her dad, Don, who married Sandy Lockhorn back in 1964. A year later, he started a contracting business called Stillman’s Quality Painting and Contracting. He hired Tim Miller on as a project manager back in April of ‘84, and the two hit it off pretty well. Tim and his wife, Diana, wanted to start going out a little more, you know, rekindle the ole flame, so they were in need of a sitter for their seven-year-old son, Eddie. Don volunteered Tara, and the rest as they say, was history. Tara likes the gig okay. It’s nice to have some money in her pocket, even though little Eddie can be a real snot at times.

She walked down the brick sidewalk and up the wooden steps of the dark stained porch and knocked on the door. She heard the pattering of little feet on the wood floor, as Eddie scurried to answer the door. She could hear him fiddling with the lock, which he was finally able to turn over. The door opened and a boy with a flat top and two missing front teeth was there to greet her.

“Tara!” Eddie ran and gave her left leg a tight embrace.

Eddie was always excited to see her–at first anyway. Then after a while, he would descend into his cave of brattiness and not climb out till morning.

One time, Tara decided to do the whole “breakfast for dinner” thing and made Eddie pancakes. When she was done serving him his food, she walked out to go to the bathroom. When she returned about 3 minutes later, there was Eddie, standing on the kitchen island with a bottle of empty syrup. Its content was dripping from the ceiling. Eddie had wanted to see how far it would squirt out the bottle, and he thought the ceiling would be a good target. When Mr. and Mrs. Miller got home later that night, Tara told them what had happened. They assured her they would deal with it–yeah, right. Then there was this other time that Tara walked away from her glass of sweet tea. Eddie saw his opportunity. He poured baking soda in it and waited for her reaction.

“Hey bud!” Tara rubbed his head like she was petting a dog. “Where’s your mom and dad?”

“Tara? That you?” She could hear Mr. Miller from the kitchen.

“Yessir, its me.”

Eddie let go of her leg and ran to the kitchen. Tara followed, walking through the dining room to her left, and through to the kitchen to the right. Mr. Miller was there by the fridge, sucking down a Budweiser before they hit the road. He was a ruddy looking man with a nice tan and head full of brown curls.  

Mrs. Miller was at the sink, loading the last of the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. Tara always thought Mrs. Miller was very pretty. She had strawberry blonde hair that seemed to wave at you when she walked. Her complexion was a little on the fair side, but her blue eyes were her most striking feature.

“Hey, honey.” Mrs. Miller reached for a dishtowel that was hanging on the oven handle, dried her hands, and gave Tara a hug. “I’ve got some spaghetti in a pot there on the stove for when y’all get hungry. We should be back around 10:30 or 11”

Tara looked at her watch. It was 5:52 p.m.

“Also, Mr. and Mrs. Walker are home this evening, so if you need anything, just walk next door and ask.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Oh, and bedtime is 8:30’ Mr. Miller interjected.

Tara has been sitting for the Miller’s for just over a year now. She knows the routine, but they still deem it necessary to spell it out for her. She guessed it’s just what parents did. Made them feel better about leaving their kids behind while they go off.

“Yessir.”

“Thanks, dear.” Mrs. Miller gave her a smile.

“You two run along. Don’t want y’all being late. We’ll have fun as always.” Tara smiled back.

Mr. Miller escorted his wife by the arm and out of the kitchen. Tara heard the door open and shut, and she could hear the sound of their voices flutter off into the distance.

That evening her and Eddie played basketball, He-Man, and watched an episode of the Twilight Zone. 8:30 rolled around and Tara proceeded to get Eddie ready for bed. Eddie wasn’t having it. He started to get into one of his little snotty moods.

“Eddie, you need to go brush your teeth. It’s 8:30. Time for bed.” Tara got off the couch, walked over to the television, and switched it off.

Eddie, who was sitting on the floor about three feet away from the television, started to mount his protest. “But I’m not tired! Please let me stay up and watch the next episode. I won’t tell mom or dad, honest to goodness.” It was more like “honeth to goodneth” with his missing front teeth.” Eddie peered up at her and gave his best puppy dog eyes.

“No way, kiddo. I like the money I get for this gig.” Tara held out her hands to help him up. Eddie scooted on his booty, turned away from her, and crossed his arms.

“You’re mean. A mean buttface poo poo head.”

“Eddie, let’s not end tonight on a bad note.” Tara held out her arms again.

“Buttface poo poo head! Buttface poo poo head!” He chanted it over and over, and louder and louder.

“Okay, we will do this the hard way.” Tara grabbed Eddie and threw him over her shoulder. He kicked and screamed and flailed, all the while continuing his chant of “Buttface poo poo head.” Tara walked out of the living room, into the hallway, and then turned and headed up the stairs.

“Are you ready to walk up the stairs on your own ,or do I have to carry you like a baby.”

“Buttface poo poo head!”

“Okay, like a baby.”

Tara lugged him up the stairs and into his bathroom. She set him down on bathroom counter next to the sink. “Are you ready to do the right thing and brush your teeth?”

Eddie blew a raspberry and splattered spit all over Tara’s face.

“That’s it, you little monster. I’m going to tell your mom and dad.”

Eddie grabbed the tube of toothpaste next to him, which was uncapped, and squeezed, hard. Toothpaste shot out of the tube in a blue snake, and slithered its way into Tara’s neck and hair.

“You freaking little brat,” she gasped. “I’m gonna bend you over my knee!”

“Do it and I’ll tell.” Eddie stuck out his tongue.

Tara stepped away from Eddie and whipped a towel off the rack by the bathtub. She wet the towel in the sink and began to wipe the blue goo off of her.

Eddie sat there on the counter, arms crossed and head down. She glared at him so hard, Eddie swore her eyes were burning holes in him.

“I hope your dad belts you so hard that you butt blisters and you can’t sit down and take a crap for a week.” Tara worked some of the toothpaste out of her hair.

Eddie let out a rebellious humf.

“Better yet,” Tara paused. “I hope the Rougarou gets you.”

Eddie’s head popped up like a jack-in-the box.

“Roog a what?”

“Rou-ga-rou.”

“What’s a Roo-ga-roo?” Eddie scrunched his brow.

“You mean your momma and daddy haven’t told you about the Rougarou? Oh, you of all the little boys in this town should hear about the Rougarou.” Tara eased her way over to the counter where Eddie sat. She placed both hands out beside his, leaned in close and looked him dead in the eyes.

“The Rougarou is the dog of death. He’s pale white in color, and wanders the streets of small towns like this one, looking for someone to deliver him from his wretched curse. Once he picks you out, he will torment you until you kill him.”

“Ohhhh scary.” Eddie rolled his eyes and a sarcastic scowl came over his face.

“I ain’t done yet.” Tara’s grimmaced. “When the first drop of blood is drawn from the deathblow, the Rougarou will turn back into a person, and will reveal to his attacker his real name. Before the dying person takes their last breath, they will warn their deliverer that he or she can’t mention a word of this to nobody whatsoever for an entire year. If you do, you will suffer the same fate and become the Rougarou.”

“It ain’t true” Eddie’s eyes looked away.

“It is so. I heard that just last year over in Larose, a man reported being followed and pestered by a white dog while he was jogging one morning. The dog started to become violent, so he trailed off into the woods, got a big ole stick and went to town on that dog. Next thing you know, the man went missing.”

Tara could tell Eddie was getting scared. He started to twitch and fidget, and wouldn’t look her in the eye.

Good. Maybe he’s so scared, he’ll just go to bed.

“I think I’m going to brush my teeth and go to bed,” Eddie said

“Good.” Tara removed her arms from the counter and backed away.

Eddie jumped down, grabbed his toothbrush from the holder, squirted the blue goo on it, and then scrubbed away. When he was done, Tara walked with him to his room.

“Want me to tuck you in,” Tara asked.

“No, I don’t need you,” Eddie huffed.

“Okay, suit yourself.”

Tara watched as Eddie wobbled his way to the bed, hoisted his foot up, and climbed in. He pulled back his Transformer covers, nestled in, and rested his head against his pillow.

“Goodnight Tara.”

“Goodnight Eddie. Oh and Eddie?’

“Yeah?”

You might want to leave your closet light on. I also hear that the Rougarou likes to sneak into bad little boy’s rooms at night and nip at their heels.”

“Shut up, Tara.” Eddie rolled over so she couldn’t see the fear in his eyes.

“Goodnight, sleep tight, and don’t let the Rougarou bite.” Tara giggled.

“Shut up!. Goodnight and leave me alone.”

Tara backed out the door and shut it with a gentle click.

When he was sure she was gone, Eddie pulled out his G.I. Joe flashlight from under his pillow, flicked it on, and did a spot search of the premises from the safety of his Transformer sheets. Seeing all was clear, he lied down and tried to go to sleep. But all he could think about was the Rougarou.

The next morning Eddie woke up, went down stairs, fixed himself a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, grabbed a T.V tray, and sat down on the floor (in the exact same spot where he was the night before.) to eat his cereal and watch Super Friends. His clanking in the kitchen, along with the T.V. pumped up to full blast, woke up Diana. She shuffled into the living room, unnoticed by Eddie, walked up behind him, and bent down and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She startled Eddie, and he sloshed his cereal onto the tray.

“Loud enough for you, Eddie?” Diana walked over to the television and turned the volume down to half way. ‘How was last night? You and Tara have fun?”

“Mmm it was okay.” Eddie said slurping his cereal from his spoon, eyes fixed on Superman breaking open a cave wall with a punch.

“Okay? Tara told me that you refused to get ready for bed, and then squirted toothpaste all over her?”

Eddie ignored his mother. This time, Batman and Robin were jumping into the Batmobile to answer a call for help.

Diana pushed the power button and the television flickered to grey.

“Watcha do that for?” Eddie dropped his spoon and dribbled milk down his chin.

“No T.V. for you this morning. Especially after that stunt you pulled last night. Tara is supposed to come over again tonight because your father and I are going to the Mayeaux wedding. We’ve never asked her to do two in a row before, but she said she wouldn’t mind. You pull something like that tonight, buddy, and I’ll make sure your daddy gets a hold of your rear end. You understand me?” Roses were blooming in Diana’s pale cheeks.

“Yes ma’am,”

“When she comes back over here tonight, you’re gonna apologize to her. Understand?’

“Yes mamma.”

“Good. Now run along and go play outside.”

Eddie bounced to his feet and turned to make a break for it.

“But not before you put away your tray!”

He stopped mid stride, did an about face, and headed back for his tray.

After he finished putting breakfast away, Eddie went up to his room to prepare the necessary gear for going outdoors in southern Louisiana. He dawned his blue jeans and camo shirt, shouldered his canteen, and belted his survival knife.

Eddie then raced down the stairs like a jack rabbit and bounced out the door. He ran around the back of the house and grabbed his red and black BMX, mounted it, and took off. He made his way down the long, concrete driveway and out to the gravel road. The Miller’s lived on the outskirts of town, about eight miles away from LA 24. There were a few neighbors who lived close to them, like the Walkers and the Donahue’s, but other than that, they were by themselves.

Just about every Saturday during the summer, Eddie would ride his bike down the gravel road. About a mile and a half down, the woods opened up to a little field about fifty yards long. In the middle of the field stood a monstrous oak tree. Its’ branches were so long, they touched the ground. Eddie would play on the tree for hours, pretending he was fighting COBRA or saving Eternia from Skeletor. But today, since he didn’t get to finish watching Super Friends, he was going to be Superman, and the tree was the great Octoserpent that threatened the lives of mankind.

As soon as Eddie pulled up to the tree, he jumped off his bike, one fist outstretched and the other pulled close, and flew towards the great Octoserpent. “Your tentacles are no match for my super strength.” Eddie grabbed a low hanging branch and pretended to rip it from the tree.

After about fifteen minutes of fighting the Octoserpent, Eddie got thirsty. He picked up his canteen that he had tossed to the ground when he was flying to save the world and sat on the same branch he was just wrestling with. He gulped some water from the opening. He stared out into the brush just beyond the field and a large, white dog poked its head out from around one of the bushes. Its eyes locked with Eddie’s. Eddie jolted up like the tree had just run an electric current up his rear end. He dropped his canteen and stood to his feet. He could see the dog had black eyes, long, pointy ears, and was growling.

The dog made its way from out behind the bushes and Eddie could see just how big it was. “It can’t be.” Eddie whispered. “The Rougarou!” His shout set the dog in motion.

Its paws pounded the grass. It bared its teeth and its ears were pinned back.

Eddie squealed, ran to his bike, mounted it, and peddled as hard as he had ever remembered peddling.

“Help help help!” He pumped his legs, but the dog was gaining ground. He made it out to the road and was able to pick up speed. “Momma! Daddy! Help, help! Mr. Walker!” Eddie looked back over his shoulder, and the dog was only about ten yards behind him. He leaned in and tried to go faster. He was crying, but the wind on his face was drying his tears just as fast as he could spit them out.

“Rougarou! It’s the Rougarou! He’s gonna get me, Tara said so!”

Eddie heard what sounded like a muffled clap. He looked back again and saw that the dog was at his rear wheel, nipping at his feet. He kept peddling and the dog kept snapping, coming within hairs of sinking its teeth into his achilleas. Seconds later, Eddie’s bike came to a crashing halt. The dog had bitten down on the back tire. Eddie flew forward over the handle bars and landed on the ground with a thud. With the breath knocked out of him, Eddie could hear the growls getting closer. He got to his knees and stood up.

The dog leaped for him.

All Eddie saw was a white flash. Back on the ground. Eddie wrestled to get free from the white cloud. The dog let him up, so Eddie kicked up dust and high tailed it out of there on two legs.

The white dog took chase. It got close to Eddie again and started nipping at his heels. Eddie tripped and crashed to the ground again.

The dog circled Eddie with head down and eyes fixed.

Eddie was sobbing and breathing so hard his lungs felt like they were on fire.

“Go away, you dumb dog. I know what you are, you stupid Rougarou. Get out of here.”

The dog lunged in and bit Eddie on the calf, but not hard enough to pierce his skin. Eddie screamed and kicked his legs like he was peddling his bike. Then he remembered his knife. He released it from its sheath and buried it deep in the dog’s neck. Blood sprayed out of the dog’s neck like someone had just turned on a sprinkler. The dog yelped and backed away from Eddie.

He could see its white coat turning crimson. The dog got down on its belly and crawled towards Eddie, wincing. When it got closer, that’s when Eddie noticed. It’s front paws started to lose their hair, and the nails elongated to fingers. Its tail looked like it got sucked in to the rest of its body. The ears started to shrink, and the hind legs were growing bigger. Eddie then looked at its face. The snout shrunk and the teeth began to flatten. In a matter of moments, there was a naked man lying curled up in a fetial position. The man had black matted hair, thick eyebrows, and was shivering as blood still poured from his neck. Then he spoke.

“Come here, boy. I got something to tell you.”

Eddie was a block of ice.

The man continued. “My name is Larry Bordelom from Metairie. I went down to New Orleans because I heard there was a witch there who could cast spells of prosperity.” Larry coughed and then placed his hand over the hole in his neck. “I don’t have long…but the witch tricked me. She cast the spell and said I would be visited by someone who would bring me great fortune.” Larry’s teeth started to chatter. “As soon as I left and started walking to my car, that’s when I saw it, the Rougarou. It charged me and knocked me over. I didn’t know what it was…thought it was just a dog, so I pulled out my gun and shot it dead…that’s when I found out…Listen boy, the curse is now yours. If you want it to pass, you can’t tell no one about this for a year…can you do that son?”

Eddie nodded his head.

“Good son, good.” The man then dissolved to a pile of dust.

Eddie went home and spent the rest of the day in his room.

Eddie’s dad came and knocked on his door around 5 p.m.

“Come in.”

“Hey son, you’ve been awful quiet this afternoon, You okay?”

Eddie was sitting on the floor playing with his He-Man action figures. Man-at-Arms had Beastman on the ground, clubbing him away with his yellow battle club. “Yeah dad, just playing.”

“Oh, okay…Well, Tara is going to be here soon. Why don’t you go ahead and take a bath before she does.”

“Sure dad.”

Tara showed up around 5:30. They did their usual routine, except basketball. Eddie didn’t want to go outside at all. Around 7:00 they ate hotdogs. Eddie was docile all evening, and Tara thought he might be getting sick. She had never seen him this quiet before. They were sitting at the kitchen table, and Eddie chewed away relentlessly at his hotdog.

“You feeling alright, Eddie?”

“Mmhmm” Eddie said under a mouth full of food.

“You been pretty quiet this evening. Not like you at all. Something on your mind?”

Eddie shook his head. He thought for sure Tara could see the terror lurking behind his eyes. He didn’t know what acting was like, but he was sure that he was doing a good job of it.

“Wanna go watch some television,” Tara asked.

“Sure.”

Eddie slid out of his chair and headed towards the living room. Tara cleaned up their mess, and then joined him. When she walked into the living room, Eddie wasn’t sitting in his usual spot. He was on the couch, knees to his chest.

“You care if I sit by you tonight,” he asked.

He’s finally warming up to me, Tara thought.

Tara smiled. “Sure buddy, you can sit right here by me. I’ll even put my arm around you. Cool?”

“Cool.”

Eddie dozed in and out while the television played. He perked up a little when Fall Guy came on, and stayed awake for the entire episode.

Then 8:30 came.

Ok, here we go. Time for Monster Eddie to show his face, Tara thought.

“Eddie, its 8:30. Time to get ready for bed okay?”

“Okay.” Eddie scooted off the couch and headed upstairs to his room.

Tara’s jaw dropped a tad as she thought her eyes and ears were playing tricks on her. Nope, sure enough, Eddie didn’t even utter a cross word to her.

Upstairs in the bathroom, Eddie locked the door, put the toilet lid down, and sat. His knees were trembling and his teeth where chattering. Fear crept down his spine like a spider going for its prey.

Maybe it’s not real. Maybe I just imagined it. Maybe it’s not true. Maybe I should tell Tara. No, no, what if it’s real?

A knock on the door. Eddie jumped to his feet.

“You brushing away in there”

“About to.” Eddie brushed his teeth, opened the door, and walked down the hall to his room.

Tara was standing in the doorway. “Gonna tuck yourself in tonight big boy?”

Eddie reached out and held her hand. “No, will you?” Tara knelt down and gave him a big hug. “I sure will.”

Tara helped Eddie into bed and pulled back the Transformer covers. Eddie slid in, and Tara pulled the covers up to his chest. “Goodnight, Eddie.” Tara kissed him on the forehead and turned to walk out of the room.

“Tara, wait. Can I talk to you?”

Tara sat down on the edge of his bed. “Sure. What’s up?”

Eddie recounted to her the events from earlier today with the Rougarou. Tara did her best not to laugh, because she could see the seriousness on Eddie’s face and hear the fear in his voice. After he was done, Tara smiled and tried to comfort him.

“Eddie, that story I told you last night, it’s not true. It’s made up. It’s what’s called an urban legend, a story that’s told just to scare people.”

“No, it’s not!” Eddie jerked away from her. “You don’t believe me and you think I’m making it up and that I’m just a stupid little kid but I’m not and now I’m gonna turn into the Rou..ga…r” Eddies words were swallowed by a torrent of tears. Tara place her hand on his back. Eddie turned around and flung himself on Tara. She held him until the tears subsided.

“Listen, Eddie.” Tara whispered in his ear. “Whatever happened to you today, I want you to know that it wasn’t the Rougarou. I’m not saying that you didn’t see something weird or whatever today. I’m just saying it ain’t the Rougarou. Okay?”

“Tara?” Eddie let go of his embrace and sat back against his pillow. “Please don’t tell momma and daddy? Please?” Eddie sniffled and slid back under his covers.

“I promise.”

Eddie grinned. “Thanks.”

“You betcha. Now go to sleep.” Tara kissed him on the cheek, rolled off the bed, and walked towards the door and turned off the light.

Mr. and Mrs. Miller walked through the front door at around 9:45. Tara was sitting on the couch reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary.

“Hey Tara, how’d he do tonight?” Mr. Miller loosened his blue tie.

Tara pulled her head out of the book. “Perfect lil angel.”

Mrs. Miller snorted.

“No, seriously.” Tara marked her place and put the book down. “He was quiet all evening. We played some, watched T.V., and when it was bed time, he gave me no fuss.”

“Yeah, he’s been awful quiet all day. Just sat in his room and played all afternoon.” Mr. Miller plopped down in his recliner. “He say anything to you? Anything bothering him?”

“No. Nothing. Wonderin’ if me might be comin’ down with something.” Tara played it cool. “You might want to go and check on him before you go to bed. See if he’s running a fever.”

“Sure. We will.” Mrs. Miller assured her. “Thanks again for everything. We’ll see you tomorrow at church.

They said their goodbyes and Tara headed home. Later that night, before they went to sleep, Diana went up to check on Eddie. He was sound asleep. She put her hand to his forehead and he didn’t feel feverish. She kissed cheek and left him to sleep in peace.

Morning came, and it was time to get ready for church. It was 8:00 a.m. and Eddie still wasn’t up. Tim Miller went up to Eddie’s room and knocked on the door.

No answer.

He turned the knob and cracked the door open. “Hey, sleepy head, time to…” Eddie wasn’t in his bead. Tim headed back down stairs into the kitchen. Diana was sitting at the table finishing off her second cup of coffee.

“Seen Eddie this morning,” Tim asked

“No, Tim. He hasn’t gotten out of bed. I been up since 6.” Diana sipped her coffee.

“Well, he’s not in his bed. I just checked.”

The Miller’s searched every room in the house. When they were sure he wasn’t inside, they made their way outside.

Eddie wasn’t there either.

They got in their car and drove down the road to Eddie’s tree, but no sign of him there.

When they got back to the house, Diana called the Stillman’s and asked for Tara.

“Hello.”

“Tara, this is Mrs. Miller. We can’t find Eddie.”

A lump was swelling in Tara’s throat like a balloon.

“Do you know where he could be? Did he say anything to you yesterday that might…”

Mrs. Miller’s voice started to shake. Tara decided she needed to spill the beans.

“He…he told me…that he saw the Rougarou. He was scared last night. Thinks he’s gonna turn into it.”

“The Rougarou? Where on earth did he hear that story from? We’ve never said anything to him about it.”

“I…I told it to him Friday night to scare him. He was being bad. It was after he squirted me with the toothpaste. I’m sorry.”

“Tara, honey, I’m not mad. And I don’t really see what that has to do with him being missing. Thanks though.”

“You’re welcome Mrs. Miller. Goodbye’

“Goodbye.”

The Miller’s didn’t go to church that day. They drove around town looking for Eddie. The afternoon came and went, and still no sign of the boy, so the Miller’s decided to call the police. They filed a missing person’s report, and the police jumped on it right away.

Two weeks passed, and still no sign of Eddie. Wanting to have some normalcy back in their lives, Tim and Diana asked the Stillman’s over for Sunday lunch. This was a routine that they started this past February. Every other week they would rotate. Sandy tried to talk Diana into having it at their house, but Diana insisted. She said it would make her feel better, so Sandy agreed.

Sunday rolled around, and the Stillmans and the Millers pulled into the driveway of the Miller’s home. They exited their vehicles and went to the door. Tim turned the lock and went inside–and there it was on the stairs, growling.

Tim flinched back. “Oh holy…what the…Everyone stay back! Back!”

Instead, they all rushed forward to see what was going on. Don pushed his way to Tim.

“When’d y’all get a dog,” Don asked.

“We didn’t.” Tim opened the door all the way. “Maybe if we just back up, it will run out the door and go away.”

The white dog, with its black eyes and pointed ears, made a slow descent down the stairs, growling with every step. The Stillmans and the Millers stepped through the door, and huddled together near the wall, Don and Tim in front. Rather than going out the door, the dog circled towards them.

“Don,” Sandy spoke up. “I don’t think it’s going away.”

Tim directed the huddle down the hall. “Our bedroom is right there to the right. We’ll back up slowly into it. Shut the door. I’ll go get my 12 gauge.”

A solemn fear seized Tara. “No, no, no, you can’t kill it. It’s Eddie. Its’ Eddie. He’s the Rougarou!”

Don snapped his head back at Tara. “Hush, girl. Don’t you start the crap again.”

Tara looked at her mother, then to Mrs. Miller. “You can’t let them. You can’t. It’s Eddie I’m telling you.”

Diana glared at Sandy as if to say, “You need to shut her up or I’ll do it for you.”

Sandy grabbed Tara by the shoulders and shook her. “You stop! Stop that now!”

“Enough!” Tim Miller took control. “Everyone back up now, go to the room.”

The dog inched towards them, saliva dripping from its teeth. Tara, Sandy, and Diana backed into the room. Don followed suit, but before Tim could make it past the doorway, the dog pounced. It knocked Tim to the ground, and bit down hard on his shoulder. Tim screamed in agony. “The gun Don, get the gun. Top of the closet. Shells are in the nightstand.”

Don dashed to the closet and got the gun. He then went to the nightstand and slapped some shells in the double barrel 12 gauge. He snapped it closed with a thump.

Tim took his thumbs and jammed them into the dog’s eyes. It let go of his shoulder and backed away. Tim scooted into the room, but there was no way he was getting that door closed. The dog crept back in after him. “Shoot it Don, shoot it now, before it gets closer!”

“No daddy no,” Tara shrieked.

The hallow blast of the shotgun echoed through the bedroom.

Tara screamed, and the dog went airborne, flying out into the hall.

Don helped Tim to his feet, and the two moseyed over towards the dog.

That’s when they saw it, and that’s when Tim Miller screamed.

Laying in a pool of blood, with a hole in his chest, was Eddie Miller.

Tara, Diana, and Sandy hurried over just in time to hear Eddie speak.

“It’s me, daddy, Eddie. I’m not the Rougarou anymore. You are.” Eddie then disintegrated into a pile of dust.  

Next time you’re in southern Louisiana, and a white dog crosses your path, you better hope and pray that it’s not the Rougarou. If it is, you better hope you can keep a secret.

The Urban Legend of Frenchtown Road – Central, Louisiana

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

By: Ezekiel Kincaid

Railroad tracks Frenchtown road

The Tetromet Chronicles is one of my forthcoming books from Stitched Smile Publications. It is a collection of shorts which center around an evil entity called the Tetromet. The stories were inspired by an urban legend I grew up with. In this article, I am going to share with you the portion of my book which talks about this urban legend and how it has influenced these stories and me as a horror author. I hope you enjoy.

For most writers, myself included, stories begin with one simple idea or moment of inspiration. Then they evolve into a grand universe. My Tetromet stories are no different. I grew up in the small town of Central, Louisiana, which is on the outskirts of Baton Rouge. I am also one of those privileged folks who got to grow up in the best decade ever–the 1980’s. What made this decade so fascinating in the world of horror was the obsession with urban legends and Satanism.

As a kid who was raised in church, I remember this well. I heard people go on and on about the dangers of 80’s rock ‘n roll (Anyone out there remember the documentary Hell’s Bells? No? Okay, never mind). I’m not here to bash church or rock ‘n roll, because both have played positive influences in my life. My point is, the topics of Satanism and Satanic cults were all the buzz in the 80’s.

I can’t help but remember a radio show my mom used to let me and my brother listen to after she picked us up from school. The name of it was “Talk Back” and Bob Larson was the host. He would debate Satanists and cast demons out of people right there on the radio show. I remember one show with clarity. A Satanic cult abducted the daughter of one of its members and planned on sacrificing her to the devil on Halloween. Yes, I know, trope, trope, trope, and more trope.. Since then, Bob has been proved a fake, but as a young kid it sure seemed real to me! I even went and saw him in person when he came to a church in Baton Rouge during the late 80s! I’m not questioning the sincerity or reality of Bob Larson’s faith, I’m just pressing the point about Satanism being the buzzword in the 80’s.. It was in the movies, on the radio, in the music, and talked about in churches and barber shops. Such bombardment couldn’t help but have an influence on my mind as a horror writer.

Now, back to the urban legends…

In Central, there’s a haunted road. It goes by the name Frenchtown and was known for its ferocious curves. Toward the end of the wooded road, it opened up a little, and ahead of you would appear a bridge. This bridge was a once functional railroad trestle. The foreboding, rusty structure would glare down at you, covered in satanic graffiti. Near this bridge was where most of the paranormal activity had been reported. But it’s not just about the bridge. Rumors of a Satanic cult in the woods near the bridge, along with a witch who lived in the last house on the left (yes, Wes Craven would be proud) are the prominent legends which once swirled around this trestle. It was said that if you crossed under the bridge, the cult members would kidnap you and drag you back to their lair. In the forest behind the bridge was where the rituals took place. Some have even reported seeing dead cats hanging from underneath the trestle.

With new construction, and the addition of a BREC park, Frenchtown road has changed somewhat, but still retains its curvy, wood laden scenery. During the height of Satanic rumors, graffiti not only tattooed the bridge, but the road before the bridge. People recall such words as “Go back now” and other symbols from Satanism and witchcraft being spray painted on the road. Having been out there myself in the 80’s, 90’s, and even early 2000’s, I can attest that this part of the legend is true. Town folks also said there used to be “Welcome to the Gates of Hell” spray painted across the side of the bridge. The road was indeed marked, and as you can see from the pictures below, so was the bridge. Over the years, well-meaning people have spray painted over most of the markings in an attempt to exercise the place of its demons. If you go today, you can still catch a glimpse of these symbols when you view the bridge up close.

Check out the pictures I took below:

Road under railroad tracks
Railroad support beam

On this beam you can make out “Portel [SIC] to hell”. “Portel” is written diagonally, and “to hell” vertically.

satan graffiti written on railway support

“Satan”

death graffiti on railway support

This is the side of the trestle where it used to read “Welcome to the Gates of Hell” You can still make out he word “OF” to the right and also a faint “H”.

abandoned road

Now, let’s move on to the good stuff, shall we? I want to talk about the types of paranormal phenomenon and strange encounters people have reported happening at the end of Frenchtown Road. My personal favorite is the one about the school bus getting hit by the train which used to run across the bridge when the tracks were operational. Don’t ask me how in the world a school bus got up there–its urban legend so facts and physical improbabilities don’t matter! I’m just telling the story. So yeah, a school bus got hit by a train and killed all the kids. If you turn your car lights off under the bridge for a few seconds, then flip them back on, bloody hand prints are supposed to appear on the windshield.

In continuing with the theme of vehicles, the most reported phenomenon was if you turned your vehicle off under the bridge, it wouldn’t start again. One person relayed to me the story of how he and a few of his buddies took some girls out to the bridge one night in the early 90’s. They wanted to give them a good scare, so they told the story about turning off the car engine and it not cranking again. They killed the engine. When the guy tried to start his car, the engine wouldn’t turn! The dudes panicked, in a macho way of course, without letting the girls see the fear in their eyes. After fifteen minutes of unadulterated terror, a bright light appeared in the distance. It was a spotlight, and it was headed toward them at a rapid pace. The angst in their heart escalated as the phenomenon continued. As the light grew closer, they realized it was just a hunter coming to help them. He had heard them trying to start the car.

Another man also told a similar “no start” story. His took place in the late 80’s. Instead of the bridge, he had the nerve to pull his car into the witch’s driveway. After killing the engine, he went to start the car and back out, but the engine wouldn’t crank! Still another person reported their car dying, and then someone coming out of the woods and burying an axe into it. I could go on with multiple accounts similar to these, but you get the idea.

Other reports include people seeing dead chickens hanging in the woods near the bridge, owls flying into windshields, dead cows, upside down crosses with burn marks in the field, stones in the shape of a pentagram under the bridge with burnt animals in them (I witnessed this myself), and car radios flashing 666. I’ve also heard from several people who said they have been chased away by vehicles, a crazy cat lady, and a creepy bald guy in a trench coat.

In my research, I’ve discovered Frenchtown Road has had reports of all types of different phenomenon and urban legends associated with it besides devil worship and cars that won’t start. Below is a detailed list of what I found through conversations, social media posts, and local articles.

  1. People laying on the bridge smoking weed. They hear something banging on the bridge piling below them. They go down to check it out and nothing is there.
  2. A man hung himself from a tree. People have reported seeing his ghost.
  3. Many reports of people hearing chanting coming from the field and woods.
  4. People seeing “watchers” staring at them on either side of the road.
  5. Another legend was about a man who murdered people and dismembered them. The body parts were found buried in the woods at the end of Frenchtown road.
  6. Reports of seeing people involved in casting spells, performing rituals, reading Satanic bibles, and carrying black crosses.
  7. Legend of a little girl who was run over by a train on the railroad trestle. Now, whenever a train comes, you can hear her scream.
  8. One person swears they got pushed into a huge hole that wasn’t there a few minutes earlier.
  9. A group of friends reported that they were all standing in the field, when one of their cars, which was off and locked, started flashing its lights.
  10. Some groups that have gone out there reported hearing the train, the screams of the little girl, and seeing the train lights… but no train would ever come.
  11. Demonic animals have also been spotted. One was said to have yellow eyes, boney, distorted skin, and was growling.
  12. There is a noticeable change in the air when you get close to the track. It cools off (I’ve experienced this one myself).
  13. At the last house on the left, red lights flash in the window.
  14. Lights in the woods have supposedly chased after people.
  15. Dead body found in the water.
  16. One person reported something jumping in the back of a truck. The passengers turned around to look and nothing was there.
  17. Radio goes off when getting to bridge, then comes back on when leaving.

As one can see, there are quite a number of reported eerie happenings. However, the most popular was of a Satanic cult and witch. This is the theme I went with in my Tetromet shorts. If you will bear with me a moment longer, I want to tell you a little bit about the Tetromet series.

First, it’s more than just stories about a Satanic cult at the end of Frenchtown Road. The stories span a time frame of around 200 years, and each one is different. Some are atmospheric, some are gritty, and others are twisted. They are listed in chronological order, but there are major gaps in the storylines of each. Why? Because just about every one of these stories will be developed into a novel, so don’t expect answers right away nor all the pieces to fit. This is not the point of the collection. The point is to introduce you, the reader, to the main characters of the series and the driving story lines. When the books come out, all the dots will be connected, I promise.

I hope you have enjoyed this little piece of history. I can’t wait to get this book in the hands of my readers!

About Author Ezekiel Kincaid

Twitter: @EzekielKincaid
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ezekethefreak/
Website: https://ezekielkincaid.wordpress.com/
Books and other anthologies
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=ezekiel+kinciad&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
Free reading can be found on Stitched Smile’s WordPress site
https://stitchedsmilepublications.wordpress.com/
And Horror Bound
https://www.horrorbound.net/?author=5de80c37c09a8973f9c333cf

The Witch Eunice Cole – Urban Legend

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore NA

Witchcraft isn’t exactly a new concept in New England. The Salem witch trials have been studied for centuries by scholars and scare-lovers alike, and many still visit the city to see the tombstones and experience the witchy vibes that inhabit the cobbled streets. But there is one New England witch in particular that you need to know about – and she didn’t reside in Salem, Massachusetts. Eunice Cole, also known as The Witch of Hampton or Goody Cole, was the only woman to be convicted of witchcraft in the state of New Hampshire. Three times, to be precise. 

Accusations of Witchcraft

Court Documents of accusations of witchcraft of Eunice Cole from 1673

Many assume that being accused of witchcraft in the late 1600’s was a death sentence – both in the literal and figurative sense due to loss of reputation. And while Eunice Cole certainly suffered a great deal after being accused for the first time in 1656, she fought hard for over a decade to clear her name and assert that she was not a witch. Technically, she succeeded. After multiple prison stints and a lengthy trial in 1673 where the jury reluctantly cleared her of all charges, Cole lived out the rest of her days in isolation until her passing in 1680. However, if the urban legends are true… she had far from a quiet death. 

The Legend of Eunice Cole

According to legends, the townspeople were quite frightened of Eunice Cole, and continued to call her “The Witch of Hampton” amongst themselves. Before they buried her, they are believed to have driven a wooden stake directly through her heart to prevent her from haunting them beyond the grave. She was a powerful woman who had escaped not one, but three punishments due to her supposed witchcraft… and the people of the town were willing to get violent to avoid her malevolent spirit. Did they succeed? The stories say no. 

A strange series of events began to take place not long after her death, and continued on for 300 years. The most notable was when a boat capsized after a sudden gust of wind, with everybody on board drowning – although they were not far from shore and easily could have swam to safety. With every unorthodox event that happened in Hampton over the next century, people began to blame Goody Cole and assume that she was taking revenge on them for the way she was treated. There are some, however, who believe Goody still gets a bad rap. 

The Town of Hampton

Hampton NH hotel post card from 1910

Eunice Cole has developed a cult following of supporters that resent the way she has become known as an evil force, insisting that she is purely a wronged soul that took the fall for other people’s prejudices. In 1938, for the 300th anniversary of the town of Hampton, a group of people organized to clear Cole’s name, forming “The Society in Hampton Beach for the Apprehension of Those Falsely Accusing Eunice (Goody) Cole of Having Familiarity With the Devil.” And while this was decades ago, the people of Hampton will still tell you all about Goody Cole and the mark she has made on the town in New Hampshire – for better or for worse. How many women formerly accused of witchcraft can say that they’ve had a doll modeled after them, which was then sold in local gift shops? Only Eunice Cole, the Witch of Hampton.

Sources:

http://www.hampton.lib.nh.us/hampton/biog/bonfanti.htm

http://www.seacoastnh.com/goody-cole-accused-as-nh-witch/

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