Ten Disturbing Scandinavian Folktales

D5FDA9F6-C287-4807-94D1-8E3C3C30564C

Enchanted Wood. Artist unknown. (Scandinavian Folklore/Pinterest)

 

Many folktales are concerned with magical tales of heroism and grandeur. Young people head out on a journey of discovery that makes them a better person. They vanquish evil, help others, and make the world a better place. In the end, the dashing young man usually gets the beautiful girl, and everyone lives happily ever after.

However, some folktales don’t have happy endings. Some folktales can be downright disturbing. Many of the tales in Scandinavian folklore, for instance, are not only grim; some are absolutely terrifying. We selected 10 of the most disturbing for you to enjoy…but, keep a candle burning…


#10. The Sacrificial Beggar Child (Sweden)

3EE413F6-B07E-4C83-9E67-B20D412E90F1

The story goes that there was a town named Dalland that was suffering from a disease that was wiping out much of the population and causing many people to flee. The townsfolk were beside themselves with worry about how to stop it, until an old man from Finland came along with sage advice on how to stop the disease.

He told them that only a sacrifice would put an end to it, and explained that they would need to bury a living thing in the ground. The villagers were desperate to stop the disease, so they took his advice. They began by burying a rooster alive in the ground, but their cruel act failed to produce any results, so they upped the ante by burying an entire goat alive. Unfortunately, this also failed.

Feeling there were no other options left, they decided that the only sacrifice worthy enough to end the spread of the disease would be an actual human being. In order to accomplish this, they set their sights on an orphaned boy and offered him bread as bait for their trap. The unassuming child fell for their trap completely and was dropped in a prepared hole.

The villagers immediately began shoveling dirt on top of the hapless child. The boy was terrified and tried to plead with them to stop burying him alive, but they continued on with their work without mercy. Before long, the job was done and the child was simply left to die, in the hopes he would end the spread of the deadly disease.

Some villagers claimed that they could hear his cries from under the ground, even after his death, decrying the cruel act that had been done to him.


#9. The Christmas Ghosts (Sweden)

8E030A8B-DC58-42C5-BA7E-C8DFDD7D0535

This tale begins with a woman who was preparing to head to a midnight Christmas Mass.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Zombies, Encounters with the Hungry Dead, ed. and with Commentary by John Skip, 2009

F4A2B71D-284F-4698-B49A-192195E65C24

Table of Contents

9 • Introduction: The Long and Shambling Trail to the Top of the Undead Monster Heap • essay by John Skipp
19 • Lazarus • (1921) • short story by Леонид Андреев? (trans. of Елеазар? 1906) [as by Leonid Andreyev]
39 • “… Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields” • (1929) • short story by William B. Seabrook [as by W. B. Seabrook]
51 • The Return of Timmy Baterman • (1983) • short fiction by Stephen King
65 • The Emissary • (1947) • short story by Ray Bradbury
75 • A Case of the Stubborns • (1976) • short story by Robert Bloch
95 • It • (1940) • novelette by Theodore Sturgeon
121 • Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed • (2007) • short story by Steve Duffy
155 • Bitter Grounds • (2003) • novelette by Neil Gaiman
177 • Sea Oak • (1998) • novelette by George Saunders
203 • The Late Shift • (1980) • short story by Dennis Etchison
221 • A Zombie’s Lament • short fiction by S. G. Browne
227 • Best Served Cold • short fiction by Justine Musk
249 • The Dead Gather on the Bridge to Seattle • (2008) • short fiction by Adam Golaski
271 • The Quarantine Act • short fiction by Mehitobel Wilson
289 • The Good Parts • (1989) • short story by Les Daniels
295 • Bodies and Heads • (1989) • short story by Steve Rasnic Tem
315 • On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks • (1989) • novelette by Joe R. Lansdale
359 • Like Pavlov’s Dogs • (1989) • novella by Steven R. Boyett
423 • Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy • (1989) • novelette by David J. Schow
465 • The Visitor • (1998) • short story by Jack Ketchum
473 • The Prince of Nox • (1992) • short story by Kathe Koja
485 • Call Me Doctor • short fiction by Eric Shapiro
491 • The Great Wall: A Story from the Zombie War • (2007) • short story by Max Brooks
499 • Calcutta, Lord of Nerves • (1992) • short story by Poppy Z. Brite
515 • God Save the Queen • (2006) • short fiction by John Skipp and Marc Levinthal
541 • Eat Me • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
555 • We Will Rebuild • short story by Cody Goodfellow
571 • Sparks Fly Upward • (2005) • short story by Lisa Morton
583 • Lemon Knives ‘N’ Cockroaches • short fiction by Carlton Mellick, III
601 • Zaambi • (2006) • short fiction by Terry Morgan and Christopher Morgan
629 • The Zombies of Madison County • (1997) • novella by Douglas E. Winter
665 • Dead Like Me • (2000) • short story by Adam-Troy Castro
675 • Zombie Roots: A Historic Perspective • (2009) • essay by Anthony Gambol and Christopher Kampe
685 • They’re Us and We’re Are Them: Zombies in Popular Culture • (2009) • essay by Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp

Tales from a Talking Board, a Horror Story Anthology, ed. by Ross E. Lockhart, Word Horde, 2017: Introduction & TOC

Screenshot_2017-11-17-21-05-37_kindlephoto-7469398

Cover Art & Design by Yves Tourigny.

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.”

— Deuteronomy, Chapter 18, Verses 10–12, Holy Bible (New International Version)

“Ages 8 to Adult.”

— Ouija board packaging, 1972

Table of Contents

  • Other books by Ross E. Lockhart
  • Full Title Page
  • Frontmatter
  • Dedication
  • Epigram
  • A Brief History of Talking Boards – Ross E. Lockhart
  • “YesNoGoodbye” – Kristi DeMeester
  • The Devil and the Bugle Boys – J. M. McDermott
  • Weegee Weegee, Tell Me Do – Anya Martin
  • When The Evil Days Come Not – Nathan Carson
  • Grief – Tiffany Scandal
  • Spin the Throttle – David James Keaton
  • Pins – S.P. Miskowski
  • Deep into the skin – Matthew M. Bartlett
  • The Burnt Sugar Stench – Wendy N. Wagner
  • Worse than Demons – Scott R Jones
  • The Empress and the Three of Swords – Amber-Rose Reed
  • Questions and Answers – David Templeton
  • Haruspicate or Scry – Orrin Grey
  • May You Live In Interesting Times – Nadia Bulkin
  • Copyright Acknowledgments
  • About the Editor

Introduction: A Brief History of Talking Boards by Ross E. Lockhart

Not long before the Civil War, a movement swept across the United States, one that held the belief that not only did the soul continue to exist after the death of the body, but that these souls, these spirits, could be communicated with, and could impart wisdom, warnings, and pathways to better connect the living with a supernatural, infinite intelligence. This movement, known as Spiritualism, flourished, boasting nearly eight million followers worldwide by the turn of the twentieth century, despite holding no central doctrine, no canonical texts, and no formal organization. Initially appearing in upstate New York, birthplace of religious movements such as Millerism, Adventism, and Mormonism, Spiritualism boasted its celebrities—the Fox Sisters, Cora L. V. Scott, Achsa W. Sprague, and Paschal Beverly Randolph, to name a few—but a big part of its appeal was its promise to put the power of spirit communication into the hands of its adherents. Advancing technology and American entrepreneurial spirit intervened, and complex divinatory systems like spirit cabinets, table turnings, and alphabetical knockings soon gave way to simpler, more foolproof methods. First came the planchette in 1853, a “little plank” of heart-shaped wood with a pencil incorporated, a means of channeling spirits through automatic writing.

Continue reading

The Vampire Witch with the Pale White Eyes…

7f855601c7ce0dec30e7abe6b313fa4d

Die Hexe by A. Fuseli. (Public Domain)

Shtriga

A shtriga (Latin: strix; Italian: strega; compare also Romanian: strigă; and Polish: strzyga) is a vampiric witch in traditional Albanian folklore. It is said that the shtriga sucks the blood of infants at night while they sleep, and then turns into a flying insect (traditionally a moth, fly, or bee) and flies away. Only the shtriga itself can cure those it has drained. The shtriga is often pictured as a woman—with a hateful stare (sometimes wearing a cape) and a horribly disfigured face—however, the possibility of a male shtriga (male nouns would be shtrigu or shtrigan) is just as likely.

In Legend

According to legend, only the shtriga itself could cure those it had drained (often by spitting in their mouths), and those who were not cured inevitably sickened and died.

The name can be used to express that a person is evil. Northern Albanian folklore says that a woman is not born a witch; she becomes one, often because she cannot have babies or they die and the envy makes her evil. A strong belief in God could make people immune to a witch as God would protect them.

Usually, shtrigas were described as old or middle-aged women with grey, pale green, or pale blue eyes (called white eyes or pale eyes) (sybardha) and a crooked nose. Their stare would make people uncomfortable, and people were supposed to avoid looking them directly in the eyes because they have the evil eye (syliga) [1]. To ward off a witch, people could take a pinch of salt in their fingers and touch their (closed) eyes, mouth, heart and the opposite part of the heart and the pit of the stomach and then throw the salt in direct flames saying “syt i dalçin syt i plaçin” or just whisper 3–6 times “syt i dalçin syt i plaçin” or “plast syri keq.”

Shtrigahandprint (1)

Shtriga (striga) handprint, burned into the windowsill of a child’s upstairs bedroom. These vampiric witches from Albanian legend feed off of children’s lifeforce, leaving them comatose and eventually dead. It is said a shtriga can take the form of a winged insect, such as a month or a fly. (Supernatural, Season 1, “Something Wicked)*

Continue reading

The Diary of Xander Tully, a Novella-in-Progress by Sanguine Woods, Coming Winter, 2018

22FE38E1-A688-4586-AA8C-B3C173D42767Dear Book Lovers and Ardent Readers,

RE: A quick note from the writer’s desk…

Greetings!

Working on my novella The Diary of Xander Tully. It is a frightening tale set in the years before America had become a nation, up in the woods of what is now the border between Michigan and Canada, where French-Canadian settlers have started a fledgling colony led by two old families.

Xander Tulley is a stranger here. His origins are not known to the community. But he is a clever man; he shows the world a practical and rational side; a lover of facts and the path they reveal to truth. But Tulley has other sides. He hails from a foreign land, across the sea. His people are tall, fair of hair and pale of skin. He appears as an artisan printer in the colony of River Raisin, where the villagers have a respect for the past and their heritage (one of the families traces its roots all the way back to a French king).

When Tulley becomes curious about a tale of an odd grouping of stones located in the deep woods that begin about a mile northeast of the village, he is drawn to the site. There is no visible path to the outcropping, and reaching it is difficult unless you know the woods, and the way. The stones circumscribe what appears to be a gash in the earth, an opening some five paces across at its widest. The villagers don‘t appear to know of the spot, its history, or the fact that a grove of trees surrounds the area in almost a perfect circle. They are deciduous trees, “evergreens”—-and they are the only trees in the wood that turn the color of glowing embers when autumn steals the light from summer and creeps toward the winter solstice.

The story of the woods is old. Some things—some geographies, secrets—-some stories—-lay quiet and undisturbed for a reason. Xander Tulley has been dreaming about the burning trees. His preoccupation with learning the history of the Wood leads him to seek out an indiginous tribe that once dwelt near the area, but has since moved higher north. It is in the tribe’s legends, wrapped tight within in an ancient language, that Tulley begins to see a story form in the forgotten shadows of time, one that once breathed life, and should now be left alone.

Xander Tulley reaches a proverbial fork in the road, where he may learn more about himself than he ever cared to know; and where he will be faced with making the hardest decision he will ever have to make.

Stay tuned for more!

SW

22FE38E1-A688-4586-AA8C-B3C173D42767

The Darker Side, Generations of Horror, an Anthology ed. by John Pelan, 2002

BC1C2641-E2E8-4182-8B36-BF85C346C980Table of Contents

  1. Do You See What I Fear • short story by Edo van Belkom
  2. Demon Me • short story by Simon Clark
  3. Spirits of the Flesh • short story by Seth Lindberg
  4. The Misfit Child Grows Fat on Despair • short story by Tom Piccirilli
  5. Pull • short story by Brian Hodge
  6. Mamishka and the Sorcerer • short story by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
  7. Pets • short story by James S. Dorr
  8. The Lamb • short story by Paul Finch
  9. The Mannerly Man • short story by Mehitobel Wilson
  10. Just Someone Her Mother Might
  11. Know • short story by Michelle Scalise
  12. The Ocean • short story by Poppy Z. Brite
  13. The Origin • (2001) • short story by David B. Silva
  14. After the Flood • short story by Joel Lane
  15. The Night City • short story by W. H. Pugmire and Chad Hensley [as by Wilum Pugmire and Chad Hensley]
  16. The Plague Species • short story by Charlee Jacob
  17. Ten Bucks Says You Won’t • short story by Richard Laymon
  18. Armies of the Night • short story by John Pelan
  19. Unspeakable • (2002) • short story by Lucy Taylor
  20. Standing Water • short story by Caitlín R. Kiernan [as by Caitlín Kiernan]
  21. Grave Song • (2001) • short story by Brian A. Hopkins and Richard Wright
  22. Twenty Mile • [Cassie Barrett] • short story by Ann K. Schwader
  23. All the World’s a Stage • (2001) • short story by Brian Keene
  24. What God Hath Wrought • short story by Randy D. Ashburn
  25. We’re All Bozos on This Bus • short story by Peter Crowther
  26. The Whirling Man • short story by David Niall Wilson
  27. Asian Gothic • short story by Shikhar Dixit
  28. Hell Came Down • short story by Tim Lebbon

Shadows Over Baker Street, New Tales of Terror! as Sherlock Holmes Enters the Nightmare World of H. P. Lovecraft, ed. by Michael Reaves and John Pelan, 2003

C7BE17F3-B3D8-44C5-86C8-423E3C06160FTable of Contents

xi • Introduction (Shadows Over Baker Street) • essay by John Pelan and Michael Reaves
1 • A Study in Emerald • novelette by Neil Gaiman
25 • Tiger! Tiger! • short story by Elizabeth Bear
48 • The Case of the Wavy Black Dagger • short story by Steve Perry
60 • A Case of Royal Blood • novelette by Steven-Elliot Altman
94 • The Weeping Masks • novelette by James Lowder
116 • Art in the Blood • novelette by Brian Stableford
138 • The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone • short story by Poppy Z. Brite and David Ferguson
158 • The Adventure of the Antiquarian’s Niece • novelette by Barbara Hambly
189 • The Mystery of the Worm • short story by John Pelan
205 • The Mystery of the Hanged Man’s Puzzle • novelette by Paul Finch
243 • The Horror of the Many Faces • novelette by Tim Lebbon
268 • The Adventure of the Arab’s Manuscript • novelette by Michael Reaves
295 • The Drowned Geologist • short story by Caitlín R. Kiernan
313 • A Case of Insomnia • novelette by John P. Vourlis
342 • The Adventure of the Voorish Sign • novelette by Richard A. Lupoff
372 • The Adventure of Exham Priory • short story by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre
392 • Death Did Not Become Him • novelette by David Niall Wilson and Patricia Lee Macomber
420 • Nightmare in Wax • short story by Simon Clark
439 • Contributors (Shadows Over Baker Street) • essay by Michael Reaves and John Pelan