A few short scary stories for this time of season and a couple recipes to boot...
A COLD GREETING
This is a story told by the late Benson Foley of San Francisco:
“In the summer of 1881 I met a man named James H. Conway, a resident of Franklin, Tennessee. He was visiting San Francisco for his health, deluded man, and brought me a note of introduction from Mr. Lawrence Barting. I had known Barting as a captain in the Federal army during the civil war. At its close he had settled in Franklin, and in time became, I had reason to think, somewhat prominent as a lawyer. Barting had always seemed to me an honorable and truthful man, and the warm friendship which he expressed in his note for Mr. Conway was to me sufficient evidence that the latter was in every way worthy of my confidence and esteem. At dinner one day Conway told me that it had been solemnly agreed between him and Barting that the one who died first should, if possible, communicate with the other from beyond the grave, in some unmistakable way - just how, they had left (wisely, it seemed to me) to be decided by the deceased, according to the opportunities that his altered circumstances might present.
“A few weeks after the conversation in which Mr. Conway spoke of this agreement, I met him one day, walking slowly down Montgomery street, apparently, from his abstracted air, in deep thought. He greeted me coldly with merely a movement of the head and passed on, leaving me standing on the walk, with half-proffered hand, surprised and naturally somewhat piqued. The next day I met him again in the office of the Palace Hotel, and seeing him about to repeat the disagreeable performance of the day before, intercepted him in a doorway, with a friendly salutation, and bluntly requested an explanation of his altered manner. He hesitated a moment; then, looking me frankly in the eyes, said:
“‘I do not think, Mr. Foley, that I have any longer a claim to your friendship, since Mr. Barting appears to have withdrawn his own from me - for what reason, I protest I do not know. If he has not already informed you he probably will do so.’
“‘But,’ I replied, ‘I have not heard from Mr. Barting.’
“‘Heard from him!’ he repeated, with apparent surprise. ‘Why, he is here. I met him yesterday ten minutes before meeting you. I gave you exactly the same greeting that he gave me. I met him again not a quarter of an hour ago, and his manner was precisely the same: he merely bowed and passed on. I shall not soon forget your civility to me. Good morning, or - as it may please you - farewell.’
“All this seemed to me singularly considerate and delicate behavior on the part of Mr. Conway.
“As dramatic situations and literary effects are foreign to my purpose I will explain at once that Mr. Barting was dead. He had died in Nashville four days before this conversation. Calling on Mr. Conway, I apprised him of our friend’s death, showing him the letters announcing it. He was visibly affected in a way that forbade me to entertain a doubt of his sincerity.
“‘It seems incredible,’ he said, after a period of reflection. ‘I suppose I must have mistaken another man for Barting, and that man’s cold greeting was merely a stranger’s civil acknowledgment of my own. I remember, indeed, that he lacked Barting’s mustache.’
“‘Doubtless it was another man,’ I assented; and the subject was never afterward mentioned between us. But I had in my pocket a photograph of Barting, which had been inclosed in the letter from his widow. It had been taken a week before his death, and was without a mustache.”
A WIRELESS MESSAGE
In the summer of 1896 Mr. William Holt, a wealthy manufacturer of Chicago, was living temporarily in a little town of central New York, the name of which the writer’s memory has not retained. Mr. Holt had had “trouble with his wife,” from whom he had parted a year before. Whether the trouble was anything more serious than “incompatibility of temper,” he is probably the only living person that knows: he is not addicted to the vice of confidences. Yet he has related the incident herein set down to at least one person without exacting a pledge of secrecy. He is now living in Europe.
One evening he had left the house of a brother whom he was visiting, for a stroll in the country. It may be assumed - whatever the value of the assumption in connection with what is said to have occurred - that his mind was occupied with reflections on his domestic infelicities and the distressing changes that they had wrought in his life.
Whatever may have been his thoughts, they so possessed him that he observed neither the lapse of time nor whither his feet were carrying him; he knew only that he had passed far beyond the town limits and was traversing a lonely region by a road that bore no resemblance to the one by which he had left the village. In brief, he was “lost.”
Realizing his mischance, he smiled; central New York is not a region of perils, nor does one long remain lost in it. He turned about and went back the way that he had come. Before he had gone far he observed that the landscape was growing more distinct - was brightening. Everything was suffused with a soft, red glow in which he saw his shadow projected in the road before him. “The moon is rising,” he said to himself. Then he remembered that it was about the time of the new moon, and if that tricksy orb was in one of its stages of visibility it had set long before. He stopped and faced about, seeking the source of the rapidly broadening light. As he did so, his shadow turned and lay along the road in front of him as before. The light still came from behind him. That was surprising; he could not understand. Again he turned, and again, facing successively to every point of the horizon. Always the shadow was before - always the light behind, “a still and awful red.”
Holt was astonished - “dumfounded” is the word that he used in telling it - yet seems to have retained a certain intelligent curiosity. To test the intensity of the light whose nature and cause he could not determine, he took out his watch to see if he could make out the figures on the dial. They were plainly visible, and the hands indicated the hour of eleven o’clock and twenty-five minutes. At that moment the mysterious illumination suddenly flared to an intense, an almost blinding splendor, flushing the entire sky, extinguishing the stars and throwing the monstrous shadow of himself athwart the landscape. In that unearthly illumination he saw near him, but apparently in the air at a considerable elevation, the figure of his wife, clad in her nite gown and holding to her breast the figure of his child. Her eyes were fixed upon his with an expression which he afterward professed himself unable to name or describe, further than that it was “not of this life.”
The flare was momentary, followed by black darkness, in which, however, the apparition still showed white and motionless; then by insensible degrees it faded and vanished, like a bright image on the retina after the closing of the eyes. A peculiarity of the apparition, hardly noted at the time, but afterward recalled, was that it showed only the upper half of the woman’s figure: nothing was seen below the waist.
The sudden darkness was comparative, not absolute, for gradually all objects of his environment became again visible.
In the dawn of the morning Holt found himself entering the village at a point opposite to that at which he had left it. He soon arrived at the house of his brother, who hardly knew him. He was wild-eyed, haggard, and gray as a rat. Almost incoherently, he related his night’s experience.
“Go to bed, my poor fellow,” said his brother, “and - wait. We shall hear more of this.”
An hour later came the predestined telegram. Holt’s dwelling in one of the suburbs of Chicago had been destroyed by fire. Her escape cut off by the flames, his wife had appeared at an upper window, her child in her arms. There she had stood, motionless, apparently dazed. Just as the firemen had arrived with a ladder, the floor had given way, and she was seen no more.
The moment of this culminating horror was eleven o’clock and twenty-five minutes, standard time.
THE GRAY DRESSED WOMAN
Two gentlemen were working in the town's small general store. The store was quiet and no customers were shopping until she walked in. A small frail woman dressed in grey entered the store, and proceeded toward the dairy section, saying nothing. She picked up a glass container of milk and, without paying for it or even glancing at the gentlemen, walked out of the store.
The men, surprised by the woman's thievery, hurried out of the store after her...but she was gone.
A few days later, the incident occurred again.
The same small woman dressed in the same grey dress entered the store, grabbed a glass container of milk, and left without paying. Again the men tried to follow after her, but she was nowhere to be seen.
After a couple of weeks, she appeared once again.
The same small woman, dressed in the same grey dress, entered the store, paid no attention to the men, snatched a glass container of milk, and vanished out the door. The men, slightly more prepared this time, quickly followed the woman out of the store. She hurried down the town's main street and the men found themselves having to run to keep up with her. She hastily turned down a dirt path, just at the edge of the woods. This is where the men lost her.
They trekked on further and came to a small cemetery neither of them knew existed. Suddenly, they heard a small noise. Concentrating, they identified it as a baby's cry...it was coming from the ground. The ground from which it was coming from was in front of a fresh gravestone marking the death of a mother and her infant who were buried together. Unsure of what else to do. the men quickly found shovels and exhumed the coffin. The crying became louder as they dug.
When they reached the coffin, they pried off the lid and inside found the small, grey-dressed woman...dead...with a live, crying infant in her arms...and three empty glass containers of milk. The poor child was mistakenly buried alive and the spirit of her deceased mother kept her alive until she was found.
PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE
2/3 cup of light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
4 eggs, divided
1 cup of evaporated milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, divided
1 deep dish (9-10") unbaked pastry shell
1 pkg. (8 oz.) of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, 2 slightly beaten eggs, evaporated milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla in large bowl. Pour into 10 inch pastry shell in deep dish pan. Combine cream cheese, sugar, remaining vanilla and 2 slightly beaten eggs in small bowl; beat until smooth. Carefully pour cream cheese mixture over pumpkin filling. (You want the cream cheese mixture to stay on top.) Bake 1 hour, or until knife comes out clean. Chill before serving. Note: The flavor improves overnight, so make it a day in advance, if possible.
PUMPKIN PIE BARS
1 (18 1/2 oz.) box of yellow cake mix
1/2 cup of butter or margarine, melted
1 (30 oz.) can of solid pack pumpkin (3 cups)
1 cup of sugar, divided
1/2 cup of light brown sugar (firmly packed)
2/3 cup of evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/4 cup of butter or margarine, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Remove 1 cup of the cake mix; reserve. In a small bowl, lightly beat 1 egg. In a large bowl, stir together remaining cake mix, melted butter and beaten egg. Press into prepared pan. In a large bowl, lightly beat remaining 3 eggs. Stir in pumpkin, 1/2 cup of the sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk and cinnamon. Pour over cake mixture in pan. To the 1 cup cake mix, add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, walnuts and softened butter; mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over pumpkin mixture. Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or cool.
AMAZING APPLE SMOOTHIE
2 cups apple sauce
1 cup apple cider
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses fill with ice and serve.