Ghost story contest

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Now, while your hands are occupied, let your mind work on a really great ghost story to tell around the campfire to your students! Using that axe as a central pivot. There's nothing like telling stories with the magic of the campfire; it's almost a portal to all the other times that ever were.

Best Wishes, Rob

Rob gave me this great idea. I use the same old story every year on the first trip with the kids. We go to the same spot, the turn-around on the Steel River. I tell the same ghost story every year...the older kids are complicit in scaring the young ones.

Every good whopper starts with some truth. Around 30 or 40 years ago, a couple of guys went down the Steel in home made canvas kayaks or something of the sort. They wrecked their boats and spent two weeks eating frogs and bugs and stuff before they were rescued. I change the story to say that the guys were stranded on the very campsite where we are camped. I then tell them that one of the guys passed on, and when the other two got really hungry, the engaged in the "food that we dare not speak of" and ate their dead buddy. Once I see the kids buying into the story, I let out a loud shriek, or one of the older kids jumps out of the bushed screaming, and pandemonium ensues. Great fun!

Anyway, I'd like to propose a contest. Using the axehead shown below from the other thread, come up with a ghost story that I can use on the kids on that first trip. I will have the axe with me, and pass it around as the story is told. It has to be long enough to get around 12 to 15 people and back to me before the scare, so no one jumps and axes someone.

I have a good prize for the winner. I have several older canvas backpacks, some are Woods, others have unknown makers. I will select one in very good shape and mail it at my expense to the winner, as long as the winner is in North America. Robin, I hope this is OK, I should have asked first, but I'm impulsive.

Here's a pic of the axehead.


Here's a sample of the packs.



I'm hoping to get at least three entries!
 
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Memaquay, Mighty glad you decided to go with the idea, hair brained as it is. :p Maybe you and Robin can get in a huddle and come up with the rules? Who will decide the winner? One somebody or the membership here voting by PM to Robin? Are we limited to just one story or can we submit two or three? How long do we have to come up with a story and when will the contest close?

As Rowan and I were walking in the woods today, my little pea brain was hard at work, trying to think up a story! After the third time falling on my head, I decided I'd better leave the story thinking until I was setting down.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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OK, Brad sent me a story in a PM, I asked him if it was ok to post and he said yes. I'll tell you, it's pretty darn good.
The Shaman’s Curse

Ssssh… Listen… Hear that? Might just be the wind… but it sounded like breathing to me. Ssssh… Listen…

On this same lake, and about 60 years ago, there was a trapper. His name was Samuel Hoskins, and he came from the Temiskaming District. It’s been said Samuel Hoskins was running from the law. Others have said he was fleeing from someone, or something, far more dangerous.
The story goes, Samuel had stolen a simple trade good, an axe, from an old man, outside of a Hudson’s Bay post. What this thief didn’t know was that the old man was a shaman, and had powers far beyond Samuel’s understanding. This shaman was not a vindictive man, but nevertheless decided to punish him in his own way. And so he whispered a curse on the axe, so that Samuel might learn his lesson, and perhapscome to no harm. But this shaman didn’t know the greed and anger in Samuel’s heart, and just how far Samuel Hoskins would go, even to the ends of the earth, and beyond, to keep his stolen prize.
The trapper knew the land well, and found travelling easy at first, but with every day as he paddled and portaged, he grew more and more weary. And always, always, there was a gentle sound of wind in the trees; as though someone was whispering to him Ssssh.
After many days, he became aware that his 4 lb axe felt as though it was getting heavier and heavier, with every mile he sruggled. Samuel was a stubborn and greedy man, and felt no remorse. As the axe grew heavier, Samuel grew angrier, and more determined than ever, to keep his cherished possession. After many days driven with anger and hunger, and when his pack became too heavy, he began to toss items aside, just so he could keep his heavy, heavy axe. And always, he heard the whispers in the trees. Ssssh.
Finally, on the shores of this very lake, and in this very spot, Samuel Hoskins could drag himself no further. It’s said all he had in his possession was a handful of flour, a scraping of lard, a fry pan, a flint… and his heavy axe. Exhausted and hungry, he gathered together some wood for a fire. It took all his strength to lift the axe, in order to split a piece of wood. But when he swung the heavy axe down, the wood didn’t yield. Instead the axe was stuck fast and buried deep, and try as he might, Samuel couldn’t free the axe from the block of wood. Feeling defeated and now too tired to fetch water for his meager supper, Samuel Hoskins crawled down to the waters edge to sip. As he knelt over the calm surface, he heard the soft wind whisper in the trees Ssssh, and thought he heard a bough gently creak... But was it a tree branch, or the axe quietly lifting from its place? Looking down into the waters he saw his haggard face looking back at him, but… in the depths he thought he saw an old man…holding an axe… up high above his head… whispering…Ssssh…

CHOCK!

(This where the storyteller swings THE axe (or prop) down with a mighty WHACK.)
 
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I haven't talked to Robin about the contest yet, but I'll follow in his application of common sense and avoid too many rules. Submit as many as you can, and at some point I'll give a warning that the end is near. We'll work out judging as we go along, maybe there will be a second place or something too.
 
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Wow Brad! Looks like you're setting the bar pretty high! Of course I didn't expect anything less, given your way with words.
Well, today I've got to compose my thoughts, very much like catching drunk butterflies with a tea strainer, I can't let you scoop up that pack uncontested.

Ok, PM's it is, I just hope that somebody keeps his in box drained down so that my laborious hunt and peck messages are not lost in a jumble into the electronic ether.

This is going to be bags of fun!

Rob
 
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You can post directly in the thread, doesn't have to be a PM. I might write one up too, just to add to the pot.

OM, with your consistency for turning out phrases like the one below, I'm sure you'll set the bar pretty high too.

catching drunk butterflies with a tea strainer,
 
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They told me when I lost my arm I would feel phantom pains, but I was not prepared for the feel of phantom cold fingers grabbing my phantom arm.
I gotta problem with that.. It's a true story that on Ed Watsons farm people disappeared for various reasons and across the river from his house , long ago an arm stuck up out of the river. It was one of Ed's farmhands, the body wasn't attached to quite a deep enough sunk chunk of Florida concrete. There weren't any judges or juries or witnesses down there in the Everglades, but lots of suspicions and finally Ted Smallwood did Ed in.Yet whenever I camp at Watsons place, I hear things.. and when in the outhouse when the frogs jump I swear the cold fingers of Hannah's floating arm are on my neck.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chokoloskee,_Florida.. Scroll down to Edgar WatsonI don't know enough about Memaquays area to provide a story with the proper context.
 
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That's an intriguing part of Florida history YC. A little creepy too, I guess we can't always pick our neighbours. Around here when we were young, there was a fact based story that creeped us out as youngsters. A book was written, and made some spooky reading for us as teens. I just checked, and found this thoroughly commercialized website (do I really want a t-shirt that bad?) about this clan's gruesome history:
http://www.donnellys.com
That Smallwood store museum would be interesting. Not sure I could camp at the Watson place, and get much sleep.
 
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I'm trying to come up with something but I'm working on replacing all the windows in my house and that's got all my attention right now. I remember a story we used to tell when I was kid summering on Muskrat Lake in the Ottawa Valley, it was great for getting the girls to snuggle closer to us around the campfire...I'll have to work on my memory a little and try it on my wife, if I can get her to snuggle, I'll win this contest hands down...ha
 
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Now you guys, I hope you don't post stories before I go in for my Okeefenokee Swamp two nighter. That's dark territory where I am going solo.. The Everglades isn't at least for the most part dark.

O crap. UFO's aliens and swamp gas?

http://www.okefenokee.com/okefenokee_x-files/

I am going to Toys R US to buy a stuffed teddy bear.

WHO started this thread???
 
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Now you guys, I hope you don't post stories before I go in for my Okeefenokee Swamp two nighter. That's dark territory where I am going solo.. The Everglades isn't at least for the most part dark.

O crap. UFO's aliens and swamp gas?

http://www.okefenokee.com/okefenokee_x-files/

Oh great. Just when I thought gators were all I'd have to fear...and bugs...and poison oak...and boa constrictors...and naked kayakers...
YC will come back with one humdinger of a story to tell. ( I don't know why I didn't think of adding teddy to my gear list.)
 
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YC - Forget the UFOs, aliens and swamp gas. I've become friends with some locals down there over the last twenty plus years and some of the tales they've told me are enough to make you wonder. The one that made the biggest impression on me had to do with a series of murders done back during the logging days of the Hebbard company. Apparently the bodies from one set of murders were stashed in the backcountry under peat mats where, according to the story, they were most likely consumed by alligators, turtles, the fishes, etc. In other words, the police had their suspects but they didn't have any evidence. The only reason this finally came to light is the last of the killers was on his death bed a few years ago and wanted to come clean before he passed. He gathered his family around his hospital bed and confessed to the crime.

That's all for now. Take care everyone and until next time...Be well.

snapper
 
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The Devil’s Axe
I’d like to share a story tonight; that Charlie Finlayson, an old hunting guide I met a couple years ago told to me. We both camped on a lake not far from here, along with his hunting party. We were talking about finding old artifacts from the bygone era of forestry and the fur trade. When I told him about this here axe head, and that I’d picked it up from out of a lake near an old HBC post, Charlie gave me a warning: never to fit a handle to this, and never to curse while swinging an axe.
Years ago these forests rang with the sound of axe blades felling Red and White Pine. The first white men here to take up the axe for timber harvests were Norwegians, Swedes, and mostly Finns. But as the appetite changed from hand piled short cuts to 16 ‘ logs in the late 1930’s, the call went out to men who could both fell trees and drive horse teams, to skid them down to the rivers. Most of these crews came from Quebec farms, and one of these men was known by the name of Alphonse.
Alphonse grew up in a little valley in the hinterlands of Quebec, where along with his brother Theophile, they worked their parents’ small farm in summer, and worked in the bush camps all winter. Come springtime the two brothers would return once more to their valley home. Alphonse was the older of the two, and stronger of body, but weaker of mind. They were tremendous friends as well as brothers, and were inseparable. One summer however, everything changed. Theophile was called into town to see the parish priest, where he was rewarded for his good Catholic devotion with a calling to the Mother Church. Theophile would enter the seminary. Papa and maman were immensely proud of their son, and spared no one their outpourings of joy, including Alphonse. After some time, even the loving brother Alphonse grew weary of hearing “Theophile this”, and “Theophile that “. His workload on the farm also grew, without his younger brother to share the toil. But working in the lumber camps was no escape either, for word of his brother Theophile even reached him there. After a time, hearing his brother’s very name was enough to sting his pride and raise his anger. One late afternoon, as he was cutting trees, he grew tired and frustrated. Alphonse was behind in his quota, and try as he might; he could not work hard or long enough to catch up. It was then he started to curse. First he cursed the trees, then he cursed his boss, and then he cursed his camp. Finally Alphonse began cursing God above, and with every swing of the axe, he heaped shame upon the Lord’s name. Exhausted and spent, the woodcutter collapsed against a stump, and pleaded aloud for an answer to his troubles. He became aware of a shadow standing amongst the firs, and soon the shadow stepped out to reveal a well dressed gentleman; wearing a fine fur coat, and a luxurious beaver hat. The fine gentleman asked “Alphonse, why are you so sad?” Alphonse shared his misery with the kindly stranger, and felt better for it. The well-spoken gentleman said “Alphonse, I can help you with all your problems, for you see I’m a business man, and can grant you all you desire, for a small fee.” In a matter of moments, Alphonse had agreed to sell his soul for the mighty sum of endless strength and stamina, just so long as he cursed God as he swung his axe. When he hesitated on this bargain, Lucifer added, “ If you curse with all your strength, the one whom you hold most dear, you’ll defeat all mortal challenges. My small recompense, shall be your soul, at a time of my choosing.” As Alphonse stretched out his hand in agreement, he carelessly nicked his wrist on the axe blade next to him. Swiftly the Devil scooped up the stained snow, and melted into the shadows, softly laughing.
After three long years, it became too much for Alphonse to bear; summers spent toiling on the farm, winters wasted hewing timber and skidding logs, and all the while hounded by the news of his saintly brother Theophile. . One late afternoon, after the last log had been sledded to the frozen river, he collected his pay and slipped out of the forest. Alphonse never set foot in the valley again. But, he didn’t disappear altogether.
When word had reached Quebec that there was a need for boucherons who could both cut timber and drive teams in the forests north of Superior, Alphonse answered the call. He quickly found work, and soon made a name for himself as the finest lumberjack ever to come from the east. One day however, another burly woodcutter named Sigurd challenged Alphonse to a friendly competition; single bit axes only, and the winner would be proclaimed the best, from Lakes Nipigon to Superior. A site was chosen in front of the local HBC post, not far from here, and bets were laid. The two combatants quickly set to work, chopping madly while the camp cheered them on. But, as Alphonse swung away, he saw the other keeping pace with him. It was then he remembered his secret pact, and so Alphonse began to curse. Alphonse spared no holy name in his madness, and soon heaped dreadful scorn on whomever, and whatever all others hold sacred. Incredible strength and stamina swept through Alphonse, but so too did anger and fury. He was mere moments from victory, when looking across at his challenger; he glimpsed a small crucifix around the man’s neck. Images of his meek and loving brother sprang to mind, and in a final anguished roar Alphonse spat out a curse on his brother’s name “Theophile!”

CRACK!!

When the acrid smell of sulphur and smoke cleared, only a shattered axe remained where Alphonse once stood. Stunned faces stared at the scene, and an unholy silence stilled the air. The camp exchanged knowing looks, muttered some prayers, and hastily tossed the scorched and pitted axe head into the lake. No one dared speak of the damned boucheron Alphonse, or his sweet brother Theophile. And from that day forward, all aged and rusted axes found in lakes of this region, are considered unlucky, and never to be refitted; and never, never, must a curse be uttered while swinging an axe.
 
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Wow! Speechless! That was totally awesome! Great story, lots of history in it, and of course, the Devil! Doesn't get much better!
 
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Wow Brad, the ominous warning "Never fit a handle to this, and never curse while swinging an axe" gave me shivers.

Mem, I'd think twice now before putting a handle to it.
 
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