What We’re Reading
Want to Read Something Really Scary?
The Sept. 29, 2023 weekly roundup is all about cultural trends and ghost stories
While driving from New York City to the Catskill Mountains, I passed by a town named Sleepy Hollow, and I got off the highway to look around. As a child I’d read the classic American tale of the headless horseman of this hamlet. I didn’t realize — until this drive to a corporate retreat — that Washington Irving’s haunted Hollow was a real place.
Excited to visit the cemetery where the legendary Headless Horseman tormented visitors of old, I looked upon Irving’s ornate grave and read his headstone. I walked across the fated bridge where everything in that tale happened, and I finished up by visiting the high school whose mascot is — of course — the horseman.
Those scary stories stick with you. Since then I’ve learned that every culture, every country, has its own headless horseman, its own evil carnival, and its own spirit helpers. Also since then, I’ve met plenty of modern Irvings with a ghosty, supernatural yarn to share.
On Medium, writers like Keith Leonard pen micro tales that leave you wanting more, like “Wish Train,” which was published through Horror Hounds. In it, Leonard’s character Evan is at a crossroads after attending a work trip and he meets up with a strange train going nowhere… or somewhere.
Here’s how it reads:
“You have been asking for a change in your life. Wishing you could catch a break is how you put it.” The conductor stares at Evan. “The Empress is that break. She can change your life.”
In the “Haunting of the Unholy Elders,” writer Britt H. tells a true story of ancestor veneration gone wrong when someone forces worship into the equation. This story appeared in The Memoirist, a publication focused on creative nonfiction on Medium.
“Many years later, she continues to visit different temples, offering prayers for good health and peace of mind. Although she still feels a sense of fear when going to temples, she believes it’s her past trauma that causes this unease. On one occasion, she unintentionally wandered into an area dedicated to ancestral veneration, adorned with hundreds of plaques for the deceased.
The hair on her neck stood up; it was just too scary for her. She fled and never returned again.”
People talk a lot about horror movies but those stories — Jaws, The Amityville Horror, The Pope’s Exorcist, The Devil and Daniel Webster — they come from somewhere. If you were tasked with telling the origin story of your ghosts, what would you write? Whether your answer is fact, fiction, analysis, a dissertation, a film review or some combo of all the above, I’d love to read it.
October is upon us, and as the seasons change, it’s time to huddle up and share good old-fashioned supernatural tales. Plenty of us over at Medium are fans of the genre, so add this topic — GhostStories23 — to your story and we’ll find it. (Please exercise good taste, of course, and reconsider the usage of unnecessary gore.)
See you in the Hollow, I mean, on Medium.
- Adrienne Gibbs, Director Creator Growth @Medium
P.s. Back in 2018, Medium ran a special fiction section called Nightmare Fuel. It’s worth a re-read. You’re welcome.
Your Weekend Reads
“On second thought, maybe I should get going. Are you certain you’ll be safe being here by yourself?” Megan replied anxiously.
Emma reassured her. “I’m sure it’s nothing. This place just needs a woman’s touch. I’ll be fine, really. Now go, before it gets dark!” With a final wave, Megan drove off, leaving Emma alone with her new house — and whatever else might be hiding within its walls.
Steve Vernon, Horror writer and author of More Maritime Murder Deadly Crimes of the Buried Past, A Horror Writer’s Response to ‘Deep Dive Into Your Writing’
Whitney Alese, Philadelphia-based writer and podcaster, In Renaissance, Beyoncé Makes Culture Reckon with Blue Ivy
MARK HERSCHBERG, Author of The Career Toolkit, SAG-AFTRA & WGA Are Going to Win the Battle and Lose the War
Tara Haelle, Science journalist and author of Vaccination Investigation, We’re Starting to Understand What Causes Long COVID Brain Fog