Posts tagged “ghost story

Free Writing Workshop!

I love scary stories. I read them, I write them, and I probably watch more horror than is healthy for the psyche. When I stumble upon a great horror book or film (I’m looking at you, Babadook), I want to shout about it from the rooftops. My poor book club has been bombarded with my suggestions for spooky reads, and I can’t blame them for backing away slowly, reminding me that my tastes run a bit darker than most. Having said that, I completely understand if you’d rather not spend an evening or two with me, talking about the supernatural.

Art for Pitcher Plant Cover


If you’re feeling brave, however, join me on Friday, August 4, at 5pm at Book Warehouse (1111 N. Roosevelt Dr. in Seaside, OR) for a book talk on the paranormal. I’ll tell you some ghost stories (including something crazy that happened to me last week–shudder), and I’ll be signing my novels, Sunset Empire and Pitcher Plant, both of which are set on the north coast of Oregon and feature murder and restless spirits.

Sunset Empire ghost

Then, on Friday, August 11, at 5pm, come back to Book Warehouse for a workshop on writing spooky and suspenseful scenes. I’ll share my secrets for scaring the socks off readers. You might not sleep that night, but you’ll learn how to write an engaging story.

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© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017


Monsters of the PNW: Bandage Man

Urban legends never cease to interest me. There are the old standbys you’ve probably heard before, like the killer who escapes from prison and has a hook for a hand. Or the one about the girl who is driving on a lonely road one dark night when someone starts tailgating her, flashing their car’s high beams. When she finally gets home and runs into her house to escape the weirdo following her, she finds out the guy driving the car wasn’t a psycho after all, but actually saved her life. Because there was a man in her backseat, you see, a man with a knife. Every time the man was about to stab her, the hero flashed his high beams and the man ducked back down behind the driver’s seat. These stories get passed down from a friend of a friend of a friend, and they must be true, because they happened to somebody’s cousin or aunt.

Here’s one you might not have heard before. On the northern Oregon coast, where the Oregon Coast Highway meets the Sunset Highway (the junction of the 101 and 26), there lives a legend. “Lives” might not be accurate, because no one knows if the Bandage Man is alive or dead. Perhaps he’s undead.

As the story goes, one night a young Cannon Beach couple went out for a drive in pickup truck and parked in the forest near the junction. They weren’t paying a lot of attention to what was going on outside the vehicle because they were busy doing the kinds of things teenagers do in parked cars. You know, gaze at the stars. (Teenagers are really fond of astronomy.) Anyway, all of a sudden, the truck jounced a little, like someone had climbed into the bed of the truck. Then, BAM! Somebody banged on the back window.

bandageThe young couple turned to see a crazy man wrapped in bandages, slamming his fists against the window of the truck, trying to get in. So they did what any sane person would do. They freaked out. Then they drove off, back to the city of Cannon Beach. By the time the boyfriend got to the girlfriend’s house to see her safely home, the bandaged man had vanished. But when the boyfriend peeked into the bed of his truck, he found a piece of gauze much like the man’s bloody wrappings. And it stank like death.

So what is the Bandage Man? A reanimated mummy? Unlikely. A ghost? Maybe. Some people say it’s the ghost of a logger who was horribly burned and wrapped in bandages before he died. If you drive in that area at night, he might just hitch a ride, and you’ll find out who—or what—he really is.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2016

Bloody Mary’s Mirror

Julie DawnauthorphotoHi guys! I’m so excited to introduce you to fellow Oregon coaster Julie Dawn, author of Yosemite Rising. Julie grew up in southern Jersey, spending the summers collecting bee stingers in her feet. After graduating from Richard Stockton College, she dipped her toes in the environmental field for a few years, got married, moved to North Carolina, and finally got to become a mom. Four years of living in state parks was enough to make her relocate to the Oregon Coast. Under bright stars, she started writing again, determined to change the world one story at a time.

Today Julie will be sharing about her book (check out that cover!) and her version of an urban myth familiar to many of us. I remember hearing about Bloody Mary in the fourth grade, standing with my friends in a school bathroom with the lights off as we tried it. Chilling.

Yosemite Rising

A legend that will change the world.

It’s been 150 years since the Ahwahnee Indians lived where Yosemite National Park now stands. Their last surviving Chief appears to Elizabeth Hutchings, a twenty-year-old biology student, the very day her parents die. Within 24 hours, she too is clinging to life as his whispers echo in her thoughts.

An ancient prophecy has begun. A plague rips through the world’s population, taking everyone and everything she has ever cared about. As agents of a mysterious organization called Meadowlark hunt her, she must find the strength to fight the infected even as she struggles to keep herself alive.

Just when she thinks she can’t go on, a man from her past arrives. He holds the key to understanding the prophecy. If she can unravel its secrets, she not only may change her own fate—but the fate of the entire world.

Julie Dawn Book

 Yosemite Rising is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million.

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Want to win a copy of Yosemite Rising? Check out the giveaway!


Bloody Mary’s Mirror

In elementary school there was a tale known all too well by every little girl. I first heard it at a friend’s sleepover party. The Monday in school, the class filed down the cement brick corridors toward the bathrooms. The whole class split into two groups based off sex. Five at a time were allowed in the large, windowless, fully tiled, tomb of a room. I hovered over the toilet with my pants down, avoiding urine and disease another little girl might be carrying. Then the lights went out. Darkness suffocated the room. One of the girls giggled and pulled the door open. Faint light flooded the floor outside the stall. She whispered, “Bloody Mary.”

My heart jumped.

Then the bathroom room shut, locking all the light from it.

She’ll be coming soon. We had already opened whatever keeps her in the mirror. Any moment now. She had already followed us to school, waiting. Waiting for this moment. She’s always waiting.

Now it’s my turn to tell a story—her story—with a modern twist to it….

The year was 2007. The remaining good music of the 90s was fading quickly into pop. Jan arrived before the others. It was my first sleepover. Mom and Dad had held out until I was 13, but agreed for my birthday. Tonight was my night.

The second to arrive was Alice, my sister’s friend. I never saw Hazel anymore, not since Alice moved to our school—into our lives. No one knew why she had moved all the way from New Jersey, but the piercing in her nose made me suspicious.

“What’s up skin,” Alice said, stepping past me through the doorway. “So where’s Haze?”

I nodded toward the back bedrooms.

Jan stood behind me with her arms crossed, letting out a sigh.

Brakes screeched as Becky’s dad’s 1970s Dodge pulled up. Chips of paint crinkled to the ground as she opened the passenger door and waved bye to Mr. Burke. He was nice, but lately really messed up from the divorce.

She came running up the walkway with a shitty-ass grin. It was her idea to invite Misty Morgan. Mom still hadn’t received an RSVP, but Becky heard from Ava that Misty’s best friend, Polly, was sick. Even she wouldn’t waste a Friday night at home with her parents.

Sure enough she showed up last.

We did the pre-planned games Mom had agonized for weeks over, devoured two trays of pizza, and scarfed down a sheet of cake.

Hazel microwaved popcorn and turned out the lights.

Alice cracked open a bag and sat down in front of us. Steam rose out and she shoved the yellow balls down her throat.

Sleeping bags filled every inch of carpet, squished between the couch and entertainment system. Jan unrolled her sleeping bag to my left. Becky laid her thrift-store Thunder Cats bag to my right.

Alice clicked on a flashlight and pointed it like a gun underneath her chin. Her face morphed into a demon’s. Dark circles drooped beneath her eyes and her voice deepened. “Who’s ready for some scary stories?”

I looked over at Misty. Her eyes widened and she drew her knees into her chest. Two of my other friends, sitting with her, imitated her every move.

“Why don’t we play Truth or Dare first?” Misty looked at me and lifted her eyebrows.

“Okay,” said Alice directing her eyes at Misty. “Truth or Dare?”

Oh, this will be good. I wanted to know if she really made out with Kenny, or if she really stuffs her training bra, or if she has a crush on Becky’s Dad. Truth.

Misty looked at her and sat up straight. “Dare.”

“I dare you to sleep tonight.” Alice pointed the flashlight at her.

Definitely stuffed.

Alice laughed, brought the light back to her face, and began to sing, “I’m Henry the Eighth I am. Henry the eight, I am. I am. I’ve been married to the widow next door, seven times before…” Her tone went dark. “Henry the Eighth was married six times, throwing away his first after 24 years of marriage. They had one child named Mary.”

Hazel whispered, “Bloody Mary.”

Alice grinned. “Legend has it, if you walk backwards up a flight of stairs, holding a candle, look into a mirror, call out her name three times, she will appear to you.”

“Then what?” Becky yelled out, sinking into her bag.

Misty shifted and the other girls moaned.

Alice reached into her pocket and pulled out a lighter, flicking on its flame. “Who wants to try it?”

The room went silent. The sound of the refrigerator hummed through the house. My heart pounded. No fucking way!

“How about the birthday girl?” said Misty.

All the other girls nodded their heads. They didn’t want to be the sacrifice.

I have a bad feeling about this. No, no, no. “We don’t have any stairs.”

“I’m sure the hallway will work just fine,” said Misty.

I shouldn’t have invited her. I pushed out of my sleeping bag. I’ll show her. “Sure.”

They all gasped, each breath created a chorus that filled the room for a moment.

Alice handed over a candle and I turned my back to the hallway, taking small, careful steps over the river of sleeping bags.

Jan leaned over, “You don’t have to do this.”

I looked at her, glanced over at Misty, and whispered in her ear, “Yes I do.”

She knew I had to. This was the year I wasn’t going to be whispered about behind closed doors, the year I was going to become someone. I took a step backwards and held my head up, taking a breath.

Alice’s eyes were wider than normal. Hazel stood beside her with worry covering her face.

I shouldn’t be doing this. I took another step and they all took one to follow. Three more got me to the edge of the hallway. The hum of the refrigerator had faded against the pounding of my heart. The soft glow of the stove light had disappeared. The candle flickered like a mad woman against the wall.

Jan was the closest to me. She stopped.

I was there—at the edge of the bathroom. I can’t do this. I closed my eyes and felt the cold, damp air spilling between my toes.

“Come on,” said one of the girls.

I stepped in. The room lit up as the flame caught its reflection in the mirror. I turned around and set the candle by the sink. The candlelight made my blonde curls sparkle in the mirror. Just get it over with. I said, “Bloody Mary.”

Nothing happened. I exhaled. “Bloody Mary.”

I searched the candles glow for anything in my reflection. My heart pounded to get out of my chest. There’s nothing there. I exhaled again. The mirror fogged where my breath would be, if I had been standing closer. My curls looked like they were turning red, my irises darkened.

“Move,” said Misty pushing through the girls stuffed in the doorway. She looked at the mirror. “Bloody Mary.”

For a second, I looked like a whole other person, older. Then my face turned and looked at Misty. I stood there watching as my reflection turned.

“Ha. See. Nothing,” Misty said. She looked at me, my reflection still watching her.

The woman in the mirror smacked her palm against the mirror.

I jumped back and pressed my back against the wall.

“What’s wrong with you?” said Misty.

Bloody Mary’s Mirror was scribbled on her hand. The ink smeared as she pressed harder against the glass.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015


Out in the country, close to where I grew up, was a small airport. When I was a kid, I used to ride my bike out there. I liked seeing the airplanes—just small, personal planes—and I often wondered where they’d come from and where they were going. Our humble airport offered a glimpse of life outside a small town.

When I took Driver’s Ed, our instructor would have us drive out to the airport. It was a good place to practice driving, a gently curving swath of road with hardly any traffic. The only people who used the road were either going to the airport or learning to drive.

Once I finally got my license, I’d cruise there sometimes to take a peek at the planes. There was a waterhole in the pasture next to the airport. I liked the rumble my tires made when I drove over the cattle guard, a metal bridge with slats meant to keep the cows from wandering onto a busier road.

Not long after my sixteenth birthday and my newfound freedom to drive, I got roped into helping with prom. I was a sophomore so I wasn’t old enough to attend, and hadn’t been invited, but someone tagged me to serve refreshments. I wasn’t particularly thrilled about it—it was kind of embarrassing to go. One of my friends was dating a senior, so she’d been invited. In comparison, I felt like a fraud, crashing the party. I couldn’t back out gracefully though, so I put on a nice dress and a smile, and went.

After helping out at the dance, I decided to cruise for a while before heading home. This wasn’t a horrible idea, or at least, it didn’t start out that way. It was before my curfew, so it wasn’t like I was going to get into trouble.

I turned onto the road leading to the airport, feeling my mother’s minivan jounce lightly as I crossed over the cattle guard. It was a moonless night and nobody was on the road. That was fine with me. After hours of feeling socially awkward, serving drinks and watching everybody else have a great time, being alone was refreshing.

Red Music NoteI cranked up the radio and sang along, enjoying my solitude. A favorite song came on, Joyride, by a group called Roxette. It was nineties bubblegum pop, but it was fun and fitting, lifting my mood considerably. The song ends with a trademark whistle.

I happen to be a terrible whistler. I can hold a tune when singing, but I can’t whistle to save my life. I’d been singing along to Joyride, and then tried to whistle that last part. Tried and failed—all the notes came out flat, with no power behind them. I figured I’d improve with practice, so when the next song began, I kept whistling. I was still way off. I took a breath to try again.

Then, from the back of the minivan, I heard someone whistling. Eight notes, repeated twice. It was the tune from Joyride, clear and strong.

I froze, the whistle on my own lips dying as my hands clenched the wheel. I wasn’t alone in the car.

I knew when I looked in the rearview mirror, I’d see a face staring back at me. Someone had snuck into the van, and here I was, a teenage girl on a lonely road in the middle of the night with whoever it was. I didn’t recognize the voice, which meant there was a stranger in my car, a stranger with bad intentions, no doubt. Why else would you sneak into a girl’s car? Then I realized that no one knew where I was.

I braved a look in the mirror, but saw nothing—no face, no movement. But I’d heard the whistle. I hadn’t imagined that, or the feeling that someone was in the car with me. Whoever it was had crouched back down, I decided. The van had a big cargo area behind the back seat, one large enough to fit a man. I mentally cursed at myself for not checking out the car before driving away from the school gym.

It would have been a bad idea to stop the car in a place where no one could help me, so I did the only thing that made sense. I turned the van around and drove home, less than a mile away. I tried the keep up the pretense that I still thought I was alone, pretending I hadn’t heard that whistle. I sang along to the radio like everything was fine, forcing myself to keep to the speed limit. If I drive too fast, I told myself, he’ll know.

I pulled into the carport of my house as calmly as I could, put the van in park, and leapt out of the vehicle. I slammed the door and pressed the lock button on the key fob. The minivan had child safety locks, so the person would have to climb to the front of the vehicle to unlock the doors. It wouldn’t buy much time, but enough to get in the house, I hoped.

I ran to the front door and unlocked it, keeping an eye on the minivan. Then I waited, ready to duck inside and close the door to the house if I saw a shadowy form rise from the darkness of the back seat. If I did, my plan was to lock the front door and go wake my dad.

Nothing happened.

I stared at the van, sure I’d see movement—at least a slight rocking as the person shifted positions. But there was nothing. No sound, no movement.

My curiosity outweighed my fear. I left the front door open, ready to run back inside if I saw anything. I walked along the side of the van, peering in the windows. The security light in the carport offered me a clear view of most of the vehicle’s interior.

As I neared the back of the van, I could feel my heart thudding in my chest. I imagined placing my face close to the rear window and seeing a stranger pop up like a Jack-in-the-box, his hands smacking the glass in front of me.

I kept my distance and gave the cargo area behind the back seat a tentative look. It was furthest from the security light and not as illuminated as the rest of the van, so it was difficult to see inside without getting closer. I gathered my courage and leaned forward, my face nearly touching the glass.

The cargo area was vacant.

I stepped back in surprise. Maybe he’d somehow crawled up front when I wasn’t looking? I slowly circled the van, looking in the windows. It was completely empty.

I don’t know who took a joyride with me that night, but I know one thing. He sure could whistle.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015

Dressed in Shadows

Honey Perkel

Today I’m featuring Honey Perkel, a fellow author on the Oregon coast. Honey will be sharing about her brush with the supernatural, which relates to her son, Brian, who passed away four years ago. Just Breathe is a memoir capturing Honey’s fight to save her son, who suffered from addiction and mental illness.

Honey PerkelHoney has written a trilogy taking place on the Oregon coast. A Thousand Summers, Secrets at the Cove, and A Place Called Paradise hold the flavor of Seaside, a small beach town.

The Faithful Daughter is a Historical Romance taking place from the Jewish district in Denver to the shores of Seaside, Oregon.

Honey believes in things that go bump in the night, past lives, spirit guides, and angels, and that belief touches her writing.

Honey’s books are available on her web site:

 Just Breathe Honey PerkelThe Dreams …

The Fears …

The Death Of A Son

Just Breathe … A Mother’s Story is the true journey of this author’s personal tragedy. It is a story of growth, of lost dreams, and new dreams realized. Of fighting to save a child through insurmountable odds. It is a story of letting go and in the end, instead of saving her son, one mother is able to save herself.

The Vision

I saw my son standing in the doorway. Young, eager, dressed in shadows, and I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t afraid! The fact alone amazed me. It was the evening of what would have been his thirty-fourth birthday. That too, gave me pause.

I hadn’t seen him for nearly twelve years. And gone were the memories of—the nine therapists in nine years, the bouts with mental hospitals, the giving up of custody and regaining it, the empty, lonely years of estrangement that followed, and now this. What was he trying to tell me? That he was all right? What?

Having not fared well during those raw years, I was glad to see him, my son. We exchanged glances, his features hidden in darkness, then he turned and as a road runner in slow motion he lifted a leg and sprinted into nothingness. I held my breath. Brian, dead for nearly three years. I saw him.

Brian William Perkel

June 24, 1980 — August 13, 2011

Read author Honey Perkel’s memoir depicting her struggle with her son’s mental illness in Just Breathe.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015