I know I’ve shared this story before, but I can’t find it.
I grew up in a log cabin in the woods on the outskirts of a small rural town. It’s so small that it doesn’t actually show up on any maps – the only official marker is a small green sign on the edge of the road, and the longest-residing resident automatically becomes the mayor. We have a few houses, a gas station, a Masonic lodge, a Quaker church, and a couple of small graveyards. The rest is farm and woodland.
One day, I was visiting a school friend in the next town over. There were six or seven of us there, doing nothing but munching on pretzels, talking shit, and stewing in a questionable hot tub. I didn’t get out much, so this was a real party for me.
I stayed late because one girl I didn’t know offered to give me a ride home. I lived about 20 minutes away, but she didn’t mind – she liked driving country roads and wanted the practice. We were halfway there when I casually mentioned the name of my town and she nearly veered off the road.
She turned to stare at me in horror. “Are you serious?! I’m not driving there!”
“Why… not?” I had no idea what her problem was. It’s not like there’s a crime problem. Was it too far away? Was she going to leave me stranded?
“It’s super haunted. I hear so many bad stories about that place,” she said. I think my jaw dropped, but she was completely serious.
“What have you heard?” I asked. Haunted? And *I* didn’t know about it? Me, the kid who drank up ghost stories and urban legends like mother’s milk?
She explained how she’d heard stories about secret societies, strange rituals, black dogs, witches, mysterious gated roads, creepy houses, hooded figures roaming graveyards, and more. She was clearly terrified.
It took me a moment to process everything before I burst into laughter. Gasping for breath, I said, “That’s me! That’s all me! That’s literally all my family!”
My dad, a Freemason, had offered our woods as a location for rituals. My dog at the time, a black Labrador, was allowed to roam free. My parents often cooked over an open fire in a cauldron, either preparing food or chemical treatments for my father’s craftsmanship. Our log cabin we constructed out of pieces of old 18th century local buildings and is filled with oddities @. The hooded figures had been my birthday party, wandering the cemetery with lanterns ‘cause there was nowhere else to go.
“It’s not haunted,” I assured her. “That’s all just my family doing normal stuff. You can visit if you like. The scariest thing in town and the source of all these stories is already sitting next to you in your car, so what’s to fear?”
She did eventually calm down enough to drive me home, and we had a good laugh about it. I have no idea how far my town’s reputation for spookiness has reached, but I’m honored to be the inspiration of at least a few urban (rural?) legends.