I was feeling inspired recently, and the time is right for another installment of Mysterious Monday. An irregular series in which we publish short, creepy, and weird story hooks for readers to use as sources of inspiration. If you enjoy reading these or put any of them to use in your own game, let us know in the comments below. Several bulleted prompts are provided following each narrative hook to help get your creative juices flowing.
The Grey Man
Every child has had the opportunity to participate in an organized “show and tell.” It is a time-honored tradition where they bring an object and present it to their classmates while telling them some important and interesting facts about the thing. Consider for a moment if the object being shown should remain obscure and hidden.
One such legend tells of a youngster taking an object from his parent’s collection of curiosities and bringing it to a class “show and tell.” The object is reportedly a small wooden, hand-carved figurine of unknown origin and date. It’s rumored that the child and classmates reported seeing strange shadows in the halls and on the school’s grounds that day. Some variations of the legend say that when the child returned home, they spotted a short figure cloaked in shadows watching from the tree line. Another variation says that as the bus drove down the child’s street, it came upon a scene of sheer chaos; emergency and fire vehicles everywhere attempted to put out a blaze engulfing the child’s home.
The seemingly mundane act may indeed have a dark side. Or perhaps the legend is purely a flight of fancy.
- What is the object taken to school?
- Who or what is causing the shadows, and are they connecting to the object?
- Is the fire related to the object and the child borrowing it from their parents?
Every major population center has its fair share of urban legends. While the overwhelming majority have a kernel of truth at their core, most are nothing more than topics for fun conversations and the occasional heated debate amongst friends. Every day tens of thousands of people walk by an old weather-beaten door; its paint faded and cracked from years of weathering. The door bears none of the traditional markings or fixtures of the other doors on this block. It has no handle, knocker, house number, mail slot, or similar hardware. Yet oddly, there is a sisal doormat with the word “welcome” placed in front of the door with a seemingly heavy wear pattern that can only be obtained from heavy foot traffic. What makes this particular door odd is, asking neighbors about it, no one seems to recall any such door being located at that spot in the city block. However, you have seen it, but you have not seen anyone enter or exit the door; moreover, if you take a picture of it with your phone, it is distorted or has strange anomalies no matter how many times you take a picture.
- What is behind the weathered door?
- Is it simply someone’s home, or is there more to it?
- Why is it that every time you take a picture with your phone, it comes out distorted or has weird anomalies?
The Legend of Goat Rock
Nearly all small towns in America have a reportedly haunted or mysterious road or other such locations that live on in obscure urban legends. Usually, the topic of teen and young adult conversations around campfires or on weekend nights. What happens when one of the weird urban legends is more fact than fiction? That’s the case with Goat Rock, located in a small New England town. For centuries this outcropping of rocks has provided a scenic view of nearby towns and was at one time an idyllic picnicking place for families and couples.
Two hundred and sixty years early, a local goat farmer used to pasture the herd in and around the area that would become known as Goat Rock. One evening his herd came up short. The following morning, he set out to locate his lost goat. Coming to the rock outcropping high up the property, he finds the goat’s lifeless body splayed all over. Its innards were draping down to the ground and crawling with ants. Being a devote man of God, he was convinced this was the Devil’s handiwork and sought solace with the local priest. Word spread quickly, but simultaneously the nation began its fight for independence from England; the goat farmer’s story faded into an obscure regional legend.
Through the centuries, one legend surrounding Goat Rock has persisted. Visitors to Goat Rock receive good luck if they place a totem or charm placed in one of the many crevices. The truth is every 13 years, a small collective of town elders must sacrifice a goat upon Goat Rock to appease the spirits of the Indigenous Peoples who once inhabited this area.
The sacrifice should have been made three weeks ago on the summer solstice and was not. With no sacrifice having been offered to the spirits, strange occurrences have begun to occur in this quaint New England town.
- Who sacrificed that first goat 260 years ago, and why?
- Who are the elders, and what do they know??
- What strange occurrences have been happening?
- Can the spirits be appeased?
- Is there something more nefarious at work here?
~ Modoc & Stephen Pennisi
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