Hello everyone, and welcome to LukeLore. A quick deep dive into a folklore topic, where I share some of the stories from around the world that have piqued my interest. Okay, I’m going to be a little back to basics this episode. It doesn’t help I’m a little bunged up with a cold or bug of some descriptions, so if I sound a little off it’s that, this is something else. I’ve been on some weird folklore dives recently, and that’s fine! Loads of great historic grounding, everything has been interesting, I’ve learned a fair bit doing them, and I’ve had fun performing as I go. But it’s left me a little restless. I just kind of want something scary. I dunno, maybe it’s the summer annoying me. The big annoying lamp in the sky is making everything too damn hot, and I’m yearning for Halloween, so I’ve gravitated towards some spooky stories. Here’s some entertaining nightmare fuel I’ve found off the back of that impulse! SECTION BREAK – A Scary Ghost Remember when ghosts were scary? It feels like the community response to any paranormal activity these days would to get excited and started chasing after it with their phone out. Excepting Shadow People, who are dicks that mess with sleep paralysis and seem hell bent on deliberately trying to scare the unwary. So let’s really mix this up, and have a nice simple ghost who is also alarmingly frightening, that also isn’t a Shadow Person. This is a story from Abbeville, Alabama, and their very own Lady in Black apparition. Huggin’ Molly. Children are warned to make sure they’re home before dark in Abbeville, just in case she chooses this night to be out. It may start as a night like any other, but then the signs will follow that it’s already too late. The street lights will gutter and die. It will be impossible to light a match. There will only be moonlight, IF you are lucky, and she will be near. Towering 7 foot tall in a long black dress, with what little light remains shielded from her face by a wide brimmed black hat, she will glide through the streets seeking someone foolish enough to be out. She’ll have a big smile on her face in the shadows under that deep brimmed hat, but not a happy one. A hungry one. You’re prey, and that’s the smile of a big hungry cat. You may as well freeze in fright, because she’s faster than you anyway, she will swoop down on you before you know it then scoop you up in a crushing hug. As you are suspended, smothered, helpless, she will lean down to your ear, open her mouth, and SCREAM. Huggin’ Molly doesn’t have a definitive origin. Just a sworn belief by locals that she’s a real hazard to avoid, and everyone knows at least one person she got when they were young and foolish. Some stories suggest she’s a witch, some talk of a shade in mourning after the death of her child, some stories accuse her of infanticide that led to her damnation, and other tales still suggest she was never human at all – something completely Other merely taking on the form of a woman. She’s currently immortalised by a 50s style diner in Abberville called Huggin’ Molly’s! It looks like quite a nice place, although on the menu is the option for a Molly’s Fingers Selection, and I don’t quite know what to make of that… Mostly her victims are children, making Huggin’ Molly a convenient bogeyman to stop children staying out too late. But “Mostly children” isn’t the same as “Your dumb ass is safe”. Maybe don’t take the chance wandering Abberville by night? Once the streetlights fail, and matches stop lighting, you better be 10 paces or less away from your destination door and EVEN THEN you better be quick. Muggin’ Molly is fast, and cunning to boot. At least one story has her bursting out of a hedgerow when someone foolishly assumed they were safe. Most ghosts are a bump in the night. A smaller subset still may appear and give you a “boo” for a jumpscare. Whatever it is Huggin’ Molly gets out of her ambushes, the only thing that can be said for sure is you are helpless and her scream is going to hurt you. So… Listen when you’re told to be in before dark! Especially over Abberville way. SECTION BREAK – Come Tomorrow There’s an interesting bit of graffiti you can spot around the place if you travel across Karnataka in India. That being a State in the Southwest of the country. Walls, archways, windows, and doors. Written in chalk, sprayed on in paint, or scratched into the surroundings: Naale Baa. It means “Come Tomorrow”, it’s a simple ward against evil spirits. You ask them to come tomorrow, and then again, and again, averting their attention. Either repeating the charm each night to stay safe, or in the hopes that whatever is trying to force its way into the home will eventually move on. Only there is also a specific entity said to roam Karnataka, that is only given the name of Naale Baa. Only referred to as the charm to dissuade it. Looking into this supernatural being? I’m wondering if not naming it may be an important part of dealing with it. The apparition of a bride will stalk its way across the State on nights of ill fortune, and it has a bundle of disturbing infernal tricks at its disposal. Its main one to watch is that it’s a mimic, so I already hate it! It can imitate the voices of your loved ones near perfectly, and it has a simple goal. It wants to come inside your home. It will plead. It will coerce. It will try to trick you. It will try to threaten you, although definitely don’t fall for that one because nothing will be as bad as actually letting it in! Stories differ on what the creature is trying to do, it may in fact have different goals depending on what whims it may follow. To invite it in may result in it dragging away the man who earns the most in the household, for him to never be seen again and for everyone left behind to be struck with unnaturally terrible luck until they leave – or else all perish there. Some stories are much simpler, if this Thing gets in everyone is going to die then and there. With no scope for household survivors, I’m guessing this one gets reported by terrified neighbours. Its mimicry comes with another trick, that doesn’t even need it letting in to strike the unwitting down. This monster, whether spiteful witch or unclean spirit, will call out for people in the voices of loved ones. This will happen late at night, when there’s an ominous atmosphere laying thick over the land, take note that the voice may not be quite right. Repeating like a stuck record, or strangely distorted. The person it mimicking being with you is definitely a sign you should not answer! If someone does reply to this trick, just calls out in return, then they will be struck with the sudden onset of what seems like a haemorrhagic fever. The victim will violently cough up and vomit blood, bleeding out of every orifice until they die. Which, on the plus side, won’t take too long. Still not a nice way to go, and a bonus horrific twist on the powers of a malicious mimic. It just wants you to respond, to be fooled and call out in concern. That will make the connection it needs, and it’s violent exsanguination out of everywhere time. You should never be replying to evil mimics as a matter of course, it’s not something that can end well, but if you’re out at night in South India when you think someone is calling to you from the dark who you KNOW cannot be there… Definitely don’t reply. Text them to check they’re fine instead, lean on modern technology to escape this particular trap. Whatever this is, it’s so fiendishly abominable that it only gets referred to by the ward you use to deter it. Naale Baa. If you’re home at night and hear the distorted voices of your loved ones trying to convince you to let it in, loved ones you know have a key or else may be safely tucked up in bed IN the home already, watch carefully for the apparition of a bride stalking about your home. You want to – very carefully – take the chance to write “Naale Baa” on the outside of your door, then you wait until the charm deflects the creature away from you. No wonder this is graffiti’d everywhere that it is known to stalk the night! Better safe than sorry, just move this thing right on with no chance for it to mess with you first. Incidentally, if you are out and about in Karnataka as either a tourist or an Indian listener, I would love to see pictures of some of the graffiti! Feel free to get it in the day when it’s safe to, however. I wholehearted recommend not messing with any mimic that is so fearsome it only gets referred to by the charm to dissuade it. SECTION BREAK – Avoid Water By Scottish Roadways I mean, it’s LukeLore and we want something scary. Let’s remind everyone to stay away from water, and let’s make it one of the Aos Sidhe while we’re at it. This is one from the Western Highlands of Scotland, wherever there is still water alongside paths and roadways. Although as an added bonus, there are some stories of these things lurking in some streams in Argyll, Loch Tummel, and where there’s enough still water in the wilds of Badenoch. The good news is you’re probably fine in a car! These are a classic hazard for horses and their riders. The bad news is you probably don’t need a horse to be in danger, so sucks to be hiking in the danger zones. This is the Burach-Bhaoi (BUICK BOY-ah), an otherworldly ambush predatory with a taste for the blood of the drowned, and it’s more than happy to do the drowning part to get its preferred beverage. The thing to watch out for, is nine red eyes. All on the head of one creature, at or just underneath the surface of the water. This is an unnatural creature lurking in wait… Should a foolish meal stray near, it will burst out of the water! A four to six foot long leech that tangles horse, and rider if it has one, to wrestle them into the water were it will drown them before feeding on their blood. Not the nicest way to go. It is commonly held to be a fairy creature, so probably doesn’t like iron, but the best option is definitely going to be to avoid them. Be aware that the collection of nine red eyes lurking in wait is not something cool to be investigated, and is instead a watery doom. In fact, just avoid the water. Avoiding the water in the wild is generally a good move. Anything could be in there, the Burach-Bhaoi is just one specific horrible example. There don’t seem to be many specific Burach-Bhaoi stories to dig down into, but it’s pretty simplistic in its nature. Go near it, and it’ll eat you. Not much in the way of heroic epics to be had here beyond “Smart people not getting eaten by giant leeches”, but having giant otherworldly versions of normally worrying creatures is a bad time for anyone to blunder into. Water! Avoid it, unless it’s out of a tap. SECTION BREAK – Something Is Watching Let’s end with some classic LukeLore territory, and a Yokai! Specifically, one of the monster women of Japanese folklore, with Sukima-Onna. The Gap Woman. Sukima-Onna was one of the inspirations for Kakayo, the ghost woman of the The Grudge series, so you know we’re on to a good one here. The original story was a relatively small tale, one of hundreds collected by the samurai Negishi Yasumori during the Edo period. Here’s a translation of this initial snippit Yasumori-san found: "A tea shopkeep had moved into a new home, After that, something was wrong with the sliding door on the second floor. When a servant tried to open it, it only opened halfway... When the storekeeper himself tried, the door opened without any issue. The next day it wouldn't open, so one of the servants forced it open. Suddenly a woman appeared from the tight space, (the one used for containing the door.) and grabbed at the servant. He panicked and forced the door back... she vanished." The one thousand stories of the ‘Mimibukuro’, 10 volumes the Samurai filled with 100 stories each, are not the full story of this Yokai-onna. Folklore is a sprawling mechanism that comes with a lot of variations. Something we see a lot! Let me see if I can cover the broad strokes here. You may not even know you are Sukima-Onna’s victim at first. You will just have… A Feeling. You’ll be at home alone, and you will have a feeling you’re being watched. It will be minor at first, then persistent. This strange feeling will also grow to include not wanting to leave your home. You either won’t want to leave, or possibly start to become agoraphobic. All you will want to do is stay, and do nothing. Then, you will start to see her. In the crack of a door, from behind the fridge, from under the couch. The more impossible it is, the more likely you will be to see the wild eyes glaring back at you. You belong to Sukima-Onna! This is your life now. She is always watching, and you can never leave. Even if you have ample food, it’s HER feeding that you need to worry about. Your spirit will waste away, and your body along with it, until your inevitable death. This Yokai latches on to a new victim if she is glimpsed somewhere she is infesting, so a cycle tends to begin when an abandoned building she killed the occupant of gets entered by the unwary or the dumb being dared. But she can also mark any friends or family who visit a victim, only you may not know it for a while. She focuses on a single target until they expire, then moves on to a new one she has lined up. If she doesn’t have fresh prey already lined up for a move, she just waits for someone to see her. A small glimpse, something you could easily dismiss, a flash of white between two cupboards you didn’t even register as eyes, and you are next. As with far too many Yokai, your only real defence is to not blunder across them in the first place. There are some stories of trying to either avoid her, or drive her on to a new victim, by covering every single gap in your residence with tape. To see her is to be linked to her, and her constant watching is how she keeps a grip on a victim, so breaking her line of sight is your only hope. She will in theory move on, or else just lose control over you so that you can finally escape. The problem being that the slightest gap you miss, or that appears again as tape starts to peel away, is all she needs to lock you in her life draining gaze again… She works a lot like a Ju-on, or the dark grudges that the vengeful Onryo ghosts of Japan cause, yet she is an otherworldly Yokai and a single individual. This may give some false breathing room by you being quite far down on her to-do list, but you then have the problem that because she isn’t a ghost you can’t exorcise her or otherwise defend yourself in a way that would deter spirits of the dead despite her superficially appearing like the spectre of a woman. The story of The Gap Woman has evolved over the years. Modern cramped apartment living in urban Japan allowed her to squeeze her way into contemporary Urban Legend territory. The story got a massive modern revival from comedian Sakura Kinzo telling the story of ‘The One Millimetre Ghost’ on a daytime TV talk show called Waratte Iitomo. One day, a man doesn’t show up for work with no warning or explanation. His friend from the office tries to call him up, but there’s no answer. A full week passes with no sign of him, so a group of his coworkers go around to see what’s wrong. He answers the door to his apartment looking pretty dishevelled, but up and about. Not obviously ill. So the work colleagues ask why he hasn’t been to work. He answers that he hasn’t set one foot outside of the apartment in a week. So one of them says to him it isn’t health to stay inside so long, he should come outside. The poor man has a panicked, haunted look fall over him as he shakes his head. “She gets lonely, so I can’t go out.” Confused, they try to ask him who. What woman? He’s not married, did he get a girlfriend? He can’t make them understand. He tries to explain there’s a woman in there, but they can’t see her even as they come in and look around the place. So this poor man takes them into his bedroom, still confusing his workmates, as he points behind the dresser in his room. Not in it, behind it, the tiniest gap between furniture and wall. “She’s in there.” They gather around to look at this miniscule gap, and as they look behind the dresser there is – impossibly – a woman with long black hair in a red dress crammed into that gap. And she was staring right back at them all. The work colleagues all ran, and nobody ever heard from the poor man trapped in that apartment ever again. This Yokai is some liminal thing, existing in any gaps around you at any time. No matter how slight, given that they can be The One Millimetre Woman. Watching you at all times, as anywhere you go in your home there will be a gap she can be peeking out of… Is that cupboard open a crack? Maybe that drawer? Is there any space behind that TV? What about between your bed and the wall? Is something watching you from there? SECTION BREAK That was a fun diversion for me after what’s been quite the heavy folklore year. Makes me feel like Halloween is around the corner, and I’m not currently roasting in the middle of bloody summer! I’m not quite sure where I’ll be heading next for a theme, but these likely won’t be the last scary stories I bring to you. Hope you enjoyed the chilling tales too! I may have made myself paranoid about the Sukima-Onna, so feel free to join me in being mildly worried of all the gaps around a home. LukeLore is a Ghost Story Guys production.
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Goodbye for now.