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Category: Ghost Stories

Invasion of the Black Slime and Other Tales of Horror

Invasion of the Black Slime and Other Tales of Horror

When I was a kid, I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. At school book fairs, I was always on the lookout for a good deal. There were various copycats series – such as the really excellent Fighting Fantasy series that I discovered in middle school. Which Way Books, however, never really received the accolades of Choose your own Adventure as most of them were very mediocre to downright terrible. One book from the series, however, really stood head and shoulders above the others.

Invasion of the Black Slime and Other Tales of Horror was honestly one of the most frightening books I read as a kid. The book consisted of 3 main story lines you could choose between. The first storyline was to continue on to the supposedly invaded mountain town of Silverlode. The second involves visiting a lonely doctor. The third was one of the best which involved spending 24 hours in Uncle Harry Crispen’s haunted house to earn a million dollars.

There were some really great illustrations as well.

It is hard to find copies of this book today. The series was never terribly popular, and used copies of this book can run you about $35 – if you can even find one. I have never seen this book online anywhere; so I decided to change that. I bought a copy and scanned the whole thing cover to cover. It’s now here available as a PDF to download and enjoy.

Personally, I found the haunted house path contained some of the most terrifying stuff I read as a kid. Even today as an adult it holds up really well. There’s even a warning that you need to give full attention to the pages you read as you go into Uncle Henry’s house. I remember taking it seriously and going to my room and laying on my bed to read it. It was downright terrifying to 10 year old me.

If you’d like to hear some the book, here’s an audiobook version:

If you read this book as a kid, share your experiences with it. It was definitely one of my favorites.

Which Way Books #10
The Invasion of the Black Slime and Other Tales of Horror
Written by: R.G. Austin
Format: Paperback
Published: January 1, 1983 by Simon Pulse
ISBN : 9780671460204 
ISBN-10 : 067146020X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0671460204
ASIN ‏ : ‎ 067146020X

Download Invasion of the Black Slime and Other Tales of Horror PDF here

The 1889 Paris Exposition Urban Legend

The 1889 Paris Exposition Urban Legend

Urban legends are definitely not new – and some of the older ones are much better than the ones we have today. Here’s a good one that I encountered via an old time radio play. The story goes like this:

The year was May and the fabulous 1889 Paris Exposition was about to get started. A girl arrived with her mother via ocean liner from India. They checked into the Hotel Crillon but the mother fell sick upon arrival. A doctor was called to help. Shortly after, the daughter was sent on an errand to get some critical medicine, but the coachman and everyone took forever to get her the medicine and get her back to the hotel. When she arrived, she asked for the room key to get the medicine to her mother. At this point the desk clerk, all the hotel staff, and even the doctor claimed the girl arrived alone and there was no mother. Nobody had been sick and other lodgers had been checked into the supposed mother’s room for days. The girl became hysterical and demanded they take her to her mother’s room. They showed her the room her mother was in but it was completely different – with different furniture, window coverings, and a stack of luggage from another set of travelers. The girl ran to the British Embassy who, upon investigation and being given the same story/shown around by the hotel staff, concluded that the girl was probably crazy. She was sent onwards to Britain to an asylum.

What happened to the mother? The legend goes to explain the hotel doctor discovered the mother had bubonic plague. The doctor, hotel staff, and officials quickly realized the gravity of such a diagnosis. With so much riding on the success of the Paris Exposition – fortunes would be lost overnight if panic spread about a plague in the city.

They decided to sent the girl away and told everyone to delay her as much as possible. They then moved the mother to a hidden facility where she died shortly after. They re-decorated the room, destroyed the records, put new people in the room who were in on the plot, and basically did everything possible to cover up the infection and discredit the girl’s story.

Was it true? People have tried to prove it but there’s been no concrete evidence. Still, the story appears to have circulated around the world for years after the 1889 Paris Exposition.

As evidence of this early urban legend’s widespread telling, John Dickson Carr wrote a wildly popular story called Cabin B-13 as a radio play that aired in 1943. Very tame by today’s standards, it takes a twist on the old Paris tale – with the characters even mentioning the tale in their dialog. It’s a great little thriller that was broadcast in the US and then used as the opening set piece for a new thriller series on the BBC. Give it a listen – if you dare!


Backrooms and the Horror of Liminal Spaces

Backrooms and the Horror of Liminal Spaces

“If you’re not careful and you noclip out of reality in the wrong areas, you’ll end up in the Backrooms, where it’s nothing but the stink of old moist carpet, the madness of mono-yellow, the endless background noise of fluorescent lights at maximum hum-buzz, and approximately six hundred million square miles of randomly segmented empty rooms to be trapped in.

God save you if you hear something wandering around nearby because it sure as hell has heard you”

The Backrooms is an urban legend and June 10, 2019 creepypasta which originated in a 4chan thread about unsettling images. It’s one of the first examples of liminal spaces — an aesthetic that creates unique feelings of eeriness, nostalgia, and apprehension when presented with such places outside of their designed context. They often involve pictures of familiar places that usually are busy – but are empty in the photo.

The tread became hot, and in 2019 someone created a free indie game on Steam that let you wander the Backrooms. You wandered the generated space with nothing but the sound of humming lights and fighting for your sanity. Cue countless spinoffs and alternate takes – none of which were as good as the original.

Fast forward again to Jan 2022, and Kane Pixels created some amazing found-footage style re-creations that are some of the best entries since the original. Give it a watch to get that creepy feel of wandering alone in an empty mall or parking lot at night while getting the creeping feeling someone, or something, is following you…

Lafcadio Hearn’s Translated Japanese Ghost stories

Lafcadio Hearn’s Translated Japanese Ghost stories

I love a good classical ghost story. Some of my favorites are English ghost stories from the 1800 and 1900’s. But a good ghost story is not limited to just old British tales. Ghost stories are a phenomenon across all cultures and eras. Some cultures even had elaborate systems for telling ghost stories.

Lafcadio Hearn (aka Yakumo Koizumi) was born of Irish parents and had a difficult upbringing by most standards. He became a writer and journalist, but was captivated by Japanese culture that he experienced at the World Exposition in New Orleans. Shortly after, he traveled to Japan in 1890 at the age of 40. He soon made Japan his home, married, raised a family, and found continued success as a writer.

One of his favorite subjects was Japanese ghost stories. Japanese ghost stories are interesting because they are heavily influenced by Buddhist thought, and often carry a hint of moral elements. He collected and translated several works on the subject. Kwaidan is probably his most famous collection of ghost stories – stories which were even turned into a movie.

It turns out there are at least 3 different Lafcadio Haern museums/homes in Japan. Hopefully I’ll see them someday, but until then I’ll be happy just reading the stories.

Christmas Ghost Stories

Christmas Ghost Stories

The British have an intriguing history of telling ghost stories at Christmas. The most famous one is probably Dicken’s Christmas Carol with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future who haunt Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas eve. The immensely long running play Woman in Black starts with the protagonist Arthur Kipps being asked by his children to tell a ghost story on Christmas eve.

Here’s a collection of wonderfully 70’s era BBC productions of traditional ghost stories from the likes of MR James, Dickens, etc. They hardly classify as what we would considered horror today, but are a wonderful look back into what scared and intrigued people 100 years ago. I recommend listening to audiobook versions to give them a fair shake. They were originally designed to be told out loud compared to produced into plays (which often mess up pacing/lack description of the experienced horror of the characters).

You can find other productions like Mr. Humphrey’s and His Inheritance. Full of epic 70’s experimental theatrics and music:

Update: Here’s an even bigger collection of videos that includes everything above and more.

Best Favorite Scary Stories for Fall

Best Favorite Scary Stories for Fall

One of my favorite pastimes is reading and listening to classic spooky stories. There’s no better time for curling up with a spooky story than a cold, fall evening in front of the fire.

Here’s a collection of my all-time favorite scary stories by the best readers I could find:


This is a unique group – and old stories of this genre are very heavy on dry British/deadpan humor and often require a little bit of understanding of the times in 1800’s England. I highly recommend.


Good general scary classics channels on YouTube:


Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories – Michael Cox, R.A. Gilbert



Scary frights and Lockdowns

Scary frights and Lockdowns

I love a good spooky story. With covid locking us all down, folks making scary experiences have gotten creative.

Psycho Clan – a group that creates immersive theatrical events – is making some interesting horror audio experiences in which you blindfold some friends, set up some simple props, and then guide them through the auditory experience. Looks like it could be some good fun!

Inspired by the classic ghost story “The Toll House” by W. W. Jacobs, you play Sam, a member of an intrepid group of friends who stubbornly insists on testing whether a house, notoriously known to be haunted, truly is… by spending the night in it!

More Spooky Tales for Fall and Cold Winter Nights

More Spooky Tales for Fall and Cold Winter Nights

While looking around for more great old-time ghost stories, I came across another great website collection of stories here. To avoid the risk of them disappearing, I copy them here (again) for your enjoyment.

Collections these stories come from for further reading:

  • Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (1947)
  • M.R James: Collected Ghost Stories (1992)
  • The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe (1992)
  • Gothic Short Stories (ed. David Blair) (2002)
  • The Virago Book of Ghost Stories (2006)
  • Ambrose Bierce: The Spook House (2008)
  • The Oxford Book of Ghost Stories (2008)
  • The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales (2009)
  • Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories (2012)
  • Tales from the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories (2013)
The Gathering of 100 Tales

The Gathering of 100 Tales

Ghost stories exist in just about every culture of the world. You can learn a lot about a culture by the ghost stories they tell. Ghost stories, and particularly Japanese ghost stories have been very popular of late (The Ring, Ju-On, etc) but their origins go back as far as the oral traditions of each culture. Just as with Greek odysseys and ancient poems like Gilgamesh, ancient ghost stories provide amazing windows to the past and the strange of every culture.

During a recent adventure through Victorian era ghost stories, I also learned of an old ghost story telling tradition in Japanese culture. Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (百物語怪談会, lit., A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales) was a popular Buddhist-inspired ghost telling parlor game during the Edo period in Japan.  The exact origins are unknown, but it was believed to be first played amongst the samurai class as a test of courage. In Ogita Ansei‘s 1660 nursery tale “Otogi Monogatari” a version of the game was described in which the narrative tells of several young samurai telling tales in the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai fashion. In the tale, as one samurai finished the one-hundredth tale, he began to extinguish the candle when suddenly he sees a giant gnarled hand descend upon him from above. While some of the samurai cowered in fear, a swipe of his sword revealed the hand to be merely the shadow of a spider.


According to early texts, the tradition method went like this:

  • The game was to be carried out on the night of a new moon when the night is darkest without even moonlight. All light sources should be covered or extinguished.
  • The location should be the home of someone in the group in a selection of 3 neighboring rooms. The best configuration is if the rooms are arranged in an ‘L’ shape where one cannot see the room at the top of the L from the room at the bottom right of the L.
  • The participants gather in one of the end rooms with a few lanterns. The room next to that is to be pitch black.
  • The most secluded room has 100 lit candles or andon (traditional Japanese paper lanterns) and a writing desk with a mirror on top.
  • All dangerous items should be removed from the rooms (decorative swords/etc).
  • Each person is to wear a blue robe.


  • The participants take turns telling 1 ghostly or supernatural story at a time. They should be of ghostly encounters, folkloric tales passed on by villagers who encountered various spirits, and the like. These tales became known as kaidan.
  • After each story is told, the teller gets up with a lantern wrapped with blue paper.
  • They walk alone through the dark room to the room lit with 100 candles/andon.
  • They extinguish one candle, look into the mirror on the table, then return to the story telling room.
  • Play proceeds like this with the most secluded room becoming darker and darker until the final story.
  • In some versions, only 99 stories are told and play stops until the sun rises to tell the final story.
  • In other versions you tell the final story. When you enter the lit room and extinguish the final candle while looking into the mirror – some spirit or image may be evoked.

While this might have started as a test of bravery for aristocratic warrior classes, it quickly spread to the working classes. As it gained widespread popularity in the 1600’s, people began scouring the countryside for mysterious tales and collected them into books. The stories also started merging ghostly vengeance with elements of Buddist karma. The collections and popularity of the game grew and is still deeply in the culture today.


For those that have caught Japanese horror movies and popular Japanese anime/manga/literature, the influence of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai and the themes those stories created during that era is very clear. Some shows even have mock recreations or clear spinoffs of the very game.

In Japan, like many other cultures, there is the idea of Kimodameshi (きもだめし or 肝試しlit. “test one’s liver”).  These “tests of courage” involve a person/people exploring frightening, and potentially dangerous, places. Kimodameshi is usually played in the summer, in group activities such as school club trips or camping. At night, they visit scary places such as a cemetery, haunted house, or a forest path to carry out specific missions there.

Further Resources

While many of the stories might seem strange to us today, they are also very interesting and often some very similar characteristics as western ghost stories. I recommend picking up one of the many collections of kaidan/ghost stories from Japan and give them a read.

Here are 10 famous Japanese ghost stories to start your journey. See how many themes you recognize. Another great book is Japanese Ghost Stories by Lafcadio Hearn. Hearn was an Irishman that had a colorful past, moved to Japan and researched ghost stories in the late 1800’s