The Big Toe
What is this. WHAT IS THIS?! The first lines of this jump-scare-style-story are, I shit you not: “A boy was digging at the edge of the garden when he saw a big toe. He tried to pick it up, but it was stuck on something.” WHAT SMALL CHILD IN THEIR RIGHT MIND TRIES TO PULL A HUMAN BODY PART OUT OF THE GROUND?! Oh, but don’t worry. His mother is apparently also totally not a psychopath because she responds to this behavior by saying “It looks nice and plump. I’ll put it in the soup, and we’ll have it for supper.” And dear old dad carves it into three pieces. FOR THEM TO EAT. This whole family is VOLUNTARILY engaging in cannibalism! Forget the rest of the story (wherein the toe’s posthumous owner comes looking for its missing bit) because that’s the creepy part right there. Case closed.
A New Horse
This one starts off pretty innocuous, kind of fun in fact. Two farmhands are chatting about how one of them is repeatedly being turned into a horse at night by a witch, who then rides him all across the countryside. The other one suggests he’ll take the guy’s place to see if it’s true. It IS true and he finds himself at the witch’s mercy until he can remove the enchanted bridle, turning himself back into a horse. Ahh what supernatural hijinks! Until, you know, the farmhand turns her into a horse, gets her fitted for horseshoes (apparently just to be a dick?), and trades her to her husband in exchange for a better horse. This story — you know, the one in a children’s book? — ends with her husband removing the bridle AND FINDING HIS WIFE WITH HORSESHOES NAILED TO HER HANDS AND FEET. THAT IS HORRIFYING. I READ THAT WHEN I WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD. No wonder I repressed it.
Girl gets married. Girl plays hide-and-seek. Girl hides in trunk. Girl is never found. Girl dies in trunk. Moral of this story: don’t hide in a trunk that can lock from the outside, ya dingus.
Samuel Blunt is a butcher who murders his wife Eloise after a spat about money. (Understandable, right?) Well, what’s an enterprising young man to do but grind her up into sausage meat and sell it to innocent citizens? And THEN when his new product is so successful, what ELSE is he supposed to do — NOT abduct puppies, kittens, and children to continue making his sausage? This one has a weirdly eerie open ending and also one of the most upsetting illustrations which I shared above so I’m not the only one who has to think about it all day.
The White Satin Evening Gown
There’s not much to this story, but it sure makes you think twice about shopping for vintage clothes. It’s a variation of an urban legend — sometimes the dress in question is for prom, other times it’s a wedding dress — but the bottom line is a poor-ish young girl needs a beautiful dress for not a lot of cash. She finds a gown being resold cheap, but her frugal-ness ends in tragedy when the embalming fluid material left on the dress’s material kills her. WHY is there embalming fluid on a beautiful dress, you ask? Oh, because the gown had been stolen from a corpse! (CHILDREN’S BOOK. CHILDREN’S. BOOK.)
“May I Carry Your Basket?”
This is just. I can’t. It hardly even qualifies as a story, it’s more like the ramblings of a madman off his meds. A guy asks to carry a woman’s basket, she agrees, oops her head’s in there, the chase is afoot, the head bites both of his legs and then the head/body disappear. I swear, that’s the whole thing.
Ted Martin and Sam Miller were good friends, according to this tale. Starts off fine enough, right? Well GUESS AGAIN because Ted and Sam spot something crawl out of a turnip field and stand up. It disappears, reappears, lather rinse repeat until Sam decides he’s going to touch it because Sam is a very smart man. The thing is wearing black pants, a white shirt, and black suspenders and looks just like a skeleton. When Sam touches it, the thing gives chase, then disappears again. Okay, so it’s over, right? WRONG AGAIN because Ted gets very sick a year later and dies and Sam says he looks just like the skeleton in his final days. NOW it’s over. You can’t give a kid such a stark, terrible glimpse of their own mortality! That kind of trauma creates… well, people like me.