Ashton: Some scary stories are creepy … and fake. Others are real … and I won’t tell you how to feel about them.

Brodi Ashton

A few days ago, I went to Lagoon with a friend. It had been years since I’d been to the amusement park. I rode Cannibal for the first time. The roller coaster was fun, even though the 8-year-old next to me said he wished the screaming would stop.
“I know,” I said. “That amount of screaming is really rude.”
“It was you,” he said.
“I’m pretty sure it wasn’t,” I said.
“I have video,” he said.
The kid was never seen again. But his phone was found, smashed beyond repair.
Even though the Lagoon parking lot was full, the lines to the most popular attractions were short. We barely had to wait, except when it came to the Terroride. You know the ride, you Lagooners. It very slowly propels you through dark corridors and subjects you to creepy animatronics, strobe lights and a loud horn that makes me scream every time because I hate you, horn, and you are the worst thing ever!
While we were in line, a father in front of us was trying to calm his young son. The toddler had obviously never ridden the Terroride because he was scared.
At this point, my friend (who has no children of his own) said to me, loudly, “I heard this ride is the scariest ride this side of the Mississippi.”
“Shhh,” I said, eloquently.
“Did you read that news article about that kid who died on this ride?” my friend said.
Then I punched his arm, eloquently.
Anywho, yes, my friend was joking about a scary story that wasn’t true.
But what about the scary stories that are true? Hold on to your seats. Reader discretion advised.
My family owns a condo in Midway, a small town just outside of Park City. My co-authors and I stay there often to write our books. The condo has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and is basically nondescript, except the cupboard doors in the kitchen seem to always be open.
So, my co-authors and I did some research into the criminal history of Midway, because we are kind of obsessed with true crime stories.
Fast forward to the next Halloween, and my parents, my kids, and my nieces and nephews are sitting around a campfire in Midway.
The grandkids were telling scary stories, like “click-shaw” (the serial killer who was in a wheelchair, and had hooks for hands) and the Lady in Blue (who, supposedly, haunted the Salt Lake City Cemetery).
Then it was my turn, and I decided to tell a true story.

Here’s how it went:
“Once upon a time, there was a family who lived in a condo in Midway. It was a father, a mother and two adorable children: one daughter, one son. In the winter of 1989, a snowstorm hit, and dumped a record amount of snow. To this day, residents say they had never seen, and would never see, such a deluge.
“The entire town was confined to their quarters. The streets weren’t accessible to snowcats, let alone cars. The City Council provided food and necessities to the residents, using a government-issued ‘super-snowcat’ once a week.
“It was a time when, if you were smart, you’d stay indoors.
“This family in the condo followed the rules. The mom spent most days on the second floor playing with the children. But the father, whose name was Jerry, was a trifle claustrophobic, and the weather was really getting to him.
“He was lonely. For conversation, he started talking to the walls. But the walls refused to talk back. His cabin fever and frustration grew. Why weren’t the walls answering him?
“One day, as he was making himself coffee, he opened a cupboard. And finally, the wall answered back. ‘I am not real. You are imagining me.’
“In order to keep the conversation going, Jerry opened all the cupboards, and spent his days making sure they were never closed.
“His wife did not understand this ‘need’ to keep the cupboard doors open. She spent many days closing cupboard doors. She taught her children to do the same.
“Days later, police found the wife and children dead, the kitchen cupboards open, and the father hanging from a rope that was thrown over the third floor balcony.”
I finished with this doozy to my mom: “Our research proved to be correct. This actually happened. And that’s why you got the condo for such a fantastic price.”
There was a long silence around the campfire. The younger children sniffled and wiped away tears. The older children mentioned that it would be cool to stay in tents instead of sleeping in the condo. They had most definitely seen the open cupboards.
My mother tried to settle everyone else’s minds. “Children, I promise that when we bought the condo, we had the place spiritually cleansed.”
She spoke with authority, which was slightly undermined because her voice was shaking.
That night, we all slept outside under the stars.
It wasn’t until the following morning that I, hesitantly, told everyone that I had made the entire thing up.
And this is why I no longer have any family. Does anyone out there have room in their families for a woman with lots of creative stories?
Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an occasional columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune.
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