Today in our Haunted Halloween Countdown we share the tale of a Halloween prank on a classic legend.
“The Backfiring of Black Aggie”
from Haints, Witches, and Boogers: Tales From East Tennessee
by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett
Nearly every graveyard has its “Black Aggie” story. Black Aggie is the generic name for a horrifying apparition said to lurk in the shadows of tombstones late at night, often during episodes of dense fog or when the moon is full, waiting to leap out and snatch away a living victim, usually a woman.
Black Aggie stories vary little from location to location. The Black Aggie is usually described as a hag with flaming red eyes, dressed all in black, having a skeletal face and emitting a horrific scream. The apparition is usually identified as the ghost of a woman-often suspected of having been a witch while she was alive-who died alone and miserable because people were afraid of her. Her haunting of a particular graveyard, in which she may or may not actually be buried, is said to be her way to wreak vengeance on the living. She is said to be in league with the devil, promoted from witch to the exalted rank of demon after her death, possessing even more infernal power than she had while alive….
One October in Greeneville in the early 1960s, a certain young man and several of his friends decided they would play a prank on one of their female schoolmates….
The young man began the gag by informing the girl that on Halloween, a ghost often appeared over a certain tombstone in a cemetery located just off what is now U.S. llE. Then he told her that he and some of his friends were going to visit the cemetery to see the ghost. Of course, she wanted to be included in the party.
What the girl did not know was that the young man and his friends were arranging for their own phantom to appear, an apparition that would pop from behind the tombstone on cue and scare the girl out of seven years’ growth. One of the boys had devised a serviceable costume made from filmy cheesecloth, complete with a rubber fright mask that he had bought in a big-city novelty store.
Right on cue, the “phantom” popped up from behind the tombstone, and the girl screamed and fainted. The boys were laughing so hard that they hardly noticed that the phantom was moving away from them and heading toward the woods.
When the young man who had organized the prank was through congratulating himself, he called to his friend, the phantom. But the friend did not reappear. Then one of the boys looked behind the tombstone and discovered that the boy in the costume was still there-lying on the ground, passed out cold .
As soon as he revived, he told his story. He had been crouched in the dark behind the tombstone, ready to spring, when a face suddenly appeared in front of him. It snarled, and that was the last thing that he remembered.
Then one of the boys yelled out a warning. The phantom was returning from the woods, heading directly toward them. It was a real Black Aggie! The boys scrambled to their feet, yelling at the top of their lungs, and hightailed it out of the graveyard, leaving the still passed-out girl to fend for herself.
The next day, the girl was mad as a scorned lover. “Why did you leave me in that place?” she asked the young man who had invited her, when she saw him in the hallway at school.
He confessed about the practical joke and told her what had really happened. He said he was sorry and that he had not believed there was really a ghost in the cemetery. He said that when they saw the Black Aggie coming towards them, they had forgotten about everything but their own skins.
The girl looked thoughtful for a minute, then asked, “You mean to tell me there was a real ghost in that graveyard?”
”Yes,” he replied meekly. ”There really was.”
“I don’t believe you,” she answered.
“But you were so frightened that you fainted,” he protested.
“Not at your silly ghost. Luckily, mine had a car.”
By now, the young man was thoroughly confused, so the girl suggested that he turn around and look behind him. Standing in the hallway was the same “apparition” that he had seen the night before,
the one that had made his friend in the costume faint. The ghost removed its mask, revealing the pretty face of another of his female classmates.
“I just thought that if your Black Aggie didn’t show up, I’d bring my own along just in case,” the girl said, laughing. “I would have really hated to disappoint you!”
Check back for more terrifying tales in out Haunted Halloween Countdown or pick up one of the spooky books they come from.