Lisa Champelli says people love to listen to ghost stories because it’s a chance to be scared in a safe environment.
“You think of some of the traditional places for telling spooky stories – at sleepovers, slumber parties, around the campfire where you’re gathered friends and family. It’s this chance to get the shivers running up your spine while you still know that you have safe contacts near by.”
Champelli has been telling stories as part of the Bloomington Storytellers Guild for fifteen years. She found the story “Sam’l” in the collection of folktales When the Lights Go Out: Twenty Scary Tales To Tell by Margaret Read McDonald.
Folktales are perfect material for storytellers because, Champelli explains, you have license to change things up a bit. “They have been tweaked over the years, and tellers have added bits and pieces here and there.”
Once upon a time, there was a man named Sam’l. He went by the name Sam, so that’s what we’ll call him today, too. Now, Sam lived a good long life, but in the end he was killed by a fire. Sam’s house burned down and Sam within it.
When the fire had died down, and the embers had stopped glowing, and the ashes had cooled, Sam stood up and he shook himself out, and he found that he was now a ghost. Having nothing else better to do, Sam began to walk about in the world.
Discovering that he was a ghost – finding that he was now truly dead – he found that he could see all sorts of creepy-crawly creatures all about him. He was able to see all the beasties and slimy critters, and they began leering at him and cluing him in on the ways of the dead…