“I am walking along a black, black town. I go along a black, black street. I go into a black, black house. I go up a black, black staircase. I go through a black, black door into a black, black room. I go up to a black, black table. On the table is a black, black coffin. In the black, black coffin is a black, black skeleton. Who says “Give me back my heart!”
No, that’s not the scenario for the latest Hollywood horror film, but a Russian “strashilka” - or scary story - popular with kids here since at least the Soviet era. Of course, you probably weren’t too spooked by the above paragraph. But for full effect you need to be in a tent at night in a field with ten or so classmates on a school trip, the wind howling around you on your first night away from your parents.
Dozens of these tales of horror have been collected in the book, Russian School Folklore, by one A.F. Belousov. Many play on a combination of the same themes – a coffin on wheels being one of the most popular.
“Once a mother went to work and left her daughter at home. ‘Don’t open the door to anyone!’ she said, before leaving. Some time passed and the telephone rang. The girl picked up the receiver and heard ‘Girl, girl, the coffin on wheels is looking for you. It’s already found your city.’ Then it rang again. ‘Girl, girl, the coffin on wheels has found your house.’ The girl got frightened and hid in the cupboard. The phone rang again but she didn’t pick it up. Then the radio turned on by itself and a voice said ‘Girl, girl, the coffin on wheels has found your apartment.’ Then there was a ring at the door. The girl got out of the cupboard and looked through the eyehole, but didn’t see anything. So she opened the door. The coffin on wheels rolled into the room. A demon jumped out of it and pulled the girl into the coffin and rolled off…”
Maternal warnings and the failure to obey them also feature heavily, as in this surreal and brief tale.
“A mother bought a record and told her daughter, ‘Never play this without me!’ But the girl did. And suddenly green eyes appeared on the wall. And a voice said ‘You’ll never see your parents again!’ and a green skeleton ate up her mother and father.”
Others also transform everyday objects into figures of terror.
“A mother told her daughter to buy some red curtains. But the girl bought green ones. The mother put them up, and at night the curtains said to the girl’s mother, ‘Get up!’ – so she did. Then the voice said ‘Get dressed!’ So she did. Then the voice said ‘Go into the kitchen!’ So she did. Then the voice said ‘Open the window!’ So she did. Then the curtain grabbed her and threw her out of the window. Then they did the same thing to her father.”
It some cases, it is family members who are the evil ones.
“A girl wanted to know why her grandmother always went around in a long skirt. So once, when they were eating, she dropped her fork and bent down to get it. While she was there, she took a peek under her grandmother’s skirt. And saw that she had hooves…”
Or this one, which, again, is as brief as it is gruesome.
“A mother told her daughter to stay at home while she went out. But the girl followed her and saw that her mother cut children up and ate them on the street. Then she saw her daughter and cut her up and ate her too.”
It’s kind of ironic that the tales adults think up for kids here are so overwhelmingly warm and witty, the Soviet canon of cartoons being a great example. I guess you can overdose on goodness.
These horror tales are so popular, kids have even thought up parodies.
“Just before grandmother died, she asked the family not to buy a piano with a red stain on it. But after her death, they went to the shop and found that they didn’t have enough money for a piano. And then they saw a much cheaper one, with a red stain on it. So they bought it. At home, they started to try to clean the stain, when suddenly a monkey jumped out and said ‘What are you rubbing my backside for? It’s red enough as it is!’”
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
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