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6 Scary Stories Told by HAWAIʻI Magazine Staffers (And Friends)

Get ready for chicken skin—these tales are truly terrifying.

Halloween is just around the corner and you know what that means! Tricks and treats, an assortment of pumpkin-flavored beverages, horrifying costumes and—of course—spooky stories. The kind that gives you chicken skin (Hawaiʻi slang for goosebumps) and makes it hard to sleep at night. Our staffers, and friends from sister-publications, shared with us a few terrifying tales that have actually happened to them.

Yes, really. 

A Night at the Museum

In third or fourth grade, my class slept over at Bishop Museum. It was my first overnight school trip so I was pretty excited, but we were all a little on edge after touring the Hawaiian Hall and learning about the stone statue of Kāneikokala. Legend has it that a man was guided to the buried statue by his dreams, with Kāneikokala pleading to be rescued from the cold ground. After the statue was brought to Bishop Museum, it “refused to be moved” outside of Hawaiian Hall. Spooky, right? Well, a few hours later, we all went to sleep. In the middle of the night, a bunch of us got up for a bathroom break because we were all too scared to go alone and the bathroom was upstairs. As we crept across the hall, a TV suddenly turned on by itself, and we heard some really faint, creepy circus music playing, even though everyone else was asleep downstairs. We ran through as fast as we could, found the bathroom and then booked it back to bed. Since then, I’ve felt unsettled every time I’ve visited the museum.—Katrina Valcourt, managing editor, HONOLULU Magazine

The Old Woman Dressed in White

Growing up on the Big Island, it’s a breathtaking view to see Mauna Kea’s peak covered in snow. This also triggered a few of my high school classmates’ curiosities to take a cut class one day. They managed to borrow a four-wheel-drive pickup truck and headed up to the summit of Mauna Kea—the pickup was essential for shoveling snow to bring back and show off to everyone else. So when they got to the top, they gathered snow and filled the bed of the truck. Halfway down, they spotted an elderly Hawaiian woman dressed in white and knew they had to stop, convinced it might be Pele, and knowing that if they didn’t stop to ask her if she needed a ride, something bad might happen to them. They approached her and one of the boys asked her, “Hi, Auntie, did you need a ride? Why are you walking up here alone?” She turned to them and said, “Oh, no, boys, I’m fine. I’m actually really close to where I’m headed.”

Then she asked them, “Did you guys have a good time up there?” The elderly Hawaiian woman was looking at the snow in the back of the truck and then proceeded to take her arm and stick it into the snow all the way to her elbow. The boys later said it went in like a hot knife through butter, leaving no condensation or water on her arm. As she pulled her arm back out she smiled at the boys and said, “You boys be careful now.” They slowly drove off looking through the rearview mirror of the woman, thinking, that’s got to be Pele. The thought also occurred to them, “I wonder what would have happened if we didn’t stop to talk to her...?”—Cody Kawamoto, art director, Hawaiʻi Home + Remodeling

Uncle’s Ice Bucket

When I was 7 years old, my favorite uncle passed away. Instead of leaving my auntie alone the night of the funeral, my cousin and I stayed the night with her. We made a tent in the living room, which also contained one of those big, old-fashioned, mid-century bars. I spent plenty of hours at that bar, dropping ice into glasses and playing assistant bartender with my uncle (this was a long time ago, don’t judge). My cousin and I were drifting off to sleep and we heard the cabinet open at the bar. Then we heard the glasses rattling. Terrified, we were frozen in place. We didn’t move. We tried not to breathe. We both heard my uncle’s voice say, “Sweetheart,” and we ran for the closet, where we fell asleep in one another’s arms. In the morning when I woke up, the ice bucket was pushed up against the outside of the closet door. I have to think it was my uncle asking me to fill the ice bucket one last time for the guests that he was expecting in the afterlife.—Carolyn Hyman, advertising director, HAWAIʻI Magazine and Hawaiʻi Home + Remodeling

The Young Boy Who Walks With Him

I was at the Kuakini Medical Center with my mom one afternoon, and we were just leaving the doctor’s office. I was driving, and about to head out of the hospital’s driveway onto North Kuakiki Street when I saw an older man with a young boy walking our way. Being at a stop sign, I waited to let them cross before trying to make a right turn out onto the street. As I sat there waiting for both of them to pass, my mom questioned what I was waiting for, and I reminded her that the boy was still taking his time crossing the street. He couldn’t have been more than 5 years old, so I was trying to be extra patient. I began to notice that the man was going too far ahead of the boy, and not paying attention to where the boy was. Because I was driving a truck, the boy was no longer within my view, and I assumed that he was still walking directly in front of my truck, so I just waited there.

At that moment, I was starting to get annoyed and even remembered saying, “That guy isn’t even watching his kid!” My mom responded, “What kid?” I said, “The kid he’s with, the one with the blue shirt.” My mom insisted that there was no kid, and I even got out of my car to check, but she was right. There was no kid in sight. The weird thing is, I remember at first thinking that the boy had a haircut that reminded me of the early ’90s. A mushroom cut that all the boys from my childhood sported. He had a bright blue shirt and was definitely following that man. There was nowhere else that boy could have gone at that moment and they were the only two people there at the time. I thought about stopping to question the man about the boy but decided not to. I still think about it every time I’m in the area, and wonder if I should have said something to the man about the young boy who walks with him.—Kayla Rivera, art director, HAWAIʻI Magazine

My Mom’s Cat

As a kid, my mom had this cat, Pumpkin, who loved her and hated everybody else. However, she hated me in particular. Maybe it was because I was the youngest in our family and my mother doted on me a lot. Either way, this cat would come up to me at random, scratch me, bite me, make me cry, then leave—even though I was only a baby. When I turned 8, she died from old age. I still vividly remember my mom crying over Pumpkin, who we knew was going to die soon and was laying on the bathroom floor, asking me to come in and help comfort her as she passed. But the second I stepped through that door, Pumpkin, despite being on death's door, shot up, arched her back and gave me the scariest hiss I’ve ever heard, like rusty nails on a chalkboard. It was guttural, angry and sad. She drew her last breath not long after.

That night I was sleeping in my room and woke up to pee. My parents had already buried Pumpkin, out in the backyard, so the bathroom was empty. After finishing up my business, I went back into my bed but kept hearing a noise. It was a scratching sound, and it was coming from underneath the koa wood flooring of my bedroom. Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch. It wouldn't stop. Slow, steady and relentless, it went on for minutes. Finally, I decided I’d go sleep with my parents—but right as I was leaving my room—I swear I heard Pumpkin’s dying hiss one last time. But this time, it was so loud and grotesque I had to cover my ears as I ran to my parents. But somehow, my mom and dad told me it was just a bad dream—a nightmare—and that they didn't hear anything. But I did.—Kevin Allen, associate editor, HAWAIʻI Magazine

Something Followed Me Home

I was in college and had just dropped of my friend at her house and was driving home. It was about 11 p.m. Right when I left her driveway, the seatbelt in the passenger side of the car snapped backward, as if someone had just taken it off. (Which was impossible since there was no one in my car.) I felt uneasy the entire drive home and blasted the car radio to drown out my thoughts. When I got to my parents’ house, my dog, a sheepish little Papillon, stood in front of my car and growled like I had never heard him growl before. He glared at something behind me as I walked from the garage to the house. I suddenly felt a chill. Everyone was sleeping at home, so I went directly to my bedroom. The phone rang. I answered. No one there. The phone rang again, this time from another line in our home. I freaked out and went to see if there was someone calling from inside the house. I opened my younger sister’s bedroom door and she was sitting up in her bed, half asleep, mumbling something and staring at me. Suffice it to say, I stayed up all night, too afraid to close my eyes. The next morning I drove to my then-boyfriend’s house and, while I was explaining the strange events from the night before, everything on his wall—framed photos of pro athletes, mostly—came crashing down all at once. I still get chicken skin thinking about it.—Catherine Toth Fox, editor, HAWAIʻI Magazine