In honor of the publication of my friend Melissa Bowersock's new novel, Stone's Ghost, my blog this week is dedicated to sharing ghost stories I have uncovered in my own work. I'll have a different story each day through Thursday. Then we'll join Melissa's "Friendly Ghost Party." on Friday, July 26, 2013. Here at "Roundheads and Ramblings" I'll be hosting part of her moveable ghost buffet. My blog will present a delectable buffet of ghost-related main dishes, complete with recipes. So be sure to join us then.
Late Addition to the fun: anyone who visits all the participating blogs on Friday and leaves a comment on each will be eligible to win ghost candy. I'll bet it's hauntingly yummy!
In the meantime, here's another South Carolina ghost story:
Another ghostly appearance that frightened the slaves of St. Helena Island is still commonly talked about in the South. Our gullible Lucy in The Road to Frogmore describes an experience that debunkers of ghost stories try to explain away as cases of sleep paralysis, in which a person is both awake and asleep and finds himself unable to move.
“There are Night Hags around here, too.”
“Night Hags. And they are . . .?”
“They’re demons who show up in the middle of the night. They look like ugly old women,and they sit on your chest and suck the air out of you, until you can’t breathe. When you wake up gasping, they disappear into thin air.” Lucy’s eyes were wide with terror. “If one sits on you, you’re likely to get sick, too. They spread diseases like swamp fever.”
The connection to swamp fever, which is an infection similar to malaria, which settles in the lungs, offers one clue as to how this legend got started. Certainly the descriptions of a visit from a night hag usually include the inability to breathe, a feeling of suffocation, or just a terror-stricken state in which the victim gasps for breath. Personally, I lean toward a diagnosis of sleep apnia. However, night hags seem to linger in certain buildings, particularly hotels, and guests have reported remarkably similar descriptions of the local hag, including distinctive articles of clothing.