Appalachian Gothic

Tales of the paranormal from the Appalachian Mountains.

Woman in the Shack

A shack once stood in the Gap Creek area of Carter County, Tennessee. A traveling salesman passed through the area nearly a century ago. He’d endured a hard, unsuccessful day and decided to move on to the next town. His bad luck wasn’t over. He struggled over rough roads, tired and hungry.

He wasn’t particularly surprised when a tremendous storm began. The thunder was loud and the rain was heavy. He couldn’t see any shelter. As he stumbled over the terrain, he noticed a broken-down shack in the distance. A flickering candle illuminated the shabby window. He hoped he might find food and shelter inside, even if humble.

Five rough and burly men surrounded a tiny table. They played cards. The room was stuffy and so filled with cigar smoke it was foggy. The peddler asked about food, but there was none. He then asked about lodging and offered them what little money he had for his accommodation.

The men said there was only one small bed in the shack, and it was occupied. He could sleep beside their woman, if he wished. They told him not to disturb her because she’d been very sick, and had just fallen asleep.

He tried to sleep on the edge of the bed, but couldn’t. The bed was just too small, the room was filthy, and the air wasn’t any better even without the cigar smoke. He tossed and shifted until he gave up. He sat up and prepared to go back out. The storm was over and he wasn’t sleeping, so there was no reason to stay. He glanced back at the woman he’d laid beside.

She was dead. She had been dead long enough to bloat from decomposition. There was a bullet wound in her forehead. Once the shock wore off, he fled the room. He returned to the room where the men had been playing cards. They were all gone, and so were their belongings. The panicking salesman fled the area and ran to summon the sheriff.

He returned with the sheriff’s posse, but the cabin was dark. The men were gone. The woman was gone. There was no sign anyone had been there in years. The card table was barren and covered in dust. The bed in the backroom was likewise nothing more than a bedframe and a few rotted sheets, not the covers he’d laid upon.

No one knew what happened in the little shack to make it haunted, but it continued to entrap weary travelers for years. It was struck by lightning years later and burned to the ground.


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