February 29, 2012 is a leap day. Leap years always remind me of a legend I heard in my younger days. OK, it's probably not so much a real legend, as it is a plot made up for a TV show. Still, it's funny how the stories you hear as a child stick with you. Even if they're ridiculous. These stories seem to live on in that special part of your brain, the part where things don't need to be completely logical to make sense.
Like many kids at the time, I was obsessed with the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. The urban legends in those books really stuck with me! Especially the one about the teenager who thinks she has a some kind of blemish, but instead it's an immense sack of spider eggs. The eggs are shown hatching in one of the more gruesome illustrations I've ever seen. I haven't had one bug bite (even now) that doesn't make me think of that story.
Don't worry, I'm changing the topic back to leap years now...
Aside from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, one of my obsessions during grade school was a show called Are You Afraid of the Dark? If you are relatively my same age and reading this blog, chances are you were obsessed with the show too.
If you're not familiar with the show, here's a quick summary. Each week, the teenage characters met in the woods at night and told scary stories around a campfire. The TV audience would see the stories re-enacted. One of the stories was about leap day, specifically a full moon on the night of February 29. The story was called "The Tale of the Whispering Walls" and featured this groovy guy:
This character is the story's villain, Master Raymond. The story isn't amazingly scary, but Raymond is creepy acting and I loved his jacket. It sort of looks like a rib cage.
As the story goes, you need to be careful if you're out during a full moon on February 29, because that's when spirits will come back to earth and try to change places with you. The story seems ripped off of old Halloween legends a bit. Anyway, here's the first part of the episode. I'm afraid that you'll have to follow this link to watch the video, because whoever posted the video won't let anyone embed it!
The Tale of the Whispering Walls
I don't expect you to watch the entire thing, because it's not spectacular. I do think the intro is worth watching, since you'll get an explanation of the legend. That and Betty Ann is wearing a cool mask (which looks like it was borrowed from her Day of the Dead stash).
That was pretty scary stuff to me back in the day...
Even those of us with large imaginations have no reason to be afraid this year, because the moon won't be full on leap day. I have to wonder if there has ever been a full moon on February 29.
I had wanted to share more about the full moon on February 29th legend, but there's really not much out there. Well, not aside from all the questions posted online by the other people who clearly watched Are You Afraid of the Dark? back in the day. Evidently, a lot of us are still thinking about the leap day episode 20 years later!
I suppose everyone carries childhood stories and superstitions into their adulthood. Probably each of you can think of a story that still seems scary now because you first heard it as a child.