“Black casket, three miles away, coming to get you!”

All these years later, I still get the heebie jeebies when I hear my sister’s voice in my head.

Laura used to love telling me scary stories when I was little, particularly around Halloween when the skies were dark, leaves blew around the house at night and you could hear the wind whirring outside.

Laura, three years older than I, had lots of stories in her head, some of which she made up as she went along.

The one about the black casket really got to me.

That darned casket would get closer and closer until it was only two miles away and then one mile and then she’d screech “Black casket, I’m in the kitchen, I’m in the living room, I’m in your bedroom. I’ve GOT YOU!”

I’d scream and dive under the covers and not come out ’til morning.

Oh, how I hated those scary stories, and oh, how I loved them at the same time.

“Tell us a ghost story,” I’d plead.

Laura would always come up with something. Like the one about the man with the golden arm.

“Give me my gooooolden arm!” she’d say, stretching the word out and making her eyes pop out of her head. I don’t remember the particulars about that story, but it was spooky.

She claimed some of her stories were about real people, like the man with the white beard and checkered shirt.

She said she would wake up in the middle of the night and he was in her room, scrounging around in her belongings.

She referred to him as “The Man,” so that’s what I and my sister, Jane, called him, too.

I think Laura read too many Nancy Drew mysteries, because she was always playing detective and trying to devise plans to catch The Man.

One time, she raided my mother’s cupboard and brought a bag of Gold Medal flour upstairs to sprinkle all over the floor. She swore he was real and would prove it by capturing his footprints.

When none appeared the next morning, she piled books against the bedroom door and said when he entered the next night, the books would crash onto the floor and wake us all up and we’d pounce on him and call the police.

That did not produce results either, so Laura got this big idea in her head. She’d get our neighborhood friend, Carla, to dress up in Laura’s blue ballet tutu and try to lure The Man in by acting seductive.

Carla looked pretty ridiculous dancing around in that tutu, her skinny 10-year-old legs all scratched up from playing in the woods the day before.

I didn’t figure any intruder would be attracted to her in that condition and I guess I was right because we never did catch The Man.

Despite Laura’s directive that we stay awake into the wee hours night to nab him, we all crashed sometime after midnight. I decided if The Man was real, the sight of Carla scared him off.

After school, we’d watch the television show, “Dark Shadows” about a vampire named Barnabas Collins, despite an order from my grandmother not to watch it.

I also sneaked downstairs late one Saturday night to watch a show called “Weird” that my older siblings watched and that was about werewolves and other awful creatures.

I had nightmares after that so I never watched it again.

As I grew older, scary things didn’t appeal to me much. I did not seek out horror movies as many of my friends did.

And even today, I prefer a movie with a good story to one touting blood, guts and gore.

The other night I saw “Enough Said,” a good film starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini, who died earlier this year.

I loved the movie, but the previews before it spooked me. One was about a sailor played by Robert Redford whose boat crashes into a shipping container in the ocean and he struggles for days to stay alive. While I think Redford is terrific, I’ll pass on “All is Lost.”

The other preview was for “The Summit,” a movie about a group of hikers who climb a steep, snowy mountain and 11 disappear, never to be seen again. I’ll definitely skip that one, too.

The older I get, the less I want to experience the bizarre and the wretched.

But give me a good old-fashioned Halloween with harmless ghosts and goblins, and I might acquiesce.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 25 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]

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