There are many different versions of the Bloody Mary Story, below is just four of the ones I could find. Please feel free to comment with your own versions.
excerpted from Spooky Pennsylvania
retold by S.E. Schlosser
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She lived deep in the forest in a tiny cottage and sold herbal remedies for a living. Folks living in the town nearby called her Bloody Mary, and said she was a witch. None dared cross the old crone for fear that their cows would go dry, their food-stores rot away before winter, their children take sick of fever, or any number of terrible things that an angry witch could do to her neighbors.
Then the little girls in the village began to disappear, one by one. No one could find out where they had gone. Grief-stricken families searched the woods, the local buildings, and all the houses and barns, but there was no sign of the missing girls. A few brave souls even went to Bloody Mary’s home in the woods to see if the witch had taken the girls, but she denied any knowledge of the disappearances. Still, it was noted that her haggard appearance had changed. She looked younger, more attractive. The neighbors were suspicious, but they could find no proof that the witch had taken their young ones.
Then came the night when the daughter of the miller rose from her bed and walked outside, following an enchanted sound no one else could hear. The miller’s wife had a toothache and was sitting up in the kitchen treating the tooth with an herbal remedy when her daughter left the house. She screamed for her husband and followed the girl out of the door. The miller came running in his nightshirt. Together, they tried to restrain the girl, but she kept breaking away from them and heading out of town.
The desperate cries of the miller and his wife woke the neighbors. They came to assist the frantic couple. Suddenly, a sharp-eyed farmer gave a shout and pointed towards a strange light at the edge of the woods. A few townsmen followed him out into the field and saw Bloody Mary standing beside a large oak tree, holding a magic wand that was pointed towards the miller’s house. She was glowing with an unearthly light as she set her evil spell upon the miller’s daughter.
The townsmen grabbed their guns and their pitchforks and ran toward the witch. When she heard the commotion, Bloody Mary broke off her spell and fled back into the woods. The far-sighted farmer had loaded his gun with silver bullets in case the witch ever came after his daughter. Now he took aim and shot at her. The bullet hit Bloody Mary in the hip and she fell to the ground. The angry townsmen leapt upon her and carried her back into the field, where they built a huge bonfire and burned her at the stake.
As she burned, Bloody Mary screamed a curse at the villagers. If anyone mentioned her name aloud before a mirror, she would send her spirit to revenge herself upon them for her terrible death. When she was dead, the villagers went to the house in the wood and found the unmarked graves of the little girls the evil witch had murdered. She had used their blood to make her young again.
From that day to this, anyone foolish enough to chant Bloody Mary’s name three times before a darkened mirror will summon the vengeful spirit of the witch. It is said that she will tear their bodies to pieces and rip their souls from their mutilated bodies. The souls of these unfortunate ones will burn in torment as Bloody Mary once was burned, and they will be trapped forever in the mirror.
Author’s Note: You can read all our Bloody Mary stories on the Bloody Mary Legends page.
Bloody Mary Returns: When her evil stepmother kills both her brothers, a young girl must fight for her life using every resource she has at her disposal.
Bloody Mary Whales: Old Man Whales kills his daughter Mary and her spirit returns to avenge the murder.
Read the full legend of Bloody Mary in Spooky Pennsylvania by S.E. Schlosser.
Bloody Mary Returns
A Montana Ghost Story
Retold by S.E. Schlosser
My stepmother was vile. I guess most kids think that when their father remarries. But in this case, it was true. She only married Father because he was rich, and she hated children. There were three of us – me (Marie), my middle brother Richard and my youngest brother Charles. We were the price my stepmother Gerta paid for being rich. And we were all that stood between her and inheriting Father’s money when he died. So she took steps against us.
She sent my youngest brother Charles away to boarding school overseas. It had a good, scholarly reputation, but it also had the reputation for being a hard school that was full of bullies and strict discipline. Not a place where a delicate child like Charles, who had been sickly as a baby, would thrive. He was miserable there. Somehow, Gerta contrived to keep him there for all but the summer holidays, and when he came home the first year he was pale and thin with dark circles under his eyes that looked like bruises. He cried – he actually cried! – when Father told him he had to go back to the school. But Father didn’t listen to him. Gerta thought it would be good for Charles to go there, and so Charles went.
I did everything I could – encouraging letters and daily phone calls – until Gerta said it was too expensive and restricted calls to five minutes once a month. I even got Father to book me a ticket to Europe so I could visit Charles. Gerta was enraged when she found out. Her blue eyes went so cold it made chills run up my spine, and her pink mouth thinned into a bitter line that bade ill for me since I had dared to interfere. Two days before my plane left for Europe, the school called and told us that Charles had climbed up to the tallest tower and flung himself off. He was dead.
Father was shocked, of course, and Gerta was quietly triumphant. For a few months, Father paid more attention to Richard and myself then he had since our mother died. But Gerta was beautiful and had winning ways about her that soon drew my Father’s attention away. And now that one of her hated step-children was dead, she focused on another. Poor Richard was next.
Richard was a sturdy chap who was about to enter high school, and he was really into sports. He would have thrived at the boarding school that had killed Charles. So Gerta sent him to an arts school instead. He hated it, but Gerta had told Father he had “talent”, so there he went. (You’d think my Father would have learned his lesson with Charles!) But Richard was a survivor, and he grimly practiced piano and violin when he would rather have played soccer and football. But Gerta was clever. She introduced Richard to a couple of high school boys who were everything Richard craved to be – rich, popular, on the football team. And into drugs. Gerta made sure Richard had a very large allowance, and kept increasing it as Richard was drawn deeper and deeper under the influence. Until one day Richard overdosed, and Gerta only had one step-child left. Me.
I was sure (sure!) that Gerta knew Richard was doing drugs in his room that day. She knew he was ill and possibly dying in there. If she’d “found” him even ten minutes sooner, his life would have been saved. So said the doctor, and I believed him. But Father wouldn’t believe me. He was angry whenever I said anything against Gerta, and told me to hold my tongue. Still, I knew I was next, and I was sure that Father would not live long after willing his fortune over to his wife. I decided that if Gerta got too bad, I would run away and live secretly with my aunt in New Jersey until I turned 18.
From the moment Richard’s body was found in his room, I forced myself to be a model child. My homework was done on time, I was polite to Gerta and all her friends, I went on all the family excursions with Gerta and Father – even the dangerous ones like shark-fishing. You can be sure that I took care to be “sea-sick” indoors and stayed away from the edge of the boat. Gerta was clever with her tricks. Everyone thought it was an accident the time we were out shopping and I fell onto the subway in front of an oncoming train. I managed to roll out of the way on time, but it was way too close for comfort.
I had almost decided to run away when my father brought me the sad news that my aunt in New Jersey had died suddenly in her sleep, poisoned by person or persons unknown. I was appalled. How had Gerta known? But she had – I could tell from the smirk on her face.
I went to my room that night and locked myself in to think. I could run away, but the money wouldn’t last long. And I’d need to finish high school or my chances of getting a good job were nil. Besides, Gerta would still be out there somewhere. If she could hire someone to poison my only living relative (besides Father), she could hire someone to kill me, whether I was living at home or not.
There was only one thing I could think of. And it was a terrible thing. A family secret passed down from my Mother’s side for many generations. It involved a witch named Bloody Mary, who had once tried to kill my many times great grandmother and use the child’s blood to make herself young and beautiful forever. The witch had been stopped by the child’s father (my many times great grandfather) in the nick of time, and the witch had cursed him as she burned at the stake. Cursed his mirror, and the mirrors of all the men who had condemned her to death at the stake, so that anyone saying her name in front of those mirrors would invoke her vengeful spirit.
The story had gotten mixed up over the years, as it was passed down first in their village and then all over the country. These days, school kids everywhere scared themselves silly chanting Bloody Mary’s name in front of darkened mirrors during sleepover parties, and nothing happened to them. So no one really believed in the curse. Of course, no one knew the real story of Bloody Mary. That was a deep secret handed down by the villagers of long ago. But I was a direct descendant, and I knew how to summon the witch. You had to use a mirror owned by someone in the direct blood-line of one of the original families that lived in Bloody Mary’s village. And the witch’s name must be spoken by candlelight a certain number of times in their native tongue.
It was an evil thing to do, I knew. But it was the only way to save my life. It was either Gerta or me. If I didn’t fight back, I was dead. So I took my hard earned money and went out to a specialty store to buy hand-dipped, beeswax candles. Black ones. I followed my mother’s directions carefully, placing them at certain intervals around the living room so that they reflected in the huge mirror behind the couch. Then I lit each one, speaking the spell passed down in my mother’s family. And I waited. Father was away on a business trip, and Gerta was out at a party with her latest boyfriend. She came home late, and scolded me for staying up to study. Her voice was playful and light – I hated that voice. It made her sound like she was nice. But there was also a note of suspicion underlying her words, and she stared hard at the flickering black candles.
“Holding a séance, little Marie?” she asked, emphasizing the word little, knowing I hated when she called me that.
“I just like working by candlelight,” I said mendaciously, turning a page in my text book.
Gerta frowned. “You know, little Marie, I think it’s time we had a talk,” she said, walking over to the mirror behind the couch and primping her hair.
“Yes,” I said softly. “We should. You killed my brothers. And my aunt. But I won’t let you kill me.”
Gerta laughed. “As if you stood a chance against me!” she said, fluffing her long blond hair up behind her shoulders.
I spoke the name of Bloody Mary in the native tongue of my ancestors. Once. Twice. Three times. Inside the mirror, the image of Gerta burst into flames, and another face looked out. It was the malevolent face of a twisted old crone, ruined with age, and altogether evil. I ducked behind the chair as Gerta gave a scream of sheer terror, her eyes fixed on the witch. As I watched from my hiding place, heat burst forth from the mirror, blistering her beautiful alabaster skin. I could hear the flames roaring as the witch laughed evilly and held out her arms toward my step mother.
“Gerta,” crooned Bloody Mary. “Come to me, Gerta.”
And she took my step mother into her arms.
Gerta’s terrified scream was suddenly cut off. The flames disappeared as suddenly as they had come. When I peeked out from behind the couch, Gerta and Bloody Mary were gone.
I called Father at his hotel the next morning to tell him that Gerta hadn’t slept at home. (Well, it was true!) He wasn’t pleased. He called a few of her friends from his hotel room, and quickly discovered she had been carrying on with another man. With several, if the truth be known. Father hated infidelity. He flew home at once to confront Gerta, but she was still missing; presumed run away with one of her flames.
Somehow, Father managed to divorce Gerta without ever trying to find her. And since she had no family in the area except us, everyone accepted the cover story, and no one ever tried to locate her. Gerta was gone for good. And Father and I were safe at last.
Author’s Note: You can read all our Bloody Mary stories on the Bloody Mary Legends page.
Bloody Mary Whales
Excerpted from Spooky Indiana
Retold by S.E. Schlosser
Bloody Mary Whales from Spooky Indiana Old Man Whales was an evil man who loved money more than anything in the world, except his wife. In his lust for wealth, he supplemented his farm income by catching runaway slaves who were escaping to freedom through Indiana. Whales would chain the ex-slaves up in his barn cellar until he could collect the reward on them. When he couldn’t find slaves, he’d capture free men and sell them into slavery.
When the Civil War ended slavery, it was a disaster for the evil Whales, who no longer had a profitable source of income to supplement his farm work. And then his beloved wife died childbirth. Overnight, Whales fell to pieces. He hated the child – a little girl named Mary – that had killed his wife. He neglected her, dressing her in rags, making her do all the farm choirs and half-starving her. In spite of this cruel treatment, Mary grew into a sweet girl who loved her wicked father.
As Mary reached adulthood, the resemblance to her dead mother was striking. Whales saw his dead wife every time he looked at the daughter who had caused her death. One night, after a hefty bout of drinking, Whales lumbered into Mary’s bedroom and stabbed her repeatedly. Mary woke screaming and thrashed around in agony, trying to fight off her demonic father as blood spurted everywhere and bits of torn flesh littered the bedclothes and fell to the floor. When she was dead, Old Man Whales carried her down to the basement, dug an indifferent grave and tossed her body into it.
Two nights later, when Old Man Whales came back from doing his nightly chores, he found Mary standing in the kitchen, her nearly severed head lolling against one shoulder as she stirred an empty kettle. A pool of steaming blood lay beneath her feet, and bits of skin from her knife-slashed face were breaking off and falling into the kettle. “Faaaaaather….” Bloody Mary hissed. Old Man Whales screamed and leapt out the kitchen door. When he glanced over his shoulder, the apparition was gone.
A week later, Old Man Whales looked up from reading the newspaper to find Bloody Mary sitting in the chair opposite him, her knife-slashed dress covered in blood. Her tattered hands were busy knitting him a shirt. “Faaaaaather….” she hissed through knife-scored lips. Blood fell from her body like rain as she flew across the room toward him, knitting needles held like knives. Old Man Whales fled from the house in panic with two deep cuts scored across his back.
Old Man Whales cowered in the barn for several days, afraid to go near his house. After nearly a week of sleeping in the hay and eating raw food from the garden, he decided it was safe to return to his house. The spirit must be gone by now.
Old Man Whales hurried into the kitchen, eager for a wash and a shave after sleeping so many nights in the barn. He pumped an ewer of water and took it over to the little shaving mirror they kept on the far wall. When he looked in the mirror, Old Man Whales saw the glowing red eyes and knife-scored face of Bloody Mary. Her once-fair lips were split down the center and blood dripped from them as she smiled evilly. “Faaaaaather….” she hissed, raising blood-stained fingers. Her nails were long and sharpened like the claws of a beast. She reached out of the mirror and slapped her father twice across the face. Old Man Whales screamed, blood streaming from four slashes on his cheeks. He ran from the house and leapt into the safety of the barn, his heart pounding so hard his chest ached with it.
“Faaaaaather….” a voice hissed softly a few paces to his right. Old Man Whales screamed and whirled around. Blood Mary stood smiling at him through her blood-stained, razor-sharp teeth. Her tattered tongue was bleeding from several places as if it had been scored by a butcher’s knife. She pointed above her head, and Old Man Whales saw a noose hanging from the rafters beside the ladder to the loft. The rope looked inviting, hanging there in a dust-speckled sunbeam. Obediently, Old Man Whales placed his hands on the rung of the ladder and started to climb.
Author’s Note: You can read all our Bloody Mary stories on the Bloody Mary Legends page.
Bloody Mary, Quite Contrary
A Legend of Mary Tudor, Queen of England
retold by S.E. Schlosser
“Mary, Mary…” the half-heard whisper woke her in the darkness before dawn.
Darkness. How appropriate. These days, it seemed as if her whole life was in darkness.
It had not always been this way. She was born at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, England on February 18, 1516. As the eldest daughter and only surviving child of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Mary was baptized a Catholic shortly after her birth.
Mary lived the life of a privileged Princess in the English court. Then things began to go wrong. The King wanted a son to rule after him. So Henry the VII changed his religious affiliations from Catholic to Protestant, annulled his marriage to Mary’s mother and married Anne Boleyn in the hopes that this new Queen would bear him a son.
Mary was embittered by her father’s treatment of her mother and angered by his blatant religious heresy. It was not right that the King and his people should abandon the Catholic Church just because the King’s wished to annul an unwanted marriage. To Mary’s further outrage, Queen Anne – following the birth of her daughter Elizabeth – pressed for an act of Parliament to declare Mary illegitimate. This placed the former princess outside the succession to the throne. To add insult to injury, Mary was forced to serve in the household of her young step-sister as a reminder of her new status as an illegitimate child. The memory made Mary’s stomach roil. She rolled over in bed and pulled the pillow over her head.
“Mary, Mary, quite contrary…” the dream whisper came again. Mary clapped her hands over her ears to block it out. The dream voice had plagued her sleep ever since her father’s annulment. It was true she felt contrary most of the time, these days. Angry with her parents. Angry with the country that would change its religion at the whim of their King. Angry at everything.
As the sky outside the window turned gray with the approaching dawn, Mary continued to brood on the bloody reign of her royal father. In 1536, Henry had Anne Boleyn beheaded and married his third wife, Jane Seymour, who gave birth to Edward, the long-desired male heir. Jane Seymor insisted that the king make amends with his daughter Mary, and so she re-entered the royal court. But Mary was an outsider now. She was a faithful Catholic and everyone around her was a despised Protestant.
“How does your garden grow,” the dream voice murmured soothingly to Mary as the sun rose over the horizon.
When her father died, Mary’s half-brother, Edward VI, took the throne. He was a consumptive young man, and Mary knew his reign would not – could not last. But Edward was a Protestant and did not want his Catholic half-sister to take the throne. At the contrivance the powerful Duke of Northumberland, Edward had his cousin Lady Jane Grey appointed as the heir to the throne. When Edward died, Lady Jane would be the new Queen of England, and the Duke could control her through his son.
Edward fell very ill at the age of 15. Mary was on her way to visit her dying half-brother, when a breathless spy hailed Mary’s entourage and told Mary her brother had died and that the Duke of Northumberland had seized control of the Tower of London and its armory. He had posted a double line of armed guards round Greenwich Palace to prevent news of the King’s death from becoming known and had ordered out a cavalry troop to capture Mary.
So Mary hid from the Duke’s troops at Sawston Hall, the home of her loyal subject Sir John Huddleston. She had spent a restless night in four-poster bed the Tapestry Room of Sawston Hall and now lay brooding over the unfairness of fate in the dim light of morning.
“Quite contrary,” the dream voice murmured again.
All at once, Mary heard a shout from the roof. She sat up in bed, alarmed by the cry. A moment later a maid ran into the room to tell her that a band of cavalry were rapidly approaching the house. Mary was disguised as a milkmaid, and hustled out of the house and into the courtyard, from which she rode pillion behind one of Sir John`s grooms while Sir John himself escorted her.
When they looked back from the hilltop, they saw the Duke of Northumberland’s men setting fire to the house, angry that Mary had escaped their grasp escape. Mary drew in a proud breath from her perch behind the groom and said to her host and rescuer: “Let it blaze. When I am Queen I will build the Huddleston’s a better house.”
She kept her word. Mary wrote a letter laying claim to the English throne and raise an army against Northumberland. As soon as Northumberland was defeated, Mary ordered Sawston Hall rebuilt. She later honored Sir John with a knighthood and appointed him a Privy Counselor, Vice-Chamberlain and Captain of Her Majesty’s bodyguard.
“Queen at last,” Mary gloated when she finally sat alone in front of her palace mirror before bed. For a moment, she saw flames flickering around her head and torso, but it was only a sudden blazing of the wood in the fireplace as a pine bough caught fire. Tomorrow, she would begin repealing those shameful religious edicts put in place by her half-brother Edward VI. She would bring Roman Catholic faith back to England.
“We need to bring back the old heresy laws. That is what We must do,” Mary murmured to herself as she lay down.
On the edge of sleep, she thought she heard the dream voice whisper: “How does your garden grow?”
Mary’s Catholic reforms were not popular among the nobility. This proved to Mary how corrupt her country had become under the Protestant faith. She was determined to secure a Catholic succession; knowing that if she remained childless, the throne would pass to her Protestant half-sister, Elizabeth. At the age of 37, she had no time to waste. To accomplish her goal, she arranged to marry Philip, King of Spain.
Philip was a handsome fellow, ten years younger than Queen Mary. She was smitten with him as soon as she saw his portrait. Phillip was less taken with her, but he conducted himself in an acceptable manner during their wedding and afterward. In September of 1554, a court doctor told Mary that she was pregnant. At 38, there was much concern that she would not survive childbirth. The Council ruled that – should Mary die in childbirth – the British throne would pass to her child and not to her husband. Realizing that t Council would never let him rule England, Philip gave up all pretense of regard for his wife or his unborn child.
Mary’s heart was broken by her husband’s withdrawal. As she awaited her confinement, she turned her attention to something she could control–the punishment of heretics. In February, 1555, she had two Protestant clergy burned at the stake. That night, she dreamed of the fire at Sawston house. In her dream, she saw the faces of the dead Protestants hovering in the flames and heard a voice whispering: “Mary, Mary quite contrary. How does your garden grow?”
Shortly after Easter, Mary went to Hampton Court for her confinement. On April 30, a rumor spread that she’d given birth to a healthy son. But when no official word came from Hampton Court, the public realized the rumor was false. May came and went. Queen Mary was still childless. By June, it was apparent the Queen had a false pregnancy, probably brought on by her intense desire to have a child.
In her anxiety and confusion, Mary blamed the Protestant heretics for bewitching her so that her long-desired child could not be born. In a bitter twist of fate, her husband Philip left England soon after Mary came out of confinement and he stayed away from her for two years while he fought a war against France.
This was the final straw for Mary. In her mind, the Protestants had cost her the succession and her husband. She would make the heretics pay dearly for such interference. There were so many Protestants in England that Mary could not order executions fast enough. Every Protestant she burned at the stake was another win for her poor unborn child and for her dead mother whom the king had divorced. People started calling the Queen “Bloody Mary,” but she did not care. She had to wipe the Protestant scourge from the face of England.
And then her husband Philip returned in 1557. Hope blazed in Mary’s heart. She had another chance at redemption. Surely this time she would bear him a son. It was true that he had only returned because he needed England’s help in his war with France. And she knew that he had brought a mistress with him. But Mary didn’t care. Only the conception of a Catholic heir was important now. Mary ignored the mistress and attempted to reconcile with her husband and win his war for him. She failed in both regards. Phillip lost his war and left Mary for good this time. Still, Mary fooled herself into thinking she was pregnant again. When nine months passed and no child came, Mary sank into despair.
Late in the fall of 1558, an extremely ill Queen Mary lay brooding on her bed, watching the flames from the fireplace flicker in the mirror. Thoughts whirled through her feverish mind. Her Roman Catholic beliefs had lost her the support of the nobles and most of her countrymen. And her childless state and the edicts of the Council had lost Mary her husband. Now some court wag – if she knew who she would have him beheaded! – had invented a nursery rhyme aimed at her. As she gazed unseeing into her mirror, Mary heard the dream voice that had plagued her most of her adult life, chanting the words to the nursery rhyme:
“Mary, Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.”
Such an innocent-sounding rhyme! But the garden in the rhyme actually referred to the number of Protestants she had sent to the graveyard. The silver bells and cockleshells were torture devices. And the pretty maids in a row were guillotines. How dare the nobles mock her! How dare they?
Mary felt death tiptoeing nearer. And there was no child. No one to prevent her Protestant half-sister from taking the throne. Mary felt a tear roll down her cheek and drop to the pillow beneath her aching, heavy head. On the edge of sleep, Mary thought she heard the dream voice crooning: “Mary, Mary, quite contrary. How does your garden grow?” She closed her eyes and felt her soul dropping away from her weary body in death….
“Mary, Mary quite contrary.” The dream voice spoke sharply. Bloody Mary snapped awake, feeling lighter than she had in many years. She frowned, puzzled by what her eyes beheld. She saw a back-to-front picture of her bedchamber; as if she were looking at it through a mirror. Standing in front of the mirror was her half-sister Elizabeth, wearing an elaborate coronation gown. Ladies-in-waiting fluttered about Elizabeth, making last-minute adjustments to her apparel.
Mary was furious. How dare her Protestant half-sister flaunt herself in a coronation gown as if she were the Queen! Bloody Mary flung herself forward, wanting to tear the lovely garments from her half-sister’s body and wipe the satisfied smile from her face. Mary’s body slammed into unbreakable glass. With a scream of rage, Mary pounded her fists against the barrier until blood poured down her arms.
Suddenly, Mary felt flames licking the bottom of her skirt. Blistering heat burned her skin and blew her hair up in an aureole around her face, twisted up with hate and pain. Blood from her hands dripped down the inside of the mirror and pooled around the flames without extinguishing them. Mary screamed, but no sound came out of her parched lips as the dream voice whispered triumphantly: “Bloody Mary, quite contrary: How does your garden grow?”
*Editor’s Note: Queen Mary Tudor died at St. James Palace in London on November 17, 1558. During her reign, she had nearly 300 persons burned at the stake for heresy. Among them was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer.
You can read all our Bloody Mary stories on the Bloody Mary Legends page.