Final Bridge Project (4/5)

Proposal: I have created a folktale, the tale of the Grim Foster and her Lost Grims. The tale will be written out in a short story for seminar. For studio, I want to create a large narrative tapestry that depicts the events of the story. It will be a large, printed digital illustration, about 36″x24″ inches. It will be done in a sort of hieroglyphic inspired style, every part of the story will be told at once, there is no sequence of events, it is all taking place simultaneously.  It will use a lot of earth tones. I want it to have the illusion of something that an adventurer or a spelunker  would find deep in the woods as an ancient cautionary tale of what lives in the woods.


Thesis: Folklore is a universal language made of archetypical story beats, it can be used to create original stories today, that are just as compelling as compelling as the stories of old.


Midway Progress: Finally got an idea of the style I want this take. I wanted the piece to have a sort of hieroglyphic vibe to it. these piece is coming along fairly well, I have finally started work on the final piece itself rather than just the concept art and the sketch images. I just finished the outline for the story for seminar, which directly helped in the figuring out the layout of the piece itself. The hieroglyphic style I decided upon was inspired by a sequence in the video game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, wherein an ancient story is told with similarly styled images. I took inspiration for the layout itself from ancient texts such as The Book of the Dead, from ancient Egyptian culture. It tells a folk tale all in one image, with the story in the details. I wanted to be able to pull this off in my own piece.


My studio and seminar piece are meant to achieve the same goal in opposite ways. My Studio piece is meant to be an image that tells a story without need for words, and my seminar writing is meant to be story told with such detail that no pictures need to be provided.

I saw the seminar side of this work first hand when one of my classmates was reading over my story and started absentmindedly drawing one of my characters, and it turned out nearly identical to my original sketch based on the description in the text.


This whole project allowed me to express my love of  storytelling through multiple mediums. I look forward to telling this tale to my young campers and making them afraid of what might lurk in the woods.



The Tale of the Grim Foster



Why do we fear the unknown? What do we think could be lurking in the dark corners of the deep caves or between the trees of the dense forests of the world? We are often told that there is nothing to worry about it, that our fears are irrational. Well I think it’s safe to say that most of the people who say that have probably never ventured that far outside of their know worlds. But I have. I have ventured that far. Whether it was fate, or just sheer bad luck, I ventured farther into the unknown than any man should. I saw horrors that I would not wish upon my worst enemies. In fact, I’m writing this to caution any wayward traveler that might find themselves in my shoes.

There’s a story where I’m from. It’s the story of a witch, known as the Grim Foster. It is said that she lives deep, deep in the woods. According to the story, she was an old, weathered hag who’s back hunched high into the air. She had a long nose and pointed chin. But the most grotesque part of her was her eyes, one was as black as night, the other was engorged and practically busting out of its socket. She was said to have been an old, infertile, beggar woman long ago. She was run out of the nearby town on counts of witchcraft[1]. It’s said that she ran into the woods, and thereafter, anyone who traveled there, would never be seen again. Rumor has it, that if she caught you, she would steal your face. Take your likeness and put it on a wooden mask. Without your identity, you would never be allowed to leave the forest, and you would become one of her children of the woods: A Lost Grim. It is said that to this day, she still haunts the forest known as Hell Hallow.

Now, I realize that this all sounds like some kind of old wives’ tale meant to scare kids into not running off into the woods, and believe me, I thought so too.

When I was a bit younger, I regarded myself as a bit of an explorer. I loved running around in the mountains and woods, seeking adventure. One day, I found myself wondering the wilderness of Kunkletown, Pennsylvania, a beautiful area in the Pocono mountain. It had lush forests that were prime for exploring. So that’s what I did. I spent my day wandering and wandering without a care. I had my fun, jumping around rocks and tree roots, and picking off sassafras stems to chew on. I was about to head home when I realized, I didn’t know which way home was. I frantically looked around for the path that I had previously been walking on and couldn’t find it. I felt myself starting to panic, and I just ran, deeper, and deeper into the woods.

I ran in every direction, my breath becoming desperate and shaky, I was completely lost, and, as I looked up, I could see that I was losing daylight fast. I tried to orient myself, I looked to see if I could find any kind of marker or trail blaze, there was nothing. I was hopelessly lost. I sat down and hugged my knees into my chest, shaking uncontrollably. What was I going to do? Was I going to be able to find my way out? Would anyone find me? That shadows were closing in as the night began to come, there was no moon that night, so the woods were becoming pitch black. Right at that moment, I heard something. It sounded like a small shrill voice.

Hee hee hee…

A chill ran down my spine as I covered my mouth to preemptively stifle a yelp. I leapt to my feet and turned to see the source of the laughter. I reached into my backpack and pulled out my flashlight, pointing towards where I thought the sound was coming from. There was nothing there.

Hee hee hee…

This time it came from behind me. I turned and looked, again nothing. “Who’s there?!” I cried out as I frantically pointed my flashlight all around me. At that moment, I felt a leaf fall and graze the tip of my nose. I look and point my flashlight above me to the trees.


A form fell backwards out of the tree as soon as I shined my light on it. I followed it down and was baffled at what I saw. It looked as if it were a child, but its skin was pitch black, it had long, arms with hands that ended in sharp claws. Its ears were pointed, but not as pointed as the two large horns protruding from its head. It was covering its face, clearly not a used to the light. I put the flashlight under my shirt, dimming the beam.

The creature peaked out and immediately jumped to all fours. It had big, glowing eyes and a wide smile that seemed to glow with some kind of internal light. It cocked its head as it looked at me. “U-Uh, Hello…” I said, shakily. It quickly approached me giggling as it did before. I froze, as he crawled around me, seemingly inspecting me. It poked at the flashlight from under my shirt, curiously. “Oh, you want to see this?” I said as I pulled it out from shirt. It quickly hid behind me as I pointed my flashlight forward. “It’s just light, it’s not gonna hurt you” I waved my hand in front of the beam “See?” It cocked its head at the beam, and then stuck its hand out, waving it quickly back and forth.

Hee hee hee!!

It waved its hand over and over the light. Playing with the shadow. Whatever this creature was, it seemed harmless, as if it were a child. I smiled seeing its glee with the light. “Watch this,” I said, and I made the shape of a dog with my hand put it in front of the light, “This is called a ‘shadow puppet’” It went wide eyed and quickly mimicked me and laughed jovially[2]. It looked at me with its wide, creeping smile, it poked at my face a bit and giggled. I laughed and pushed his hand away when something occurred to me. “Say, you wouldn’t happen to know a way out of here, would you?” I asked pointing to the distance. It just looked at me puzzled for a moment, then nodded excitedly and grabbed my hand. It started leading me through the forest.

I could feel myself smiling as he led me through, dodging passed trees and climbing over rocks, this creature was gonna help me get home. We kept going for a while, making occasion rapid turns. We were on a straight away when I noticed something in the distance, it was a faint, flickering light. As we got closer I could see it was a hearth, the glow of a fire was coming through the doorway of an old looking house. My smile faded as I looked around, we were still deep in the woods. We came out to the house, which had its own little clearing. The creature stopped and let go of my hand, dancing around me excitedly. It started clapping in a strange rhythm. “What are you do-“ I was cut off when I heard clapping coming from a different place, and then another, and another, and another until I was surrounded by the sound. I looked around and saw as more and more of these creatures came into the clearing, some with different horns or ears, but they all had then same, glowing smile. They were closing in on me, I tried to back away but ended up backing into one of them who gave me a shove, and they all giggled that same, childish giggle. “ W-What’s going on?!” I blurted out as started to grab me and knock me down. I tried to fight it but there were too many of them. They held me down to the ground, from that point I could see someone standing in the doorway, they were a haggard looking, hunched over form, and they were holding something, a mask, a blank mask. My heart sank. I couldn’t believe it. the stories were true. Standing in front of me was the Grim Foster, and these were her Lost Grims.[3] That was the last thought I had before feeling a sharp pain on the back of my head, and then sinking into darkness.

I awoke with my head throbbing. I looked around and saw that I was in some kind of cage. I was still outside, but I could see into the witch’s house, she was there preparing some sort of concoction. If this really was the Grim Foster, that could only mean that she was mixing her paint. I could faintly hear her muttering in some sort of tongues. I had to get out of there and fast. I tried shaking the bars of the cage as hard as I could, but it was no use. I noticed they had left my backpack on me, which I found odd. I looked inside and pulled out a pocket knife, I tried cutting into the bars, seeing if I could even make a scratch. No dice. It was starting to feel hopeless, I had no way of escaping myself. I looked outside the cage, the Grim Foster was still muttering her incantations. I then saw, standing right outside the door, the little Lost Grim that had led me here. it was looking in, hopping up and down excitedly. I was out of options, it was a long shot but I needed help. I needed to get its attention. Then I got an idea, I took my flashlight out of my bag I flashed it against the wall of the house, and made a shadow puppet of a dog in front of the light. The Lost Grim looked over, and cocked its head at the shape, and then looked back at me. “ Pssst come over here…!” I called out to it, motioning. It came over curiously, it crouched down and looked at me, cocking its head. “ Hey I need you to get me out of here, please.” I begged, trying to motion to the cage. It just giggled and poked at my face. “Hey stop that!” but it kept going, seeming to be interested in every detail. Then it would touch its own face. That’s when something clicked in my brain, everything becoming clear. This creature has no face, it was taken long ago by the Grim Foster. It misses that identity, and that witch is the only one who could possible give it one. It thinks that the mask of my face could be given to it.

I quickly jumped to my feet and looked around. There was a tree right next to the cage. I grabbed my knife and stuck my hands through the bars. I started to quickly but carefully carve away at the bark of the tree, trying to carve out a thin circular piece of bark. I managed to do so and pull back in the cage. I carved two eye holes and then showed it to the Grim. “ Look, a face! Do you want it?” Its bright, glowing eyes widened. It started nodding over and over again excitedly. It reached for it, but I pulled my hand away. “ You have to get me out of this cage first” It thought for a moment, and then reached into the pocket of the tattered shorts it was wearing and pulled out a key. He tapped it to the bars of the cage, and a section of them simply vanished. I quietly stepped out. I smiled at the grim, and handed it the mask. It took it in its hands, and just stared at it for a moment before putting it on[4]. It grabbed my hands and jumped around happily, giggling loudly. Just then, a loud, shrill voice rang out. “What are you doing?! Why is he out?!” I turned and saw the Grim Foster standing in the door way. I didn’t have time to say anything before the Lost Grim started pulling me, running back through the woods. “GET THEM!” I heard her scream, which was followed by a familiar chorus of clapping and laughter.[5]

I ran as fast as I could trying to keep pace with the Grim. It darted back and forth, over rocks, and under dense trees. I could feel myself losing my breath, but then I would look back, and see the hoard of glowing eyes and smiles chasing after us, and I kept going. After a long while of running, we finally managed to lose them, and I saw something I thought I’d never see again: the road. I sprinted even faster, using every last ounce of energy in my body. I broke passed the tree line and onto the concrete, catching my breath. I looked back to my companion, who had stopped right at the edge of the forest. “What are you doing? Come on let’s go?” It smiled at me and pointed at the tree line, shaking its head. It then pointed behind me.


I looked back and saw the first the first glimmer of sunrise on the horizon. I smiled and looked back, but when I did… it was gone. Like a shadow in the light. I looked around at the road, trying to process everything that happened, and made my way home.

And so, ends my story of my encounter with the Grims of Hell Hollow. I have, understandably, not gone back since. When I tried to tell my friends and family what happened, they naturally wrote it off as my overactive imagination. But I know what I saw, and I know what I experienced. I now know what lurks in the unknown, and I urge anyone who finds themselves venturing out there, to take caution, or avoid it entirely. Don’t just write off the old stories as stories. It might just save your life.

  1. [1] Bruce F. Kawin, Horror and the Horror Film, Anthem Press, 2012, pp. 105 “Most real witches were pagan herbalists who did no harm, but for hundreds of years witches and those convicted of being witches (which could be anyone who confessed under torture) were burned alive. Stories about evil witches may have soothed the consciences of those who condemned so many.”


[2] Katharine Luomala, The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography . Antti Aarne.” American Anthropologist, vol. 65, no. 3, 1963. The Tale Type Index #1159 “The Ogre Wants to Learn to Play”

[3]Luomala, The tale type index #334 “In the Household of the Witch”

[4] Luomala, The Tale Type Index #1152 “ The Ogre Overawed by Displaying Objects”

[5] Brian Sutton-Smith, Children’s Folklore: A Source Book, University Press of Colorado, 1999, pp. 197 “What happens to the characters in young children’s stories can be put in perspective by using a system developed by Elli Kongas-Maranda and Pierre Maranda (1970). This system has four levels of confrontation that involve some sort of conflict between the central figure and the antagonist… at level four the original threatening situation is so thoroughly changed that there is no further danger to worry about”


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