Pete the Moonshiner

In the fourth and fifth grade, I spent the night at my friend Tom’s house almost every weekend. Tom lived in a run-down farm house in the country. He shared a room with his older brother, Walter. The three of us would stay up late telling scary stories.
The scariest was a true story. Here is how Walter told it:


Back in the 1920s, this house was owned by a different family. Their closest neighbor was an inbred moonshiner named Pete. He lived in a shack deep in the woods and was frequently in trouble with the law. The parents warned the little boy and girl who lived here NEVER to go near Pete’s land.

The young boy lived in this very room. One night, the he was awakened by the sound of shattered glass somewhere inside the house. Living so close to Pete, the boy was very cautious. And instead of opening the door, he locked it. He pressed his ear to the door and listened.

The boy heard bootsteps stumbling down the hallway that were much too heavy to be his father’s. He could almost smell moonshine through the bedroom door. “Let me in, boy.” It was Pete… But the boy wouldn’t unlock the door. Overcoming his fear, he shouted “No!”

After a minute, the boy could hear Pete’s heavy boots fading back through the house. In a distant room, he heard his father shouting at Pete. But the shouts soon turned to screams. For almost an hour, the sounds degenerated as the father shred his vocal chords to ribbons while screaming. The boy thought the pleading in hoarse agony was worst thing he had ever heard until it was replaced by something worse. Silence.

Pete’s boot steps lumbered back through the house to the boy’s room. He pounded on the solid oak door. “Boy! Open up this door or you’ll regret it.” The boy could smell the moonshine through the door. Again he said “No!”

And so it was his mother’s turn. Her shouts and screams lasted for two hours. When they stopped, the heavy boots stumbled back to his door. The stink of moonshine was overwhelming. “Boy! I said ‘Open up this door.’ This is your last chance.” The boy was terrified, “Please don’t hurt my sister!” Pete was drunk and enjoying himself. He chuckled, “Then open up, boy.” But the boy knew better. And so he spent the next three hours listening to the screams of his younger sister.

When the police came to investigate the house two days later, they found the mom, dad, and sister tied spread-eagle to their beds. Pete had cut a small hole in each of their lower abdomens and pulled the bowels out of their belly inch by inch as they died in pain.

They found the boy dehydrated but alive. He was still locked in THIS very room. Pressed against this very door. He was completely catatonic. He spent the rest of his life in a sanitarium, occasionally mumbling “should I have opened the door?… should I have opened the door?….”

Pete was eventually caught and executed. His shack was torn down. But his ghost still haunts this house. Sometimes, we can smell a hint of sweet moonshine in the morning, and a pain in our bellies. And when we do, we know Pete was here during the night, trying to pull out our insides.


This story really creeped me out. Like 10 out of 10! I always insisted that the three of us sleep with the bedroom door locked and the lights on. Your imagination is so strong at that age! I was terrified of every noise in the house before finally falling asleep. Whenever I woke at their house, I could even smell the faint, sweet aroma of Pete’s moonshine. To be honest, I could usually feel a pain in my lower belly.

Whenever I told the two brothers about it, they would giggle and play along. “Yeah, I smell it too” said Walter. “Me too. And my stomach hurts!” chimed in Tom, pretending to be scared. They moved to Utah when Tom and I were in the fifth grade. I haven’t seen them since.

Flash forward to this morning. I’m sitting in chemistry lab on campus. As we were setting up the experiment, one of the chemicals smelled exactly the same as my memory of Pete’s moonshine. It’s an incredibly distinct, penetrating, almost sweet scent – not exactly like hard alcohol or real moonshine, but similar.

I had not smelled it since those mornings after sleeping over with Tom and Walter. This was the exact same smell. I picked up the bottle and looked at the label: “diethyl ether.” It was ether.

I stared across the lab in a daze. Frozen. I remembered locking the door of their bedroom every night. I thought about waking with the faint smell of ether in my mouth. I remembered the distinct pain in my bowels each morning.

And I realized… There was no “Pete the Moonshiner.”

They had been raping me.

Published on as /u/OvenFriend



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