Arts & Récits Autochtones - The Woman In Red

The Woman In Red

2014 - Lauréat de récits

I first heard this story when I was a kid, but the legend goes back many, many years.

Lisez l’histoire de Kiona Deer

Kiona Deer

Kahnawake , QC
Âge 16

Une note d'auteur

My story was first started as an English class assignment on urban legends. The assignment was to pick an urban legend and make a story out of it, or to make up your own legend completely. I based my story on the Hoof Lady, since its a name we hear frequently in Kahnawake. The original purpose of the legend was to keep teenagers from sneaking out of their houses at night to drink and party but there are several variations and tons of different stories that are passed and told daily. Finding information on where "The Hoof Lady" started wasn't a walk in the park. I asked around, looked things up and tried my hardest to find where exactly the legend first came from, but nobody seemed to know. I asked a few elders and the story had been told to them when they were children, and so on. Even though I couldn't find the original base of it, I did learn a lot about the legend and even a few more legends that aren't being told as much anymore.

I wrote my story in a way that made it sound like the kind you'd hear at a fire, since its an urban legend and not the kind of story you'd hear every day. Being a young mother, I don't want my daughter wandering the streets drinking late at night, and I'm sure nobody wants their kids to be drinking and partying at all. Hopefully my daughter will read my story when she's older and it'll help her decide whether its safe out there, because you never know what can be lurking in the shadows and what kind of monsters are wandering about.

Although I was almost considering not submitting my story, I changed my mind when the thought that urban legends aren't as common anymore came to me. Urban legends are a part of our history and our culture, every family has their old wives tales and their superstitions. The flow of these stories shouldn't stop, especially if they have importance such as keeping kids off the streets. Mine just so happens to be about a goat woman who wears red and looks for drunk teenagers who go out after midnight to party.

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The Woman In Red

I first heard this story when I was a kid, but the legend goes back many, many years.

The story you’re about to read is about five friends who encounter the Hoof Lady; a young, beautiful woman who wears a long red dress, she walks with goats’ hooves instead of feet. She is a shape shifter that will come to you when you’re at your weakest point. It’s been said that she can harm you, or she will warn you of your wrong doings and then let you go. This ‘Urban Legend’ is passed around among the youth as a warning. Most find humor in it and brush it off as if the story is nothing but an old wives tale. These kids learned quickly how true it is.

It was one of those damp, foggy nights when a group of five friends decided to go out and drink. These kids didn’t listen to their parents’ warnings to come home early. Growing up on the rez, nobody really listened to anyone anyways. Clearly, they didn’t care about the consequences of being out this late. Not many teenagers did, they liked to live in the moment. It was around 2:30 a.m when the two girls decided they’d had enough and wanted to go home. The night had grown dull and they were dreading the walk back in the fog. They had to walk the train tracks back to their house since it was the quickest route. After saying their goodbyes they left together.

Not long after the girls left, the boys heard two loud, terrified screams coming from the tracks. One of the three boys decided to leave, mumbling that the girls were just messing with them and that they’d be fine, he staggered off into the darkness towards his house. The two other boys chose to check on the girls, just in case they had gotten hurt. They started in the direction the girls went when they heard one more scream, and then everything went dead silent, the only noise they heard were crickets chirping in the distance and the constant hum of the highway that ran through the reservation.

The boys broke into a run, stumbling and falling as they climbed up a small hill to reach the train tracks. They walked the railway line for what seemed like hours until they finally made up their minds and turned to go home. The night had turned gloomy, the fog had started to disappear and the moon’s faint glow was just barely visible behind the tree line surrounding them. As they were nearing town, the wind started to pick up with a cool chill and there was an odd smell in the air they hadn’t noticed before, somewhere between decaying animal and old trash. They both stopped walking and looked at each other; not far ahead of them, a pretty girl with long blonde hair, wearing a red dress that covered her feet was walking slowly in their direction. Moonlight was showing through an opening in the trees on her side, making her hair and face appear almost white. The girl was stumbling, as if she was having a hard time keeping her footing on the uneven ground. They froze, could the stories they’d been told their whole lives about the girl in red be true? They decided to see for themselves. They called out to her, asking if she was alright. She didn’t say a word, and gave them a smile that sent each a chill down their spines. The closer she got to them, the more details they noticed about her, the most eerie being that she had no shadow trailing her. The girl motioned for them to come closer, so they did. The closer they got to her, the more pronounced the smell in the air was, both boys were shaking with fear now, sweat dripped from their palms.

Still with no sign of their friends, they decided to follow the girl in the red dress, maybe she knew something or at least saw the girls, one said. The idea that the girl could be the legend made the hair on their arms stand up, they were starting to regret laughing at their parents when the story was being told to them. Suddenly, the girl stopped and turned to them and said “It’s a good thing you two came looking for your friends.” The boys eyes widened in fear. She opened her mouth to speak again when out of nowhere the whistle from an approaching train blew and echoed down the seemingly endless tracks.

Drunk, but unmistakably scared, the boys froze in fear. The train was getting closer and closer, its headlights making the girl in front of them seem almost shadow like. Again, the train blew its whistle, shaking the boys out of their daze. The girl hadn’t moved from her spot. The train’s headlights were now illuminating the girl; her body could be seen through the red silk dress. Hooves sat where her feet should have been, and brown fur lined her legs, thinning out as it reached her knee. Seeing their chance to escape the oncoming train, the boys jumped off of the tracks and into the surrounding bush with the moon lighting their path, running as fast as they could without looking back.

Once they were back in town, their pace slowed and the boys seemed to relax a little. Although, neither wanted to walk home alone just in case the girl had followed them. The row of houses on the street seemed to loom over them. They walked without speaking a word until they reached their friends’ house, the boy who left, only to find that he hadn’t gotten home yet. They sat on the third boy’s porch, waiting.

Hours passed and soon it was early dawn, and still, the boy didn’t arrive. Fear set in to the two boy’s minds, questions were being asked back and forth: What if he got hurt? What if someone picked him up? What if the girl from the tracks got to him? Strangely, they hadn’t heard anything and nobody stopped by the house to check if he was home, either. After waiting all day, they decided to call the police. They went inside of the house and were greeted by an eerie stillness. One of them found the phone and dialed the police, what they were told terrified them beyond belief- the two girls and the boy, their friends who they had just been with less than a day ago, had been found dead along the tracks. There was no sign of a struggle or fight on any of the bodies, although each had red ribbons tied to their wrists. The boys were asked to go to the police for questioning.

As they were readying to leave, they noticed that a large white cat had sat at the end of the now deceased boy’s driveway, and suddenly the smell of rotting animals came back in the air.

They say not to wander out after midnight; especially on a full moon and even more so when you’re disoriented, since you are at your weakest mindset then. Another version I’ve heard is that when you’re walking alone and you hear hooves behind you, don’t turn and look. When you look, the Hoof Lady can put bad medicine on you and you will fall ill.  There are hundreds of versions of this classic legend. In each story, the woman is wearing a long red dress that covers her hooves, and has an angelic look to her. The Hoof Lady is a shape shifter, and can turn into anything she wants, animal or human. She is the most dangerous in her human form, but even as a human, hooves replace her feet. So, if you think taking a midnight walk is a good idea, beware the woman in red.