The Basket is a scary story for kids. It is based on an old British folk tale called “The Headless Woman”. A version of this story appeared in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz as “May I Carry Your Basket”.
Gabriel Fisher spent the evening in the pub, with his dog Trotty by his side. It was just before midnight when he finished his last drink and started for home. Outside it was cold and frostly and as silent as the grave. He thought he saw a figure moving in the distance up ahead.
As the man walked on down the road with his dog, he saw that it was a woman walking ahead of him. She was carrying a basket on her shoulder and it was covered with a white cloth.
When he caught up to her, he looked to see who it was, but it was dark and she was so bundled up against the cold that it was hard to see her face. Trotty started to growl at her.
“Good evening,” Gabriel said. “What brings you out so late?”
The woman didn’t answer.
They walked on in silence for a while. Then Gabriel said, “May I carry your basket?”
Without a word, the woman took it off her shoulder and handed it to him.
From inside the basket, he heard a small voice say, “That’s very nice of you,” and that was followed by wild laughter.
Gabriel was so startled that he dropped the basket on the ground. The white cloth slipped off and out rolled a woman’s severed head.
He looked down at the head, and he stared at the woman.
“It’s… It’s… It’s your head!” he cried in horror.
His dog Trotty gave a howl and fled in terror. As the woman stooped down to pick up her head, Gabriel took off running too.
The woman chased after him, holding her head in her hands. He could hear her footsteps behind him. She was gaining on him. Then, he looked down and noticed something rolling along the ground beside him.
It was the severed head.
With a ghastly laugh, the head rolled in front of him, trying to trip him up. Gabriel managed to jump over it.
He could hear the Slap! Slap! Slap! of running footsteps behind him.
Then, the head sprang into the air and sank its teeth into his ankle. Gabriel screamed with pain and shook the head off.
He tried to run faster, but the woman’s body and her head stayed right on his tail.
The head sprang into the air again and bit into his other leg. He let out another scream and kicked the head away.
Just then, Gabriel came to a small stream. With a mighty effort, he leaped across it and kept running, not daring to look back until he got home.
His dog Trotty was waiting at the house when he returned. Gabriel looked back into the darkness, but the headless woman and her severed head were gone.