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SLANTED THE MOST DEFINITIVE 25 URBAN LEGENDS, FOLKLORE, MYTHS, RUMORS, AND MISINFORMATION IN THE SUPERNATURAL WORLD.


SLANTED


A LOOK INTO THE SUPERNATURAL


KATE LAING FOR SLANTED MAGAZINE MINNEAPOLIS COLLEGE OF ART & DESIGN FALL 2013 PUBLISHED ON ISSUU.COM


PREFACE: A compilation of 25 urban legends determined by frequency of access, user searches, reader e-mail, and media coverage.

NOTE TO READERS: Snopes has received praise from folklorist Dr. Jan Harold Brunvand, author of a number of books on urban legends and modern folklore, who considers the site so comprehensive as to obviate the necessity for launching one of his own. David Mikkelson has said that the site receives more complaints of liberal bias than conservative bias,but insists that the same debunking standards are applied to all political urban legends. FactCheck reviewed a sample of Snopes’ responses to political rumors regarding George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama, and found them to be free from bias in all cases. FactCheck noted that Barbara Mikkelson was a Canadian citizen (and thus unable to vote in US elections) and David Mikkelson was an independent who was once registered as a Republican. “You’d be hardpressed to find two more apolitical people”


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amityville horror

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bed reckoning

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black agnes

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black-eyed children

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blair witch hunt

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bloody mary

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boyfriend's death

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calls from beyond

038

campus halloween murders

042

carmen winstead

048

everything but the egyptian sinks

054

expressionless

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ghostly moth saves train

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ghostly rescue

068

haunted toys 'r' us

072

helping hands

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jinxed limo

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room for one more

084

russian sleep experiment

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satan's choice

096

skinned flick

104

stairway from heaven

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vanishing hitchhiker

112

vanishing hotel room

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vanishing prophet


THE AMITYVILLE HORROR C

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THE AMITYVILLE HORROR IS BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

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Some horrors just won’t die, and The Amityville Horror is a case in point. The tale of a reportedly demon-infested house in Amityville, New York, became a best-selling novel in 1977 and a hit horror film starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder in 1979. Several inferior movie sequels followed in its wake (including a 3-D version), and April 15, 2005 saw the debut of a remake, this one starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George. Scary films are a dime a dozen, but what initially drew the public’s interest to the original version of The Amityville Horror was the claim that it was based on real events. The producers of the 2005 remake were also intrigued by the Amityville case not so much due to the horror film’s scary details, but because the tale was allegedly true. “We were looking for truth in horror,” co-producer Andrew Form told Fangoria magazine. “I grew up in Long Island, so I was familiar with this when I was a kid. I remember going by that house and how scary it was.” Co-star Melissa George was attracted to the role because, she said, “If you’re going to do a scary movie, you might as well do The Amityville Horror, a true story, a famous book, a well-known moment in American history.”

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A famous book, yes. A moment in American history, perhaps. But a true story? Not. The history of The Amityville Horror, as with The Exorcist, began with a best-selling novel. A book entitled The Amityville Horror: A True Story, written by Jay Anson, was published in 1977 and quickly scaled the sales charts. Anson was not a resident of the infamous possessed house, but a professional writer hired to pen a book based on supposedly “true events” that had taken place there several years earlier. The story behind the story began on Nov. 13,1974, when six members of an Amityville, New York, family were killed. The parents, Ronald and Louise DeFeo, were shot in bed while they slept, along with their two sons and two daughters. The sole remaining family member, Ronald Jr. “Butch,” was arrested for the crime, convicted, and sentenced to prison. With the family dead (and Butch in no position to inherit the place), the house went up for sale. The horrific nature of the massacre unnerved the otherwise quiet Long Island neighborhood, though no supernatural activity was associated with the house at 112 Ocean Avenue.

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The following year, a new family, the Lutzes, moved into the Amityville house. George and Kathy Lutz, along with their three children, said that shortly after they moved in, their six-bedroom abode became a Hell house. It seemed that perhaps the demons that drove Butch to slaughter his family were not in his head but in the house. An unseen force ripped doors from hinges and slammed cabinets closed, noxious green slime oozed from the ceilings, a biblical-scale swarm of insects attacked the family, and a demonic face with glowing red eyes peered into their house at night, leaving cloven-hoofed footprints in the morning snow. A priest called upon to bless the house was driven back with painful blisters on his hands, famously told by a demonic voice to, “Get out!” And so on.

Joe Nickell, author of Entities: Angels, Spirits, Demons, and Other Alien Beings (and who personally visited Amityville and interviewed later owners of the notorious house), also found numerous holes in the Amityville story.

A local news crew did a segment on the house, bringing in several self-styled “ghost hunters” (including Ed and Lorraine Warren) and other alleged psychics. All agreed that a demonic spirit was in the house, and that an exorcism would be needed to stop the activity. The Lutzes left the house and took their terrifying tale with them, collaborating with Anson on the book The Amityville Horror.

The book and film show police being called to the house, but, Nickell writes, “During the 28-day ‘siege’ that drove [the Lutz family] from the house, they never once called the police.”

And Anson vouched for the truthfulness of his fantastic tale: “There is simply too much independent corroboration of their narrative to support the speculation that [the Lutzes] either imagined or fabricated these events.” Many people expressed doubts about the horrific events in the house. Researcher Rick Moran, for example, compiled a list of more than a hundred factual errors and discrepancies between Anson’s “true story” and the truth. The 2005 remake promises to mine Anson’s book more deeply than did previous screenplays, including background about early Indians (whose vengeful spirits may lurk nearby) and devil-worshiping early settlers of the area. Yet, Moran explains, “Experts told me that the tribe mentioned was not from the Amityville area at all (actually, they had inhabited the eastern tip of Long Island, 70 miles away) and that the settlers mentioned were never local residents either. Anson’s tactic was clear — when strapped for good material for a book, pad it with quasi-factoids.” And Father Pecoraro, the priest who was driven from the house by demons? According to Moran, who interviewed Pecoraro, “He said he never saw anything in the house.”

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A few examples of these discrepancies: The Lutzes couldn’t have found the demonic hoof-print in the snow when they said they did, because weather records show there had been no snowfall to leave prints in. Though the book details extensive damage to the home’s doors and hardware, the original locks, doorknobs, and hinges were actually untouched.

Both big claims and small details were refuted by eyewitnesses, investigations, and forensic evidence. Still, the Lutzes stuck to their story, reaping tens of thousands of dollars from the book and film rights. The truth behind The Amityville Horror was finally revealed when Butch DeFeo’s lawyer, William Weber, admitted that he, along with the Lutzes, “created this horror story over many bottles of wine.” The house was never really haunted; the experiences they had claimed were simply made up. Jay Anson further embellished the tale for his book, and by the time the film’s screenwriters had adapted it, any grains of truth that might have been there were long gone. While the Lutzes profited handsomely from their story, Weber had planned to use the haunting to gain a new trial for his client. George Lutz reportedly still claims the events are mostly true, but has offered no evidence to back up his claim.

BUT THE EVIDENCE SEEMS CONVINCING... IT’S QUITE THE STORY FOR SOMEBODY TO MAKE UP. PERHAPS IT HAS SOME VALIDITY.


BED RECKONING 008


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PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS A DEAD WOMAN WHO COLLECTS THE SOULS OF PEOPLE WHO DON’T SHARE HER IMAGE.

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Responding to readers who forward us photos purportedly showing ghosts is always problematic — those who do not believe in ghosts need no assurance that pictures are phony, while believers want proof that ghosts don’t exist, a standard impossible to meet. Suffice it to say that the October 2004 item reproduced above is nothing more than a common type of chain letter, a form that has been around since at least the 19th century and promises dire consequences (or at least bad luck) to recipients who fail to forward a message to the requisite number of people. (Such letters often include anecdotes explaining the disastrous fates that supposedly befell some recipients who didn’t heed the enclosed warning and unwisely broke the chain.) That such a letter may now be disseminated via e-mail and social networking rather than through the postal service and includes a fabricated photograph of an “avenging spirit” doesn’t make it any different than century-old versions — only the style has changed, not the substance. The various back stories accompanying the image of the woman included with this item claim that a number of people in different locales have died via accidents or homicides for failing to pass the haunting picture along. The truth has far less to do with murdering ghosts than it does with movies: the picture came from a 2003 Thai horror film variously titled The Mother or The Unborn or Bangkok Haunted 2: The Unborn. The spooky image was used as the DVD artwork for the film. The sleeping person in the photo is not (as the e-mail would have it) a man, but rather Thai actress Aranya Namwong.

I’VE NEVER BOUGHT THE WHOLE CHAIN E-MAIL TOMFOOLERY, SO I AGREE WITH THE FALSE CONCLUSION.

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BLACK AGNES

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A TEENAGE GIRL WHO BETS HER FRIENDS SHE CAN SPEND THE NIGHT IN A CEMETARY IS FOUND DEAD IN THE ARMS OF A GRAVEYARD STATUE.

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A marble gravestone in an old deserted cemetery in West Virginia was the legend trip site for a particular group of young adults in the vicinity. The marble statue was of a seated lady, her hands outstretched to all that pass by the resting place. The legend stated that the woman in the grave had died of a broken heart when jilted by her fiancé. The legend trip was an initiation rite: new members had to spend the night sitting in the statue’s lap. But the last time anyone tried this, the young woman who sat in the statue’s lap met with a tragedy. The difference, you see, was that the young woman was a direct descendant of the fiancé. The next morning the young girl was discovered, still sitting in the statue’s lap. She was dead. On her body were found marks as though she had been held in a superhuman clutch. Perhaps the seated lady had gained revenge.

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Told as having occurred in various parts of the United States, this legend has been with us for quite a while. The victim is always a teenage girl, and a sorority initiation dare is what usually impels her to sit in the statue’s lap. The flourish in the exampled cited above that tells of the girl being related to the man who’d done the ghost wrong is unusual: most versions make no mention of a connection between victim and murderous spirit. It’s probably more frightening that way, because then the victim could very well be anyone. Other versions have it that just falling under the statue’s malevolent gaze is enough to seal one’s fate. I remember reading a story about a graveyard in the Midwest (Chicago?) with a statue in it called “Black Aggie”. It was said that if you fell under her gaze after dark, you would die. They say her eyes glow red at night. The “killing statue” story is closely related to another venerable legend, that of the girl who accepts a dare to spend a night in the graveyard. As part of the dare — or prompted by her own disrespect — she plunges a knife into a grave. In the morning she’s found lying dead across the plot, the knife pinning her skirt to the ground having prevented her from escaping.

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One 15 year old girl scoffed at the story and after much teasing accepted the challenge of going alone to the grave. As proof she had actually gone all the way she was to stick a fork into the top of the grave for inspection by all the others the next morning. The girl left and did not return. The others mourned her absence until morning — afraid to wake the adults in the house — fearful that they would be in serious trouble. Next morning they all huddled together and nervously made their way to the grave. There they found their friend lying dead beside the grave with her long night gown pinned to the grave where she had stuck the fork through her nightgown and into the hard clay covering the grave. We all thought this was a true story until we got older. The statue did once mark a final resting place in Baltimore, although not of a woman, as you might suppose. Rather, the person buried under Aggie was Felix Agnus (1839-1925), a Union Civil War general. Facts be damned though, kids were determined to believe Aggie was the representation of the person in the grave, and further that the dead person had died a heartbroken woman, hence her need to wreak vengeance from the other side. Aggie’s eyes were said to burn bright red at midnight, permanently blinding anyone foolish enough to look into them. Laying in her arms was said to be fatal.

Died of fright, they say, with a look of terror etched on her face. One is left to work out whether a ghost had actually killed her, or whether her fear at finding herself held to the grave had done her in.

Up against that, a Civil War general wouldn’t even register. Even if he were one that H.L. Mencken once said had so much lead in him that “he rattled when he walked.”

My grandmother used to tell this: A young girl had a pajama party with several of her teenage friends attending. Shortly before midnight she told her guests that there was a grave in the edge of the woods behind her house and anyone going there on a full moon and standing to close to the grave would be pulled into the grave by the bony hand of the old man buried there.

It’s ironic that the original statue (which is erected over the grave of a grief-stricken woman) never became a target either for fraternity initiation rites or for murdering ghost legends, whereas the Baltimore copy (erected over the grave of Civil War General who’d lived a full and rewarding life) did. Just goes to show that facts never get in the way of a good ghost story.

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT A STATUE MURDERING PEOPLE, BUT THERE’S DEFINITELY SOMETHING EERIE ABOUT THIS LEGEND.

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BLACK-EYED CHILDREN

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MYSTERIOUS BLACK-EYED CHILDREN SHOW UP AT THE HOMES OF UNSUSPECTING RESIDENTS.

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“Black-eyed children” are mysterious creatures who supposedly resemble kids between the ages of about 6 and 16 — creatures who appear only in the night, when they show up at the doors of unsuspecting residents and ask, in breathless and monotone voices, to use the bathroom, make a phone call, get a ride home, or grab something to eat. Theories about “black-eyed children” variously claim them to be vampires, extra-terrestrials, inter-dimensional beings, or some form of demon: In most reports, a small group of kids with all-black eyes approaches an adult who’s alone in a car or a house. The kids, usually two boys between the ages of 10 and 13, ask for a ride home or to be let in to the house to use the bathroom or telephone. The adult feels a sense of overwhelming fear before realizing that there’s something drastically wrong with the children’s eyes.

The real mystery, in my opinion, is why this topic made MSN’s front page where it started to trend, fooling people into thinking that it’s real news.

Black-eyed children fever hit the Internet in February 2013, when a two-minute video episode of “Weekly Strange” featuring a look at these strange, putative beings was posted to the entertainment section of the MSN web site. But as The Inquisitor noted, that video and other sources of information about black-eyed children were far from convincing:

The story in the film is fictional, but reports of black-eyed kids sightings, especially in and around Portland, are very real, Hagen said. “Black-eyed kids is an urban legend that’s been floating around on the Internet for years now,” Hagen said. “I always thought it was fascinating.”

[The] brief video looks like an amateur hour version of Unsolved Mysteries, which details the phenomenon and name drops a handful of conspiracy/cryptology websites.

It’s been a fun legend to play with, said Mercedes Rose, who co-produced the film with Hagen.

Google “black eyed children” and you’re not much better off. The first handful of results belong to The Examiner and Mysterious Universe, and none of them exactly take what we’d call a fully skeptical view of the subject. Further down, there’s a laughably bad Journal of the Bizarre post that claims to “debunk” the black eyed children phenomenon with pseudo-biological and pragmatic arguments that sometimes seem about as far-fetched as there being black eyed children in the first place. My conclusion? File black eyed children under the same heading as “Bigfoot.” Believe it if you like, but realize that there is no evidence of their existence, just subjective testimony that ranges from reasonable to suspiciously fame-whoring.

Not surprisingly, the appearance of the black-eyed children video on MSN coincided with the release of Black Eyed Kids, an urban legend-based horror film: Vancouver director Nick Hagen’s horror series “Haunted Sunshine Girl” continues to be a hit on YouTube, with more than 10 million video views and 20,000 subscribers. The movie “Black Eyed Kids,” a spinoff of that series, has been in the works for about a year. It takes the characters from “Sunshine” on an adventure, as they investigate the origins of the occult legend of the black-eyed kids.

“We’re the first (film group) to do anything with this blackeyed kids legend,” said Rose, who also acts in the production. “We’re super-excited for people to see it. It’s so creepy.” In the film, Sunshine, played by a teen actress who asked that her name be withheld to protect from online stalkers, has a friend contact her after somebody he knows vanishes. Suspecting that the black-eyed kids myth has something to do with it, Sunshine and others go to Portland to look for video proof. “They find (a black-eyed kid), but they discover something a lot more evil than they imagined,” Hagen said. “And they try to get out alive.”

I SEE VALIDITY IN THE BLACK-EYED CHILDREN, BUT MAYBE I’VE BEEN WATCHING TOO MUCH SUPERNATURAL AND AM INFLUENCED BY ALL OF THE DEMONS.

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BLAIR WITCH HUNT 022


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THE MOVIE THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT IS BASED ON FOOTAGE SHOT BY THREE STUDENT FILMMAKERS WHO MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEARED WHILE MAKING A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE LEGEND OF THE BLAIR WITCH.

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It sounds like one of the spookiest movies ever. As the ads for the film The Blair Witch Project state: In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary. A year later their footage was found. The official web site for The Blair Witch Project explains the mythology behind the Blair Witch legend that these students were supposedly investigating: In 1785, a woman accused of witchcraft is banished from the village of Blair, Maryland, and a year later, her accusers and half of Blair’s children vanish. The town of Burkittsville is established at the site of the abandoned village about forty years later, and over the next 150 years a series of child murders and mutilations takes place. In 1994, three students decide to travel to Burkittsville to film interviews with locals about the Blair Witch legend as a class project, and a couple of days later they disappear in nearby woods. No trace of them is found until the footage they shot is discovered under an old cabin a year later. Scary, isn’t it? And early reports of the film indicate that it lives up to its chilling reputation. We hate to spoil something so deliciously horrific, but the truth is that the film isn’t really what it’s described to be. First of all, the “facts” behind the Blair Witch legend are apocryphal. The rare 1809 book The Blair Witch Cult, which is “commonly considered fiction” and “tells of an entire town cursed by an outcast witch,” isn’t real. (As the web site informs us, only one copy of the book exists, conveniently in the hands of an unnamed private collector.) A hermit who allegedly “ritualistically murdered and disemboweled” seven children in 1940-41 at the behest of “an old woman ghost who occupied the woods near his house” was “quickly convicted and hanged,” yet none of the area newspapers apparently saw fit to cover this sensational story.

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When the three student filmmakers allegedly disappeared in 1994, the Maryland State Police reportedly spent ten days and “33,000 man hours” employing dogs, helicopters, a hundred men, and even a “fly over by a Department of Defense Satellite” to locate them, but once again media coverage of this sensational, newsworthy event was completely non-existent. (The citizens of Burkittsville and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department are happy to confirm the fictionality of these events.) So what’s the film all about? The legend of the Blair Witch was invented by the film’s writer/directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. Myrick and Sánchez hired three young actors (Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, and Joshua Leonard), explained the outline of the film’s story to them, gave them advice about the characters they were to play, then turned them loose in the woods with film equipment to shoot movie footage. The actors received notes and supplies left for them and carried a Global Positioning System (GPS) device with them for tracking purposes, but they didn’t know exactly what was going to happen once they embarked on their movie-making venture — thus the film has the feel of a documentary that captures events genuinely surprising to the filmmakers. If you’re still convinced the movie’s premise is real, perhaps the fact that the “dead” film students are giving interviews — such as the one in Salon — will dissuade you. Adding to the movie’s pre-release build-up was the airing on the Sci-Fi Channel of a fictional documentary, The Curse of the Blair Witch, about the putative Blair Witch legend and the making of the related film. (Remember, the “Fi” in “SciFi” stands for fiction.) It sounds like a spine-tingling premise for a horror film, and it has reportedly made for a terrific movie. But it’s just a film, not a true story.

I DON’T EVEN WANT TO THINK ABOUT THIS ONE BEING TRUE, THE MOVIE WAS SCARY ENOUGH.

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BLOODY MARY

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CHANTING “BLOODY MARY!” THIRTEEN TIMES IN FRONT OF A CANDLELIT MIRROR WILL SUMMON A VENGEFUL SPIRIT.

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If you go into the bathroom and look into the mirror with the lights off and the room completely black, and then say ‘Bloody Mary’ thirteen times, a woman will appear and scratch your face up/off. I was told that if you said “Hell Mary” seven times in front of a mirror in a dark room, you would see Satan’s image in the mirror. The story was embellished further by the teller, who claimed that after three “Hell Mary”, the mirror turned red, and that after five an unclear face appeared. Here’s how I always heard the story. You go into a room with a mirror and turn all the lights off (this works well in a bathroom). You begin, in a whisper, to chant “Bloody Mary.

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The research into Bloody Mary goes back to 1978, when folklorist Janet Langlois published her essay on the legend. Belief in summoning the mirror-witch was even at that time widespread throughout the U.S. Mary is summoned whenever squealing girls get together for a sleepover, but boys have been known to call on her too. The ‘Bloody Mary’ legend was common when I was a kid in the early 1970s. We typically performed the “ritual” in bathrooms, because the bathrooms of our suburban homes had large mirrors and were easily darkened. A familiar ‘Bloody Mary’ story was one about a girl who supposedly ended her incantation with a spiteful “I don’t believe in Mary Worth,” then tripped over the door jamb while exiting the bathroom and broke her hip. Mary is said to be a witch who was executed a hundred years ago for plying the black arts, or a woman of more modern times who died in a local car accident in which her face was hideously mutilated. Some confuse the mirror witch with Mary I of England, whom history remembers as “Bloody Mary.” An expanded version of that confusion has it that this murdering British queen killed young girls so she could bathe in their blood to preserve her youthful appearance. (That legend more properly attaches to Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian countess who lived from 1560 to 1614.) Mary I of England (1553-1558) was anything but a famed beauty terrified of losing her looks — she was a matronly, 40-ish woman who had about as much sense of style as a dust mop. The idea of her bathing in the blood of slaughtered virgins to preserve her loveliness is ludicrous. She came by the moniker “Bloody Mary” because she had a number of Protestants put to death during her reign, as she

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Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary”, as you continue to chant your voice should grow louder and louder into a near scream. While you are chanting you should be spinning around at a medium rate and taking a glimpse in the mirror at each pass. Near the 13th repetition of the words . . . “she” should appear and...? A friend of mine said that her roommate tried this and ran out screaming from the bathroom. She was shaking and appeared genuinely terrified and refused to talk about the incident. Those who were around her when she came out noticed that her clenched fingers were covered in blood.

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tried to re-establish Catholicism as the religion of the land after the reigns of her father (Henry VIII, he who married six wives over the course of his lifetime and established himself as the head of a new religion rather than tolerate the Pope’s saying he couldn’t divorce wife #1 to marry wife #2) and her brother (Edward VI, who ruled after Henry died but passed away himself at the age of 16). Mary was a devoutly religious woman who saw what she was doing as the saving of her subjects’ souls from eternal damnation, and in those times — as crazy as this sounds now — the eternal wellbeing of a soul was deemed far more important than the comparatively fleeting life of a person. That bringing the country back to Catholicism would also safeguard her throne was also a major consideration. During her reign, Elizabeth returned the country to Protestantism and in the process ordered the deaths of at least as many of her subjects as her half-sister did during her time on the throne, yet she earned the sobriquet “The Virgin Queen” (she never married) rather than any version of “Bloody Elizabeth.” Some muddlings of this “murdering queen” variant claim that Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1567) is the “bloody Mary” of mirror summonings. Though this Mary was indeed a vain and foolish woman, history does not know her as a murderous one. So, although there was a British queen known as “Bloody Mary,” no connection between her and the mirror witch has surfaced, save for their both having the same name. Likewise, the “Mary Worth” appellation of the malevolent apparition doesn’t appear to be drawn from the lead character of a popular comic strip of the same name. In lore, as elsewhere, coincidences occur.

I DID THIS WHEN I WAS A KID, AND I’M FINE.


BOYFRIEND’S DEATH 030


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HOURS AFTER SENDING HER BOYFRIEND IN SEARCH OF GASOLINE, A GIRL IS RESCUED FROM HER STRANDED CAR BY POLICE. THOUGH CAUTIONED NOT TO TURN AROUND, SHE DOES... AND SEES HER BOYFRIEND’S LIFELESS BODY HANGING FROM A TREE BRANCH ABOVE THE CAR.

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Two students had gone out to neck in a car on an isolated country road. Afterwards, the car wouldn’t start. The girlfriend got spooked. The boyfriend said he would walk for help, but suggested she first get down on the floor of the car in the back and put a blanket over her so no one looking in would see her... and told her not to look out or get out until he returned and told her to, no matter what she heard. Then he walked off, leaving her hidden. He didn’t return, and he didn’t return, and then she heard a strange tap-tap-tap sound on top of the car. Tap-tap-tap. Despite her growing panic, she didn’t get out and remained huddled there, all night long, listening to the irregular tapping sounds. Finally, the day grew light outside and she heard someone walking up to the car. A man’s voice called out “Is anyone in there?” It was the local sheriff. She peeked out and he told her to get out of the car, walk down the road to the waiting sheriff’s car, and whatever she did, not to look back at the car. She walked down the road to the sheriff’s car but looked back at the last minute and saw her boyfriend’s head impaled on the CB antenna, dripping blood onto the car. _____________________ A teenager is driving his girlfriend home from a date. The boy had been playing around earlier about the car running out of gas as a means to make out with her. Well, it doesn’t work and she’s mad. He starts up the car to take her home, apologizing all the way, when lo and behold they actually do run out of gas. He pulls the car over by some trees. It’s very late and the area is secluded and wooded. The boy tells his girlfriend that he saw a gas station a couple of miles back and since going ahead would take even longer, he tells her to stay in the car with the windows rolled up and locked and he’ll get back as fast as he can, no sense in both of them going, right? Well, the girl waits in the car. It’s been about 20 minutes when she hears a faint scratching noise. It starts to bother her, but she blows it off as the tree branches hitting the car, it had been windy that day, She decides to turn on the radio to listen to some music so it won’t freak her out. Well, now it’s been almost 2 hours and she’s starting to get worried. Her boyfriend was a jock and could have easily made it there and back in under an hour. A half hour later she’s very worried and decides to turn off the radio and look around. He had told her not to get out under any circumstances so she tries to peer out the window, she sees nothing. To her annoyment the scratching sound is still there. She decides that she will get out just long enough to break off that damn branch. She gets out and notices the gas can on the ground near the door. She immediately turns around and sees her boyfriend hanging upside down from the tree, throat slit, and his fingernails dragging across the top of the car making a scratching sound. Of course, had she been listening to talk radio instead of music, she would have known a maniac had escaped from the asylum near the woods where they were parked.

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A lass someone at college knew was traveling in her boyfriend’s car late at night through the New Forest when their car suddenly started spluttering and stalled. They’d run out of petrol in the middle of nowhere. At first she thought it might be a ruse by her bloke to get a bit of rural slap and tickle, but the concern on his face soon scotched that. It was pitch black, and the only light they could see was coming from what looked like a mansion or hospital some miles away. The boyfriend told her to lock the doors and wait while he went for help. Hours passed, and still no sign of him. She was beginning to get very nervous. Still more time went by, when she was startled by a horrendous banging on the back, then the top of the car. Before she could scream, the car was surrounded by police cars with lights flashing and sirens wailing. A voice over a loud-hailer told her: “Get out of the car slowly, walk steadily towards the police line, and don’t, repeat don’t, look around.” She did as she was told, but as she neared the police line, she couldn’t stop herself looking round at the car to see what was making the awful thumping noise . . . only to see an escaped psychopath banging her boyfriend’s severed head on the car roof. _____________________ In American versions, the couple is often parked under a tree, and the boyfriend’s corpse is left hanging upside-down from a branch, the fingernails scraping against the car. European versions have the madmen holding the boyfriend’s decapitated head in one hand and tapping on the roof of the car with his fist or bloody axe. _____________________ Without exception, the girl remains with the car while the boy strikes out unaccompanied in search of gasoline. The murder victim is always male, and the one rescued and cautioned not to look back is always female.

PROBABLY NOTHING SUPERNATURAL GOING ON HERE IF THIS IS TRUE. I WOULD GUESS IT’S JUST SOME CRAZY SERIAL KILLER.


CALLS FROM BEYOND 034


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A MAN’S CELL PHONE PLACED CALLS TO HIS LOVED ONES AFTER HIS DEMISE.

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TRUE.

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On 12 September 2008 at 4:22 p.m. in California’s San Fernando Valley, a commuter train carrying 225 riders collided at a combined speed of 83 mph with a freight train run by a crew of three. In what came to be known as the Chatsworth crash, 135 people were injured (of which 87 were taken to hospitals, 46 in critical condition), and 25 died. One of the deceased was 49-year-old Charles E. Peck, a customer service agent for Delta Air Lines at Salt Lake City International Airport. He had come to Los Angeles for a job interview at Van Nuys Airport because gaining work in the Golden State would have allowed him to wed his fiancé, Andrea Katz of Westlake Village. (The pair had put off getting hitched until they were living in the same state.) This would have been his second marriage; Peck had three grown children from a previous union. His fiancé heard about the crash from a news report on the radio as she was driving to the train station to pick up her intended. Peck’s parents and siblings (who live in the Los Angeles area) joined her. Peck’s body was recovered from the wreckage 12 hours after the accident. Yet for the first eleven of those hours, his cell phone placed call after call to his loved ones, calling his son, his brother, his stepmother, his sister, and his fiancé. In all, his various family members received 35 calls from his cell phone through that long night. When they answered, all they heard was static; when they called back, their calls went straight to voice mail. But the calls gave them hope that the man they loved was still alive, just trapped somewhere in the wreckage. The barrage of calls prompted search crews to trace the whereabouts of the phone through its signal and to once again look through what was left of the first train, the location the calls were coming from. The calls searchers finally found Peck’s body about an hour after the calls from his cell phone stopped. Charles Peck had died on impact. Yet long past his death, his cell phone had continued to reach out to many of those he cared most about, and ultimately led rescuers to his mortal remains. (As far as investigators revealed, they never found Peck’s cell phone.) Ironically (and tragically), another cell phone may have played a pivotal role in causing the Chatsworth crash, the deadliest in Metrolink’s history. Preliminary investigation revealed the engineer running the commuter train had failed to heed a red signal light, instead impelling his train onto a single track where a Union Pacific freight train coming the opposite direction had been given the right of way. According to teens cooperating with the investigation, they had been exchanging text messages with that engineer as the train left the station and received a final text message from him just before the collision (22 seconds before impact, according to the preliminary time line worked out by the National Transportation Safety Board).

TECHNOLOGY THESE DAYS...

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CAMPUS HALLOWEEN MURDERS

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A PSYCHIC PREDICTED ON A POPULAR TELEVISION TALK SHOW THAT A MASS MURDER WOULD TAKE PLACE ON HALLOWEEN AT A COLLEGE CAMPUS.

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The classic “Halloween Campus Murders” fright tale is a legend almost plague-like in its cyclicity, one that periodically resurfaces, spreads widely, and sends many students rushing home or barricading themselves inside their rooms during the weekend of (or just before) Halloween.

The campus to be struck is usually one starting with a specific letter, adjacent to some type of related landmark (such as a mental institution or cemetery), near a designated configuration of hills and rivers, or belonging to a specific athletic conference.

Each major outbreak of the rumor seems to occur several years after the previous iteration suggests that the legend takes hold anew once most of the students who experienced the previous occurrence have graduated and moved on, making room for a new crop of youngsters who have never been exposed to it before.

The site on campus where the killings will occur is often one of a particular shape, named after a certain person, or beginning with a specific letter. Older versions of the legend mention less specific buildings such as a freshman dormitory, the largest dorm on campus, a women’s dorm, or a sorority house.

This story’s first known appearance was in the Midwest in 1968, perhaps inspired by Richard Speck’s murderous attack on nine nurses in a Chicago rooming house a few years earlier. It has seen numerous outbreaks since then, most notably in 1979 (Midwest), 1983 (nationwide), 1986 (Central Pennsylvania), and 1991 (New England), and it made a huge comeback in 1998 (perhaps inspired by the release of the movie Urban Legend earlier that year) when it spread across college campuses throughout the Midwest.

The details included in the versions circulated during the 1998 outbreak of this rumor were: The psychic made the prediction on a talk show hosted by Oprah Winfrey or Montel Williams. (The psychic was sometimes claimed to have predicted the Oklahoma City bombing as well.) The show was sometimes claimed to have been one that was taped but not aired.

The basic outline of the rumor is that a psychic has predicted a crazed killer will strike on a college campus on or near Halloween, with the psychic providing only vague clues about which campus will be targeted, clues that are ambiguous enough to allow them to be applied to nearly every college campus in the country. Nearly all the details of the legend— when and where the prediction was made, who the killer will be, what weapon the murderer will wield, which campus he will strike, what building the slayings would occur in, and how many students will be killed—vary according to where and when the legend is repeated. Some of the more common variations include the following: The psychic who makes the prediction was usually said to have been Jeanne Dixon; after her death, the legend simply referred to ‘a psychic.’ (Sometimes the prediction is one made by Nostradamus rather than a modern day psychic.) The TV shows on which the psychic is said to have made the prediction include ones hosted by Phil Donahue, David Letterman, Johnny Carson, Oprah Winfrey, Montel Williams, Geraldo Rivera, or Joan Rivers. The potential murderer is variously reported to be a crazed student, professor, maintenance worker, escaped convict, maniac from insane asylum, or someone dressed as Little Bo Peep. (Some versions claim that it is now illegal to dress as Little Bo Peep on Halloween in the local college town.)

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The number of victims was to be 10, 15, 18, or “12 female students.” Even though this legend has been circulating for decades (with nary a student falling victim to an axe-wielding Bo Peep in the meanwhile), many students in 1998 were still being advised to not go anywhere alone and to watch out for “suspicious” individuals. Although these are always wise precautions, one would hope the need to vacate dormitories in response to a legend has become unnecessary. The abundance of student newspaper articles collected below indicates that perhaps saner heads forestall further outbreaks of the legend. As to how this legend got started in the first place, folklorist Simon Bronner noted in his collection of campus lore that “The coincidence of the rumors with the darkening fall season, the mistrust of the security of institutional life — especially for students away from the haven of home — and the setting of many campuses in isolated arcadias undoubtedly feeds the rumors.” He suggested that as colleges eased the restrictions of dormitory life and took a much less active role in their students’ personal lives, students came to see campuses as “more open but less protected” places, sites “potentially open to dangerous strangers.”

ALTHOUGH I DO SEE SOME TRUTH IN PSYCHIC PREMONITITIONS.


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GHOST OF TEEN WHO DIED IN A SEWER STRIKES DOWN THOSE WHO DON’T REPOST HER STORY ON FACEBOOK.

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About 6 years ago in Indiana, Carmen Winstead was pushed down a sewer opening by 5 girls in her school, trying to embarrass her in front of her school during a fire drill. When she didn’t submerge the police were called. They went down and brought up 17 year old Carmen Winstead’s body, the neck broke hitting the ladder, then side concrete at the bottom. The girls told everyone she fell... They believed them. _____________________

About 6 years ago in Indiana, Jessica Smith was pushed down a sewer opening by 5 girls in her school, trying to embarrass her in front of her school during a fire drill. When she didn’t submerge then police were called. They went down and brought up 17 year old Jessica Smith’s body, she broke her neck hitting the ladder, then hit her side on concrete at the bottom. The girls told everyone she fell ... They believed them.

2 months ago, 16 year old David Gregory read this post and

2 months ago, 16 year old Ron Anderson read this post and

If you don’t repost this saying ,“She was pushed” or “They pushed her down a sewer” then Carmen will get you, either from a sewer, the toilet, the shower, or when you go to sleep you’ll wake up in the sewer, in the dark, then Carmen will come and kill you.

If you don’t repost this saying ,“She was pushed” or “They pushed her down a sewer” then Jessica will get you, either from a sewer, the toilet, the shower, or when you go to sleep you’ll wake up in the sewer, in the dark, then Jessica will come and kill you.

didn’t repost it. When he went to take a shower he heard laughter from his shower, he started freaking out and ran to his computer to repost it, He said goodnight to his mom and went to sleep, 5 hours later his mom woke up in the middle of the night cause of a loud noise, David was gone, that morning a few hours later the police found him in the sewer, his neck broke and his face skin peeled off.

didn’t repost it. When he went to take a shower he heard laughter from his shower, he started freaking out and ran to his computer to repost it, He said goodnight to his mom and went to sleep, 5 hours later his mom woke up in the middle of the night cause of a loud noise, Ron Anderson was gone, that morning a few hours later the police found him in the sewer, his neck broke and his face skin peeled off.

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In October 2006, the spooky story about a teen killed by a fall into a sewer after five other girls shoved her began circulating in e-mail and on MySpace. No adolescent girl named Carmen Winstead or Jessica Smith died in such fashion, in Indiana, or in any other U.S. state "about six years ago" (i.e., around 2000). We searched for news reports about such a death and found none. This tale is nothing but fiction, a typical chain letter of the sort favored by pre-teens. Its key difference lies in its recommended mode of transmission: rather than imploring recipients to mail (or e-mail) it to others, it requires them to post it on social networking sites (originally MySpace, now Facebook). As is common with "luck generation" or "ill luck avoidance" chain letters, a specific dire outcome is promised those who do not speed the tale on its way (the ghost of the murdered girl will seek them out and kill them), with proof of the danger provided via the included news about the sorry fate that befell someone who failed to heed those instructions (his dead body discovered in the sewer, "his neck broke and his face skin peeled off"). We discuss two other examples of this type of chain letter: one ("Bed Reckoning") uses a seemingly spooky photo; the other ("Skinned Flick") builds upon a fictitious Instant Message exchange.

LIKE I SAID, I DON’T BUY THOSE CHAIN E-MAILS, BUT THIS GIRL CRAWLING OUT OF THE SEWER IS A SCARY THOUGHT.

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EVERYTHING BUT THE EGYPTIAN SINKS


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THE TITANIC WENT TO A WATERY GRAVE CARRYING A CURSED MUMMY IN ITS HOLD.

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Of all tales of the supernatural, this one is perhaps the best documented, the most disturbing and the most difficult to explain . . . The Princess of Amen-Ra lived some 1,500 years before Christ. When she died, she was laid in an ornate wooden coffin and buried deep in a vault at Luxor, on the banks of the Nile. In the late 1890s, 4 rich young Englishmen visiting the excavations at Luxor were invited to buy an exquisitely fashioned mummy case containing the remains of Princess of AmenRa. They drew lots. The man who won paid several thousand pounds and had the coffin taken to his hotel. A few hours later, he was seen walking out towards the desert. He never returned. The next day, one of the remaining 3 men was shot by an Egyptian servant accidentally. His arm was so severely wounded it had to be amputated. The third man in the foursome found on his return home that the bank holding his entire savings had failed. The fourth guy suffered a severe illness, lost his job and was reduced to selling matches in the street. Nevertheless, the coffin reached England (causing other misfortunes along the way), where it was bought by a London businessman. After 3 of his family members had been injured in a road accident and his house damaged by fire, the businessman donated it to the British Museum. As the coffin was being unloaded from a truck in the museum courtyard, the truck suddenly went into reverse and trapped a passerby. Then as the casket was being lifted up the stairs by 2 workmen, 1 fell and broke his leg. The other, apparently in perfect health, died unaccountably two days later. Once the Princess was installed in the Egyptian Room, trouble really started. The Museum's night watchmen frequently heard frantic hammering and sobbing from the coffin. Other exhibits in the room were also often hurled about at night. One watchman died on duty; making the other watchmen wanting to quit. Cleaners refused to go near the Princess

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too. When a visitor derisively flicked a dust cloth at the face painted on the coffin, his child died of measles soon afterwards. Finally, the authorities had the mummy carried down to the basement figuring it could not do any harm down there. Within a wk, one of the helpers was seriously ill, and the supervisor of the move was found dead on his desk. By now, the papers had heard of it. A journalist photographer took a picture of the mummy case and when he developed it, the painting on the coffin was of a horrifying, human face. The photographer was said to have gone home then, locked his bedroom door and shot himself. Soon afterwards, the museum sold the mummy to a private collector. After continual misfortune (and deaths), the owner banished it to the attic. A well known authority on the occult, Madame Helena Blavatsky, visited the premises. Upon entry, she was sized with a shivering fit and searched the house for the source of an evil influence of incredible intensity; She finally came to the attic and found the mummy case. Can you exorcise this evil spirit? Asked the owner. There is no such thing as exorcism. Evil remains evil forever. Nothing can be done about it. I implore you to get rid of this evil as soon as possible. But no British museum would take the mummy; the fact that almost 20 people had met with misfortune, disaster or death from handling the casket, in barely 10 years, was now well known. Eventually, a hardheaded American archaeologist (who dismissed the happenings as quirks of circumstance), paid a handsome price for the mummy and arranged for its removal to New York. In Apr 1912, the new owner escorted its treasure aboard a sparkling, new White Star liner about to make its maiden voyage to New York. On the night of April 14, amid scenes of unprecedented horror, the Princess of Amen-Ra accompanied 1,500 passengers to their deaths at the bottom of the Atlantic. The name of the ship was of course, the H.M.S. TITANIC [sic].


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Sends chills down your spine, doesn’t it? Ah, but it’s only a ghost story — there never was a mummy (cursed or otherwise) on the RMS Titanic. First of all, the tale is logically inconsistent. One of the few names quoted in this piece is that of Helena Blavatsky, a well-known oculist of the period. We’re told the dreaded Princess of Amen-Ra was purchased in Luxor, Egypt, by four foolish young Englishmen “in the late 1890s,” yet later in the same piece we’re informed of Helena Blavatsky’s dire pronouncements made to the private collector who supposedly had possession of the mummy right before it was shipped on the Titanic. These claims cannot both be true, because Helena Blavatsky died of influenza in 1891, but the Titanic’s first and only voyage didn’t take place until 1912. As for the facts of the matter, in 1985, Charles Haas, president of the national Titanic Historical Society, gained access to the ship’s cargo manifest and cargo diagrams. Though the cargo included raw feathers, linen, straw, hatter’s fur, tissue, auto parts, leather, rabbit hair, elastics, hair nets and refrigerating apparatus, not so much as one mummy was listed. Speaking to the legend that a cursed mummy was on board, Haas said, “The cargo manifest throws those myths right out the window.” Other experts have come to the same conclusion: no mummy — least of all one “of the vengeful Princess of Amen-Ra” — was shipped aboard the Titanic. (Of course, the fact that the ship’s manifest listed no gold and no insurance claims were filed for valuable gems hasn’t stopped people from believing that those objects went down with the Titanic as well.) Note that “Amen-Ra” isn’t the name of a place; it’s the name of an Egyptian god, one whose name means “the hidden one”. He was seen as the creator of all things and, with his consort Mut and their son the moon-god Khonshu, was worshiped in the great temples of Luxor and Karnak. In fact, the mummy to which this story refers (which was actually just the coffin lid, not the mummy, of the Priestess of Amun) never left the British Museum, and it is still there to this day. So how did this fanciful tale begin? This ghost story was concocted around the turn of the century by two Englishmen named William Stead and Douglas Murray. Stead was a well-known journalist and editor who

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crusaded on behalf of liberal causes and created a national scandal when he published an article entitled “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon,” describing how he was able to purchase the services of a thirteen-year-old prostitute for £5. Stead was also a believer in mysticism and spiritualism who consulted mediums, investigated psychic phenomena, and published a related periodical. We don’t know much about Murray — he’s been described as an “Egyptologist” and as the man who shipped the mummy in question to London in the first place, although he was probably neither. Stead and Murray crafted an elaborate horror story about a mummy that was brought to England and set up in the drawing room of an acquaintance of theirs. The morning after the mummy arrived, they claimed, everything breakable in the room was destroyed. The mummy was moved from room to room within the house, but each move resulted in the same destruction of all the breakable objects at hand. Wherever the mummy went, it brought sickness, death and destruction to its owner. Sometime after Stead and Murray invented their mummy tale, they were visiting the First Egyptian Room of the British Museum and noticed the coffin lid of the Priestess of Amun. They concocted yet another story that the look of terror and anguish in the face depicted on the coffin lid indicated that the coffin’s original occupant was a tormented soul, and her evil spirit was now loose in the world. Stead and Murray told their fanciful tale to eager newspaper reporters who — then as now — weren’t about to let the truth get in the way of a sensationally good story. The two stories were conflated into one and spread widely, and the Priestess of Amun came to be identified as the mummy whose mortal remains wreaked havoc wherever they were stored. This ghost story made the leap from London to the Titanic after William Stead went down with the ill-fated ship on 15 April 1912. Stead was traveling to America at President Taft’s request to address a peace conference, and he took delight in relating his “cursed mummy” tale to Titanic passengers. He reportedly defied superstition by starting his narrative at a dinner party on Friday, the 12th of April, and drew it out so that he concluded the tale just after midnight on the 13th. A few days after the Titanic’s sinking, one of the survivors recounted Stead’s “cursed mummy” tale in an interview with the New York World, and eventually the ghost story Stead

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and Murray invented, Stead’s presence aboard the Titanic, and reports of Stead’s having related the mummy tale to Titanic passengers became jumbled together, producing a new legend about an actual mummy aboard the Titanic. The modified legend told of a cursed mummy the British Museum was so anxious to be rid of that they sold it to an American, who naturally sought to ship it back home via the Titanic. The presence of the cursed mummy (which had escalated the expressions of its wrath from breaking cups and saucers and making people ill to sinking passenger liners) in the Titanic’s hold came to be whispered as the cause of the most famous maritime disaster in history. In an even more elaborate version of the legend, the mummy’s American owner paid a bribe to have the mummy placed in one of the Titanic’s lifeboats; it was then smuggled aboard the Carpathia when that ship picked up the Titanic’s survivors and secretly landed in New York. When the mummy continued to wreak havoc at its new home, its new owner had it taken to Canada in preparation for shipping it back to England. The mummy was placed aboard the liner Empress of Ireland, which, while on its way from Quebec City to Liverpool on 29 May 1914, was struck by a Norwegian coal ship. The Empress of Ireland sank so quickly that only 7 of her 40 lifeboats could be launched, and 840 passengers went down with her. As to how widespread this “curse of the mummy” stuff is, some of the crew members on a failed 1980 expedition to locate the sunken Titanic spoke darkly of the famous mummy that was allegedly on board her, saying it transferred the curse of all who disturbed its grave to the vessel’s maiden voyage and all subsequent search efforts. (Yeah. Like it couldn’t have been plain bad luck. And what was the mummy doing back on the Titanic after having sailed on the Empress of Ireland?)

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In looking to blame their bad luck on an outside force they couldn’t possibly have hoped to defeat, those crew members weren’t all that unusual. They merely brought into play a standard avoidance technique employed to keep us from having to confront what a scary, random world this place can be. In the wake of any disaster, there’s a strong urge to explain away the tragedy by ascribing it to some dark power beyond our control. As inconceivable as this might seem at first blush, it’s easier for many people to accept that a cursed mummy was the cause of great loss of life than it is to co-exist with the knowledge that sometimes even unthinkable accidents will happen. Being at the mercy of the God of Random Chance is far more frightening a reality to face than any vengeful mummy will ever be. Ghost stories like this one reaffirm our faith in the world being a predictable (and therefore safe) place. If a great tragedy such as the sinking of the Titanic can be explained away as the direct result of the evil forces of the supernatural is being stirred up, we can again feel safe about placing our faith in the inherent safety of great ships, airplanes or even automobiles. Beyond the reassurance factor, such tales also make darned good storytelling. That too lies at the heart of their appeal. In case you’re curious (and have some vacation time to spare), the coffin lid of the Priestess of Amun is still on display at the British Museum, just as it was when Stead and Murray created their infamous “cursed mummy” tale a century ago. Look for exhibit BM No. 22542, in the Second Egyptian Room.

WHO REALLY KNOWS THOUGH? THE TITANIC IS IN A WATERY GRAVE, SO THERE VERY WELL COULD HAVE BEEN A CURSED MUMMY...


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AN ‘EXPRESSIONLESS’ APPARITION IN A BLOOD-COVERED GOWN APPEARED AT CEDARS-SINAI HOSPITAL IN 1972.

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In June of 1972, a woman appeared in Cedar Senai [sic] hospital in nothing but a white, blood-covered gown. Now this, in itself, should not be too surprising as people often have accidents nearby and come to the nearest hospital for medical attention, but there were two things that caused people who saw her to vomit and flee in terror. The first being that she wasn’t exactly human. She resembled something close to a mannequin, but had the dexterity and fluidity of a normal human being. Her face, was as flawless as a mannequins, devoid of eyebrows and smeared in make-up. There was a kitten clamped in her jaws so unnaturally tight that no teeth could be seen, and the blood was still squirting out over her gown and onto the floor. She then pulled it out of her mouth, tossed it aside and collapsed. From the moment she stepped through the entrance to when she was taken to a hospital room and cleaned up before being prepped for sedation, she was completely calm, expressionless and motionless. The doctors thought it best to restrain her until the authorities could arrive and she did not protest. They were unable to get any kind of response from her and most staff members felt too uncomfortable to look directly at her for more than a few seconds. But the second the staff tried to sedate her, she fought back with extreme force. Two members of staff had to hold her down as her body rose up on the bed with that same, blank expression.

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She turned her emotionless eyes towards the male doctor and did something unusual. She smiled. As she did, the female doctor screamed and let go out of shock. In the woman’s mouth were not human teeth, but long, sharp spikes. Too long for her mouth to close fully without causing any damage ... The male doctor stared back at her for a moment before asking “What in the hell are you?” She cracked her neck down to her shoulder to observe him, still smiling. There was a long pause, the security had been alerted and could be heard coming down the hallway. As he heard them approach, she darted forward, sinking her teeth into the front of his throat, ripping out his jugular and letting him fall to the floor, gasping for air as he choked on his own blood. She stood up and leaned over him, her face coming dangerously close to his as the life faded from his eyes. She leaned closer and whispered in his ear. “I...am....God....” The doctor’s eyes filled with fear as he watched her calmly walk away to greet the security men. His last ever sight would be watching her feast on them one by one. The female doctor who survived the incident named her “The Expressionless”. There was never a sighting of her again.

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This item about an “expressionless” apparition in a blood-covered gown who supposedly appeared at Cedars-Sinai hospital in 1972 isn’t an historical account of an event witnessed by others and passed down over the span of forty years. It’s merely a bit of supernatural fiction that gained widespread currency on the Internet after appearing on Creepypasta (a site for “short stories designed to unnerve and shock the reader”) in June 2012.

THIS IS SOME CREEPY IMAGERY. I CERTAINLY HOPE GOD ISN’T AS DESCRIBED HERE...

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GHOSTLY MOTH SAVES TRAIN 058


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A GHOSTLY FIGURE PRODUCED BY A MOTH SAVED A TRAIN FROM TRAVERSING A WASHEDOUT BRIDGE.


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The British express train raced through the night, its powerful headlamp spearing the black darkness ahead. The train was carrying Queen Victoria.

While the bridge and the tracks were being repaired, the crew made a more intensive search for the strange flagman. But not until they got to London, did they solve the mystery.

Suddenly the engineer saw a startling sight. Revealed in the beam of the engine’s headlights was a weird figure in a black cloak standing in the middle of the tracks and waving its arms. The engineer grabbed for the brakes and brought the train to a grinding halt.

At the base of the engine’s head lamp the engineer discovered a huge dead moth. He looked at it a moment, then on impulse wet its wings and pasted it to the glass of the lamp.

He and his fellow trainsmen climbed out to see what had stopped them. But they could find no trace of the strange figure. On a hunch, he walked a few yards further up the tracks. Suddenly he stopped and stared into the fog in horror. The bridge had been washed out in the middle and had toppled into a swollen stream. If he had not heeded the ghostly figure, the train would have plunged into the stream.

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This story about a ghostly moth figure saving a train from disaster has circulated in a number of forms, some that are mute about the identity of any of the passengers aboard the rescued train, and some that name various important personages (including Queen Victoria) as having been saved by the ghostly figure. As a belief tale, this yarn has a number of interpretations. On the one hand, it can serve as confirmation that seemingly spooky events often are found to have perfectly ordinary, rational explanations once initial panic has subsided. Where others are prone to jump up and yell “Ghost! Ghost!” then rush screaming into the night convinced they’ve had a brush with the supernatural, those whose innate skepticism causes them to look further into the puzzling or frightening see in the engineer’s act of investigating the lamp (and thereby discovering the dead moth) the sort of level-headed thinking that leads to the debunking of the otherwise inexplicably eerie. Yet another ghost tale laid to rest; yet another “spook” that turned out to be anything but (e.g., the mysterious self-driving car that a rain-soaked passenger took a ride in). Another interpretation focuses on the improbable coincidence of the moth’s being drawn to the lamp’s beam at just the right moment to project a menacing figure onto the tracks if the train was to be halted before plunging into the abyss. While moths are indeed attracted to light, what could have caused one to throw itself at that lamp at just

Climbing back into his cab, he switched on the lamp and saw the “flagman” in the beam. He knew the answer now: the moth had flown into the beam, seconds before the train was due to reach the washed-out bridge. In the fog, it appeared to be a phantom figure, waving its arms. When Queen Victoria was told of the strange happening she said, “I’m sure it was no accident. It was God’s way of protecting us.”

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the precise instant necessary to save so many lives? Surely some benevolent spirit or personal guardian guided the moth’s flight, possibly the ghost of someone who had died at that very spot and now looks to safeguard others across a dangerous span (e.g., the “ghost children” of San Antonio). Finally, the tale can be regarded as a parable illustrating the mysterious ways by which the Almighty acts on His children’s behalf, His unseen hand working miracles: No, the figure the engineer saw in the headlight’s beam was not an angel... and yet God, quite possibly through the ministry of His unseen angels, had placed the moth on the headlight lens exactly when and where it was needed. Truly “He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11) Mark states that after the Resurrection, the Lord “appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country” (Mark 16:12). Christ came in disguise! There is reason to believe He still does. Happy are the people who can recognize Him whenever He comes, in and in whatever form. So, there you have it: This all-purpose supernatural yarn can be held aloft and brandished as a confirmatory tale by those who believe in Jesus. Or angels. Or protective spirits. Or the power of skeptical thinking.

GHOST PRODUCED BY A MOTH? ... NAH.

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THE GHOST OF A WOMAN KILLED IN A CAR CRASH DIRECTS RESCUERS TO THE WRECK TO SAVE HER STILL-LIVING BABY, WHO IS TRAPPED WITHIN.

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One afternoon, a couple was traveling on the road when all of a sudden at a far distance they saw a woman in the middle of the road asking them to stop. The wife told her husband to keep on driving because it might be too dangerous, but the husband decided to pass by slowly so he wouldn’t stay with the doubt on his mind of what might have happened and the chances of anyone being hurt. As they got closer, they noticed a woman with cuts and bruises on her face as well as on her arms. They then decide to stop and see if they could be of any help. The cut and bruised woman was begging for help telling them that she had been in a car accident and that her husband and son, a new born baby, were still inside the car which was in a deep ditch. She told them that the husband was already dead but that her baby seemed to still be alive. The husband that was traveling decided to get down and try to rescue the baby and he asked the hurt woman to stay with his wife inside the their car. When he got down he no-

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ticed two people in the front seats of the car but he didn’t pay any importance to it and took out the baby quickly and got up to take the baby to it’s mother. When he got up, he didn’t see the mother anywhere so he asked his wife where she had gone. She told him that the woman followed him back to the crashed car. When the man decided to go look for the woman, he noticed that clearly the two people in the front seats were dead; a woman and a man with both their seat belts on. When he looked closer, he noticed that it was the exact same woman that was begging them for help in the beginning. The Baby now lives with family members and he will live to tell the story. Do you think that it was a miracle of God? If you believe in the Almighty and that miracles like these can truly happen, send this to your friends. If you don’t send it, nothing will happen, only that the some people won’t be able to know of the greatness of the Lord.

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A drunk man in an Oldsmobile, they said, had run the light that caused the six-car pileup on 109 that night. When broken bodies lay about and blood was everywhere, the sirens screamed out elegies for death was in the air. A mother, trapped inside her car, was heard above the noise; her plaintive plea near split the air: “Oh, God, please spare my boys!” She fought to loose her pinioned hands; she struggled to get free, but mangled metal held her fast in grim captivity. Her frightened eyes then focused on where the back seat once had been, but all she saw was broken glass and two children’s seats crushed in. Her twins were nowhere to be seen; she did not hear them cry, and then she prayed they’d been thrown free, “Oh, God, don’t let them die!” Then firemen came and cut her loose, but when they searched the back, they found therein no little boys, but the seat belts were intact. They thought the woman had gone mad and was traveling alone, but when they turned to question her, they discovered she was gone. Policemen saw her running wild and screaming above the noise in beseeching supplication, “Please help me find my boys! They’re four years old and wear blue shirts; their jeans are blue to match.” One cop spoke up, “They’re in my car, and they don’t have a scratch. They said their daddy put them there and gave them each a cone, then told them both to wait for Mom to come and take them home.

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I’ve searched the area high and low, but I can’t find their dad. He must have fled the scene, I guess, and that is very bad.” The mother hugged the twins and said, while wiping at a tear, “He could not flee the scene, you see, for he’s been dead a year.” The cop just looked confused and asked, “Now, how can that be true?” The boys said, “Mommy, Daddy came and left a kiss for you. He told us not to worry and that you would be all right, and then he put us in this car with the pretty, flashing light. We wanted him to stay with us, because we miss him so, but Mommy, he just hugged us tight and said he had to go. He said someday we’d understand and told us not to fuss, and he said to tell you, Mommy, he’s watching over us.” The mother knew without a doubt that what they spoke was true, for she recalled their dad’s last words, “I will watch over you.” The fireman’s notes could not explain the twisted, mangled car, and how the three of them escaped without a single scar. But on the cop’s report was scribed, in print so very fine, An angel walked the beat tonight on Highway 109.


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One afternoon, a couple was traveling on the road when all of a sudden at a far distance they saw a woman in the middle of the road asking them to stop. The wife told her husband to keep on driving because it might be too dangerous, but the husband decided to pass by slowly so he wouldn’t stay with the doubt on his mind of what might have happened and the chances of anyone being hurt. As they got closer, they noticed a woman with cuts and bruises on her face as well as on her arms. They then decide to stop and see if they could be of any help. The cut and bruised woman was begging for help telling them that she had been in a car accident and that her husband and son, a new born baby, were still inside the car which was in a deep ditch. She told them that the husband was already dead but that her baby seemed to still be alive. The husband that was traveling decided to get down and try to rescue the baby and he asked the hurt woman to stay with his wife inside the their car. When he got down he noticed two people in the front seats of the car but he didn’t pay any importance to it and took out the baby quickly and got up to take the baby to it’s mother. When he got up, he didn’t see the mother anywhere so he asked his wife where she had gone. She told him that the woman followed him back to the crashed car. When the man decided to go look for the woman, he noticed that clearly the two people in the front seats were dead; a woman and a man with both their seat belts on. When he looked closer, he noticed that it was the exact same woman that was begging them for help in the beginning. The Baby now lives with family members and he will live to tell the story. Do you think that it was a miracle of God? If you believe in the Almighty and that miracles like these can truly happen, send this to your friends. If you don’t send it, nothing will happen, only that the some people won’t be able to know of the greatness of the Lord.

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Such is the story. Versions of the story quoted immediately above were part of oral lore at least as far back as 1890 in at least three countries (Russia, England and Canada). The “summoned help” is either a doctor or a member of the clergy. Such tales of loved ones fetching help and only afterwards being identified as deceased via their being identified through their portraits continue to circulate:

There came a frantic knock at the doctor’s office door, a knock, more urgent than he had ever heard before. “Come in, Come in,” the impatient doctor said, “Come in, Come in, before you wake the dead.” In walked a frightened little girl, a child no more than nine. It was plain for all to see, she had troubles on her mind. “Oh doctor, I beg you, please come with me, my mother is surely dying, she’s as sick as she can be.” “I don’t make house calls, bring your mother here,” “But she’s too sick, so you must come or she will die I fear.” The doctor, touched by her devotion, decided he would go. She said he would be blessed, more than he could know. She led him to her house where her mother lay in bed, Her mother was so very sick she couldn’t raise her head. But her eyes cried out for help and help her the doctor did, she would have died that very night had it not been for her kid. The doctor got her fever down and she lived through the night, and morning brought the doctor signs, that she would be all right. The doctor said he had to leave but would return again by two, and later he came back to check, just like he said he’d do. The mother praised the doctor for all the things he’d done, he told her she would have died, were it not for her little one. “How proud you must be of your wonderful little girl, It was her pleading that made me come, she is really quite a pearl! “But doctor, my daughter died over three years ago, Is the picture on the wall of the little girl you know?” The doctors legs went limp for the picture on the wall, Was the same little girl for whom he’d made this call. The doctor stood motionless, for quite a little while, And then his solemn face, was broken by his smile. He was thinking of that frantic knock heard at his office door, and of the beautiful little angel that had walked across his floor.

I COULD POSSIBLY BELIEVE IN SPIRITS COMING BACK TO RESCUE THEIR LOVED ONES.

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HAUNTED TOYS ‘R’ US

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THE GHOST OF A DISAPPOINTED LOVER HAUNTS THE TOYS ‘R’ US IN SUNNYVALE, CA.

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If you like a good ghost story, this tale is for you: Enter the Play-Doh aisle at your own risk. Browse the children’s books with caution. And don’t even ask to go upstairs, where the toys are stacked. The Toys ‘R’ Us in Sunnyvale is haunted by a man named Johnson, employees and psychics say. “I don’t believe in ghosts,” said Putt-Putt O’Brien, who has spent 18 years stacking toys at the store. “But you feel a breeze behind you. Someone calls your name and there’s nobody there. Funny things happen here that you can’t explain.” Rag dolls and toy trucks leap off shelves. Balls bounce down the aisles. Children’s books fall out of racks. Baby swings move on their own. The folks at Toys ‘R’ Us say they’ve tried to explain it logically but can’t. “Many people have experiences, not just one or two of us,” O’Brien said. “He’s like Casper. Nothing he does ever hurt anybody.” Others have taken notice, too. Newspapers have written about him. The toy store has been featured on television’s That’s Incredible and other shows. A Hollywood script writer for the movie Toys spent two nights inside doing research. Psychic Sylvia Browne held a seance there in 1978 and has been back a dozen times. Browne said Johnson told her he was a preacher and ranch hand in the 1880s on the Murphy family farm, where the toy store sits today. He spoke with a mild Swedish accent, and his first name was John, Yon, or Johan. Ten of sixteen people assembled there for the seance said they heard a “high buzzing noise” when Browne was supposedly listening to the ghost. Browne said the ghost told her he had been in love with Murphy’s daughter Elizabeth, who ran off with an East Coast lawyer. Old news clippings say Johnson accidentally hacked his leg with an ax while carelessly chopping down trees. Another story said Johnson was found dead in the orchard with an ax wound in his neck. Both stories say he bled to death. Browne said the ghost told her he had been in love with Murphy’s daughter Elizabeth, who ran off with an East Coast lawyer. Old news clippings say Johnson accidentally hacked

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his leg with an ax while carelessly chopping down trees. Another story said Johnson was found dead in the orchard with an ax wound in his neck. Both stories say he bled to death. O’Brien said she saw Johnson once: A young man in his 20s or 30s, wearing knickers, a white long-sleeved work shirt, and a gray tweed snap-brim cap, walked past her. Another time she heard the sound of galloping horses. “Yohan used to exercise the horses, they say,” O’Brien said. Now he apparently gets his exercise playing with the staff. There was the time when men were waxing the floor, for instance, and a teddy bear kept appearing in each aisle as they moved their equipment through the store. There’s the overwhelming sweet smell of garden flowers that haunts Aisle 15C, next to the Mickey Mouse dolls and the Batman toothbrush sets. So, now the obvious question: Is it all just a desperate sales gimmick? “It’s very good publicity for us,” said store director Stephanie Lewis. “But I personally don’t believe in it.” But even if Lewis doesn’t believe it, others do. “Last week we had to chase three or four teenagers away,” she said. “They were sitting out front at 4 a.m. with a Ouija board, trying to conjure up the ghost. Once a week someone comes in here asking about it. Teenagers beg us to let them spend the night on the floor. I have employees who will not go into the women’s bathroom alone,” Lewis said. That’s because Johnson follows them in there and turns on the water faucets,” she said. Longtime employees say Johnson has also pulled pranks on contractors who come to do short-term jobs. They see a toy leap from a shelf and refuse to come back. O’Brien believes Johnson lives upstairs in a breezy, cool corner. The pranks he pulls upstairs are also harmless, she said, but it’s spookier because one is usually alone. “When I go up there, I’ll say, ‘Johan, I’m only here to work,’” O’Brien said. So if the place is haunted, why stick around? “It’s a good ghost,” said Lisa, another employee, who didn’t give her last name. “It’s fun here.”

AS LONG AS IT’S A FRIENDLY GHOST, I’M COOL WITH IT. IT WOULD BE AN ADVENTURE GOING IN THE STORE TO CHECK IT OUT.

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HELPING HANDS

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THE PROTECTIVE GHOSTS OF LITTLE CHILDREN KILLED AT A RAILWAY CROSSING PUSH STALLED CARS OFF THE TRACKS.

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My cousin and I had gone to San Antonio, and we had heard rumors of some haunted railroad tracks. The story was, a school bus full of children had stalled on these tracks with a train coming. The train was going too fast for there to be time to get the children off. So they all died. When we finally found the tracks, we stopped the car, parking it right on the railroad tracks. We were both a little nervous, and scared, and waited for something to happen. Just when we were about to leave, the car started rolling. We were both too freaked out to do any more than grab each other and gasp, eyes wide, mouths open. After what seemed like

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This legend dates to at least the early 1970s. The horrific accident that created the protective ghosts is said to have involved an oncoming train and a school bus stalled on the tracks. According to widely believed lore, spirits of the slain youngsters forever after haunted that location, shoving stalled cars out of harm’s way, lest more innocents share their fate. Tiny hand prints on the back of the saved vehicles are a motif common to this legend and serve to explain why the stalled vehicles are magically moved. Another version has some form of tame demon assisting the dead kids in their crusade. (Hoof prints, since you asked.) Although the city of San Antonio has long claimed this folk tale as its own, pointing to the railway crossing where Villamain Road becomes Shane Road where cars seem to behave strangely and close to a set of streets named after children (Bobbie Allen, Cindy Sue, Laura Lee, Nancy Carole, and Richey Otis), the bus accident that sparked the legend took place in a city more than a thousand miles away. In December 1938, in Salt Lake City, Utah, twenty-six children, aged 12 to 18, lost their lives when the school bus they’d been traveling in stalled on the tracks and was struck by a freight train. No similar accident took place in San Antonio, but in 1938 that city was subjected to about ten days’ worth of gruesomely detailed coverage in its local newspaper of the Salt Lake City crash, memory of which afterwards served to convince later generations the tragedy had taken place locally. San Antonio’s “ghost tracks” are nothing more than an optical illusion. The mysterious movement of vehicles at that crossing is the result of a slight incline at the site, which works to roll vehicles that have been slipped into neutral off

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an eternity, (but was actually less than 5 minutes tops) the car stopped rolling. We looked around, and we were off the railroad tracks. Now, that may not seem spooky, but what we saw next scared us enough to jump back in the car and make the 6 hour trip home THAT NIGHT. Both of us got out of the car and walked around to the back. After the first 6 hour drive, our car had accumulated quite a bit of dust on it. That’s not scary, no. But what was scary was the little sets of hand prints all over the back of the car. All the size of children’s hands.

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the tracks. As for the nearby streets supposedly christened in memoriam to the children who died, they were actually named in honor of a developer’s grandchildren. The “ghosts of school kids push vehicle off tracks” group of tales is a subset of a larger group of stories, Gravity Hill tales. Many Gravity Hill factlets are offered as a “gee whiz” kind of thing with no storyline to them, just that if a car is slipped into neutral at the right place, it’ll move as if by magic. A further subset of Gravity Hill lore involves legends about dead teens. Though we also have cars stalled on train tracks and the onrushing train killing the occupants (thus creating the helpful ghosts), others involve freeway exit ramps where it is rumored cars stopped on them will roll back uphill. The explanation offered has it that either a carload of teens heading for no particular destination or a girl on her way to the prom die in a horrible accident on that off ramp when their car stalls and is hit from behind or the brakes go and the vehicle is sent flying into the middle of the intersection at the end of the ramp where it collides with a tractor trailer. The mysterious movement of later cars is explained as the ghost(s) of the dead teen(s) attempting to push stalled vehicles out of harm’s way. Unlike the kids on the school bus tales, hand prints are rarely found on these rescued cars. The explanation motif (why did my car just do that?) used in this set of legends is much like that employed in the Vanishing Hitchhiker — something weird happens, the person it happened to remarks upon it in front of locals, prompting one of them to volunteer the story about the long-ago accident and the dead teen ghosts.

AGAIN, FRIENDLY CHILD GHOSTS HAUNTING TO PROTECT PEOPLE ARE FINE WITH ME.


JINXED LIMO

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THE LIMOUSINE ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND RODE TO HIS DEATH IN BROUGHT A CURSE UPON ALL THOSE WHO SUBSEQUENTLY OWNED IT.

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While we can establish that the car in question does now indeed reside in a Viennese museum, no other part of the tale has been confirmed. Its resemblance to another “death car” story — one involving the Porsche Spyder James Dean was killed in gives us pause, though. Of all things jinxed, few can have bestowed more misery than a motor car owned by the Hapsburg dynasty of imperial Austria. The open-topped limousine was given to the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the troubled throne. He rode in it in July 1914 on a state visit to Sarajevo. Sarajevo then was in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a state recently annexed by the imperial court of Vienna. In the car with the Archduke on this ill-fated day were his wife, General Potiorek of the Austrian army and three other dignitaries, plus a driver. A fervent young nationalist called Gavrilo Princip stepped in front of the vehicle on its official tour of the city and shot the Archduke and his wife, the Archduchess Sophie. More catastrophic still, this event was to trigger the First World War. General Potiorek became the next owner of the car. Several weeks into the war his armies suffered a rout at the hands of the ill-organized army of Serbia. The General was summoned back to Vienna by the Emperor Franz Josef I. And there in Vienna, his reputation ruined, his sanity destroyed, he died.

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Another version adds the detail of Potiorek becoming an impoverished lunatic who eventually died in the almshouse. A captain of Potiorek’s staff took charge of the jinxed vehicle; nine days later in a terrible accident he killed two peasants on the road before swerving into a tree and killing himself. After the war, the governor of newly independent Yugoslavia took charge of the car. He endured a succession of terrible accidents, one of which cost him his left arm. [Four accidents in four months, according to another source.] The car was then sold to a doctor, who was crushed to death when he overturned it into a ditch. [He had the car six months before it “turned” on him.] The next owner was Simon Mantharides, a diamond dealer. He fell to his death from a precipice. [The other version gives a slightly different sequence of events. According to it, the car passed from the crushed doctor to a wealthy unnamed jeweler who enjoyed it for all of a year before committing suicide. Its next owner was yet another doctor, one whose patients deserted him out of fear for his cursed car.] The car passed into the hands of a Swiss racing driver who was later killed in an accident in it. [Thrown over a stone wall to his death, says another source.] A Serbian farmer, who paid a fantastic sum for the car which had acquired great historical value, was the next owner and victim. He cadged a tow from a horse and cart one morning because the engine would not turn over. He forgot to switch off the ignition and the engine caught suddenly. The car lurched forward into the horse and cart, and overturned, killing the farmer. Finally, a garage owner lost his life in the car returning from a wedding. He tried to overtake a long line of vehicles and was killed as the car spun out of control. [On his way to the wedding, says the other version. And the spin out killed both him and four of the six friends with him.] The car now rests harmlessly in a Viennese museum. It is never taken out on the road.

THE CAR DOES SEEM TO HAVE A SKETCHY. CURSED PAST AND BAD THINGS HAVE HAPPENED TO THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE OWNED IT. THERE MIGHT BE SOME VALIDITY HERE.

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A MENACING DREAM PREVENTS A WOMAN FROM BEING KILLED IN AN ACCIDENT. .

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A young woman on her way to town broke her journey by staying with friends at an old manor house. Her bedroom looked out to the carriage sweep at the front door. It was a moonlit night, and she found it difficult to sleep. As the clock outside her bedroom door struck 12, she heard the noise of horses’ hooves on the gravel outside, and the sound of wheels. She got up and went over to the window to see who could be arriving at that time of night. The moonlight was very bright, and she saw a hearse drive up to the door. It hadn’t a coffin in it; instead it was crowded with people. The coachman sat high up on the box: as he came opposite the window he drew up and turned his head. His face terrified her, and he said in a distinct voice, “There’s room for one more.”

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She drew the curtain, ran back to bed, and covered her head with the bedclothes. In the morning she was not quite sure whether it had been a dream or she had really got out of bed and seen the hearse, but she was glad to go up to town and leave the old house behind her. She was shopping in a big store which had an elevator in it. She was on the top floor, and went to the elevator to go down. It was rather crowded, but as she came up to it, the elevator operator turned his head and said, “There’s room for one more.” It was the face of the coachman of the hearse. “No, thank you,” said the girl. “I’ll walk down.” She turned away, the elevator doors clanged, there was a terrible rush and screaming and shouting, and then a great clatter and thud. The elevator had fallen and every soul in it was killed.

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The “coachman’s warning” legend has been kicking around since 1906, when it was told in Pall Mall Magazine as the E.F. Benson short story The Bus-Conductor. In that long ago version, a man has the presaging encounter that saves his life through a disturbing late-night exchange with the driver of a hearse that pulls up to the home where he is staying as a house guest. The hearse driver (who is dressed as a bus conductor) locks eyes with the man, gestures at his empty conveyance, and announces “Just room for one inside, sir.” A month later that same unsettling man attempts to gesture the former house guest into a bus he’d been planning to take, once again with “Just room for one inside, sir.” The terrified man backs away then runs off. Moments later, the bus is struck from the side by a car traveling too fast, the automobile “burrowing into it as a gimlet burrows into a board, making matchwood and — other things of it.” More modern tellings present the narrowly-avoided fatal accident as the falling of an elevator car and the person so warned (and thus saved) as a woman. A well-known version of the yarn surfaces in Bennett Cerf’s 1944 Famous Ghost Stories. No matter the mode whereby others perish or the sex of the person spared, the eerie coachman remains a constant element of the tale. Sometimes the forewarned recognizes the vehicle the midnight coachman shows up in as a hearse, but sometimes sees only an unremarkable coach and is left puzzled by why the driver’s appearance and invitation are so unsettling.

I’VE HAD DREAMS WITH DEJA-VU PREMONITIONS... NOT TOO UNBELIEVABLE.

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RUSSIAN SLEEP EXPERIMENT

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ACCOUNT DESCRIBES A “RUSSIAN SLEEP EXPERIMENT” FROM THE LATE 1940’S .

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Russian researchers in the late 1940s kept five people awake for fifteen days using an experimental gas based stimulant. They were kept in a sealed environment to carefully monitor their oxygen intake so the gas didn’t kill them, since it was toxic in high concentrations. This was before closed circuit cameras so they had only microphones and 5 inch thick glass porthole sized windows into the chamber to monitor them. The chamber was stocked with books, cots to sleep on but no bedding, running water and toilet, and enough dried food to last all five for over a month. The test subjects were political prisoners deemed enemies of the state during World War II. Everything was fine for the first five days; the subjects hardly complained having been promised (falsely) that they would be freed if they submitted to the test and did not sleep for 30 days. Their conversations and activities were monitored and it was noted that they continued to talk about increasingly traumatic incidents in their past, and the general tone of their conversations took on a darker aspect after the 4 day mark. After five days they started to complain about the circumstances and events that lead them to where they were and started to demonstrate severe paranoia. They stopped talking to each other and began alternately whispering to the microphones and one way mirrored portholes. Oddly they all seemed to think they could win the trust of the experimenters by turning over their comrades, the other subjects in captivity with them. At first the researchers suspected this was an effect of the gas itself... After nine days the first of them started screaming. He ran the length of the chamber repeatedly yelling at the top of his lungs for 3 hours straight, he continued attempting to scream but was only able to produce occasional squeaks. The researchers postulated that he had physically torn his vocal cords. The most surprising thing about this behavior is how the other captives reacted to it... or rather didn’t react to it. They continued whispering to the microphones until the second of the captives started to scream. The 2 non-screaming captives took the books apart, smeared page after page with their own feces and pasted them calmly over the glass portholes. The screaming promptly stopped.

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So did the whispering to the microphones. After 3 more days passed. The researchers checked the microphones hourly to make sure they were working, since they thought it impossible that no sound could be coming with 5 people inside. The oxygen consumption in the chamber indicated that all 5 must still be alive. In fact it was the amount of oxygen 5 people would consume at a very heavy level of strenuous exercise. On the morning of the 14th day the researchers did something they said they would not do to get a reaction from the captives, they used the intercom inside the chamber, hoping to provoke any response from the captives they were afraid were either dead or vegetables. They announced: “We are opening the chamber to test the microphones; step away from the door and lie flat on the floor or you will be shot. Compliance will earn one of you your immediate freedom.” To their surprise they heard a single phrase in a calm voice response: “We no longer want to be freed.” Debate broke out among the researchers and the military forces funding the research. Unable to provoke any more response using the intercom it was finally decided to open the chamber at midnight on the fifteenth day. They announced: “We are opening the chamber to test the microphones; step away from the door and lie flat on the floor or you will be shot. Compliance will earn one of you your immediate freedom.” To their surprise they heard a single phrase in a calm voice response: “We no longer want to be freed.” The abdominal organs below the ribcage of all four test subjects had been removed. While the heart, lungs and diaphragm remained in place, the skin and most of the muscles attached to the ribs had been ripped off, exposing the lungs through the ribcage. All the blood vessels and organs remained intact, they had just been taken out and laid on the floor, fanning out around the eviscerated but still living bodies of the subjects. The digestive tract of all four could be seen to be working, digesting food. It quickly became apparent that what they were digesting was their own flesh that they had ripped off and eaten over the course of days.


Most of the soldiers were Russian special operatives at the facility, but still many refused to return to the chamber to remove the test subjects. They continued to scream to be left in the chamber and alternately begged and demanded that the gas be turned back on, lest they fall asleep... To everyone’s surprise the test subjects put up a fierce fight in the process of being removed from the chamber. One of the Russian soldiers died from having his throat ripped out, another was gravely injured by having his testicles ripped off and an artery in his leg severed by one of the subject’s teeth. Another 5 of the soldiers lost their lives if you count ones that committed suicide in the weeks following the incident. In the struggle one of the four living subjects had his spleen ruptured and he bled out almost immediately. The medical researchers attempted to sedate him but this proved impossible. He was injected with more than ten times the human dose of a morphine derivative and still fought like a cornered animal, breaking the ribs and arm of one doctor. When heart was seen to beat for a full two minutes after he had bled out to the point there was more air in his vascular system than blood. Even after it stopped he continued to scream and flail for another 3 minutes, struggling to attack anyone in reach and just repeating the word “MORE” over and over, weaker and weaker, until he finally fell silent. The surviving three test subjects were heavily restrained and moved to a medical facility, the two with intact vocal cords continuously begging for the gas demanding to be kept awake... The most injured of the three was taken to the only surgical operating room that the facility had. In the process of preparing the subject to have his organs placed back within his body it was found that he was effectively immune to the sedative they had given him to prepare him for the surgery. He fought furiously against his restraints when the anesthetic gas was brought out to put him under. He managed to tear most of the way through a 4 inch wide leather strap on one wrist, even through the weight of a 200 pound soldier holding that wrist as well. It took only a little more anesthetic than normal to put him under, and the instant his eyelids fluttered and closed, his heart stopped. In the autopsy of the test subject that died on the operating table it was found that his blood had triple the normal level of oxygen. His muscles that were still attached to his skeleton were badly torn and he had broken 9 bones in his struggle to not be subdued. Most of them were from the force his own muscles had exerted on them.

The second survivor had been the first of the group of five to start screaming. His vocal cords destroyed he was unable to beg or object to surgery, and he only reacted by shaking his head violently in disapproval when the anesthetic gas was brought near him. He shook his head yes when someone suggested, reluctantly, they try the surgery without anesthetic, and did not react for the entire 6 hour procedure of replacing his abdominal organs and attempting to cover them with what remained of his skin. The surgeon presiding stated repeatedly that it should be medically possible for the patient to still be alive. One terrified nurse assisting the surgery stated that she had seen the patients mouth curl into a smile several times, whenever his eyes met hers. When the surgery ended the subject looked at the surgeon and began to wheeze loudly, attempting to talk while struggling. Assuming this must be something of drastic importance the surgeon had a pen and pad fetched so the patient could write his message. It was simple. “Keep cutting.” The other two test subjects were given the same surgery, both without anesthetic as well. Although they had to be injected with a paralytic for the duration of the operation. The surgeon found it impossible to perform the operation while the patients laughed continuously. Once paralyzed the subjects could only follow the attending researchers with their eyes. The paralytic cleared their system in an abnormally short period of time and they were soon trying to escape their bonds. The moment they could speak they were again asking for the stimulant gas. The researchers tried asking why they had injured themselves, why they had ripped out their own guts and why they wanted to be given the gas again. Only one response was given: “I must remain awake.” All three subject’s restraints were reinforced and they were placed back into the chamber awaiting determination as to what should be done with them. The researchers, facing the wrath of their military ‘benefactors’ for having failed the stated goals of their project considered euthanizing the surviving subjects. The commanding officer, an ex-KGB instead saw potential, and wanted to see what would happen if they were put back on the gas. The researchers strongly objected, but were overruled.

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In preparation for being sealed in the chamber again the subjects were connected to an EEG monitor and had their restraints padded for long term confinement. To everyone’s surprise all three stopped struggling the moment it was let slip that they were going back on the gas. It was obvious that at this point all three were putting up a great struggle to stay awake. One of subjects that could speak was humming loudly and continuously; the mute subject was straining his legs against the leather bonds with all his might, first left, then right, then left again for something to focus on. The remaining subject was holding his head off his pillow and blinking rapidly. Having been the first to be wired for EEG most of the researchers were monitoring his brain waves in surprise. They were normal most of the time but sometimes flat lined inexplicably. It looked as if he were repeatedly suffering brain death, before returning to normal. As they focused on paper scrolling out of the brainwave monitor only one nurse saw his eyes slip shut at the same moment his head hit the pillow. His brainwaves immediately changed to that of deep sleep, then flat lined for the last time as his heart simultaneously stopped. The only remaining subject that could speak started screaming to be sealed in now. His brainwaves showed the same

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flat lines as one who had just died from falling asleep. The commander gave the order to seal the chamber with both subjects inside, as well as 3 researchers. One of the named three immediately drew his gun and shot the commander point blank between the eyes, then turned the gun on the mute subject and blew his brains out as well He pointed his gun at the remaining subject, still restrained to a bed as the remaining members of the medical and research team fled the room. “I won’t be locked in here with these things! Not with you!” he screamed at the man strapped to the table. “WHAT ARE YOU?” he demanded. “I must know!” The subject smiled. “Have you forgotten so easily?” The subject asked. “We are you. We are the madness that lurks within you all, begging to be free at every moment in your deepest animal mind. We are what you hide from in your beds every night. We are what you sedate into silence and paralysis when you go to the nocturnal haven where we cannot tread.” The researcher paused. Then aimed at the subject’s heart and fired. The EEG flat lined as the subject weakly choked out, “So... nearly... free...”

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This tale of a "Russian Sleep Experiment" supposedly involving Soviet researchers who kept five people awake for fifteen consecutive days through the use of an "experimental gas based stimulant," isn't an historical account of a genuine 1940s sleep deprivation research project gone awry. It's merely a bit of supernatural fiction that gained widespread currency on the Internet after appearing on Creepypasta (a site for "short stories designed to unnerve and shock the reader") in August 2010.

I HAD A NIGHTMARE ABOUT THIS STORY AFTER READING IT... SUPER CREEPY IMAGERY IN THIS RUSSIAN EXPERIMENT.

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HORRIFIED ONLOOKERS NOTICE THAT THE ENTHRALLING STRANGER DANCING WITH A PRETTY GIRL FROM THE VILLAGE HAS CLOVEN HOOVES.

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It is said that one of the last Sundays [before Lent] a servant woman went to confession and communion. Despite the reprimands of her mother, an honest laundress, who warned her not to desecrate the day by mundane festivities, she couldn’t resist the temptation and was going that same night to dance at The Vineyard [a ballroom situated in an inner suburb of Danzig].

It was Halloween 1975 at the El Camaroncito Nite Club off Old Highway 90 [San Antonio] when a handsome stranger waltzed in and turned all the women’s heads.

The punishment for her impiety came quickly. Around midnight, she saw a handsomely dressed stranger with black hair and eyes that glistened like onyx, coming towards her to ask her for a dance. She took his arm with pleasure as they began to dance with perfect grace, but faster and faster . . .

“But something strange happened when they were dancing,” Williams said. “For a moment the enchanted woman broke out of her almost hypnotic trance and she glanced to the floor. ‘Your feet! Your feet!’ she screamed, and tore herself from the tight embrace of her partner.”

One of the musicians watched the dancing people carefully, and one can imagine how he felt when he noticed that the stranger had the cloven hoof of Satan! He drew his comrades’ attention to it, and in the very middle of the waltz they were playing, they changed the tune and broke into a religious hymn. The clock struck twelve, the devil pulled his partner close to him and in a frantic whirl crossed with her to the other side of the room and crashed through the window. The girl was found lying on the green grass in the garden covered with broken glass. The devil had disappeared. _____________________

Horrified patrons stared at the dance floor and saw long, skinny claws protruding from the stranger’s trouser cuffs chicken feet.

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This legend is quite well known in the Southwestern United States, but is almost unheard of in any other part of the U.S. It shows up in any number of other cultures, though. Numerous venerable legends describe encounters with witches or other diabolical beings whose identities are realized only once onlookers catch sight of the dancers’ horselike hooves or chicken feet. (According to lore, the only part of himself the Devil cannot transform when he takes human shape are his feet.) This legend has updated itself with the times, with the setting shifting from a fiesta or town dance to a dance club or disco. Sometimes even the name of the dance specified. A version making specific mention of the Lambada surfaced in 1992. The “mysterious stranger revealed to be the Devil” motif is common to many legends. Here’s another.

A brilliant dancer, he had all the moves. Even the shyest girl in the room, says local historian and author Docia Williams, couldn’t resist his request for a cumbia.

“It’s the sign of the devil,” Williams said. “Other women began to scream and say prayers.” Suddenly, the stranger disappeared into the men’s restroom and left without a trace. That is, except for a strong smell of sulfur - the devil’s scent.

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In an old cabin several men were playing poker by the light of a kerosene lantern. Money was lost and won, liquor flowed, but everyone was in a good mood and there were no fights. There was a knock at the door so one of the men answered it; the visitor was a tall dark stranger who asked if he could come in for the night. The men welcomed him and he started playing cards with them but soon they noticed he was winning all their money. One of the men dropped a card on the floor and bent down to pick it up. As he did this he glanced under the table — and saw that the stranger’s feet were cloven hooves! In a panic he lunged up, knocking over the table and the kerosene lantern. The cabin caught fire and the men rushed out the door — all except for the stranger. Terrified, the men huddled under a tree until dawn. As the sun came up, they regained their courage and approached the cabin — and they discovered their silver money melted in the shape of an upside down cross.

HEARD OF THE MAN WITH TREE BARK GROWING ON HIS SKIN? THIS COULD BE SOME STRANGE BIRTH DEFECT.

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GHOSTS OF TWO MURDERED TEEN GIRLS RETURN TO KILL AND SKIN THEIR PARENTS WHO FAILED TO TELL THEIR SUBSEQUENT SON OF THE GIRLS’ EXISTENCE .

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Girl meets a boy on her yahoo messenger. crazy1 86: hey baby!!! h0tNsPiCy91: who’s dis??? crazy1 86: ur secret admirer!!!!! h0tNsPiCy91: o really.... quit lyin! who’s dis??? crazy1 86: i loved u the first time a stared in your eyes... crazy1 86: i think about u everyday... you are my dream come true. crazy1 86: we met once! i dont think u remember tho. crazy1 86: i cut myself because the pain takes away my feelings of u. crazy1 86: tonight u will see me some time tonight.... h0tNsPiCy91: ..WHO IS THIS!?!?!? crazy1 86: dont worry.... i’ll take very good care of you... crazy1 86 had signed off. The girl was so scared she locked all her doors and windows. She made sure her room was secured. She was so scared if it was a joke or for real. She didn’t know when he was going to come. The girl was frightened so she decided to sleep with her little sister. The girl dozed off quickly. Then she heard a knock on the window. The girl slowly walked to the window. It started knocking louder. The girl looked through the windows and saw nothing. Just some of the tree branches. The girl went back to bed with her sister. The bed was wet and a pretty smells horrid. Maybe her sister wet the bed... the girl checked and found blood everywhere. The girl panicked. she didn’t know what to do. She ran and hid in the closet in case the guy was their for her. While looking through the cracks of the closet the girl saw a shadow. It was dark so she couldn’t figure out who it was. She started to get more frightened. The man crept closer to the closet. The girl closed her eyes as if it was a dream. Then suddenly he open the closet door and pulled her out. Her parents found her dead. She was skinned all the way and was hung in her sisters closet.

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with a baby boy the girls room became a guest bedroom and the little sisters room where the murder took place became the baby’s room. The baby grew up and one night he was on the computer and got an instant message. h0tNsPiCy91:hey lil bro!!! 2seXay4u: who the f is this?

h0tNsPiCy91: its your big sis. 2seXay4u: i never had a sister. im an only child. 2seXay4u:this is some kinda joke huh?

h0tNsPiCy91: mom and dad never told you? h0tNsPiCy91: i died 15 years ago with your other older sister. h0tNsPiCy91:we were murdered in your room which was once my little sisters room. she was killed in bed when i was sleeping and i was killed in the closet and skinned to death. 2seXay4u:quite lying. i never had a sister. if i did my parents

would tell me. whatever. your stupid.

h0tNsPiCy91: you dont believe me? well if you wanna look in your closet floor. h0tNsPiCy91: i carved my name, time and date i was being murdered. then i carved my little sister name. h0tNsPiCy91: if you dont believe me little brother check the internet. type in ‘’smith sisters murdered anonymously’’. h0tNsPiCy91: i gtg little brother. i love you. and mom and dad soo much. i cant believe they kept us a secret from you. they should burn in hell. The boy checked the closet. He saw the carvings. Was it true? He surfed the internet and everything was their about the anonymous murder in the house. The next morning the boy went downstairs. It was so quiet. Maybe mom and dad was sleeping.. Hours later the boy found his parents in their closets skinned and hung. Then he found more carvings on the ground. It says ‘’ I TOLD YOU I WASNT LYING. LITTLE BROTHER, I LOVED MOM AND DAD.... BUT THEY KEPT ME A SECRET. I CANT BELIVE IT. WELL IM FREE FROM THIS COLD WORLD. I WONT HURT YOU LIKE HOW THEY DIED. I LOVE YOU! This is a death chain. if you dont send this in the next hour the parents will kill you at night. they will kill you DONT BELEIVE ME? LOOK IT UP N GOOGLE

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We began encountering this tale in our inbox in late June 2005. Almost two months later, near the end of August 2005, versions mailed to us began including this coda: PS guys..i looked it up on google and it really happened. creepy eh? i dont normally do these..but this one kind of bothered me a little bit. heres the article. “Smith sisters murdered anonymously. In 1993, two sisters were brutally murdered in the small-town community of Plainfield, Wisconsin. Lisa Smith, 19; and her sister, Sarah Smith, 15; were attacked in their parent’s home on the night of November 17th, around 1:30AM. Sarah was found stabbed and strangled in the bed where she had been sleeping. Her sister Lisa was found hanging in her sister’s closet, skinned alive. Police conducted an extensive investigation, but to no avail. The motives for the attack were never discovered, nor was the attacker ever found. The only lead authorities had was a log found in Lisa’s computer, showing a series of threatening messages sent through an Internet Relay Chat service. The case was closed in October of 2000.” Plainfield, Wisconsin, is a community of less than a thousand people located in central Wisconsin. As its one claim to fame, it was the hometown of Ed Gein, a farmer who was convicted of murdering one woman in 1957 and confessed to having killed another in 1954. His notoriety came, however, from his use of dead bodies: he mutilated the corpses of women, cutting off a variety of their body parts and fashioning these into macabre items. As one might suspect, murder in Plainfield is relatively rare. As one might further suspect, no two teen girls named Lisa and Sarah Smith were murdered in that town in 1993, nor their parents a number of years later. The story is fiction, plain and simple, just another example of the ‘bad things will happen to you if you don’t forward this chain letter’ genre. (The concept is stated explicitly in its text: “this is a death chain. If you don’t send this in the next hour the parents will kill you at night.”) Numerous inconsistencies in the Internet-circulated story provide enough clues to its being fiction that even those lacking access to online news archives should be able to dismiss it as an attempt to yank their chains: The younger sister is murdered while the older girl is either sleeping beside her or going to the window to check on an odd sound, yet the older sibling hears nothing happening in the room and is alerted to something is being amiss only because the bed is wet and ill-smelling upon her return to it.

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Rather than scream for help or run from the room, the older girl hides in the closet. The older sister is pulled from the closet by her murderer and her body is returned there to be hung for her parents to discover, yet while she’s in this closed space before her killer takes her from it, she carves hers and her sister’s names and the time and date. If she had something with which to gouge messages into the floorboards or onto the walls, why didn’t she use it to stab at her attacker and escape his clutches? Also, wasn’t it thoughtful of her murderer to afford her time to finish her woodworking escapades before coming for her? The parents (who we presume are sleeping in the same house, since the story doesn’t mention their being absent that night) hear nothing of their two daughters being murdered. The son (who we work out from the story is 12 years old: “15 years ago” less “2 years after the sisters deaths” less a nine-month gestation period) lives those twelve years in the murder room yet never once notices the message carved in the closet. The girls were murdered “In 1993” yet the IM’ing ghost of one of them informs her brother she died “15 years ago.” Our calendar says it’s 2005, not 2008. Instant message capability didn’t become an online reality until 1997 when AOL introduced its Instant Messenger service. Yahoo Messenger (which the narrative tells us was used by the murderer to contact one of the sisters prior to his killing her) began in 1999. However, while IM didn’t exist in 1993, chat rooms did — IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was most certainly part of the cyber world at least as far back as 1993, else I retain rather vivid yet baseless false memories of what I was doing with a great many of my nights back then. If all this seems too silly to bother dissecting, we initially thought so too. Then we read this discussion at alexlab.com, which shows at least some folks have been taking the story somewhat seriously.

SOME PEOPLE TAKE THINGS WAY TOO SERIOUSLY... AGAIN WITH THE CHAIN E-MAIL, AHH?!


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THE SPIRAL STAIRWAY AT SANTA FE’S LORETTO CHAPEL MIRACULOUSLY STANDS DESPITE HAVING NO DISCERNABLE MEANS OF SUPPORT .

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The Loretto Academy was a school for women founded in Santa Fe in 1852 by the local Sisters of Loretto. In 1873 construction was begun to add a chapel to the site, a project plagued by some unfortunate incidents (including the shooting death of the main architect). As the builders were finishing up work on the chapel, they found that the plans drawn up by the late architect had not included any means of access to the chapel’s choir loft. This was when, according to Alice Bullock’s book, Loretto and the Miraculous Staircase, the now-legendary events kicked in. The notion of constructing an ordinary staircase up to the choir loft was apparently rejected both because it would have limited the available seating in the loft and because it would have been aesthetically unappealing. As Bullock described the nuns’ dilemma over how to proceed: “Carpenters and builders were called in, only to shake their heads in despair. When all else had failed, the Sisters determined to pray a novena to the Master Carpenter himself, St. Joseph.” As Bullock’s narrative continues, the nuns’ prayers were answered on the ninth day by a humble workman leading a burro loaded with a complement of carpentry tools. The workman proclaimed that, with permission, he could resolve the dilemma, needing only a couple of water tubs to complete the task.Sisters, going in to the Chapel to pray, saw the tubs with wood soaking in them, but the Man always withdrew while they said their prayers, returning to his work when the Chapel was free.

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because the form is not well-suited to bearing weight and generally requires additional support, the one at Loretto is not quite the miracle of architecture that subsequent legend has made it out to be. For starters, the Loretto staircase was apparently not all that fine a piece of work from a safety standpoint. It was originally built without a railing, presenting a steep descent that reportedly so frightened some of the nuns that they came down the stairway on their hands and knees. Not until several years later did another artisan (Phillip August Hesch) finally add a railing to the staircase. Moreover, the helix shape acted like what it resembles, a big spring, with many visitors reporting that the stairs moved up and down as they trod them. The structure has been closed to public access for several decades now, with various reasons (including a lack of suitable fire exits and “preservation”) given for the closure at different times, leading investigator Joe Nickell to note that “There is reason to suspect that the staircase may be more unstable and, potentially, unsafe than some realize.” Although the Loretto legend maintains that “engineers and scientists say that they cannot understand how this staircase can balance without any central support” and that by all rights it should have long since collapsed into a pile of rubble, none of that is the case. Wood technologist Forrest N. Easley noted (as reported by the Skeptical Inquirer) that “the staircase does have a central support,” an inner wood stringer of such small radius that it “functions as an almost solid pole.”

“Surely,” said the devout, “it was St. Joseph himself who built the stair.”

As well, Nickell observed when he visited Loretto in 1993 that the structure includes an additional support, “an iron brace or bracket that stabilizes the staircase by rigidly connecting the outer stringer to one of the columns that support the loft.” Nickell concluded: “It would thus appear that the Loretto staircase is subject to the laws of physics like any other.” As for the wood used in the stairway’s construction, it has been identified as spruce, but not a large enough sample has been made available for wood analysts to determine which of the ten spruce species found in North America (and thus precisely where) it came from. That the structure may have built without the use of glue or nails is hardly remarkable — nails were often an unavailable or precious commodity to builders of earlier eras, who developed a number of techniques for fastening wood without them. All in all, nothing about Loretto’s design or manufacture evidences any sign of the miraculous. The staircase (and the chapel that houses it) is, however, now part of a privately-owned museum operated for profit, a situation that provides its owners with a strong financial motive for promulgating the legend.

However it came to be built, the solution to the problem at the Loretto Chapel was a winding staircase in the shape of a helix (which both takes up less space than a conventional stairway and is much more aesthetically appealing). Although winding staircases are somewhat tricky to build

NOT CONVINCED OF THE SUPERNATURALNESS, BUT THERE CAN BE SOME CRAZY ARCHITECTURE...

Some there are who say the circular stair which stands there today was built very quickly. Others say no, it took quite a little time. But the stair did grow, rising solidly in a double helix without support of any kind and without nail or screw. The floor space used was minimal and the stair adds to, rather than detracts from, the beauty of the Chapel. The Sisters were overjoyed and planned a fine dinner to honor the Carpenter. Only he could not be found. No one seemed to know him, where he lived, nothing. Lumberyards were checked, but they had no bill for the Sisters of Loretto. They had not sold him the wood. Knowledgeable men went in and inspected the stair and none knew what kind of wood had been used, certainly nothing indigenous to this area. Advertisements for the Carpenter were run in the New Mexican and brought no response.

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A MAN TURNS TO BID HIS UNUSUAL HITCHHIKER GOODBYE AND DISCOVERS THAT SHE HAS DISAPPEARED FROM THE CAR. HE LATER LEARNS THAT HIS MYSTERIOUS PASSENGER HAD DIED SEVERAL YEARS EARLIER.

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Vanishing hitchhiker stories as we now tell them date to the turn of the century, but their predecessors go back centuries before that. As time rolled on, the wagons and horses of older times transformed into the cars of today. According to folklorist Jan Brunvand, the legend of the vanishing hitchhiker evolved from earlier European stories, usually about travelers on horseback. In Hawaii, the hitchhiker became associated with the ancient volcano goddess Pele. A prototype of the story shows up in the New Testament (Acts 8:26-39), in which an Ethiopian driving a chariot picks up the Apostle Philip, who baptizes him and then disappears. The most common version of the legend involves a driver who stops for a strange girl on a highway, then during the course of the ride realizes his hitchhiker has disappeared. Upon arriving at the address the girl had mentioned, the driver learns from her relatives that she has been dead for years. Another popular version stars a hitchhiker who makes a prophesy before vanishing in front of the driver’s eyes. Good crops, the end of a war, a natural catastrophe about to strike, or the imminent coming of Jesus have been predicted by these vanishing prophets. At the completion of some of these tales, the driver seeks out the police to report the incident and is told he’s the fourth person this has happened to this week. Vanishing prophets who predict catastrophes are often said to look like Jesus. This form of the legend often surfaces in the wake of a natural disaster, with the encounter said to have happened maybe all of a week before things went to hell in a hand basket. The vanishing prophet set of stories contains a smaller subset in which the prediction of one future event is bolstered by the prediction of a second, equally unbelievable, event which subsequently comes true. The hitchhiker sometimes vanishes after making the predictions.

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In the wake of the anxiety rumors that swept the nation immediately after Pearl Harbor came a pipe-dream rumor which was undoubtedly the most popular of all: the weird tale of the man who picked up a strange woman in his car. Arriving at her destination, his passenger allegedly offered to pay the man for the gas he had used. But the man refused to accept the money, so the woman offered to tell his fortune. And, as the rumor went, mysteriously she told him, “There will be a dead body in your car before you get home, and Hitler will be dead in six months.” Supposedly, then, on the way home the man had seen a serious automobile wreck and had taken one of the victims into his car to rush him to the hospital. But the injured person died en route, which left the hopeful implication that Hitler would therefore be dead within the following six months. Although this pipe dream sounds foolish, it nevertheless spread throughout the country rapidly. It appeared in widely circulated gossip columns, and a lot of Americans took it seriously. Yet this same rumor, in the setting of the period, to be sure, had appeared in every military conflict since the Napoleonic Wars. And it has been said that the rumor probably goes back into the Middle Ages. The appeal of vanishing hitchhiker stories lies in the nature of the encounter — an interaction with a ghost occurs not because the main character went looking for the supernatural, but because it came to him. Such tales underscore the belief that representatives from the spirit world can be encountered at any time and by anyone. Adding to the horror factor is the specter’s passing for a living person. That the driver does not recognize it as a ghost during their time together makes it all that more easy to believe we won’t recognize a ghost when we meet one, either.

I BELIEVE IN A GOOD GHOST OR TWO. THIS LEGEND HAS QUITE THE HISTORY...


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Not long before the opening of the French capital’s Great Exposition of 1889, a distraught young Englishwoman rushed into the British embassy in Paris and told a story that has reverberated through fantasy and fiction ever since. She and her mother were on their way home from India and, owing to the shortage of accommodations in the crowded city, had taken two single rooms in a hotel. The mother chose Room 342, decorated with rose-strewn wallpaper and plum-colored velvet curtains. Then the older woman collapsed on the bed.

There are several variations on this legend:

After examining the prostrate guest and talking excitedly in French with the hotel manager, the house doctor told the young woman that her mother was seriously ill and must have some medicine. But the proper medication could be found only in his office on the other side of town. The daughter would have to take his carriage and carry a note to his wife, who would hand her the drugs.

When the daughter returns to the hotel, in some tellings she finds that the desk clerk and doctor are different from the people she dealt with earlier; in others, they are the same people, but they swear they have never seen her or her mother before.

What should have been a simple errand consumed four hours. The driver kept the horses to an amble and seemed to steer in circles, and the doctor’s wife took a long time to produce the medicine. Finally, the frustrated daughter arrived back at the hotel, only to discover that all queries about her mother were met with blank stares. “I know nothing of your mother,” said the manager. “You arrived here alone.” The doctor was similarly confused by the woman’s questions. Frantic now, the young traveler examined the hotel register. Instead of her mother’s familiar signature, she saw a stranger’s beside Room 342. Insisting on looking at the room itself, she found no velvet curtain, no flowered wallpaper, no familiar baggage — only the luggage of strangers. At this point, she fled to the embassy, where she was received with sympathy — and general disbelief. Trapped in a nightmare, the young woman ended her days in a British mental hospital.

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This tale is based on a classic “paranoia” horror plot: the protagonist finds that all traces of his life have seemingly been erased, and he must struggle against those who insist he is mentally ill and attempt to regain his identity. In most cases, some sinister force or conspiracy has deliberately and carefully done the erasing in order to drive the victim insane or prevent him from discovering a dark secret. There are two key elements that set this particular tale apart from all others in which someone vanishes and those involved deny the one who has gone missing was ever there to begin with. They are the refurbishment of the hotel room and the

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The locale varies, although the usual setting of the story is Paris (during the Exposition of 1889 or 1900), where the woman and her daughter have just traveled from India. Sometimes the two women in the story aren’t mother and daughter; they’re traveling companions of roughly the same age. But by far the most common tellings feature a misplaced mother and an increasingly frantic daughter.

In most cases she has to travel all the way across town and back through a city crowded with traffic. (The Paris versions take place when the city is full of tourists come for the Exhibition.) Some versions require that she travel to the doctor’s house to pick up special medicine from his wife. The daughter is held up by a slow-moving chemist (or doctor’s wife), and language difficulties sometimes compound the delay. The story has varying denouements. The “classic” horror version leaves off with the daughter’s never seeing her mother again or finding out what happened to her. In other versions the intrepid daughter (sometimes assisted by a stranger or friend) doggedly pursues all leads until she discovers the truth: Her mother had contracted the plague, and the hotel (and the city), fearful of having to shut down and lose millions in tourist revenue if the truth about the mother’s illness were revealed, had hastily removed the mother (who may or may not already have died) and secretly refurbished the hotel room while the daughter was sent on a wild goose chase to get her out of the way.

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reason for the deception (contagious disease). (Though often pointed to as examples of this legend, both the 1957 film Bunny Lake is Missing and the 1938 film The Lady Vanishes lack these elements.) Although this tale is the stuff of classic horror fiction, it has also circulated as a true story for about a century now. The most prominent version of the vanishing hotel room was related in Alexander Woollcott’s While Rome Burns in 1934. Woollcott claimed the story had appeared in a Detroit newspaper in 1889, but no such article has yet been located.

A DISAPPEARING HOTEL SEEMS A LITTLE CRAZY TO ME.


VANISHING PROPHET

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A lady was driving and saw a young man walking beside the road. Never before had she picked up a stranger, but she felt that she was to pick up this man so she did. He had a hood over his face and she was not able to see his face at all. She began driving and said to him “Son, where are you going?” He said to her “My lips are near the trumpet.” She turned to look at him but he was gone. Startled, she pulled over to the side of the road. As she sat there, a police officer stopped to see why she was parked, telling her that it was too dangerous for her to be there. “I’m so shook up I can’t drive” she told him. “Why, what”s wrong?” he asked. She said “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me!” He asked again what had happened and she told him. The officer said to her “You are the fifth person that has told me this!” A man driving along a busy motorway sees a hitchhiker and stops. The hitchhiker gets in and straightaway announces the End of the World. The way he speaks makes a deep impression, but when he says he is an angel, the driver looks round at him incredulously, and at that very moment there is no one there; he has dissolved into thin air. The driver’s surprise is immense. He stops the car, looks around him, and sees a police car approach. “You are by no means the first to tell me this story,” says the officer when the driver tells him his tale.

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The most common form taken by the “Vanishing Hitchhiker” legend involves a driver who stops to pick up a strange girl on a highway, then during the course of the ride realizes his guest has disappeared. Upon arriving at the address she had mentioned, the driver learns from her relatives that the woman who’d ridden with him has been dead for years. However, that legend also exists in a secondary version which similarly features a hitchhiker who dematerializes from a moving car, but only after solemnly intoning a prophecy. Good crops, the end of a war, a natural catastrophe about to strike, or the imminent coming of Jesus have been predicted by these vanishing prophets. Common to many of these tales is the completing element of the baffled and somewhat unsettled driver’s reporting the incident to police or other authorities, only to be told he’s the fourth or fifth person that week to have announced having had such an encounter. That element is a plot device necessary to the believability of the story: Without the confirmation from an authority figure that others have shared the same experience, those being regaled with the yarn could quietly conclude the person who heard the prophecy and witnessed its deliverer vanish from the car was off his rocker. While in the spring of 2009 we noted an up tick in the number of reportings of the heavenly messenger version of the “Vanishing Hitchhiker” legend, the narrative itself is as old as the hills. Modern tellings of the tale have the incident happening “in Lexington (Kentucky)” or “near Warsaw, Indiana” or “a week or so ago,” but other versions of this yarn have been kicking around since the 1940s, and precursors to it appear in the Bible. Vanishing prophets who predict catastrophes or speak of the coming of Christ or the end of the world are often said to look like Jesus, or indeed to have straight-out said they were Jesus. (The latter is a popular element in versions collected in the spring of 1971 and winter of 1972, periods coinciding with religious revival on American campuses.) Alternatively, they are also often said to have done something indicating they were angels (e.g., saying “My lips are near the trumpet,” a statement meant to identify its speaker as the archangel Gabriel). This form of the legend often surfaces in the wake of a natural disaster, with the encounter said to have happened maybe all of a week before things went to hell in a hand basket.

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The vanishing prophet set of stories contains a smaller subset in which the prediction of one future event is bolstered by the prediction of a second, equally unbelievable event which subsequently comes true: In the wake of the anxiety rumors that swept the nation immediately after Pearl Harbor came a pipe-dream rumor which was undoubtedly the most popular of all: the weird tale of the man who picked up a strange woman in his car. Arriving at her destination, his passenger allegedly offered to pay the man for the gas he had used. But the man refused to accept the money, so the woman offered to tell his fortune. And, as the rumor went, mysteriously she told him, “There will be a dead body in your car before you get home, and Hitler will be dead in six months.” Supposedly, then, on the way home the man had seen a serious automobile wreck and had taken one of the victims into his car to rush him to the hospital. But the injured person died en route, which left the hopeful implication that Hitler would therefore be dead within the following six months. Although this pipe dream sounds foolish, it nevertheless spread throughout the country rapidly. It appeared in widely circulated gossip columns, and a lot of Americans took it seriously. Yet this same rumor, in the setting of the period, to be sure, had appeared in every military conflict since the Napoleonic Wars. And it has been said that the rumor probably goes back into the Middle Ages.

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Simpler forms of the legend omit the “man dies in the car, thereby making one outlandish prediction come true and consequently adding credibility to the second, as yet unrealized, foretelling” and skip straight to the prophecy the heavenly messenger has been sent to deliver: My friend John Hogan who I went to DeSalles High with told me this. He goes to St. John Fisher College now. His fiancé and her aunt who’s a nun, were going down the Thruway and they picked this hitchhiker up at the entrance. They were coming from Syracuse and going to Rochester. The guy wanted to know if they had ever heard the gospel and if they knew Jesus. Then he’d go, “He’s coming soon” and then next thing they knew he was gone. They stopped at the nearest service area, pulled up to the gas station attendant and rolled down the window to report it. They were pretty shook up and felt kind of dumb. The guy said he wasn’t surprised and would they believe that about twenty other people had reported the same story. Someone Miss Packard knew, unfortunately, I cannot remember the person’s name, was driving on a deserted road towards Holbrook on a cold, rainy night. As she was driving, she saw a figure on the side of the road, soaking wet trying to thumb a ride. She felt sorry for the person, stopped the car, and a young man sat down in the front seat. After a long period of silence he said, “Jesus is coming again.” She turned to look at him, and he was gone. While “Jesus is coming” or “The end of the world is near” messages are the most common ones imparted in prevalent recountings of this tale, at other times in history tidings of a different sort have been the legend’s focus — such as conclusion of a war the nation is currently embroiled in, the death of a national enemy, assurances about the harvest, or even pronouncements of pestilence to come. In February 1602 an unnamed vicar and two farmers were traveling back from the Candlemas fair in Vastergotland (at this time of year the vehicle they used must have been a sleigh). On the road to Vadstena they were accosted by a "nice" and "lovely" female dressed like a serving-girl who asked for (and was given) a ride. At a wayside halting-station they all alighted to get some food; the girl, however, only wanted something to drink. A jug of beer was procured for her. The vicar observed she did not take it up and found it was filled with malt. A second jug mysteriously changed from beer to acorns and a third — apparently under the vicar's nose — to blood. At this point the serving-girl announced (as if interpreting these omens): "There will be good crops this year. There will be enough fruits on the trees. There will also be many wars and plague." With which she vanished.

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The story is going around that a woman was driving on the interstate and she saw a man walking. She felt very impressed to stop and pick him up and resisted the ideal. She had never done anything like that before. Then she felt like she had to stop and pick him up and she did. He got into the car and said "Everyone does not need to be concern about who is going to be the President, because there is going to be a great disaster happening before the election. He just disappeared and she was so shock she could not even move to drive away. A deputy stopped to see if she was okay and she told him what happened and he stated that she was the fourth person that had told him the same thing happened to them. As to how old these sorts of stories are, says folklorist Gail de Vos about the antecedents to the "heavenly messenger vanishing hitchhiker" legend: The story of the deity or heavenly messenger who travels in the guise of a human being is as old as mythology. The Olympians of Greece were fond of traveling incognito; angels appeared to Lot, who took them to be men (Genesis 19: 1-16); and Jesus appeared to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus and was not recognized by them (Luke 24: 13-35). The vanishing hitchhiker legend in the New Testament Acts 8: 26-39) is strikingly similar to the contemporary version: Philip is picked up by an Ethiopian who is driving a chariot. They discuss religious matters and the Ethiopian asks to be baptized. Philip does as he requests and then vanishes. As to why this legend endures generation after generation and is told in various countries around the globe, difficult times spawn anxieties that as bad as things are, they are about to get worse. Resurgence of tales about heavenly messengers sent to alert the world that the end is near are expressions of the underlying current of dread that makes itself felt during periods of unease or upheaval. Such legends are also confirmatory tales of religious belief, in that they offer the comfort that all is unfolding as part of God’s greater plan. Previous generations (some might say stretching back to the very beginnings of recorded time) have had their doomsday predictors, yet the world is still here, having weathered innumerable dark eras of pestilence, war, and economic upheaval. Such predictions tend to become fewer (or at least get roundly pooh-poohed) when people feel less anxious about their futures.

JUDGMENT DAY HASN’T HAPPENED AS THE GHOST PREDICTED BUT THERE COULD BE POSSIBILITY OF THIS IN THE FUTURE? WHO KNOWS?!


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS IS EVERYTHING ON THIS SITE ABOUT ‘URBAN LEGENDS’? In a strict folkloric sense, no. Urban legends are a specific type of folklore, and many of the items discussed on this site do not fall under the folkloric definition of “urban legend.” We employ the more expansive popular (if academically inaccurate) use of “urban legend” as a term that embraces not only urban legends but also common fallacies, misinformation, old wives’ tales, strange news stories, rumors, celebrity gossip, and similar items.

WHY DO YOU HAVE SOME TRUE STORIES LISTED AS “URBAN LEGENDS”? An “urban legend” is not the same thing as a “fictional tale” or an “apocryphal anecdote,” although many people mistakenly use the term in that sense (e.g., “That’s not true; it’s just an urban legend!”). A tale is considered to be an urban legend if it circulates widely, is told and re-told with differing details (or exists in multiple versions), and is said to be true. Whether or not the events described in the tale ever actually occurred is irrelevant to its classification as an urban legend.

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For example, the tale about a student who mistakes a math problem thought to be unsolvable for a homework assignment and solves it is an urban legend, even though something very similar did once happen in real life. The tale is still an urban legend, however, because over the years many of its details (i.e., when it happened, where it happened, the identity of the student, the reaction of the student’s instructor) have changed as it has spread.


I KNOW SOMETHING ON YOUR SITE REALLY HAPPENED (OR IS OTHERWISE TRUE), BUT YOUR SITE DOESN’T LIST IT AS TRUE. WHY NOT? There are several reasons why this might be so: We rate an urban legend as “true” when there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the legend began with a real-life event. If the actions described in an urban legend play out in real life after the legend has begun circulating, that is not an example of what we consider a “true” urban legend; it is a phenomenon known as “ostension” (and when someone deliberately enacts the events described by an urban legend, that is known as “pseudo-ostension”). Many urban legends describe events so general and plausible that they might very well have happened to somebody, somewhere, sometime. But since the origins of urban legends can seldom be traced to specific, identifiable occurrences, we rarely categorize such legends as “true.” Many of the texts we discuss contain a mixture of truth, falsity, and exaggeration which cannot be accurately described by a single “True” or “False” rating. Therefore, an item’s sta-

tus is based upon the most important aspect(s) of the text under discussion, which is summarized in the statement made after the “Claim:” heading at the top of the page. It is important to make note of the wording of that claim, since that is the statement to which the status applies. Many legends present events that may have taken place in real life only a few times (or once, or even never) as if they were frequent and regular occurrences, and we make a distinction between “This once happened” and “This is a common, on-going occurrence.” For example, many warnings circulated by e-mail caution readers to be wary of some form of crime or other hazard that is claimed to be a widespread occurrence but actually has taken place only in a few unrelated, isolated cases, possibly in the distant past. Therefore, even though the event described may be “true” in the strictly literal sense that it is known to have occurred at least once, the underlying claim (i.e., that the event is a regular, widespread phenomenon) is not true.

WHERE CAN I FIND AN EXPLANATION FOR SOME OF THE UNUSUAL WORDS AND TERMS LISTED ON THIS SITE? Our Glossary provides definitions of site- and folklore-specific terms that may be unfamiliar to some readers.

SOME OF THESE STORIES ARE PRETTY RACY. HOW ABOUT CREATING A SANITIZED VERSION OF THE SITE FOR THE KIDS? That would be difficult to do because urban legends are expressions of adult fears and concerns and, as such, often convey those messages via stories that are unsuitable for children. We also cannot decide for other people what their children should or should not read.

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GLOSSARY THIS SECTION PROVIDES DEFINITIONS FOR A NUMBER OF TERMS VISITORS TO THIS MAGAZINE MIGHT BE UNFAMILIAR WITH. SOME OF THESE TERMS COME FROM THE FIELD OF FOLKLORE, BUT OTHERS ARE SPECIFIC TO THIS SITE.

GLURGE: Glurge is a term specific to [title of your book] , coined in 1998. Already in its short lifespan it has reached across the Internet and has appeared in the print media a number of times, and it may well soon make the final breakthrough by appearing in dictionaries as a bona fide entry. The word was invented by Patricia Chapin, a member of the urban legends discussion mailing list run in conjunction with this site. At a loss for words to describe the retching sensation this then-unnamed category of stories subjected her to, she fashioned a word that simultaneously named the genre and described its effect. Glurge (a term which can be used to describe one story or applied to the genre as a whole) is the body of inspirational tales which conceal much darker meanings than the uplifting moral lessons they purport to offer, and which undermine their messages by fabricating and distorting historical fact in the guise of offering “true stories.” Glurge often contains such heart-tugging elements as sad-eyed puppies, sweet-faced children, angels, dying mothers, or miraculous rescues brought about by prayer. These stories are meant to be parables for modern times but fall far short of the mark.

MYTH VS. LEGEND: Though these two terms are often used interchangeably, they have separate and specific meanings to folklorists. Both myths and legends are stories with casts of characters and plotlines followed to their conclusions, yet their core elements are different. Myths are tales about the acts of godlike or supernatural beings and/or magical animals which serve to explain the creation of the world or how certain elements of our world came to be (e.g., how the raccoon got its mask) and take place in the far reaches of time (often expressed as “In the days when the world was new”). By contrast, legends are accounts of purported incidents involving ordinary people in more recent times. Although both types of stories are told as true, they are not necessarily believed to be literal truth by either the tellers or their audiences.

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OSTENSION: Ostension is a folkloric term for the process of unwittingly acting out or mimicking the greater part (if not the entirety) of an urban legend that is already part of the body of lore. More simply, if the events described in an urban legend which had been around since 1950 actually did indeed spontaneously play out in real life in 1992, that would be an example of ostension.

SLACKTIVISM: We can’t claim credit for having coined this term, nor do we know its actual origin, but we love it nonetheless. Slacktivism is the search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society’s rescue without actually getting one’s hands dirty, volunteering any of one’s time, or opening one’s wallet. It’s slacktivism that prompts us to forward appeals for business cards on behalf of a dying child intent upon having his name recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records or exhortations to others to continue circulating a particular e-mail because some big company has supposedly promised that every forward will generate monies for the care of a languishing tot. Likewise, it’s slacktivism that prompts us to want to join a boycott of designated gas companies or eschew buying gasoline on a particular day rather than reduce our personal consumption of fossil fuels by driving less and taking the bus more often. Slacktivism comes in many forms, but its defining characteristic is its central theme of doing good with little or no effort on the part of the person inspired to participate, through the mechanisms of forwarding, exhorting, collecting, or e-signing.

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SNOPES: The Snopes were a family of characters weaved throughout the works of Nobel Prize-winning American writer William Faulkner. When David Mikkelson, creator of snopes. com, first came onto the Internet in the late 1980s, he worried even back in those relatively uncrowded days that no one would remember yet another David. He was thus inspired to adopt a nom-de-Net, selecting one that honored those fictional Faulknerian characters, and began signing his newsgroups posts as “snopes.” Over the years snopes established a fearsome online reputation for his ability to thoroughly research and debunk false claims. When it came time to name our domain, www.snopes.com seemed the obvious choice. As to how to pronounce “snopes,” the word rhymes with “soaps.”

URBAN LEGEND: Urban legends are a specific class of legend, differentiated from “ordinary” legends by their being provided and believed as accounts of actual incidents that befell or were witnessed by someone the teller almost knows (e.g., his sister’s hairdresser’s mechanic). These tales are told as true, local, and recent occurrences, and often contain names of places or entities located within the teller’s neighborhood or surrounding region. Urban legends are narratives which put our fears and concerns into the form of stories or are tales which we use to confirm the rightness of our world view. As cautionary tales they warn us against engaging in risky behaviors by pointing out what has supposedly happened to others who did what we might be tempted to try. Other legends confirm our belief that it’s a big, bad world out there, one awash with crazed killers, lurking terrorists, unscrupulous companies out to make a buck at any cost, and a government that doesn’t give a damn. Folks commonly equate ‘urban legend’ with ‘false’ (i.e., “Oh, that’s an urban legend!”). Though the vast majority of such tales are pure invention, a handful do turn out to be based on real incidents, and whether or not something actually happened has no bearing on its status as an urban legend. What lifts true tales of this type out of the world of news and into the genre of contemporary lore is the blurring of details and multiplicity of claims that the events happened locally, alterations which take place as the stories are passed through countless hands. Though there might indeed have been an original actual event, it clearly did not happen to as many people or in as many places as the various recountings of it would have us believe.

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HISTORY & BIOGRAPHIES The snopes.com website was founded by Barbara and David Mikkelson, who live and work in the Los Angeles area. What they began in 1995 as an expression of their shared interest in researching urban legends has since grown into what is widely regarded by folklorists, journalists, and laypersons alike as one of the World Wide Web’s essential resources. Snopes.com is routinely included in annual “Best of the Web” lists and has been the recipient of two Webby awards. With over 15 years’ experience as professional researchers and writers, the Mikkelsons have created in snopes.com what has come to be regarded as an online touchstone of rumor research. Their work has been described as painstaking, scholarly, and reliable, and has been lauded by the world’s top folklorists, including Jan Harold Brunvand, Gary Alan Fine, and Patricia Turner. The couple has been approached by many publishers and publisher’s agents about doing a series of books, but they remain uncommitted at this time, preferring instead to continue focusing their efforts on their web site. Nevertheless, hundreds of the Mikkelsons’ articles have been cited by authors in a variety of disciplines (an October 2011 search of Google Books for such citations netted 6,230 results for Barbara Mikkelson alone), and various of their articles have been published in textbooks currently in use in the U.S. and Canadian school systems. The snopes.com web site is (and always has been) a completely independent, self-sufficient entity wholly owned by its operators, Barbara and David Mikkelson, and funded through advertising revenues. Neither the site nor its operators has ever received monies from (or been engaged in any business or editorial relationship with), any sponsor, investor, partner, political party, religious group, business organization, government agency, or any other outside group or organization.

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COLOPHON EDITOR & DESIGNER: Kate Laing

PUBLISHED BY: issuu.com

TYPOGRAPHY: Univers LT STD

PRODUCTION NOTES: Made in Adobe InDesign in November to December, 2013, at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design for Kindra Murphy’s Typography: Hierarchy & Expression course.

AUTHORS: Barbara & Dave Mikkelson.

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SLANTED 25 URBAN LEGENDS. WHAT BEGAN AS A WEBSITE COVERING URBAN LEGENDS, INTERNET RUMORS, E-MAIL FORWARDS, AND OTHER STORIES OF UNKNOWN OR QUESTIONABLE ORIGIN IS NOW A MAGAZINE. IT’S A WELL-KNOWN RESOURCE FOR VALIDATING AND DEBUNKING SUCH STORIES IN AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE.

1,000,000 COPIES SOLD IN THE FIRST MINUTE!


Supernatural Urban Legends