Slender Man Made Me Do It

Slender Man Made Me Do It

Slender Man was only meant to be a story, but sometimes reality and stories get blurry.

The unfortunate, real-life event that “Before She Was Found” was based on.

Escape From Uncle Sam's Island

Famous for containing some of the most violent and destructive prisoners in American History, Alcatraz Island juts out of the dark waters of San Francisco Bay. Bleakly surrounded by sharp currents and sharks, prisoners were kept in line with the grim reality that escape was near impossible. No refuge could be found on the grim rock of Alcatraz Island.

Men, like Al Capone, were cycled into the island and forced to live in imprisonment. Their crimes were heinous enough to secure them into this almost impenetrable prison. Most of the men who tried to escape were swiftly returned, or ended up dead. Those who managed to sneak their way past the guards would be swept away by the sea, and they would never be seen again.

It was not surprising that these prisoners toed the line and tested the odds, due to their lengthy histories in running against the law and risking everything.

There was a long history in attempted escapes from Alcatraz. In 1938, three men murdered a guard before they were shot down. Three years later, other prisoners attempted to filed down the bars of their cells to flee, but eventually surrendered their efforts. It was a constant desire to flee that ran through the men. Alcatraz gave men a raw desperation that they needed to escape, no matter the risk. They would attack guards with flimsy tools or they would plunge into the icy waters, willing to face the sharks.

Generations of prisoners would fumble with their attempts to escape, but it took until 1962 for true success.

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Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin managed to pull off the most devious caper on June 11th. As bank robbers, they had been sentenced to serve their time at Alcatraz by the American justice system. However, they managed to use their clever wit to break their way out of the supposedly impenetrable walls, and possibly survive.

There were three key elements to their success. The first, was in order to escape the prison itself, they had to carve a tunnel out of the wall of their cell with sharpened spoons. Due to the darkness of the prison and the music hour that was often hosted, they were able to effectively hide their efforts from the guards. This tunnel led up to a vent, allowing for their escape into the night.

Disguising their vanishing was the second part. Each of the three men stole human hair from the barbershop in the prison, and used papier-mache to create dummies. Paired with the hair, the dummies were positioned on their bunks, allowing to throw suspicion off for a short period and giving them a head start.

The final, and arguably the most important, element of their plan had been using fifty stolen raincoats to devise a functioning life raft. This feat of engineering allowed the men to survive the waters and make it to land.

This was the first known successful escape from the prison. If you hadn’t heard about the escape and the high survival odds of these three men, don’t worry. Alcatraz prison, along with the FBI, worked hard to cover their plight and claimed that the bodies of the men had been swept into the sea.

Alcatraz was a dominating force, a hulking dark creation of cells and hard rock. Men were confronted with the cold reality that there was no relief to their situation. Their wild personalities had to die in order for their survival.  Alcatraz, however, was a force that rose against these men and smothered their behaviours.

The story of Morris and the Anglin brothers might have vanished entirely, if it hadn’t been for a letter written to the San Francisco police department. John Anglin claimed that he was the only member of the trio currently alive, and that he would turn himself in if he would receive medical care for his cancer.

This letter went under rigorous testing for DNA and fingerprints, and results reportedly returned as inconclusive. Perhaps it was a hoax written by local boys, or a tourist inspired by the true history of the island.

Or, it was the attempt to solidify the truth of their escape, and their survival.

I’d like to imagine that this was in fact an honest letter written by the hand of John Anglin. In recent years, plenty have attempted to swim from Alcatraz Island to the shores of San Francisco, eager to fight against the swift currents and small sharks that roam the waters. While these swimmers are not escaped convicts, it does serve to defend the very real possibility that it is in fact, not impossible.  


Interested in one of the most daring swims of your life? Check out this article by Graham Little on it.


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Rachel Small

Rachel Small is not a small person and might be the present day reincarnation of Lizzie Borden. She crawled to life one night after midnight in the basement of a bookstore.

Memento Mori

Acceptance—and grief—has many forms. 

When a loved one dies, we don’t want to imagine what our life will be like without them.

We grasp for whatever we can in order to hold on to them. We cut a lock of their hair, carry photos of them, wear their favorite accessory or article of clothing to feel as though they are still with us. Anything connected to a memory of them we can cling to.

Funerals are a common way for us to gather around and share memories of our loved ones when they pass on, yet they are usually seen as dreary, solemn rites that are a mandatory part of mourning. Our loved ones are colorful and unique individuals who should be celebrated, even as we grieve our loss. So why not send them off in a similar fashion?

Here are some interesting funerary rites for you, your friends, and family members to consider being remembered by.

If you’re interested in helping sustain the environment even after you're gone, there are plenty of ways for you to do so. 

Photo courtesy of ckohtala via Flickr

Photo courtesy of ckohtala via Flickr

Capsula Mundi are egg-shaped pods that encapsulate one’s remains and buried under the ground with a sapling of your choice. The sapling grows from the nutrients provided by the remains and flourishes into a tree. The pods themselves are biodegradable and assist in the sapling’s growth.

But if becoming a tree doesn’t interest you, then how about a coral reef?

Photo courtesy of Richard Lindley via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Richard Lindley via Flickr

In the United States, a company called Eternal Reefs will attach your remains to a reef, helping to stabilize the ecosystem. When you pass, your remains are compressed into a Reef Ball. Reef balls are constructed habitats that prevent ocean hazards from displacing the remains or destroying the coral reefs. This establishes a safe environment for oceanic wildlife to thrive.

Many people have heard of turning corpses into diamonds, but what about something as simple as beads?

In South Korea, many families have their loved ones compressed into an array of colourful beads. These beads are then displayed at home as a reassuring reminder that they are always around. Having such a dense population, South Korea doesn’t have the capacity to bury its dead anymore. As such, a law was established in 2000 that a body can only be buried for 60 years, and then the family has to dig up the remains and find something else to do with them. This is one of the main reasons why South Koreans simply choose to have their loved ones transformed into something more meaningful than just leaving them to rot to begin with.

I’ll admit, the term “fantasy coffin” sounds a little...strange.

But I also have to admit that these bad boys are pretty cool.

In Ghana, these “fantasy coffins” have kicked your standard wooden boxes to the curb. I mean, why get buried in any old casket when you can get one specially designed to look like that 1969 Ford Mustang you’ve always wanted?

Photo courtesy of Regula Tschumi via Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Regula Tschumi via Wikimedia Commons

“Fantasy coffin” maker Joseph Ashong has had all sorts of requests, from seashells to animals to tributes to the deceased’s idol. The purpose of these coffins is to represent something that was important in that person’s life. I personally think it’d be bad-ass to be buried in a pirate ship. For specific communities in Ghana, however, these coffins are extra-special as they believe these are what will take them to their next life, which is why it’s so important to have something that represents them.

Funerals don’t have to be dark and depressing. 

In New Orleans, funeral progressions are often accompanied by a jazz band, filling the streets with music and enticing everyone to dance. These progressions are honestly more like parades celebrating the life of the loved one. In the past, they could last for as long as an entire week.

Personally, I’d like to be cremated or planted with a tree. And while I hope none of you have to prepare for a funeral anytime soon, I hope you found these rites interesting and unique, and that this article reminds you to keep your loved ones close. Never miss a chance to let them know how much you cherish them.


Michelle Bonga

Michelle is a wandering soul. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. She hopes she’s doing something right. She is a great person to talk to; doesn’t talk much herself. If you’re nice, she’ll haunt you forever. Or until she’s bored.

#SaveAmazonia

Modern Western society has a fundamental problem with using shame to encourage people to do things en-masse. And don’t get me wrong, there are certainly instances where this is helpful. However, it can also be of great detriment to the cause one is trying to support.

When I first heard that the Amazon Rainforest was burning, I also learned that I was three weeks late in hearing about this. I instantly felt enraged. The environment has always been a hot button topic, but surely the Amazon is a big enough deal that it burning down is something everyone should be aware of and be on top of, especially three weeks in.

Photo retrieved from Facebook; Original source unknown

Photo retrieved from Facebook; Original source unknown

The problem is, this was the headline that first alerted me to the fires: “When Notre Dame was burning, the world’s media covered every moment of it and billionaires rushed to restore it. Right now the Amazon is burning, the lungs of our planet. It has been burning for 3 weeks now. No media coverage. No billionaires. #PrayforAmazonia.”

So here’s the thing: the Amazon burning down has absolutely nothing to do with the fire that damaged Notre Dame cathedral. Using this comparison is not only completely useless, but is going to have a detrimental effect on garnering attention for the Amazon.

The fact that people cared about Notre Dame is not a problem here. The fact that the Amazon burning down with little to no assistance is. There is no correlation between these two things. And when aiming to get someone’s attention for a cause in a social media news feed, calling them out with the typical headline of “why did you care about event x and not event z” is the quickest way to lose their attention. This has been proven in event after event, disaster after disaster. In addition to this, a majority of these headlines do nothing to actually alert everyone to what’s happening. They don’t fix the lack of awareness, they simply announce that a lack of awareness exists.

So instead of focusing on shame, we should all be focusing on educating.

Because the fact of the matter here remains: the Amazon is still burning, media coverage is only just beginning and it’s not yet nearly enough. For all of us on this planet.

Allow me to explain a little bit about why.

A section of the Amazon pre-fires; Photo courtesy of Ivan Milnaric via Flickr

A section of the Amazon pre-fires; Photo courtesy of Ivan Milnaric via Flickr

The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, taking up 5.5 million square kilometres. Nine different countries lay claim to sections of the Amazon, the largest of which is Brazil, at 60%.

The Amazon contains approximately 390 billion trees, which include around 16,000 different types. What’s more, tropical rainforests, such as the Amazon, are composed of a type of climate that provides home to a larger variety of species than any other kind of climate, and rainforests in North and South America contain more varieties than similar forests in Africa and Asia. This means that the Amazon is home to a wider range of species—both plant and animal—than anywhere else in the world.

With this in mind, when the Amazon Rainforest is threatened, as it is by the current raging fires, all of these species of animals and plants are threatened as well. One in ten of the world’s species (the ones we’re aware of anyway) call the Amazon home. If the forest burns, and these living things go with it, that is not only a massive hit to the world, but it also deeply affects life as we—the human beings inhabiting this planet—know it. And not in a small way.

I will spare you the lecture on the effects of taking out whole pieces of the food chain, but I would like to focus a little more closely on the plants that exist within the Amazon.

Any creature on this planet that requires oxygen to live owes a debt of gratitude to trees. Let’s for a moment just do a bit of math. If trees are an important part of getting the oxygen we need to live, if they’re quite literally responsible for the air we breathe, and the Amazon, as established above, contains the world’s largest collection of trees in one place, then it stands to reason that the Amazon is important for more than just beauty and a wide range of critters.

Two of the many animals that call the Amazon home; Photo courtesy of maxpixel.net

Two of the many animals that call the Amazon home; Photo courtesy of maxpixel.net

For those of you that work best with numbers, let’s give this all a bit of perspective. The Amazon Rainforest and all of its plants and trees are responsible for 20% of the world’s oxygen. This is not a small thing that’s currently happening. If the Amazon burns down, animals will lose their home, tribes of Indigenous People will lose their home, we will lose whole species of plants and animals, global weather patterns will be affected, etc. We as inhabitants of this planet will suffer dramatically. But, above all else, it will severely impact our access to oxygen. The Amazon, the lungs of planet Earth, is burning, and she’s taking ⅕ of the air in all of our lungs with her.

And now, we must turn our focus to the source of this catastrophic destruction.

Deforestation means completely removing a forest, or a whole section of forest, in order to make room for land that will be used for developmental purposes, such as residential areas and commercial use. The Amazon has more or less always had a problem with deforestation. However, when I say this, I don’t mean for the same purposes as today, and I certainly don’t mean at the rapid rates that the forest is currently being taken down.

According to Mongabay, “For most of human history, deforestation in the Amazon was primarily the product of subsistence farmers who cut down trees to produce crops for their families and local consumption.” Essentially, local farmers took down a very small amount of trees on occasion in order to provide for their families. Nowadays, that is no longer the case. In the late 1970s, cutting down a couple of trees on occasion turned into clearcutting huge sections of forests for industrialization and, largely, cattle-ranching.

This means that the Amazon Rainforest, the same forest we established above as playing a very important part in the survival of all living beings on this planet, is being rapidly cut down for selfish, short-sighted reasons.

I’m sure at this point you’re wondering what exactly deforestation and cattle-ranching has to do with forest fires—something that greatly sucks, but is often an unfortunate natural occurrence. The thing is, the fires currently blazing in the Amazon are not an accident of nature.

Examples of corporate greed dominating over caring for the environment are scattered throughout human history. In my twenty-four years on this planet, I can think of dozens of examples, including the government ignoring laws and responsibilities towards critically endangered species and what’s going on with the Trans Mountain Pipeline on Canada’s West Coast.

The skies over São Paulo, Brazil, blackened with smoke in the middle of the day. Photo courtesy of: Picture Alliance/ Andre Lucas/ Getty via InsideHook

The skies over São Paulo, Brazil, blackened with smoke in the middle of the day. Photo courtesy of: Picture Alliance/ Andre Lucas/ Getty via InsideHook

As I said at the beginning of this article, the environment and what we as inhabitants of this planet should be doing to maintain it has always been a hot button topic. Most recently, political candidates are being heavily discouraged from talking about climate change in their campaigns because it is widely viewed as a detriment to their ability to be elected. Far too many people still believe that climate change either isn’t worth our action, or just isn’t real or pressing enough in the first place.

But what’s happening in the Amazon is perhaps the most alarming thing that’s happened to date. The main problem isn’t that too many people don’t know or don’t care about what’s happening. It’s that the source of the fires has far too much power.

Jair Bolsonaro is the current President of Brazil, and the person with the ability to arrange efforts to fight the fires. Despite this, he is doing shockingly little, and social media and news outlets are full of his excuses as to why. All of them are problematic at best.

The Prime Minister of France, Emmanuel Macron, has sent out a call to arms of sorts, to other world leaders, imploring them all to discuss the ongoing crisis with the Amazon, and how best to put an end to it, at the G7, which happened this past weekend, on August 24th through 26th. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced his agreement to this, along with several other world leaders. The secretary for the United Nations, and the Bishops Conference for Latin America also spoke out about their concern and their desire to take action.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s President; Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s President; Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons

Bolsonaro’s response to this, though, was to essentially tell other countries to stop meddling in Brazil’s affairs. When relief efforts were offered and monetary donations were sent, he responded in a live broadcast, saying “these countries that send money here, they don’t send it out of charity. They send it with the aim of interfering with our sovereignty.” Just before these comments, however, he dismissed those that called for him to act by saying that Brazil “did not have the resources” to fight the Amazon fires alone. Even still, he’s accused of having turned away relief efforts, and is doing little by way of having the fires dealt with himself.

This behaviour alone is suspicious, and becomes downright condemning when presented in combination with the accusations that Bolsonaro had a personal hand in starting the fires in the first place, in order to encourage cattle-ranching in newly cleared land. 

The thing is, these accusations don’t just come from nowhere. They’re not the result of an angry group of people that simply want to make a world leader look bad. Bolsonaro’s political campaign is founded on a disregard for the environment, particularly in reference to the Amazon. He’s expressed support for miners, farmers, and loggers, people who aren’t themselves negative, but require space that he’s taking from the Amazon to give them.

As of Thursday, August 22nd, there were more than 2,500 active fires blazing throughout the Amazon. It is a certainty that a majority of, if not all, these fires were deliberately set; there simply exists no proof as of yet in terms of who set the fires.

An investigation is underway in Brazil, and Bolsonaro continues to point fingers while being fairly useless in regards to actively trying to stop the fires and save the forest. He has suggested many possible suspects, including local farmers, and environmental groups he claims set the fires in order to make him look bad after he cut their funding.

Proving that a government official, especially a world leader, has done something like this is not a small or easy undertaking, and it’s not likely that any one person or even a group of people will be able to do it. What is possible is putting enough scrutiny and pressure on said official so they are unable to continue what they’re doing.

Keeping that in mind, as well as all the information I’ve presented you here, I would like to wrap this up by giving you some suggestions of what you can do on an individual basis to help the Amazon Rainforest and all of its plant, animal, and human inhabitants. I’ve always been someone who has wanted to help world issues such as this one, but I never know quite what to do. As I began this article by saying, people are so quick to shame and blame those for what they are or aren’t doing, but serious, real tips on what each individual inhabitant of this world can do to solve these issues isn’t given nearly as often as it should be.

So:

Talk About and Share What’s Happening:

The number one thing we need to do is circulate true information that not only informs everyone as to what’s happening and how to help, but calls attention to Bolsonaro’s actions. Whether or not he actually set the fires isn’t as important as making sure he deals with them and ensures they’re put out. The more attention we put on him, the harder it will be for him to refuse to do anything.

We’ve already proven with social media that we’re really good at calling attention to issues. The next step is making sure that the information put out there is accurate, backed up by research, and informative. Remember: don’t simply shame someone for not knowing what’s happening or not supporting a cause. Explain to them what the problem is, and why they should do something about it.

If you can do nothing else, you can at the very least share news articles and posts about what’s happening.

Support Organizations Helping in the Fight

There are a number of people and organizations that have been fighting the destruction of the Amazon for years now, including the tribes of Indigenous People that make a home out of the Amazon. In order to properly discuss these tribes and all of their contributions to the forest and their ways of life and the lawsuits they’ve filed (and won—which makes what’s happening even worse) in order to prevent deforestation of the Amazon, I would need a whole other post. They’ve been fighting tooth and nail in a battle they don’t deserve to lose.

Here is a list of organizations that aim to actively help fight the fires and fund further resistance to government and business attacks on the Amazon and the Indigenous People that live within it:

SOS Amazonia Logo

SOS Amazonia Logo

  • Survival International: This site fights alongside Indigenous People all over the world, including some of the tribes within the Amazon, in an effort to help amplify their voices, and to fight things such as the deforestation of the Amazon and the fires that are currently blazing.

  • Amazon Watch: Amazon Watch provides detailed, accurate information about what’s happening, who’s responsible, and what can be done to stop it. They list many ways one can take action to stop and prevent further destruction of the Amazon, discuss climate change, and protect indigenous people and their rights.

  • Rainforest Concern: They aim to protect Indigenous People who make their homes in rainforests, as well as protecting all the wildlife and animals that live in these places. Their main concern is rainforests and habitats that are being threatened. They have a major focus on the Amazon Rainforest.

  • SOS Amazonia: This is a site specifically for saving the Amazon from the current forest fires. It includes education on what’s happening and what widespread effects and consequences we’ll all be facing, as well as how to stop it.

Support Organizations that Plant Trees

The number one problem with deforestation is that it takes away massive amounts of trees, which are of vital importance to our ability to breathe clean air. There are a number of organizations that aim to plant trees to combat all the ones being taken down. Here are just a couple to start you off.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

  • Ecosia: Ecosia is an Internet search engine that works just the same as the power players such as Google, and Bing, etc, but for every approximately every 45 searches, it plants a tree where a tree is most needed.

  • One Tree Planted: This is a reforestation project based in Peru. 60% of Peru is covered by the Amazon, and this project aims to help fight against the deforestation that’s happening, and build habitats back up for various birds, as well as other animals such as jaguars. They’re focused on a danger zone specifically in Peru, but they do actively work to replant trees that are part of sections of the Amazon.

Sign Petitions

I recognize that these days, petitions are a dime a dozen, and they often feel like they aren’t doing much. However, when you think about the first point here, which was to make as much noise and really call out Bolsonaro and other government officials with the power to do something, signing petitions goes hand-in-hand with this. Make your voice loud, and make your voice heard. We’re fighting for our lives right now.

Here are two petitions actively working to combat the Amazon forest fires:

  • Greenpeace: This petition will go straight to the Brazilian government.

  • Change: This petition asks authorities to further investigate the wildfires and who’s responsible, so as to put a stop to them.

These are just a small handful of things you can do to help stop the fires and save the Amazon. That being said, it’s always important to continue to do your own research, and make sure that the information you’re getting is complete and accurate. And as always, make sure you share as much as possible with those who may not know or understand what’s happening.

Individual voices can be far more powerful than you think, and in a world with such quick access to social media and news platforms, we can make our voices heard.


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

The Apparitions of William Mumler

Engraving of Mumler published in Harper's Magazine, May 1869. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Engraving of Mumler published in Harper's Magazine, May 1869. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Picking up a camera out of personal interest, the Boston jewellery engraver probably never imagined that any fame he’d garner would be for capturing the spirits of the dead.

This was the golden age of modern spiritualism; much of what we consider today as superstition was held as steadfast belief for many.  Spiritualists clung to anything that validated their beliefs, so when word got around that William Mumler was capable of producing photos of the dead, everyone flocked to him.

People sat poised in the hopes of seeing their loved ones, and many of them proclaimed Mumler’s legitimacy as the images of long-dead family members emerged from the negatives. Most of his clients had lost relatives in the Civil War and sought closure from his services. And while he advertised his work as a balm for the grieving heart, charging $5-10 for his compassion afforded him a rather comfortable lifestyle for that era.

Mumler welcomed numerous skeptics to investigate his process and catch where he was at fault; they all found nothing. His developing methods were standard, as was his equipment, and no one detected any possible sleight of hand. Every theory they prepared was not given a shred of solid, credible proof. It truly seemed that he was the real deal, and his fame spread with each attempt at debunking him.

It didn’t last. His business in spiritual photography soon declined in Boston, however, when even other mediums and spiritualists began denouncing his reputation. Mumler packed up shop and headed for New York, but he still wasn’t clear of accusations.

Mumler was charged with fraudulency and put under criminal investigation. At a hearing, multiple photographers voiced all of the potential ways trickery could produce a spectral figure, the most likely explanation being double exposure. But there were also many professional photographers who stood by Mumler, giving his case credibility in the courtroom.

Unknown woman with a spectral child, taken by Mumler. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Unknown woman with a spectral child, taken by Mumler. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It’s worth mentioning that Mumler never guaranteed his photos would produce any spirits. In his personal advertisements, he declared that his main object was to bring families comfort in their mourning.

Mumler’s defense team also arranged for a number of his clients to take the stand, and they all testified that the images were legitimate and provided the comfort they sought. In turn, the prosecution called upon Phineas Taylor Barnum (P.T. Barnum).

A well known showman and hoax artist, Barnum was known for revealing the truth of phony acts created to deceive people into forking over their dollars. He himself had lined his with pockets with money made from deceptions, his most famous being the “Feejee Mermaid”.

Barnum swore before the judge that he had, in the past, purchased some of Mumler’s photographs for his museum, and that Mumler himself admitted that they were all fake. But since Barnum was unable to provide the condemning letters, this part of his testimony held no weight in the courtroom.

However, Barnum was able to provide some key evidence against Mumler. He hired professional photographer Abraham Bogardus to take a photo of him and use it to recreate Mumler’s famed spirit photos. Bogardus easily duplicated a ghostly image of Abraham Lincoln into the background. But this was the only solid piece of evidence presented in the courtroom, and since duplication was still presented as only a potential method of deception, witnesses were divided amongst themselves.

In the end, the judge ended up dropping the charges due to the lack of substantial evidence against him, even though he also believed Mumler was a fraud. Mumler was free to leave the courtroom and continue conducting his business. 

However, his reputation had once again been dragged through the mud, and this time it was stained. 

Although the evidence brought before the judge was not enough to put Mumler behind bars, it was more than enough to turn away potential customers. The technical explanations professional photographers presented outweighed the lack of evidence in their minds. No one wanted to place their money on a scam. 

His works have since been discredited as acts of double-exposure since Mumler potentially had access to already existing photos of the deceased to develop over, thus creating the illusion of their spirit. As for how he would have accessed these photos, or how more professionally trained photographers were unable to catch any proof of fraudulency, one can’t say for sure.

In any case, Mumler destroyed all of his negatives before he died, so there is no longer any way to examine them further with today’s technology.

The only notable commission he received after his hearing would be from Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Aware of Mumler’s negative reputation, she was nonetheless still pleased with the results and found great comfort in the photograph for the rest of her days.

Eventually, his photography career would pick back up again, as he stopped taking commissions for spirit photos and only produced legitimate photos of living persons. His success would never reach its former heights, though.

But what about the people who swore the phantom figures held the likeness of their loved ones?

Most of Mumler’s photographs were not extremely detailed—most of the alleged spirits showed up as a blur or an outline. So the most logical explanation is that their loved ones appeared simply because they were desperate to see them again. Their minds made the likenesses out of the obscure lines just to once again have something tangible to cling to.

Perhaps the true deceptor was in their own minds.

The photo taken of Mary Todd Lincoln, found on Wikimedia Commons.

The photo taken of Mary Todd Lincoln, found on Wikimedia Commons.

The only notable commission he received after his hearing would be from Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Aware of Mumler’s negative reputation, she was nonetheless still pleased with the results and found great comfort in the photograph for the rest of her days.

Eventually, his photography career would pick back up again, as he stopped taking commissions for spirit photos and only produced legitimate photos of living persons. His success would never reach its former heights, though.

But what about the people who swore the phantom figures held the likeness of their loved ones?

Most of Mumler’s photographs were not extremely detailed—most of the alleged spirits showed up as a blur or an outline. So the most logical explanation is that their loved ones appeared simply because they were desperate to see them again. Their minds made the likenesses out of the obscure lines just to once again have something tangible to cling to.

Perhaps the true deceiver was in their own minds.


Michelle Bonga

Michelle is a wandering soul. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. She hopes she’s doing something right. She is a great person to talk to; doesn’t talk much herself. If you’re nice, she’ll haunt you forever. Or until she’s bored.

8 Spooky Social Media Recommendations

Voices in the Attic began as a school group project at Algonquin College, between 5 students who all shared a general taste for the dark, disturbing, and macabre. Because of this, I like to think we’re all particularly good at finding the creepier places on the Internet. Of course, all the Voices up in the Attic have their own favourites, but I’d like to share with you just a few of mine.

Reddit is a particularly favourite haunt of mine, and was even before I actually liked horror. ‘Guilty pleasure’ is probably not quite right, though it was something I felt like I shouldn’t be doing, but just couldn’t help. After all, I would read through just a few stories, and then not sleep for a week. On this site, there are two threads in particular that I like to peruse:

Creepy Things Kids Say

Photo courtesy of darksouls1 via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of darksouls1 via Pixabay

“Creepy Things Kids Say” is a thread that is pretty much self-explanatory. It asks all the parents (or anyone that spends time around children) of Reddit to tell stories of the creepiest things their offspring have ever said or done. Some involve stories of children that seem to be recounting past lives, others are things that suggest certain parents have future serial killers on their hands, and others take a more paranormal turn. I’ve read so many that I couldn’t even begin to pick favourites (though there are an alarming number of children that talk to shadows in their closets), but I do highly recommend you check these out for yourself. Maybe don’t do what I did though, and read them while home alone, or just before bed. Then again, if you’re into the added level of terror, go for it!

Unfortunately, the thread is archived, so it’s no longer open to comments and contributions, but if you search around enough, new threads for the same subject are often popping up. And if you do have stories of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments section below this post!

Unexplained Paranormal Happenings

While this particular thread is also archived, there are several iterations of it, and much like “Creepy Things Kids Say”, they also pop up fresh from time-to-time.

This thread is even broader than “Creepy Things Kids Say” in that it essentially encompasses any creepy, unexplained encounter a person has experienced. There are instances of ghosts, both benevolent and malevolent, there are alien encounters, there are even incidents that seem to imply a glitch in time. Some reports are more on the vague side, coloured lights flashing from no apparent source, or sounds that seem to come from nowhere. But others get very specific. In the end, the only thing these stories all have in common is that they were never explained.

Some seem quite nice, like relatives visiting from beyond the grave, while others are so creepy that I had to sleep with the light on for several days after reading them. Nonetheless, I still continue to scroll through this thread from time-to-time, and also highly recommend it for anyone looking for a few chills on a night home alone.

Moving on from Reddit, I’ll make a brief stop on Twitter, with only one account. However, it is an account I enjoy immensely.

Witch Court Reporter

Photo courtesy of Eddie Howell via Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Eddie Howell via Unsplash

“Witch Court Reporter” is an account that ‘live tweets’ proceedings and details surrounding historical witch trials as though they’re happening this minute. It generally involves a lot of misbehaviour and antics from witches, but cats and children are also mentioned quite a bit throughout the tweets.

The tweets seem to cycle through different periods of history, and different trials or incidents. They’re categorized by hashtags used by the account. One of the most recent batches is filed under “#wilts1661”, and actually overs an incident another of this Attic’s Voices covered, which is the Daemon of Tedworth.

The tweets range from the mundane to more horrifying, and while nothing that I’ve noticed is terribly graphic, they do, on a number of occasions, reference torture, illness, and death, so if you’re sensitive to these things, do be aware. It’s an account worth checking out, however. It’s one of the first accounts Voices in the Attic followed on Twitter, and they’re pretty good for a bit of quick historical horror browsing for anyone interested in the witch trials, history, or horror in general.

But of course, no list of social media horror hotspots is quite complete without making its way through YouTube.

MostAmazingTop10

I’m certainly not new to the YouTube community. I’ve been poking my way through different fandoms and music videos and whatnot since I was twelve years old, and the horror community is only my latest stop. That being said, I’ve always had a sort of fascination in the creepy and the unexplained.

MostAmazingTop10 was a channel I stumbled upon by accident. I can’t remember what it was exactly that I was watching at the time, but one of their videos cropped up in the recommended sidebar, and the title was quick to grab my attention. In fact, all of their titles are pretty attention-grabbing for horror fans.

As their channel name suggests, each of their videos is a top 10 list, and they each follow a theme. For instance, some of their videos are: “Top 10 Scary Iceberg Stories”, “Top 10 Mysterious Hidden Tapes That Were Found”, and “Top 10 Scary Islands Nobody Wants to Live On” to name just a few. They cover a range of subjects from creepy theories surrounding popular TV shows, myths and legends, video recordings, etc.

The videos cycle through four different hosts who are, at the current moment, Rebecca Felgate, Landon Dowlatsingh, Ayman Hasan, and Che Durena.

Personally, I like Rebecca’s videos the best. She runs a witty, slightly sarcastic commentary while delivering her lists, and some of her subjects even include creepy things with a comedic twist such as “Top 10 Scary Things You Should Never Say to Siri”, which involves her antagonizing Siri, with rather eerie results.

That being said, each host brings their own flare to the lists they present. Che is the newest, but he grew on me very quickly as he has a very calm, collected tone while telling stories, which somehow makes his stories that much creepier.

All in all, it’s a very creepy channel, with excellent stories and even more excellent storytellers.

Mr. Nightmare

Mr. Nightmare’s logo; Property of Mr. Nightmare

Mr. Nightmare’s logo; Property of Mr. Nightmare

My latest creepy craze is Mr. Nightmare videos. Unlike MostAmazingTop10, Mr. Nightmare is narrated by just one person. It does follow the same vein as the former though, in that it’s a channel that presents lists of themed creepy stories. Mr. Nightmare’s lists aren’t a set length, though, and each video has a random number of stories.

Another difference between the two is that while MostAmazingTop10’s lists are researched and compiled by the hosts, Mr. Nightmare’s lists are composed of stories submitted by channel viewers. Somehow, I feel, this makes the tellings all the more creepy.

Mr. Nightmare delivers his lists one story at a time, just like any other list channel, but instead of simply narrating them, he uses sound effects and creepy music in the background, that really ups the chill-factor. I often have goosebumps while listening to his stories.

Some of his videos include: “3 True Scary Walmart Horror Stories”, “4 Creepy True Uber Stories”, and “3 Creepy True Attic Horror Stories”.

I dare you to give his stories a listen sometime.

KendallRae

Unfortunately, no matter what you believe in when it comes to the paranormal, some stories in this world are heartbreakingly true. Kendall Rae is a YouTuber who highlights true crime videos. Every video is the result of clear research and effort she puts into shedding light on unsolved crime cases such as murders and missing persons. Her hope, as she’s explained in some videos, is to garner new attention for cases, whether they be cold cases or fresh crimes, in the hopes of solving them and either returning a missing person to their family, or bringing a family peace and/ or closure in the face of a horrible tragedy that can’t be undone.

There’s honestly so much to say about Kendall Rae, but first and foremost, she’s a very rare person. She’s someone who clearly has great interest in unsolved cases and mysteries, but rather than simply indulge a morbid fascination, she chose to go one step further with her interest, and found a way to use it to help people. In fact, some of her videos even have second parts after a conclusion has been reached in a case, where she updates viewers on what happened.

Her videos generally range anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes long, but regardless of length, they’re all very captivating. With every one I watch, I find myself sucked into the story she weaves, as she gives a summary of the case, and then presents which theories police and other investigators have gone over and dismissed or focused in on.

Before I continue on in my list, I’d like to drop a quick mention to Thorn, which is a foundation she strongly supports in all her videos that feature missing people. It’s a foundation run by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, which aims to save exploited children, and help put an end to sex-trafficking. Please visit the linked website for more information.

With that in mind, I’ll continue through my list, into the territory of other blogs and sites that run in a similar vein to Voices in the Attic!

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura logo; property of Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura logo; property of Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura is an online magazine and travel company that aims to catalogue all the world’s strangest places to go and sights to see. The coolest part about this site, however, is that its content is user-generated. Anyone who signs up for an account can contribute content to the site or suggest edits for articles already posted. Because of this, it contains vast amounts of information gathered from all around the world.

Categories that can be contributed to are places, food, stories, videos, events, and trips. And once you click through to any of these links on the site, you’re brought to pages and pages of articles about the world’s oddities. Topics covered on Voices in the Attic, can also be found on Atlas Obscura, such as the Alnwick Poison Gardens, and Toronto’s Casa Loma.

For anyone interested in taking a trip and seeing the strangest sights they can find, or even just learning more about the absurdities found in their own backyard, Atlas Obscura is an excellent place to start.

Notebook of Ghosts

Notebook of Ghosts is an online blog run by a woman named Ash. According to the site, it began, much like Voices, as a small project, that grew into something more. For her, it was a personal interest. She kept a notebook when she was younger of all the ghost stories, terminology, and quotes she heard that she wanted to remember.

Now that notebook is a more polished presentation to the world, in the form of Notebook of Ghosts. It serves to educate readers about the world of the paranormal, and encourage discussion about what is real and what isn’t. The site is filled with articles about all manner of paranormal and generally spooky things. So if your thirst for the paranormal is craving more creepy sites to read through, and more stories to uncover, this is a great stop for you.

***

These are just a few of the creepy places on the Internet that I like to spend my time, but there are so, so many more where they came from. I encourage you to read through and enjoy these, and even do some digging of your own. Who knows what you might come up with?


In that vein, if you know of any haunts these Voices could hang around, feel free to drop a link or a mention in the comments below. Shameless self-promotion is always welcome, and even strongly encouraged.


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

An Afterthought From European Travel For The Monstrous Gentlewoman

I had been excited for over a year to finally have a chance to read European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman. And when it was finally in my possession, my paperback copy sat on my shelf, beckoning me to start reading as soon as I had the chance.

The members of the Athena Club—Mary, Diana, Beatrice, Catherine, and Justine—were all waiting for me to indulge in their latest adventure.

I was not disappointed. Theodora Goss has once again outdone herself.

I celebrated my birthday this year by reading this beauty.

I celebrated my birthday this year by reading this beauty.

Being twice the size of its predecessor, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, definitely means there’s twice the action. This plot is more complex but still transitions smoothly as the girls travel across the European continent in search of Lucinda Van Helsing—a young girl being subjected to experiments in biological transmutation, which is a common theme for the Athena Club. 

Our protagonists are the results of various alchemical experimentations conducted by their fathers—great scientists who believed that their work would create a higher man. You’ve heard of them before in the world of literature: the duality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Rappacini and his poisonous garden, the island of Moreau. And we all know of Frankenstein’s monster.

So of course the Athena Club was quick to run to the girl’s rescue and I wanted nothing more than to pack my bags and run with them.

This entire series so far brings scientific morality upfront and center—just because something can be done, should it? And to what end? 

Morality is a huge grey area for a society of prestigious scientists, the Société des Alchemistes, and the girls are intent on changing that. They know firsthand how inhumane a scientist’s methods can be in order to bring their aspirations to fruition. 

Theodora Goss sets future plot-points in motion well in advance for them to intersect naturally. And I absolutely love her method for foreshadowing. If you ever have a chance to read this series—which I highly recommend you do—pay close attention to the girls’ commentary throughout the narrative. I found myself stumbling across events that the girls had already discussed in the previous book.

My only nitpick about this novel is that Goss often relies on acts of generosity to assist the girls’ adventures, and while everything fits together seamlessly, it would have been nice to see them progress more independently like the strong women they have already proven themselves to be. 

Goss has created a lot of depth within these pages, and reading them was a very contemplative experience for me. Without realizing it, I had dived into much-needed conversations with myself that I had been completely avoiding.

So I want to bring up something important European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman addresses, and that’s how the people we know impact our lives.

Someone I used to know once told me:

“If you want to see how other people see you, look at who your friends are.”

Everyone you meet can create a change in you, and the company you keep reflects on who you are as an individual.

The girls of the Athena Club certainly learned a multitude of life lessons from their encounters, such as the lovely and feisty Irene Norton, snake-charming Zora, and the bold Carmilla Karnstein. And their interactions certainly presented character growth.

But what about the people you have no choice in knowing, such as your parents?

A significant part of the girls’ character arcs revolves around their fathers. Being the results of their experimentation, it is difficult for them to maintain normal lives. 

Books contain the most exciting adventures.

Books contain the most exciting adventures.

Beatrice cannot have direct physical contact without poisoning her loved ones, in fact, no one can be in the same room as her for any lengthy period of time. Justine has clear signs of PTSD as she struggles to adjust to her new life outside of solitude. Catherine was once a wild animal—a puma taken from the Andes—and although she was physically transformed into a human being, she still has much to learn about actually being human.

I think it’s safe to say that Diana is doing just fine, the little hellion that she is, although a little slip of foreshadowing on Goss’s part may herald a turning point for her.

But Mary, as our true window into the narrative, whose father left her at a young age and has strongly opposed to the girls calling themselves monsters, had believed that she was the sole member who had not been physically affected by alchemy. 

But the creeping thought would still sneak up on her:

What if there’s something I don’t know?

Spoiler Alert: her suspicion is correct. 

Mary’s mother, wanting a child more than anything, was barren. Dr. Jekyll, wanting to make his wife happy, slipped a concoction he designed into her tea that enabled her to conceive Mary. 

What exactly this concoction is and how it provided the desired result is up for speculation. Jekyll created it from his research on perfecting the human rationality, and that’s all the information the reader is given.

This concoction more than just produced Mary— it clearly had an impact on her development. She has never cried, blushed, or lashed out because she is unable to do or feel anything irrational or illogical. She was the perfect child who has now grown into Jekyll’s dream of a rational human being without her consciously doing so.

What would you think, how would you feel, to look back and realize that someone has had such an intricate impact in your development? Someone who wasn’t even there for most of your life?

Mary has taken it quite well so far, but it will be interesting to see if that holds up in the next book.

Think about your family, as well as anyone else you’ve ever known. What sort of impact have they had on you? Would you be the person you are today with or without them?


Want to join the Athena Club? You can buy The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and its sequel, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, at Chapters and other bookstores in your area.

Please support your local independent bookstores whenever possible.


Michelle Bonga

Michelle is a wandering soul. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. She hopes she’s doing something right. She is a great person to talk to; doesn’t talk much herself. If you’re nice, she’ll haunt you forever. Or until she’s bored.

Nancy Drew: Patron Saint of Stubborn Women

Nancy Drew: Patron Saint of Stubborn Women

It’s locked.

How Annabelle Came Home

A lot of people are afraid of dolls. One of my oldest friends always made me put a sheet over my shelf of porcelain dolls when she came for a sleepover because she was too afraid to look at them. It’s not an uncommon distaste among those who watch horror movies, or even those who don’t.

And for anyone who’s seen the Annabelle movies, it’s quite clear why.

It’s pretty common for horror movies to begin with script scrawling across the screen, noting that the movie is based upon real events. Directors use it to up the fear or general sense of dread in the movie, and in many cases—certainly my own, at least when I first started watching horror—it works. The more horror you watch, though, the less of an effect those warnings have on you. And really, not that many of them are actually true, or if they are, they’re so loosely based on real events they might as well be entirely made up.

Annabelle, however, is a very real doll, and while The Conjuring series has taken several liberties with her story, they don’t stray far.

The Warrens first encountered the Annabelle doll when they were contacted about three friends experiencing some trouble. They were being terrorized by what they insisted was a possessed doll one of them owned.

Photo of the real Annabelle doll, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo of the real Annabelle doll, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

One of the friends, Donna, had been gifted the Annabelle doll—which was a Raggedy Ann Doll—by her mother, who had bought it from an antique shop. Donna and her roommate Angie noticed weird things about the doll almost immediately. They reported that it was not just intensely creepy, but it also seemed to move around on its own. Sometimes they would even come home and find it in a completely different room than where they’d left it.

It was also known to move positions, such as standing up when they’d left it sitting down, and it even left them notes saying things such as “help us” and “help Lou”. But things soon escalated, and that was when the Warrens were called in.

The third friend, Lou, was particularly bothered by the doll, and often beseeched Donna to just get rid of it, citing that he really felt that something malevolent was going on. However, Donna had grown attached to the doll, and refused.

Before calling the Warrens, Donna and Angie reached out to a medium. The medium told them that the doll was being haunted by a young girl named Annabelle, who used to live on the property that existed before the apartment complex was built. She died there, and had remained ever since. Through the medium, she told the girls that she felt a sense of comfort and family with them, and that she only wanted to stay and be loved. This appealed to the girls’ compassionate sides, and they invited Annabelle to possess the doll and remain with them forever.

This was, of course, a horrible mistake.

The doll’s actions escalated once again, this time in the form of extreme aggression, particularly targeted towards Lou. He would wake up in the middle of the night to Annabelle in his bed with him, or on top of him and strangling him. One night he even woke up with vicious scratch marks on his body, though they had mysteriously vanished by morning.

Once the Warrens arrived, they conducted an investigation and informed the girls and Lou that “Annabelle” was in fact, not a little girl possessing the doll, but a demonic presence that used the doll as a conduit in the hopes of possessing Donna, Angie, or Lou. And they’d invited it into their lives.

Thankfully, the Warrens had arrived just in time, and Ed and Lorraine took Annabelle off their hands. They had a priest—Father Cooke—cleanse the apartment before leaving and taking the doll with them. However, the violence and havoc this not-so-innocent Raggedy Ann brought with her was far from over.

Photo of part of the Warrens’ Occult Museum courtesy of 826 Paranormal via Flickr

Photo of part of the Warrens’ Occult Museum courtesy of 826 Paranormal via Flickr

While the Warrens were driving—intentionally avoiding the interstate so as to avoid any accidents courtesy of Annabelle—they discovered that the doll was still, despite the blessing from Father Cooke, frighteningly powerful. As they drove, Annabelle repeatedly tried to force the car off the road, or into trees, or into some form of accident or another.

The Warrens did make it home safely, but Annabelle just continued to do the same things she’d done with Donna, Angie, and Lou. She moved easily from room to room, even moving beyond locked doors.

At one point, an exorcist—Father Jason Bratford—came to the house, took one look at Annabelle, and dismissed her power. He shouted that she was just a ragdoll, and couldn’t harm anyone, and then threw her into Ed’s chair.

Later, Father Jason called Lorraine to tell her that he had been involved in a horrible car accident while driving home. He lived, but his vehicle was completely totaled. It turned out that his brakes had failed. Even more eerie, was that he reported having seen Annabelle in the backseat just before he crashed.

After this, the Warrens constructed a case specifically for Annabelle so that her evil would be contained, and she’d no longer be able to hurt anyone. They had it built out of wood and glass, and she remains to this day, in that case, within their Occult Museum. Annabelle doesn’t move anymore, now that she’s trapped in the case, but it would seem she’s still something no one should trifle with.

Upon visiting the Warrens’ museum, and hearing the story of Annabelle, a young man and his girlfriend walked up to Annabelle’s case. The man banged on the glass, inviting Annabelle to prove she really could scratch people, by scratching him. Ed threw the man and his girlfriend out, but the damage was already done. On the way home from the museum, they continued to make fun of Annabelle, before their motorcycle crashed into a tree, killing the boy and hospitalizing the girlfriend for over a year.

Most people now know to respect Annabelle and her power, even if they don’t totally believe. But then again, how could anyone visit the museum, hear these stories, and not believe?


What about you? Do you believe the Annabelle doll is really cursed, or do you think it’s just as series of problems and coincidences explained away by something else? Feel free to drop a comment below, or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook!

For the previously written post about Annabelle, see “Annabelle Comes Home: A Review”.


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

Welcome to the Dark Side, Nintendo

With the surprise announcement of Nintendo’s current work-in-progress, the sequel to the modern classic Switch title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the internet has been abuzz with speculations and theories. Within hours, social media platforms were flooded. 

The minute-and-a-half glimpse fans received at E3 2019 is packed with a multitude of little details that have been thoroughly picked apart and analyzed. It is dark, tense, and eerie—words that have not been used to describe a Zelda game since the Nintendo64 classic Majora’s Mask and the aesthetically haunting Twilight Princess.

Fans have been fed and are savouring the taste of anticipation, broadcasting what they speculate and hope for in the next game no matter how outlandish, far-fetched, or even credible their theories are.

However, Nintendo normally shies away from such dark themes in order to advertise content to younger audiences. Even Twilight Princess, arguably the series most mature and thematically somber release, is relatively tame in nature compared to other T-rated video games for other platforms. And it’s still a game targeted towards children despite the rating.

So for Nintendo to present a mummified corpse in a twisted and tortured fashion was quite a statement for the company of wholesome family entertainment.

What had happened to him? (screenshot taken directly from the trailer)

What had happened to him? (screenshot taken directly from the trailer)

So who is—was—this person? The body has all the trademarks of the series most prominent antagonist, Ganondorf, but producer and project manager Eiji Aonuma has yet to officially confirm this.

If the game’s development does indeed follow the theme of the trailer, this game is definitely going to be more sinister than any before in the Zelda franchise and I am here for it.

I, like many others, had grown up with The Legend of Zelda, cherishing it for its charm and sense of adventure. As a result, I had come to expect the standard, formulaic Zelda playthrough that the next storyline would be developed around. And while I still genuinely enjoy playing these titles—The Windwaker will forever be my favourite in the series—they no longer present much of a challenge. 

Perhaps this is just what happens when you play each game a hundred times over as a child. But I’m an adult now, with responsibilities and little time for such leisure. So when I sit down in front of my console, I want something that’s not only entertaining, but that’s going to stimulate my intellect.

Breath of the Wild was a welcome break from such a rigid structure and presented a huge leap for Nintendo.

Company developers have finally acknowledged that its audience does not need to be hand-held through the mechanics and presented the freedom for players to experience the game as they wished. And even though they tossed out the formula and major dungeon-progression system, it still feels like a Zelda title. 

Going back to the darker theme of the Breath of the Wild sequel trailer, what excites me is not the possibility of Nintendo creating a flagship game in the horror genre, but because it means the series is finally maturing. 

I grew up with this series, now show me how this series is going to grow and keep up with me. 

By presenting a darker Zelda possibility, it feels as though Nintendo has finally recognized that the children they created games for have grown up and can handle more mature content.

So throw me your mummified villain and all he represents, Nintendo. I am ready.


Michelle Bonga

Michelle is a wandering soul. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. She hopes she’s doing something right. She is a great person to talk to; doesn’t talk much herself. If you’re nice, she’ll haunt you forever. Or until she’s bored.

Ravenser Odd

Originally a Viking community of just a few scattered fishing huts, Ravenser Odd was a small town that existed off the coast of Yorkshire, England, centuries ago. It was often confused with Ravenser, a small settlement not too far up the coast, but Ravenser Odd certainly developed a more memorable reputation.

The town was built up and officially put on the maps in the 1230s, thanks to the efforts of William de Forz. Known as a “feudal adventurer of the worst type”, the third Earl of Abermarle saw the land’s lucrative potential and laid down the town’s foundations. 

Photo courtesy of Caroline Lundberg via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Caroline Lundberg via Flickr

Being perfectly positioned as the first visible land for voyagers entering the Humber, this was where thieves, vagabonds, and even pirates flocked to. In the early days of Ravenser Odd, most of these men worked for the Earl, sharing a portion of their swindled fortunes with him. They weren’t your typical raiders—these rapscallions had a system and it worked. 

The locals of Ravenser Odd would intersect ships en route to the mainland and persuade them to dock, often by threatening them with force should they not cooperate. Voyagers forced to bring their ships in were taxed for their goods and cargo, and merchants often found that there was profit to be had for doing business here.

So how did this morally questionable establishment get away with such coercion?

In 1298, Ravenser Odd petitioned for and was granted a royal charter by King Edward I, “Hammer of the Scots”. This charter not only gave the citizens control over their own governance, but the right to charge ships for entering their territory and extract these fees as they may. And it wasn’t a completely lawless town; it had its own justice system, complete with a prison system, gallows, and had a mayor to keep things from getting too out of control. 

The King had no issue turning a blind eye, either, as Ravenser Odd was a reliable contributor to his military campaigns.

And while swindling was their favourite pastime, it wasn’t their only form of entertainment; Ravenser Odd had a lively market, was a lucrative trading hub, and hosted an annual fair. So it was basically just like any other Yorkshire town of the era—except this one was run by criminals. And despite the illegal activity, it was truly a thriving port that did well for itself.

Unfortunately, Ravenser Odd’s days of revelry vanished into the sea. 

Since the town was not set on solid land, but rather a sandy island just off the tip of Spurn Point, rising sea-levels eroded the town’s foundations, causing it to collapse into the sea. Locals were quick to grab their treasures and run, looting every village they ventured through. 

The final blow was delivered by the “Grote Mandrenke” (meaning “the great drowning of men”), a massive storm that swept in from the Atlantic Ocean and poured down upon northwestern Europe. The unusually high tides swallowed up the town for good, and thus, Ravenser Odd was no more.

Image courtesy of The British Library via Flickr

Image courtesy of The British Library via Flickr


Michelle Bonga

Michelle is a wandering soul. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. She hopes she’s doing something right. She is a great person to talk to; doesn’t talk much herself. If you’re nice, she’ll haunt you forever. Or until she’s bored.

The Last Judgement of Kings

Previously on Voices In The Attic, I told the story of the Paris Catacombs, a great underground network of tunnels containing six million corpses, constructed in the late eighteenth century to remedy overcrowding in Paris’ cemeteries. This time, there is another story to be told concerning France in the eighteenth century. 

It is the summer of 1793, the first anniversary of the French Revolution, which overthrew and executed the reigning Bourbon monarch, King Louis XVI. The King has been dead for several months, and the Reign of Terror, led by Maximilien Robespierre, is just two months away. Yes, despite all the people who have gone under the National Razor, the worst is yet to come.

But the Revolution is more than just murder left, right and centre. It’s heinous acts of sacrilege, and destroying things—historically and culturally significant artefacts, buildings, anything and everything representing the Ancien Régime. Does this also include corpses, you ask? Well, yes, of course. This is eighteenth-century France.

So, this brings us to the Basilica of Saint-Denis, nine kilometres outside the city of Paris. It is in this cathedral that all the preceding French monarchs, save for three, are interred. This includes Clovis, first King of the Franks, who died in 511; Henry VI ‘the Great’, who died in 1610; Louis XIV ‘the Sun King’, who died in 1715; and his brother, Philippe Duc D’Orleans, founder of the royal house of Orleans.  In total, there are about thirty-six Kings, including an additional forty-six corpses belonging to former Queens, princesses, dukes and other members of the nobility. They lie beneath grand cadaver tombs, decorated by magnificent effigies of their likeness.

The Effigy of Clovis I.  Image courtesy of    Guilhem Vellut.

The Effigy of Clovis I. Image courtesy of Guilhem Vellut.

So, to the raging revolutionaries, the Basilica of Saint-Denis sounds like an excellent place to go, because they are running out of living nobles to decapitate, and the guillotine just won’t cut it anymore. With Christianity outlawed, the Basilica of Saint-Denis deconsecrated, and the Benedictine monks disbanded, the revolutionaries descend upon the royal crypt like vultures. The Convention calls this act ‘The Last Judgement of Kings’. If it sounds ominous, that’s because it is.

On August 10th, to celebrate the Festival of Reunion, they empty the tombs of the oldest dynasties—the Merovingians, the Carolingians, the Robertian, the Bosonids and the Capetians. Luckily, these bodies have had a good nine hundred years to decompose, so it’s mostly bones and ash left. Not too revolting, especially compared to everything else that has happened recently. They strip the lead lining from the coffins, so it can be recast and used elsewhere, before throwing the bones into a mass grave.

Then, in October, to celebrate the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette, the revolutionaries return to ransack the tombs belonging to the Houses of Valois and Bourbon. These ones, unlike their predecessors, contain the recent corpses, thus they are intact, they have flesh, and they smell.  The Bourbons, the house to which the last King belonged, are by far the most disgusting corpses. Onlookers describe “a malodorous black vapour that sickened workers”. This suggests to the revolutionaries that the corpses are morally tainted, as they were in life.

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Henry VI of House Valois, known to the people as “the Good King”, is, however, remarkably well preserved for a man who died two hundred years ago. He is so well preserved, in fact, that workers call it a miracle. They make a plaster cast of his face and prop his body up for display for a few days, much like a Saint.

Unfortunately, though Henry is well-liked by the workers and onlookers, that does not stop them from clipping his hair, taking his beard and pulling his teeth. One woman actually comes barrelling in, curses Henry’s corpse, then punches Henry in the face, sending the corpse crashing to the ground. So much for resting in peace, right? After that, Henry ends up in the Valois trench, alongside his infamous mother-in-law, Catherine De Medici.

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There is a bit of a mystery about Henry’s head, though, and whether it actually went into the trench with the rest of him. In 1817, an exhumation by the Bourbon Restoration finds the head missing. Another hundred years later, one Joseph Emile Bourdais buys a severed head for three francs, which he insists belongs to Henry. Exactly another hundred years later, the head resurfaces in an attic in Paris, belonging to a man who bought it in 1953. Who doesn't have a mummified head in their attic, right?

Scientists and anthropologists come to two entirely different conclusions: that it is and is not the head of Henry VI. To this day, there is something of a forensic dispute going on concerning this mysterious head. According to witnesses at the 1793 exhumations, Henry’s head is sawn open, and the brain removed, replaced with herbs.

Alexandre Lenoir testifies the following;

“The body of this prince [Henry IV] was so well preserved that the lines of his face were unchanged. He was laid down in the passage of low chapels, wrapped into his shroud, which was also preserved. Everybody could see him until Monday 14th in the morning; he was brought into the choir, at the bottom of the sanctuary’s steps, where he remained until 2 pm, and he was taken to the cemetery of de Valois, then into a large grave dug down on the right, on the North side. This cadaver, considered as a dry mummy, had a sawn skull, and contained, instead of the brain which had been removed, tow, oiled with a liquor made of herbs, which spread a strong smell, no one could stand.”

The mystery head, however, has a brain. Initial DNA testing doesn’t seem to render any definite answers either. For comparison, they use what is allegedly the blood of Henry’s great-great-great grandson, King Louis XVI, collected from the guillotine by a witness to his execution. But the samples don’t match. So the House of Bourbon arrives to help out. Prince Sixtus Henry of Bourbon-Parma and Prince João Maria of Orléans-Braganza add their samples, thus proving that the comparison blood does not belong to Louis XVI.

If you’d like to know more, there’s an academic article in the Journal of Forensic Research, authored by Doctor Riaud Xavier, Historian Delorme Philippe, and Lorin de la Grandmaison Geoffroy from the Department of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Raymond Poincaré Hospital.

Another body to be uncovered is that of Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turrene, remembered as one of the greatest generals in modern history. By this time, he’s been dead for about a hundred years, but, like the Good King, Turrene emerges intact and without odour, despite having been killed by a direct hit from a cannonball. The revolutionaries decide that Turrene is a worthy of the title of ‘grand homme’, so he manages to avoid most of the posthumous humiliation and desecration his crypt-mates endure.

Alexandre Lenoir, the archaeologist presiding over the exhumations, does detailed drawings of both the monuments and the bodies. The drawings are of corpses belonging to Turrene, Louis XIII, Henry VI and Louis XI, including the effigies of Henry II and Catherine De Medici.

Meanwhile, workers take off with souvenirs including Henry VI’s beard, Hugh Capet’s shoulder blade, Turrene’s finger, and a multitude of teeth and tufts of hair. Then, after the bodies been plundered, they all go into the trench and the workers pour quick lime over them so that they are utterly destroyed. Turrene is the only corpse from Saint-Denis to escape the ‘obliterating trench’. 

When the deed is done, Alexandre Lenoir returns to Paris with his drawings, having saved the scapula of King Hugh Capet, the femur of Charles V, the tibia of Charles VI, the vertebrae of Charles VII, one rib belonging to Philip IV and another belonging to Louis XII, the lower jaw of Catherine de Medici, and the tibia of Cardinal Retz. A few monuments and statues survive the symbolic decapitation too. Everything goes into the new Museum of French Monuments, founded by Lenoir himself.

The Bourbon dynasty returns to the throne again in 1814, under King Louis XVIII, the brother of the executed King. They immediately dig up the trenches, but there they mostly find scattered fragments of the bodies buried thirty years prior. It is a sad fate indeed for these poor cadavers, whose bodies were supposed to be laid to rest in peace, some of them children and babies. But, they are now together in a shared ossuary, marked by the surviving monuments, their names carved in marble, unforgotten, remaining forever in memory. May they finally find peace and dignity, once again.


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Natascha Wood

Say her name three times and she will appear.

Twitter: @oldvvitch

The Vanishing

We lose things all the time: a sock, in the dryer, house keys, spare change. Sometimes we even lose each other, or ourselves. Sometimes we also lose whole islands.

Wait, what?

Yes, that was genuinely something that was lost one day (and no, I’m not talking about Atlantis).

Photo courtesy of leoleobobeo via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of leoleobobeo via Pixabay

Isla Bermeja was an island located off the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It was a small island, only about 80 square kilometres, and lay at a distance much further away from the rest of Mexico than any other piece of land the country lay claim to. Because of this, Mexico’s economic zone reached 200 nautical miles. Without the island, however, this zone was greatly reduced. This is a problem because it means the difference between who can claim the rights to specific oil reserves: Mexico, or the United States.

The Gulf of Mexico is where the Hoyos de Dona (Doughnut Hole) lies, which contains oil that Mexico and the U.S. fought for—and continue to discuss—ownership of. The existence of Isla Bermeja placed the Hoyos de Dona in Mexican territory, but when the island vanished, it took with it the treaty that legally recognized this ownership, and the U.S. claimed rights to the oil reserves.

There are a lot of things that cause fighting and shady business in this world, and oil is certainly very high on that list. So the sudden disappearance of an entire island made a much bigger mystery than it might have had it not been for the connection to oil. Don’t get me wrong, of course a whole island vanishing into the night would have piqued the interest of a large number of people. After all, Atlantis draws great fascination, and it’s just a legend. But the disappearance of Isla Bermeja was about a lot more.

Some theorize that the CIA actually had something to do with Isla Bermeja being physically booted from the world map. It’s not seen as completely out of the realm of possibility that the U.S. had it blown up in order to shrink Mexico’s economic zone enough to give the U.S. claim to the Hoyos de Dona and its oil. Naturally, however, nothing could ever be proven.

But, as with anything else that’s lost, a search—many searches, in fact—was conducted.

Photo courtesy of  Earth Chronicles

Photo courtesy of Earth Chronicles

The island was first discovered to be missing in 1997, when a fishing expedition was unable to locate it out in the water. It had been on maps ever since the early 1500s, but not continuously, as there was a period of time between 1775 and 1857 where the island was inexplicably dropped from all maps, only to reappear once again between 1857, and it’s physical disappearance in 1997.

Some of this puzzling mapwork, including and excluding the island with no apparent rhyme or reason, is why some people believe the island never actually existed at all. Significant research was done in 2009 to search for the island and prove once and for all whether or not the island ever existed, but no conclusive results were produced one way or another.

It seems most likely that the island did really exist, once. Afterall, it wasn’t just one or two maps that included it, paper towns style, but all maps for over two whole centuries combined. Nonetheless, the mystery remains. Did Isla Bermeja sink beneath the sea? Was it blown up due to greed over oil? Or did it never exist at all? It would seem that’s a secret the empty waters prefer to keep to themselves for the time being, but who knows? Maybe one day someone will figure it out.


Fun fact: if you type ‘Bermeja Island’ into google maps, it drops a pin right into the Gulf of Mexico, where Bermeja Island was supposed to be, but nothing is shown there. Just wide open water.

What are your thoughts on the disappearance of Isla Bermeja? Feel free to leave a comment with your own theories below!


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

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