The Mystery of the Charfield Railway Children

“It’s like watching a train wreck” is a common expression used to refer to the way people can’t take their eyes off a horrible moment, can’t keep themselves from watching tragedy unfold. The details behind such situations hold a source of morbid fascination for many, despite the nightmares they create for those involved.

The Charfield Railway Disaster was a train crash that occurred on October 13th, 1928, in Charfield, Gloucestershire, in the UK. Three trains were involved in this crash: Two goods carrying trains, one of which was empty at the time, and a third train that was carrying both passengers and mail.

Photo courtesy of Ben Brooksbank via Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Ben Brooksbank via Wikimedia Commons

Aboard the passenger train was conductor Henry Adlington, and fireman Frank Want. These men were the main parties investigated as potentially being responsible for the accident.

Just before the accident, Adlington’s train was on its way into the station, and the empty goods train was on its way out. The second goods train had stopped on the tracks, and was in the midst of being shunted onto the siding.

Henry Button, the signalman at the station, had put up the red signal that indicated for the passenger train to come to a halt in order to allow for the station employees to finish shunting the goods train from the tracks. However, due to foggy weather that morning, Adlington and Want misinterpreted the signal, and instead saw it as green. They continued through the tunnel in the station, slammed into the parked goods train, knocking that train off the track, and taking the second, empty goods train, with them as it attempted to pass through the tunnel in the other direction.

Due to the speed and force of the derailment, part of Adlington’s train broke free and was flung completely clear of the tracks, while the other part—including some of the passenger sections—telescoped, and got wedged up against the bridge.

Button was quick to call for help, only seconds after witnessing the crash, but because the crash was so violent even with his quick action, several victims didn’t make it. The victim count is a subject of debate: witness accounts say that 15 were killed and 23 were injured, but the official report states that 16 were killed, and 41 were injured.

Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash

None of these details are terribly significant to the part of the story I wish to focus on today, however. What is important to note, is that due to the damage caused by the train crash and the ensuing fire, the victims that died were so unrecognizable to family members, that they could only be identified by their belongings. This being said, two victims—children—remain, to this day, unidentified.

Despite the fact that nobody ever came forward to claim the children, family members of the other victims had pooled funds and efforts, and erected a mass grave. They agreed to include the unidentified children.

The speculation surrounding these children is where this story veers towards the paranormal. There were many theories drummed up for the children at first, such as the thought that they may not be humans at all, but ventriloquist dummies, or that they were in fact small riding jockeys. Ultimately, though, it was concluded that they were children: likely a boy and a girl.

Despite them never being claimed, however, their graves were visited.

Photo courtesy of Lario Tus via Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Lario Tus via Shutterstock

Over the years, many reports were made of a woman dressed all in black, arriving at and leaving the grave site of the unknown children. She left them flowers at every visit, and visited fairly regularly. But then, she stopped coming, and no one has reported seeing her in decades. It’s believed that she’s dead now, as witnesses described her as an elderly woman at the time. No one ever knew who she was, though, or why she visited the children. Some speculated that she knew more about the accident than anyone else, and that she knew who the children were, but as no one ever spoke to her, nothing could ever be proven.

To make matters even stranger, there also exist many reports by those passing by the site of the trash, of two ghost children. It’s believed that these are the ghosts of the unidentified children who died in the crash, wandering around, waiting for someone to come back and claim them.

Unfortunately, a lot of things will likely remain forever unsolved about the nearly hundred-year-old accident. The woman in black and the children she visited were never identified, and on a more or less supernatural note, depending on what you choose to believe, no one ever figured out why Adlington and Want swore up and down that they saw a green light through the fog, instead of the red one that was proven to have been there.

Perhaps things are just meant to remain a mystery.


For more detailed information on the actual railway disaster, feel free to check out “Charfield Railway Disaster 1928”.


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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.

Boneheaded Bone Wars

The first time that I ever watched the original Jurassic Park movie, I was hooked. At the time, one of my most prized possessions was an old VHS tape that had been handed down, and I played it on an endless loop. I was fixated by this concept of man-made dinosaurs. 

I spent my summers growing up by rewatching the trilogy and rereading an old novelization. I had parts of the dialogue memorized, but the movies were each completely magical. In school, I would draw out my favorite drawings, and at one point, horrified a teacher with my artistic recreation of the scene where the lawyer was devoured. 

You kind of have to love dinosaurs. They were impossibly complex creatures that had been wiped out by a single hot space rock. 

What made the movies so incredible was that the Jurassic Parks series offered up brand new film effects for future filmmakers. By incorporating (originally) complex robotics and puppetry, they were able to engineer their own dinosaurs, rather than relying on the lackluster CGI effects. The original trilogy was able to separate itself from other movies being produced at the time, and really define the genre of science fiction. 

American Progress (John Gast)

American Progress (John Gast)

Despite this lengthy obsession with Jurassic Park, it was only two years ago that I discovered the original duo-logy of books that inspired the movie franchise. Written by Michael Crichton, that film was able to craft a respectable movie from the pages, allowing readers to experience an incredible plot, set to a backdrop of ingenious robotics. 

I was completely in love with the books. Despite growing up with constant nightmares that starred raptors ripping apart my body in my childhood bedroom, I was totally obsessed.

Thankfully, I was in excellent company. 

The Gilded Age of America drove citizens to expand their reach by means of industrialization and railroads. Like most countries touched by Britain, America was simply the product of invasion and colonialism, which led to an increase in immigrants to take their roles in menial labor. European immigrants, of course, were the only desirable immigrant, which led to a dramatic shift in classes, pushing for skilled workers to take higher positions, which led to higher wages. 

European society had been planted in an American landscape and managed to flourish with the aid of industry and settlements. 

American imagination often romanticized the concept of the Wild West, removing brutal histories like the Trail of Tears, racial clashes, and re-establishing manifest destiny as a much-needed element to the American West. 

What often is left unspoken about is the Bone Wars. 

In 1819, the first dinosaur fossil was discovered by William Buckland, which led to a flurry of excitement in the scholarly community, and men were desperate to find evidence of these massive creatures. 

The desire to hunt for more dinosaur bones could have been conducted peacefully. However, because white men were engaged in these searches, the hunt swiftly transitioned into the Bone Wars, also known as the Great Dinosaur Rush. Key figures were Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh who were notable in their positions as professors in natural sciences and paleontology. Both would publish paper after paper of their findings and were key players in discovering a variety of species. 

Already natural enemies, their rivalry grew over the years of the Bone War, before it eventually transitioned into an all-out war, using bribery, theft, vandalism, and even attempted murder.  Both Cope and Marsh were desperate to achieve fame for their findings, were determined to scour the Wild West for hidden bones. 

It was already dangerous searching for fossils in the long plains, due to the little protection from the irate Indigenous peoples, who were upset and hostile due to continuous injustice served by the hand of the white man. Professors would each bring a team of students and assistants, but would also have to consider having a gunman close by. 

Using their own personal wealth to fund these ventures, both Cope and Marsh were deeply protective of their digs. Sending spies over to one another’s camps, destroying bone fragments, and poisoning water supplies were each common elements to their nefarious activities. Their dislike for one another had grown legendary, coming to a head in one of the most unique incidents which involved both men throwing rocks at each other. 

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Eventually, the Bone Wars were finished, with Marsh taking victory, having discovered eighty dinosaur species. This was attributed to Marsh having more resources for his expedition. 

One of the craziest elements of Bone Wars, though, was that it inspired a novel by the name of Dragon Teeth, written by Crichton. It focused on the dangerous relationship between the two professors, as well as evaluating the risk of being an employed student for their digs. Published posthumously, Dragon Teeth holds the same enchantment as his earlier works, Jurassic Park and its sequel. Crichton confessed in his notes to having played down the rivalry, as it seemed so absurd in went beyond the limits of the fiction genre.

It’s easy to obsess over dinosaurs. They were massive creatures and yet were wiped out so easily, leaving behind a scattering of fossilized bones. We continuously look towards the Gilded Age of America as a crucial element to history, but we don’t often discuss what we took from the Earth, and the cost of gaining it. 


What will white men obsess over next? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!


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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.

Annabelle Comes Home: A Review

From the very first The Conjuring movie, I was fascinated by the room of cursed objects in the Warrens’ house. Every time a sequel or spinoff came out, I would always hope that this was the one that would be about the room, or would at least give more insight about the objects inside and where they’d all come from. Every time I was let down.

Until Annabelle came home.

The timeline for The Conjuring and all the movies within the series is all over the place. The timeline for The Conjuring universe is as follows:

  1. Annabelle: Creation

  2. The Nun

  3. Annabelle

  4. The Conjuring

  5. Annabelle Comes Home

  6. The Curse of La Llorona

  7. The Conjuring 2

There are other movies in progress, including a third Conjuring movie, and another spinoff entitled The Crooked Man featuring one of the entities from The Conjuring 2, but this is the order of what’s out so far. So the timeline jumps all over the place.

But finally, we’ve been made it to 1955, during which time Annabelle Comes Home takes place, and we finally get to learn more about the room of cursed objects.

Screenshot from  Annabelle Comes Home  produced by Atomic Monster Productions, New Line Cinema, and The Safran Company

Screenshot from Annabelle Comes Home produced by Atomic Monster Productions, New Line Cinema, and The Safran Company

In real life, it’s much more than just a room. The Warrens have a whole occult museum dedicated to objects they’ve obtained from various cases, now locked away safe. Annabelle is, like in the movies, the centrepiece, as the most malevolent of all the objects. 

Ed and Lorraine Warren (may they rest in peace) were paranormal investigators, and there are quite a few horror movies based upon various cases they worked. The Amityville Horror and A Haunting in Connecticut are two of the more prominent examples. The Conjuring series, including all its spinoffs, encompasses a few of their cases, one of which, is the Annabelle doll.

Annabelle has more or less been the centre of everything throughout the Conjuring movies, either appearing in prologues or flashbacks. With each Annabelle movie we’ve gotten a bit more about her story and how she came to not only live with the Warrens, but also how she came to be in the first place.

In Annabelle Comes Home, not only did we get a full movie about where she came from and who she was, but we got a full view of all the power the seemingly innocent doll wields.

I confess myself a bit torn on the movie, overall. I did enjoy it, and would certainly see it again, but I still left the theatre wanting a bit more. This being said, I think my expectations for the movie were exceedingly high in a few ways. As I said, I’ve been hoping for more on the room of cursed objects since watching the first Conjuring movie, but I’ve had several movies to build up hopes and thoughts about the movie’s potential. By the time I found myself sitting in the theatre ready to watch, there was no way the movie could live up to those thoughts.

It’s also worth noting that The Conjuring is the scariest horror movie I’ve ever seen. Of course, this is a completely personal thing, every horror movie viewer is scared by something different, but along with the Paranormal Activity series (particularly Ghost Dimension), The Conjuring and all its sequels and spinoffs really did it for me.

Annabelle Comes Home, however, did not.

Annabelle Comes Home  movie promo poster

Annabelle Comes Home movie promo poster

Or rather, I should clarify that it did scare me, but not nearly to the same degree as the previous movies did. However, between watching the previous Conjuring movies and the latest installment, I’ve watched a buttload of horror movies, and have grown to be a bit desensitized (which, oddly enough, is not a thing I ever thought I’d say about myself. Then again, if my younger self could see me even running a horror blog at all, she’d fall over from shock.)

All of this aside, however, I do truly believe that Annabelle Comes Home was everything it could possibly be. My problem is that I wanted a catalogue of every item in that room and a detailed backstory for all of it. But that’s a packed room, they’d need several room-of-cursed-objects movies in order to cover it all. I think that the movie really covered everything they reasonably could, and did a great job of terrifying the audience while doing so. Despite my overall sense of fearlessness, there were several instances that I jumped in my seat, and I did even hide behind my hands twice.

The movie involves Ed and Lorraine Warren going off on another business trip and leaving their daughter Judy home with the babysitter, Mary-Ellen. Mary Ellen plans some special events for the weekend, as it’s Judy’s birthday. None of the kids at school want to come celebrate with her, however, because they’re all either too afraid or have parents that are too afraid, having just learned what Judy’s parents do for work. Because of this, Mary Ellen plans to make Judy’s birthday extra special with just the two of them, and later, Ed and Lorraine once they get back home.

However, Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela discovers who her friend is babysitting for, and crashes the weekend, with the express desire of getting behind the locked door that leads to the room of cursed objects. For anyone that’s seen even a handful of horror movies before, I’m sure you can imagine what ensues from here.

Screenshot from  Annabelle Comes Home  produced by Atomic Monster Productions, New Line Cinema, and The Safran Company

Screenshot from Annabelle Comes Home produced by Atomic Monster Productions, New Line Cinema, and The Safran Company

Daniela breaks into the room, accidentally lets Annabelle out, and, of course, chaos ensues. Let’s just say that the warning on Annabelle’s box, “Positively do not open”, is there for a very good reason.

Despite the fact that there’s simply not enough time to catalogue every item in that room, the movie does do get through several choice items, including coins for the ferryman, which leads to several interesting twists and turns in the movie.

I would also love to take a moment to talk up McKenna Grace. That child is going places, and the fact that she’s already got such an impressive resume only serves to fuel that fact. Annabelle Comes Home had a few lead characters that different sections of the movie were dedicated to, but I feel it’s safe to say that, ultimately, Judy Warren, played by McKenna Grace was the central figure.

All in all, I did quite enjoy the movie, and while my own hopes may have been a bit too high, I think the movie did turn out great, and it holds up quite well against the rest of the series from which it comes.

I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t yet seen it (though for anyone who isn’t quite as used to horror movies, do be aware, as it will be quite scary). And remember: don’t pay his toll, he’ll take your soul, and whatever you do—

Positively, do not open.

Photo of the real Annabelle doll that currently sits in the Warren’s Occult Museum (Photo found via Reddit)

Photo of the real Annabelle doll that currently sits in the Warren’s Occult Museum (Photo found via Reddit)


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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 Beast of Gévaudan

In a sleepy little town once known as Gévaudan*, between the years of 1764 and 1767, a series of chilling murders took place. Bodies were found in terrible conditions, with heads chewed off, and throats ripped out, all left in a bloody mess. Approximately one hundred people fell victim to this same murderer: the Beast of Gévaudan.

Photo courtesy of Viergacht via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of Viergacht via Pixabay

The exact origin of the legend of werewolves is hard to pin down. Many believe that it’s likely to be the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia. It’s believed to be, in addition to the first werewolf story, the oldest surviving work of literature.

But the ancient Greeks had werewolf stories as well, such as the Legend of Lycaon, and of course, though the origin is hard to pin down, we all know the classic, Little Red Riding Hood.

The Beast of Gévaudan was something different though. It was a real life werewolf story, come to life straight off the pages. Or so it seemed.

The first official victim to be claimed by the Beast was a young girl named Jeanne Boulet. She was not the first to be attacked—there was another, unnamed, young girl before her, who was protected by the herd of cows she was tending— but she was the first to die. Boulet was 14 years old, and she was only the first of many that would soon come after her, almost all of them women and children.

Photo courtesy of pixundfertig via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of pixundfertig via Pixabay

Over the next few years, the number of victims steadily rose, and the Beast’s body count garnered national attention. At the time, France was just fresh out of the Seven Years War, and having suffered severe losses, they were looking for a way to redeem themselves in the newspapers, and in the eyes of the world. At the same time, François Morénas was an editor of a newspaper entitled Courrier D’Avignon, and it had profited quite well off of the coverage of the Seven Years War. After the war, circulation of his newspaper began to fade. While France was looking for a new cause, so was Morénas.

In fact, Morénas is often credited in history as the main source of coverage on the Beast of Gévaudan, and his newspaper was what really got the story circulating. Drawings were being done of the Beast, based on first hand accounts. It was often described as a combination of a wolf and a dog, but that it was about as big as a cow. It was described as having reddish coloured fur, with black streaks in it, and a very large mouth with oversized teeth.

The Beast of Gévaudan was more than just a story to be covered, though, and something needed to be done. More and more people were encountering this creature, and very few were living to tell the tale. That being said, the reason that drawings and descriptions of the Beast exist is because some people were lucky enough to survive their encounters.

One such person was Marie-Jeanne Valet. Once the problem the Beast posed became more nationally known, hunting parties started being formed. At first it was simply people within Gévaudan, the first being Jean-Baptiste Duhamel. He was an infantry captain who’d suffered a particularly humiliating loss in the Seven Years War, and in an effort to redeem himself, gathered an army of approximately 30,000 men to face the Beast. They were, however, much like in the war, unsuccessful.

King Louis XV then stepped in, and replaced Duhamel with a hunting party of his own choosing, which was headed by Jean-Charles D’Enneval, a famous wolf hunter from Paris. He was also unsuccessful though, and newspapers at the time speculated that it was in large part due to his refusal to work with the locals to solve the problem.

Statue of Marie-Jeanne Valet fighting the Beast; Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons

Statue of Marie-Jeanne Valet fighting the Beast; Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons

This is where Marie-Jeanne Valet comes in. Much like the men that came before her, she was unsuccessful at slaying the beast, but she made it a step further than any of her male counterparts. She left her home and was heading towards a farm close by, when she turned around to find the Beast breathing down her neck. With some quick thinking, she immediately plunged a homemade spear she’d been carrying, into the Beast. Reportedly, it put a paw to where she’d struck it, cried out, and tumbled into the nearby river, allowing Valet to get away.

But this encounter immortalized Valet’s name in history, and she was henceforth known as “The Maiden of Gévaudan”. There are even pop culture references to her that make her out to be the slayer of the Beast, and in 1995, a statue of her fighting the Beast was erected in Auvers, in Southern France.

As people began to form armies and attempt to take down the Beast, a deeply unsettling fact that only served to drive their fights more, became apparent. Being that Gévaudan had lots of farmland, many people that encountered the Beast did so while tending to various animals, such as sheep or cows. However, one detail that all Beast encounters that also involved farm animals had in common was that the Beast paid no attention to the animals, and very clearly targeted the humans.

Artist’s rendering of the Beast based on eye-witness accounts; Drawing done by A.F. of Alençon

Artist’s rendering of the Beast based on eye-witness accounts; Drawing done by A.F. of Alençon

The problem many of these people that tried and failed to take down the Beast were encountering, was that bullets didn’t seem to affect it the same way they would an ordinary wolf or dog. Various armies that had formed had showered the Beast with bullets, and while many did find purchase, none ever succeeded in bringing the Beast’s death. This was where many of the legends and speculations about the Beast not being a normal wolf originated. Many began to theorize that it was something a touch more supernatural.

Nothing was ever proven, however, and the Beast was eventually killed in 1767 at Mont Mouchet, by Jean Chastel, a local farmer and inn-keeper. He melted down a religious amulet to make silver bullets, and that was what finally took the wolf down. Silver bullets, as I’m sure many are aware, are the well-known way legends suggest using to take down a werewolf, and perhaps this Beast of Gévaudan lent a bit to the origin of that belief. Regardless, whatever Chastel did, it worked, because after that, no one else was killed, and the Beast was never seen again.

Like with Marie-Jeanne Valet, monuments have been erected to honour Chastel, that can still be seen around France today.

It’s possible that the Beast was just a particularly large wolf, with a particularly large kill count, and that the story just grew way out of proportion because the people of France were looking for a win and a story in the post-war time they lived in. It’s also possible, I suppose, that the Beast was a real life werewolf we all grew up hearing legends about. Like I said, nothing was ever proven, and the problem was taken care of either way.

The answer will just have to remain up to your imagination.


*Gévaudan is now modern day Lozère in Southern France.


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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.

Drowning in the Sea of Trees

The following story may contain triggering and/or sensitive material.

Topics discussed include suicide and suicidal ideologies.

The signs read:

“Your life is a precious gift from your parents.”

Aokigahara is a sprawling expanse of shadowy trees at the base of Mount Fuji. Looking at the scenery from a distance, it’s easy to see why this place is called Jukai—“The Sea of Trees”—and hard to imagine this beauty as a place of death.

It’s no secret that Japan has a high suicide rate, with males making up most of the percentage (71%). The Japanese face exceedingly high expectations in their lives—from their jobs, their families, and society. They are known for being hard and efficient workers, but these high expectations seem to come at a high cost.

I love Japan, and am absolutely fascinated by Japanese culture. I dream of the chance to go and experience it for myself one day. But my fascination does not blind me to how fundamentally wrong the existence of karoshi is.

Literally translating into “overwork death”, this term is used when someone dies from a heart attack or other health condition caused from a high stress work environment, something too common in Japan. In terms of mental health, the meaning of karoshi stretches out to those who commit suicide because they can no longer take the pressure.

When it comes to Aokigahara, the authorities no longer release the official number of deaths to the public but it’s believed that approximately 100 suicides take place each year. Determining an official count is extremely difficult, as forest wildlife often find the bodies before anyone else. Many of the bodies are never recovered—sometimes all that remains is a shoe, a note, a photograph.

Although Aokigahara has long been associated with death, it didn’t become a suicide hotspot until the 1960 publication of Seichō Matsumoto’s Tower of Waves, in which broken-hearted lovers enter the forest to commit suicide. This novel, along with a host of other popular mediums for such chilling stories, highlighted the forest as a beacon to the end.

In Japan, suicide was historically seen as an honorable way for samurai and warriors to redeem themselves when they had failed, known as seppuku. To be a warrior and turn down the chance of seppuku was considered a huge disgrace to one’s family and lord.

Even though we no longer live in such an era, did those people feel as though they failed and needed redemption when they walked into Aokigahara?

As someone who struggles with mental illness and suicidal ideation, I tend to look at such stories with a more personal perspective. But my focus isn’t their reasons for wanting to leave this world behind. Any sort of reasoning in that capacity is futile to justify. There are no definite answers no matter how desperately loved ones want them. Such a situation is too inexplicable and we will never know what the dead once thought.

So as morbid as this may sound, my focus is why they chose this specific location to pass on.

For the sake of a mere blog post, discussing this place can be as easy as dividing fact from fiction. But I want to focus on what this forest symbolizes—the loss of loved ones who were unable to accept or see what they had to live for—and that is much harder.

Mythologically speaking, Aokigahara is a place where dark spirits are said to lurk and lure poor, lost souls to untimely deaths. These souls are trapped and tormented, screaming throughout each night ever after. The eerie, chilling atmosphere and overall aesthetic of the forest make it a believable home for such entities.

I don’t believe this is the case. I believe that, in a time where supernatural beings held court over cultural morality, this was what grieving mothers, friends, and family members told themselves to ease their pain, justify their loved one's decision, and hopefully end the torment of not knowing.

“How could they have chosen this?”


“How could they leave me?”


“Was I not enough?”


“Why?”

So demons did it. Demons, hungry ghosts, evil spirits forced their loved ones to make themselves disappear. The forest and all within it consumed their souls, a belief that coated grief and made it an easier pill to swallow.

Many of the hungry ghosts within Aokigahara are rumored victims of ubasute: an old practice where families would abandon their elders in the wilderness during times of hardship, leaving them to die of starvation. Many of these unfortunate souls linger and ensnare the living so that they, too, become lost.

Since Aokigahara is the location of two other tourist sites, the Narusawa Ice Cave and the Fugaku Wind Cave, the forest is still a hotspot for tourism despite its dark reputation. Tourists are warned to prepare carefully and stay on designated paths, as it’s quite easy for wanderers to get lost. Those brave enough to venture otherwise will find navigational devices—such as compasses and cellphones—useless. Instead, those who enter Aokigahara and wish to return will pack tree markers, tape, and other items to identify their trails and make their way out.

Folklore eagerly blames this on supernatural energy and entities, but there is a more logical explanation.

Much of Aokigahara’s paranormal activity is geologically induced. The forest soil is rich in magnetic iron deposited from past volcanic activity from Mount Fuji. This iron interferes with objects and systems reliant on magnetism, and effectively prevents proper function. So cellphones will have no signal, compass needles won’t ever point north, and GPS devices can’t locate jack shit. Still, everything and anything is believable in a state of panic.

Going back to the supernatural, entering a place where evil is rumored to run between the trees doesn’t seem like a good way to spend my planned last moments. So what makes the notorious landmark an appealing final destination?

Forests are captivating places for contemplation, where memories are relived as you walk past each tree and into each ray of light, or listen as raindrops hit the leaves as they tumble to the ground. They are time capsules made of musty leaves, damp earth, and fragrant wood, easy to get lost and go unnoticed.

What I want when these thoughts creep is never death. It is obscurity, escape, rest. Perhaps these lost souls were looking for the same.

If you or a loved one need help, please reach out and contact your local crisis centre for help.

You are not alone.


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.

Fun Illegal Activities Just For Giggles

Summer is coming up fast and so is the season of ice cream, fresh strawberries, and painful sunburns. Despite the intense heat waves sure to come, there are plenty of fun and illegal activities to keep you occupied, and range anywhere from pirating the new Avengers movie End Game, to sneaking into the private areas of the Catacombs under Paris.

The sky's the limit, but if you are feeling uninspired, check out these three wild shenanigans to get your summer started.


Most wouldn’t think beekeeping could be illegal, but for a while, New York City was the frontier for illegal beekeeping. Urban beekeeping took off despite intense legislation against the hobby, but due to enough online sources, articles, and physical supply chains, the beekeepers could not be thwarted.

Bee colonies in urban areas help to provide massive environmental benefits, even in places like New York City. By hiding the hives inside old air conditioner units, rooftops, and even in kitchens, the bee population stubbornly flourishes.

Because of allergies and concentrated population, beekeeping in the city was illegal until 2010. Now, only a singular non-aggressive bee called the Apis Mellifera is legal to be kept. Laws also demand that beekeepers register their hives, but it is suspected that the intense network of beekeepers are still hiding off the grid, maintaining their hives without the government’s knowledge.

So, if you’re thinking about dabbling in some fun illegal activities, consider the dangers of Colony Collapse Disorder and snub the government by transforming your kitchen into a massive bee hive and don’t tell anyone.  


Clowns tend to be terrifying. They lurk in the sewers of movies and even in the backwoods of our very real world. However, in 1995, a man dressed as a clown named “Twister” went about putting quarters in other people’s expired meters and was fined for it.

Parking fines were not designed for collecting revenue, but instead for encouraging cars to rotate out of parking spaces, ensuring that there is a continuous flow. While this benefits shopping centres where it is easier for drivers to control their time and activities, this is a hindrance to other businesses that operate by appointments. Even urban areas that close down street parking for events do not consider the need to provide extra parking spaces, creating higher stress for drivers when parking.

If you want to stick it to the law while providing a kind service, drop some change in an expired parking meter and save someone from a nasty fine.


With so many amazing streaming platforms available access to television shows like Grey's Anatomy, most viewers do not pay for their own accounts. Instead, they are parasites, feeding off of a single person who is paying the subscription fee.

A meme, pulled from the dark corners of the interwebs. If this was your creation, please let us know!

A meme, pulled from the dark corners of the interwebs. If this was your creation, please let us know!

What most do not realize is that it is now illegal to share Netflix passwords in the United States. Despite saving a friend a couple of dollars per month, a new ruling has been put in place making it a crime Prosecutable .

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was originally designed to protect computer-users from hacking and other crimes. Now that we live in an online society, the laws around The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act are constantly changing and adapting to the new technology that is introduced.

Sharing passwords has been considered an undesirable activity, and now an illegal conduct. This law does not just restrict the Netflix login information sharing, but also extends to any subscription service or computer password sharing.

You’ve probably already been leeching off your old dorm mate, or have tossed your login information to your brother without knowing about the legal situation surrounding password sharing. At most, the worst crime that you were aware of is that their obsession with Rom-Coms catastrophically alters Netflix’s recommended section of shows and movies for your personal viewing.

If you’re not bothered by the restrictions surrounding the digital age that we live in, feel free to keep on going with the flow.


So while you technically shouldn't break the law, you’ll get at least a dozen cool points in your favor if you do.


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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 just to write bad poetry.

Dead End

The following story may contain triggering and/or sensitive material. Topics discussed include detailed and graphic descriptions of a train crash.

Image courtesy of the London Fire Brigade.

Image courtesy of the London Fire Brigade.

Image courtesy of Richard Vince.

Image courtesy of Richard Vince.

There have been some dark days in London’s history, and in the history of the London Underground, amidst bombing raids and outbreaks of the Black Death—but perhaps one of the darkest days during peacetime is what happened at Moorgate Station in 1975.

I begin this story at some point in the early 1970s, before what will come to pass three or four years into the future. Passengers and workers at Moorgate Station on the Northern Line report seeing the apparition of a man in blue overalls, sometimes in the tunnels, sometimes in the terminus. When approached, the expression on the apparition's face becomes one of absolute horror before he vanishes into the walls.

It is worth noting, for reasons that will soon become evident, that this particular station is a dead end. Trains approaching the station must slow to 15 mph and come to a complete stop, but there is a twenty metre overrun track and buffer just in case of a minor overshoot. After that, there is a solid concrete wall.

On February 28th, 1975 at 8:46 AM, a train coming from Drayton Park arrives at Moorgate station, platform 9. However, it does not slow to the aforementioned speed. The train actually accelerates into the terminus, travelling at somewhere between 30-40 miles per hour. To some witnesses, the driver, Leslie Newson, appears to be in a trance, staring straight ahead. The train goes right through the station like a bullet, into the overrun tunnel, where it slams into the wall at the end.

As the first compartment collides with the wall, it is forced upwards into the tunnel ceiling, crushing the driver's cab and the first fifteen passenger seats. Before the crash, the first compartment is sixteen metres in length, but after the crash, what remains is just six metres long. Upon impact, the second compartment collides with the first, essentially collapsing it like an accordion, and the third rides up over the second. Forty-three people, including Newson, are killed, and seventy-three people are injured.

Image courtesy of the London Fire Brigade.

Image courtesy of the London Fire Brigade.

Rescue crews begin arriving within five minutes of the crash, where they discover a scene of true horror. First responders describe all-encompassing darkness, thick dust-laden air, screams of pain, bodies heaped on top of one another and arms reaching out for help from the twisted metal. To make matters worse, the ventilation is no longer working, as air travels through the tunnels via the force of trains travelling back and forth, otherwise known as the piston effect.

With no trains running, oxygen levels drop and the temperature shoots up to 49 degrees Celsius in the tunnels. Rescuers are also unable to communicate via radio between the station and the surface, as they are separated by twenty-one metres of soil and concrete. They have to make do with runners, though messages often do not arrive on the surface as they have been given at the station.

The last survivor is removed from the mangled wreckage at 10:00 PM, eighteen hours after the crash. At that point, the rescuers cease all noise, to listen for anyone left alive, but only silence greets them. Anyone left has most certainly perished.

In the following five days, members of the Fire Brigade endure the heat and the stench of decomposition in order to remove all the bodies, detangle the compartments and then winch them out of the tunnel where they can be properly examined. The last body to be removed is that of Newson, on March the 5th. At the same time, the wreckage is taken away, and the investigation begins.

The train, one of many built in 1938, is thoroughly examined, but no technical defect or equipment fault can be found. So it seems like the only one responsible is Leslie Newson, a father of two who rarely drank, who was carrying money on him to buy his daughter a car that day.

The investigation concludes that it was Newson to blame for the crash, but they still don’t really know what happened. His blood alcohol levels were above average, but the body produces alcohol after death, especially after five days of decomposing in the heat, so investigators turn to his co-workers. They all say that Newson was behaving normally that day, and he’d been running the train for two and a half hours before the crash without fault. All of this makes the crash that much stranger.

At the moment of the crash, experts deduce that Newson was sat bolt upright, still holding the dead-mans-handle to keep the train going, making no attempt to shield his face from what was coming right towards him. What could cause a person to behave in such a way? Well, no one ever figured that out.

What we did figure out from Moorgate is that the London Underground needed multiple fail-safes to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again, and that’s exactly what happened. Three years after the crash, the ‘Moorgate Control’ was installed at all dead-end stations. Should a train approach a dead-end at a speed above 12.5 mph, the Moorgate Control automatically applies the emergency brakes, and the train will come to a stop before the hydraulic buffers, not after it hits a concrete wall. Another six years after, tracks were fitted with resistors to prevent acceleration into stations.

And now, we think back to that apparition at Moorgate, which appeared several times before the crash. Was it an omen, trying to warn us of the horrors to come? Maybe, maybe not. That’s up to you.

1,324 firefighters, 240 police officers, 80 paramedics, 16 doctors and several nurses were involved in the valiant rescue and clean-up efforts. 43 people perished in the crash, 73 people were injured. If you happen to pass by Finnsbury Square, lay some flowers at their memorial.

Image courtesy of David Holt.

Image courtesy of David Holt.


What do you think happened at Moorgate? Tell us in the comments or tweet at @atticvoices!


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Natascha Wood

Say her name three times and she will appear.

Twitter: @oldvvitch

Chernobyl: Mini-Series Review

Accidents happen, history is full of them, but the question is: what happens in the aftermath?

Image courtesy of HBO.

Image courtesy of HBO.

At approximately 1:23 on the morning of April 26th, 1986, reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded. As was highlighted in the new mini-series Chernobyl, one of history’s worst nuclear disasters was not handled well. In fact, the poor handling was compounded by several fatal errors, made worse by the ineptitude of the Soviet government.

In its entirety, Chernobyl only runs for five episodes. But those five episodes give a detailed, harrowing look at the events leading up to and after the initial explosion. The problem is, calling it human error doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The majority of the series follows Valery Legasov, the deputy director of the Kurchatov Institute. While he is initially brought in to advise Soviet politician Boris Shcherbina on how best to clean up the site and prevent further spread of lethal radiation, Legasov eventually becomes the driving force behind the investigation into what really happened that night in Reactor 4.

But Legasov isn’t alone. The morning following the explosion, Ulana Khomyuk, a nuclear physicist, discovers that the dust on her window in Minsk, 400 kilometres away from the reactor, is already intensely radioactive. Deducing that it must have been caused by one of the reactors at the Chernobyl plant, she rushes there to join the clean up efforts, and aids in conducting her own investigations of what happened. Unlike many of the other characters in the series, Khomyuk’s character isn’t based on a real person, but instead comprises the efforts and work ethics of all the Soviet scientists who worked with Legasov and made sure that the errors made at Chernobyl would never be repeated.

Image courtesy of HBO.

Image courtesy of HBO.

The series begins with Legasov hiding tapes outside his home, which contained a complete account of the events leading up to the explosion. These tapes were damning for Anatoly Dyatlov, an engineer in Reactor 4, as they made clear he was a significant party responsible for what happened. After hiding the tapes, Legasov hangs himself, and the viewers are taken back two years and one minute. From their apartment, a good distance away, a firefighter and his wife watch in shock as Reactor 4 explodes.

As someone who has been endlessly fascinated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, but understood very little of the mechanics behind it, this series was an excellent watch. I sound a bit cavalier when I phrase it like that, and I do mean it from a standpoint of morbid curiosity, but then isn’t that how most disasters work? After all, the expression “it’s like watching a train wreck” exists for a reason.

That being said, I think Chernobyl did an excellent job making viewers truly understand what happened. This was a truly terrible disaster, and in the end, it was something that could very easily have been avoided were it not for the sake of human arrogance and vicious denial. The series gave significant insight into what happened, including who was ultimately responsible, and how even with overwhelming evidence, the government and the KGB still tried to cover it up. It was a very entertaining series, but it was also informative.

History remembers the name Chernobyl, and even the name Pripyat, as being ghost towns, that to this day are still so radioactive they’re uninhabitable. What fewer people remember—what the series sheds light on—is the role that the government played in what happened, in addition to individual engineers, like Dyatlov.

For anyone who has yet to watch the series and wishes to (and those that don’t, I strongly encourage you to), I’ll refrain from detailing too much of the show, so you can experience it for yourself. That being said, I’d really like to impress upon those of you who’ve yet to see it how worth watching it is.

Image courtesy of HBO.

Image courtesy of HBO.

The level of arrogance from the government, the KGB, and other officials who were supposed to be in charge of civilian safety, that was presented in this show was infuriating, as evidenced by the amount of screaming at the TV myself and another of the Voices did while watching, however, it was true to life. The creators of the series went to great efforts to stick as closely to historical events as possible, and it worked out well.

Upon doing some further research into the series, I learned that it actually gathered much of its own research from a book written by Svetlana Alexievich, who gathered the stories from Pripyat locals that experienced the event directly. This makes many moments throughout the series even more chilling. One that stands out in particular is a scene wherein residents of Pripyat watched the reactor burn from a distance, while radioactive ash fell like snow upon their heads. They were aware it was ash, but horrifically unaware of the radioactivity, and so they danced and played in it, not realizing the clock counting down the end of all their lives had just started ticking

As I said, the truth of the matter is that history is full of accidents, some more or less intentional than others. The important part is what we learn from them, and that we do better going forward. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster, as illustrated in the TV series, was a chaotic mess, and by all means, should have been avoided. It provides a warning for what happens to those who put loyalty based upon arrogance and ignorance above common sense and common good.

Let’s just hope that history doesn’t repeat itself.


There are two previously published posts on Voices in the Attic that relate to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster: Frozen in Time and Open for Visitation and The Black Bird of Chernobyl. Check them out!


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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 Children Behind Anne Shirley

When you think of Canada, it doesn’t take long for your mind to wander to the red-haired girl with the famous puffed sleeves. Her books are still wildly popular in bookstores today, and she is a constant attraction for Japanese tourists.

Anne-with-an-E Shirley managed to steal the hearts of Canadians everywhere upon publication, and she grew in popularity over the decades. It was never much of a mystery as to why Canadians took to her so quickly. She was optimistic. She was thoughtful. She was loving, and in return she was so easy to love. We cherish her as part of a childhood that Canadians seem to universally share. Her book is a beloved staple.

Even during the war years, her upbeat tale managed to inspire. Poland managed to have the story translated during the war, and she snuck her way into school curriculums globally over the decades. Like the classic Cinderella story, she transformed her flaws into her most beloved attributes. Everyone fell madly in love with her charming speeches, as well as her fiery nature.

The tragic orphan had certainly managed to find her happy ending at Green Gables, while also inspiring several sequels, a beloved mini series in 1985, and even a Japanese anime, furthering her reach across the globe. Anne Shirley was such a staple that even the Canadian tourism industry capitalized off of her story, transforming Prince Edward Island into a landscape of Anne Shirley. One cannot visit the island without stopping by and exploring Green Gables, the home where the author Lucy Maud Montgomery grew up.

Canadians love talking about Anne Shirley and the impact the series had on their own lives. Traces of her can be found in the Canadian landscape. Still lakes, bright beneath the sun. Long sweeping fields of golden hay. Cherry blossoms, in particular, hold a treasured connection to the story and character.

What the country shrinks from, however, is the long legacy of home children, the inspiration behind Anne of Green Gables. Originally plucked from a newspaper advertisement, Montgomery had been inspired by the tale of a girl named Ellen, adopted by an elderly couple when they had originally sent for a boy to take up a role on their farm.

Even from this optimistic portrayal of the adoption and happy-ever-after for the girl, there is a bleakness that lingers. Fate had chosen Ellen to find her way to this home, when so many of the home children were abused and lost, left to work like slaves in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. One wonders what happened to the sought for boy and how his story turned out. Another question leads to the girl’s experiences before she arrived to Canada, safely secured in the hold of two siblings willing to let her remain in their family, despite her gender.

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The mission for Home Children brought few happy-ever-afters, and instead scattered children across the globe.

Poverty had been a common element to life in the UK. Workhouses and their legacies terrorized the lower classes, casting a long shadow of abuse. These workhouses had been designed to fix poverty. Those who could not manage on their own would be taken into the hulking buildings and reduced to numbers. Women and men were separated, and children went off to their own section. The working conditions were overwhelmingly desperate, and the prisoners of the workhouses suffered, trying to work long hours on a low-calorie diet.

Home Children was the child migration scheme that took root in 1869, directing 100,000 children towards countries like Canada and Australia. They suffered extreme hardships and had no social security network to protect them, and were overworked by the settlers of early Canada.

The original intention was to liberate children from crushing poverty and to provide brand new opportunities that they ordinarily wouldn’t find in the UK. In exchange for their labor, they would be provided with shelter and food. However, instead of being adopted into families, children often discovered that they were simply workers-in-training, and separated from the rest of the children living in the area. Tasked with work, they often suffered under the demands.

When we look at Anne of Green Gables, we often fail to see the darkness present in the text. Her comments about her past spent looking after young children and acting as the working child often slip by. She frequently experiences despair, having her own father figure die near the end of the first novel, and in later sequels watches her friend die from consumption and suffers herself a miscarriage. Grief and despair linger in the background of her bright enthusiasm, but we ignore it.

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In the most recent adaptation, Anne With An E took to Netflix and brought with it a nearly faithful adaptation. However, by layering in impressive twists to the original plot, they manage to reinvent the story. The formula is all the same— a red-haired orphan girl adopted by the elderly Cuthberts, and growing up over a string of adventures. It seems simple enough, but there is a brilliance that is added to the rehearsed formula.

The writers brought forward the darkness that loomed in the backdrop of the original source material. While Home Children and their legacy remain absent from the television adaption, flashes of previous trauma flicker across the screen, and the story introduces dangerous characters willing to inflict harm. In the second episode, viewers witness a man attempting to abduct children from the train station, and how close Anne is from being whisked away and never seen again. There is something startling in the casual aspect of the scene as audiences finally acknowledge the perils Anne finds herself engaged with.

One of the main elements to the first season was the harsh financial blow that the farm suffers, representing the dark difficulties of rural farming. The family running the farm depended on yearly success, and without it, things swiftly would go dark. This newly updated story provides insight to how crippling this devastation can be.

The only traces of Home Children can be found in the original inspiration for the novel, and that brings forward a shame. Having played a massive role in working in agricultural realms of Canada, they have been written out of history books. We fail to note our shortcomings in protecting and supporting these workers. Despite being children, they were shipped out for labour purposes only, and were lost from records over time. These children experienced limited agency and only found relief from the Home Children program during the Great Depression, when excess labour was no longer needed.

For now, their grim shadows can be found in the history behind Anne of Green Gables.

It is a fact that Canada fails to properly represent the Home Children. In 2009, the Minister of Immigration refused to apologize for the plight they underwent, and the suffering that they experienced at the hands of Canadians. Only a few token efforts were made to account for their presence, such as a plaque that can be found at the Home Children Memorial and Orphanage Building in Ottawa, a lone marker of the long history that sits in the shadows of elegant trees. A year after the Minister’s refusal to acknowledge the suffering of these labourers, the image of Home Children was printed into a postage stamp, rendered down in a plain piece of art.

As we fail to account for the labour that the country benefited from, the memory of these children suffocate under our silence.


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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 just to write bad poetry.

Goodbye God, I'm Going to Bodie

This post was first published on SPINE Online, November 26th, 2018.


Photo courtesy of werner22brigitte via Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of werner22brigitte via Pixabay.com

Hello, and welcome back to Voices in the Attic for your latest—and last—dose of the creepy and abandoned. This time, it falls upon me to tell you the story of another ghost town—Bodie, California, one of the most incredible and well-preserved examples of an nineteenth-century American boom town.

Bodie began life in 1859 as a small mining camp just east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, started by a group of prospectors including W.S Bodey from Poughkeepsie. It was allegedly Bodey who discovered gold there, but he died a few months later in a blizzard, long before the town was named after him.

It took another sixteen years or so before things started picking up in Bodie, which most historians attribute to the discovery of silver in Aurora and the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Virginia. However, by 1876 the discovery of a profitable gold deposit had transformed Bodie from an isolated camp to a growing mining town.

Three years later, Bodie’s population was anywhere between 5,000 to 7,000 people with facilities and an infrastructure to match. At its peak, Bodie boasted opium dens aplenty, breweries, hotels, four volunteer fire companies, railroads, schools, telegraph lines, a Taoist temple, a union hall, a busy red light district, a Wells Fargo bank, nine stamp mills, several daily newspapers and sixty-five saloons. It also had a large and thriving Chinese community, many of whom were employed supplying most of Bodie’s wood and coal. Newspapers at the time even recorded large Chinese New Years celebrations happening in Bodie each year.

Not surprisingly, jails and mortuaries were an absolute necessity because Bodie residents were killing each other in the street and committing crimes left, right and centre. In fact, the only thing the men of Bodie were exceptionally good at was getting violently drunk and shooting each other. It got so bad that Bodie earned itself a reputation for being lawless and depraved. Perhaps the most famous description was given in 1881 by the Reverend F.M Warrington, who described Bodie as “. . .a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion.”

Photo courtesy of McRonny via Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of McRonny via Pixabay.com

But eventually, the get-rich-quick prospectors moved on to greater things and families settled down while the mines were still operating at peak profitability. The relative peace and prosperity didn’t last for long though because, yes, you guessed it: the mines dried up and shut down. The Bodie boom was over, just twenty years after it started.

The city began haemorrhaging residents and money, a situation which was not at all helped by the two world wars and a massive fire in 1932 which destroyed ninety percent of Bodie’s buildings. By the 1940s Bodie was officially a ghost town, held in arrested decay the way its last residents left it. Now, Bodie is a popular tourist destination for those seeking to experience an authentic ‘Wild West’ town, but with that comes the threat of vandalism and theft.

Thankfully, park rangers came up with a preventative strategy that seemed to take on a life of its own. Rangers invented an urban legend to scare people off, or a faux curse if you will. The legend goes like this; If you take something from Bodie, you will be cursed with bad luck.

It could be a rock or the piano in the old gambling hall (which was actually stolen in the 60’s but returned.) Take anything, and expect bad things to befall you immediately. That’s all well and good. We love a good curse! But somehow, the curse became real. The rangers were soon receiving stolen items in the mail from tourists, begging for forgiveness after they took ‘souvenirs’ and began experiencing bad luck. Visitors describe sudden illnesses, car crashes, family deaths, all manner of ill-tidings, after leaving Bodie.

The following excerpt is from a letter sent to Bodie in 2002 by an anonymous sender:

"Fair warning for anyone that thinks this is just folklore—my life has never seen such turmoil. Please take my warning and do not remove even a speck of dust."

So, if you are thinking of going there, don’t take anything. Not just for your own sake, but for the sake of Bodie as well. The State Parks service also discourages tourists from testing the curse, as police reports must be filed each and every time they receive stolen artifacts in the mail. Much like the number one rule of camping: leave no trace.


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Natascha Wood

Say her name three times and she will appear.

Twitter: @oldvvitch

Don't Let Them In

This post was first published on SPINE Online, November 20th, 2018.


Imagine this: you’re sitting home alone, late at night, possibly curled up on the couch with the TV on. You’re right in the middle of the best part when, all of a sudden, there’s a knock at the door. You pause your show and get up to see who’s there.

When you reach the door you switch on the porch light from the inside, which illuminates two children standing on the front porch: a boy and a girl. They’re both very pale and their light hair hangs in their faces. You can’t tell if they’re distressed or in trouble, but why else would two children this young be on your doorstep so late at night? You reach for the handle to open the door and see what’s wrong when it hits you: a sense of dread so dark and overwhelming that you yank your hand off the doorknob as though burned.

You don’t say anything, but it doesn’t matter because a child’s voice floats through the door. “We’re lost and our mother will worry. Can you please let us in to use your phone?” What would you do? Most people would want to help two children lost in the middle of the night. Surely most people would open the door.

I highly recommend that you do not. Because here’s the kicker: when the children look up at you you’ll find that their eyes are entirely pitch black.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

The Black-Eyed Children are an urban legend that dates back to 1996. A reporter named Brian Bethel wrote a post about an encounter he had with two children with completely black eyes, along with an encounter he heard about someone else having elsewhere with similar children. Since then, there have been numerous other reports of children turning up on people’s doorsteps or by their cars, asking to be let in.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

According to the legend, these children generally range from 6 to 16 years old, are very pale and often have outdated clothing, or clothing you wouldn’t expect to see on children of that age. But aside from the pitch black eyes, nothing else seems to be out of place about them.

Every encounter with these children has followed the same general patterns. They appear on the doorstep of someone’s house and ask to be let into the home, usually asking to use the phone to call their mother who is worrying about them. If they appear by your car, they usually ask for a ride home — once again, because their mother is worrying.

These children cannot come into your house or your car without your explicit permission but thus far, in all of the reported encounters, this hasn’t been a problem. There are no reports of anyone being harmed by a black-eyed child because no one has ever been known to let them into the house. This is because everyone who’s encountered a black-eyed child reports the same overwhelming sense of fear and dread that washes over them the closer they get to the child.

There is no real confirmation of any of these encounters aside from the reports posted online from those claiming to have personal experiences with these black-eyed children. It’s simply a matter of word-of-mouth, so ultimately it leaves the rest of us to believe what we choose to.

That being said: should you ever find yourself face-to-face with a black-eyed child, with nothing but your front door between you and them – do not let them in.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com


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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.

RECLAIM

Check out  https://reclaimresist.weebly.com/  for more information about this stunning collection!

Check out https://reclaimresist.weebly.com/ for more information about this stunning collection!

RECLAIM: An Anthology of Women Poetry addresses the need for women to regain control and autonomy over their own bodies, and acts as a platform to represent their struggles and backgrounds. In this first part to the two-part anthology series, readers will not be disappointed with the diverse body of writers, connecting to different cultures, orientations, and races.

Published in May 2019, this anthology features forty-seven female writers, building a community within fluid poems that spread smoothly out over the pages. Engaging by how the voices promote unity in their struggles and encounters, this impressive collection will linger on in the minds of readers.

Easily shifting the balance, writers snatch at their own bodies and examine the carcasses left behind by society. This impressive literary collection features a variety of excellent work, but in particular “Training Bras” by Wanda Deglane andFat Girls on Trains” by Djamilla Mercurio demand for swift attention. Their concepts and experiences of bodies are immediately relatable, grabbing at attention. Often, women become disconnected from power and control over their bodies, and these two poems bring forward a whirlpool of emotions and experiences.

Women have spent decades struggling to find a platform for their voices. Pulling together groups of like-minded individuals, they have brought forward countless issues of gender experiences, and fought to be heard. Even with historical groups lobbying together for change, certain voices were sidelined and left unheard.

This anthology helps move forward. How we navigate our own lives is often an isolating experience, but this community of women pulls together their own experiences, and knits together an entire voyage of individual voices. Readers will certainly be enriched by this collection of poetry and group of women.


If you are looking for a host of voices that linger over the pages, do not hesitate in picking up RECLAIM: An Anthology of Women Poetry today.


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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.

The Grand Falling of Bhangarh Fort

This post was first published on SPINE Online, November 18th, 2018.


Built in the seventeenth century, the ruins of Bhangarh Fort are located at the edge of the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, India. At its peak, Bhangarh was a thriving village and fortified stronghold.  The fort consisted of temples, various public chambers and marketplaces, and the royal palace.

Today, the ruins attract visitors from all over, but everyone is advised to leave the area before sundown. In fact, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officially banned all entry at night. Why? Because Bhangarh Fort is the most haunted place in India, and all who enter after nightfall never return.

The sign from the ASI advising people not to be on the premises after dark.  Photo courtesy of Shahnawaz Sid via Flickr.

The sign from the ASI advising people not to be on the premises after dark.

Photo courtesy of Shahnawaz Sid via Flickr.

Locals believe the ruins are cursed, and don’t even live near the fort out of fear and superstition. All who have tried have had their roofs collapse. Reported hauntings range from spectral sightings to mysterious noises, and all occur at night. No one knows what actually happens inside though: those curious enough to investigate never come back.

Visitors during the daytime feel restless, dizzy, and watched throughout their stay, and often report hearing chattering, music, and footsteps throughout its ruined halls. Perhaps these mysterious sounds are from the spirits of its former inhabitants. Perhaps they are unaware that they have passed.

There are many speculations as to why the ruins are haunted, but here are the two most popular legends. Which one seems more real to you?

Legend 1

According to the first legend, the fort was built with the permission of a local holy man, Guru Balu Nath, with the condition that the structures didn’t interfere with his homestead. He promised that ruin would befall the fort if this condition wasn’t met. While this promise was initially honoured, unfortunately future constructions were built tall enough to cast a shadow on his house, and so the fort was doomed.

Photo courtesy of Mukul More via Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Mukul More via Flickr.

Legend 2

The next legend is the most popular story regarding the haunting of Bhangarh Fort, and of course, it involves a beautiful princess.

Princess Ratnavati had attracted the affections of many potential suitors, and among them was a practitioner of black magic. This magician, named Singhia, was so enamored that he tried giving her a love potion by lacing her perfume with the concoction.

The princess caught wind of his plans, threw the tainted item at a boulder, which rolled over Singhia and fatally wounded him. With his dying breath, the rejected magician placed a curse on the entire fort. Kinder tellings of the tale spare his life, but the fort was cursed all the same.

Regardless, Bhangarh Fort was ransacked shortly after Singhia cast his curse, and all of its inhabitants were killed—including Princess Ratnavati. The fort has been haunted ever since. Many who believe this legend claim that the curse will be lifted when the princess is reborn and returns to the fort, bringing its former glory with her.

If you are interested in visiting Bhangarh Fort, remember: don’t wander off, don’t wander after dark, and don’t ever believe that you are alone.


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.

A One-Star Yelp Review At Best

This post was first published on SPINE Online, November 16th, 2018.


Historically, an inn has been seen as symbol of good will and hospitality. Lured in by the promise of a hot fire crackling away and hearty food, people flocked to these establishments for an opportunity to find rest and comfort. The Bender’s family Inn, however, operated an establishment of murderous intent, slitting the throats of visitors and burying the bodies in the nearby apple orchard.

1871 saw an unusual family settle down on the outskirts of Cherryvale, Illinois, right on a road that connected to two major cities in the area. The Benders were a clever family of four, taking advantage of the location and dressing their home up to entice potential visitors into staying for a night or two.

Photo courtesy of Arno Smit via Unsplash.com

Photo courtesy of Arno Smit via Unsplash.com

The Benders helped to spice the local gossip mill, with the two men of the family both named John and the two women of the family both named Kate. Everyone had an opinion of the group, arguing if they were a family unit or two married couples. There was even a compelling argument that the women could have been witches involved in dark rituals steeped in sin and treachery. (Tragic that no one pegged the group for a bunch of murderers.)

The glory of living in the wild west was that this was the land of both opportunity and reinvention. It was also the perfect place to set up an elaborate business in killing unsuspecting visitors.

The one-star inn was small at best, located next to a flourishing apple orchard. Visitors might have been tempted by the rich smell of apple blossoms that hung from the trees in white clusters, making the inn seem harmless. Inside the inn the room had been cleverly arranged, with a front section hosting space for dining also serving as a general store. A canvas curtain divided the space, hiding the sleeping quarters behind it.

A chair was positioned directly against the curtain. It was referred to by the Benders as the best seat in the inn and they would encourage visitors to seat themselves upon it. Perhaps the visitors who took that seat were being kind and pretended that the odd stains upon the curtain were not there. They might have also been distracted by the younger Kate, who would often entertain them as they sat.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Both of the Johns would swap positions, taking turns standing behind the curtain with a hammer waiting for the chance to strike down hard the moment the guest relaxed and let their head brush against the curtain. Once the two Johns had made their move, Kate would attack, slitting their throats with a knife.

Bodies were handled with skill and dragged into a cellar. The family would wait for nightfall to bury their victims in the orchard. The elder John would often plow the soft earth of the orchard to disguise the shape of the freshly dug earth. Most bodies had been brutalized in their murder except the body of a young girl, found beneath her dead father. A fear spread quickly that she had been buried alive.

Perhaps if the internet had existed in the 1870s, reviews could have been given. Potential visitors would have been advised of the startling behaviors of their hosts or the curious sounds of moaning from beneath the floorboards.

While no one ever discovered if the Benders were biologically related, or pagan worshippers, it was quite clear that the entire family were terrible hospitality workers.

If your heart is truly set on staying at a murderous location, however, check out this link for some ‘safer’ suggestions.


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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.

Lizzie Borden Took an Axe

“Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks, and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.”

Many are familiar with the old rhyme about a very real set of murders that took place back in 1892. That year, on August 4th in Fall River, Massachusetts, Andrew and Abby Borden were found murdered in their home. They had been hacked to death with an axe so many times their bodies were barely recognizable. History’s favourite suspect for the murders is their daughter, Lizzie Borden

However, Lizzie was never proven guilty, and these murders remain unsolved to this day.

Lizzie Borden was the daughter of Andrew Borden and the step-daughter of Abby Borden. She was the one to discover Andrew’s body, and set off the subsequent chain of events that were later immortalized in history.

Photo courtesy of Payette Media House via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of Payette Media House via Adobe Stock

Contrary to what the rhyme would suggest, it wasn’t forty strikes or an axe to each of the two murder victims, but instead, twenty-nine altogether. Nonetheless, these murders were particularly brutal. Those that saw the bodies described them as completely unrecognizable, and were quite sickening. Andrew Borden in particular had a number of blows to the face, one of which had gouged out his left eye.

The detail that really confused law enforcement, though, was the lack of blood anywhere but on the bodies, and the lack of any signs of a struggle within the homes. Andrew was found lying on the sofa, and Abby was found on the floor of her bedroom, but everything surrounding them and around the rest of the house was completely untouched.

Before Lizzie was accused, the main suspicion had fallen upon a labourer who worked for Andrew Borden. The labourer was supposedly by the house earlier that day to ask for the wages he’d earned, only to be sent away with nothing by Andrew Borden himself. It was also believed, due to certain medical evidence found on Abby’s body, that she’d been attacked by a tall male.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Despite such evidence, however, the suspicion did eventually fall on Lizzie. There were many reasons for this, including the fact that some people said that she had never gotten along with her step-mother, as well as the fact that police believed the murders had to have been committed by someone in the Borden house, and the only people home that day were Lizzie and the Bordens’ maid, Bridget “Maggie” Sullivan. There was also suspicion that Lizzie didn’t have a positive relationship with her father at all, and that many of the details she’d provided in her defence just didn’t add up.

Lizzie said she was in the barn on the property, looking for equipment for an upcoming fishing trip, at the time of her father’s murder. She insisted she was in there for about fifteen minutes, but according to further investigation into the details of that day, the barn was far too hot for someone to want to be in there for more than just a few minutes. In addition, there were no footprints in the dust where Lizzie said she’d been looking.

Another piece of evidence brought to the attention of police was a blue dress. Bridget Sullivan said that Lizzie had been wearing it on the morning of the murders, and a friend of the Bordens’ later testified in court that she’d seen Lizzie burning it. When questioned about this, Lizzie said she’d been burning it because it had old paint on it.

Nevertheless, none of the evidence found was enough to lock Lizzie away, and law enforcement concluded that she wasn’t capable of the murders anyway as she’d never done an unkind thing in her life. She was eventually cleared of the crime, and the murders were never solved.

Photo courtesy of it’s me neosiam via Pexels.com

Photo courtesy of it’s me neosiam via Pexels.com

The continued interest in the Borden murders after all this time goes beyond a simple unsolved crime, however. 92 Second Street, where the Borden house is located, is still open. In fact, now it’s the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/ Museum. As horrific as the murders were, their setting has now been turned into a place for tourists, which you too can visit, should you have the courage. And the tours that go through here don’t stop at historical facts about the Borden family or the crimes. Paranormal tours are hosted at the location as well, for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the spirits said to still be hanging around in the house. In fact, the Borden house is actually home to significant paranormal tourism and opportunities, because anyone who joins the tour is invited to bring a Ouija board, or use one that’s provided, and are taught how to contact the spirit world.

I personally wouldn’t start off contacting the spirit world in the setting of such horrifying crimes, but there are certainly braver souls out there than me. And should you find yourself interested, feel free to follow the above link, and sign yourself up.


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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.