When I was a kid, we had these books in our school library, called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. There were three different volumes, and each was a collection of short horror stories for children. I read a single story in them once, and terrified myself so much that I didn’t sleep for a week.
But my best friend growing up adored them. She was constantly sitting in the aisles reading them, and checking them out to bring home. She was always much braver than me, and spent a large majority of our shared childhood trying to convince me to share her love of horror stories. (Actually, she did, eventually. That shout-out in my bio about being forced to watch Paranormal Activity? That was her.) Nonetheless, at the time, I wouldn’t bite.
But for years, she’d tell me scary stories she’d read, make up legends of her own, or even insist that her own basement was haunted. I of course, vehemently denied it all. But there were still many-a-night that I lay awake in bed, too terrified to open my eyes, but also too terrified to fall asleep.
She was, or so it seemed to me, utterly fearless. That is until we came across the urban legend about the Hook-Man.
I don’t remember where she found this story. I don’t remember if it was in one of the books in the library, or if someone had told it to her, but I know that we learned it long before we were allowed access to the Internet. Regardless, this was a story that got to her. Remember my post about Bloody Mary? Well, as it would seem, the Hook-Man is my friend’s Bloody Mary. To this day, she refuses to get into her car after dark without first checking the trunk and the doors.
As with any urban legend, there are several variations of the story, but generally speaking, it begins with a young couple, up on Lover’s Lane by themselves in a parked car for some… alone time. They’ve got the music on the radio for some ambiance, but their good ol’ makeout session is interrupted by a sudden radio broadcast.
It tells them that a patient of a nearby mental institution has broken out, and that he’s crazed and murderous. He’s also missing his right hand. In its place is a hook, that he wields as a weapon. The radio broadcast encourages the young couple - and anyone else listening - to be careful while they’re out and about, and to call the police immediately with any information they come across about the Hook-Man.
The girl in this legend immediately becomes terrified upon hearing the broadcast and insists her boyfriend take her home. He, however, is not scared at all, and just wants to go back to getting it on. He tries to keep kissing her, but the mood has effectively been ruined. In many versions of the legend, she even insists that she’s heard scratching on the car door.
Annoyed, the boyfriend relents, begrudgingly, and takes her home. When they arrive at her home, he gets out of the car to open her door, but just stares at the handle. She then jumps out herself to see what’s the matter, and there, hanging on the handle of the door, is a silver, bloodied hook.
Now, this is one of many endings to the legend. In a surprisingly large amount of variations, the boyfriend doesn’t survive, and is instead murdered by the Hook-Man. In others, the escaped murderer is out to punish all college students that are sexually active. In all versions he’s a cautionary tale against teenagers disobeying their parents to sneak out after dark, and engage in underage sex.
In fact, some even believe that the legend is based in reality, because in the 1960s, the legend was mailed in as a Dear Abby letter, framed as though it were a real event that teenagers needed to be warned about.
Regardless of whether or not the legend is real, it was enough to scare my friend, and I’m sure many other people over the years. But isn’t that the whole point of a good urban legend?
Let me know your thoughts down below! I’m quite interested in urban legends, so feel free to comment or send in a submission of an urban legend you’ve heard of, and it might even appear in a later post!
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.