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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.

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.

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.

Frozen in Time and Open for Visitation

This post was first published on SPINE Online, October 28th, 2018.


Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, the fact remains that horror is not simply limited to fiction. The debate over whether or not ghosts do exist is one that’s been argued for centuries. However, what is not up for debate is the existence of ghost towns. Perhaps you’ve seen coverage of this matter in a movie. Think Silent Hill for a popular example. But ghost towns don’t just exist in the movies. They are very real. And, ironically, considering the name, they tend to draw quite a large amount of lively tourism to them.

Have you ever wondered how many ghost towns there are, dotted throughout our world of the living? Perhaps you’ve even heard of some, like Hashima Island in Japan, or Oradour-sur-Glane in France. Or, perhaps you’ve heard of the one I intend to cover today: Pripyat.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Chernobyl Disaster, this is the breakdown: On the morning of April 26th, 1986, in Pripyat, Ukraine there was a power surge in the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl power plant. It triggered a chain reaction that ultimately led to a catastrophic nuclear disaster. Prior to this event, Pripyat, the city most directly affected by the accident, held a population of approximately 14,000 people. After the disaster, it held 0.

But the thing that makes Pripyat so fascinating is the tourism that it attracts. The reasons for the abandonment of all ghost towns in this world vary greatly, but Pripyat’s is still relevant, even now, some thirty years later. It remains to this day extremely radioactive, and experts predict that it will remain that way for hundreds of years still to come due to health risks posed from the radiation. The include various kinds of cancer, deformations, and acute radiation syndrome. In fact, many people who evacuated Pripyat in the early days following the accident developed cancer and subsequently died from it.

Despite this level of danger, Pripyat has attracted countless tourists from all over the world. Evidently radiation has died down just enough to allow tours through parts of the city, but if you ask me it’s still a very calculated risk by all those that enter. After all, every person that goes into Pripyat on a tour must be cleared by a radiation detection machine before leaving. How inviting!

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

But I can understand the fascination that ghost towns such as this generate. Maybe it’s a side effect of being a writer, this unrelenting curiosity, but it’s astounding to me that a place which was once so thriving and grandiose could turn into something so haunting and left-behind. Pripyat in particular looks and feels like a place completely frozen in time. There are pictures of dolls and teddy bears left behind, old classrooms and nurseries completely as they were, but with a thick layer of dust and decay covering them now. There is even a ferris wheel that was new and completely unused at the time of the evacuation that stands in this vacant world inhabited by nothing but radiation, dust and debris, and perhaps the occasional animal.

But when I really get thinking, I have to wonder if the radiation is truly the only thing that haunts the city.

I’m not saying outright that Pripyat is a town full of ghosts. But I have a hard time believing that a town that was abandoned so quickly and so entirely by all its living inhabitants wasn’t taken back over by inhabitants of a different kind.

For a more detailed guide on the requirements of touring Pripyat, please refer to this blog written by Stephanie Craig, a woman who participated in a tour group through the city herself.


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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 Year Without Summer

Before 1815, Mount Tambora, measuring at 4,300 metres tall, was one of the largest volcanoes on Earth. For comparison’s sake, Yellowstone is currently 2,805 metres tall, and Mauna Kea, the world’s current largest volcano is 4,205 metres (excluding the section below sea-level).

On April 5th, 1815, tremors began to shake Mount Tambora, a volcano located on Sumbawa Island, in present-day Indonesia. For a few days it seemed like it would be just like any other volcanic eruption. But on April 10th, a catastrophic eruption occurred, which was so massive it could be heard as far away as Sumatra Island, over 2,000 kilometres away, and its effects reached as far as Europe and North America. To this day it remains the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. It measured at a 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), a number that was last reached in 180 AD when the Lake Taupo volcano erupted.

For a more detailed look at how big the Tambora eruption and its after-effects were, Erik Klemetti gives an excellent breakdown in the article “Tambora 1815: Just How Big Was The Eruption?

Photo courtesy of  Jagoush  via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of Jagoush via Adobe Stock

When Tambora first erupted, approximately 10,000 people were killed immediately. It was later discovered that these were all residents of a village that had previously lived in the shadow of the volcano. The village was also called Tambora, and after the eruption it was completely buried in volcanic ash and pyroclastic flows.

Many decades later, various remains and signs of the life that had once existed there were eventually uncovered. Items such as dishes, pots, and glasses were found. In addition to these belongings, entire homes, which included the remains of people still in them, were found, buried beneath volcanic debris.

On top of this, the language that was spoken in this area was exclusive to Tambora, so when the village was wiped out, so was the language. An entire place, its culture, its language, and its residents were completely removed from the map in a matter of moments.

Those first 10,000 people, however, were unfortunately not the only victims of Mount Tambora’s volcanic wrath. Over the next couple of years, the deal toll from the aftermath totalled close to 90,000 people.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The continuously rising death toll that followed over the years was due to many different problems such as crop failures, subsequent famine, problems resulting from ash build-up in the Earth’s atmosphere, etc. In fact, there was so much ash build-up that it blocked out the sun’s rays and global temperatures dropped by an average of 1-2 degrees Celsius for the following year, which plunged the world into a volcanic winter. In North America, there was frost and snowfall throughout the months of June, July, and August. Because of this, 1816 was dubbed “The Year Without a Summer”. In fact, temperatures around the world were in flux for a few years afterwards.

Climate change wasn’t the only thing that the eruption of Mount Tambora and the subsequent “Year Without a Summer” inspired, however. Because of all the ash build-up in the atmosphere, sunsets that year were a particularly vibrant shade of orange, and despite the terrible reason behind them, they were strikingly beautiful. Painters such as J.M.W. Turner were inspired to capture the beautiful sunsets, and writers such as Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Pidoltri created works inspired by the event. In the summer of 1816, the three writers took a trip to Lake Geneva. But because temperatures were all colder than usual that year, they were stuck inside a cabin for much of their time. To keep themselves amused, they created a contest among themselves to see who could come up with the scariest story. Shelly presented Frankenstein, Byron presented his poem, “Darkness”, and Pidoltri presented Vampyre.

Art wasn’t the only thing that came out of this horrible aftermath, however. The invention of the bicycle, the discovery of Indiana and Illinois and the birth of the anti-slavery movement were also attributed to the aftermath of Mount Tambora’s eruption.

Photo courtesy of  homocosmicos  via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of homocosmicos via Adobe Stock

1815 was Mount Tambora’s largest eruption, but it wasn’t the only one. Tambora remains to this day an active volcano, and it had two more eruptions after 1815, in 1880 and 1967. There was also higher seismic activity in the volcano between 2011 and 2013.

Nowadays, Tambora stands at approximately 2,851 metres high. It’s about half of what it once was, and though it’s still active, it doesn’t pose the same threat it did prior to 1815. That being said, Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with, and there are plenty of other volcanoes - such as Yellowstone - that lie in wait. And if Yellowstone does decide to go, well, the effects are extremely likely to rival even those of Tambora.

We can never truly know when the next disaster will happen. All we can do is treat the Earth with respect, try to be prepared, and acknowledge that everything is a little more interlinked than we are perhaps willing to admit.


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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.

A Screaming Omen

Irish mythology contains a lot of twisted creatures that have, over time, been cast aside in favour of more light-hearted, Disney-like creatures. For example, when you hear the word ‘fairy’, what exactly comes to mind? A thumb-sized, blonde girl with a green dress and a magic wand? Tinkerbelle certainly had an attitude, but she isn’t exactly what I’d call dangerous.

Fairies from Irish mythology, on the other hand—the real, original fairies—are a little less “faith, trust, and pixie dust”, and a little more problematic. But Irish mythology covers quite a lot of creatures that are classified as fairies, such as banshees.

Photo courtesy of  rodjulian  via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of rodjulian via Adobe Stock

The origin of banshees has been traced back to the 8th century, where they were, regardless of what you believe in, real women. They were hired to stand outside the houses of those who were close to death, or at the funerals of those who’d already died, singing mournful tunes in order to help family and friends of the dead grieve. These women were referred to as keeners, because of the sounds they made for their songs.

As time went on, however, these women and their jobs became less popular. Reality faded into legend, and the keeners were replaced by banshees—spirits that roamed the hills of Ireland, warning the living that someone around them was soon to join the land of the dead.

Contrary to what some would believe banshees aren’t actually harmful. Banshees are harbingers of death: they don’t cause it, they simply warn of it.

However, while it seems to be agreed upon that they can take several different forms, ranging from a hauntingly beautiful young woman to a wrinkly old hag, it seems that the myth has formed different iterations over time. In some instances, the banshee is an angry spirit that trails their enemies, shrieking in celebration when said enemy finally dies. In others, they’re very dedicated to their families, even in death, and they follow them around, singing songs of sorrow, or screaming a warning into the night when a family member is about to pass on.

Photo courtesy of  locrifa  via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of locrifa via Adobe Stock

In the latter, the legend goes so far as to say that banshees follow very specific families. That list has grown over the years, but it originates with the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, the O’Grady’s, and the Kavanaghs. Each family was believed to have its own banshee, and as the members married and had children, the family’s banshee would continue to follow each descendant and watch over them for generation after generation.

While mostly considered to be a myth in modern-day culture, the belief in banshees was originally so strong in Ireland that it was considered blasphemous if you were someone who didn’t believe.

Nowadays, no one can really say for sure. But if you ever find yourself in Ireland, and are awoken by a piercing scream, be aware that death may be near.


What are some myths you’ve heard around the world? Feel free to leave stories in the comments 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.

The Ghost of Watson's Mill

When I was a kid, my grandma told me my first ghost story. Maybe this doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but my grandma doesn’t like ghost stories. She doesn’t believe in them, she doesn’t tell them, they just “aren’t her cup of tea” as she’d tell me.

But she told me this one. So, without further ado, here’s a story this Voice has been meaning to tell from the beginning:

On the way out of Ottawa, Canada, there is a small suburb called Manotick. I’ve been there myself countless times growing up. It was where the best dancewear store was, so my mom would take me to buy all of my clothes and shoes. It’s where my mom rushed me to practice from school every day for the two years I was in the Nutcracker. It’s where my mom took me and my grandma for Sunday afternoon lunches when I was a kid.

Photo courtesy of  emkaplin  via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of emkaplin via Adobe Stock

It’s a peaceful, sleepy little town, with cute shops and beautiful scenery, The Rideau River runs right through.

But in the very heart of this peaceful, sleepy little suburb, it’s also where Watson’s Mill stands.

Watson’s Mill is not in itself a problem. It was opened in 1860, by Joseph Merrill Currier and Moss Kent Dickinson. They had obtained the water rights to the property just a year previous, and in fact, it’s Dickinson who’s said to have named Manotick in the first place, after the Ojibwa word for ‘long island’ or ‘island in the water’.

It was a powerful mill; according to Rideau-info.com, it “was capable of producing 100 barrels of flour a day and the sawmill could cut up to two million board feet per year.” The problem in this story was a combination of things.

In 1861, on the one year anniversary of the mill’s opening, Joseph Currier brought his new bride, Anne Crosby Currier, in for a tour. They made it all the way up to the attic, while Joseph pointed out all the machinery and inner-workings of the mill to his beloved bride. On their way back down, however, tragedy struck.

Photo courtesy of  bonciutoma  via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of bonciutoma via Adobe Stock

Anne was dressed in a flowing dress with a hooped skirt that allowed the dress to drag behind her. It was no doubt a beautiful dress, but an unfortunately disastrous choice to wear inside the mill.

On their way back down from the attic, between the third and second floor, a part of Anne’s dress got caught in one of the Mill’s rotating shafts. The rotating shafts moved too quickly for her to realize in time to pull herself free, and she was yanked against a pillar, dying on impact.

Joseph was so heartbroken that when he left the mill that day, he never looked back. He sold his shares to his partner, and never again returned. Anne, on the other hand, never left.

Over the years, many have reported seeing and hearing things that had no explanation while wandering in and around the Mill. Some reported seeing a woman peering out of a second-floor window, while others swore they heard light footsteps creaking across the upstairs floorboards, even when there was no one up there to make them. What’s more, some visitors to the Mill even report being grabbed or shoved while walking around the upper floors. Many believe it to be Anne, likely trying to warn them away from the same fate she suffered.


378967_238880029509354_1636456070_n.jpg

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 Hook-Man

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.

Photo via scaryforkids.com

Photo via scaryforkids.com

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.

Photo Courtesy of Ella_K via Pixabay.com

Photo Courtesy of Ella_K via Pixabay.com

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.

Photo via thesanguinewoods.com

Photo via thesanguinewoods.com

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!


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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 Screaming Tunnel

This post was first published on SPINE Online, October 13th, 2018.


Niagara Falls, Canada is home to many ghosts. Countless landmarks are actually inhabited by citizens that once walked the streets of this beautiful place, and now refuse (or are unable) to move on. Perhaps you’ve even heard of some of its most famous haunts: The Olde Angel Inn, The Blue Ghost Tunnel, and The Doll’s House Gallery, to name just a few. It’s also home to a place known as “The Screaming Tunnel”, which is an old railway tunnel that has attracted a couple of ghosts of its own.

The first is an old woman whose story many locals have passed down through the years. Back when there was still a small neighbourhood nearby the tunnel, this woman lived in one of those houses with her husband. Legend goes that she and her husband would be up every night fighting, and that when they finished, she’d storm down to the tunnel, and scream at the top of her lungs. The neighbours believed that she was trying to make everyone feel the pain she did in her marriage. When she died, it would appear that she kept returning to her tunnel to scream.

The main ghost in the tunnel, however, is where the story gets interesting. It also happens to be where the story gets really twisted.

The most popular ghost in the Screaming Tunnel is a young girl, thought to be around 14 years old. The problem is, as time has passed, her story has gotten more and more warped, and three variations currently exist. But they all end the same way.

Photo Courtesy of Johannes Rapprich via Pexels.com

Photo Courtesy of Johannes Rapprich via Pexels.com

The first variation of the story says that she was a little girl who got caught in a nearby barn fire, and ran to the water that flowed through the tunnel at the time in an effort to soak her burns. But she was too late, and succumbed to her burns while lying in the stream.

The second variation believed her to be the child caught in the middle of a bitter custody battle between her mother and father. When her father lost, he became so enraged, that he took her down to the tunnel, doused her in gasoline, and burned her alive.

The third variation is the most horrifying. It involves the little girl being sexually assaulted by an old man who, in order to destroy the evidence of his crime, murdered her, and burned her body in the tunnel.

Regardless of the lead up to the event, because of the fact that she died burning, it’s believed that anyone who enters the tunnel and tries to light a match will draw out her spirit, which becomes so terrified of the flame, that she blows it out. This inability to light a match in the tunnel, and the sound of screaming often heard, is what draws people and their curiosity to the site.

No one quite knows which story – if any –  is real, but there are many legends about this tunnel aside from the above mentioned. Either way, next time you find yourself in Niagara Falls, consider checking out the tunnel. Just beware of any screaming that you hear emanating from inside. And whatever you do – never light a match.


378967_238880029509354_1636456070_n.jpg

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.

Stop and Smell the Poison

As children, many of us wasted away hours traipsing through our parents’ gardens, pretending to be princes or princesses, witches, dragons, and all kinds of other fantastical things. Our imaginations ran wild, and with such a beautiful backdrop like the sweet-smelling flowers planted by our parents, it was the perfect scene to set the mood.

Photo courtesy of Jacqui via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Jacqui via Flickr

The world is full of many different gardens that range in size and beauty. One such place is the Alnwick Garden, located in North East England. This garden, however, is unlike the ones we all grew up playing in for more reasons than one. For behind all the roses, and tulips, and tiger-lilies, far at the back, a black, iron gate is found, warning all those brave enough to enter. Because The Alnwick garden is very beautiful indeed. But it’s also the world’s deadliest garden.

In 1995, when Ralph Percy became the 12th Duke of Northumberland, his wife, Jane Percy (now the Duchess of Northumberland) obtained ownership of Alnwick Castle’s garden. Her husband instructed her to do something about the garden, which had fallen into an unfortunate state of disuse over the years. Not wanting to have just any lovely, traditional garden, the Duchess, taking inspiration from a trip to Italy’s poison garden, Medici, decided to gather as many of the world’s most lethal plants as she could find, and plant them for her own collection. Today, the Alnwick Poison Garden gathers around 600,000 visitors a year, so the Duchess was clearly onto something.

The garden is full of all manner of poisonous and deadly plants. With a range of different plants, from the simple cannabis plants, to those much more vile, such as Amorphophallus Titanum - also known as ‘the corpse flower’ which is named for the fact that it smells like a dead body. The symptoms and effects the plants in this garden have on people also vary. Some simply smell horrible, while others have horrifying, physical effects: Hemlock causes muscular paralysis, including the muscles required in breathing. Foxgloves, in addition to hallucinations, also cause vomiting, blurry vision, seizures, and death. And one of my personal favourites, Atropa Belladonna, more commonly known as “Deadly Nightshade”, has the ability to cause dilation of the pupils, hallucinations, rashes, and death.

Atropa Belladonna; Photo courtesy of DerWeg via Pixabay.com

Atropa Belladonna; Photo courtesy of DerWeg via Pixabay.com

In the past, these plants have been primarily used for innocent means, leaving the user to learn a little too late of the real effects. Deadly Nightshade, for example, was often used by Venetian women in drops from the berries juice, because as mentioned above, it dilated their pupils, and they believed this made them more attractive. Too bad it also made them go blind, in addition to its other less-than-pleasant effects mentioned above.

Angel’s Trumpet was thought to be a strong aphrodisiac, and Victorian women often added a little of its pollen to their tea in order to experience its high. Unbeknownst to them, Angel’s Trumpet, in addition to hallucinations and delirium, also causes comas and death. Not exactly worth the high if you ask me.

Photo courtesy of Duncan Andison via Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Duncan Andison via Shutterstock

Because of the degrees of deadliness of all the plants contained within, Alnwick’s poison garden is littered with warning signs, discouraging all visitors from eating, touching, smelling, or even getting too close to the plants. However, there are always those that choose not to listen, and it should come as no surprise a number of people pass out in the gardens each year, and there are countless health and safety reports written up. Word to the wise: don’t ignore the signs.

The signs, however, are not the garden’s only means of security for the general public against these plants. The garden was granted special permission to grow coca plants (cocaine) and marijuana plants (weed), both of which are kept in metal cages within the garden because of the effects they can have on the human body. Duchess Jane Percy uses these plants to get across an anti-drug message to children who tour the garden, telling Smithsonian Magazine that “it’s a way of educating children without having them realize they’re being educated.”

Ultimately, that’s the goal of the garden: to showcase something unique, but also to teach everyone who visits about the world’s most dangerous plants, and what they can do. In fact, not every plant in the garden is just lethal - some actually have other uses too that, when handled properly, can actually be quite helpful.

Opium Poppy; Photo courtesy of Vishnevskiy Vasily via Shutterstock

Opium Poppy; Photo courtesy of Vishnevskiy Vasily via Shutterstock

Take, for instance, the opium poppy. It has a wide array of uses that range from harmless to harmful, depending on which part of the plant you use, and in which concentration. Its ripe seeds can be harvested as an ingredient in some baked goods, oils and seasonings, and can even be used as birdseed. The capsules of its unripe seeds, however, fall on the more dangerous end, as the milky latex within is what is used to produce drugs such as opium, morphine, codeine, and heroin, all of which have positive medical uses, but are lethal when overused.

Of course, not everyone to ever have made use of these kinds of plants used them for pure reasons. In London in 2010, a young woman was arrested for crushing up Monkshood seeds and sprinkling them in a curry for her ex-lover.

Thankfully, no one has ever died in the garden. So if you’re like me, and itching for a chance (no pun intended) to get into this garden and have a peek around, check out places such as Trip Advisor. Just remember to heed the warning signs, lest you be one of the many visitors to pass out among the beautiful, but deadly plants.


I couldn’t even begin to cover all of the plants in this awe-inspiring garden, but feel free to leave a comment below about your favourite deadly plant, and what exactly makes it so harmful. Perhaps I’ll even re-visit this topic in the future, and do a post on some of the specific plants behind the black iron gates.


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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.

Yukon Jack with a Dash of Cannibalism

Here at Voices in the Attic, we promise to bring you a regular dose of all things creepy. And I like to think we’ve made good on that promise. Today, however, I bring you something new. While you can still call it creepy, this story is one I think is just plain gross. So buckle up, readers, and allow me to tell you about one of Canada’s most hilariously disgusting traditions: The Sourtoe Cocktail.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Sager via The Wallstreet Journal

Photo courtesy of Ryan Sager via The Wallstreet Journal

As of 2016, Dawson City, Yukon held a population of 1,375 people. Despite this limited population, it draws tourists from all over the globe. All of this is due to a creative, crazy tradition, held within the Sourdough Saloon. The tradition involves joining “The Sourtoe Cocktail Club”, by drinking the club’s namesake.

The Sourtoe Cocktail is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a shot of alcohol with a human toe in it. The toe has actually been through several incarnations, all of which come with their own unique backstory.

The tradition began, as legend would have it, with a pair of brothers. Louie and Otto Liken were miners and rum runners during the 1920s. One day they were caught in a blizzard, and Louie suffered severe frostbite that ultimately cost him one of his toes. The brothers preserved the toe in a jar of alcohol as a way to commemorate their trip. It’s uncertain how it left their possession, but once it did, it ended up in the possession of Captain Dick Stevenson, in 1973.

Intending it as a joke, Captain Dick decided to start an exclusive club, which had only a single rule in order to gain membership: anyone who wished to be a member was required to drink the Sourtoe Cocktail. As he liked to say: “You can drink it fast. You can drink it slow. But your lips must touch that gnarly toe.” There weren’t any other specifications besides that. Some say that originally you had to drink the shot with whiskey, but these days it can be any kind of alcohol that’s 40% or higher. Most elect to drink the cocktail with Yukon Jack.

Photo courtesy of Vancouver Courier

Photo courtesy of Vancouver Courier

But sadly, the first toe was not long for this world. In 1980, a man named Garry Younger was attempting to break the Sourtoe record of most shots in one sitting. He made it through thirteen before his chair fell backwards, causing him to accidentally swallow the toe.

Not much is known about the second cocktailed toe, other than the fact that it was donated from somebody who had it amputated after discovering they had an inoperable corn.

The third toe, much like the first, was donated from a victim of frostbite, and also became the victim of swallowing from a saloon patron.

Toe number four mixed the legend up a bit, and was donated anonymously before later being stolen.

Both the fifth and sixth toes were donated to the saloon by an old patron of the saloon who wished to exchange his withered digits for a round of drinks for his nurses.

Toe seven was about as uneventful as toe number two, in that all anyone seems to recall about it is that it came from someone who had it amputated due to diabetes.

The eighth toe—and my personal favourite—was dropped off at the saloon in a jar of alcohol with a note that simply said: “Don’t wear open-toe sandals while mowing the lawn.” Important words for all of us to keep in mind! But this is not the only reason this toe is of particular interest. On August 24th, 2013, toe number eight met its demise when a man named Joshua Clark walked into the saloon and ordered, as many had before him, a Sourtoe Cocktail.

Photo courtesy of LadyHobo via Ladyhobo.com *

Photo courtesy of LadyHobo via Ladyhobo.com *

Clark was not the first patron of the Sourdough Saloon to swallow one of the toes. He was, however, the very first to do it intentionally. Upon ordering his shot, he promptly downed the whole thing, toe and all, and paid the $500 fine attached to the toe in case of swallowing, and then immediately left the bar. Because of him, the fine was subsequently hiked up to $2,500.

His actions also deeply angered Terry Lee—otherwise known as the Toe Captain: the man who oversees the drinking of each Sourtoe Cocktail—who then sent a search party after Clark and the toe, which was comprised of bartenders and regulars at the saloon alike, as well as, according to some, a few Hell’s Angels.

This search party never found Clark, however, and by the following morning, he’d left town. He was then permanently banned from the Sourdough Saloon.

Fortunately for the legend though, the saloon had two toes in circulation at the time, and Clark only swallowed one, so the cocktails were still able to continue. However, toe number eight was allegedly Toe Captain Terry’s favourite, and he was very displeased that not only was it stolen, but that the remaining toe was suffering from overuse and would, therefore, need to be replaced soon.

According to CBC, Clark felt so guilty about what he’d done that he eventually got in contact with the saloon, and willed his own big, right toe to them upon his death. Whether or not Clark intends to keep that promise remains to be seen, but nonetheless, the Sourtoe Cocktail is still in circulation today, awaiting the next brave souls willing to give it a kiss.

Perhaps you’ll even be one of them.


*This particular photo came from the blog of a woman listed simply as “Lady Hobo”. She’s clearly someone who’s been to the Sourdough Saloon, and I encourage you to read her article, The Sourtoe Cocktail Experience, because not only does it include facts not in my post (including the fact that the Toe Captain has a list called “The Captain’s Shit List” with names of past “Toe Abusers”), but it’s a really well written article.

Let me know in the comments down below if you’ve ever tried the Sourtoe Cocktail, or if you ever would!


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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.

West Coast Ghosts

British Columbia, on Canada’s West Coast, is known for many things. The Rocky Mountains, for instance, or perhaps the groups of killer whale that populate the ocean around Victoria and Vancouver. But B.C., much like many other places around the world, is also home to its fair share of ghosts.

Today we’ll be addressing what many refer to as the most haunted place in Victoria. It was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who lives out there, and now I’ll be bringing it to your attention in the hopes of giving you a few shivers yourself.

Photo courtesy of Victoria News

Photo courtesy of Victoria News

These days, Bastion Square is a pedestrian mall filled with shops, food, and the hustle and bustle of people going about their daily lives. But the same couldn’t always be said. Many of the buildings that existed back then have been converted into modern uses, but a number of their past residents and memories still remain. It’s believed that there are hardly any buildings in Bastion Square that don’t have at least a ghost or two within their walls.

What was formerly the old Supreme Court building now houses the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, which draws in a high number of tourists on a daily basis. But the visitors that walk these floors are not always of the living variety, and when you take into consideration the building’s history, you come to understand why.

Originally, the grounds upon which the old Supreme Court Building was built were home to the old jailhouse and the city’s first gallows. And to make matters even creepier, quite a few of the men who were hanged at this location still call the ground beneath its foundations their final resting place.The jail was knocked down in 1885, and the old Supreme Court building was taken over by the Maritime Museum in 1965, but some things about the site’s history were never altered. And they continue to walk the streets they once knew.

And it would seem that walking around the places they once lived isn’t the only thing these ghosts do. Visitors to Bastion Square and its various buildings have been known to report several different kinds of hauntings, and those who visit the old Supreme Court building in particular, talk of hearing footsteps running down the stairs (but coming from nowhere), whispers coming from unknown sources, and even some instances of objects moving around the gift shop on their own. Some guests have even reported hands pushing them while on the stairs.

But as I said, the old Supreme Court building is not the only place in Bastion Square that’s haunted, and it’s certainly not the only place where people have claimed to see or hear things that weren’t really there.

Photo courtesy of  Bobenis Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Bobenis Rodriguez

One of the paths out of Bastion Square is Helmcken Alley, a place that, in the past, ran right by the jailhouse and gallows. Muffled footsteps and dragging chains are among the sounds that have been reported by those walking through here, but perhaps the scariest claim comes from those that insist they’ve seen a prisoner, still dressed in prison uniform and chains, following them through the alley.

It’s believed that at least two of the prisoners killed there were actually innocent, and one of them didn’t even make it to the gallows. Instead, he was murdered by a prison guard who was supposed to be taking him to his execution. It’s believed that the guard grew impatient with the prisoner, and decided to beat him to death instead of waiting for him to be hung. These days, many believe that the same prisoner is now the ghost that follows passersby through Helmcken Alley.

These are just a few of many stories that come out of Bastion Square in Victoria, B.C., so I encourage you to check into it some more if you’re curious. Or even better, maybe take a visit for yourself if you’re nearby. If not, I’ve heard many great things about Canada’s West Coast, and hey, I think a few spooks are the perfect thing to spruce up a trip.


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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 Black Bird of Chernobyl

On April 26th, 1986, the city of Chernobyl in the Ukraine was put on the map when reactor no. 4 in their nuclear power plant triggered a catastrophic meltdown.

But that isn’t where our story begins today.

In the weeks leading up to the disaster, everything was, for the most part, normal for the citizens of Chernobyl. But for the workers in the power plant, a strange rumour had started to go around. Employees in the plant were complaining of waking up from horrible nightmares, as well as receiving threatening phone calls. Some even claimed to have seen a giant black bird-like creature flying around above the power plant - and in particular, reactor no. 4.

Drawing done by: Unknown; found on Pinterest

Drawing done by: Unknown; found on Pinterest

As found on phantomsandmonsters, the description several employees gave of this creature was a “large, dark, headless man with gigantic wings and fire-red eyes.” Talk of the sightings of the creature, as well as the nightmares and phone calls that appeared to come with them, circulated the power plant and surrounding town, but nobody thought too much of it at first, and it was mostly dismissed.

But then, April 26th rolled around, and reactor no. 4 melted down, causing what we now know as the worst disaster in the history of nuclear power generation. Immediately, all the nightmares and phone calls ceased, and the black bird was never sighted again.

So what happened here, and what exactly was this fabled giant bird creature? Was it responsible for the accident, or was it simply a warning? After all, it wouldn’t be the first time a creature existed as a prediction of death. Harbingers of death exist across a multitude of cultures, and they all have different means of letting people know that death is upon them. So is that what this bird-like creature was trying to do? Or did the citizens of Chernobyl simply imagine it altogether?

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

There is a theory that the creature everyone saw was actually an endangered black stork, which was a species known to inhabit southern Eurasia. But this is the significantly less believed theory because not only did descriptions of the creature not properly match the black stork, but it also didn’t account for all the phone calls and nightmares also preceding the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

While the mysterious bird did disappear completely after April 26th, it was reported by a number of survivors of the fallout, as well as workers who tried to rescue those trapped in the reactor, that the same creature could be seen flying in and out of the smoke spiraling up from the damaged reactor. This is, in part, what leads people to believe more in the theory that the creature was an omen of death. In fact, many believe that it was the same creature West Virginians claimed to have seen in Point Pleasant before the collapse of the Silver Bridge. They referred to that creature as “Mothman”, but the descriptions they gave were eerily similar to the Black Bird of Chernobyl.

The Black Bird of Chernobyl vs. Black Stork.jpg

For more on the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, check out my previous post “Frozen in Time and Open for Visitation”.


What are your thoughts on the Black Bird of Chernobyl? Do you think it’s the same creature West Virginians dubbed “Mothman”? Do you think it was the work several overactive imaginations and rumours spun out of control? Leave your thoughts in a comment below!


378967_238880029509354_1636456070_n.jpg

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.

Stranger Than Fiction

Special effects combined with the imagination of writers and producers make so many impossible things possible in movies and television these days. Some people are born with part wolf genes, others are bitten by sharp fangs, and others still are somehow reanimated after death. We watch all of these things happen and never question it because anything is possible when you plunk yourself in front of screen and suspend disbelief just a little bit.

Medical shows are just another in a long line of programs these days that take certain liberties with what’s possible out in the real world, and while quite a few people grumble and groan about lack of realism, there is still something to be said for the value of entertainment. Nonetheless, no one can claim that there aren’t a few things in medical dramas that aren’t real.

That being said, there are also a number of conditions out here in the real world that sound like they’ve been plucked off the silver screen. Let me give you a brief overview of five such diagnoses:

Walking Corpse Syndrome (Cotard’s Syndrome)

Photo courtesy of Paradise studio via Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Paradise studio via Shutterstock

Cotard’s Syndrome, otherwise known as Walking Corpse Syndrome, was named after Dr. Jules Cotard, who was the first to diagnose a patient with this peculiar mental illness. His patient was referred to only as Mademoiselle X, and she insisted that she was lacking her brain, chest, stomach, and intestines. Because of these missing organs, Mademoiselle X refused to eat, citing that she no longer needed to, and subsequently died of starvation.

This syndrome has taken on the nickname of Walking Corpse Syndrome because of its startling similarities to zombie-like viruses seen in movies. However, in real life, it is a mental disorder in which a patient believes that they are dead or missing one or several vital organs.

According to studies, this syndrome affects less than 1% of the world’s population. Nonetheless, it exists, and researchers and scientists are still working on finding a proper treatment. For more detailed information on Cotard’s Syndrome, check out Dead Alive on Medical Daily.

Witches Brew (Ergot Poisoning)

In Salem, Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693, over 200 people were accused of witchcraft, and a number of them were hanged for it. To make matters worse, the Salem Witch Trials were only one of many witch hunts in the 16th and 17th centuries. For more on the Salem Witch Trials, one of Voices in the Attic’s member’s, Rachel Small, already wrote a post on it. Today we’re focusing on a very specific aspect of the witch trials.

During this period of time, accusations were hurled with very little actual proof provided. Instead, the accusers relied on evidence such as victims that they claimed had been bewitched by the so-called ‘witches’.Those supposedly bewitched exhibited a wide variety of symptoms, such as: convulsions, vomiting, delusions, hallucinations, and crawling sensations on the skin. Countless victims exhibiting such symptoms were brought to court as proof of witchcraft.

Photo courtesy of the Botany Department of University of Hawai’i via their website

Photo courtesy of the Botany Department of University of Hawai’i via their website

However, there is another explanation: Ergot poisoning. It’s believed that what people didn’t know during the time of the witch trials, is that victims exhibiting these symptoms were in fact not bewitched, but suffering from ergot poisoning.

Ergot bodies are found in plants such as barley and grass before harvest. They are dark purple or black kernels, and a proper separation process is required in order to get rid of ergot bodies before processing the plants for edible products. This process involves soaking the grains in a brine solution, because while the grains meant to be consumed will sink, ergot bodies float.

The problem is, this process didn’t exist at the time of the witch trials, and so people were being poisoned upon consumption without realizing, and were in turn quickly looking for something - or someone - to blame.

Rye is believed to be one of the main transmissions of ergotism, and that’s where the epidemic during the witch trials that history records as witchcraft likely came from.

Oh the things we learn with just a little bit of hindsight!

Exploding Head Syndrome

I’m sure that to many readers, Exploding Head Syndrome sounds like the worst thing on this list, but in reality, its name is significantly more dramatic than its symptoms.

Photo courtesy of Matic Stojs via Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Matic Stojs via Shutterstock

Exploding Head Syndrome is a sleep-related disorder characterized by a loud crashing sound ringing in a person’s head, much like the sound of a gunshot, a car crash, or an explosion, while the person is falling asleep. The kicker: it’s entirely imagined.

Not a lot is actually known about this syndrome, but it’s suspected that it could be related to extreme stress or fatigue, or minor seizures. It seems to occur more in women than men, and tends to show up after the age of fifty, as well as being, naturally, very disruptive to sleep. It’s not certain how many people experience this, but it seems that among those that do, some experience it once in a while, while others experience it several times a night.

For more on Exploding Syndrome, check out “Exploding Head Syndrome” on tuck.com. Unfortunately there is no proper cure for it, but there are some treatments doctors can try, beginning with studying a patient’s sleep patterns.

Dissociative Fugue

Dissociative fugue differs a little from the previously mentioned ailments in this post in that it isn’t so much unbelievable as it is terrifying.

Dissociative fugue is a kind of amnesia where the sufferer suddenly forgets absolutely everything about themselves, including their entire past and their entire identity. While it has been found to be caused by extreme psychological trauma, it comes on suddenly, and leaves the sufferer in a state of confusion that, in many cases, results in them wandering off. There have been reported cases of someone suffering from dissociative fugue where the sufferer completely abandoned their current life and struck up an entirely new one.

It is a very rare kind of amnesia, and in most cases only lasts for a few hours. However, it can last for days or weeks, and in some cases, even longer. What’s more, once the sufferer ‘wakes up’ from their state, they usually have no recollection of what transpired during that time.

There is so much to this disorder, as is the case with most diagnoses, and I can’t hope to cover it all here. But I do encourage you to look more into it if you’re curious. An excellent place to start is, perhaps, one of the most famous cases of dissociative fugue: Agatha Christie. Psychology Today wrote an article summarizing the events of her 11-day disappearance into another life, but there are a number of sources that cover it should you find your curiosity piqued.

Sleep Paralysis

Last but by no means least on my list today is sleep paralysis. I couldn’t make a list of creepy medical conditions without including this, because I suffer from it myself and know first-hand how scary it can be.

Sleep paralysis is a disturbance that occurs just as you’re falling asleep or just as you’re waking up, when R.E.M sleep occurs while you’re still awake. It’s not terribly common, but there are still a number of people who experience it.

Photo Courtesy of Africa Studio via Shutterstock

Photo Courtesy of Africa Studio via Shutterstock

Sleep paralysis is characterized by the inability to move your body. Some people find that they can’t even open their eyes. Another symptom - which really only serves to escalate the panic while experiencing sleep paralysis - is an inhibited ability to breathe, almost as though something is pressing on your chest. I don’t personally feel like anything is pressing on me, but I do find it extremely difficult to draw breath, and my breathing feels very shallow.

A large majority of people who have experienced sleep paralysis also claim to feel or see a presence in the room with them, that feels malevolent. Others report audio hallucinations as well, such as growling and other loud noises in their ears. This is just a trick of the mind brought on by the sleep paralysis, but it doesn’t make it any less scary in the moment. I haven’t personally experienced the visual hallucinations, thankfully, but I do know of a couple people who have. I do, however, on very rare occasions, hear a loud noise in my ears, not unlike the sound of a train rushing by in the distance.

If you’d like to know more about sleep paralysis, whether you suffer from it or simply out of curiosity, feel free to conduct your own research. But before I go, I’d like to assure you that it cannot harm you. It only lasts for a few minutes at most, and if you focus on taking deep breaths, it will all be over soon.


These are the five creepy medical conditions I’ll leave you with today, but please remember that I am a writer, not a medical professional. I cannot diagnose you or offer you any kind of medical advice. If you think you suffer from any of the above mentioned conditions, please seek proper medical assistance.


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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.

Waverly Hills and All Its Ghosts

One of the most haunted places on Earth started off as one of the most innocent. But then, I suppose that’s the way all the best ghost stories begin.

Photo Courtesy of Waverly Hills Historical Society

Photo Courtesy of Waverly Hills Historical Society

In 1883, Major Thomas H. Hays bought the plot of land in Louisville, Kentucky that is now known as Waverly Hills. It was an idyllic, peaceful plot of land, and it was there that Major Hays decided to build a school for his daughters to attend. One of the teachers that he hired for the school was a woman named Lizzie Lee Harris. She was the one who, however unwittingly, gave the fated location its name. She was a fan of a series of books titled “Waverley”, and so she named the school “Waverley School”. Major Hays liked the name so much that he elected to name the entire property “Waverley Hills”. (It’s worth noting that the loss of the second ‘e’ is not a typo, but simply happened to Waverly Hills over the years.)

At the time, tuberculosis had reached epidemic levels in several places. It was a particularly big problem in Kentucky because of the swampy areas which provided the perfect place for bacteria to grow. Because of this, in 1908, the decision to build the sanatorium was made. The other places in the area that had already been treating TB victims were far too small.

At the time, doctors were struggling to combat TB while faced with limited knowledge and no cure. They wanted to treat both the physical and mental health problems patients suffered because of TB, so they made an effort to keep patients’ morale up, and to make them as comfortable as possible. Some of the more pleasant treatments involved lots of fresh air, exposure to ultraviolet light, and access to sunlamps.

Photo Courtesy of Waverly Hills Historical Society.

Photo Courtesy of Waverly Hills Historical Society.

Unfortunately, there were also many more horrifying treatments that would not be acceptable when compared to modern standards. Some procedures were conducted by inserting balloons into patients’ lungs and blowing them up, and operations were done to remove two to three ribs from a patient in order to give their lungs more room to expand. These procedures were excruciating, and, more often than not, resulted in death.

Fortunately, a proper treatment was discovered for TB by the 1930s, and the sanatorium closed due to lack of need.

Between 1962 and 1982, the sanatorium was converted into “Woodhaven Geriatric Center”. It was eventually closed down due to not enough staff and far too many patients. There were also many reports of patient neglect and rumours of experiments being conducted on patients.

There have been many other proposals for conversions of the building over the years, ranging from a prison to a statue of Christ the Redeemer and  then to a set of apartment buildings. All were rejected or shut down due to lack of funding or public outcry.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium is currently privately owned by Charlie and Tina Mattingly, who are attempting to restore the building from its current state of disrepair. They allow paranormal investigators in and tours for the general public, and the money from these goes towards the repair fund.

Charlie Mattingly was originally a skeptic when he bought the place, but has now admitted to his own encounters with various ghosts that are believed by many to haunt the place.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Therasakdhi via Shutterstock

Photo Courtesy of Joe Therasakdhi via Shutterstock

From small children who roam the halls, nurses that have killed themselves, and elderly patients who walk around crying, there is no limit to the dead who just can’t seem to leave this place. For more information on the supernatural residents that exist forever within these walls, I encourage you to check out articles such as “Waverly Hills Haunted Sanitarium” and “Kentucky’s Hospital of the Damned”. I also encourage you to do your own research on the place, but here are a few of the ghosts that have been known to hang around:

Timmy

Timmy is a young boy who roams the halls of the old hospital, looking for something to play with. Some guests have been said to bring him balls, and those balls are then seen floating in the air or rolling down the hall on their own. Sometimes Timmy already has his own ball to play with.

No one is quite sure what his story is, whether he was the child of a patient, or a patient himself, but either way, he now haunts the place. He’s one of the more friendly spirits that exist within Waverly Hills’ walls.

Room 502

Room 502 was a patient room that was linked to a couple of suicides while the hospital was still running. The first was a young nurse who was said to have been pregnant and unmarried, and, unhappy with her life, she hung herself in the room.

Photo Courtesy of Jon Butterworth via Unsplash

Photo Courtesy of Jon Butterworth via Unsplash

Another victim, also a nurse, apparently threw herself from the roof one night, though nobody knows why. She also worked in room 502 while she was still alive.

Some tourists that visit the place while pregnant have reported feeling very uncomfortable in the vicinity of room 502, and a number of other tourists have been filled with the desire to jump off the room while up there looking around, and have had to be talked down.

Woman in Chains

Not a lot is known about the woman in chains except that she looks older, perhaps having been a patient while the hospital was a geriatric center. She walks around the halls with chains around bleeding wrists, and cries out for help. But whenever someone actually moves towards her, she runs away screaming.

The Creeper

The creeper is apparently one of the rarer presences among Waverly Hills’ residents. Like the woman in chains, not a whole lot is known about him beyond the feeling of dread that washes over anyone who gets near him.

He’s rumoured to crawl around on the floor, up the walls, and on the ceilings, and no one really know his past or what his intentions are. Some speculate that he was one of the horribly mistreated patients, and that his trauma in life has warped in death.

These are just a few examples of the apparitions that haunt Waverly Hills, but the current owners plan to turn the building into a hotel that targets those interested in the paranormal. Look out for that in years to come, and for those of you interested in a tour now, check out the Waverly Hills website for more information.


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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.

Destination Turn Back

In the last week of January 1959, a group of ten college students from Ural Polytechnical Institute in Russia began their hiking trip into the Ural Mountains. Their goal was to reach a mountain named “Otorten”. However, they never made it. With the exception of one hiker, who turned back at the beginning after getting sick, the entire group died.

The group had told friends back home that they expected to return from their journey around February 12th, and that when they did return, they would send a telegram. By February 20th, when the telegram still had not been received, search parties were sent to find the group. What they found instead were five bodies scattered throughout the snow, all in various states of undress and apparently having died of hypothermia.

The problem with this is that everyone in the group was an experienced hiker and were very familiar with what needed to be done to survive in the wilderness on such an excursion. Citing hypothermia as the cause of death made sense considering the frigid temperatures and their lack of clothing, but why were they without clothing outside in the first place? And where were the other four members of the group? These were the questions so many people asked in the wake of what they found.

Dyatlov Group Campsite; Photo taken by Soviet authorities.

Dyatlov Group Campsite; Photo taken by Soviet authorities.

Another detail worth noting is the state of the campsite. The tent had been cut open from the inside, and all of their shoes and coats and proper clothing had been left behind. The first two bodies, Yuri Krivoshenko and Yuri Doroshenko, were found a ways away, by the remains of what had apparently been a fire pit. They were dressed only in their underwear, and there were scratches on their hands that indicated that they’d tried desperately to climb the nearby trees.

The other three bodies, those of Igor Dyatlov,—the leader of the group, who later became the namesake of the pass—Zinaida Kolmogorova, and Rustem Slobodin, were found scattered across the snow. They too were wearing next to nothing, and from the pattern that their bodies were found in, it appeared that they had been running back to the tent. Aside from a few small injuries, and a head fracture on Rustem Slobodin that was discovered not to have been fatal, these five group members appeared more or less uninjured. This led to the conclusion of hypothermia as the cause of death.

But the story, unfortunately, did not end there, and those five were just the beginning of what would become a decades-long mystery that remains to this day unsolved.

Bodies of Dubinina and Thibeaux-Brignolle; Photo taken by Soviet authorities.

Bodies of Dubinina and Thibeaux-Brignolle; Photo taken by Soviet authorities.

About two months later, the last four bodies, Semyon Zolotaryov, Lyudmila Dubinina, Aleksander Kolevatov, and Nikolay Thibeaux-Brignolle, were found, at the bottom of a ravine, covered in snow, partially dressed, and with horrific, seemingly impossible injuries.

Unlike the previous five group members that had been found, these four were still clothed. But the clothes they were wearing were not their own. Instead, they were dressed in each other’s clothes, including the clothes of the group members who had already been discovered. It was as though they had grabbed whatever they could in their haste to get away.

Bodies of Krivonischenko and Doroshenko; Photo taken by Soviet authorities.

Bodies of Krivonischenko and Doroshenko; Photo taken by Soviet authorities.

Also unlike the others, they didn’t die from hypothermia. They were all covered in injuries so extensive it only provided more questions as to what happened, instead of answers. What’s more, medical examiners said that they didn’t have many external injuries; instead, all their injuries were internal. These were very extensive internal injuries, similar to that of a car crash or some other extremely high-pressure impact. It was not a force that could have been caused by another human, or even most animals.

On top of these injuries, one of the victims, Lyudmilla Dubinina, was apparently also missing both of her eyes, her tongue, and parts of her lip.

A great many theories surfaced over the years as to what happened to these nine hikers. They ranged from nearby military testing and subsequent government cover-up, all the way to alien interference. Unfortunately, no satisfactory conclusion was ever reached beyond ‘natural deaths’, because the investigation was ordered to an end. To this day, nobody really knows what happened.

The theories are seemingly infinite, and a number of books and research papers have been written on the matter over the years. For a more complete look into the theories of what happened, and a detailed account of the incident itself, check out dyatlovpass.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.

Pennies from Heaven

There are a lot of things we understand about this world, and a lot of things that we just don’t. What comes afterwards is, I suppose, even more uncertain. We can all take guesses - after all, the world’s religions all have whole belief systems dedicated to trying to figure out what we have no way of confirming.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

The afterlife is a massive topic that spans many different religions and superstitions and individual minds. Christianity has their belief in Heaven, and Hindus and Buddhists believe in reincarnation - that this life is only one of many, and that once we’re finished here, we start anew somewhere else. I don’t pretend to know much more beyond these few old lessons from World Religion in the twelfth grade, but I would certainly like to find out. This post is just the first in a series that I intend to use to explore ideas about the afterlife.

But I thought a good place to start would be with my own thoughts.

This post began with an email submission from the Nan of one of our own voices. She wanted to know if we thought that those of us still in the world of the living could communicate with those beyond it. I don’t know the answer to that, and I’m not sure I know of anyone who does. I know that a lot of people have their own thoughts on the matter, and that there are certainly a great number of people who would say “yes” in terms of whether or not people can communicate with the dead. I can’t confirm or deny something I don’t know, but I can say this:

When I was ten years old, my maternal grandpa died. It was the first time I had ever encountered death, especially so immediately, and despite that being almost fourteen years ago now, I still very vividly remember my mom telling me that Grumps, as I’d always affectionately called him, had gone to be with God. I’m not particularly religious, but I grew up going to Catholic school, and so this made sense to me.

Nonetheless, it felt extremely unreal when my mom told me, and I remember feeling my little mind whirring with the lack of belief in what I was being told.

The idea that my beloved Grumps was with God was of little comfort to me, not because it wasn’t a nice idea, but because it meant that I could no longer talk to him. I would no longer hear his laugh, or his jokes, or his voice. I would never sit across from him over a plate of Chinese food on Christmas eve, or squish onto the couch with him and other family members for a photo. He was just… gone. And for me that felt so beyond unfair, I couldn’t find the words to describe it.

Photo Courtesy of Pexels.com

Photo Courtesy of Pexels.com

One thing that did eventually bring me comfort, though, was a story my grandma once told me. It’s a story my family still thinks about and believes in; we refer to it as “pennies from Heaven.” We weren’t the ones to originally come up with it, as it’s a fairly common belief as far as I’m aware, but it goes like this:

When someone you love has passed away, they leave behind signs of their continued presence, just so you know that they’ve never truly left you. My grandma told me that these signs came in the form of coins. Pennies, at the time anyway - back when we still had them in our currency here in Canada - were the most common, but it worked for any pocket change you stumbled across. I clung to this belief, because even if I never saw or spoke to him again, it was nice to think my grandpa might still be keeping watch over me from wherever he was.

Throughout my life, I’ve always been told I have an uncanny ability to find lost money - particularly in coin form. It’s something I seem to have picked up from my grandma, who finds it just as often. The thing that makes me so certain of this belief of in pennies from Heaven is the impossible places I’ve found coins in.

I was a dancer for about 12 years, and my mom and I were always meticulous with keeping my dance bag organized, especially before recitals. I checked and rechecked every costume, every hairpin, every shoe, making sure everything was in its place. I would have noticed if there was something in my shoes. So why then, when I went to put my ballet slippers on before hurrying onto the stage, did a penny fall out?

I find that in my hardest moments in life, that’s when the most of these pennies from Heaven appear. In high school, I had a really hard time with bullying and toxic friends, and I cried almost every day walking home from school. For almost an entire year straight, not a single day passed where I didn’t find a penny, or a nickel, or a dime.

Photo Courtesy of Marie Flynn via Pinterest

Photo Courtesy of Marie Flynn via Pinterest

One of my aunts says that their side of the family believes a similar story. It’s the same principle, except that instead of coins, it’s feathers. My grandpa from that side of the family died a few years back now, and ever since, my aunt has found feathers everywhere.

I think everybody can choose to believe what they want. Unfortunately, there’s not a single person in this world that can confirm anything with certainty. After all, there are some secrets that we can only know once it’s our time. But I wholeheartedly believe in pennies from Heaven, and I think it can’t hurt to believe that when you love somebody that much, the love doesn’t just go away. Not even after death.

So keep an eye out for a penny, or a feather, or whatever else it may be that’s close to your heart. Not everything unseen in this world has to be scary, and we don’t have to know anything with absolute certainty to believe it.


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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.

Call Her Name (If You Dare)

Sometimes, there’s a woman in the bathroom mirror. She isn’t always there, and if you want to see her, you have to summon her. But it’s super easy. All you have to do is go into the bathroom, lock the door, and turn off all the lights. Then you stand in front of the mirror and say her name three times:

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.

When you’re finished chanting, you’ll see a woman appear in the mirror, with blood running out of her eyes.

At least that’s what I was told.

The Bloody Mary legend has always held a morbid fascination for me.Ever since I was a little girl, it’s stuck with me. I still feel the need to check the bathroom mirror before I get into the shower, just on the off chance I find Mary there. I don’t know why I would; the little girl in me would never allow me to summon her.

Photo Courtesy of  oliavlasenko  via Adobe Stock

Photo Courtesy of oliavlasenko via Adobe Stock

I only tried to summon Mary once myself, but I was too afraid to do it right. I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it in front of a bathroom mirror. I was never into horror stories or movies when I was younger. My best friend at the time was constantly reading collections of horror stories from the library, but I could barely even look at the covers, unless I was willing to give up sleep for a month. I attribute it to an overactive imagination.

I’ve never quite looked at mirrors the same way since that day on the playground.

But the legend itself is quite intriguing. In an age of top-billed horror movies and literary giants such as Stephen King, you don’t hear a lot about proper urban legends anymore. Not the way you used to anyway, passed around a campfire, or a schoolyard, or with flashlights under blankets at a sleepover.

So I got to wondering: where exactly did the Bloody Mary legend come from, and which set of details about the legend are the ‘correct’ ones? After all, the story has been altered so much as it’s passed on, like a bad game of telephone.

Photo Courtesy of  Jeff Thrower  via Shutterstock.

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Thrower via Shutterstock.

There is a lot of speculation on where the legend originates, but the original legend seems to be significantly less malevolent than most children grow up believing. It originated as a divination ritual, where young women wishing to learn who their future husband was to be would walk backwards up the stairs with a hand mirror in one hand and a candle in the other. The house was to be completely dark. Then, supposedly, the woman would see the face of her future husband in the mirror. In some darker cases though, some women would see the face of a skull or the grim reaper, which meant she would die before getting married.

Of course, then there are the darker versions of the ritual. The details vary. I was taught to say “Bloody Mary” three times, but other versions insist on repeating it thirteen times. There are also variations on what to say, such as “Bloody Mary”, or “I believe in Bloody Mary”, or even more violently, “I killed your baby, Bloody Mary.” There is even an alternative on which name to say, some examples of which include: Mary Worth, Mary Worthington, Hell Mary, Mary Whales, Mary Johnson, and even several names that aren’t ‘Mary’ at all.

The most intriguing part of the legend, however, is who exactly is ‘Bloody Mary’? It seems that history has many possibilities.

The first is Queen Mary Tudor who, consequently, bore the nickname “Bloody Mary”. The nickname came from the fact that she ordered the deaths of countless Protestants in her bid bring back a more Catholic England. However, her life beyond this, was unfortunately tragic.

She was so desperate to have a child that she suffered through what is now known as a ‘hysterical pregnancy’ or ‘false pregnancy’, which is what happens when a person believes so concretely that they’re pregnant, that their body mimics the symptoms. Not only did this happen to her once, but she suffered through it twice. The second time killed her. The version of the Bloody Mary legend that includes the Queen, Mary Tudor, suggests that she has continued looking for her desperately-desired baby even into the afterlife, and that she brought her rage and sorrow with her.

Photo Courtesy of  Kittirat Roekburi  via Shutterstock

Photo Courtesy of Kittirat Roekburi via Shutterstock

Another, less detailed version of the legend involves a woman named Mary Worth who got into a car crash, and whose face was forever marred. She was so horrified upon the first look at herself in the mirror, that in the afterlife, she lashed out at anyone that tried to summon her and gaze upon her reflection. She punished them by scratching their eyes out, or by dragging them into the mirror with her.

But my favourite version of the legend is the one that suggests Bloody Mary was a witch killed during the Salem Witch Trials. “The Bloody Mary Legend” is an article featured on hauntedrooms.co.uk that covers one of the legends that suggests she was a witch from the era of the Salem Trials. It’s not the only theory that suggests she was a witch, but it’s definitely worth the read.

I personally think that it makes the most sense for Mary to have been a witch, whether or not she was someone persecuted in the witch trials. Queen Mary probably had more important things to do after her death, and while a young girl dying in a car crash and forever-after hating mirrors makes sense too, I think that nothing quite fits the legend of a vengeful spirit stuck in a mirror better than a witch. After all, who better to cause mischief for no other reason than mischief’s sake?

There exist countless other versions of the Bloody Mary legend besides these; in fact, other cultures even have their own versions. One of the other writers from Voices in the Attic, Michelle Bonga, wrote about Japan’s version of Bloody Mary, “Hanako-San”. You can read her article here.


But please tell me what you think about the identity of Bloody Mary! Was it British royalty? Was it an unfortunate victim of a car crash turned vengeful spirit? Was it a witch? Or was it perhaps someone else altogether. Leave a comment below!


378967_238880029509354_1636456070_n.jpg

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.