urban legend

Goodbye God, I'm Going to Bodie

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


Photo courtesy of werner22brigitte via Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of werner22brigitte via Pixabay.com

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of McRonny via Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of McRonny via Pixabay.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Natascha Wood

Say her name three times and she will appear.

Twitter: @oldvvitch

Don't Let Them In

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


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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

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

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com


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Maggie Kendall

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

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 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.

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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!


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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!


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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.