urban legends


The Polybius Mystery:

Polybius is an arcade cabinet described in an urban legend, which is said to have induced various psychological effects on players. The story describes players suffering from amnesia, night terrors, and a tendency to stop playing all video games. Around a month after its supposed release in 1981, Polybius is said to have disappeared without a trace. There is no evidence that such a game has ever existed.

The game has shown up in movies & tv shows like The Simpsons and Wreck it Ralph.


The Legend of Octavia Hatcher

In the late 1800s, the city of Pikeville, Kentucky was shaken with an unknown disease, and the most tragic case of all was that of Octavia Smith Hatcher. After her infant son Jacob passed away in January 1891, Octavia went into a bedridden depression where she gradually became very ill and slipped into a coma. On May 2 of the same year, she was pronounced dead of unknown causes while still in her bed. Embalming was not yet a practice, and Octavia was buried very quickly in the local cemetery due to the sweltering heat.

Barely a week after her burial, many of the townspeople had been stricken with the same debilitating illness and fallen into a comatose state. The difference? After a time, the townspeople began to wake up. Octavia’s husband began to fear the worst and worried that he had prematurely buried his wife while she was still breathing. He procured an exhumation of her grave only to find that his worst fears were in fact true.

The lining on the inside of the coffin had been scratched and torn to pieces. Octavia’s nails were bloodied and broken, and her face was contorted with horrific fear. She had died in the ground after being buried alive. Octavia was reburied and her husband erected a lifelike monument over her grave site. The monument still stands today. It was later speculated that the mysterious illness had been caused by a Tsetse fly, an African insect that can cause a disease known as sleeping sickness.


Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Built between 1858 and 1881, this asylum is well known for being the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in the entirety of North America. While it was originally built as a safe haven for the mentally ill, it eventually became a nightmare to most of it’s patients. The original hospital was build to accommodate only 250 patients, but it reached it’s peak of 2,400 patients in the 1950’s. Although the building was beautifully built with many windows to allow light, the conditions were terrible, as overcrowding caused living conditions to deplete.

This particular asylum was known well for it’s women’s ward in the early years. In those days, men could have their wives committed for just about anything. Depression, greed, menopause, asthma, inheritance, etc. A man could fall in love with the woman next door or just get tired of his wife and drop her off at the front doors. These women would spend the rest of their lives behind the asylum walls. The only person with permission to check them out were their husbands, who left them behind.

While the medical practices used on mental patients were renowned as “breakthrough operations” in their time can now only be described as cruel. The most popular method of treatment for the worse patients was Lobotomy, which was an operation done on the brain that severed ties to and from the prefrontal cortex. This was meant to cause a calmed state in the patients. However, for the most part, patients that underwent this surgery were thrown into a permanently vegetative state. Many patients were also exposed to shock therapy and other generally torturous experiments and treatments. Additionally, patients that could not be controlled were thrown in cages for days, some even weeks.

The asylum was finally closed in 1994 and is now mostly used to paranormal tours, but is otherwise abandoned. As can be expected from such a wretched place, there are literally hundreds of different paranormal accounts regarding the grounds. People have reported hearing women screaming “help me” and “get me out of here.” A woman on a paranormal tour claimed that she heard a young woman begging “please call my husband.” Additionally, people touring the buildings have reported feeling followed and feeling someone breathing down the back of their neck. The head paranormal investigator in the area reports the spirit of a 9 year old girl that he regards as a very active spirit. Born in the asylum, she lived a short life before succumbing to pneumonia. The investigator states that he’ll ask the young girl, named Lily, to do tasks. These tasks include tapping on walls/windows, turning a flash light on and off, and once tugging on the investigator’s hair. She was able to complete these tasks almost every single time he asked.

For more information on the hospital and tours, click here.

photo source

Additionally, the rad people over at unexplained-events have an actual list of reasons for admission to the Asylum dating all the way back to the 1800’s. Click here to check that out!

'The Black Tapes' is a 'Serial'-style podcast that will scare your socks off
If you like being terrified, this horror documentary series is definitely the podcast for you.

If you’re searching for something scary to get you into the Halloween spirit, it’s time to start listening to The Black Tapes Podcast. Framed as a Serial-esque series hosted by reporter Alex Reagan, it feels like what might happen if a perky NPR journalist decided to investigate the Blair Witch Project.

The Black Tapes Podcast was originally billed as a profile of paranormal investigator Richard Strand, a character partly inspired by the real-life skeptic James Randi. But things take a turn for the disturbing when Reagan discovers Strand’s file of unsolved cases, the so-called Black Tapes. Despite his best efforts, Strand hasn’t been able to find a scientific explanation for this unsettling collection of seemingly supernatural events.

As Reagan begins to investigate these cases herself, her interviews with witnesses and academic experts feel so realistic that some listeners fail to realize that the podcast is a work of fiction. In the vein of the icon of audio drama Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds, the best kind of horror story is one that you can almost believe is true.

The podcast borrows much of its inspiration from “real” paranormal events and artifacts, from the urban legend Slender Man to medieval Satanic mythology. Some of these details will undoubtedly be familiar to horror fans, but the documentary format and creepy atmosphere are more than enough to make Black Tapes frighteningly addictive.

In an email interview, we spoke with creators Paul Bae and Terry Miles. In order keep the mystery alive, they never admit that The Black Tapes Podcast is anything less than real.

Read more.


The Collector
The Legend - The most common “Collector” legend is the neighbor who collects human body parts and proudly displays them in his basement.
The Truth - In 2011, Russian police arrested a man described in local media as the “cemetery collector”. The collector, Anatoly Moskvin, had dug up at least 29 corpses and made dolls out of them. The life-sized female “dolls” were without faces, and some were wearing platinum blonde wigs.

Dark Water
The Legend - A man moves into his new home and finds that the water coming out of the sink and shower is a murky black color. He later discovers that the black water is being caused by the remains of a liquified dead body.
The Truth - In 2013, the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles experienced some guests complaining about the water running black for a few seconds before returning to normal. The decomposing body of Elisa Lam was later discovered inside of the water tank on the roof of the hotel. Before the body was discovered, guests had brushed their teeth, bathed and drank the water for as long as 19 days. (Side note; this case is far more interesting than what is reported here. For more information, read this. Incredibly creepy stuff here.)

Shadow People
The Legend -The Shadow people folklore revolves around obscured visions or shadows of people that appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. People often report seeing these “shadow people” in the dark corners of rooms, after being sleep deprived, in a state of sleep paralysis, or after just waking up in the middle of the night. 
The Truth - In Fukuoka, Japan, a man who lived alone in his apartment began to suspect that something else was in the apartment with him. He decided to set up surveillance cameras and ended up capturing footage of an old woman coming out of his cupboard to steal food and sometimes shower. The 58-year-old woman was homeless and admitted to police that she had been living in the man’s home for about a year, lurking just beyond his eyesight in closets and cupboards.

The Killer in Cop’s Clothing
The Legend - A police officer knocks on a couples door to tell them that there is a murderer on the loose and that it’s important that they let him inside. Not suspecting that anything is wrong, they obey his request and let him into the house. When they ask what the murderer looks like he replies, “a lot like me actually”.
The Truth - In November of 1974, 18 year old Carol DaRonch was browsing through a bookstore when she was approached by a police officer who told her that her car had been broken into and she needed to come to the station with him to file a report. She agreed to go with him but began to suspect that something was wrong when she realized that the “officer” as driving away from the police station and not towards it. The officer turned out to be infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy tried to handcuff DaRonch but he was unsuccessful and she was able to escape from his car. Watch an interview with Carol DaRonch here.

The Body in the Bag
The Legend - A woman is on the bus by herself one night when she sees a stranger get on dragging a large, lumpy duffel bag behind him. She finds is strange but figures that her mind is just getting carried away because of the late hour. A few days later, she turns on the news and sees that the man is an escaped mental patient and is being labeled as “the body dismemberer.”
The Truth - A 56-year-old Cypriot monk was detained at the Athens airport after security staff discovered a skull wrapped in cloth and skeletal remains in a sheet inside his baggage. He told the airport security that of he was taking the relics of a saint back to his monastery. However, it was discovered that the bones were actually the remains of a nun who had disappeared from her convent four years earlier. How she died and what the monk was planning to do with the bones remains unclear. The monk was freed after being charged with theft and desecrating the dead, a misdemeanor in Greece. He was also suspended from his monastic duties for three months for going away without leave. Read the article here.

Halloween Decorations
The Legend - Several teens are out playing pranks on Halloween night. They are throwing toilet paper in the trees around somebody’s house when they see a decoration that catches their eye; a realistic hanged man. They decide to steal the decoration for their Halloween pranks, but when they go to knock it down, they realize that the “decoration” is an actual dead body.
The Truth - A woman in Delaware hung herself from a tree on a busy street around Halloween time. The body, suspended about 15 feet above the ground, could be easily seen by passing vehicles. The suicide went unreported for hours because passers-by thought the body was a Halloween decoration. In another case, a camera crew arrived on set to shoot an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. While preparing the set, one of the workers went to move a dead body prop only to discover that “prop” was an actual dead body when the arm snapped off revealing a human bone.

Sawney Bean

As the legend goes, Alexander “Sawney” Bean grew up in a town just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland. With no interest in making an honest living, he ran away with a woman to a one-mile-deep cave in the mountains. There they would produce their infamously large, incestuous family of cannibals.

The family supported themselves by robbing and murdering travelers, and even the locals. They would butcher their victims and pickle the flesh to be eaten later. Unwanted limbs were thrown into the sea and occasionally washed up on nearby beaches.

After nearly 25 years of killing and eating innocent travelers, the Beans were discovered when a man and woman traveling from a local fair were ambushed by the family. The woman was quickly murdered and had her innards eaten by the females. The man, however, fought back and was saved when a larger group of fair travelers passed by and came to his rescue.

The travelers reported to King James IV what had happened. The King then sent nearly 400 men and bloodhounds to the Beans’ cave, where they found barrels of pickled flesh, limbs hanging from the ceiling, and piles of money collected from the victims. The Beans did not fight back upon being found and were taken to Edinburgh where they were to be executed. 

The death of the Bean family was brutal and gruesome, much like the way that they killed their victims. The men had their arms and legs cut off and were left to die in agony. The women were forced to watch the execution of the men and were burned alive afterwards.

For Sixpenceee’s Forgotten Dare Day: The Undertow Technique

This dare/ritual/urban legend is one my friends told me about a few years back. We almost tried it out, but we were a little too scared

Around the late 1800s in Tennessee, there was an old fisherman who claimed to speak with spirits. The supposed occultist was known as “Undertow”.  He claimed his simple ritual was a means to manifest a spirit after death, and if performed correctly the spirit can be captured in an object. For the most part, he was brushed off by locals as an old alcoholic who’d lost his marbles. 

But before he died, he claimed he’d perfected his technique. 


1. A building by woodlands - an abandoned building or an empty home near some woods or a large park works best
2. A minimum of three participants in the ritual - yourself and two friends
3. A bottle of alcohol
4. A bowl of sand
5. Salt
6. A sharp object. You will need to draw blood for this ritual.
 7. A vessel. They can be one of the following:
-An antique jewelry case
-A doll
-Another Human being

An antique jewelry box is safest, as it can capture the spirit - but it’s very hard to find one that works. If you want the best chance of successfully performing the ritual, a doll will be the easiest vessel to find. A fourth participant can be considered a vessel as well, however due to the potential dangers caused by possession I highly discourage against it 


-Be sure there are no lights on in the building you perform the ritual in
-Be sure all participants are dedicated to performing the ritual. Once you start, it’s a very, very bad idea to leave it incomplete
- You’ll know you’re performing the ritual correctly if during any of the following steps you hear a sudden noise, and feel an extra presence around you 

Instructions for inanimate vessels:

1. Bring the materials and vessel into the building at two in the morning (2am), and draw a salt line across the floor of the entryway
2. Take the sharp object and draw exactly three drops of blood from each of the participant’s hands, and mix it in the bottle of alcohol. Three drops of blood. No more, no less
3. Take the bowl of sand and pour the entire bottle of alcohol and blood into it
4. Once the alcohol, blood, and sand are together, rotate the bowl itself six times
5. Before you spin the bowl a seventh time, Each participant needs to say the following three times:
“Pull us downwards, Undertow” 
6. After rotating the bowl a seventh time, fill the vessel with the wet sand and close it
7. Leave the building through the way you came in, and wander into the woodlands for forty seven (47) minutes. Leave the vessel behind

Instructions for a living vessel:

1-5. If your vessel is another human being, perform the previous five steps as usual, including the vessel as a participant
6. After rotating the bowl a seventh time, have your participant sit down on the floor, and swallow salt. This is to reduce the chance of a permanent possession
7.  Create a circle around them with the wet sand 
8. The three participants must walk around the vessel and repeat the following sequence: 
“Singular Eye. Molted wing. Banshee’s cry. Golden thread. The River Styx. Final Point.”
9. After repeating the sequence, stomp one foot on the ground and wander into the woodlands for forty seven (47) minutes. Leave the vessel behind

If you perform the ritual right, a spirit will claim control of the vessel. 

If the vessel is an antique jewelry box, you’ll want to throw it in a lake or river 

If the vessel is a doll, a number of things might happen.
-If the spirit is friendly, you’ll find the doll has been moved. You might even catch a glimpse of it wandering around the building
-If the spirit is unfriendly, it’s hiding in the house. You won’t want to go back to the building without a means to defend yourself. Of course, nothing serious might happen but… it’s better safe than sorry 
-Once you find the doll, you’ll want to burn it

If you want to perform this ritual right, you will not use a human as a vessel. You don’t want to perform this ritual with a human vessel. YOU DO NOT WANT TO USE A HUMAN IN THIS RITUAL