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Indie Horror

Phantom Hitchhikers and Vanishing Vagabonds

Phantom hitchhikers, or vanishing hitchhikers are most popular as an urban legend, or ghost story within the continental United States–typically a young woman stranded on the side of the road who desperately needs to get home. This original story based on the phantom hitchhiker legend is a typical account of what is to be expected if you were to pick her up on the side of the road.

Upon a Lonely Road…

Lightning cracked, the electricity streaked across the sky in brilliant resonance, lighting up the dismal drowning mountainous landscape. The rain was suffocating his windshield, even with his wipers at their highest speed, he could barely see the road ahead of him. The man’s hands tightened around the steering wheel and his knuckles blanched as the road began to twist angrily down the lonely mountain road—walking in on his wife in the throws of passion with another man was just the start of his bad luck it seemed, now he felt as if he were going to careen off an icy road into a dark deep ditch. He sighed, his heart ached deeply and the song on the radio mirrored the depth of his pain. He truly didn’t know where he was going tonight, but it was better than where he had come from.

Phantom Hitchhiker on the road

The patter of rain against his windshield was deafening as he rounded another treacherous turn and he flicked on his high beams—it was at that moment he caught sight of a woman walking down the side of the road. His brow furrowed, she was dressed too poorly for the weather and there weren’t any homes that he knew of in the area, he couldn’t imagine the type of luck she had that would land her in the situation that she was clearly in. He slowed his truck to a stop just as he had passed her by, his blinker clicked steadily, matching the beat of the music that droned on in the background. He reached over and opened his door for the woman as she approached the cab, then shivered as the cold air pulled him into its tight embrace. His breath blurred his view of the woman as she stopped in front of him, “are you going towards town?”

“Yeah, I’m in no rush though, where are you headed?” The bedraggled woman slid into his truck and closed the door, her white dress had her soaked to the bone—he turned up the heater for her, then pulled off his own jacket, offering it up to her.

“I live downtown, if you don’t mind, I can give you directions?” The man nodded and she accepted his coat graciously and pushed her wet hair out of her face. He didn’t know if he ought to ask her what had led her to be on the side of the road at this hour, in such awful weather, but he figured that it really wasn’t any of his business, so decided against it. He pulled back onto the road and felt the awkward air that had taken over the entire truck. Her hands twisted uncomfortably in her lap, his coat hung limply over her pathetic and grief-stricken figure. There were no words that could be spoken now, anything he thought of uttering left his mind just as soon as his lips moved to speak the words. The road continued to be treacherous, but she seemed unbothered by anything, his eyes drifted to her face briefly, her lips formed an unconscious pout that drew him in.

He hadn’t noticed when she had gotten in that she possessed such beauty, but he didn’t linger on it long, the road finally evened out as they reached the bottom of the mountain and his mind wandered to other things. The woman maintained her painfully silent demeanor, her exhaustion was apparent and it was clear she wasn’t much of a conversationalist.

They made it downtown without incident, she only spoke briefly to tell him where to turn and finally they made it to their destination—he brought his truck to a stop in front of the house she had indicated and turned it off. He turned to wish her luck, but his eyes landed on an empty, drenched seat. He blinked, dumbfounded, she couldn’t have possibly have left without his notice—but in her place there was a small, damp leather-bound book. He picked up the book, then thumbed through it realizing it was her journal and somehow felt dirty, as if he had stolen her secrets.

The confusion that he felt in that moment would never match his need of an answer for what had happened—how she had suddenly vanished from his company, there had to be a reasonable explanation of what he had experienced. He stepped out of his truck and approached the house, uncertainty was the only thing he knew anymore, but perhaps she had just slipped away without his notice. He found his finger on the door bell and briefly entertained the idea of running from what he might find out here, but before he could follow through, a woman answered the door.

“Hello, can I help you?” The woman looked drained, as if the night had been a long and deeply harrowing experience for her as well.

“I… I just gave a young woman a ride here, she left her journal in my truck?” He handed her the book and saw a change in her expression.

“This must be a mistake… This can’t be,” her voice caught in her throat as she opened the journal’s cover, “perhaps you should come inside, I’ll get my husband.” The man stepped inside the home cautiously, he felt like an imposter, but he needed to know what was going on. The woman led him to their sitting room, where the walls were covered in pictures of what looked like family and friends. Just as he took his seat, his eyes caught a picture of the woman who had answered the door hugging the young woman who he had picked up on the side of the road.

“What’s going on?” He almost knew the answer, but he didn’t dare speak his own truth, “where is she?”

The woman whimpered under her breath and once her husband came into the room, she handed him the journal. “This man brought us Heather’s journal,” was all she could get out before she became noticeably upset and walked quickly out of the room.

The man began talking, trying to detail everything that had brought him to their house tonight—he didn’t care how wildly untrue it sounded, or if his crazy story made him seem like he was completely out of his mind. The husband listened intently, his face remained calm and there was an eerie ease that settled the man as he finished his story. “I’m sorry, I know how all of this sounds, I’m just a stranger—I—I can let myself out.”

The husband raised his hand to stop him, “no, please. I know what it sounds like, I know you probably feel like you’re going insane, but… you’re not the first person to try to bring her home.”

The man’s breath caught in his throat, “I—what?”

“Heather has been trying to come home on the anniversary of her murder for the last six years, but we’ve never gotten anything like this before,” the husband’s hands clutched the journal gratefully. “They never found her killer, but… this may give us some closure. I know my wife wasn’t able to say it, but we appreciate your time.”

The man’s heart was beating much too violently in his chest and he couldn’t stand it, he had to get out of here, he had to put some distance between himself and what had happened tonight. There were so many questions that he had, but he knew he could never ask them. The man got the name of the young woman from her mother and father, then made his goodbyes—he knew his next stop would be at the closest dive bar he could find. It would be too much to ask for this to all be a weird dream, but seeking numbness on his own from the bottom of a liquor bottle might make him forget about what he had experienced.

The next morning greeted him with a headache that mimicked the after effects of a concussion—he sat up from his uncomfortable position in his truck and rubbed his eyes to find that he had driven himself to a cemetery after he had left the bar the night before. He was grateful he wasn’t waking up to a tree through his windshield and was about to start his truck up and drive away before something strange caught his eye. His eyes narrowed and he stepped out of his truck, the gloomy, overcast day gave him something to be grateful for, no sun to shine in his eyes between the thumps of his throbbing head. He approached the tombstone that had captured his attention, and realized that what had drawn him there was the fact that his coat was draped so gently over this particular stone. It all came back to him at that moment, the hitchhiker, her parents—the lack of explanation of what had really happened—he picked up his coat and saw her name chiseled into the stone.

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Indie Horror

Punishment for Grave Robbing Epitomized in Short Horror Film, Toe (2020)

The culture of robbing graves isn’t as big of a topic these days as it probably should be, but there is something about the entire topic that is just strangely unsettling. Robbing graves has been and is still a problem that plagues every culture–from the Pharaohs who attempted to take their earthly possessions with them into the next life, to ghost marriages in Chinese culture, there always seems to be a reason why certain people want to disturb the dead, but are there any common themes?

One common theme is the fact that these grave robbers are invading the space of the dead, either to acquire an object that belonged to the deceased or the body of the deceased. Indeed there are varying reasons why a grave robber might disturb those laying in their eternal rest. One strange reason can be credited to the extreme fringe practitioners of Santería, where the corpses of deceased babies and still-born fetuses are excavated and used in ritual magic. While it’s not a common practice, it has reportedly been a problem in regions where the practice of the religion is prevalent.

Curse of the Pharaohs

The tombs inside of the Pyramids have a history of causing people to be uneasy, whether it’s due to the legend of the Curse of the Pharaohs, or the simple fact that it’s a tomb and tombs are just pretty creepy in general. It seems there are many movies about mummies but in the case of ancient Egyptian horror, the true story is often more frightening than the movies have captured.

Cursed be those that disturb the rest of Pharaoh. They that shall break the seal of this tomb shall meet death by a disease which no doctor can diagnose.

Inscription reported to have been carved on an Egyptian royal tomb

There is a lot of history attached to the tombs of the Pharaohs and there is a lot of legend surrounding the so-called curses that befall those who disturb the tombs of these mummified kings of the past. While a curse may seem like a mystical and superstitious method to keep looters and thieves at bay, the Egyptians were famous for placing warnings of curses to ward off these would-be intruders. Those who did not heed the warnings would live a short while to regret their actions.

Ghost Brides Within Chinese Culture

While the practice of trading corpses to use for ritual spirit marriage has been outlawed since 2006 within China, it has led to the uptick of graves being robbed. These robberies aren’t an attempt to find some valuable possession left with the deceased, but to steal the corpse of the deceased itself. In 2015 it was reported that fourteen female corpses had been stolen from their graves to be sold as ghost brides for the ritual ghost marriage practice that is still practiced by some families to this day. For this reason, families of individuals who pass away while single will encase the coffin with cement to make it more difficult or impossible to steal their loved ones from their graves. These robberies continue to plague families of single women who have passed, whose corpses are worth at least $3,000 to the family of a single man who has passed.

ALTER Presents Toe (2020)

One thing that you should do, if you’re a horror lover, is take a look at the animated horror short films that are available on YouTube–they’re not as prevalent as the regular live-action ones, but they’re often spookier and elicit a deeper sense of fear. We highly suggest you take a look at this stop-motion animated short film entitled, Toe which came out a little earlier this month.

This horror short warns us that even starving children are not immune to the punishments that come to those who disturb the graves of the dead.

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Indie Horror Indie Horror Creation Lifestyle Short Horror Stories

Puzzle Box Horror Presents – Atlas of Lore #1 Oregon.

Atlas of Lore #1 Oregon cover
Atlas of Lore #1 Oregon

We’re happy to announce we are done with our first publication “Atlas of Lore – Oregon.” In this issue, we have 5 original short horror stories based on Oregon’s haunted lore. We are also including the legends behind the stories in the issue along with original art, photography, articles, and a re-release of an H.P Lovecraft classic short story. If you love ghost stories, lore, and great horror art this is for you. See the trailer below to get an idea of what you are in for.

5 Original Stories From Horror Authors World Wide

Slice – A haunted pizza joint gets terrifying.
When The Bandage Man Finds You – A haunted coastal highway horror story
Anna Byrne Chronicles Chapters 1 and 2 – Anna learns a bit about her father’s paranormal discoveries and encounters her first haunting.
The Haunting of The White Eagle – A tale of paranormal investigators finding what they thought they were looking for.
Rose (graphic short) – Origin story of a famous ghost in a downtown Portland hotel.

Oregon’s Supernatural Lore

The White Eagle Hotel, Heceta Head Lighthouse, Maulers Butte, The Bandage Man of Cannon Beach, UFO’s and many other haunted locations and folklore tales related to Oregon’s supernatural lore.

Re-release of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Nameless City”

Join our email list to get updates on the release and other haunted articles. Order now from our store.

Stories by:

Mary Farnstrom
Tritone

Jon Richter
Tyson Strong
Felipe Kroll

Art and photography by:

Mary Farnstrom
Felipe Kroll
Tritone
MJD

Trailer for the magazine.

Trailer for upcoming publication “Atlas of Lore”

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