The supernatural movie theme starts a little like this; a
hopeful family moves (for one reason or another) into a rental home or buys a
house to start building a future. Queue
the audience at the beginning of the story that something maybe isn’t right with
the property. The rent is a little too
cheap. The house? On the market for a
few years but definitely ‘a steal’ in the neighborhood.
One of the reasons why these movies (some of which are
founded in true victim account stories) are so devastating, is because they
strike that human chord. We all hope for
a great place to live that isn’t going to break our budget. And moving into a new home is symbolic of
great things and a fresh start.
In fact, that positive emotion is so strong, that a clever
horror screen writer will start dropping the audience tips that the
protagonists are not seeing. Small
things like blood dripping from a faucet, randomly breaking mirrors, or the
occasional crucifix that just won’t stay on the wall (no matter how many times
the residents put it patiently back up).
And the acceleration of paranormal events begins in a match between
malevolent spirits and the residents of the home. Like the ultimate bad
roommate death match.
Here are our picks for 5 movies where the homeowner, renter
or family definitely should have moved out sooner than they did.
1. High Hopes – The Amityville House
We are going to start with one of the most infamous haunted
houses in American lore and history.
High Hopes was the original name of the prestigious home located in
Amityville New York. The home boasts a
roomy floor plan of five bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, scenic lake views of Long
Island, and was most recently listed for sale for $850,000 (U.S.) in 2016. The
home was finally sold for $1.2 million after an extensive bidding war between
Really? Call us a little skeptical but the history of the
home would be hard to forget, no matter how hot the Long Island real estate
market is. A real estate disclosure
reports that in total, there have been 7 deaths at High Hopes. One man who died inside the home of an
illness in 1939, and then the tragic murders of the six members of the DeFeo
The property has been owned by four different families since
the murders, and aside from George and Cathy Lutze, who left the home and all
their belongings inside of it claiming possession and haunting, no other others
have reported unusual paranormal activities in the home.
Would you buy High
Hopes and live there? Share your comments with us below.
2. The Allen House – Arkansas
When you arrive in Monticello, Arkansas, there is one
haunted mansion that catches your eye.
It rises like a historical monolith of Queen Anne and Gothic
architecture, with large stately pillars, French gardens and more than a few
angry ghosts inside the 8,500 square foot mansion. Welcome to The Allen
House in Arkansas.
A fated love story of a young woman who fell in love with a married man. Despite the passion shared by Ladell Allen, the daughter of the rich businessman who commissioned the mansion, and her married high school sweetheart Prentiss Hemingway Savage (an oil executive from Minnesota), Prentiss was unwilling to leave his wife and family. In 1949, Ladell poisoned herself and died in the hospital. Her spirit is said to be a dark and angry presence in the home, and her bedroom was left in state after her passing for more than thirty years.
There are believed to be 6 ghosts that live in The Allen
House with the new owners, Mark and Rebecca Spencer. Old love letters from Ladell and Prentiss
were unearthed after they purchased the home and are predominantly displayed in
frames to preserve the history.
Paranormal activity for the family runs the gamut of sounds,
moving objects and doppelganger activity.
Some of the ghosts like to appear as the Spencer’s son in the home, when
the child is at school or off the property.
They ‘try not to take it seriously’ and remain believers but dismissive
of the activity, as they continue to live with their ghostly roommates (and
conduct annual Halloween tours of the mansion).
Some homeowners simply want extra closet space. Others want
a built-in menagerie of paranormal fun 24/7 and don’t lose a wink of sleep.
3.The Cage – St. Osyth, Essex U.K.
The building started as a rooming house of sorts, and in
1582 it held 13 ‘witches’ who were placed on trial in St. Osyth, Essex. One of the famous witches of the period
trials, Ursula Kemp, was found guilty and hung with two other women who spent
their days waiting for a moment in court.
Not that legal defense was really a ‘thing’ for women accused of
witchcraft in the day.
The home has remained unchanged in terms of dimension and
odd angles of construction, while being renovated on the inside. Research into The
Cage revealed that throughout history, homeowners resided in the dwelling a
short span of three years or less, before leaving due to paranormal activity.
Residents have reported a malevolent goat demon that walks
through the home, random spattering of blood on walls and counters, and regular
sightings of spiritual entities. It is
so common in fact, that the present owner (who experienced a demonic attack
while she was pregnant) refuses to live in the home and has struggled to find a
new buyer because of the reputation the home has earned in the community.
4. Willows Weep – Cayuga, Indiana
If you love watching and learning about paranormal events
and hauntings, chances are you have seen this famous home on YouTube. Willow’s
Weep is the nickname for an otherwise unremarkable looking old home, if it was
not built in the shape of an upside down cross! Did we mention it is also built
at a crossroads? Yikes.
Willow’s Weep was originally constructed in the 1800s, and
it faces east toward the crossroads. In paranormal land, that’s like building
an altar at a powerful negative energy location. Deliberately. The home is also surrounded by
several Native American ancient burial sites, and the land around the home has
its own history of bloodshed, war and loss.
An occult ritual book was found buried beneath the original
floor. Previous owners and renters have
reported demonic attacks that feel life threatening, and several teams of paranormal
experts have conducted their own studies on Willow’s Weep. Many of them experienced similar instances of
spiritual or physical attack by malevolent entities, orbs and telekinesis or
the movement of objects or people in a violent way.
Willow’s Weep is currently owned by paranormal investigator
Dave Spinks, who is fundraising to create an indie movie about the history of
the home and haunted happenings. Some
American paranormal experts have labeled Willow’s Weep as the most malevolently
haunted building in the country.
Should you stay or should you go? If you find yourself in a situation where you have the worst paranormal room mates ever, try some of the steps recommended for cleaning your space. Life is a little too short to be dealing with creepy entities up in your business.
When technology meets the terrifying truths of the past, you get one of our favorite podcasts: Lore. Hosted by Aaron Mahnke since 2015, each episode explores various myths, urban legends and folklore that show the dark side of human nature. While there’s plenty of ghost stories for the classic horror fans, you’ll also be exposed to chupacabras, clairvoyants, captivating creatures and more to put a little spook into your morning commute. These are the scariest episodes of lore we have found to date.
Ready to add Lore to your podcast list? There are over 100 episodes – and below are 5 of the scariest episodes.
Before there was Bigfoot, there was the Jersey Devil. Said to have the body of a kangaroo, head of a goat and dragon-like wings, there have been hundreds of documented sightings of the creature around New Jersey for nearly three centuries.
This episode discusses its origins and spookiest sightings. The scariest part? For plenty of Jersey natives, the existence of the Jersey Devil is less folklore, and more fact.
“Half-Hanged” tells the story of Mary Webster – a woman in the era of the Salem witch trials. She became the scapegoat after the town hero blames her for his worsening health and accuses her of witchcraft – simply for being a little different. She goes through (not to!) hell, but doesn’t go down without a fight.
While the story took place in the 1600’s, it’s a twisted tale that would not be out of place today. Fun fact: Mary Webster is an ancestor of The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood – who dedicated the book and television series to her.
While exorcisms are extremely common in the horror genre, you’re usually trying to rid your loved ones of demons – not evil fairies. In “Black Stocking,” Manke discusses the folklore surrounding fairy changelings, and the desperate measures people went through to get rid of them.
What’s more frightening than the depths of the sea? The lighthouse that stands beside it. This episode holds back on ghosts, monsters, or even villains – and tackles one of society’s greatest fears…ending up all alone.
“All monsters are human.” Jessica Lange says it to Evan Peters in American Horror Story: Asylum, and this iconic line comes to life in one of Lore’s most disturbing episodes. Manke takes a terrifying trip into the asylum as he discusses the events at Danvers State Hospital, the first icepick lobotomy, and the horrifying ways in which the mentally ill were treated in asylums. It’s a tough, but necessary, look at human psyche and the progress we’ve made today.
I am a lifelong pop culture junkie with immense passion for all forms of art and entertainment. On a typical weekend, I can be found at a concert or musical, chasing ghosts on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, or watching way too many makeup tutorials on YouTube.
While zombies have been on the pop culture radar pretty
heavily for several decades now, the history of this undead phenomenon has a
history deeply rooted in the Haitian Voodoo religion—in fact, the belief in
zombies is still a relevant aspect of New Orleans Voodoo. In our western
society, we rely heavily upon our knowledge of what is presented to us in
movies and television, but the zombie culture we know and love evolved from a very
real magical tradition. Original zombification didn’t involve leaks from
biological factories, like what happened in Train to Busan (2016), or an
airborne virus as was the case in AMC’s The Walking Dead (2010)—it involved
a spiritual, magical, and chemical process that arose through voodoo ritual
which required the calling of several voodoo spirits (Loa).
Where we see zombies being portrayed as people who have died then coming back to life, the voodoo tradition it is actually a person who is under the powerful influence of psychoactive drugs. These drugs are usually administered to the unfortunate person by a bokor, the voodoo equivalent to a sorcerer or witch doctor. After being dosed with these psychoactive drugs, the victim essentially goes into drug-induced paralysis which mimics death so profoundly that it is rumored that people have been buried alive after being zombified. This is the case in one of the original, classic zombie films The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), where the main antagonist, is buried alive while fully cognizant—which, needless to say would be incredibly terrifying.
Process of Zombification
There is a lot of disagreement
about whether or not the person who is to become a zombie is actually deceased
or not—some believe that the process revives the recently dead into mindless,
soulless automatons, while others insist it’s just the effect of psychoactive
drugs that leaves the victim in a state of deep, chemical-induced paralysis,
which mimics death to the point that even vital signs are not measurable. Within
the Voodoo religion, only bokors
have the power to create and control zombies, while the methods and
ingredient amounts changes from each individual bokor, the process follows the
same pattern. Some processes use voodoo dolls, blood and hair from the intended
victim, and others use a “zombie” powder—this powder is a concoction of varies
herbs and animal parts, most of which are poisonous, as well as human remains.
This powder can then be administered through ingestion or injection and begins to take effect immediately. Immobility, slowed vitals, and reduced oxygen intake occur within minutes which results in the death-like paralysis where the victim is still fully conscious of their surroundings. Once officially declared dead, the victim is buried alive and within eight hours, the bokor digs up the body to keep the victim from actually dying from asphyxiation. Other procedures follow, which result in a mindless and easily controlled zombie which does the bidding of the bokor who created it. The person remains a zombie until the bokor passes away and is no longer capable of administering the drug that maintains the victim’s zombie-like state.
Clairvius Narcisse the Real Haitian Zombie
Zombification is often referred
to as either a solely magical or physical experience, but in truth it is a
mixture of both, it’s essential for a person to have a belief in voodoo and the
ability to be turned into a zombie in order for the process to work in its
was the case for Clairvius Narcisse, the man who claimed to be a zombie,
but returned home after eighteen years and his story was finally told.
In 1962, Narcisse was admitted
to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelles, Haiti. He complained of
fever, body aches, and ‘general malaise,’ but after being admitted he began to
spit up blood. His condition declined rapidly, until two days later when he was
officially pronounced dead by two separate physicians. Narcisse’s sister,
Angelina, was present when he was declared dead and then notified the rest of
the family, a day thereafter his body was buried, and ten days after that a
concrete memorial slab was placed atop the grave by his family.
What most the family didn’t know is that Clairvius had actually been pulled out of the grave and resuscitated. He was given the zombie concoction and kept in a zombie-like state for two years, working as slave labor in a region of the country that was much farther north. This was all done at the behest of his brother, after refusing to sell his portion of the family estate to him. After two years of being a zombie, his master had been killed, then he and all of the other zombie-slaves were released from their chemical induced state of submission. Clairvius stayed away from his home for the next sixteen years, knowing that his return would make his brother aware that he was no longer being controlled by another. Once his brother passed, he finally returned home, where he approached his sister Angelina in a local marketplace and introduced himself by his childhood nickname which she and a few other intimate family members alone were aware of.
Investigating the Haitian Zombie with Hamilton Morris
The following six-part Vice production follows the investigation of The Haitian Zombie, with Hamilton’s Phramacopeia, in order to find the truth behind the folk magic and legends of this walking dead phenomenon; Hamilton follows the scientific trail to the origin of the poisons that are said to cause Zombification in order to bring them back for formal chemical analysis.
Please watch the following footage with discretion–there are scenes and images that some viewers may find disturbing.
These videos are meant to be educational in nature.
This first episode goes into the initial introduction, including the nature of what Zombification entails.
The following video contains graphic footage included in a voodoo ritual, in which an animal sacrifice is made for the Loa, please be advised it may be considered disturbing to some viewers.
In this third episode, Hamilton goes to find a Bokor in order to witness the process of Zombification, but results in angering the Bokor and being told the deal is off.
Hamilton goes to find the main ingredient of Zombie powder, in this fourth episodes, which is a species of puffer fish.
In the fifth part of Investigating the Haitian Zombie, Hamilton meets up with another Bokor who possesses the Zombie powder that they have been searching for and witnesses a real zombie.
The final installment of the investigation into Haitian zombies, they travel back to the Bokor who showed them what they had been searching for to come through with the final product they paid for.
Knowing what we have learned from different sources, about the process of Zombification, can it truly be said that it is a purely chemical process? These videos in particular have all but debunked the rationale that it can all be chalked up to a chemical reaction, so some aspects of this spiritual process is often contributed to the powerful belief in their magical practices. What do you think about the phenomenon of Zombification? Let us know in the comments below.
Author. Artist. A little bit Alaskan. Mary lives with her dog in a rural cabin outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. They explore the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness during the summer and cozy up in their log cabin during the winter.
I could hear the waves lapping viciously against the rocky slope as the fog moved in and the seagulls were baying loudly against the incoming tide. I could feel the salt licking my face as I was driving up through the breezy, chilly air of the coastline. A quick glance at my GPS told me I was about an hour south of Newport, Oregon. It had been a beautiful day so far on my drive up from Humboldt County on my way to check out other universities on the West Coast; my mom had always told me to shop around for my education, despite my own desire to continue on with graduate school closer to home. Even though I had been driving since six in the morning, I hadn’t fully appreciated the sun until I saw it begin to disappear behind the dismal cloud cover and bleak front that was coming off the water. I was less attuned to this type of dreary atmosphere than I had realized and for some reason, I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
I could feel my grip tighten on the steering wheel and I flashed back to catching black ice on the roads back home during the winter; a spike of adrenaline pumped through my body, something was strange about this stretch of coastline. Then I saw it, even if it was barely visible through the fog that was just now kissing the shore. It was the lighthouse I had heard those rumors about… The Heceta Head Lighthouse–it had been a beacon of maritime safety on the Oregon coast since 1894, but it had a robust morbid history that seemed to fly under the radar. I scooted along highway 101 in my cheap rental car, but the closer I got, the stronger I felt like I was being pulled towards it. It was an eerie trance that was dark and dangerous, but I couldn’t keep from being lost within the tunnel vision–the rest of the drive there was a blur–then I was pulling into the visitor parking for the bed and breakfast that was now set up in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage.
It’s like I blinked and I was just–there. The normally bright red roof of the bed and breakfast was dull and bluish under the gloom that seemed to linger around the white cottage and I was compelled to see if they had any vacancies. The lady at the front desk was sweet yet homely, but I suspected that there was something dark and secret hiding under the shallow layer of her calm demeanor.
“Hey there, I was hoping that you had a room available?” I barely recognized my own voice, it sounded so dreamy when I heard it out loud. It didn’t register to me that there was another guest in the lobby until he cleared his throat, it made me jump a bit but he simply turned the page of the newspaper he had his nose buried in as if he didn’t notice me either. The desk clerk handed me the key for something called the “Victoria” room and her melodious voice directed me up the stairs to what seemed to have been a master suite in a previous life and according to the desk clerk was where the lighthouse keeper and his wife slept once upon a time…
I heard the name Rue come up somewhere in her story, but to be honest I kind of drifted in and out of the whole thing, I’m sure it would have been a captivating tale on any other occasion, or perhaps just in any other location. This place just seemed so hollow and there was a feeling that there were too many secrets lying just beneath its quaint and cozy facade. Maybe it was just that creepy, old and dirty-looking doll that sat on a shelf behind the counter that was giving this place a weird vibe.
Regardless, when I opened the door with that ancient-looking key, I felt my face scrunch up, “Great… it’s pink.” I don’t know who I was talking to, maybe it was just due to my own dismay to find the room was painted from floor to ceiling in that sickly pink pastel color. The bed was decorated with a floral quilt and matching pillowcases, I mean I knew I couldn’t complain about what the room looked like, after all, I only asked if they had any rooms available and this was the only one the desk clerk had to offer me. Come to think of it though, there only seemed to be two room keys missing. Didn’t she tell me that there were no other rooms available? Maybe she just meant that they needed repair or cleaning or… who knows, maybe I was just being paranoid.
The one saving grace that I could see was that the antique vanity near the corner had a complimentary bottle of wine and a glass. I sloughed off my bag onto the corner of the four-poster that was trussed up in such a girlie fashion, then grabbed the bottle and opener from the vanity and walked to the window. It seemed like the fog had lifted for the most part–although maybe it should have seemed strange, I had just arrived less than thirty minutes ago. Not a bad view though, the garden was stunningly manicured except for one small overgrown corner that looked as if it housed a headstone. That wasn’t all too interesting to me, honestly, but at least the darkness would be more forgiving on these walls, I hoped. I gave one final tug to the corkscrew and heard that satisfying pop and hello, vino!
I glanced over at the bedside table next to the window and a small pamphlet caught my eye–I picked it up without any reason, but perhaps it was due to my incessant curiosity, regardless it was in my hands; the title gave it away as a rundown of the history of this adorably macabre bed and breakfast. I took the chair in the corner, switched on the light, and flipped through this crisp little historical piece. I stopped on a page about the woman named Rue. Shit, maybe I should have listened to that desk clerk’s story, this was actually pretty interesting. I mean, I’d heard the rumors of course, but nothing I heard was as juicy and dark as the brief info in the pamphlet I was holding. Namely, because I was staying in Rue’s room, the “Victoria” room–well, at least she didn’t die in here.
I took a swig of the wine straight from the bottle, no reason to unnecessarily dirty a glass, then set the bottle down next to a plant that looked as if it were on death’s door and set the pamphlet down next to it. It was getting close to sunset here, but I wasn’t tired, nor was I going to waste the rest of my day in the room. After all, I was at a B&B that sat on the threshold of crashing waves and was within a short jaunt to a lovely lighthouse that had a creepy history that was begging to be scrutinized. I wasn’t even sure that I believed in ghosts, goblins, or whatever the hell people thought went bump in the night, I just knew that I was intrigued by it.
I was only brought out of my train of thought when one of the pictures hanging behind me crashed to the floor, the pane of glass on it shattered under my feet and the startle that overtook me made me feel as if something was grasping my throat. It escaped me momentarily that I had jumped to my feet when the picture had initially fallen and I felt somewhat silly. Coincidence, that’s what it was. Well, that’s what I thought until the one right next to it was propelled with great force down to the floor as well, I jumped back once again as the shower of broken glass sprayed past my ankles.
“Woah, what the hell!” I barely got the words out before the rest of the pictures in the room came down with the same force in quick succession. My heart rate jumped almost as quickly as I had when I found myself pressed against the foot of the four-poster bed. Everything went silent after that and I let go of an unsteady breath I hadn’t been aware I was holding in. Apparently this was going to be a more interesting stay than I initially believed, but if it wasn’t an excuse to take another swig from that bottle of wine then I wasn’t sure what was. I wouldn’t say I chugged some of it, but it wasn’t exactly a sip either–I replaced the cork in the bottle and set it gently in the bathroom sink, lest there was another exciting incident with glass objects in here while I was gone.
I rummaged through my bag and grabbed my camera, this sunset would definitely be worth capturing. I wasn’t exactly used to seeing the sun as it set over the ocean having grown up in the interior of Alaska and I had to get out of the room to get some fresh air. I swear I nearly high-stepped the entire way down the stairs back to the lobby and stopped abruptly in front of the desk where I had checked in.
“Charlie stepped out for a bit, she said she’d be back in an hour or so,” the mystery man behind the newspaper spoke up. “Did you see Rue already?” I was taken aback, to say the least, how the hell would he know? “Don’t look so speechless, I heard the pictures breaking from here. I’m guessing you weren’t just throwing a fit because of the godawful paint job.” He chuckled to himself.
“I–I, uh…” I blinked and shook my head, “I just need some fresh air.” I’d never been at a loss for words before, but there I was, stumbling as if–as if I had just seen a ghost? No. This was utter crap, I felt my head shake again before I hastily stumbled through the door. Fresh air. Fresh air. Yep, that’s all I needed. Oh wow, the colors in the sky looked as if they were bright paint splashed across a canvas haphazardly–I raised my camera and CLICK–not only had the fog lifted, but the cloud cover had completely dissipated as well. The white picket fence screamed of the “American Dream,” that simply didn’t exist where I was from, but that barely registered on my mind until I passed through the gate. There was a hard gust of wind off of the water, then my senses were assaulted with the chilled salt air and I pulled my light jacket a bit tighter around myself. If I had taken two or three more steps forward, I would have walked straight off the bluff into the tumultuous tides below.
I followed the path that wrapped around the front of the cottage and the adjacent garden and passed the recreation and grilling area when I noticed the path that disappeared beyond the shed near the back. When I approached I noticed the sign that labeled it as the way to the lighthouse and shrugged, it couldn’t hurt to get farther away from spook-central. I glanced over my shoulder at the cottage and shuddered, still unable to acknowledge it as having happened. In an effort to put that disturbing experience behind me, quite literally, I headed down the path that eventually had me shrouded in trees where I finally felt safe and more at home than I had since I left Alaska. The walk was easy and blissfully serene, it opened up to the grand structure of the lighthouse that now stood a short distance past what I could only assume had been the fuel sheds before automation had occurred.
I was surprised that on such a beautiful evening, no one else seemed to be around, but there were a lot of things that seemed to be off about today. The gulls were louder near the lighthouse and the wind was sharper, I guess I answered my own question, most people would probably be indoors eating dinner instead of subjecting themselves to the bone chill that came with the violent burst of ocean gales. With no one around though, I figured I could satisfy my long-standing curiosity by doing a little harmless B-and-E. I tried the handle of the watch house and it was locked–of course, it was locked–I rolled my eyes at my own overconfidence and tried one of the windows at the side of the micro-building and it squeaked upwards with a little elbow grease.
I was grateful that I had taken after my petite Yup’ik mother instead of my gangly, bumbling Scottish father, as my hips narrowly avoided getting stuck and I clumsily slipped through and fell into an impossibly contorted mess on the other side. Luckily, I had cradled my camera so it hadn’t hit the floor as hard as my elbow had–that would leave a bruise. A cursory look around the room, while I nursed my elbow, showed me that it no longer served as a watchhouse, but instead as a storage shed for tools and other necessary equipment to maintain the upkeep of the now-automated lighthouse. I smiled to myself, my fascination with lighthouses probably spurred from the fact that it wasn’t a type of building that I was particularly familiar with and I could just smell the history in this place.
A clanking sound echoed down from inside the tower and I had a suspicion that I wasn’t truly alone–but at the same time, I knew there was no one else in the building. There couldn’t be. I moved into the tower and looked up, but the empty space in the middle of the spiral staircase that lined the walls proved to be just that–empty. Well, I wasn’t a cat, so curiosity couldn’t kill me, right? The stairs creaked underneath my feet, the light that filtered in was even dimmer as the sun sunk lower toward the horizon. I’d been curious about the inner workings of a lighthouse for years, ever since I saw my first one in a picture in a history book as a child.
There was no one in the lighthouse, I noticed when I reached the top of the stairs, and the lantern room was just as spectacular as I hoped it would be, but I ached to see what it must have looked like before automation took place in the 1960s. There was something else in the air here though–something was off, it just didn’t feel right. I looked around the cramped space and still saw nothing. I shook my head and settled my eyes on the sun as it began to disappear over the ocean, this is what I really wanted to see. No view could compare to this, my hands rested gently on the glass as I pressed against the window cautiously–CLICK. The satisfaction from getting a good photograph compared to nothing else–I sighed.
Another creak of the floor rose from behind me and my breath caught in my chest, but I was frozen, I couldn’t turn to see what it was before my head was thrashed hard against the glass. The thick glass splintered out like thin ice under a heavy boot and I could see the blood that stained the cracks as my vision blurred and I dropped unwillingly to the floor, blackness seeped into my sight, but I could still feel the pain as my body crumpled under further assault by what I could only describe as a black mass hovering over me. It was impenetrable darkness that had no interest aside from causing me harm and it won.
I awoke to a shout, my eyes were bleary, I felt like I was looking through a red lens–blood had spilled into my eyes. What I could see now was the ground threatening me from afar, I was halfway through the railing of the catwalk and was dangerously close to falling to what I could only assume in my state was certain death. There was another shout and in my delirious state, I could see an obscure figure run full speed toward the lighthouse. Blackness overtook me again.
A strong jerk brought me around once more, my legs were being pulled by someone capable and I somehow knew I was going to be alright–the man behind the paper, from earlier, was that him?
“Are you okay?” my mystery man asked me, the concern on his voice was transparent.
“Ngh–help,” I barely formed the word, “ghost?” I wasn’t sure what had happened, I just knew it wasn’t something I had ever seen before.
“Yeah, little mouse–but you’re alright now.” I could feel him drag me up and back into the lantern room–or somewhere, I wasn’t certain where I even was anymore, but even in my poor condition, I knew that this was a defining moment for me. This was something I was going to need to figure out later on down the line.
“Anna,” I huffed through my laboriously jagged breaths, “my name is Anna Byrne.”
The rest of the night was a pretty much a blur, the mysterious man with the newspaper–he identified himself as Burton Januszczyk–helped me walk back to the cottage and then quite reluctantly to his room when he realized I didn’t feel safe in my own. I fished the key out of my dirty jeans and he went to retrieve my bag from the room while I sat fretfully on the edge of his tub in the bathroom.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” He asked when he came back, with my bag in hand, “are you sure you wouldn’t like me to drive you to the hospital for that gash on your head?”
“No, I mean–yes, I’ll be okay. I just–” there was a pronounced throb in my head once he mentioned it, “–I need to know what is going on here.”
“It’s Rue.” He said in a very matter-of-fact sort of way, “y’know you should really let me take a look at that,” I felt like he was simply trying to change the subject.
“Yeah, fine.” I relented and he reemerged with a first aid kit a few moments later. I winced when he applied the alcohol to the wound on my temple, “why do you think Rue attacked me?” Burton eyed me cautiously, as he cleared the blood from around my eyes, he looked like he was thinking hard about something–what was he hiding?
“I’ve been looking into this place for quite a while now, there’s been a habit of young women going missing in this area and I noticed a trend. I’ve traced most of the disappearances to this lighthouse.” The expression on his face looked haunted. “Not to pat myself on the back, but you’re pretty lucky I was here when you checked in–I was just about to leave.”
“Wait, do the owners know about this?” I furrowed my brow and the immediate shock-wave of pain reminded me of what was there.
“Do they know?” He tried to hold in a laugh under his breath, “they’re the ones that disturbed her spirit and brought her back in the first place–they thought it would make the bed and breakfast more popular! You saw that nasty doll behind the front desk? That belonged to Rue.” His story was wild–I had never heard of anything more ludicrous in my entire life, but here I was with a dent in my skull for my own skepticism. Burton finished tending my wound just as I was getting a call from–ah, shit it was my father.
“Sorry, I’ve got to take this–hey, I’m sorry I forgot to call and tell you I stopped for the night, I–” I was cut off by the sound of his voice rushing into the receiver.
“–are ye’ okay, Anna?” my father’s voice was curiously distraught.
“Yeah da–I’m fine! What’s wrong?”
“I got tha message from ye saying tha’ yer gonna stop ‘fore Newport? Where’d ye’ end up stoppin’?”
“Oh–uh,” I didn’t know if I should tell him about what happened, didn’t want him to worry, I was fine after all. “Uh–Heceta Head Lighthouse, there’s a B&B here, it’s uh–it’s cute. I guess.” I struggled to keep my voice even as I lied to my father.
“Cut the shite, Anna–wha happen’d?” I sighed and recounted the events that had just occurred, my stomach sank when he didn’t speak for a few moments after I finished the story. I could hear a sharp inhalation as if he were about to say something–then he loudly exhaled as if he had thought better of it. “Anna, we’ve got ta lot to talk about when yer home. Get out of that place as soon as ye can, come home. Please.” The urgency in his voice made me realize there was something he hadn’t been telling me for a long time–I needed to get home.
Author. Artist. A little bit Alaskan. Mary lives with her dog in a rural cabin outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. They explore the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness during the summer and cozy up in their log cabin during the winter.
Technically speaking, we as a species have explored more of the cosmos than of the extensive oceans that make up the majority of our planet. Earth’s history is riddled with sightings and encounters of subaqueous creatures large and small, beautiful and dangerous, real and imaginary. Whole skeletons have been discovered to prove the existence of immense antediluvian monsters the globe over, though while these creatures are in fact proven to have roamed the earth’s waters at some prehistoric juncture, many more fantastical types have managed to bleed over into a myriad of weird and wonderful superstitions. The Curse of The River serpent is no exception.
Urban legends are positively rampant in the United States, largely in sparse areas of vast deserts, rivers and woodland where superstition is given true space to run wild. One long-persevering tale, originating from the rivers of Tennessee and Alabama, sounds more like something from HP Lovecraft’s most aqueous nightmare than a backwater fantasy. This is the curse of the river serpent.
The Coosa River
The Coosa River, once claimed by the French and considered the “key to the country”, is one of the main areas this particular thalassic oddity has been sighted. A 280 mile tributary of the Alabama River, Coosa River has been a place of rich history since long before the first Europeans visited it in 1540. Coosa basin contains 147 fish species, along with the oddity of the painted rocksnail, and plenty of alligator sightings, though at around 1822 an altogether new phenomenon was observed. A great snakelike creature with large fins was spotted first slithering near the banks at Ball Play Creek.
The Curse of The River Serpent Legend
Columnist E. Randall Floyd described several incidents in a 1993 article in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. According to the article, Buck Sutton was fishing in Van’s Hole when he saw the creature writhing in the swampy shallows. He described the horrible sighting to his friends, only to turn up mysteriously dead a few days later. Since this mysterious occurrence, other victims have fallen prey to the serpent’s curse, Billy Burns dying in 1827; Jim Windom in 1829. No records exist as to the actual cause of these perplexing departures, though the stories are evidence enough for many to avoid the basin at all costs.
So is it just backwoods imagination gone wild, or is there something to be said for the curse of the Alabama river serpent? While most tales of sea creatures have been dismissed as sightings of extremely large river fish, fossils discovered in 1834 show a prehistoric whale once swam in waters in what is now Alabama. According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the creature was later found by scientists to be Basilosaurus cetoides, or zeuglodon, a prehistoric meat-eating whale found once in the Eocene epoch that grew as long as 70 feet, and grew to have skulls as long as five feet.
Humans are not meant to be underwater, and it is this fact that drives our inescapable thalassic fears. Films likeUnderwater (2020) and Leviathan (1989)exploit this to great effect, and the possible existence of seventy-foot sea serpents doesn’t help matters much. From the early to mid-1800s, sea serpent sightings occurred with the regularity of UFO sightings today, according to the Geological Survey of Alabama, and it is within the public’s fascination with the uninhabitable that the truth will grow ever closer.
Joe first knew he wanted to write in year six after plaguing his teacher’s dreams with a harrowing story of World War prisoners and an insidious ‘book of the dead’. Clearly infatuated with horror, and wearing his influences on his sleeve, he dabbled in some smaller pieces before starting work on his condensed sci-fi epic, System Reset in 2013.Once this was published he began work on many smaller horror stories and poems in bid to harness and connect with his own fears and passions and build on his craft. Joe is obsessed with atmosphere and aesthetic, big concepts and even bigger senses of scale, feeding on cosmic horror of the deep sea and vastness of space and the emotions these can invoke. His main fixes within the dark arts include horror films, extreme metal music and the bleakest of poetry and science fiction literature. He holds a deep respect for plot, creative flow and the context of art, and hopes to forge deeper connections between them around filmmakers dabbling in the dark and macabre.
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