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Featured Indie Horror Short Horror Stories

Anna Byrne: Chapter 02 – The Burden of a Witch’s Son

Urban Legends: The Curse of Lafayette

I looked up at the loft in my father’s study, my eyes burned from a lack of sleep, but if I was ever going to get broken in to some of the insane notions that my father spoke about the night before this was how I should do it. I felt his hand grasp my shoulder and the kiss he gave me on the back of my head, as he encouraged me to do the deed.

“Oh Anna, it’s not that bad,” he chuckled as he watched me climb the wooden loft steps.

“JESUS CHRI—”

“You watch your mouth young lady!” I heard him snap, as he stood in his office below.

“What is all of this stuff, Da’?” He couldn’t really blame me for my initial reaction, his loft seemed to extend the length of the entire house and not just over his own study. It was also filled with boxes, filing cabinets, and the odd armoire—speaking of which, how the hell did he even get that up there?

“Oh, don’ ye touch the armoire!” I heard him shout as he had read my mind when he settled back in front of his computer, “that’s a story fer another day!”

“You don’t expect me to get through all of this today do you?” the incredulous tone in my voice came out without my permission, but dad already knew the kind of sass that I brought to the table.

“Nah, jus’ find Oregon, seein’ ye already met Rue.” I heard him chuckle to himself, as if he had just remembered a funny joke and I could almost feel my eyes roll into the back of my head.

Oregon, Oregon—my eyes scanned the boxes, he told me he wasn’t going to help me go through anything, but that I had to go through it. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go through a few notes he’d collected on the subject. This, however, was far and away beyond a few notes that he had alluded to. Finally, I found a box against the wall that was labeled Oregon, it was sitting on a stack of boxes—also labeled Oregon—shit, I knew it, I was going to be here all night. I grabbed the top box and wrestled it over to the desk that sat in front of the octagonal loft window, where radiant light filtered through.

“Well, here goes nothing,” a sigh escaped my chest and I threw back the dusty lid of the first box of many that I was charged with reading through and memorizing. I quickly scanned the file names for the Heceta Head Lighthouse, but was disappointed to find there was nothing about it in this particular box. Another file name caught my eye though, LAFAYETTE, OR – WITCH’S CURSE, father’s handwriting neatly headed the label. My curiosity was piqued now, I had to read this one first.


The year was 1885 and the Willamette Queen had just pulled into the dock of Lafayette, Oregon. Despite the early hour, the skies were gloomy, overcast, and the clouds threatened to batter all that which laid below. Locals disembarked with a spring in their step to meet their families who had gathered to welcome them home, while others shuffled off in a daze as they attempted to gather themselves. One such family, a man as well as his wife and mother stepped off to the side; they looked around for a moment and after a brief conversation with a local street vendor, set off down one of the muddy dirt roads that led into downtown.

Sheriff Harris, propped up on his horse, eyed the newcomers into his town and noted all of the people with which he would become acquainted in the days to come. He was a relic of older times and practices; his hat, brown duster coat, and boots proved as much, the splatters of dried mud gave away his hands-on approach to his livelihood.


The Marple family had recently become settled in a home on the outskirts of town, the matron of the family, Anna Marple had already become a name on the lips of the townspeople. As a widow, it was not unusual for her to live with her son and his wife, but she never seemed to act her part. The other women of the town shunned her, gossip telephoned from one ear to the next, and there always seemed to be some small scandal or another lingering around her. This didn’t seem to matter to one David Corker, a lonely widowed shop owner; she had caught his eye nearly the first day she and her family disembarked from the Willamette Queen that dreary fall day in 1885. Anna had gained a reputation of being a very unchristian woman, her traditional black widow’s clothing turned heads, children ran when she came walking into town, and there always seemed to be a raggedy black cat that trailed behind her wherever she went.
Folks in those parts believed the widow Marple to be a witch, but the topic was never broached in proper company.

I am beginning to suspect my husband’s mother is making sinister plans for me; I fear that my mouth has become too much for her to stand to provide food for. I have no money to my name and my only contribution is that I keep a tidy home. I am quite proud of that fact, if I am to be frank, I was raised to be a homemaker after all. That of course seems to be of no consequence to my husband’s mother.

Julie Marple – May, 1886

Seasons had passed in the town of Lafayette, the summer had been a prolific one for the townspeople and consequently the burglaries had been numerous. The widow Marple had effortlessly acquired the company of the widower Corker, who had earlier that year begun the process of courting the target of his affections. This of course spawned more gossip and rumors, of the widow having Mr. Corker under some type of spell. The sheriff of course had more important things to worry about, mostly the burglaries that had been occurring in the middle of the night—and at present he only had a single suspect. It of course didn’t help that the description of the perpetrator had matched quite exactly with the lanky, sallow Mr. Marple with his dark and greasy long hair.

The Marple residence had been frequented by Sheriff Harris on many occasions, mostly due to complaints by other townspeople, but recently it had more to do with the fact that before their arrival the theft of property had been a rarity in his town. There was just nothing else that could be said on the matter, in fact, the only thing Harris could do was charge him with a crime—but the evidence supporting his theory was severely lacking. It would just have to wait.

The fall of 1886 came quickly, like the changing of the leaves, it was there before anyone could realize it was even happening. Sheriff Harris continued to get more reports of burglaries in the area and he knew he would have to do something about it soon, or risk his own unemployment. Luckily for Harris, what happened on November 1, 1886 was exactly what he needed to solidify a case that would take Marple off of his streets for good.

Let me start by saying I did it, of course, I did it. Who else could have? Who else would have? We haven’t been living in Lafayette for very long, but it feels like forever when no one will give you and job and let you keep it. That is to say—me—they won’t give me a job and let me keep it.

Richard Marple – November 1, 1886

The widow Marple had not been seen in town for a few weeks now, but her beau David Corker couldn’t leave his shop unattended. So it was to much of the surprise of his regular customers when, unlike his normal routine, Corker didn’t open the shop exactly at nine on the second morning of November. This was so odd to one of his patrons that they immediately went over to the house of the widower to see why he couldn’t purchase the much needed laudanum for his wife’s debilitating headaches. When the patron found the door to widower Corker’s home ajar, he stepped inside and realized why the store had not been opened on time that morning.

Suffice it to say, Sheriff Harris was called immediately; upon the discovery of a bloody, mutilated, and hacked Mr. Corker alongside a house that looked as if a herd of stampeding cattle had been driven through, he knew exactly who must have done it.


Sheriff Harris pounded heavily on the door of the Marple residence, the haunted silence and blackness of the night otherwise unsettled him. “Richard Marple!” He hollered into the thick wooden door before him, “This is Sheriff Harris, open up!” The plain and mousy Julie Marple opened the door in her pink floral night-coat. She held a chamberstick aloft in her hand and drew up the light to her pale and sunken expression to get a look at the Sheriff. The look on her face was one of bewilderment and exhaustion.

“What can I help you with Sheriff?” Julie’s voice was a small, melodic sound, but her confusion was thorough.

“My apologies Mrs. Marple for the late hour, but I was hoping you could tell me if your husband was in your company two nights ago?”

“I—uh—that is to say, he left early in the evening, he said that he had business to attend to in town, why is it that you ask?”

The Sheriff shook his head then further explained that he wasn’t at liberty to disclose the details of his visit, but that it was an urgent matter that required her husband’s attention. Within a moment she disappeared and the door closed with a solid thud in the sheriff’s face. When Julie’s husband appeared at the door, his expression was as sullen and bleak as could be expected—he knew what the sheriff was now at his doorstep, but his poor acting might have a fool believe that he was surprised.

“How can I help you Sheriff Harris?” Richard Marple feigned a look of foolish innocence, the lines on his pallid face were strikingly deep when the dim light of a half-moon fell upon them.

“Mr. Marple, I’m going to need you to come down to the jail with me, I’ve got several questions for you.”

“Oh, alright—let me just get my coat,” Richard of course could have used that time to establish an alibi with his mother and wife, so Harris couldn’t risk any more time spent allowing Richard the opportunity.

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Mr. Marple.” The sheriff reached out and shackled his suspect, “let’s go.”


Julie watched as her mother-in-law deteriorated over the winter—there was no one left to financially support either of them and Julie wished that she had gotten out of that wretched household already. She swore to herself that the only reason she stayed in Lafayette was because she was needed for her testimony of the night in question. Otherwise she would have already hopped back on the Willamette Queen and taken it back to Corvallis to stay with her parents until she could find a way to make her own way in the world.

Her mother-in-law seemed to get smaller and smaller the longer Richard was in jail, but without his overbearing presence, Julie felt like she was thriving. She had taken the opportunity that was presented with his absence to take up a small side-business sewing and darning clothing for people in need; when the sheriff had searched her home and found the blood-soaked shirt, piece of paper, and tools of her husband’s thieving trade, however, she found she no longer had any customers. Her husband’s assumed guilt was apparently her own as well.

I must admit that I never loved David Corker—nor did I ever much enjoy his company. He was a sad older widower and a dullard at that. I sometimes suspect that his late wife passed simply to be rid of his intolerable presence. It soon became clear to me, however, when my son Richard could not find steady means of employment that it would fall to me to secure this family’s financial future. What better way than to lure in a lonely shopkeeper with my feminine gifts? Now you may be thinking that I am some sort of working lady, but I find those sorts of ladies to be utterly deplorable. I was a well-respected woman in my time, especially whilst my dear departed husband was still alive.

Anna Marple – January 7, 1887

From where Richard sat rotting in the cell at the Lafayette jail, he saw winter turn back into spring, the light slowly made its way through his barred window and he got a new cellmate often enough to keep the company fresh. Aside from not having bar-girls, tobacco, and drink, it was almost as if he wasn’t missing much of the outside world at all.

We moved here from Corvallis and you might now be imagining something awful that I must have done to drive us away from such a place. Well, I must confess that sleeping with the local tavern owner’s wife was not exactly an innocent affair, it was surely not as seedy as might be otherwise imagined. I may also, on more than one occasion, have liberated the random shop or home of certain valuables that need not have been immediately noticed. Regardless, nothing that I did in Corvallis was as terrible as what I am now suspected of.

Richard Marple – January 20, 1887

It wasn’t until early spring of 1887 that Sheriff Harris finally had enough to convict Richard Marple of the murder of shop owner David Corker—although with two witness who couldn’t corroborate his whereabouts, evidence stained with Corker’s blood, and the tools with which he broke into the home it would have seemed like an open-and-shut case. Richard, however, maintained his innocence from the time he was arrested; until he unwittingly divulged the facts of his own guilt to a cellmate, who was more than happy to give testimony in return for a reduced sentence of his own.

I wish I could tell you that I married well, that I married for love, and that I could, beyond a shadow of a doubt, trust my husband. There is a reason we moved away from Corvallis in 1885, though, and it was not a good one. My mother and father did not know Richard well enough when they gave me away, however, I trust that if they had understood the character of the man that they would have vehemently objected. My story may not be remembered but I have a strong suspicion that my husband and his mother will live on in history. After all, murderers usually do.

Julie Marple – April 10, 1887

The conviction of Richard Marple was unopposed after that final piece of the puzzle was fit roughly into the picture—a confession, even second-hand was enough to convince the jury of his peers. Even with the general disdain of the town for him and his family, they had otherwise been unwilling to suspect that one of their own was capable of committing such a crime. Corker had been a beloved member of their community though and his absence continued to be felt on a daily basis; the only recompense was someone would hang for the crime. Eventually the realization of the one they should hang became self-evident and he was sentenced to swing by the neck on November of that year.


The Gallows
The Gallows

The burly Sheriff Harris stepped up to Richard at the gallows, papers in his hand as he read off the convictions for which the man was to be executed. “For the robbery and most heinous murder of our own David Corker, Richard Marple shall now be executed by hanging!” This announcement was met by unwavering applause from the thirty or more men, women, and children that made up the crowd that stood before them.

Richard stood hunched next to the confident authority of the Sheriff, his shoulders slumped forward in defeat as the noose hung heavily around his neck. His beetle black eyes scanned the crowd which continued clapped heartily to watch him meet his demise. Several men shouted from the crowd, but Richard could only make out one man in particular, who told shouted to let “the murderer burn in hell!”

“Put the hood over the prisoner’s head,” Sheriff Harris ordered the executioner immediately, he was in no mood to let a murderer have his last words, but before the hood could be shoved over his head, Richard pulled roughly away.

“MURDER!” He shouted desperately into the crowd below him—his dehydrated lips cracked with his efforts, “May God judge you all!” Anything else that Richard may have said was muffled as his head was stuffed forcibly into the hood. The executioner stepped back to the lever of the trapdoor and on the Sheriff’s signal pulled forcefully to release it. “ACK!” The sound that escaped Richard’s throat was inhuman, as his feet fell out from beneath him and the rope snapped taut. His eyes bulged out of his face, the knot lodged directly under his throat, which prevented his neck from breaking and him from meeting a quick end.

Richard’s mother emerged from within the center of the crowd, her hair was wild and unkempt—her eyes were red with a year’s worth of tears. Her dress billowed around her as she fell to her knees, the people that surrounded her moved suddenly to give her a wider berth.

“Murderers! All of you! Murderers!” She bellowed, her grief-stricken voice cracked with a hoarse pain. “You shall all feel the pain of those you have wronged! Your town shall never prosper! I curse you and all of your children’s children to feel the fiery hell of my fury as your town burns around you time and time again!” Her head fell limp into the hands that now rested on her lap, her sobs shook her body viciously as Richard’s body twitched and seized. His wife, Julie, came behind his mother to comfort her, her own face streaked with tears, but Anna pulled away wailing for the loss of her only son.

Witch Burning a Village
Witch Burning a Village

“Hot damn,” I heard the words come out of my mouth after having reviewed the file at length. I folded up the file, but several news clippings fell out into my lap when I went to replace the file into the box. There was a clipping of every single fire that had occurred in Lafayette since the widow Marple had placed her verbal curse upon the town and its people. In fact not a decade had gone by since, that the town had not experienced some type of devastating fire—and there had been, I saw, on two separate occasions, fires so intense that they had leveled the entire town. “That was one pissed-off witch.”

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Curse of The River Serpent – Urban Legend

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

Coosa River Map home of the river serpent urban legend
By Original: Pfly, using a base map template made with US Federal public domain GIS data;Version 3: John Lambert – This is a modification of File:MobileAlabamaCoosa2.png, which is in Wikimedia under GFDL license., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2065758

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.

Conclusion

Humans are not meant to be underwater, and it is this fact that drives our inescapable thalassic fears. Films like Underwater (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.

References

Underwater (2020) – IMDb
Leviathan (1989) – IMDb
Car-sized catfish? Supernatural serpents? ‘Monster Fish’ host Zeb Hogan discusses Alabama’s legendary river creatures (Odd Travels w/video, photos) – al.com
Herald-Journal – Google News Archive Search

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Hood River Oregon’s Haunted Hotels

Haunted Hood River Hotel Side View
Haunted Hood River Hotel

Hood River sits in the Columbia Gorge along the Columbia river surrounded by fields, orchards, vineyards, and at the foot of Oregon’s tallest mountain, Mount Hood. “The area was inhabited by Native Americans when the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through on October 29, 1805. Here they found a campsite called “Waucoma,” or “place of big trees.” The camp was located near what became known as the Dog River.” – City of Hood River Website. The town was established in 1858 and was originally called “Dog River.” The Columbia Gorge is a wonder of nature unto itself stretching 80 miles and at times is 4,000 feet deep. The Columbia River that flows through the gorge near Hood River is notorious for windsurfing and kiteboarding. On any given day you can see the sails and kites littered about the massive river.

Scenic Map of The Columbia River
Scenic Map of The Columbia River

The quaint town of Hood River is an outdoor adventurer stronghold. Sprinter vans, mountain bikes, kite and windsurfers, and craft beer are everywhere. The town is home to about 8,000 people and it’s a blend of farmers, migrant workers in the summer working the vineyards, mountain sports enthusiasts, beer lovers, surfers, and about anyone else who loves outdoor activities.

The town is also the home of two of Oregon’s most haunted hotels. The “Hood River Hotel” and “The Columbia Gorge Hotel.” The Hood River hotel established in 1912 is now over 100 years old and the magnificent Columbia Gorge Hotel will turn 100 next year in 2021. After a century in business, these hotels have seen some life and even some death. The town was originally a major hub for trade before being discovered as an outdoor person’s hot spot. With hundreds of thousands of visitors a year there are stories to tell.

The Haunted Hood River Hotel

Haunted Hood River Hotel Front
Haunted Hood River Hotel Front Door, Hood River, Oregon

The original hotel named the Mt Hood Hotel dates back to 1888 which was strategically located near the train depot in the center of town. It is the oldest hotel in the city of Hood River. Local lore tells of the original owner Ola Bell still inhabiting room 319 even though she died in 1942. She owned the hotel for over 30 years and her ghost is said to still haunt the hallways. The haunting ranges from sheer terror guests have experienced such as mortal fear when entering a room and disembodied footsteps to less terrifying events such as doorknobs moving with no one in sight, phantom phone calls. The most horrifying account comes from a guest staying in room 310. The guest reported opening the door and becoming overcome with dread, this the statement left in their review of the hotel room ” I nearly knocked my poor daughter down trying to get out. Every hair on my body stood on end, every rational thought left my brain and all I could do was yell GO GO GO GET OUT GET OUT.”

The Haunted Columbia Gorge Hotel

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Haunted Columbia Gorge Hotel, Hood River, Oregon

The Columbia Gorge Hotel was built by Simon Benson, who was involved with the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway. Benson envisioned a hotel at the end of the highway and completed the Mission style hotel in 1921. The new hotel was built on the site of the previous Wah Gwin Gwin Hotel, built in 1904. Between 1925 and 1952, the hotel went through several changes of ownership.

The then-48-room hotel closed in 1952, when it was sold to the Neighbors of Woodcraft, a non-profit fraternal benefit society based in Oregon since 1905, and converted into a retirement home.It was sold again in 1978, with the new owners planning to reopen it as a hotel. After a $1-million renovation, the now-42-room hotel reopened in September 1979. 

In January 2009, the landmark hotel closed its doors again, due to foreclosure. The foreclosing bank later re-opened the hotel before selling it to Vijay Patel’s A-1 Hospitality Group in October 2009 for around $4 million. Between 2009 and 2012, the hotel underwent a major renovation. The hotel is currently open and you can take a virtual toor.

Haunting and ghost sightings within the hotel vary. There are sighting of a woman in White attire who allegedly committed suicide at the hotel, most recently sitting at a park bench on the ground. Scents of cigar smoke with no identifiable cause possibly related to a retiree who died on the premises when it was a retirement home. There are other sightings of a ghost of a child near an area that once held a pool. Room 330 has reports of another female ghost of unknown origin. Rooms have been found barricaded with no known cause and a man wearing a frock coat and a top hat been seen.

Recent guests report strange dreams such as this guest in 2020 “I saw a black mass hovering above my the nightstand next to the bed. In the dream, it started to smoke and the room started on fire due to this presence.” In 2018 Another guest reported, “I saw a human form walk around the foot of our bed and to my side of the bed, suddenly I couldn’t move or speak.” That was not the only guest who was left paralyzed in fear. Another man in 2016 reported “my wife said she couldn’t move, speak or open her eyes, she was in a frozen state. I woke up when something felt like tugging or sitting on the blankets on my side of the bed that sent tingles up my legs.”

Columbia Gorge Hotel Information Guide
Columbia Gorge Hotel Information Guide

The town of Hood River is beautifully nestled along the Columbia River Gorge. It is home to some of the best outdoor activities in Oregon but it also has a long and haunted history. It’s well worth a visit for ghost-hunters, historians, and anyone who visits the great haunted state of Oregon.

Want more Oregon haunted hotels?

Index
https://cityofhoodriver.gov/community/history/
https://www.columbiagorgehotel.com/
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g51909-d114266-r605770471-Hood_River_Hotel-Hood_River_Oregon.html
https://thoughtcatalog.com/amy-venezia/2015/09/i-spent-a-night-at-the-columbia-gorge-hotel-after-i-heard-stories-of-its-haunted-rooms/
https://www.oregonhauntedhouses.com/real-haunt/hood-river-hotel.html
https://www.oregonhauntedhouses.com/real-haunt/columbia-gorge-hotel.html

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

La Mala Hora – Urban Legend Explored

Mexico has enough folklore and urban legends to make HP Lovecraft cancel his flight, though none are as menacing and confrontational as the dreaded La Mala Hora.

The Legend

La Mala Hora relates to The Devil’s Hour, a time many know as 3am, a time at which they would wake suddenly with no perceptible reason with an acute sense of dread wallowing in their stomach. The dreaded hour has been associated with practice of witchcraft, imbued with great satanic significance and even held accountable for the true story of The Amityville Horror, though residents of Mexico know it as something rather more tangible, and far more horrifying. 

In 1910 the phenomenon was described by Aurelio Espinosa as a malicious entity that stalked crossroads around Mexico at night. It would hunt, torment and even kill anyone brave enough to ignore the tales and travel home alone at such an hour. If these individuals were unfortunate enough to come across the dreaded La Mala Hora, and gaze headlong into it, they would be driven hideously and irreversibly insane. Sounds like Mexico has been reading a little of Lovecraft’s work after all.

And because of this, this particular spirit is said to be more feared than the devil himself. Most of Mexico flat-out refuses to talk about it, changing the subject or simply referring to it as “an evil thing”.  

La Mala Hora takes great pleasure in driving its victims mad. Not only this, but it will often attack helpless travellers, paralyzing them in their tracks and brutalising their weakened forms. When suffocated by the fiend their bodies are left at the side of the road.

La Mala Hora Lady in White

In Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico, the insidious entity is told to take the form of a beautiful woman, sometimes dressed in white, sometimes in black. This incarnation and its diversely gruesome behaviours come across like some demented video game enemy gone rogue. When dressed in white La Mala Hora is said to be gentler, more graceful. She hypnotises weary travellers who, if they don’t notice the space between her feet and the ground, or the fact that her toes are backwards, or the fact that their lanterns have stopped working and all sense of direction seems lost, will follow her obediently into wherever peril she chooses. Perhaps this will be off the edge of a ravine, perhaps in front of the next passing car. 

When dressed in black, La Mala Hora is more aggressive. She will stop a traveller by any means and attack directly with her pointed nails. The strong willed should hope to meet her on a ‘white night’, while no one should hope to see her in black. 

One such story has been circling the internet for quite some time, earning La Mala Hora its creepypasta certification along the way. In this story a woman goes to stay with her friend who is experiencing marital troubles. On the way she almost hits a woman in the road who, when the car stops, begins scratching fiercely at the windows in an attempt to get in. After driving away as quickly as possible our protagonist reaches her friend who tells her frantically that she has seen La Mala Hora, the spirit who only appears when death is close. The woman then calls her husband, who she finds has been mugged and shot to death in another area. 

New Mexico Legend

On the southern border of the United States, New Mexico, La Mala Hora seems to appear much closer to Espinosa’s original description. Seen as a black abstract form, like a fleece of wool which expands and contracts, changing size and shape and seemingly floating along the roadside. A widely feared omen, this incarnation is only told to be seen when death is soon to befall a loved one. I would imagine a lot of concerned yet apologetic phone calls taking place around 3am in Mexico. 

One thing is for sure; if I lived near any of the places that La Mala Hora is said to appear, I would doubtfully ever go out after midnight. 

References

10 Fascinating Facts About The Devil’s Hour, 3AM – Listverse

Mexican Monstresses: La Mala Hora – Multo (Ghost) (wordpress.com)

La Mala Hora: From Scary stories at Americanfolklore.net

Urban Legends And Ghost Stories: La Mala Hora (urbanlegends66.blogspot.com)

Categories
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.