For this Top Ten Tuesday, we’re looking at Urban Legends. From the new (Black-Eyed Children) to the old. These scary ‘Friend of a Friend’ tales have been around for quite a while, and I’m sure all of us got snookered at least once when we were growing up. (Or even as adults!)
We wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve heard of every single one of these. They’ve definitely gotten around.
Our Favorite Urban Legends
Bloody Mary: The way I heard it from a friend of a friend of a friend, if you say Bloody Mary’s name three times in the mirror. When she appears she’ll give you her baby to hold which she can make light as a feather or as heavy as a boulder. If you dropped it she would slash your face.
Ants in the Brain / The Spider Bite: This one comes in many forms, but the basic idea remains the same. You fall asleep, an insect crawls in your ear or up your nose and begins to feast on your innards and multiply inside your skin. While I’m (pretty) sure this can’t actually happen, the idea of an insect entering my body while I’m sleeping and setting up a baby-making factory in my head (or any other part of my body) just makes my skin prickle.
The Phantom Hitch-Hiker: A guy, usually teen to college age, is driving home late at night when he sees this lovely young woman who is walking. Usually in fancy dress. She directs him to a run-down house or has him drop her off near a graveyard, saying her home is nearby. The next day the young man return to the house (or cemetery) to reclaim a jacket he lent her the night before. He’s usually told by the girl’s mother that the girl died a decade or so ago. Or, when he returns to the graveyard, he finds his jacket folded neatly on the grave marker bearing her name.
The Vanishing Hitch-Hiker: A variation on the Phantom Hitch-Hiker the story is basically the same except that the girl disappears from inside the car. Later, he finds out that a girl was killed in a car accident, sometimes a hit and run, on that same stretch of road.
The Well to Hell: An oldie, but a goodie. Russian scientists drilled a hole in Siberia so deep that it reached Hell itself, and the sounds of the damned can be heard if you lower a microphone down into the hole. Obviously it’s complete bunk, because of, y’know, the lack of Hell in the Earth’s crust, but it’s entertaining bunk. Our very first Hell Mouth!
Chupacabra: This one probably falls more under cryptozoology than urban legend, to be fair. However, the chupacabra appeals to me because there’s been so many ways that it could be explained. An animal with mange and starving, for example, could attack livestock in desperation – and if spotted, look nothing like anything recognizable because of the mange. Having lived in the country for over half of my life, I can state with a certainty that it’s freaky enough to look outside at night and see a pair of eyes gleaming at you from the dark. To see more than just the eyes and not be able to tell what it is? Especially if your livestock is being killed? Nope nope nope nope!
Candyman: This is a bit more unusual since the Candyman myth dates precisely from Clive Barker’s story. I found it interesting simply because a very large fan-base and mythology has grown up around Candyman even unto the point of actual scholarly dissertations and deconstructions. He was even taken to task a few times for ‘appropriating’ an African-American urban legend. Getting in touch with one of the professors he defended it saying that he had made it up (obviously using elements of the Bloody Mary legend) and she was very surprised. She thought it had been around for a very long time but she just hadn’t heard of it until that point. Tony Todd, in the commentary for the movie, said something very interesting. He was thanking the directors of the movies and then he thanks his fans for “Keeping Candyman alive”. Since Candyman’s main instigator was that his ‘congregation’ (fans) were not believing in him anymore, I thought that drew an interesting parallel between the Candyman Myth and the character in the movie.
Black-Eyed Children: This one has only been around since the 1990s, but its quickly become very prevalent. Two kids come, knocking on your door late at night. They knock three times. If you answer and let them in, you’re dead. If you don’t answer, they’ll keep coming back, night after night. Even knowing absolutely that this is a recent myth with no basis in fact, it still creeps me out! Who hasn’t jumped when someone knocked at your door at an unexpected hour? Sometimes that little seed is all that’s needed to freak you out!
The Angels of Mons: In the August of 1914 on the 22-23rd German forces were thrown back by the superior British numbers. In September of that year Arthur Machen wrote a story called “The Bowmen”, an idea for a story he got from accounts of the battle It was about Phantom Bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt. Machen’s story was that a British soldier had called on St. George and The Bowmen appeared to help drive back the German forces. Somehow his story was not published as ‘fiction’ and people believed it to be true with some troops claiming to have seen them. The fact that Machen protested that his story was complete fiction deterred no one from believing it.
A Water Spirit’s Revenge – I don’t know exactly what form I first heard this one in, but I’m sure there are hundreds of variations out there. A child or woman is cruelly drowned in a lake or pond. The body was never recovered. Thereafter ‘it’ waits for people to venture into the water unaware so that it may wreak its revenge. So if you feel the slightest touch of something against your feet, remember – it might not be a fish, but instead the fingers of the dead.
What are some of your favorite urban legends?