Since Halloween's coming up, monsters, ghouls, and blood-suckers are out in force. But enough about Donald Trump. And just in case you're sick of being kept up at night by thoughts of a Trump presidency, here's some different nightmare fuel.
Creepypasta is a neologism describing scary myths and urban legends shared and re-shared online, often being passed off as true. The term is related to the term copypasta, a general term used to refer to stores shared and re-shared on social media - the term's a portmanteau of copy and paste. Here are some of my favorite examples:
- In 1922, citizens in a small German farming town noticed the Gruber family seemed to be missing. When they went to the Gruber house to investigate, they made a ghastly discovery. The entire family had been hacked to death with an ax, and the killer had lined their bodies up neatly in the barn.
But that's not the most terrifying part. A few days before the murder, Mr. Gruber mentioned to his neighbor that he'd found a set of footprints in the snow leading from the woods to his house, but no footprints leading away. For months things had been going missing from the home, and more disturbingly, things that didn't belong to the family had been showing up. The family had been hearing noises in the attic that they were sure were just the house settling, but sounded for all the world like footsteps.
Investigators believe the killer, who was never caught, had been lurking in the house for weeks or even months, unbeknownst to the family.
- Ten years earlier and a thousand kilometers to the southeast, there lived a man called Béla Kiss. Kiss was a tin smith in a town near Budapest, quiet, but well-liked. He seemed a lonely man, and in fact had placed marriage ads in some local papers, but he never seemed to hit it off with the ladies he met through the ads, and they never stayed around long.
In 1914 Kiss was conscripted to fight in the Great War. A couple of years after that, Kiss' landlord came upon several large metal drums. Remembering that Kiss had said he was using the barrels to store gasoline in case of war rationing, the landlord alerted the constable who offered the barrels to some soldiers stationed locally. What the soldiers found when they opened the first drum, however, wasn't gasoline.
After finding the first drum to contain the rotting corpse of a young woman who had been strangled, police searched the barrels and the house, a search which yielded the bodies of 24 women in total. All had been strangled, all had been exsanguinated, and all had two puncture wounds - bite marks - on their necks.
Police began a massive man hunt for Kiss, and in October of 1916 received word that Kiss could be found in a Serbian hospital. The detective investigating the case rushed to Kiss' bedside, only to find the corpse of a different man entirely. The real Kiss was never found.
- The Cecil Hotel was a palace of marble, alabaster, and stained glass when it was built back in 1924, but it didn't remain the home away from home of the rich and famous for long. During the Great Depression, the Los Angeles neighborhood in which it was located went all to hell - a hell that soon became known as Skid Row.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the hotel saw a rash of suicides. One woman who threw herself from the 9th floor window landed on a man, killing him as well. In the mid-1960s, a transient woman was murdered in her room. In the 1980s, the Cecil became home to the Nightstalker serial killer. In the 1990s, a Cecil guest killed three local sex workers.
But the strangest thing to take place in the Cecil Hotel happened in just 2013. For days, hotel residents had been complaining about water pressure - and about the fact that the water that did come out was discolored and funny tasting. When a maintenance worker finally went to the rooftop water tanks to see what was the matter, he found the body of Elisa Lam, who had apparently been rotting there for weeks. Surveillance camera video from the elevator showed Lam behaving strangely the day she went missing, glancing around nervously while pressing all the buttons on the panel, flailing her arms, and eventually apparently trying to hide in a corner. No one knows how she got through the locked door to the roof, or why the alarm on the door didn't sound. They don't know how she climbed to the top of the tank, and they don't know how she got the lid open. They only know she drowned and was, as near as anyone can tell, alone.
- And here's the creepiest of all the pasta so far. All of the stories above are true. No legends here.
Sources: Lore Podcast, the Cracked.com "Urban Legends That Happen to be True" series.