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10 Bone-Chilling Urban Legends

by Gregory Myers
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Myths and legends have been around since the first humans sat around a campfire and spun tales of the things that lurk beyond the firelight. History has no shortage of malicious serial killers, demented madmen, and nightmarish creatures, and when legends and killers come together, you get some pretty creepy stories. We hear it from the day we’re born: Don’t trust strangers. And as humans, we instinctively fear the things that lurk in the dark, because we know that that’s where the predators hide.

10Footprints In The Snow

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This urban legend involves a teenage girl who was home with her little sister while their parents were out on the town. After watching some television together, she sent her little sister to bed and then went back downstairs to watch more TV. Eventually, she got bored with what she was watching and turned it off, then curled up in a blanket on the couch and watched the snow fall through the large sliding-glass window in the living room. She had only been watching for a few minutes when she saw a man walking toward the sliding glass doors with deadly purpose. He started to pull something shiny out of his coat and she dove under her blanket in terror.

After a while, she pulled down the blanket and found that the man was gone. She called the police, who immediately rushed over to the scene to investigate. Upon examining the premises, one of the first things they noticed was that there were no footprints in the snow. And with the rate of snowfall, there was no way they could have been covered that quickly. Puzzled, the officers inspected the residence and noticed wet footprints on the carpet leading straight up to the couch where the girl had been sitting. The madman had been behind her the whole time and what she had seen had been his reflection in the window.

9The Chilling Discovery

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There are multiple versions of this story, and most of them start with a young college girl who was studying late, and thus was spending a lot of time in the library instead of her dorm room. During a late night of studying, she realized that she had forgotten something in her dorm room, so she decided to make a trip back to go get it. When she opened the door she found the room dark, but figured that her roommate was either asleep or out studying like her. Not wanting to disturb her in case she was asleep, she left the light off, grabbed what she needed, and went back to the library.

Upon returning to her room, she found her roommate lying on the floor with a slit throat. But the worst part was the message written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror that read simply, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”

In another version of the tale, there is a woman who lives alone in an apartment with her puppy. She was fast asleep one night when she was awoken by a strange noise. To reassure herself, she reached down to where the pup slept beside the bed and felt it lick her hand. Satisfied, she drifted peacefully back to sleep. The next morning she discovered that the dog had been hanged in the shower. On the floor beside her bed was a note that said, “Humans can lick too.”

8The Unfortunate Coat Incident

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This urban legend begins on a cold winter day with a young couple who were having a christening party in their home for their new baby. The guests started to arrive out of the cold, and as they were welcomed by their hosts, they tossed their coats onto a bed that was near the main living room. It just started with a coat or two, but once someone saw one coat, everyone began adding to the pile.

Before long, all the guests had arrived and everything was in full swing. The parents decided that it was time to show off their new baby to the guests—after all, he was the guest of honor. So the mother walked over to the bed where she had left the baby—only to scream in horror when she found that her little bundle of joy had been accidentally smothered under the towering pile of coats.

7The Gas Station Attendant

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It was late and a young woman was driving through an unfamiliar area deep in the country. Her car was old and ureliable, and soon she realized that she’d have to stop for gas soon if she didn’t want to start walking. As luck would have it, she came across an old gas station a little farther down the road. It was an old-fashioned station, the kind with an attendant who comes out to pump the gas, and something about it set the alarm bells ringing in her head. But she knew that she couldn’t get much farther without refueling, so she reluctantly pulled into the gas station and asked the attendant to fill up the tank.

The attendant seemed nervous as he filled up her gas tank, but eventually he finished the job and came over to the driver’s side to get the payment. She gave him a $20 bill and he examined it carefully, then told her that it was counterfeit. At this point the alarm bells weren’t ringing any more—they were rioting. The attendant explained that he would have to take her back to his office and call his manager, because the counterfeit would have to be reported to the bank. Once he had convinced her to come with him, he explained that the bill wasn’t actually counterfeit—he’d gotten her out of the car because there was a man with a hatchet hiding in the backseat.

6The Wily Home Invader

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While the specific stories of this urban legend are just myths, there is a chilling undertone of truth to it, since home invaders have been documented using tactics similar to this to get into people’s homes. According to the stories that have circulated, someone is home alone late at night with very few lights on—just enough to indicate that someone is home and awake, but that there aren’t many people around. Someone comes up and, in the dead of night, just starts banging on the door and yelling to be let in. When the homeowner gets close to the door and calls out, the calls become even more insistent, yelling that someone is trying to hurt them.

In one story, a woman was at home by herself when she heard a woman banging on her door and shouting to be let inside the house. When she asked who it was, the woman outside began yelling that she was being attacked by a man and needed to get somewhere safe. When the homeowner listened closely, she indeed heard a male voice, but he was talking normally as if he was simply having a conversation with the woman. The woman outside was covering the peephole, so the homeowner peeked out the window beside the door. She could see a woman dressed in black, and from somewhere nearby, the man’s voice continued to talk softly to the woman. Eventually they both left, but it left the storyteller chilled to the bone. It’s hard to imagine what would have happened if she had let them in, but it probably wouldn’t have been pleasant.

5The Lost Child

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A young woman was walking down her street on a normal spring day when she saw a small child sitting beside the road and crying. She stopped to ask the little girl if she was okay, and the girl told her that she was lost. Sniffling, the girl then asked her if she could help her find her way home. Overwhelmed with pity for the little girl, the young woman readily agreed. Luckily, the little girl knew her address and had a general idea of where her home was. Before long the two had made it to her house. The front door was locked, and since the girl was too small to reach the doorbell, she asked the young woman to press it for her.

The woman pressed the doorbell without a second thought, and immediately felt a powerful shock course through her body. It knocked her out cold, and she woke up several hours later completely naked and surrounded by used condoms. The house she was in was empty, her rapists were long gone, and the child was nowhere to be seen.

4The Hitchhiking Old Woman

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This story tells of a young woman who was walking out of a shopping mall late at night to go back to her car. As she neared the car, she was startled to see an old lady standing right next to her passenger-side window. An instant later, she noticed that the passenger-side window had been completely shattered. The old lady explained that she had seen her broken window and had been watching it for her to make sure nobody tried to steal something.

The young woman was very appreciative of the old lady’s help and, since the old lady had missed her bus, she agreed to drive her back home. However, as they stood there talking, she noticed that the old woman seemed to have very hairy, manlike arms. Thinking quickly, she jumped in front of a slow-moving car, forcing it to a stop. The “old lady” quickly bolted. When the police searched her car they found that the kind old lady had stowed a knife and a coil of rope on the backseat.

3The Fat Vampires

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Stories of fat vampires are not new. These creatures were called pishtacos and are a classic Peruvian legend. They are known to stalk the night on deserted roads and use their magic to rob travelers of their fat. Recently, the legend has resurfaced due to actual arrests of gang members in Peru who are purported to have been bonking unruly travelers on the head, then taking them to a safe house and rendering them into fat to sell on the black market. Some estimates say that as many as 60 people fell prey to these gangsters before they were caught.

Of course, some question the official story, partly because most of the attributed murders have not been proven, but mostly because they have trouble believing that there’s any kind of market for human fat. It was also considered strange that these men had no interest in selling any of the other, more valuable body parts. Perhaps the answer lies in the legend itself. The pishtacos would not have any interest in other organs, and selling the rendered human fat would be a good cover for their true operation—feeding on the fat of the living so they can sustain their undead immortal existence.

2Don’t Open The Door

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A woman was up late at night, just minding her own business and browsing the Internet in her living room, when she heard the sound of a baby crying outside her doorstep. She got up and went to investigate the noise, but could see nothing through the keyhole. Understandably, she found it odd that a baby would be crying outside her suburban home, especially so late at night. Not sure what to do, she decided to just call the police. She told them that she was considering opening the door to check on the baby because she had heard the crying near her window and was afraid that the baby might crawl into the street.

Practically shouting, the dispatcher told her that under absolutely no circumstances should she open the door, and that they already had police on their way to her house. When they got there, the police found no baby or any evidence that a child had been nearby at all. The policemen informed the worried homeowner that they had received multiple calls like this lately, and that they believed it to be the work of people who were trying to trick women into opening their homes using a recording of a crying child.

1The Scream Nobody Heard

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At some college campuses, it’s apparently a tradition for students who live in dorms to all let loose with a scream at a designated time. According to the stories, it helps the students release stress, especially during finals week. On finals week at UCLA, the tradition was for everybody to scream at midnight to let out all that pent-up frustration. So, just as expected, everyone did their screaming ritual and the campus rang with the caffeine-fueled howls of a horde of exhausted youths.

The ritual complete, the campus quieted down and everyone eventually went to bed, only to discover the next morning that one of the screams had been real. A young woman had been raped at precisely midnight, her assault timed to coincide with the noisiest moment of the year. Nobody heard it, because what’s one scream among hundreds? Legend has it that since then, the screaming tradition has been banned from the UCLA campus, and anyone who breaks the rule is punished with expulsion.

Gregory has scared himself senseless and is hiding under his bed. He won’t come out until they’re gone.

fact checked by Jamie Frater