An investigation of ghosts, aliens, werewolves, and other urban legends
By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
Everyone loves a good urban legend, but very rarely do people know how they originated. The Other Press investigates these myths and the real-life experiences of people who have claimed to see them.
The legend of vampires come from a famous Romanian ruler, Vlad the Impaler. During his reign from 1456 to 1462, he was known for being brutally cruel, and even got his name from his favourite way of destroying enemies—impaled on a wooden stake. In legends, Vlad would wash his hands in the blood of his victims before dinner. There’s no telling if this is true, but it does show how Bram Stoker got the inspiration for the book that began the vampire urban legend—Dracula. Legend also says that during a battle in a valley, he retreated his troops so that the sun would be in the enemy’s eyes. He then released rabid bats who would fly away from the sun and towards the opposing army. There is no source for this which may point to it being false, but this is where the vampire turning into bats myth came about. Nowadays, the legend of vampires continues with many people claiming to be vampires, blood drinking and all.
It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly the myth about people turning into wolves came about. Some scholars believe the myth originated from the oldest Western prose, The Epic of Gilgamesh. In the story, Gilgamesh rejects a lover after he finds out she turned her ex into a wolf. Werewolves also make an appearance in a Greek mythological story called the Legend of Lycaon. After Lycaon, son of Pelasgus, serves God Zeus the remains of a boy, Zeus is offended and turns him and his sons into wolves. Many also believe that early serial killers were the origin stories behind this legend. In the 16th century, a few Frenchmen claimed to possess an ointment that turned them into wolves—and while under the spell they would murder and sometimes eat children. They were all burned at the stake for this, but the threat of werewolves was still looming. Much like the witch trials, hundreds of thousands of accused werewolves were put to death in horribly gruesome fashions.
The first publicized account of an alleged alien abduction was in 1961. The story is that Betty and Barney Hill were driving home late one night when they saw a bright light following them. They got home at 5 am, not able to recollect what had happened to them. After getting terrible nightmares and unexplained anxiety, they went to a psychiatrist. After a while, they remembered that they were abducted by aliens and used for experimentation—and then had their memories erased. There have been thousands of reports of aliens and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) since then. According to Global News, four out of five Canadians believe in aliens, and almost half of all Canadians believe they have visited Earth.
Since Ancient Times people have been claiming to be haunted by the souls of the formerly living. It’s not uncommon to find people who say they have had a ghoulish encounter, even here at the Other Press.
An encounter: Supernatural loves me
When I was younger—maybe about seven years old—I shared the master bedroom with mom. There was a separate washroom in the bedroom, and if you leave the door open, you can see into the bedroom from the washroom’s mirror over the sink. It was a normal, bright day, and I was simply washing my hands with the washroom door open, but while I was doing that, I looked through the mirror and there was a woman. She was relatively transparent, but solid enough that I could see every detail about her. She was tall and thin, had her hair tied in a bun, looked about 40 to 50 years old with a young face. She was wearing a casual gown with many frills. She didn’t look at me, she just walked straight past the washroom entrance. Nonetheless, that freaked me out and gave me a fear of mirrors that I still have (though I’m sure it’d have been much worse if she did look at me). Every time I talk about her to anyone, I have this uneasy feeling that she doesn’t like it—as if we’re connected or something.
Apparently, I used to see or feel ghosts in a house when I was a toddler, too. I’d go into empty rooms and talk to “someone” and often cry and seem terrorized, so much so that my family moved out. Even now, I never quite feel alone. I started getting sleep paralysis hallucinations last year as well, which doesn’t help. I never wanted to be spiritual and still can’t say I fully believe in anything, but if it is real, the supernatural loves me. – S.K.
An encounter: Ghosted by a ghost
I worked at a movie theatre a few years ago and my managers would always tell the employees that the place was haunted. I didn’t believe it, but I did get creeped out in some parts of the theatre. One morning I was opening concession by myself and went to the back room to get some ice. As I was looking down shoveling ice into a bucket, I saw in my periphery someone open the door, walk into the back room, and come up to me. I didn’t see who it was since I was looking down at the time, but I saw some black shoes right in front of me. I assumed it was one of my coworkers, and since I was pretty good friends with everyone who worked there at the time, I started to make a comment about how much I hated scooping ice. I looked up mid-sentence and quickly realized there no one standing there. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I was thoroughly spooked. I ran out of the back room immediately; we didn’t need ice that bad anyway. – J.B.
An encounter: Possession
This was based on a true story from my mom’s first-hand experience. It was almost midnight and my mom and her church mates were about to finish their weekly prayer meeting in their church—when suddenly, one of their church mates came screaming for help. She said that a girl in her workplace was possessed. Quickly, they came into the scene, and what they saw was a violent, possessed young lady resisting four security guards. Next to them was a known witch doctor in town, trying to cast out the demon(s) from her. None of them, neither the guards nor the witch doctor, were successful in controlling the lady. My mom and her church mates took charge of the situation. Through some sort of exorcism, they effectively cast out the demon(s) in the lady’s body. After, the girl was relieved. My mom then asked her what happened. She carefully explained that as she was heading towards the washroom, she saw alongside her five gigantic and shining beings—which she specifically emphasized to be like the “Buddha figurine” in the workplace—completely staring at her. The next thing she knew, she was possessed. – E.M.
Unlike the other urban legends, the origin story of Bigfoot is actually documented. In 1958, Andrew Genzoli, a journalist for the Humboldt Times, got a letter from a reader talking about loggers in California finding mysterious, large footprints. He published it with a joke about finding a relative of the Abominable Snowman, and people really responded to it. As such, a fellow reporter at the paper began to cover the footprint story, reporting that the loggers had given the supposed creature a name—Bigfoot. To this day, many people report encountering the great beast.
An encounter: One small step for bigfoot, one big step for sasquatch-kind
Back when I was foolish enough to hitchhike, I was fortunate enough to meet a cool man on the way to pick his dog up from the vet.
After talking for awhile, I asked the man about the most interesting things that happen in the area, and he immediately retorted with “I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but I do have an interesting story.” The area apparently had a history of bigfoot reports. Apparently, a woman in the area reported getting lifted up by a bigfoot, slung over its shoulder, and then dropped off in the middle of nowhere.
He also spoke of a man living in a mountain cabin who reported constant and consistent “human-like shrieks, screams, and howls” coming from the forest, but the sounds were distinctly louder and more guttural than any human could utter, according to the man in the cabin. Several people have reported these unexplained noises, which is no surprise considering that BC has the most bigfoot sightings in Canada, according to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. My driver went on to explain that he actually had his own sasquatch experience.
One day, when he was in his car waiting for his friend near the edge of a forest, he decided to take a quick nap. Before he could nap however, he heard a thumping in the trails—the sound of a creature running. Being an experienced hunter who knew the running sounds of deers and bears (the most common creatures in the forest) he was confused. He has never heard a running sound in the forest like that one. He said that it sounded like the creature was running on two legs and was running at an extreme speed—yet was also very heavy.
After dismissing his confusion, he decided to attempt a nap once again. As he tried to fall asleep, he heard a great heaving pant at his window. Paralyzed in fear, his eyes were open, but he couldn’t turn his head. All he saw in his peripheral vision was a great mass of brown fur. – J.M.