Thursday, April 1, 2021

On the Road Again: Top 5 Haunted Roads

Photo by Myself, Wales, 2 years ago,
lost down a creepy country lane.
I really should have named this post "On the Road Again-ish", or perhaps "On the Road Again: Soon", because at the moment I'm unable to be on the road at all. But, like many people in Lockdown, I'm making plans for when I can travel again. Lists of places I dearly want to visit have been written, road-trip playlists have been made and maps have been bought. 
Most of our roads have been the sites of more modern accidents, but many of them have also been built through ancient sites, forgotten settlements, over Roman roads and old buildings. It's no surprise that even the most innocent looking country lane might come with a few spooks attached. And it's those roads that I'm going to introduce you to in this post. There are so many that are apparently haunted, it would have been near impossible to include all of them, so here are my Top 5 Haunted Roads.*

The B3212, Dartmoor, Devon.
Dartmoor is a beautiful place, bleak and full of mystery, So it's no surprise that even the roads have ghosts here, if you can call what haunts the B3212 a ghost.
For decades, drivers and cyclists have been victimised here by a pair of hands that grab their steering wheel or handlebars in an attempt to drive them off the road. No body, just a pair of hairy, disgusting hands with an unexplained dislike of motorists. This spirit isn't always visible either, sometimes not bothering to show itself when it strikes, confusing and terrifying drivers as they feel their steering wheel wrenched out of their control by the spirits steely grip. You could blame these sometimes fatal accidents on speeding drivers, but apparently the Hands aren't afraid to go after stationary vehicles as well. In 1924 a couple camping by the road claimed that the hands had tried to break into their caravan during the night. Then, in the 1960s, a motorist who had stopped to glance at her map found herself confronted by the hands. The creepy mitts were pressed against the windscreen of her car, on the outside rather than inside, much to her relief.
Most hauntings have a cause or story behind them, but the Hairy Hands of the B3212 don't have a solid one. It's been blamed on many things, including witchcraft and the vengeful ghost of a motorist killed in an accident.
Don't worry too much if you find yourself driving down this road though, there hasn't been a sighting for years.** The last one seems to have been in 2008, when a driver found the Hands clasped firmly over hers while driving.

The B1249, East Riding, Yorkshire
Sometimes referred to as a ghost, sometimes as the Werewolf of the Wolds; whatever it is that stalks around the B1249, it's something straight out of a horror movie. 
First reported in the 1960s, this creature made its grand entrance into the paranormal world by trying to break in through the windshield of a lorry travelling along the road. The driver was left shaken but unharmed and described his assailant as hairy, with glowing red eyes. It's easy to consider this a very vague description, but keep in mind the fellow was trying to avoid crashing at the time. I doubt his life or drivers insurance covered Cryptid Attacks. A better description of the beast didn't come along until 2016, when it was spotted by a motorist close to the nearby village named Halsham. She claims that it was a dog-like creature with a human face and that was bigger than her car.
Could this have been a real wolf? Nope. Wild wolves in England were wiped out in the 15th century, and the ones we did have didn't resemble a bigger, meaner version of Houska Castles resident dog beast.

The A75, Kinmount Straight, Scotland
When driving along a road at night you have to be ready for anything. In 1962, Derek and Norman Ferguson discovered that "anything" included a large spectral hen, which flew towards the windscreen of their vehicle and vanished before impact. The duo didn't have much time to recover from this encounter though, as soon they started to witness other phantom animals, including ghostly cats and dogs. These were wandering the road, appearing to be too large and feral to be normal creatures. Derek and Norman also saw another vehicle, a furniture van, swerving along the road. Some versions of the story claim that this van was also a ghost, but I think it's far more likely that it was a normal furniture van and that the driver was experiencing the same things as Derek and Norman.
Other sightings include mysterious figures that wander in front of drivers, a withered hag who runs screaming towards cars, phantom horse and carriages and a group of ragged people dragging a handcart behind them. This last group of medieval-looking individuals have the dubious honour of scaring one lorry driver onto quitting his job. I've not been able to find out just what it was about this gaggle of soggy strangers that spooked him so badly, but I'd love to find out.

The A616, Stockbridge Bypass, Sheffield
With the amount of fatal accidents along this road, a few ghosts are to be expected and, due to all the spooky happenings experienced at this location, it has become known as one of the most haunted roads in the UK. But the thing is, the hauntings started way back in the 1980s, before the road had even been completed. The first people to see anything were a couple of security guards. While on patrol, they came across a group of children in old fashioned looking clothing. They approached the kids to find out what was going on, only for the mischievous spooks to vanish into thin air. What happened the following night lead to the shaken security guards calling in the police. While they were walking the site they encountered a sinister-looking figure, described as a monk, sitting on a half-built bridge. This same figure would later appear again to a couple of policemen who had come to look into the strange happenings. They were sitting in their car and had been sceptical, up until they noticed the hooded figure outside peering in at them. When they got out to confront the Monk, he had vanished, but there was no way for him to run and hide without them seeing him. This encounter left them baffled and even made it into their official police report. Property around the bypass was once owned by monasteries, which could explain a monk's presence since it's possible he lived and worked there. As for the children, some have theorised that they may be the spirits of kids who worked and died in nearby mines. Whatever the cause, sightings continue to this day, with people reporting children running in front of their cars and the monk watching them from the side of the road.

The M6, Mid to North UK
Another one of the UK's most haunted roads, it's known as the longest and busiest in the country, but it's also one of the oldest. The M6 has been built through ancient battlefields, burial sights and over the old Roman roads that used to be there. And while we know the Roman roads are no longer there, apparently nobody told the Romans that. There are multiple reports of people seeing Roman soldiers marching along or across the road and, while that's not overly frightening, it certainly is distracting. Not what you want while you're doing 60mph on a busy six-lane motorway. Other spooks along this road include a phantom lorry speeding down the road in the wrong direction and things watching people from the bushes along the side of the road. What are these things? Nobody knows. Only their eyes have been seen. The road between Junctions 16 and 19 has been called Cheshire's Bermuda Triangle due to it being one of the UK biggest accident blackspots. This has lead some to believe the road is, to some degree, cursed.

Out of all the haunted roads on this list, the B3212 has to be my favourite. I read about it when I was in junior school, and it was the first time I realised that ghosts weren't just limited to creepy old houses. To a child, that's big news.*** I was both terrified and fascinated. When it's safe to travel again, Government guidelines allowing, I'm looking forward to revisiting it.
What about you, dear readers? What's your favourite haunting on this list, or have you got another favourite that I haven't included? Have you ever experienced anything on any of the roads I chose? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or tag me in a Tweet.

*No Phantom Hitchhikers included. As much as I love them, that's a post for another day.

**I had a quick Google and all the news turned up was articles about Easter eggs, dog grooming, hair colour trends and, oddly, Bradley Cooper.

***This information also coincided with my discovery of the Black Shuck, both stories were in the same book. The end result was little me trying to convince my friends that ghosts were following our coach over the foggy Yorkshire moors when we were on a week-long school trip and getting scolded by a teacher. I did possibly experience something paranormal on that trip, but nothing Hand or Shuck related. A tale for another time, perhaps.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Revenge of Zona Shue

Normally when a murder victim helps to convict their killer, they do so via forensics. Zona Shue went one step further when she allegedly returned from beyond the grave as a ghost and provided evidence that helped convict her murderous husband. This is the story of the tragic young bride who would become known as the Greenbrier Ghost.

Zona and Erasmus Stribbling Shue, 1896, image in Public Domain

Elva Zona Heaster was born and raised in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. Known to her friends and family as Zona, we know very little of her life before her murder as precious little has been recorded. What is known is that, in 1896, Zona met a man by the name of Erasmus "Edward" Stribbling Shue, known to those who made his acquaintance as Trout. The two fell in love. It was a good old fashioned whirlwind romance. Suitably swept off her feet, Zona married Trout not long after. This seemingly happy marriage was short-lived. Less than three months later Zona was dead.
It was January 1897, and Trout was working as a blacksmith. Apparently trade was good because although he claimed his wife was unwell, he was too busy to go home and check on her himself. He still found time to visit the local errand boy's home and hired 11-year-old Anderson Jones to check on Zona. What the poor boy found probably left him with some serious PTSD. Zona was home, but she was a little worse than unwell. Her body lay face down on the floor at the bottom of the stairs; her legs together, one arm tucked under her, the other stretched out, her head twisted to the side at an unnatural angle. An oddly neat corpse, but still a terrible sight for one so young to witness. Anderson fled the scene, running all the way back to Trout to tell him what had happened before running to tell his mother, who called for the local doctor.
Doctor George Knapp took around an hour to reach the Shue's home. This delay allowed Trout to get there before him. Upon his arrival he discovered that the grieving husband had been busy. He had carried Zona's body upstares, wasting no time in washing and dressing her for her funeral in a high collared dress and veil, preventing the doctor from getting a good look at her face and neck. Trout was wailing like a banshee, cradling his wife's upper body and head. Doctor Knapp did notice what looked like bruising on the girl's neck, but any attempt made to get a better look at her only seemed to distress Trout even more, so he gave up. Knapp would initially put Zona's death down to an Everlasting Faint, an old fashioned and rather whimsical way of saying she'd had a heart attack. For reasons unknown he would later change the cause of death to Childbirth. There's no evidence that she was pregnant, but Knapp had been treating her for "Female Trouble." This doesn't mean she was pregnant, because in those days "Female Trouble" could be anything from a headache to cramps.
If Doctor Knapp thought Trout's behaviour was a bit extreme, it only got worse. By cart, Zona's body was moved to her parents' house for an open casket wake before her funeral, a final chance for her friends and loved ones to say goodbye. Trout refused to leave her side, specifically the upper half of her, even on the journey there. The high collared dress and veil were now accompanied by a huge scarf, which Trout refused to remove, telling anyone who would listen that it had been her favourite. At the wake itself, he covered much of Zona's head with a pillow on one side and wadded up bedsheet on the other, apparently to make her more comfortable. If this wasn't odd enough, his mood seemed to constantly swing from pantomime level grief to barely restrained excitement. People were meant to be able to view the body and say their final farewells, but Trout patrolled the coffin-like a guard dog, not letting people get too close and virtually chasing them away when they did. It was all quite bizarre to those who witnessed it, and people were already becoming quite suspicious.
Mary Jane Heaster,
image in Public Domain
Enter Mary Jane Heaster, Zona's mother. 
Mary Jane wasn't just heartbroken. She was filled with rage. She'd never liked Trout and had objected to the marriage from day one. She refused to accept the verdict of a natural death, seeing how suspicious the whole situation was. Everything Trout had done was off, from his behaviour at the funeral to how he'd treated Zona's body. Preparing the body for burial wasn't the husband's job; it was traditionally done by the women in the family or community where they lived. It wouldn't have been done before the doctor had had a chance to check the body over. There was also the chance that Mary Jane was aware that Trout had been married twice before, with the first wife divorcing him for being abusive and the second one having died under mysterious circumstances after Trout "accidentally" dropped a stone on her head while doing some DIY. Suspicions alone weren't enough to get Trout arrested, and it looked like he was going to get away with murder, quite literally.
Mary Jane would soon experience something that convinced her that her instincts were correct. Between the wake and the funeral, she managed to get close enough to the coffin to see her only daughter and removed the sheet at her head. It wasn't at all clean. It smelt very unpleasant and had odd stains, a strange thing to have near a loved one's body. Why not use a clean one? Why use something that was little more than a dirty rag? Despite her dislike for Trout, she approached him and attempted to return the sheet to him, but he told her that he didn't want it. For reasons unknown, Mary Jane decided that she would wash the sheet rather than throw it away. As she soaked it, the stain seeped out into the soapy water, turning it an unpleasantly bright shade of red and staining the sheet itself pink. Mary Jane took it as a bad omen, proof of her suspicions that her daughter had been murdered. But what could she do? Zona had been buried, and Trout had gone his merry way, probably intending on skipping town like he had when his last wife had died. A devoutly religious woman, Mary Jane did the only thing she could think of doing. She prayed. Every night for four weeks. She prayed for answers, for her daughter to give her some sign from the beyond, for anything that would help her bring Trout to justice.
And then, one night, Zona returned.
She appeared in an ethereal glow, freezing the air around her and, for four nights, this desperate and angry spirit would describe to her mother how her husband had ended her life. He had been an abusive monster, she told her mother. He had thrown a tantrum because she hadn't cooked the meat he wanted for dinner. In his rage, he had strangled her and then broke her neck. One night, while recounting her story, Zona's spirit even twisted her head around a full 360⁰ degrees to demonstrate how broken her neck was. This horrified Mary Jane, yet at the same time bought her a sense of purpose. There was always the risk that nobody would believe her fantastical story. She stood to lose a lot if they didn't; her reputation would be in tatters, her family would be a laughing stock and there was the very real chance of being sent to a sanatorium. But to Mary Jane the visitations were all the proof she needed to drag her son in law straight through the courts and onto the gallows. It was a risk she was willing to take and that's why, when morning came, she marched into town and into the office of John Preston, a local prosecutor. In a situation where many would have laughed in her face, Mr Preston chose to listen to Mary Jane, sitting with her for hours as she explained the situation. And it seemed to some degree that he took her seriously, maybe not about the ghost but definitely about the possibility of Zona having been murdered. 
Preston began an investigation immediately, starting by reinterviewing people who'd been involved in the case. When talking to Doctor Knapp, he hit gold, as the doctor finally admitted that he hadn't properly examined the body and explained why. This was all Mr Preston needed to have Zona's body exhumed for an autopsy. Trout was furious, strongly objecting to the situation. He grew even more agitated when he found out that, as next of kin, he would have to be present as it was performed. He knew he'd be arrested, he said, but boasted that they wouldn't be able to prove that he did anything. Not the sort of thing you expect an innocent man to say.
The autopsy was performed by Doctor Knapp, and it quickly became clear why Trout had been so desperate to hide Zona's neck and face. Her windpipe was crushed, the bones broken, and the tendons mangled. The blanket and pillow had been needed at her funeral because the damage was so severe that her neck couldn't support her head's weight. Even though she'd been buried for over a month, the bruises from her husbands hands still showed on her neck. Just as Zona's ghost had suggested, her death had been a violent one. These injuries might seem a little too extreme to have been inflicted on her by another person, but we must remember that Trout was a blacksmith. As a result, he easily had the strength to snap his wife's neck, just as her ghost had described.
You can't send a person to jail on suspicions and a ghost story, but those autopsy results changed everything and the case went to court on the 22nd of June, 1897. Trout, convinced that he'd walk free, plead not guilty. The Defence tried to use the ghost story to get the case thrown out of court, questioning Mary Jane on her experience. All attempts they made to embarrass her or get her to back down failed. She stuck to her story, changing nothing about it. In all probability it was probably the autopsy results that swayed the jury, but their decision was unanimous, GUILTY.
Erasmus Stribbling Shue was sentenced to spend the rest of his life locked up in the infamous West Virginia State Penitentiary, narrowly avoiding the hangman and a lynch mob that had formed outside.
Three years later, the flu swept through the prison, claiming Trout's life. Like many serving sentences there, he was buried in an unmarked grave. No records were kept, so its location is unknown. Zona is a different story. Not only is there a state historical marker near the cemetery where she's buried, but also a grave to visit if you are so inclined.

Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Personally I'd like to believe in Zona's vengeful spirit, but I think this mystery has a much more earthly origin; a heartbroken mother determined to avenge her beloved daughter, one who was prepared to go to extreme lengths to do so. Like I previously said, she was a very religious woman and would have sworn an oath over a bible in court. It's unlikely that she would have willingly lied over something so important to her faith. However I'm still sceptical about her having seen an actual ghost. I believe that when Mary Jane removed the sheet from her daughter's coffin, she saw what had done to her, and it pushed her over the edge. Whatever the truth is, Mary Jane took it to her grave with her, swearing up until her death that her story was true.
What do you guys think? Ghost or dream? Have you heard of any similar stories? Let me know by tagging me in a Tweet or by leaving a comment below.

Friday, January 29, 2021

January update

This years January update is going to be a little short and a bit of an odd one for me, because I genuinely don't know what this year will bring. Not knowing what the year will bring means I can't make any solid decisions, but what I can do is promise you a monthly dose of spooky to send chills down your spine; paranormal events, true crime, strange history and facinating folklore. What I would desperately love to do is visit and investigate some of the places I write about personally. I can't rule that out as a possibility, but it depends on Government guidelines and how safe it is to do so considering current events.

Whatever happens, keep you eyes peeled for monthly posts, follow me on Twitter and Instagram for updates. And, most importantly, stay safe out there.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Nameless Thing of 50 Berkeley Square

Photo by Myself


"For a man's house is his castle and each man's home is his safest refuge." - Sir Edward Coke.

As the old saying goes, home is meant to be a sanctuary, a refuge from the outside world and the troubles it may bring. Unfortunately, for a long time, for those who dwelt there, 50 Berkeley Square was anything but a safe haven.
A terraced townhouse, with four storeys and a basement, 50 Berkeley Square was built in the 1750s and is located in Mayfair, London. Due to its age, it's a Grade II listed building. It's a pretty enough building, unassuming and built in the same style as it's attached neighbours. It's the story I'm about to tell you that makes it stand out as anything other than a lovely old building, for it seems that something terrible lurks behind its well-kept exterior. Something straight out of a gothic horror novel.

The Nameless Thing of Berkeley Square

Photo by Myself
At first things were quiet in Berkeley Square. People lived seemingly happy lives and nothing seemed amiss. Then the stories started. One tells of a child brutally murdered by a servant. Another that a boy who lived there went mad and was locked in the attic by his family, fed through a hole in the door until he finally died. The most well-known story is that of the girl who flung herself to her death from the houses highest window, desperate to escape her abusive uncle and seeing no other way out. Although there was no proof that any of these things had happened, the stories spread like wildfire and the building became known as the neighbourhoods haunted house. Whichever tale was told, it always ended with the dead child, boy or girl returning as a shadowy figure or brown mist that haunted anyone who lived there.
It wasn't until 1840 that these stories became anything other than that, just stories told around the fireplace on dark, cold nights. That year Sir Robert Warboys met some of his friends at their local pub. Stories about 50 Berkely Square had been doing the rounds and the boys were fascinated by them, but Robert thought them to be little more than fairy tales. Pint followed pint, their talk about the house continued and, eventually, someone dared Sir Robert to stay the night in the house to prove that it wasn't haunted. Not one to back down from a challenge, he headed straight to the old building from the pub, more than a little worse for wear. Despite this, he still somehow managed to persuade the Landlord of the house to allow him to stay the night. It's possible that the Landlord didn't want a drunken Sir Robert making a scene on his doorstep, or that perhaps he was concerned about the young man getting hurt out on the streets while he was so vulnerable. Why he allowed it, we'll never know, but the little sleepover came with two conditions; if Robert saw anything at all he was to ring the servants bell which would summon the Landlord, and he was to keep a pistol on him at all times. Robert, no doubt, thought this was an attempt to unnerve him, but the Landlord supplied the pistol himself, to ensure that Robert would stick to their agreement. He headed to his room on the second floor, armed with the firearm and a candle. I'd like to think that the Landlord didn't have an inkling about the events to come, that he really did give Robert the pistol just to scare him. Not long past midnight, the bell began to ring. The frantic chiming stopped, only to be followed by a single gunshot. The Landlord found poor Sir Robert huddled in the corner of his room, his face twisted in fear and his lifeless hand still clutching the pistol. There was no sign of whatever had scared him to death, but there was a bullet hole in the wall where he'd fired at it.
In 1874 the house was bought by a Mr Myres. Due to get married, he intended for the house to be a family home, despite its reputation. Sadly, his fiance jilted him at the altar and all of his grand plans for the house came crashing down around his ears. Heartbroken, his behaviour became increasingly eccentric. Mr Myres became a complete recluse, seeing nobody except for a small handful of servants. He would lock himself in the attic and sleep there all day. At night he would leave his hidey-hole, to stalk the rooms of his home, shouting and wailing, with only a single candle to light his way. This erratic behaviour continued for years until his death in 1874. During this time the house began to fall into disrepair, resembling the haunted house everyone believed it to be. We don't have any personal accounts from Mr Myres, if any diaries were kept over this time period then his family most likely got rid of them. They probably considered them the ramblings of a madman. As this story continues, you'll see that there was a method behind the madness of Mr Myres. Whatever haunts 50 Berkely Square only seems to be active at night. 
In 1872, we got our first description of the horror that lurked within the home. It's not clear whether Mr Myres was in the property at the time, or if he chose to accept a very rare visitor. Whatever the situation, Lord George Lyttelton came to stay the night. Fascinated with the story and determined to solve this mystery, he was given the same room that Sir Robert Warboys had slept in. While tucked up in bed, he heard something shuffling about in the shadows and further inspection revealed the intruder to be what looked like a grotesque, shadowy ball with grasping tentacles. And it was heading straight for him. Fortunately, George had taken a leaf out of Lord Roberts book, although he had upgraded from a small pistol to a rifle. Before the creeping menace could get any closer to him, he opened fire on it. By all rights, he should have hit it. There was no earthly way he could have missed, but there was nothing earthly about the Nameless Thing. To his dismay, Lord George discovered that bullets don't work on ghosts. Investigating the room, all George found was bullet holes, used cartridges and little* else. What he saw that night could not be explained and only added to the buildings terrifying reputation.
Photo by Myself
You'd think with everything that had happened, people would stay away from 50 Berkeley Square and its Lovecraftian occupant. No such luck. People continued to live there, raise their children there, despite being aware of the stories. In 1879, Mayfair Magazine posted an article about another incident that had allegedly occurred at the residence, this time costing two lives. The family living in the house at that time had been preparing for a visit from their eldest daughters fiance, a man known as Captain Kentfield. Everything was going smoothly, until the maid tasked with preparing a room for the gentleman started to scream. The family hurried to her aid, but found her huddled on the floor, hysterical and repeating "Don't let it touch me! Don't let it touch me!" Unable to bring her to her senses and seeing nothing that could have caused such a breakdown, they sent her away to a hospital or asylum. She was dead by the following afternoon, presumably from shock. An attempt was made to put off Captain Kentfield's visit, but he insisted on staying anyway. If there was something dangerous lurking in the home of his beloved fiance, then he was going to find it and dispose of it. History chose to repeat itself and the Captain went the same way as Sir Warboys. Shortly after everyone had retired for the night, the household was woken by screaming and gunshots. Poor Captain Kentfield was found sprawled on the floor, his face a contorted in fear, dead as a doornail.
With this tragedy, everything seemed to go quiet until 1887. At this point the house had been empty for some time and, if any terrifying paranormal activity had occurred, there had been nobody there to witness it. Still known as the streets haunted house, it was locked up and shuttered, keeping its secrets to itself until that fateful Christmas Eve when two unsuspecting sailors broke in, looking for shelter.
Edward Blunden and Robert Martin were on shore leave and had been enjoying a good evening out at the local pubs. Such a good evening that they were more than a little tipsy and had managed to spend the money they'd put away to pay for their lodgings that night. By chance, they eventually found themselves in Berkeley Square. Number 50 had a To Let sign outside of it. It appeared to be empty. It was far from ideal, but they'd been wandering around all night. Cold, tired and desperate, Blunden and Martin broke in via a basement window. Their plan was to stay in the house and sneak out in the morning. Choosing a room on the second floor, they made themselves comfortable and drifted off to sleep. The sound of footsteps awoke them. They echoed down the hallway, approaching their room and the two men assumed they'd made a mistake, that the house wasn't empty after all. As the door creaked open, they were already scrambling to their feet with excuses at the ready. What entered the room sent them into mindless panic. Not a human, but a slimy, slithering, tentacled monstrosity. As they scrambled to escape, Blunden and Martin were separated. Martin managed to get out the door and fled into the night, seeking help. Blunden was not so lucky, as the advancing creature was between him and the door. Running screaming through the streets, it didn't take Martin long to find a policeman. Together they returned to the house, to find and rescue the man left behind. As you can guess, they were too late. Edward Blunden lay dead outside of the house, on the pavement below the broken window that he had jumped from in his terror. Some versions of this story tell of a more gruesome fate for the poor sailor. That he'd jumped from the window and landed on the iron railings instead. Or that his body was found in the damp, dark basement, torn to shreds.

The Theories
The story of 50 Berkeley Square is one of England's most infamous haunts, but, let's be honest, it would have been a lot easier to work out what was going on if it wasn't for the fact that so many of the witnesses were drunk, dead, or an awkward mixture of the two. Unable to classify the Nameless Thing as a ghost, it's now considered to be a Cryptid. Thankfully it hasn't shown its slimy face for decades. Realistically, if it were a living thing, then it's most likely dead. Despite its Cryptid status, many theories have been put forward as to what it could have been; a malevolent spirit, some demonic thing conjured through dark magic, even a rogue octopus mutated by the terrible pollution in the River Thames and ye olde London's putrid sewers. The enraged octopus theory is easily ruled out. Octopi are brilliant creatures, but you don't often find them dragging themselves onto land to terrorise us, let alone dragging themselves up three sets of stairs to target only one room of a house. They also lack the ability to dodge the amount of bullets that the Nameless Thing did, and they certainly couldn't dismember a fully grown man. The theory of some evil spirit being summoned has often been blamed on Mr Myres or some other nameless resident. However, I think we can all agree that while Myres was a troubled man, he wasn't some kind of demon summoning occultist. The possibility that it was just some evil spirit that had moved into the house, perhaps lured there by its early tragedies? Very possible. Famous paranormal investigator, Harry Price, was convinced that the haunting was caused by an extremely malevolent poltergeist. Given the right environment, a strong enough poltergeist may well be able to cause that amount of havoc.
Allegedly not much has happened in the house since Edward Blunden's unfortunate demise, however rumours persist. There are some reports that during more recent decades, certain rooms on the second floor were closed off, unusable for unnamed reasons. Sadly, I don't think there's any evidence proving these true or false, but I'd love to see it if there is. If it's just a hoax, then it's very long-lived and has fooled a lot of people that aren't easily fooled, but then so did the Cottingley Fairies. And, before you wonder, we can rule out anyone being influenced by H.P Lovecraft. His stories weren't published until 1923, so it's more likely that the story of 50 Berkeley Square could have influenced him, had he heard it.
Cryptid, spirit or rogue cephalopod; we will never really know what haunts (or haunted) the dark corners of 50 Berkeley Square. Perhaps that's for the best.

What do you think, readers? Have you heard any other stories about this haunting that I haven't covered? What do you think caused the haunting? Let me know by tagging me in a Tweet or in the comments below!

*"Lyttel" else. Hehe.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Island Life: My Top5 ACNH Spooky Villagers

Pull up a log and help yourself to a marshmallow.

Relaxing on my little island, I take the time to admire the beautiful sunset and sparkling ocean. Sure, I owe a ridiculous amount of money to a Tanuki, and I've been stung by wasps after shaking a tree from the wrong side, but life doesn't get much better than this.
It's just a shame it isn't real life.
Yes, like so many other gamers, I've fallen in love with Animal Crossing New Horizons. Despite everything I planned to do with my time during the national Lockdown that took place this year, most of that time was instead spent playing Animal Crossing*. The question is, why make a blog post about it? Isn't this blog meant to be about ghosties, ghoulies, long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night? The answer is yes, yes it is, and that's exactly why I've written a post about it. With characters straight out of folklore, mythical creatures and haunted artefacts, Animal Crossing has always had one foot firmly planted in the paranormal. That's actually one of the reasons I, and a lot of other people, love this game so much. With so many subjects to cover, I thought I'd start with the villagers themselves with a Top 5 list. So sit back and relax, as we enter the world of Animal Crossing and I introduce you to my Top 5 Spooky Villagers.

I think you can already see why he's on this list, because clearly Lucky's luck ran out at some point. Wrapped from head to toe in bandages, with only his ears and tail free, this lazy dog villager is well and truly mummified. And if you need more proof that this good boy is among the walking dead, his only visible eye is an unearthly glowing yellow. That's not normal, that's the sort of thing you need to have a serious talk to your vet about.
Some people seem to think that the only animals mummified by the ancient Egyptians were cats, but this isn't the case. While some animals that suffered this fate were beloved family pets that had passed on and were treated the same way in death that any other family member would be, others were sacrifices to various Deities. These included a wide variety of animals, including man's best friend. Evidence of this is recorded every year, one of the biggest finds being found in 2015 when around eight million mummified canines were unearthed by Archaeologists in the catacombs dedicated to Anubis, located in Saqqara, South Cairo.

Coco is a rabbit villager, with the Normal personality and, let's be honest, is a complete sweetheart. A lot of players make the mistake of assuming that her name and appearance are influenced by coconuts, which also have three holes, very similar to the ones Coco has for her eyes and mouth. The truth is a lot darker than that. This charming bunny is actually based on a Haniwa. 
Haniwa are clay figurines of a ritual nature, specifically funerary objects that were buried along with the dead in ancient Japan, or used to mark burial sites. They first started off as simple clay cylinders, but over time they evolved into more intricate forms; human figures, houses, military equipment and even animals. These items were meant to serve or act as a companion for the dead; which of these was Coco's purpose we may never know. Coco isn't the only example of a Haniwa figure to appear in Animal Crossing either, others exist in the form of Gyroids.

Out of all the villagers on this list, Clay is my favourite. He's
adorable, delightful and I discovered him by accident while on a hunt for Pietro. Yes, that's right, I gave up my hunt for everyone's favourite killer clown sheep so that Clay could take the last empty spot on my island. I initially mistook him for a Cub villager, but he's actually a Hamster and comes with the Lazy personality.
Like Coco, he's also based on a type of ancient Japanese figurine and, although sometimes found in graves, a type that's not always of a funerary nature. Clay is based on a Dogลซ figurine, which were made only during Japans Jรตmon period, making some of the oldest of these figurines around 10,000 years old. Their true purpose is debated, but they're considered to be evidence of a form of early religion, having been found in many places. It's possible that they could be depictions of some unknown deity or fetish of some sort, but some historians theorise that they may just have been toys. Even in modern times, these mysterious objects have captured peoples imaginations, inspiring everyone from artists to conspiracy theorists.

Villagers with the Smug personality type can be an acquired taste,
you either love them or you hate them. I can't stand most of them, but I'll make an allowance for Julian because, despite being classed as a Horse type villager, he is actually a Unicorn. And who doesn't like unicorns?
Versions of these mythological beasts have been recorded since the Bronze Age, in countries all over the world. In fact, nearly every country seems to have their own version of the Unicorn, making it a very widely recognised creature. Often seen as a symbol of purity, they're also seen as a symbol of royalty and are a popular fixture on peoples coats of arms. The horn of a unicorn was especially in demand, as it was said to be able to purify poisons and heal all manner of illnesses, the tricky part was getting your hands on one. According to legend, only a virgin pure could tame a unicorn. They were used as bate in hunts, distracting the beast while hunter took advantage of the Unicorns sudden docileness. Smart merchants could make a small fortune selling cut down narwhale horns as the genuine article, the Vikings used to do so regularly. Most people back then had no idea what a narwhale was, it was an easy trick to pull off.

Hans is another Smug villager and is a Gorilla type villager. While
Gorilla types may be one of the most disliked varieties of villagers, I feel like we should give Hans a break. After all, everyone agrees that he's a Yeti, not a Gorilla. 
Also known as the Abominable Snowman, the Yeti comes to us from the Himalayas and is similar to other cryptids such as Bigfoot. Reports of these creatures go back centuries and many people have searched for them in an attempt to prove their existence, including Alexander the Great in 326 BC. Personally I'm split 50/50 on the topic, as I believe that an intelligent creature that's evolved for that type of climate could easily out-fox anyone hunting it and, as previously stated, reports of the Yetis existence go back thousands of years. Even the scientific community seem a little torn on the subject, despite extensive tests having been done on hair that's been found. Traditionally depicted as being covered in white, shaggy hair just like Hans, there are reports of Yetis sighted at lower altitudes with ginger or black hair, and it has been suggested that there may be more than one type of the creature roaming around. I wish I could say that they are entirely solitary creatures, but over the years there have been some reports of them harassing shepherds and attacking their herds.

So what about you, readers? Are any of your favourite spooky villagers in this list, or do you prefer one of the ones I've left off? What are your favourite spooky bits of Animal Crossing lore?
Let me know in the comments below or tag me in a post on Twitter, I love hearing your stories.

*Well, that and Gwent. Lots of Gwent. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Art of Terror: Early Haunts

"๐“•๐“ธ๐“พ๐“ป ๐“ฎ๐“ช๐“ป๐“ต๐”‚ ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ญ ๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“ผ๐“น๐“ฒ๐“ป๐“ช๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ธ๐“ท๐“ช๐“ต ๐“ฐ๐“ฑ๐“ธ๐“ผ๐“ฝ ๐“ผ๐“ฝ๐“ธ๐“ป๐“ฒ๐“ฎ๐“ผ, ๐“ถ๐“ธ๐“ผ๐“ฝ๐“ต๐”‚ ๐“ฏ๐“ธ๐“ป๐“ฐ๐“ธ๐“ฝ๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ท ๐“ฒ๐“ท ๐“ฝ๐“ฑ๐“ฎ ๐“ญ๐“ฎ๐“น๐“ฝ๐“ฑ๐“ผ ๐“ธ๐“ฏ ๐“ต๐“ฒ๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ป๐“ช๐“ป๐”‚ ๐“ฑ๐“ฒ๐“ผ๐“ฝ๐“ธ๐“ป๐”‚ ๐“ช๐“ป๐“ฎ ๐“ซ๐“ป๐“ธ๐“พ๐“ฐ๐“ฑ๐“ฝ ๐“ฝ๐“ธ๐“ฐ๐“ฎ๐“ฝ๐“ฑ๐“ฎ๐“ป ๐“ฏ๐“ธ๐“ป ๐“ฝ๐“ฑ๐“ฎ ๐“ฏ๐“ฒ๐“ป๐“ผ๐“ฝ ๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ถ๐“ฎ ๐“ฒ๐“ท ๐“ธ๐“ท๐“ฎ ๐“ฐ๐“ป๐“ช๐“น๐“ฑ๐“ฒ๐“ฌ ๐“ท๐“ธ๐“ฟ๐“ฎ๐“ต ๐“ช๐“ญ๐“ช๐“น๐“ฝ๐“ช๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ธ๐“ท ๐“ฏ๐“ธ๐“ป ๐“ช๐“ท ๐“ฎ๐”๐“ฌ๐“ต๐“พ๐“ผ๐“ฒ๐“ฟ๐“ฎ ๐“ฑ๐“ช๐“ป๐“ญ๐“ซ๐“ช๐“ฌ๐“ด ๐“ป๐“ฎ๐“ต๐“ฎ๐“ช๐“ผ๐“ฎ. ๐“ข๐“ฝ๐“ธ๐“ป๐“ฒ๐“ฎ๐“ผ ๐”€๐“ฑ๐“ฒ๐“ฌ๐“ฑ ๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“ผ๐“น๐“ฒ๐“ป๐“ฎ๐“ญ ๐“ข๐“ต๐“ฎ๐“ฎ๐“น๐”‚ ๐“—๐“ธ๐“ต๐“ต๐“ธ๐”€, ๐“ก๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“ฐ, ๐“•๐“ป๐“ช๐“ท๐“ด๐“ฎ๐“ท๐“ผ๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ฒ๐“ท ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ญ ๐“ช ๐“’๐“ฑ๐“ป๐“ฒ๐“ผ๐“ฝ๐“ถ๐“ช๐“ผ ๐“’๐“ช๐“ป๐“ธ๐“ต." 

 October is here. The nights are dark and cold, the perfect time to snuggle up in the warm, with a hot drink and something spooky. What's winter without a good ghost story? But there are so many to choose from and sometimes you want something new, something you haven't read before. How about a classic ghost story or two? Better yet, how about four in the form of a beautifully written and illustrated graphic novel?

This graphic novel is bought to us by author T.W.Burgess. His first novel was self-published in 2014
and he has since released five others, including Photoghasts, the worlds first AR haunted book. His works have garnered great praise from publications such as Starburst Magazine and Rue Morgue, and have included introductions from Junji Ito, Reece Shearsmith and Corin Hardy. With these books, he has helped introduce us to a wonderful world of spine chilling horror. And now, with the help of a team of amazing artists, that world is about to expand even further. I'd like to introduce you to Early Haunts, a stunning and much anticipated graphic novel which I hope you'll consider adding to your collection. If not for yourself, then for that special spooky someone in your life. This new anthology brings you four little known classic tales of terror, coming to us from mythology and early folklore, and introducing the reader to a carefully curated collection of some of the earliest recorded ghost stories. Some of you may have heard of these stories, but many of you won't have and Early Haunts is the perfect introduction to them for any reader. 

The Stories

The House in Athens
Adapted from the ancient Roman story of the same name, it was found in the letters of Pliny The Younger, a Roman politician and writer. He lived from 61AD to 113AD, which gives you an idea of just how old this story is, making it the earliest recorded ghost story in the book. The House in Athens tells the tale of a terrifying chained apparition stalking a house in ancient Athens and how a man named Athenodorus set out to solve the mystery of this ominous spectre. You'll recognise this chained ghost from Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, as it was an inspiration for the tormented spirit of Jacob Marley.
It's illustrated by Mike O Brien, who has captured the story wonderfully with his rich colour pallet and sweeping brush strokes. His work has previously been included in Cracked Eye Magazine and at the Bishop's Stortford Museum, among others.

The Tale from Dish Mansion
Originally recorded as The Plate House, by Baba Bunko in 1758, this folktale can trace its origins to a Kabuki play by the name of Bancho Saravashiki. It tells the chilling story of Okiku, a girl doomed to become a tragic and terrifying Japanese spirit known as a Yokai. If she sounds familiar to you when you read this chapter, then you can thank author Koji Suzuki, who seems to have taken inspiration from this tale for his novel, The Ring, thus bringing us another well dwelling spector; Sadako. 
Illustrator Bri Neumann and colourist Bryan Valenza have bought this tale to life with incredible attention to detail and a gorgeously warm colour pallet. 
Bri Neumann has worked in Television, Animation and Computer Games in a variety of different roles, including working for Dreamworks Animation, Nintendo and Rick & Morty, among others.
Bryan Valenza has worked for both indie and non-indie publishers, including DC Comics, Image Comics and Lion Forge.

The Wild Huntsman
The Wild Huntsman has been carefully dapted from the poem of the same name, which was written by the German poet Gottfried August Bรผrger in the 1700s. Based on German folklore, it concerns the tale of a huntsman who, upon going hunting on a Sunday, soon finds himself cursed through his own actions. This creepy poem was a source of inspiration for Washington Irving, when he was writing his own classic ghost story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Illustrator Brian Coldrick has brought this chilling tale to life with a cool colour pallet and stunning art style that brings life to the frantic chase depicted in the poem. Known for his brilliant webcomic Behind You, his work also includes monster design for Doctor Who, robotic prosthetics for Lady Gaga and cover art for Locke and Key.

The Death Bride
A chilling Italian gothic horror story, The Death Bride hails from a French anthology of German ghost stories known as Fantasmagoriana. This tale of love and terror was first translated by Jean-Baptiste Benoรฎt Eyriรจs, anonymously for some reason and it was published in 1812. Fantasmagoriana was one of many books read by Mary Shelly during her stay in Geneva with her husband Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, becoming one of her main influences when writing her famous novel Frankenstein.
This story is illustrated by David Romero, a freelance illustrator and animator whos speciality is horror. His haunting artwork adds a dark atmosphere to this story, which brings with it a creeping dread. Very fitting for a story like this. David has worked for many people and companies, including Image Comics and Simply Scary Podcast.

A lot of work has been put into this project, each story has been painstakingly adapted by T.W.Burgess and beautifully bought to life by the artists involved. Simply put, it's a labour of love. The Kickstarter campaign ends on the 6th of November, so you still have plenty of time to get involved and show your support for this exciting project. 

Head over to the Early Haunts Kickstarter now and you can help bring this book to life in the form of an elegantly designed hardback novel. 

There are seven levels of support you can offer. Each brings with it a signed first edition of the book (either digital, physical or both.) and various other goodies, including (depending on the amount pledged.) limited edition bookplates, copies of T.W.burgess' other novels, a copy of the Early Haunts digital sketchbook and a Thank You in the back of the book itself.  The campaign also includes three fabulous Stretch Goals. It's reached the £10,000 goal so all print backers will receive a limited edition art print, but if it reaches £15,000 then they will be able to include AR pages in the book and if it reaches £20,000 then every backer will get a copy of an exclusive bonus comic. T.W.Burgess and Brian Coldrick have been working on a comic adapted from the actual haunting which inspired the classic ghost story The Turn of the Screw, written by Henry James. 

I myself have signed up and am following the campaign with much excitement. How about you, dear reader? Are you already following Early Haunts? What are you excited about the most, what has you hyped for the project's completion? If you arent following Early Haunts on Kickstarter just yet, then I highly recommend you do so. This unique and fascinating graphic novel is an excellent addition to any ghost story or graphic novel collection.
As always, I'd love to hear from you, either in the comments below or by tagging me in a post on Twitter. Plus don't forget to send some extra good vibes and support to team responsible for this beautiful project, by following them on Twitter too. Their profiles can be reached by clicking on their names.

 ๐“ž๐“ท ๐“š๐“ฒ๐“ฌ๐“ด๐“ผ๐“ฝ๐“ช๐“ป๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ป ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ญ ๐“ฌ๐“ธ๐“ถ๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“ฐ ๐“ฝ๐“ธ ๐”‚๐“ธ๐“พ๐“ป ๐“ซ๐“ธ๐“ธ๐“ด๐“ผ๐“ฑ๐“ฎ๐“ต๐“ฏ ๐“ผ๐“ธ๐“ธ๐“ท!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Ghost Ship: the SS Ourang Medan

The end of September is here and Autumn is in full sway. The leaves are turning, the air is crisp and the nights are dark, so naturally it's time to turn on the central heating or, if you're lucky, stoke up the fire and get stuck into a good ghost story. And, as always, I have the perfect story for you to scare yourself with.

"๐•‹๐•™๐•–๐•š๐•ฃ ๐•—๐•ฃ๐• ๐•ซ๐•–๐•Ÿ ๐•—๐•’๐•”๐•–๐•ค ๐•จ๐•–๐•ฃ๐•– ๐•ฆ๐•ก๐•ฅ๐•ฆ๐•ฃ๐•Ÿ๐•–๐•• ๐•ฅ๐•  ๐•ฅ๐•™๐•– ๐•ค๐•ฆ๐•Ÿ, ๐•ฅ๐•™๐•– ๐•ž๐• ๐•ฆ๐•ฅ๐•™๐•ค ๐•จ๐•–๐•ฃ๐•– ๐•˜๐•’๐•ก๐•š๐•Ÿ๐•˜ ๐• ๐•ก๐•–๐•Ÿ ๐•’๐•Ÿ๐•• ๐•ฅ๐•™๐•– ๐•–๐•ช๐•–๐•ค ๐•ค๐•ฅ๐•’๐•ฃ๐•š๐•Ÿ๐•˜..."

Allegedly a photo of one of the dead crewmen,
it's source is untraceable and therefore unreliable.
Sometime in 1947, ships in the Malacca Straight started to receive
distress calls from a Dutch merchant ship, which had run into 
trouble. This wasn't unusual in that area, but the content of the messages was. "All officers, including Captain dead, lying in the chartroom and on bridge. Probably whole crew dead." came the panicked message from the ships radio operator. This was followed by a string of garbled morse code, utterly untranslatable, as if the sender was so hysterical that they couldn't send properly. Minutes of silence followed before one last message was transmitted from the stricken vessel. Just two words. "I die." After this, there was nothing but radio silence. The ship, the SS Ourang Medan, couldn't be hailed. Coordinates had been given during the distress calls and an American vessel, by the name of the Silver Star, decided to check the situation out. Understandably unnerved by the chilling distress calls, they still hoped that they might save someone, anyone. Their hopes of finding survivors were soon dashed as they sighted the ship. The Ourang Medan was dead in the water, floating with the tide, nobody in sight. Once again all attempts to hail the crew were met with silence. Apprehensively, the rescuers boarded the silent vessel and were greeted with a sight beyond their wildest nightmares. Below deck, the ship was so cold that the rescue team could see their breath, it was like walking into a meat locker. Highly unusual for such a hot part of the country. But what truly sent chills down their spines wasn't the temperature, every member of the Ourang Medan's crew was dead. Bodies littered the decks. Twisted and contorted, their faces frozen in expressions of terror, as if they had seen something truly horrific in their final moments. Not even the ships dog had been spared, a fearful snarl forever fixed upon its face. It was the sight of the radio operator, slumped at his station, that sent the rescue party running. After much discussion it was agreed that they would at least tow the stranded ship back to port, so that the authorities there could investigate it properly. Before they could do so, thick smoke began to billow from the depths of the Ourang Medan. Fire soon followed the smoke and the crew of the Silver Star barely had enough time to cut their tow ropes and get themselves to a safe distance before an explosion rocked the other ship. It's said the force of the explosion was so strong that the SS Ourang Medan was actually lifted from the water as it was torn apart, sinking, never to be found.

A rumoured photo of the SS Ourang Medan, photographer unknown

The Truth Behind the Tale
There's nothing quite like a good ghost ship story, is there? And in my opinion, the tale of the Ourang Medan is just that, a scary story. But would it surprise you if I told you that some people believe that it's not a story, that the events I just told you about really happened? Not an old urban legend, it seems to have first appeared in a Dutch-Indonesian newspaper in 1948, but also appears in two American papers, one also in 1948 and another later in 1952. It worth mentioning that these articles differ from the version of the story we have now, with the first article neglecting to name the rescue ship and the American articles including a miraculous sole survivor, who tells his rescuers that the ship was carrying badly packaged chemicals which leaked and killed the crew, before dying himself. While stories do change over time, some people believe that this is a sign that the tale was deliberately changed as part of a cover-up. The rescue ship, the Silver Star, was indeed a real ship, but there is no sign of the SS Ourang Medan ever having existed. There is a Coast Guard report floating around, but that's highly likely to be fake, as it was made in 1954 and the incident itself happened in 1947. That's an 8-year gap between events. Oddly, the Ourang Medan was also referenced by the CIA in a report in 1959. Although written in 1959, the report wasn't released to the public until 2003 and you can read that report as a pdf here. So whats going on here? Three conspiracy theories have grown around this story. 
Theory one: The most popular of the three states that the Ourang Medan was part of a massive cover-up, one that resulted in it being wiped from all registration and shipping records, and even from the ships log of the Silver Star itself. Some theorise that the ship wasn't even Dutch, but was instead a disguised American military ship, covertly moving a newly developed and unnamed chemical weapon from one location to another. This ties in nicely with the Sole Survivor from the American articles, who claimed the ship was carrying chemicals. Conspiracy theories aren't really my vibe, but you know me, I would never mock anyone for their theories and I love a good mystery. So it's no surprise that I've sat and thought about this story. It is worth noting that out of the two theories, this one seems the most realistic, since the sinking of the SS Ourang Medan and it's mysterious cargo coincides with the year that the Cold War started. In this period, if a country had developed a new weapon, then they would want to transport it around secretly. The chemical weapon part is where it gets interesting, as to have the effect on the Ourang Medan's crew that it had, then it would have to be a nerve agent of some sort. While the chemical weapon known as VX could have had that effect and did need to be stored in cold temperatures, explaining the why the ship was like a walk-in freezer below deck, it wasn't developed until the 1950s, in Britain. But that doesn't mean they, and other countries, wouldn't have been working on it before then. Meaning the SS Ourang Medan, if real, could have been transporting an early prototype of the weapon. If it were an unknown chemical weapon, then another possible culprate could be an extract of Oenanthe, a type plant also referred to as Hemlock Water Dropworts. In ancient Sardinia, this plant was used for its neurotoxins, usually when sacrificing the elderly. If administered in high enough amounts, it twists the face in death, causing something referred to by scientists as the Sardonic Grin. This might sound cheery, but it's actually less of a cheerful smile and more of a twisted grimace; teeth bared, eyes wide, sounds familiar doesn't it? It's the exact look that the crew of the Ourang Medan had on their faces in death. 
Theory Two: Something in the ships boiler had malfunctioned, or was on fire and was leaking carbon monoxide gas. This seems incredibly unlikely, because the side effects of CO poisoning would have had the crew sending out a distress call long before they reached the stage they did as would a fire. Some of the Ourang Medan's crew were outside in the fresh air, where CO gas would have dissipated and, even though they would have been feeling a bit queazy, they wouldn't have been reduced to twisted corpses. Also, if the boiler was releasing enough CO to incapacitate the crew that quickly, then the rescue party from the Silver Star would also have been affected to some degree when they went below deck. They were not. They also reported no signs of smoke, which would have flooded the ship had there been a fire below deck.
Theory Three: Aliens did it. Out of all of the theories, this is (for me at least) the most far fetched of the bunch. Some people strongly believe that what happened on the Ourang Medan was a violent chance encounter with Aliens, which resulted in the gruesome deaths of all aboard and resulted in the ship exploding. Sadly this theory crops up a lot when something mysterious, with no apparent explanation, occurs. No signs of UFO activity or unexplained lights in the sky were sighted or reported by any of the other ships in the area.

The Ourang Medan in Popular Media
Oddly, although there are a lot of films based around the subject of ghost ships, there are none about the Ourang Medan. This is a shame, since the story would, if made by the right people, make a brilliant horror movie. The closest you'll find is The Man of Medan, an excellent game made the company Supermassive Games. The game itself is based around the idea of...well, I won't tell you. It may have been released last year, but you'll find no spoilers here. Available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, it's well worth a download if you enjoy a story-driven adventure/survival horror game with multiple endings based on your actions during the game.

So, what do you think, readers? A chilling tale to scare your friends or a true story that has been covered up? Personally, I'm hoping it is just a story, because after referring to the theories about it as conspiracy theories, I'm going to be very embarrassed if the first one turns out to be true. And completely mortified if the third one turns out to be true. Have any theories of your own, or anything to add to the ones I've mentioned? Let me know in the comments below, or link me in a Tweet