Sometimes it’s amazing to hear the types of stories that get passed around when you’re out having a few drinks with friends or at a dinner party meeting new people. Most urban legends are no more than old folk tales passed down from generation to generation over and over again until no one is sure if there was any shred of truth to the story to begin with. But, every so often, it turns out that one of these old fables is actually 100 percent factual. Here are seven urban legends that are completely true.
7. Maggots on the Brain
There are countless urban legends and science fictions stories about some kind of insect or parasite that manages to crawl inside a person’s head and lay eggs. It’s repulsive to think that something could burrow its way into our skull without us even knowing and then spawn babies that feed on our tissues and organs, but it does happen. In 2013, an English traveller was on a flight home from Peru when she began getting headaches. At first she ignored them but, a few hours later, she started experiencing intense shooting pains down the side of her face. This was followed, to her horror, by the sound of something scratching and squirming inside her head. The next morning she immediately went to the hospital after awaking to a pillow soaked in fluid that had poured from her inner ear. After X-raying her brain, the doctor told her she had maggots living inside her ear canal (at which point she immediately, and understandably, broke into tears). Although the eight ravenous maggots managed to burrow a hole 12 millimetres deep into her ear canal, they weren’t able to get far enough to reach her brain and cause any serious damage. After minor surgery, all traces of the maggots were removed. It was determined that the maggots must have come from a screw-worm fly that laid eggs in her ear while she was in Peru.
6. The Body in the Water Tank
This chilling urban legend starts with a family who has just finished moving into a new home. According to the story, the family was disgusted to find that all the faucets in the house gushed as putrid smelling black liquid. Upon investigating the problem, the family was terrified to discover that the cause of the black water was a decaying human body in their water tank.
As revolting as this tale is, the true story might be even worse considering it happened at a hotel rather than a private residence. In 2013, guests at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles were showering, brushing their teeth and, yes, even drinking the water that came from a tank on the rooftop were a human corpse had been decomposing for 19 days.
5. The Body in a Hotel Bed
Have you ever walked into a less than glamorous hotel room and wondered what that funky smell was? According to legend, that’s just what happened to a young couple one night after they checked in to small hotel. But even though the couple complained about the rancid smell, the staff couldn’t find anything when inspecting the room, and so, they decided to stay the night anyway. The next morning they noticed something leaking out of the mattress and were shocked to find that the mattress was stuffed with rotting human remains. As nasty as that sounds, there are actually records of bodies being found in hotel mattresses in California, Florida, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City. The most recent case occurred in 2010, when a woman from Memphis was missing for two months before she was finally found dead under the mattress of the hotel room where she had been staying. During the two months that her corpse had been decomposing under the mattress, the hotel room had been cleaned several times and rented out to at least five different people—none of which apparently took it upon themselves to investigate the awful aroma.
4. The Real Corpse in a Haunted House
The next time you find yourself walking through one of those cheesy haunted houses on Halloween night, make sure to pay close attention to any fake corpses that might happen to be on display because that old urban legend—the one about a real human corpse hanging in a haunted house—actually happens to be true. In 1976 a TV crew was filming an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man on location at the Nu-Pike amusement park in Long Beach, California. As the crew was removing props from the park’s haunted house and preparing to film, they noticed that an arm from one of the a corpse props had fallen off. To their horror, they discovered that the arm wasn’t made from conventional paper-mache like the other props, but rather actual human bone. Turns out the entire supposedly fake corpse was a real human cadaver put on display for all the little trick-or-treaters to see. The body was, in fact, that of Elmer Mccurdy—a criminal genius who was shot and killed attempting a train robbery in 1911. After his death, Mccurdy’s body was embalmed by the local undertaker who was so pleased with his work that he showcased it as an exhibit in his funeral home to demonstrate his expertise to clients. Mccurdy’s body remained in the funeral home for years until it was stolen by a group of carnival promoters who were too lazy to make their own fake corpse.
3. The Tale of the Green Man
If you ever talk to the locals of Western Pennsylvania, you’ll probably hear the eerie story of the Green Man. According to the urban legend, the Green Man was a frighteningly disfigured man who had no face and bright green skin that seemed to glow as if it were radioactive. Apparently, he would wander the streets of Pennsylvania late at night and scare the bejeezus out of passing drivers and joggers who believed him to be a ghost or spectre of some sort. As it turns out, the Green Man wasn’t actually a ghost, but a real person by the name of Raymond Robinson. Sadly, Robinson had lived a heartbreakingly lonely life ever since he was a little boy. When Robinson was only eight years old he was electrocuted by a trolly line while trying to view a bird’s nest. Although he survived the accident, he was left horribly deformed, losing his eyes, nose, an ear, and one of his arms. The skin of his face was also so badly damaged that it glowed with a greenish tinge. The only reason why Robinson was often found walking the Pennsylvania streets at night is because his appearance would cause public panic whenever he went out during the day.
2. Buried Alive
It’s hard to imagine an experience worse than being buried six feet underground while still alive and fully conscious. But that’s exactly the fate that befell hundreds, if not thousands, of unfortunate people back in the late 1800s. At that time, medical practices weren’t quite on par with what they are today and, consequently, living patients were quite often mistaken for dead, and then buried. There are currently 219 known cases of people being buried alive in the late 19th century, although, chances are, many more incidents occurred that have not yet been identified. And if you’re wondering how the 219 cases were confirmed, it’s because deep scratch marks were found on the insides of excavated coffins—indicating that the buried victims tried desperately to escape.
1. The Shadowy Figure
Many people have their very own account of witnessing a shadowy figure dart across the room out of the corner of their eye. And, even though those accounts often lack proof and take place when the person was all alone, the witnesses would swear on their life that it actually happened. While there’s no way to tell how many of these shadowy figures are real or imaginary, at least for one man living in Fukuoka, Japan, this urban legend turned out to be terrifyingly true. The man, who apparently lived alone in his apartment, began to suspect that someone or something else was present with him when he noticed some strange things happening in his apartment. Various objects had been moved around, food had gone missing, and he kept telling friends that he believed he was seeing a shadowy figure move around out of the corner of his eye. As it turns out, the man was absolutely correct. One day he set up a surveillance camera in the corner of his apartment and, upon reviewing the footage, was horrified to see a frail little woman creepily crawl out of his cupboard and start using his apartment as if it were her own—eating his food, using his things, even taking the occasional shower. But the freakiest part of this whole story is the fact that, while the man was watching the footage and making the terrifying discovery, the woman was still in the house. She had been living there for over a year.