Whether it's restless ghosts or vagabond killers, these freaky tales will have you locking the doors and sleeping with a nightlight. Below is a list of urban legends by city (or urban legends by state) that will help you mark off places to skip on your next vacation. (Unsettlingly, some of the stories have no location at all, which means they could happen anywhere...)
Venezuelan Whistler Preys on Drunks and Cheaters
There's an urban legend in Venezuela surrounding "El Silbón" (The Whistler), a figure known in the wetland plains and prairies regions called "Llanos."
The Whistler is usually described as a very emaciated man dressed in cowboy's rags, with a wide brim hat that hides his skeletal face. He roams the countryside and patches of bush at night, his shoulders drooping, his gaze cast downward. He carries a heavy bag full of bones and half-decomposed remains over his back.
True to his name, the entity continuously whistles a high chord progression (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C) that goes higher in tune with every note. He is also unnaturally tall and strong, with some accounts describing him as towering over six meters (almost 20 feet) in height.
His origin is not clear, with some tales casting him as an accursed parricide. He's rumored to prey on lone travelers, especially drunk or unfaithful men. Legend has it, his ominous whistle is suddenly heard very loud and close, yet the source cannot be pinpointed. Contrary to logic, when the sound lowers and appears more distant, the Whistler is very near.
He kills either by strangling or by blunt-force trauma, devouring his victims and throwing the bones in his bag. He can be seen occasionally wading over the high walls of haciendas. Prayer is said to keep him away.
Okinawa Children Want Dead Playmates
In Okinawa there was a house near the Kadena Air Force Base that was abandoned. A man killed himself and his family in it.
The house was said to be haunted. It was even part of the ghost tours they gave on base. There were reports that the outside lights would turn on by themselves. One story was that a woman could be seen washing her hair in the sink in the kitchen through a window.
The creepiest thing by far was that this house shared a chainlink fence with the daycare building. My friend's mom worked at the day care. Children between four and five years old would constantly throw toys over the fence. When asked why, they said they wanted to play with the children on the other side. All of the kids saw these other children, but the adults could not. It throughly freaked out anyone who worked there.
Child Ghosts save Texans from Repeat Train Wrecks
In San Antonio, there was a school bus which broke down on a set of train tracks. Before the bus could be moved or evacuated, a train barreled down the tracks and tragically killed all on board. It was such a tragedy, that the local government eventually named all of the nearby streets after these children.
So, as you drive past a mental institution, on roads named after dead children, you come to a hill. On this hill is where the road meets the train tracks. You park on the tracks and put your car into neutral. For an added effect, you can put white powder on your bumper. Then, you wait.
After a little bit, your car randomly starts moving by itself off of the tracks. It's even more odd, because your car doesnt go down the hill, but instead it goes up the hill. If you put white powder on your bumper, you find tiny fingerprints. Supposedly, those prints are proof that the ghosts of the children who died in the wreck all those years ago pushed you off of the tracks - to save your car, and your life, from being hit by a train like they were.
Stick People Steal Babies
I'm Native American, and the story of the Stick People always gave me the heebie jeebies at dusk, or if I was alone in the woods. The story goes that there are these Stick People who live in the hills, and they lure children in who don't pay attention to their parents, children who wandered into their territory, children who are out past their bedtime, or even babes out of their baskets when their mothers have their backs turned to put up laundry on the line.
The Stick People, as told to me, were abnormally small in size, and skeletal. They were were mischievous and wicked. In addition to kids, they would also steal things like the extra sock from your dryer, your car keys etc.
As I lived in a very rural area on a reservation, I'd assumed these Stick People lived up in the hills, so every time I'm in the hills now I'm always looking around, and very alert, and not because there are bears and cougars in the area, but because of the Stick People.
Feral Montana Hitchhiker Chases Good Samaritan
One of my high school teachers had a job at a small college in Montana when he was a young newlywed. One night on a long commute home, he was driving down a lonely road, past fields of corn or grain, when he saw a hitchhiker. This being decades ago in rural Montana, he pulled over to let the guy in without a second thought. The man was dressed in a really old, outdated suit and a big, stylish hat. My teacher said he looked like someone from the '40s.
So the guy gets in next to my teacher without saying a word. Teacher asks him where he needs to go, and the guy just points forward. Teacher drives on.
The hitchhiker says nothing at all, just pulls his hat down, as though he were sleeping. Then suddenly, he tips up his hat, looks out the window, and says "Stop the car, now." My teacher pulls over and lets him out. The guy stands on the side of the road for a second, and then sprints into the field beside the road until my teacher can't see him anymore (granted, the crop was fairly tall). Thinking this strange, but not necessarily dangerous, my teacher continues driving home.
When he checks his rearview mirror a few minutes later, he sees the hitchhiker on all fours like an animal, running (crawling?) after the truck at an inhuman speed.
He floors it, coaxing the old truck up to dangerous speeds, and finally loses the guy. Teacher pulls off at a gas station and call his wife, relates the story, tells her to lock up the house. She thinks he's joking. When he asks why she would think that, she says that one of her coworkers told her the exact same story. She thought maybe they were just teasing her with an urban legend. (And that maybe my teacher was in on the joke.)
Anyways, my teacher assured her that he was not lying, and she evidently believed him. She vouches for her side of the story, because she showed up to one of our fundraisers and I asked her about it.
So yeah, now I just avoid lonely roads in Montana.
Witch Ritual Scares High Schoolers
In high school, my buddies and I used to cruise in the backwoods to a spot called Witches' Cove. It was a small valley surrounded by woods next to a one-lane cobblestone bridge. Rumor had it, devil worshippers performed rituals under the bridge.
We'd been there dozens of times to smoke and drink without seeing anyone, but one night we pulled up and there was a bonfire in the valley. There were people dancing around the fire and jumping through it. Some were naked. We got out and approached them, thinking they were partying. One guy walked up and addressed us all by our names. (How he knew them, we had no idea.) He asked if we believed in God. When we said we did, he laughed at us and said we'd better leave.
We were creeped out and decided to take his advice. As we drove away from the area, my buddy in the passenger seat jumped and screamed, pointing at something next to our car. It was hard to see because there were tall weeds growing next to the road, but it looked like someone was crawling on all fours alongside our car. We were going 35-40 mph. It was so fast, it passed us.
We were flipping out. Eventually, we came to an intersection and saw the same guy who approached us at the bonfire, standing by the stop sign, smiling at us. At that point, we did about 85 mph all the way back to town. One of my friends was so scared he went home and had his folks call their pastor to come over and pray with/for him. Of course, everyone at school said we were just high or drunk. Even my own folks didn't believe me.
I tried for years to rationalize and reach logical conclusions about what happened, saying I was drunk, or it was a dog crawling by us, or it was a different person standing at the stop sign, but it still gives me goose bumps remembering it.
Albinos Ambush Motorists in the Mountains
We have a mountain range where I'm from in Santa Clara, California, called Mount Umunhum. It's said to be riddled with savage albinos up at the top.
Now large parts of this mountain are just normal black top roads with houses. But as you drive further up, the houses become scarce and the forest becomes thicker. Eventually you'll see a sign for the Umunhum peak where the savage albinos supposedly live. The creepy part is that it's a dirt road and two cars cannot go up it at one time. And it's really tricky to turn around.
My friends and I would always go up and explore around 2AM. We never got very far before turning around at one side of the road that widens a little. We were always terrified at this point because it was really difficult to maneuver it and would have been so easy for the savage albinos to get us. Apparently, they drive around in a white truck and play tricks on people to get them to pull over before the others ambush you.
Skinwalkers Blend Human and Animal Forms
There's a Navajo legend about the "Skinwalker," a creature that, as its name implies, disguises itself as something else. The Navajo do not discuss it casually, because they believe that talking about it gives the skinwalker more power.
During a short term job, I was housed near a reservation. One night, I saw a coyote running across an open space about quarter mile out - on its hind legs. I told the locals about it, and they told me things like that just happen out there, and that I shouldn't speak of my experience freely to anyone.
One of them introduced me to a "healing man" to make sure I was "cleansed of bad spirits," in case the encounter marked me in any way. He told about terrifying encounters that other people had had with these creatures, and to not think about them or seek them out while I was there or the Skinwalkers would know. Seriously creepy stuff.