Tons of creepy urban legends originate from all over the world, such as the horrifying and tragic La Llorona, a woman trapped between the spirit world and the living world, forever cursed to kidnap wandering children and drown them in the river. But not all of them utilize sound in quite the same way as the story el Silbón, the Man who Whistles. There is something particularly eerie about the sound of a whistle, and what scarier combination than a creepy man who creeps up you and hails your death by blowing air between his lips? There are many facts about el Silbón, but almost all stories end the same: he wanders the countryside while whistling, killing people in his path and collecting their bones in his sack. But he may not have all evil reasons, and origin stories are conflicted as to whether the Whistler is a random killing monster, a harbinger of death, a teetotaling protector of women, or a justice-minded vigilante.
The el Silbón urban legend started sometime in the 19th century in Venezuela, and spread from there into Colombia. His story is especially strong in the area of Los Llanos, a tropical grasslands region which overlaps both countries.
What happens when you see the Whistler, el Silbón? It doesn't matter quite as much as what happens when you hear him. Hopefully you never do.
If El Silbón's Whistles Sound Distant, You’re Already Dead
El Silbón typically whistles the C Major scale (ala Do-Re-Mi), but in a creepier and more sinister fashion. Each note is long and drawn-out, culminating in the highest pitched note signaling your own demise. Interestingly, his whistle is highly deceptive. The further away he is, the louder and closer the whistle sounds.
And of course the closer he is to you, the further away the whistle sounds. Which means the safer you feel, the closer you are to being killed.
El Silbón Killed His Own Father And Was Driven Away To Wander Forever
In the original Venezuelan version, el Silbón was a young man who lived on the farm with his mother, father, and grandfather. One day, he returned home to find his father sexually assaulting and abusing his wife. In retaliation, the Whistler killed him.
There’s another version that portrays el Silbón in a much more negative light. Supposedly, the Whistler was craving a meal of venison and sent his father out to hunt. However, his father was unable to find a deer; out of rage, the son killed his father and cannibalized him for the meat.
In every version of el Silbón’s tragic story, the catalyst for his curse was his patricide. Whether the father was a rapist, a drunk, or a layabout, el Silbón’s anger drove him to murder. Regardless, in most versions of the story, the Whistler was cursed by his mother and became a ghost while his grandfather flogged him before being banished into the plains.
He May Have Cannibalized His Father
After el Silbón killed his father when dad failed to bring back venison, the rumor goes that the Whistler may actually have cannibalized him. Supposedly, after killing his father he brought the butchered body parts to his mother who began cooking them, until she realized they were coarse and grisly. Horrified, she realized what had happened and placed a curse on her son, turning him into a nomadic ghost who bears the omen of death wherever he goes.
But the empathetic backstory is that el Silbón's father was abusive toward his mother, which is why he hated him and killed him.
He Visits Homes In The Night To Count His Bones
Every night, el Silbón visits the homes of his victims's families, where he drops his sack and counts the bones of said victims inside. If anyone hears him perform his macabre ritual, then they’re safe; he’ll move on without disturbing anyone. However, if nobody wakes up and hears his spine-chilling count, then someone in the home will most certainly die.
In fact, they’ll simply never wake up in the morning, and become another victim of the bone-collecting el Silbón.