Looking for the perfect campfire story with those s’mores? Break out these 8 urban legends.
Whether you’re headed off the grid and need screen-free entertainment or you just love a good story to tell, urban legends are excellent source material. Even better is when you can adjust the story to your current location, adding to the scares or laughter it may provoke. And of course a healthy debate over whether it’s true or completely fabricated (that’s what makes them so much fun to share). Here are eight urban legends to turn to when imaginative storytelling is in order.
1. Deadly Candy
If you want to keep your kids away from candy, share this urban legend while road-tripping through unfamiliar terrain. When children started going missing in a small rural county in Texas, the community blamed The Candy Lady. She would leave children treats on their bedroom windowsills and candy wrappers with notes asking them to come and play, all signed The Candy Lady. When children took the woman up on her offer, they were never seen again. She may have pulled out their teeth or stabbed them with a fork. A farmer once found the rotten teeth of a child in a candy wrapper in his field, and when a police officer started investigating the disappearances, he was found dead in a ditch — his eyes stabbed with a fork and his pockets full of candy.
2. Teke Teke
The Japanese Teke Teke urban legend will make you reconsider walking alone at night, or using the bathroom. The legend states a young woman fell on a railway line (possibly pushed by bullies) and was cut in half by an oncoming train. A young boy walking home alone at night sees her, though she’s supposed to be dead, looking down at him from a second-story window. The girl gives the boy a smile, which he returns. She then launches herself out the window, her dragging torso making a “teke teke” sound, and with a scythe she cuts the boy along his midsection, killing him.
In another version, the girl haunts bathrooms and, when she comes across unassuming patrons, brandishes her scythe and asks, “Where are my legs?” If you answer, “On the Meishin line,” you may get to live. Any other answer will result in death.
3. The Bank Job
It’s easy to dismiss urban legends as false, but sometimes they are verifiably true. Such is the case of a bank robbery that the Dublin Times reportedly covered in 1999. Robbers entered a bank and expected to find one or two large safes with cash and valuables, but instead there were hundreds of small safes. After cracking into the first safe, they discovered only a bowl of vanilla pudding.
“At least we’ll have a bit to eat,” a robber was recorded saying on the bank’s audiotape system.
The robbers opened every other safe in the bank, only to find vanilla pudding in each one — not cash, jewels or anything else of value. They left disappointed but with full stomachs.
When the story made the news, the headline read, “Ireland’s Largest Sperm Bank Robbed Early This Morning.”
4. New York’s Sewer Gators
According to legend, New Yorkers used to bring home baby alligators after vacationing in Florida to raise as pets. Obviously, the gators grew and were no longer fun to have around, so they were flushed down toilets. They now live and breed in the Manhattan sewer system, so best to avoid open drains just in case a hungry alligator fancies a trip to the theater or public toilets. If you doubt their existence, kindly note that there have been alligators captured in the city — in Central Park in 2001, Brooklyn in 2006 and Queens in 2010. This myth also coincides with another: New York White, a potent strain of marijuana that grew from seeds spilled out of plastic bags that were flushed down toilets during drug raids in the 1960s. If New York White does exist, it’s not getting harvested, because, well, too many alligators.
5. The Hitchhiker
A university student was hitchhiking during a big storm. A slow-moving car stopped and he jumped in, only to discover there was no one inside and the engine was off — yet the car started moving slowly toward a curve ahead. The scared student remained in the car, and when it approached the curve, a hand appeared out of nowhere through the window, turning the wheel. He was paralyzed with terror, and when lights from a bar appeared down the road, he jumped out of the car and ran for safety. He told the bar’s patrons what had happened and was met with silence because he was in tears and not drunk. Then two more people entered the bar, looked at the sobbing student, and one said, “Look, Paddy, there’s that idiot that got in the car while we were pushing it.”
6. Swim at Your Own Risk
Do you fancy a dip in the lake to escape the summer heat? You may want to think twice, because the green-clawed beast may get you. Awakening nightmarish memories of Creature from the Black Lagoon, the green-clawed beast made itself known in 1955 at the Ohio River near Evansville, Indiana. A woman was grabbed by a clawlike hand with a furry-feeling palm and was pulled beneath the water. Her sunbathing friend witnessed the attack. The hand did release the woman, only to allow her to swim to the surface, and then grabbed her again. She managed to kick free and pull herself up onto a raft. The green mark the monster left would not wash off the woman’s leg for a few days.
7. Crying Babies
The next time you’re headed over a bridge, stop for a minute and see if you can spook your passengers with the sound of crying babies and their ghosts. Various bridges across the United States cling to the urban legend of children haunting bridges where they died. If you listen closely, you can hear them crying. And if you put baby powder on the ground and on the back of your car at night, they’ll leave behind tiny hand- and footprints from when they pushed the vehicle. To make this even more fun, download a sound clip of crying babies and sneakily cue it up to play on the bridge.
8. Classic Urban Legends
Everyone loves a classic, and this urban legend is just that. It’s common courtesy to not turn on the light when you return home later than your roommate, but you may want to reconsider (or not). One urban legend claims a girl returning to her dorm late one night didn’t turn on the light because her roommate was sleeping. In the morning, she found her roommate had been murdered, and scrawled in blood was a note: “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?” There’s a moral to this story: before going to sleep, always check under the bed, in the closet and behind the door. And wear an eye mask so your roommate can turn on the light. It may save your life.