We got our pre-live show jitters out of the way by scaring each other with your urban legends! Featuring a WILD trip to a mountain in the Philippines, possibly the creepiest clown story we’ve ever told on the show, and a story that might have inspired Pet Semetary.
This week, Julia recommends River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey.
Content Warning: This episode contains conversations about blood, injury, leeches, home invasions, clowns, child endangerment, fire/burning.
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Amanda: Welcome to Spirits podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends, and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.
Julia: And I'm Julia.
Amanda: And this is episode 134: Your Urban Legends, Part XXIII.
Julia: I am starting to get confused by the Roman numerals.
Amanda: The Roman numerals?
Julia: Oh God, it's real bad.
Amanda: Well, I think we were 23 when we started Spirits, so it's a nice and fortuitous choice here.
Julia: Oh my God, we were. That's so weird.
Amanda: Little babes.
Julia: Such small babes. Must like the small babes of our hearts, our new patrons.
Amanda: That's so true. Skyla, Iralis, and Mikayla, welcome. And you are joining the ranks of such esteemed colleagues as our supporting Producer level patrons: Phillip, Eeyore, Christie, Mercedes, Samantha, Danica, Marissa, Sammy, Josie, Neal, Jessica, and Phil Fresh.
Julia: You know who I'd want to wrap in a blanket and tell them that everything would be okay?
Amanda: I'd say our Legend level patrons and also me.
Julia: Obviously, yes.
Amanda: Ayla, Kelly, Cody, Mr. Folk, Talia, Hailey, James, Jess, Sarah, Sandra, Audra, and Jack Marie. Thank you for your ongoing love and support. We will wrap you in blankets anytime.
Julia: And we'd put the glow-in-the-dark stars on your ceiling so that you can look up and see constellations.
Amanda: The best. I had those on my ceiling fan when I was a kid and I loved them so much.
Julia: I never had them. I wish I had. I was always jealous when I slept over at other people's and they had them.
Amanda: Yeah, well, you had an annex to your bedroom that was like a little library and study, so ...
Julia: I did have that later on in life, that is true.
Amanda: That was the bomb. I was so jealous. Speaking of which, have you been reading anything good recently?
Julia: Oh my God. Yes, Amanda. I've been reading this fantastic book. It's called River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey.
Amanda: That is the most metal book title of all time and I am so here for it.
Julia: So it's basically this idea that in the ... It's an alternate history book in the late-1800s in Louisiana. The government almost passed a law where they were going to import a bunch of hippos to-
Amanda: Oh, this. Yes.
Julia: Yes. To, one, deal with a invasive plant species, and two, because our meat supplies were really low. Our cattle just weren't doing it. So they're like-
Amanda: So river cow.
Julia: Yeah, it's the river cow. I think they called it "low river beef" or something like that.
Amanda: Oh my God.
Julia: And so this book is basically a alternate history of that, where this kind of morally ambiguous cowboy squad ride hippos and have a swamp heist.
Amanda: River cowboys, river heist, hippos. I love it. It's so-
Julia: It's also very gay.
Amanda: Yes. I am going to check it out of the library immediately.
Julia: Highly recommend. I think it's part of a two-book series and it's fairly short. I think it's novella-length, so ...
Amanda: Awesome. I love that so much. And I think you were telling us about that a little bit backstage at The Bell House ...
Julia: I was.
Amanda: ... which we just performed at on Friday. I feel like I am still sleepy. I also woke up with the worst cold in the world that morning, so I am just getting there. But we talk about it a little bit in the episode since we recorded this Urban Legends episode the morning of our performance and we were all so nervous and over-caffeinated. But it was amazing and we wanted just to thank everybody who came out. Someone had us sign a copy of American Gods, someone had us sign a copy of Edith Hamilton's Mythology, one of Good Omens. It was incredible.
Julia: Oh my God. Thank you for bringing those things and being like, "Yes, these people, I associate these fantastic books with you. Please sign them." I'm like, "I'm not Neil Gaiman, but I'll sign your books."
Amanda: So flattering. And I wrote "Stay pasta" in someone's book. It was honestly a dream and we're so excited to bring the show to Boston in October, to see everybody who's going to be at Orlando with the Podcast Movement, and at our public meetup, so it's just so exciting and trust that we are trying to come to new places in 2020, so don't worry about that.
Julia: Yes. We've seen your tweets and requests of places to go to, and we'll try to get everywhere eventually.
Amanda: And listen, if you work at a museum ... as I know sever conspirators do ... and you want to bring us out there to talk and have drinks and be boozy, you can do that. Just email us. We're here.
Julia: Yes, please. The Multitude email?
Amanda: Yeah. Info@multitude.productions. You got it.
Julia: Yes. Do it.
So Amanda, because we were recording in the morning but we still wanted to keep things boozy, I picked a local beer that I thought really kind of worked as almost like a screwdriver kind of morning.
Julia: Yeah, like a mimosa but beer, because why not? So I picked the mango starfish ale from Great South Bay Brewery, which one of my favorite breweries on Long Island. Really, really good. And so it's an ale made with mango puree. It's crisp, it's refreshing, it's the perfect morning summer beer, like if I was going to the beach, this would be the beer.
Amanda: You know, morning beer.
Amanda: But listen, sometimes you get up at 5:00 and you take a boat and then you show up and you have a beer at 11:30. That's fine.
Julia: Yeah. Or like 10:00. You know, whatever.
Amanda: Yeah, whatever. It's all good.
Julia: Live your truth.
Amanda: I love that so much, Julia. And I know that the next time I go to the beach, I will be listening to my maybe favorite podcast, which is HORSE. And I know we've talked about it before on the show, but this week I wanted to recommend that if you listen to one or two Multitude shows, check out the other ones. We make them so that if you love one, you're going to love the others. And HORSE just had an episode with my longtime friend Melissa Anelli, someone who decided to get into basketball as an adult, and talked with her about her experience becoming a basketball fan. And it was just so lovely and relatable because a lot of the HORSE listeners, myself included, are getting into basketball and getting into this new fandom as adults.
So I really appreciated that interview. And they also talked about one of the most badass trash talkers in the entire world that's a very famous WNBA player and she is just the most badass bitch and I want to take notes from her all the time. So this most recent episode, number 26, is a great episode to get into if you want to try out HORSE.
Julia: Melissa Anelli also somehow connected Harry Potter, Hadestown, and basketball all together, and I didn't think that was possible. But she did it and it's incredible.
Amanda: What more do you need? That's a great endorsement. Well, plug HORSE into your podcast player. Enjoy the three or four horse-related podcasts that come up, but mostly, click on the beautiful pink cover of the HORSE show by Multitude.
Julia: Pink and blue, baby.
Amanda: Without further ado, enjoy Spirits podcast episode 134: Your Urban Legends, Part XXIII.
We have a very special Your Urban Legends episode today because all three of us are in the same room. Wow.
Eric: We're in the studio.
Julia: I'm very thrown off because I'm used to us counting in and that's my cue to, oh, start paying attention now. Amanda just started talking. I was like, "What's happening?"
Eric: I don't think we've talked about the studio. I mean, I haven't, because I've literally been here for the first time ever right now.
Julia: What are your thoughts?
Eric: It's spooky. There's just one lamp.
Julia: Just one lamp.
Amanda: So far, Schneider. We've been here for like, three weeks.
Eric: I haven't been here.
Amanda: No, but I'm saying we are building out the studio as we're ordering materials from acoustical companies and things, but for now ...
Eric: Yeah, no. This isn't a dig. It's not a dig by any means.
Amanda: You said it was spooky.
Julia: Spooky is good.
Amanda: That's true, that's true.
Julia: We have a spooky podcast.
Eric: What show do you think we're doing right now?
Julia: Join the party. Welcome.
Eric: This was all a compliment. This was all a compliment.
Amanda: Thank you.
Eric: It's because we have just one mood lamp and it's all very dimly lit. It has a vibe that I feel like matches the podcast.
Amanda: Oh, okay. Thank you.
Eric: I wasn't saying, this looks like shit. It looks like a old haunted house.
Amanda: Sorry, we are-
Eric: I'm saying, like, this has the right vibe for what we're going for.
Julia: Can we hang up some cobwebs and maybe a skeleton somewhere, though? So it does get that haunted house vibe?
Amanda: I think we should definitely decorate it for Halloween, for sure.
Julia: Perfect. I'm so excited. Halloween all year.
Amanda: I'm a little bit jumpy because we're going onstage at The Bell House in 10 hours.
Julia: Oh, Jesus.
Eric: We are.
Amanda: That's going to be extremely fun ...
Julia: Oh, God.
Amanda: ... but also nerveracking.
Julia: I'm so nervous.
Eric: I can't wait.
Amanda: But by the time this comes out, we'll have done it. So, yay, that was so great. I'm so proud of us. Wow. I'm glad I got our merch package back from that ghost named Barry who apparently signed for it when no one was here.
Eric: Wait, did we get the merch back?
Julia: Barry Y.
Eric: Oh no.
Julia: Oh no.
Eric: You're hoping.
Amanda: I'm hoping and trusting that I will, that I will have done that.
Eric: You're hoping that Barry will find the package.
Julia: Barry Y.
Eric: Someone stole our merch. Their name's Barry. We don't know where they are.
Julia: Barry Y.
Amanda: Barry Y. While Barry thinks about what he's done. Do you guys want to jump into some listener submitted urban legends?
Julia: Yes, obviously.
Amanda: Who wants to start?
Eric: I'll start.
Amanda: Do it.
Julia: Two people just looked at you across the table.
Eric: I have a very weird experience here because I see you two looking at me back across the table, but then I also can see the back of our audio engineer, Brandon's, head. And I can see every time someone says something that he reacts to. He just kind of turns his head and goes, "Hmm." So I've got a whole different vibe going than I typically do with a Google hangout and Audition open.
Julia: You have an audience of one.
Amanda: Yeah. We also don't have the Henry and Herbie lap cam, which is frankly disappointing.
Eric: Yeah it's a shame. Missing my boys dearly, but they-
Julia: I did see a pup on the way here that looked like them and got very excited for you.
Eric: Nice. That's great.
Amanda: Yeah. Whenever we see an old Boston, we say, "Oh, it's an Arnie."
Eric: Very nice.
All right, well I am going to start in with The Old Oak Tree. I'm going to take this horse to the old oak tree.
Amanda: To the old oak tree.
Julia: Oh my God.
Eric: Here we go.
Amanda: And climb til they can't no more.
Eric: This story comes to us from PJ. They use she/her pronouns, and the story goes: "My story comes from Beaumont, California. There is an old oak true that is usually referred to as 'the old oak tree,' or 'the silent oak.'"
Julia: I don't like that. The silent oak?
Eric: The silent oak.
Amanda: When you think about it, most trees are silent, but ...
Eric: Unless it falls on the floor.
Amanda: That's true.
Julia: You don't know that, though.
Amanda: That's true.
Julia: You're not around to hear it.
Amanda: Or it's creaking in the wind. I'm curious how silence is more spooky than sound.
Julia: I'm very concerned.
Amanda: Let's see.
Eric: "The tree's about 70 feet tall and has a canopy of about 100 feet. It has been a very popular hangout for teens since around 1940, where they go to drink, get stoned, and fool around."
Eric: They actually wrote "get stones," but I'm assuming it's "stoned." I mean, maybe there's a lot of stone collectors in the area.
Julia: They just pick up a lot of rocks. It's great.
Amanda: Our version of that was a Taco Bell parking lot, so this sounds a lot classier.
Julia: Yes it was.
Eric: We had something very similar in the park behind our high school where there was clearly a spot where the teens would go and there was beer cans and a fire pit just in the middle of the woods behind the high school by a playground kind of area.
Amanda: Yeah, we had one of those next to a decommissioned middle school. The middle school my mom went to, which was then condensed and shut down and they made a new one and turned into an adult continuing education center. And it was smack between two highways, so there are unfortunately many cases of students endangering their lives as they try to run away from the cops.
Julia: Onto the highway, no less.
Amanda: Onto the highway.
Eric: No good, no good.
"There are a couple stories associated with this tree and other places nearby. There isn't any info that I've found about the age of this tree, or a timeline of the original events. I'm guessing the early 1900s, but here we go.
Up in the hills of Beaumont/Cherry Valley, California, there lives a witch. She had a large, two-story barn style home with the lower floor being stone and the upper floor made of wood, and it had no stairs ..." because she flew around, I guess?
Julia: Sure, why not?
Eric: "And a young oak tree in the yard. The people of Beaumont found out that she practiced black magic and hung her from the tree. After a while, the house fell apart, leaving nothing but parts of the stone structure from her home under this huge oak tree. But to this day, there is still a rope hanging from the branches. "
Amanda: No. Cut it off.
Julia: What? Why would you leave that there?
Amanda: Don't do that. Nope.
Eric: "Today she haunts this area and the tree can bring people back from the dead. Around the 1970s, people got desperate and started dumping the bodies of their loved ones on ..." The 1970s?
Amanda: Oh no.
Julia: This is-
Eric: The 19th ... This cannot be the ...
Julia: Did someone-
Eric: I'm willing to guess the 18th. Well no, because they said everything started in the early 1900s.
Julia: Oh boy, does this ...
Amanda: I mean ...
Julia: Hold on. Did someone read Stephen King's Pet Sematary during the 1970s?
Eric: It's possible.
Julia: And then was like, "Well, this tree probably brings back bodies." That is double checking my time here. It's with an S because Stephen King.
Amanda: Oh, I was like, "That's a very common auto correct error, I guess." 1983.
Julia: Oh, damn.
Amanda: So there was something in the water.
Julia: Maybe it inspired Stephen King's Pet Sematary.
Amanda: Yeah, could be.
Eric: Well, we'll find out if it works I guess. It probably won't.
Julia: Probably not. I think we would hear about that.
Eric: I feel like we would have heard about it. So they started dumping their bodies under the tree hoping that the myth was true.
Eric: "I've been up there before hearing the story and definitely got weird, unpleasant vibes. I did hear weird noises, but I brush it off thinking it's probably one of the many types of creatures living in the hills but still ask my friend if we could dip. When we got back to the car, it wouldn't start. I told my friends something wasn't right, and they told me the story of the witch."
Julia: Your friends are great.
Eric: Wait, so you went up here without the knowledge of the story. You're just like, "Let's go see a spooky tree. DOn't know why it's spooky."
Amanda: Well, it was the teen hangout tree.
Eric: Oh, that's true. It was the teen hangout.
Julia: Right. But then you're like, "Something isn't right here." They're like, "Yeah, because of the witch ghost." And you're like, "Wait, what?"
Eric: "I immediately started freaking out when I was told of all the remains that had been found there. Someone's got to keep this ... This town needs to get shut down."
Julia: Just shut it all down.
Eric: I hope this story ends with the town being shut down.
"We eventually got the car started, drove off in a panic, and hung out at Denny's until we calmed down."
Eric: "And I have refused to go back ever since."
That's a smart choice. Always go into a Denny's.
Julia: Also as they say, you don't go to a Denny's, you wind up at a Denny's.
Eric: That's very true. Very true. Denny's, you don't go here.
"I've heard stories of orbs and aberrations appearing and a lot of people having problems starting their cars up there. If you're interested, there's a bunch of videos of people going up there at night on YouTube."
Don't need that.
Julia: Of course there are.
Amanda: No thank you.
Eric: I've never watched them because I'm super sensitive to watching or seeing anything paranormal, but you should check them out.
Amanda: We appreciate the link, however.
Julia: We appreciate that you listen to our podcast, too.
Eric: Yeah. "The story's nearby our Gravity Hill, where a group of teens were driving along when their car broke down not too far from the tree and the ghost witch became territorial and killed them all."
Right, then, "Now I'm territorial. Now I'm a mean witch."
"Now if you stop on the hill, they will push your car uphill to safety. The other is that 13 steps, which is a staircase to nowhere. Nobody knows when or why they were built, but there are 13 concrete steps that go up the hill on the side of the road, and it's said that if you walk up to the 13th step, the witch will kill you."
And now we have a part that I haven't read yet.
Julia: Uh oh.
Eric: Which I know is usually a no no, but here we go.
It says: "Spoilers."
Julia: Oh, okay.
Eric: So now we're in the spoilers section of the story.
Julia: Now we're all being spoiled. Go ahead.
Eric: "Knowing what I know about the town's history and physics, Gravity Hill is an optical illusion and not a very good one, because we saw where we were going downhill the second we got there, and the witch's house was, in fact, a stagecoach station. But I know that the tree for sure is haunted by all the dead people that have been found there. The most recent was in 2015 when the body of a jogger was found in a shallow grave under the tree."
Amanda: No. Don't do that.
Julia: Oh shit.
Eric: "Pretty terrible place to hide a murder with such high foot traffic, if you ask me. Needless to say, I will never go to that tree again. Again, this is one of the more haunted locations in California. From the stories I've heard, go up there around 1:00 or 2:00 AM ..." No thank you. ..." and if you don't believe in ghosts, you will when you leave. Quite terrifying."
Amanda: Well, that was a good story and I find it extremely endearing that a spoiler for an urban legend is the ...
Julia: The take down.
Amanda: ... the verified and historical circumstances of the urban legend.
Eric: Yeah, that's very good.
Julia: It was the best.
Amanda: So cute.
Julia: So we're going to go there next time we're in California, yeah?
Eric: Definitely not.
Amanda: I mean ...
Julia: 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning?
Amanda: I'll look at it from the car in the day.
Julia: Okay. All right. You guys are no fun.
Eric: I mean, I just like not being spooked.
Eric: This is the level of spooky I can handle.
Julia: Reading a story about spooky things.
Amanda: Which is a warmly lit small room.
Julia: Not near a spooky tree.
Eric: As far as I can tell.
Amanda: Well, would you guys like to hear three cool supernatural stories from Brazil?
Julia: Yes, obviously.
Julia: Amanda puts on her glasses.
Amanda: Well, good. This comes to us from Mika, a listener from Brazil. "So the first story is actually about my brother from when he was a baby, about three years old, that my mom just told me about a few years ago. My mom was a single mom, so she had to leave him with a babysitter during the day while she was at work. One day, the babysitter told my mom my brother wouldn't stop crying when she put him to sleep and kept saying there was someone in his room. My mom got worried and tried to put him to sleep herself. When she was in his room, he started crying and said there was a old man staring at him in the corner of his room. My mom thought he was joking, but he kept saying, 'He's right here sitting and smoking,' and my mom got really creeped out of course."
Amanda: "What my brother saw, we think, was a preto belho. He is an orichá, and a good entity, but he kind of scared my brother."
Julia: Yeah, there's a couple of different, I think, orichás who are associated with cigar smoking and stuff like that, so that's really interesting.
Amanda: I thought that was really awesome.
"The second story more recent. I was coming back from a party with my boyfriend and it was really late at night. There was no one on the streets. We were chatting next to his building, and when I looked back to the building door, there was a weird figure standing there. I stopped dead in my tracks since I could feel a creepy energy coming from it. My boyfriend looked at me and asked what was going on and I just said, 'Are you seeing it, too?' He looked where I was pointing and didn't say anything. We just rushed to the door and got in the elevator."
Julia: Don't like that.
Amanda: "Later, he told me that he saw it, too. When I got closer to it, I could see that it was a very tall woman. I would say that she was almost two meters tall, six feet-ish, and she was dressed head to toe in what looked like a black veil."
Julia: Nope. Nope, nope, nope.
Amanda: "I could see very little from her face, but it was very white, and she didn't move at all. She looked dead almost, just standing there. I really had no idea what the fuck that was, and I keep thinking about it."
Julia: Fair. That's such a mood. You're just like, "I don't know what it was and I keep thinking about it."
Amanda: Yeah. Well, this is the last one. "This happened at my best friend's house. She's also a Wiccan, and sometimes when we're together, shit gets chaotical and magical. This was one of those times. We were doing tarot readings and talking about all the weird shit that happens in her house because of all the spirits. She probably said something like, 'All you stupid guys here,' referencing all the spirits. 'Can you just fuck off?' Joking about it because she was mad about some weird visions that she kept having."
Bad idea. Don't talk shit about the spirits.
Julia: Yeah, don't do that.
Amanda: "After a while, we were in the kitchen having a 3:00 AM snack ..." These girls know how to party. I love it so much.
Julia: I know. Love it. Very good.
Eric: A lot of late night stuff happening in all these stories.
Amanda: Oh yeah, yeah.
Julia: I mean, that's when the ghosts come out.
Eric: What's the best 3:00 AM snack?
Julia: Mozzarella sticks.
Eric: Like fried mozzarella sticks?
Julia: Yes, fried mozzarella sticks.
Amanda: I think cold Chinese food.
Eric: Cold Chinese food.
Amanda: Bowl of cereal's also pretty good.
Eric: I like a good single fried egg.
Julia: All right, interesting.
Eric: Just a late night fried egg. Producer Brandon is ...
Julia: Turned around fully to look at you.
Eric: ... physically turned around to give me a stare for that one.
Amanda: I love that the specter of Brandon is now on all of the Multitude shows ...
Eric: Yeah, it's very good. Very good.
Amanda: ... since all of us record here. No longer is he restrained only to Join the Party and occasional guest appearances.
Eric: He's been unleashed like a ghost.
Amanda: So this 3:00 AM snack was happening in the kitchen. We don't know what the snack is, so Mika, please write back and tell us what it was.
"We were passing in this corridor, and I just looked to the TV room and saw a pile of old hats moving to become a huge dark shadow with a hat on top of his head."
Eric: Okay, there's a lot of stuff we've got to unpack.
Julia: Yeah, we got to unpack that real quick.
Amanda: Hold on, hold on, hold on.
Julia: All right.
Amanda: Let's just finish the anecdote. Ready? So, "A pile of old hats moving to become a huge dark shadow man with a hat on top of his head. The huge shadow waved at me, and then the hat fell back onto the pile." That is the anecdote. Unpack it.
Julia: Okay. Pile of hats.
Eric: Yeah, let's start with pile of hats because that's definitely ...
Julia: How many hats is a pile?
Eric: First off, I know this is probably not the case, but I'm imagining a pile of just bowler hats.
Julia: Yeah, same. I don't know why.
Eric: Okay. I feel like because it's the spookiest hat. If a ghost is wearing a hat, it's either a Civil War general hat or a bowler hat.
Julia: As we know from Hill House, bowler hats, very scary.
Eric: So I'm just imagining just a ... Also, a pile of hats, even if they're just baseball caps or beanies ...
Amanda: That is so many. Why? Why is?
Eric: Why a pile?
Julia: Pile has to be like, five or more, right?
Amanda: I think so.
Eric: Hats aren't that large, so you'd need a lot. You'd need a bit of a-
Amanda: Unless they're ...
Julia: A pyramid of hats.
Amanda: They could be cowboy hats or ...
Eric: Cowboy hats you really would only need five for a pile. Still ...
Julia: Yeah, yeah.
Amanda: I think you have a pile of cowboy hats at like, three or four.
Eric: Still, just get some hooks.
Julia: Or a hat rack.
Amanda: If we picture this being a swirling almost tornado of hats and enough hats that it makes a form that can itself be wearing a hat, there had to be a lot of hats there.
Eric: It sounds like the shadowy specter kind of came out of the hats.
Julia: And then wore one hat and then came back.
Eric: It wasn't a bunch of hats, which was what I was thinking initially as well.
Julia: Like dust
Amanda: The evolution of Hat Man.
Eric: I think it's a shadowy thing and it kind of was wearing one of the hats.
Amanda: Oh, that's worse, I think.
Julia: They're both bad.
Eric: None of it's good. So this wasn't in their apartment. This was in a corridor.
Amanda: In the friend's house. So they were walking down the hallway ...
Eric: Okay, so it's still in ...
Amanda: Yeah. Looked into the TV room and then that was happening there.
Julia: Bad air.
Eric: I'm not convinced this isn't from a ghost and this story ... Because this is like ...
Amanda: Yeah, Mika, Micah might be.
Eric: This is an abandoned house that has been decrepit for 15 years.
Amanda: Oh, maybe.
Eric: And this is just some of the spooky stuff that this ghost is getting up to.
Amanda: That could be.
Eric: Because it's such a strange ... I just can't get over a pile of hats. It's very odd.
Julia: It's very specific.
Amanda: I feel like I've only ever seen a pile of hats in our family ski winter wear bin with a bunch of winter hats that all the kids would share. But okay, listen, Mika ... or Micah, I'm not sure how to pronounce it, I'm sorry ... please send us evidence that you're not a ghost. We will put it on the Instagram and make sure that ...
Julia: Show us the pile of hats.
Amanda: ... we can just verify.
Eric: What if we're looking at the picture and it's clearly a person and then we post it to Instagram and there's just no one. It's just the background.
Julia: Oh, no. Don't do this to us.
Amanda: No, we would not defraud our listeners like that. But just to finish up the email, Mika says, "We spend the rest of the night lighting up candles and burning incense for protection. My friend calls the spirit 'the hatter' or 'black cloak.' She told me he's in the house for years and a lot of people have seen him, but never someone outside the family. And this sighting was the first time he moved a real object."
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: So Schneider, it sounds like your shadow with a hat on it sounds right. "Hope you guys enjoyed my creepy stories. Keep being awesome."
Julia: Scary. Don't like it.
Amanda: We sure did enjoy them.
Julia: It was real bad.
Amanda: We sure did.
Julia: I say bad, but in the best way.
Amanda: Oh, yeah. But please tell us that you're real.
Julia: Okay, so I have an email. The title is "Creepy clowns, murder train curses, and seminaries that are no less than 85% haunted" and it comes from Ducky.
Amanda: Oh, love it.
Eric: Wait, did you say seminaries or cemeteries?
Julia: Yeah. That's why I picked it.
Amanda: Much more interesting.
Eric: I'm just confused by the percentage.
Amanda: I'm sure we'll get an explanation.
Eric: I know what an 85% haunted cemetery is. I don't know what a 85% haunted seminary is.
Amanda: I mean, doesn't matter what the building is. It can still be mostly haunted. Let's see.
Julia: So this email comes from Ducky, and he says: "I have a few stories from my small home town. We have a population less than 10,000 individuals. The town was incorporated in the 1830s and the name is straight-up based on the outcome of a poker game."
Julia: It's very good. "And the best part of these stories is that me or my family is tangentially connected to every single one. Now, I do want to warn you right off the bat that these are very recent, as in the last 20 years, some as recent as last year, so the lore hasn't really settled yet, and these are amalgamations of the best parts of the different versions."
Julia: And I know our favorite thing in the world is things that are too recent.
Amanda: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, extremely scary.
Eric: I don't need specifics. The vaguer these stories, the better.
Amanda: All right, so Schneider, you pretend we're talking about the 19-teens and Julia will continue.
Julia: Okay. "Clowns are royally creepy fuckers." Already off to a great start.
Amanda: Yes, that's true.
Julia: I think we all agree. "When my mom was younger, right after my older sister was born, she was babysitting for a family in our town. The kid was about five years old. Cute little girl named Sarah if my memory serves. At this point, since my sister had arrived in the world, my mother's time had become considerably more occupied, so unfortunately she had to quit her job. This story came out about six months later towards the end of that summer.According to my mother, the family involved in the city police records. This all started around the time that my mom left."
Amanda: That is a very good writing technique to be like, "This was serious enough that there are city police records."
Julia: Oh yeah, for sure.
Amanda: I'm here for it.
Julia: "Sarah's parents had a huge house. It was a three-story old Colonial style house. Six bedrooms and a huge finished attic. Sarah's dad turned the attic into a little playroom for his daughter so that she had a place to spend her days playing where her parents didn't have to worry too much about whether or not she was safe."
Eric: I'm seeing The Ring.
Julia: "And when she lost her babysitter, it got even more so." This is going to go real bad real quick, guys.
Amanda: Uh oh. There's little footsteps above you? Don't want that.
Julia: "She would spend about eight hours a day up there playing and talking to her imaginary friends. One of those friends was a silly clown who she said lived in the attic room."
Amanda: Uh oh.
Julia: "For obvious reasons, her parents laughed it off as an imaginary friend. After all, this is how she talked about him. Over the next few months, her parents heard more and more about the clown. When they would take her somewhere, she would always ask if the clown could come, run upstairs, come back saying that he said he couldn't come along. No harm, no foul.
Things started to get really weird one day when her father found her sneaking food upstairs. When he confronted her about it, she said the food was for the clown."
Julia: "He told her, 'Sweetie, your clown doesn't eat. He's in your head, honey.' And she said, 'He's not imaginary. He eats. I've been feeding him for a long time.'"
Julia: And then it's just a key smash in the email.
Amanda: Fuck. I hate it.
Julia: "The dad immediately went upstairs to the attic. It was empty at first glance, but then he opened the closet door and there was a man with red hair in a clown costume and makeup."
Amanda: Yep, there it is.
Julia: There's police records about this, by the way. Let me just remind you.
Amanda: Oh, shit. I was like, that's a very good story, but I don't even want to confront the fact that this is a real story.
Julia: "So the clown tried to run and the dad caught him and called the police and they came to arrest him. He was put in the back of the cop car in handcuffs. Next level of creepy, here we go. He disappeared."
Amanda: No. No.
Julia: "One second he was in the back of the cop car, the next, poof, gone. The police went back into the house to keep an eye on it for the next few days while they looked for the guy, but they never found him. So, creepy guy in a clown costume, or a ghost clown? Who knows?"
Amanda: I think real guy is creepier.
Eric: A few years ago there was a video that got shared around social media of someone living in ... I don't remember, maybe Hong Kong or something, and a woman was living in their crawlspace. And while they were going out for the day, they set up videotape and you saw the person get out and walk around the apartment ...
Amanda: Oh my God.
Eric: ... and then go back into the crawlspace and was eating their food and everything. And I'm just like, that's ...
Julia: There was a podcast episode about that, too, where it was this woman. There was a guy living in her ...
Eric: Oh, yeah. There's an episode of Criminal. There's an episode of Criminal.
Julia: Yes, that's it.
Eric: That's also ...
Eric: It's one of the most scary things I can imagine, is ...
Amanda: That's so scary.
Eric: ... someone unknowingly living in your house. It's too creepy. It's too creepy.
Amanda: I would much rather assume a Domovoy moved my cereal box or whatever than a fricking person cohabitating.
Julia: Oh god. And the whole thing with the dog recognized this person so it wouldn't bark at it anymore. Oh my God, it's horrifying.
Amanda: Oh fuck. I hate it. I hate it.
Eric: There was a night a few months ago where Kelsey was out of town and I heard something and had to check every part of the house. I was just like ... But like, under beds, the whole check. The full check. And the thing is, the way our house is, there's kind of ... not like an X, but there's a way that if you were standing in one spot, they could possibly sneak into another room behind you.
Julia: No, I hate it.
Eric: So I was checking constantly and being like, "Okay, make sure there's no way they could have gotten from there to there."
Eric: I checked the attic. I checked everything. I think it's because the back door was left unlocked, too. So the back door was left unlocked and I was like, "I don't know." And in our town, it's been known that homeless people get into your basement and just live down there.
Julia: Oh no.
Eric: That's never happened to us, and we use our basement pretty regularly, but it happened to someone I knew. So the idea that someone has gotten into the house is not an impossible feet.
Amanda: This was also a plot line on the sitcom Happy Endings, which a friend of the show, Lauren Shipman, talked to me enough about that I watched it. And then one of their friends was going to date the guy living in the upstairs crawlspace, and I was like, "No, please don't."
Julia: Oh, no. Don't do that. That's very bad.
And the next story is the haunted seminary story. So, "The oldest building in town was a former seminary. It was almost 100 years older than the town itself, so obviously it was haunted by a bunch of priests who died there over the years."
Julia: "Breaking in was kind of a rite of passage here. I can tell you firsthand that it was incredibly dangerous. The floors were absolutely rotten, and so were all of the support beams. People would frequently talk about the ghosts they would see wandering through the windows or staring out at them as they walked the grounds.
One night, a friend of mine was in there and was chased out the front door by a man in priest robes holding a crucifix. There was obviously no one there. Well, about two years ago, there was supposed to be a party in the old building. Massive blowout, end of school kind of thing. The night before the party, there was supposedly flashing lights coming out of the windows and strange noises, and after about five minutes of that, the entire building collapsed on itself for absolutely no reason."
Julia: "Now mind you, this was an old building and these things happen, but the outer walls weren't rotten. They were brick and so they were sturdy. Now, when a building notorious for housing the ghosts of priests collapses the night before a massive party was being held there, that's something to think about."
Amanda: Oof. I would say that's pretty full haunting, not 85%.
Julia: Yeah, no, it's pretty haunted I would say.
Eric: Yeah, that's the full deal.
Julia: I like the idea of the town in Footloose. The priests are not into partying and dancing, and so they were like, "We would rather we tear this building down ourselves than allow the children to get drunk and dance."
Amanda: Or maybe they were trying to save them from danger and they pulled the building down the day before there was going to be a big blowout.
Julia: That's possible. You're very optimistic about these ghosts.
Amanda: I want to believe.
Amanda: Well, those were two really great stories. I think, though, I'm going to need a refill before we tackle the rest.
Julia: Let's go.
Amanda: Julia, we are gearing up for a summer full of travel and I have always been obsessive about the luggage that I use. I love to backpack with a tiny bag. I love to use packing cubes to keep all of my clothing really modular and organized in my suitcase. So I was extremely excited to finally try Away. I got this model called the Bigger Carry-On, which is a carryon size but it's the absolute limit of it, so you can pack the most possible in your suitcase while still being able not to check a bag. And it really lived up to all the expectations I had and more.
It is lightweight, it has that battery so you can charge your devices. They have a limited lifetime warranty, so if for whatever reason that's not your fault, the bag gets damaged, they will fix or replace it, which is great. And they have a compression pad that will help you pack more in your suitcase, which if you're going with multiple costume changes and need a bathing suit like we are going to need for Orlando and our performance at Podcast Movement, you need something like that.
Julia: I know that traveling is sometimes really stressful, but Away makes it so much easier.
Amanda: It really does, and I know quality when I see it, and honestly, this really is what I think about Away.
So you can actually get $20 off a suitcase at awaytravel.com/spirits and use the promo code SPIRITS during checkout. That's $20 off your suitcase at awaytravel.com/spirits, and use the promo code SPIRITS during checkout.
Julia: Make your traveling a little bit easier this summer.
Amanda, you know what else I'm really excited about with this upcoming traveling that we're going to be doing?
Amanda: Being in Orlando in August?
Julia: Yes. But also premiering new outfits.
Julia: And thank God for Stitch Fix, because otherwise, I would just be buying off the rack and it'd be terrible and I'd be like, "Does this fit me? Does this look good? I don't know." But Stitch Fix is here to help me figure out what my style is and sending me stuff that they know I like.
Stich Fix is an online personal styling service that delivers your favorite clothing, shoes, and accessories directly to you. They have brands that you know and love, plus exclusive styles that you can't find anywhere else. So if I want that leopard-patterned t-shirt or whatever, can't find it anywhere else, only with Stitch Fix.
Amanda: And if you need new items for work or for formal occasions, that's fine. I'm wearing a cardigan right now that I got from Stitch Fix when I was still working in a traditional office and I needed something that's appropriate but also warm and light that I could change out with different outfits, and Stitch Fix came through.
Julia: Yeah. We were in Nashville for another conference and the first day I was there, Amanda's like, "Wow, I really like that dress." I'm like, "I got it specifically for this from Stitch Fix. I asked them for special outfits and they sent them to me."
Amanda: And we high fived. So you too can get started today at stitchfix.com/spirits to get 25% off when you keep everything they send you in your box. That's stitchfix.com/spirits.
Julia: Stitchfix.com/spirits. Get yourself some cool clothes.
Amanda, the summer of 20-fight-teen has been a little rough. I'm very sweaty all the time.
Amanda: Oh no.
Julia: But it's good, because with the help of Care/of, I am getting into a healthy routine. I am making sure that my health and wellness is a priority and Care/of makes it super easy to upgrade my health routine. So they have this really, really easy online quiz. It's fun. It asked me about my health goal, my lifestyle choices. It only takes five minutes and then they recommend a bunch of vitamins and supplements that really are supposed to help me with scientifically-backed data.
Amanda: That's super important, and I know it makes it really easy to make it part of your routine so you can get these timed shipments. They come in little packs that tell you when to take it each day, that way you never forget if you took it yesterday or not.
Julia: Yeah, and with someone with bad executive disfunction like me, having a little packet to remind me to take my things that I should be taking that make me feel better, it's a good idea.
Also, I have noticed that they have a bunch of different vegan and vegetarian supplement options. So some people like the weigh, some people like plant-based protein, so they have all of these options for you depending on what your dietary needs are. And I really appreciate that, because a lot of people don't think about that in health and wellness, but Care/of, it's got your back. It's here to help you out.
Amanda: That is the Care/of difference. And I know that our listeners can go and check that out for themselves and get 25% off their first Care/of order at takecareof.com with the code SPIRITS.
Julia: Yep. Again, that's 25% off your first Care/of order by going to takecareof.com and entering the promo code SPIRITS at checkout.
Amanda: Thanks, Care/of. Now, let's get back to the show.
Our next urban legend comes from Camille, who titles her message "Slightly unfortunate adventure on a mystical mountain, featuring spirits and leeches."
Julia: Ooh. I love leeches. I don't know why. Leeches are always kind ...
Eric: You love leeches?
Julia: In the way that like, "Oh, they creep me out."
Julia: Okay. All right.
Amanda: Camille begins her message with "Philippines, 2019," and then an em dash, like it's an AP press release ...
Julia: Love it.
Amanda: ... which I extremely enjoy. All right. "We kids in the Philippines grew up with tales of Maria Makiling, a guardian spirit of a nearby mountain and lake. Mt. Makiling, named after the crooked/rugged terrain ..." very original ... "is a dormant volcano in the provinces that neighbor the capital, Metro Manila, where I live. Maria Makiling is probably the most mainstream local legend. Before Spanish occupation, people were already venerating her as Dayang Masalanta ..." I'm trying my best here, y'all ... "Which means "lady of natural calamities."
Julia: That is such a good name.
Amanda: "She could control the weather, so you were supposed to respect her."
Amanda: "She was also supposed to be an antique-"
Eric: Also she's a lady, so just respect her.
Amanda: Just be respectful.
Eric: Regardless of her superpowers.
Amanda: Respect every person, regardless of their ... okay. "She was also supposed to be an anito sent by the supreme god Bathala. The closest thing I can think of in recent pop culture is Te Fiti in the movie Moana. She's been a Maria for hundreds and hundreds of years now because of syncretism. I find it fascinating that the legends haven't changed their shape much, though. In 1890, local writer José Rizal wrote this ..." and then we have a link, which we'll put in our Patreon show notes ... "essay with stories from locals. He lived around the area and was into nature and writing. Most stories were just distant sightings of a girl in white bathing in streams or running impossibly fast over the tops of tall carabao grass."
Julia: Oh, cool.
Amanda: Creepy AF. "Some stories were more fantastical. Someone knew someone who Maria fell in love with and so on."
Julia: I love people who fall in love with ghosts and/or spirits.
Amanda: Me too. "Rizal did remark in the end that no matter how much he explored, even summiting the mountain once, 'Nothing have I seen, nothing have I heard.' I read that essay, though, after we got into a spot of trouble on the mountain.
Around last year, my friends and I got into hiking, and when you take hiking and camping even slightly seriously, you know you have more things to worry about than the supernatural. The supernatural has to take the backseat. Hell, it's thrown out the window. Besides, the concept of Maria Makiling was, to me, much too common worldwide. Boobylicious and bootylicious curves, bam, that mountain's a lady." Camille, I love you. "Still, in February this year-"
Eric: Go look at those peaks.
Amanda: Oh, no. Julia's crying.
Julia: It's really funny.
Eric: Can you read it again? Just start back from there.
Amanda: I can. I can.
Eric: Just because I know people want to back it up and hear it again.
Julia: Yeah, go ahead.
Eric: So might as well just say it.
Amanda: "Boobylicious and bootylicious curves, bam, that mountain's a lady."
Julia: It's so good.
Eric: Just as good the second time. Just as good the second time.
Julia: It's very good.
Amanda: Excellent. Well, in February of this year, Camille was hyped to finally see the legendary place. "At 11:00 AM, we were near the top of the mountain, walking along its rolling ridge." Its curves. "If conditions remained ideal, we would reach the summit within two hours. From there, it would take around three hours to descend. Conditions, though, did not remain ideal."
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: "Our friend sprained first one knee then the other."
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: Ouch, let me just say. "We were a party of nine. Four went ahead so that the forest rangers below could be informed that there was trouble along the trail. Five of us remained, including the injured guy, to do what we could and camp if we had to. Makiling's famous crown of clouds began to form and soon we were shrouded in mist. This meant many things. It was cold and wet in the dense tropical forest, it was dark and confusing, the leeches went wild, the path became intensely muddy and narrow, and worst of all, we couldn't use our cell phones. There was no signal.
The two boys were dragging the injured guy along and us two girls were slightly, desperately forging ahead to see if we were still on the path. I just knew what we were going to be asked when we finally got down. 'What the hell did you do to make the mountain that mad?' We reached the summit at 6:00 fucking PM and created a makeshift camp out of two tarps and the shelter of a few trees. That is when we found out why, A, Makiling is the lady of natural calamities, and B, camping is no longer allowed on the mountain."
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: "We were constantly on the lookout for pit vipers." Same. "The other-"
Julia: I feel like pit vipers should have been the thing that you talked about in the body of the email.
Amanda: Oh no, the leeches come back. Don't worry.
Julia: Oh good.
Amanda: "We were constantly on the lookout for pit vipers. The other girl blew a bloody leech out of her nose."
Julia: There we go.
Amanda: "Oh fuck."
Julia: Out of her nose.
Amanda: "'Oh fuck,' we all said. Except the one guy who was falling unconscious from the cold."
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: "And yes, it was so damn cold he was falling asleep. He hadn't been sleepy earlier. He didn't even want to get up or open his backpack for his cook set. None of us were supposed to be sleepy yet. His murmurs about it being so cold, "Just five minutes," were what spurred me to jump up and stomp around the mountain clearing looking for a signal, which thankfully, I found on one tiny spot. Flicking windswept leeches away from my face-"
Julia: Windswept leeches.
Amanda: "I rapid-fire messaged everyone I could our location and situation."
Julia: Oh my God. Just ...
Amanda: This is extremely bad.
Eric: Leeches flying through the air.
Amanda: It's like locusts on the wind. I hate it. I hate it.
Julia: Locusts don't attach themselves to you if they get to you, though.
Amanda: That's true. "We were in a tropical country, just 1,090 meters above sea level, and so very close to the city. Sure, Makiling has its own personal microclimate, but it would still be the most embarrassing thing to die of hypothermia here. Rescue arrived at 8:00 PM. We touched base at 1:00 AM. The injured guy who was being supported got to safety at 3:00 AM. Those hours of downhill hiking in the mud and mist and dark were, frankly, more mentally than physically draining. One rescuer told us it would have gotten colder and colder closer to dawn, which was very dangerous. One of their last rescues even had a tent, but once they got there, it was still too late.
Most of the downward trek, the trail was so narrow we had to go in single file. The wind, you may know, has a way of changing pitch or whistling when going through narrow passages. I was in one such narrow passage, in a sort of 10-foot deep trench, when the wind did just that but with frightening specificity."
Julia: Uh oh.
Amanda: "'Camille,' said a woman's voice in a sort of stage whisper. 'Camille,' it repeated, then became unintelligible. That, by the way, is my name unless you forgot."
Julia: Oh, Camille, no.
Amanda: "Many thoughts held hands and danced around my head with lightning speed." I love that image so much. That's adorable. It's so good. All right. "The first was, 'What a weird hallucination.' Then I thought, 'How consistent. It's hard to pronounce the L sound in my name, especially at a low volume,' and that was how my name was whispered, very human. And then I thought, 'Well I'm in a trench and I'm cold and I'm tired. Whatever.'"
Amanda: "So I said, loudly and brightly, announcer style, 'Funny how the wind can sound like a human voice in narrow spaces.' My husband, who was several feet behind me, grumpily said, 'What?' And I said, 'Never mind.' Being about 10 to 20 feet apart, the first guy and myself and my husband were each sort of alone, a mistake in retrospect. 30 minutes later, my husband was shouting, 'Camille, what? What did you say?' 'Nothing,' I shouted back. 'But it was a woman's voice saying my name.'
I stopped short and decided we should all stay closer together."
Amanda: "I told my husband that I hadn't said anything and he said, again, that a woman's voice had said his name twice and then said to 'take care.'"
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: "Fucking what?"
Julia: Very bad.
Amanda: "I mean, what was that about taking care? Was that legit advice? Was it a threat? Was my husband about to keel over from dehydration? Was I too?"
Amanda: "The girl we were with came along with our designated ranger. To add to my confusion, he acted like it was normal and counseled us not to listen to the voices." The voices. No please.
Julia: Oh boy. Geez.
Amanda: "It was probably Maria, the ranger said. He added that he'd seen her once or twice from a distance. She usually sat on rocks and streams. She had luminous white clothes and long, black hair. People never really saw her face. She was always sort of looking away from them. But he assured us that when you saw her, you just knew that she was beautiful. You just knew she had a beautiful face.
And that really touched me to the core. The place was beautiful and overflowing with life. The ferns, the flowers, the animals, the endless trees, the mist, the distant sulfur pools. If condensed into a spirit that never showed you its face, it would surely be nothing but beautiful. Except for the leeches. The kind found on Makiling and many other Philippine rainforests is called the limatik, blood leeches." Which, okay. "They would leap off leaves and trees onto your skin."
Julia: Oh my God.
Amanda: Okay, a little medical warning here, y'all. "They want eyeball blood, so we had to look at each other every now and then to check."
Julia: Oh my God.
Amanda: "They like cold, dark, and wet, exactly like dementors."
Julia: Oh my God.
Amanda: "So in the chill and misty night, they are practically raining down upon us."
Julia: I'm just looking at Eric's face right now.
Amanda: Aw. He's looking away. He's very sad.
Julia: He's closed his eyes.
Eric: Here's the thing. Is blood different in different parts of your body?
Eric: Is eyeball blood different blood? What does that even mean?
Julia: It's easier to get to, I guess.
Amanda: I mean, animals will go for an eyeball sometimes. It must be different somehow.
Eric: I don't ... No.
Amanda: Eric is pretty done. He's pretty done.
Eric: I still have to read a story after this.
Amanda: Almost done here. "So much like the dementors, they like the chill and misty night, but you couldn't riddikulus them away. We couldn't stop walking. I stopped to pee once and I was deathly frightened they'd get me in the vulnerables."
Julia: Is it bad that I need to point out that that's the wrong spell to cast off dementors?
Amanda: Oh, that's boggarts, isn't it?
Amanda: Yeah, well, you can't expecto patronum them away, either. "They're not all that harmful, but they do inject a mild anesthetic into your bloodstream, so the bites-"
Julia: So you can't feel them.
Amanda: Exactly. "They aren't painful, but dealing with them is exhausting. They also inject you with anticoagulants, so pulling them off means you have a little tiny hole in your skin that bleeds for quite some time."
Amanda: "Luckily, I wasn't bitten on Makiling, not even once. My husband did get pretty annoyed with me for jumping and shrieking the first few times the leeches landed on my skin. 'They were just leeches,' he said, exasperated, and they were nothing compared to what I could suffer should I throw myself into any ditches. He was right, but also, you can Google limatik images and videos, and if you're going to be reading this on the podcast, you can tell me if jumping and shrieking was a natural reaction." Yes, Camille.
Julia: I'm not going to watch those.
Amanda: Yes, it's a natural reaction.
Julia: I'm not going to watch those videos.
Amanda: Not going to watch the videos. Your husband is welcome to be a leech shield for you. I would scream as well.
Julia: They're just leeches. He can put himself in between you and the leeches then.
Amanda: Yep. "So as they're finishing up, far behind us was our injured friend and a group of five or more rescuers. Later when we were all back together, he told us of the voices they heard. A child crying, laughter, people shouting. Yo, I wanted to see the mystical mountain, but I didn't sign up for this much mystical."
Julia: Listen, you don't get to decide how much mystical goes into these things.
Amanda: That's true. "But the ranger said those were just the sounds made to lead people off trail. That's why there were big reflector disks and trail markers along the right path. But you couldn't say Maria is unkind. She controls the weather and people die on her mountain, but ultimately, according to all the stories, she is good. People don't say that out of fear, I feel. It's more like cowering respect and awe for the forces of nature in general. As expected, the rangers asked us if we had fooled around in the forest and so got punished. We hadn't. Well, Maria just got playful with us then, they said. So that's the story of a mystical mountain and the spirit therein. We could have just been really tired and thirsty, but when too many people over too many years talk about something magical as if it were true, how can you completely doubt its existence?
Anyway, we were back and safe when another heavily satiated leech plopped out of another nose. That was it. Real life awaited. The adventure was done."
Julia: Wow. That was a fantastically written email.
Julia: And fantastic use of leeches as a storytelling method.
Eric: Where was this?
Amanda: The Philippines.
Eric: I'm not going.
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: But we have to go.
Julia: We have to. There's so many good listeners in the Philippines.
Eric: That's true. Yeah, but that sounds bad.
Eric: All of that sounds very bad.
Julia: This is the most scared I've seen Schneider.
Eric: I don't like it. I just don't like ... It's like the opposite of ... I'm going to wait. Amanda's taking a sip. I don't want to say something too funny.
Amanda: Okay, I'm done. Thank you.
Eric: It's like the opposite of when you accidentally snort orange soda up your nose. This is like the exact antithesis of that in terms of unpleasantness, and that's extremely unpleasant.
Julia: It's the worst nosebleed ever.
Eric: It's just ... I don't know.
Amanda: Or it's a very efficient nosebleed where you just bleed out the one leech and it has taken all your blood.
Julia: No, but they said when the leech falls off, you're still bleeding.
Amanda: Oh, true.
Julia: Because the anticoagulants.
Eric: I also just don't like a thing coming ... no. Nope.
Amanda: Well, who has a palate cleanser myth for us?
Julia: Instead, can I tell you about the screaming tunnel?
Amanda: More screaming tunnels. This was a whisper tunnel.
Julia: Whisper tunnel, screaming tunnel.
Amanda: You can tell us about the screaming tunnel.
Julia: So this comes in from Gemma, and she writes: "I live in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Really nice, lots of nature. I highly recommend a visit. Anyway, in the Niagara region, there are many small towns very close to each other. From Niagara Falls, you can get to St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and two other small towns within 15 minutes of each other. The location of my story is just past the border of Niagara Falls in Niagara-on-the-Lake. You head down a small road with farmhouses on each side until you cross some rarely used train tracks. You take a right and there, hidden underneath the hill, is an old stone brick tunnel. There's graffiti on the walls, the floor is always damp with at least one small puddle, and always smells slightly off," as damp places are wont to do.
Julia: "If you were to go through this tunnel, you can climb up the grass-covered hill to the train tracks where I almost got hit by a train once, but that's a different story."
Julia: "The whole place has always had the vibe of being not right. I don't know how to explain it other than the hair on the back of your neck stands up and it feels like someone is watching you. This is the story of the screaming tunnel."
Amanda: I'm picturing the tunnels from John Wick: 2, just so we're all on the same page.
Julia: Cool, cool, cool. Got you.
Eric: What tunnels?
Julia: I'm picturing that tunnel from the Bunny Man story.
Amanda: Oh, don't remind me of that one, Julia.
Julia: "There are many versions of the same story. No one really knows which, if any, are true. But regardless of the truth of them, I, as a person who has recently had several spooky encounters and is generally good at picking up on vibes, there's something not quite right about this tunnel. One version says that there was a barn near the tunnel that caught fire. A young girl who had been in the barn escaped, but her hair and clothing were on fire. The tunnel had not yet been built, but a stream ran through the place where the tunnel would eventually stand. She ran to it, attempting to quench the fire, but her burns were too severe and she died there, laying in the cold, shallow water." I always pick the spooky ones. I'm sorry.
"Another form of the tale maintains that the girl died by fire, but instead of a barn fire, her father dragged her down to the tunnel and lit her on fire himself, apparently because he had lost a custody battle for her and was angry and jealous."
Julia: "No matter which version of the origin story you believe, the outcome is always the same. If you light a match at the center of the tunnel, you will hear the girl scream and a gust of wind will blow out the match." That's ... I like that. "I myself have never attempted it, but I have no particular desire to hear it. Also, if any of the stories are true, I'd prefer to let her ghost rest instead of purposefully antagonizing her." Thank you, Gemma. We appreciate that.
Amanda: Smart. Smart.
Julia: "And yet, despite the bad vibes and the hella creepy story, a large amount of Niagara region's teens and young adults inevitably end up hanging out near the screaming tunnel, whether it is to do a photo shoot or to light a fateful match." Which, we had a place like that. The old waterworks on the island where everyone would go take photo shoots for their bands.
Amanda: That is true. At least two bands we know.
Julia: They tore it down a couple years back, but it was very cool and covered in graffiti.
"I'm 20 and still end up there with my friends, although you'd think a ghost and nearly getting hit by a train would be enough to keep me away. If you'd like to see some of the photos of the tunnel and the train tracks, let me know and I'd be happy to send them in email or send them to your Instagrams." I would like to see pictures, just because creepy tunnels are my jam.
Amanda: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally.
Julia: "Thank you for reading my story. I have many more like it where I come from, so if you'd like to hear from me again, please let me know." Thank you, Gemma. I would love to hear more stories from you.
Amanda: Thank you, Gemma. And good instincts, except for the part where you go back to the spot where you almost got hit by a train. That's very scary.
Julia: Yes. Please be careful. Please be careful. We love you.
Eric: I've got a story to end us on. That sounds like it's going to kill us.
Julia: Oh no. We're all going to die.
Eric: A story to end us. I have a story to finish this episode with.
Eric: It's called "Ghost Cat." This comes to us from Caroline, and they write: "Hi, Julia, Amanda, and Eric."
Julia: There you are.
Eric: "I'm a new listener and I love your show. I am writing to tell you about my little ghost encounter."
Julia: Don't like the way that's described at all.
Eric: I also added a lot of jazz to my reading of it.
Amanda: Yeah, that was a lot of ... yeah.
Julia: There was some jazz hands thrown in there.
Amanda: There's some stylizing.
Eric: "I go to a college located in a suburban-ish part of the Twin Cities, and almost all of the students bounce between various cheap and often strange houses during the summers and/or their junior and senior years.
Julia: Those college towns. Just a lot of strange houses going on.
Amanda: It's true.
Eric: Yeah, it's always weird, college housing. "I am following this pattern as well, and have been subletting a room in a house with three other students for the last four months." There's a lot of numbers in that sentence. "Though they've all been living there for much longer than I have by over a year, but none of us really know anything about the history of the house at all. However, my housemates insist that the house is haunted. They say this in a way that is sometimes kind of jokey, but they seem to truly believe it as well. I know they aren't trying to scare me because they say that the ghost is benevolent or neutral."
"I'm a neutral ..."
Amanda: It's a neutral ghost.
Eric: "I'm neutral. I have no business of the good or evil here."
Julia: On the D&D alignment scale, true neutral ghost.
Amanda: I also like this young adult thing where you just say, "Is anyone else sad all the time?"
Eric: "Hey, is everything here spooky, or is it just me?"
Eric: "I never saw any evidence of ghost activity, so I dismissed their claims until ..."
Julia: Oh no.
Eric: "... one day a few months ago."
Julia: Oh no.
Eric: This always happens.
Eric: People are always like, "I didn't believe it and then it happened to me."
Amanda: Yeah, it's persuasive.
Julia: That's literally the beginning of Ghost Adventures. It's, "I never believed in ghosts until I had a supernatural encounter myself." Or if you watch the YouTube boobs that Jake watches, "I never believed in ghosts until I believed in ghosts."
Eric: "One of my housemates fosters animals and I had brought ..."
Amanda: You got it, you got it.
Eric: Everybody, that sentence took four tries to get through, so we're just plowing ahead.
Julia: Go, go.
Amanda: Moving along, moving along.
Eric: "And I brought my girlfriend over to introduce her to our newest feline resident: a big, soft, completely stupid, three-year-old cat named Harvey."
Amanda: Aw, Harvey.
Julia: Completely stupid is so mean to that cat.
Amanda: Be nice to Harv, he's trying his best.
Eric: I mean, look. I mean, we all know that we've got two dogs back home, Herbie and Henry, and you know what? Herb is just ... we call him a lovable doof, and that's the polite way of saying completely stupid.
"At that moment, there were three people in the house: her, me, and one of our housemates. My housemate was sitting in the living room while my girlfriend and I were in the other housemate's room adjacent to the living room with the cat. While we were petting him, we heard a meow. Not strange with a cat in the house, but it seemed to come from the open door to the basement ..."
Julia: Uh oh.
Amanda: Uh oh.
Eric: "... and Harvey hadn't opened his mouth."
Julia: Uh oh.
Amanda: Oh no.
Eric: "We asked the housemate, who should have been able to hear it from her position if she heard anything or if she'd been watching a video or if she herself had meowed."
Amanda: Listen, Care. Cover all the bases.
Eric: Really going through the checklist.
Julia: Were you watching a video?
Eric: It's like, "Okay, so if a cat didn't do it, were you watching a video of a cat? Were you watching Keyboard Cat?"
Julia: Did you meow?
Eric: Did you meow?
Amanda: I'm not going to judge, but Catherine, did you meow?
Eric: Did you just meow?
"She said no to all of our questions. There's no way a cat could have gotten into our out of our basement or house since it was March in Minnesota and we kept all the windows firmly shut."
Eric: "We've also never seen or heard any outdoor cats in the neighborhood, and the sound clearly came from inside."
Amanda: Sounds like a ghost cat.
Eric: "This is perhaps a bit of a bummer, but on the bright side, we have one cat right now who has four kittens, so our ghost cat has plenty of playmates."
Amanda: Aw. Cute.
Julia: Aw. Okay, better.
Amanda: All right, all right.
Eric: It brings it back. It brings it back. It brings it back.
Amanda: Caroline, good job.
I love the idea of a ghost kitten, though. Like we've had ghost cat, but a ghost kitten who can play with the other kittens ... so cute.
Julia: That's very sweet. And there to teach it things and play around with the litter and stuff like that.
Amanda: They wise up, but they're also still a kitty.
Julia: Aw, I like that a lot.
Well everybody, thank you so much for sending us your urban legends. We love reading these. And if you sign up for our Patreon, you can actually get a whole additional bonus Your Urban Legends episode every dang month. We're about to record that, and we are so excited that we can still read your emails and hang out with each other and argue about ghosts.
Julia: Yup. Yes, and remember listeners, as always, stay creepy.
Amanda: Stay cool.