The Search Terms from the Black Lagoon: Shortwave Spirit Radios, Telephone Booth Ghosts, and Other Queries Answered

abandoned computerPreviously: Something Chill and Slender in This World.

Welcome to another edition of The Search Terms from the Black Lagoon, in which I attempt to figure out exactly what you were looking for when you Googled your way to The Ghost in My Machine.

1. “How do you use short wave to hear ghosts”

I’m assuming this search brought you to the post on The Buzzer, which probably isn’t what you were looking for. This, however, might be: Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio. It’s a non-powered crystal radio which, when plugged into a computer, has been known to pick up some… odd noises. Instructions on how to build your own Tesla Spirit Radio can be found here; watch the video below to see one in action:

2. “Creepypasta about white room and slow building village”

“The White Room” from The Claverhouse Emails? Or “The Tale of Robert Elm?” Or maybe “Room?”

3. “I left my candle in the closet in a shoebox should I worry”

Not unless it’s lit; that would be an excellent way to burn your house down. If you’ve been trying to perform the Shoebox Telephone ritual, though, I’d be careful. There are no candles involved in the instructions; if, however, you return to your “phone booth” to find the shoebox open and a candle inside you know you didn’t put there, abort the mission.

4. “The bellwich machion haunting” [sic]

I wondered for a moment whether this was referring to a place called “Bellwich Mansion” or something, but I came up empty on that one. Maybe the search was meant to be “the bell witch machine haunting,” in which case it probably would have brought you to the Encyclopaedia entry about the Bell Witch. Ancestry.com may be able to help if you’re looking for information about the surname “Bellwich,” though.

5. “Lulu wiki creepypasta”

Not the ghost baby? Interesting. It looks like this story has been deleted from the Creepypasta Wiki, but you can read “Lulu” here. You can also listen to it in the video below:

6. “Telephone booth ghost legends”

The most prominent ghost story involving a telephone booth on the Internet right now comes from Japan; it’s (surprise!) called “Phone Booth.” There’s also an urban legend about a phone booth ghost haunting some college campus somewhere (pick the nearest one to you and imagine it taking place there for the full effect); and lastly, according to Weird New Jersey, there’s a supposedly haunted phone booth in Berkeley Heights, NJ.

‘Til next time, Googlers!

[Photo via]

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Encyclopaedia of the Impossible: The Crying Boy

Crying boyPreviously: Kashima Reiko

Type: MO (Malevolent Object)

Period/location of origin: 1950s, Italy.

Appearance: Subject appears to be a mass-produced copy of a painting of a crying child. The child is morose, rather than screaming, and looks out from the frame directly at the viewer.

It should be noted that more than one subject exists. Due to subject’s mass-produced nature, details of its appearance may vary from copy to copy; some may feature boys, others may depict girls, and a wide variety of different children may been seem. Anywhere from 65 to 2,000 variations may exist, although the precise number remains unknown.

Modus operandi: Subject’s modus operandi is quite simplistic, consisting only of two steps:

  • Step one: Gain entry to a home or other building.
  • Step two: Burn home or building to the ground.

It is unknown by what means subject accomplishes step two.

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Creepypasta of the Week: “The Zapata Letters”

fountain pen

Previously: “The Strangers.”

“The Zapata Letters” is one of those pastas that leaves you with more questions than answers. I’m curious to know what exactly happened between letters eight and nine to spark what happened next— and what exactly Zapata captured in the photograph that began the whole thing.

The story seems to have originated here, although the website itself has been set to private these days. I know the explanation for this choice is likely something mundane… but part of me can’t help but imagine an alternative or two.

Maybe the Zapata Letters were never supposed to be shared in the first place.

The Zapata Letters are a series of short, handwritten correspondence from an unknown “benefactor” to one Richard Zapata, a relatively unknown photographer living in Greenwich Village, New York. Zapata’s photographs were never particularly famous, or even popular among the “indie” crowd, with one clear exception.

A great deal of photography is, unsurprisingly, luck; one must be in the right place at the right time. Zapata had one photo that was published in a small subsection of the New York Times, and it was this photo that served as the catalyst from his unknown “benefactor”. The photograph was total happenstance. Zapata had been out late one night, walking home from a party, and he was slightly inebriated.

It was around 5 am, and light, but before sunrise, and Zapata happened to catch an unremarkable street-corner just as the streetlights went out and just before the sun rose, creating a play with the fog and lighting just pretty enough to earn filler space.

Within one week of its publication, Zapata received the first letter, and every letter afterward was received exactly one week in succession, without fail.

The First Letter (Dated July 31st, 2001):

“Dear Mr. Zapata,

There is captured magic in your photograph. Stolen Beauty.

– Benefactor.”

No return address was given, and the letter, as were all of the following letters, was signed simply as “Benefactor.”

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Abandoned: The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and Weston State Hospital (Photos)

Via
Via

Previously: The Knox County Poorhouse.

The hospital’s name has changed many times. Some call it the Weston State Hospital, as it was known beginning in 1913; others favor the name it carried in 1863, the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane; but it is perhaps most frequently referred to by its original name: The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Located in Weston, West Virginia, it is perhaps not as abandoned as some of the other locations we’ve seen here — but that doesn’t preclude it being worth a look, too. On the contrary: It’s well worth a moment of your time.

Like the Danvers State Hospital, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum followed the Kirkbride plan. Initial construction began in 1858, although it wouldn’t be deemed “completed” until 1881; in spite of the ongoing construction, however, the first patients were admitted in 1864. Similarly to many mental hospitals of the time, Trans-Allegheny was intended to be self-sustaining, complete with its own farm, dairy, waterworks, and cemetery.

Other elements of its history, too, bear similarities with other facilities. Originally designed to hold 250 patients, it became a victim of severe overcrowding as the went by; by 1880, it held 717, and at its peak in the 1950s, the number shot up to 2,600 — more than ten times its intended capacity. The hospital suffered from sanitation issues, as well as insufficient heating, lighting, and even furniture. Although its population had shrunk somewhat by the 1980s, stories circulated of uncontrollable patients being locked in cages; with such stories afoot, and with such hardship within its walls, it was only a matter of time before it was shut down. In 1986, plans were put into motion to build a new psychiatric facility, with the idea being to convert the old one into a prison — but despite having been declared a national landmark in 1990, it was simply closed in 1994 and left to rot.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum sat vacant for many years. In 1999, the building’s four floors were damaged by city and county police officers, who for some reason decided it was an excellent idea to use the property as a paintball arena; there was an outcry, of course, and three of the officers in question were dismissed over the incident. Since then, ghost hunters have occasionally televised events from within its walls; whether the old hospital really is haunted remains to be seen, but many are convinced that it is.

Things began looking up for the place in 2007, when the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources auctioned it off to Joe Jordan, an asbestos demolition contractor, for $1.5 million. Efforts are being made to restore the property, with the funding for the project coming from government grants, private donations, and fundraising events. The hospital is also open for both historical and ghost tours six days a week, as well as all-night ghost hunts on Saturday evenings. Find out more at its official website

…But tread carefully. You never know what might be afoot.

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The Most Dangerous Games: Daruma-san, or The Bath Game

bathtubPreviously: The Staircase Ritual.

Daruma-san, also known as The Bath Game, is probably best described as a deadly version of Red Light, Green Light. After the initial summoning ritual has been performed, it follows the basic rules of a Japanese children’s game called Darumasan ga Koronda — literally, “The Daruma doll fell down.” The player is “it,” while Daruma-san attempts to catch “it.” But if Daruma-san catches you… well, let’s just say you should never, EVER let that happen.

Curiously, Daruma or Dharma dolls are traditionally symbols of good luck. The Daruma-san of this game, however, seems not to carry the same good luck as her namesake—and neither, should she catch you, will you.

As always, play at your own risk.

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Unresolved: The Hinterkaifeck Murders

HinterkaifeckPreviously: UVB-76, “The Buzzer.”

On April 4, 1922 — a Tuesday — neighbors of the Gruber family grew concerned. The Grubers owned the farmstead between Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen commonly referred to as Hinterkaifeck; although the title was a nickname at best, it accurately described the Bavarian farm: Hidden in the woods roughly, it lay one kilometer north of the hamlet Kaifeck — that is, “hinter” Kaifeck, or behind Kaifeck. The Grubers had not been seen for several days. The family had not been seen at church that Sunday; according to the postman, the family’s mail had been piling up for several days; and the oldest of the grandchildren had not attended school on Monday or Tuesday. So the neighbors, led by Lorenz Schlittenbauer, did what any concerned, socially-minded group of people would do: They assembled a search party and headed over to the Hinterkaifeck farmstead.

The farm was silent. Calls out went unanswered, so the neighbors began to investigate. Before approaching the house, they checked the nearby barn… and found inside a scene out of a nightmare. Andreas Gruber, the family’s 63-year-old patriarch, his 72-year-old wife, Cazilia, their widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel, 35, and her oldest child, a seven-year-old girl also named Cazilia, lay dead in the middle of a substantial pool of blood. An examination of the house revealed that Viktoria’s son, two-year-old Josef, and the family’s maid, 44-year-old Maria Baumgarten, had been slaughtered in their beds.

We still don’t know who did it, or why.

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Encyclopaedia of the Impossible: Kashima Reiko, the Mask Death Demon

restroomPreviously: The Mojave Phone Booth.

Type: CC (corporeally challenged)

Period/location of origin: Unknown, Hokkaido, Japan. Details of subject’s history suggest modern origins, re: presence of trains.

Appearance: Subject has the appearance of a young Japanese woman. Her most notable quality is her lack of legs; her body ends mid-torso. It is not, it should be noted, a pretty sight.

Modus operandi: Subject typically appears in public restrooms, although her presence has occasionally been noted in the washrooms of private residences. Upon appearing, subject will ask target a series of questions in a particular order. These questions are:

  • “Where are my legs?”
  • “Who told you that?”
  • “Do you know my name?”

Failure to answer correctly will result in subject forcibly removing target’s legs from his or her body.

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