October is generally regarded as “Spooky Season”, due to the Halloween festivities that take place on its last day, but with the coronavirus still lurking and restrictions on gatherings still in place, there is no way to know whether costumes, parties, and trick-or-treating will occur as normal form this year. You may be spending the evening around a campfire, dressed up as your favourite character, or maybe you’re leaning on the side of caution and you will be spending the night in; either way, PDBY has you covered. We’ve put together a list of some of the creepiest, spookiest things that people claim have happened in real life; tell these to your friends around that campfire or read them alone in your room. However you choose to enjoy these allegedly true stories, be sure to keep a light on somewhere nearby…
The Dyatlov Pass Mystery
A group of 10 young people embarked on a skiing/hiking trip in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the winter of 1959. All of the group members were experienced hikers and embarked on their 300km journey in order to achieve their Grade III hiker status, the highest certification available in the country at the time. On the morning of 25 January, the group set off, leaving behind one member who was unwell. They veered off their intended path when a fierce snowstorm descended onto the mountain. They found themselves hiking the slopes of a mountain called Kholat Syakhl which, translated from the language of the indigenous people of the region, means Dead Mountain. This is the point in a horror movie where the audience becomes acutely aware that something is going to go horribly wrong.
For unknown reasons, the group made camp on the exposed slopes of the mountain as opposed to retreating into nearby woods. The next two days of the hikers’ journey has been reconstructed through some journal entries and film recovered from the campsite, but much of what happened on the mountainside remains a mystery to this day.
The group failed to reach a previously agreed upon check-in point and search teams were deployed to find them. Recovery teams finally found the camp on 26 February 1959, three weeks after the hikers had gone missing. A number of strange findings awaited the rescue workers; the tent, half-covered in snow, had been torn open from the inside and the group’s belongings (including their shoes) had been left behind. Roughly half a kilometre away they found evidence of a campfire and the mostly naked remains of two of the hikers. Other members of the group were found between the fire and campsite and some were in the bed of a creek. The majority of the hikers had succumbed to hypothermia with the remaining three suffering various terrible injuries including skull and chest fractures. By the end of May, the investigation was officially closed with the cause of death being listed as “compelling natural force”. Documents pertaining to the case were classified and the area, now known as the Dyatlov Pass (named for the leader of the group Igor Dyatlov), was closed to the public for several years.
This list of explanations includes an avalanche or extremely high winds, which caused deep infrasound vibrations that may have incited panic and hallucinations within the group. Some of the hikers’ clothes was found to be radioactive, leading some to believe they may have stumbled into a military weapons experiment of some sort. It is 61 years later and the investigation has been reopened by Russian authorities but, for now, what happened on the mountain remains a mystery.
Amber Dawn was 20 years old when she moved into her own apartment. Like anyone living alone for the first time, Amber heard strange noises but chalked it up to being alone and in a new area. She worked three jobs and so wasn’t home very much during the day. When she noticed some groceries going missing from her cupboards she assumed it was her brother, who lived nearby, taking the food.
One day, Amber received a call while she was at work; her apartment was flooding. She rushed home to save the German Shepard puppy she had recently bought. The puppy, which she kept in the bathroom while she was at work, was unharmed by the flooding. In fact, the puppy was sitting safely in the sink – far away from the water. Amber found a way to explain it away despite the fact that there was no way the tiny puppy could have made it into the sink on her own.
Six months into living in the apartment, Amber took a day off work because she was sick. She was lying in the bath with the lights off when she noticed that the trap door to the attic was open, which she knew she hadn’t opened herself. Slowly, all the strange things the young woman had noticed over the months began to fall into place and Amber realised that someone had been living in her attic.
Amber managed to climb out the bath and put on her gown before quietly retreating out of the apartment. She called her sister-in-law and went outside to wait, puppy in one hand and a hammer in the other. The two young women phoned the police; but by the time they arrived the man was gone. They climbed into the attic through the open trap door and found a sleeping bag, a book, and some food. Amber Dawn moved out of the apartment the next day and says the experience taught her to trust her instincts.
The Mary Celeste
The Mary Celeste was an American merchant ship discovered adrift and deserted in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in 1872. The ship’s cargo was still aboard and the personal belongings of the crew were untouched. The last entry in the ship’s log was dated 10 days prior to the ship’s discovery. The lifeboat was missing, fuelling assumptions that the crew had left the ship on the lifeboat. None of the people aboard the ship were ever seen again. The mystery remains unsolved but hypotheses abound, including submarine earthquakes, paranormal intervention, and attack by a giant squid.
Illustration: Cassandra Eardley