As we are fond of pointing out, fact is usually much creepier than fiction.
So around this time of year we like to share some of the most gut-wrenchingly disturbing stories, the kind we would tell around the campfire if we ever actually went outside. And most importantly, they're all true.
A young man is dropping off groceries at the house of an eccentric old lady when he notices an old photo that makes the hair on his arms stand on end. The photo's normal enough--a young boy in his Sunday best--but something just seems off. He asks the old lady who it is.
"Oh," she replies, trying to stuff a cat in the dishwasher "isn't that beautiful? You can hardly tell he's dead."
While most folks today are too squeamish to take more than a glance into the casket during a funeral, in the late 19th through early 20th centuries someone dying meant it was time to break out the camera for a family photo. The practice was known as memorial photography.
And, while it all sounds like the set-up for some terrifying practical joke on the photographer, there was actually a somewhat reasonable explanation for the practice. The process used to take pictures back then was expensive enough that it was a once in a lifetime (er, or shortly after a lifetime) thing for most, and required people to sit perfectly still for a couple minutes for it to turn out properly. And if there's one thing dead people are good at it's sitting still.
So, the bodies were dressed and propped up, with their eyes held open. And in case they still weren't giving off that lively "I'm not a corpse harnessed to a chair" vibe, some color was added to the faces in the photo. And just look what they could do with special effects in those days!
Some photographers also offered to add stink lines, but it never really caught on.
Eventually the practice of memorial photography went out of style, maybe because picture-taking became more affordable and didn't have to be reserved for special occasions such as death. Or, possibly everyone just sat up all at once and said, "Wait, what the fuck are we doing?"
You can find this tale of ill-advised interior decorating on angelfire pages across the web lumped in with old chestnuts like "The call is coming from inside the house!" According to the story, somebody finds a beautiful old rug in an alley, takes it home and finds something horrifying wrapped inside (what some call "the Taco Bell burrito scenario"). Variations of this one include bodies being found in discarded refrigerators or wardrobes, but the message remains the same; don't do your home decor shopping anyplace that smells of crackhead urine.
In 1984, three Columbia University students found a rolled-up carpet on the sidewalk and decided to drag it back home (we assume they were mainly looking for something to absorb vomit and Doritos crumbs, rather than accessorize their milk crate furniture).
Once they got the carpet back to their dorm they unrolled it and found the rotting corpse of an unidentified man with two bullet holes in his skull. Yes, three students from a 50 thousand dollar-a-year college carried a carpet all the way home without noticing it contained a 200-pound stinking mass of decomposing flesh.
At the very least we hope these fine young leaders of tomorrow didn't just push the body into the corner and go back to playing Atari.
A sick woman arrives at a hospital and when the nurses withdraw blood it is so toxic that it begins making everyone around her sick too. Realizing they're dealing with the human embodiment of the creature from Alien, the nurses flee for their lives.
On the evening of February 19th, 1994, Gloria Ramirez was admitted to a California emergency room, suffering from an advanced form of cancer.
When a nurse drew Gloria's blood she detected a foul odor, so foul in fact that hospital staff started gagging and even collapsing around her. Eventually as many as 23 people were affected. The ER was evacuated and a decontamination unit brought in. So more like the creature from Alien crossed with a fart, but still.
The case was quickly written off as mass hysteria, but considering that the worst affected victim spent two weeks in intensive care suffering from hepatitis, pancreatitis and avascular necrosis (a condition which literally causes your bones to die) we'd say either this was some serious damned hysteria or the guy who decided that got his degree from Dumbass University.
As for Gloria, she died just 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital. Her autopsy was performed by men in full hazmat moon suits and, despite one of the most extensive forensic investigations in history, it's still not known what exactly turned this woman's blood into toxic sludge. Granted, the experts on the case have refused to take off their hazmat suits since that day, and have now retreated to a small island which they have surrounded with barbed wire, but those are probably just the usual precautions.