#3. The Headless Mule
This charming bedtime story comes all the way from Brazil, whose chief exports are soccer and really messed-up shit. According to this quasi-Christian legend, a prostitute slept with a chaste priest, and God decided that this deserved some particularly terrifying divine intervention.
In His defense, God had been pretty wasted the night before.
Typically, God is known to punish people with barren fields and plagues of frogs and whatnot, but this time, He decided to shake it up a little and turn the woman into a giant purple mule with no head and fire spewing from the ragged neck-stump. This was during God's surrealist period.
Depending on the story, this monster straight from Dr. Seuss' nightmares is accessorized with a floating bridle, still has the voice of a woman and changes back into a normal, living hussy by day. We would argue with God about how little sense this makes as a punishment, but then he'd probably turn us into octopus mummies or vampire watermelons or something.
"Seriously, Yahweh, cool it with the research chemicals."
It's also said that either removing the floating bridle or simply stabbing the spirit would transform it back into a naked whore who would have no choice but to marry the man who broke her curse. It's kind of like the legend of pulling a sword out of a stone to become king, only you're stabbing a headless mule to nail a hooker, so actually, no, nothing at all like that.
It's theorized that the story emerged from Catholic lore in Brazil to counter the nature-worshipping pagan religions of the locals and to really push the importance of celibacy onto Catholic priests. Because nobody wants a village-terrorizing, galloping, flame-throwing ghost-hooker on his conscience.
The regular ones are trouble enough.
#2. The Hairy Toe
The American folk tale of the hairy toe is absurdly popular all over the Western world, with many variations on detail, but they all follow the same basic plot: A woman finds a huge disembodied toe in the garden, and her first instinct is to take it home and make a stew out of it. Later that night, a murderous ghost appears, howling for the return of its severed appendage. True story.
What we find most striking about this tale is it's the only ghost story we know of in which the ghost is the least-frightening aspect. Somebody actually came up with this legend at some stage to scare kids on dark and/or stormy nights, but we think the point at which it really starts leaking out of the zone of credibility comes long before the apparition appears. Frankly, we're more concerned about the sort of person who sees a damn toe in the lawn and has a Pavlovian hunger response. What color is the sky in this universe?
And what is the state of cat/dog relations?
For all we know, this was first written back in the Great Depression or earlier, so sure, things were probably pretty bleak back then. But still, was there ever a time in history when "dinner" was an appropriate thought to have upon discovering a dismembered corpse? And God, why so specifically a hairy toe, as though that's part of the appeal?
When you think of it this way, is there any aspect of the ghost's vengeful response that doesn't seem completely reasonable? For all we know, the woman just ate the only evidence that could have led CSI to the killer.
He's putting on his mourning shades.
#1. The Highgate Chicken Ghost
We'll preface this with the fact that this is a "real" haunting that some people out there honestly believe. The story begins at Highgate Pond in England with the philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon, who in 1626 had an argument with his friend Dr. Witherbone over how to preserve meat, and probably also over who had the funnier name.
Sir Bacon suggested that perhaps keeping meat cold could make it last longer, but being a doctor in the 1600s, Witherbone found the suggestion as asinine as washing your hands before surgery. To prove his point, Bacon went out and got himself a chicken, plucked it, cleaned it, stuffed it with snow and invented the first frozen chicken. Then he caught pneumonia and died, making him a martyr for KFC.
The leeches aren't working ... bring me more mercury!
The site of Bacon's death is said to have been haunted ever since, but not by any human soul; for over 300 years, the site of Bacon's experiment has been haunted by the ghost of the chicken he killed.
Like you wouldn't be pissed.
Ever since shortly after Bacon's death, people at Highgate Pond have reported seeing a plucked, headless chicken running around in circles and pecking for grubs with the beak it doesn't have. The sightings endured through the World War II, during which, military troops stationed nearby tried to catch the chicken ghost for their dinner, because, as we've already mentioned, the first thing that should come to your mind after discovering some spectral abomination upon nature is what it would taste like with a side of mashed potatoes.
The chicken ghost was last sighted around 1970, when a canoodling couple was interrupted in their yard by a prudish poultrygeist that disapproved of public displays of affection.
Local authorities suspect the chicken ghost of being behind a number of novelty chicken factory bombings.
There hasn't been any news of the demon chook since then, so presumably it completed its unfinished business and moved on to a higher plane.
Jonathan Wojcik has written much more about monsters, Halloween and horror on www.bogleech.com
For more retarded ghouls, check out Gay Bigfoot & the 7 Weirdest Mythical Creatures in the World. Or learn some more crazy Japanese tales, in Bukkake of the Gods: Japan's Insane Creation Myths.
And stop by Linkstorm to find out where you can purchase a hairy toe online.
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