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Europe | Creepy urban legends from around the world

Urban legends are great for sending a chill up your spine at this time of year (like the idea of travelling without travel insurance). We’re all familiar with Bloody Mary (delicious with some celery) and a phone call from beyond the grave (I wonder how much roaming charges are for the afterlife), but we are missing out on a whole world of spine-tingling, supposedly-true tales from around the world. In this series, you’ll find some of my favourites from around the world. I should point out now that most are creepy and a few are a little gruesome.

To quote one of my favourite childhood authors, “Reader beware, you’re in for a scare.”

The letter | Berlin, Germany

This spooky story is set just after the Second World War, in war-torn Berlin. It states that in the ruins of the city, everyone was weary and hungry. A young woman saw a blind man making his way through a crowd, his smoked glasses and stick making him stand out. The girl approached and the pair began to talk to pass the time. After a while, the old man asked her to deliver a letter for him. Agreeing at once, the girl took the envelope and started to walk off. When she glanced around however, she noticed the blind man walking off quickly, without his cane or glasses. Deciding instead to deliver the letter to the police, this clever Fraulein avoided a grisly fate. As police raided the address (on what charges I’m not sure) and found a supply of human flesh, ready for sale, the girl opened the envelope and read a short, spinechilling letter.

“This is the last one I am sending you today.”

So I guess the lesson is to never help people in need…?

Los troncos de Brasil | Spain

There are few better ways to brighten up a room than with a lovely houseplant. For some time the tronco de Brasil was a popular choice of plant for those looking to spruce up their homes. Even better, one woman supposedly got a free gift when she purchased hers. After having the planet for some time, the woman noticed the trunk seemed to be moving, realising that Ents and Groots are not things that actually exist (yet), she called a specialist who told her that the plants exterior likely contained thousands of spiderlings from the Amazon rainforest, which would eventually grow to be the size of a fist.

That’s it; I’m chucking out all of my plants when I get home.

Beast of Gévaudan | France

This tale is a lot less modern than the rest of them, and comes from France between 1764 and 1767 and details a series of attacks by a man-eating wolf (or dog, or wolf-dog hybrid – you know how these things go) over an area of about 56 by 50 miles (90 by 80 kilometres). The dog was apparently very busy, attacking up to 210 people over the three-year period. The French government of course offered a huge reward for the beast, and it was eventually shot by Jean Chastel, a local hunter who had finally had enough. You can only push a man so far after all…