I know i’ve been talking an awful lot about urban legends lately, but apart from it being a pet hobby of mine to keep tabs on them, then i use them a lot for my writing. Not copying, but sometimes they are a very good pointer to stuff that is not really social acceptable or just an example of contemporary fear. Such as the buried alive legends, be it bells or phones, or the terrorist legends. Urban legends are a very good way of measuring what is a social ‘no no’ at the time, or what frightens us.
Plus i like them (urban legends) for the whole ‘what if’ factor, and that is why i like using them in my fiction, i just mask them up a little, normally that is.
Just like the story i was gonna talk about now, and the reason that i am posting this, is because i stumbled across a story from Asia that is very similar, and i find that very fascinating. I’m gonna tell the story first;
THE RETURNING SOLDIER; (probably of American origin)
The story has it that a soldier departed for the Iraqi war (could be any war of your liking) He left his wife and two small children behind on base. His platoon was never really close to anywhere where there was a phone link, so much to the soldiers dismay he couldn’t call his wife at home. But finally the day came and his turn was over, and he returned to home. As he arrived a nightmarish scenario greeted him, since his wife had placed their toddler and enfant in the playpen. The wife had died on her way to the kitchen from a heart attack, and so their children had starved to death in the playpen, locked in the house with their mothers corpse.
THE BLACK DOLL; (Asian origin)
This story has it that there lived a young single mother and her baby in a cheap apartment building, the mother has to work, but she has no friends and no family to take care of this baby of hers, so with a heavy heart she makes sure that the baby is as comfortable as possible, and then hurries to work. Now she is in such a hurry to get home to her baby after work, because she is worried, she crosses the road, but doesn’t pay attention and is run over by a car. And the mother is dead on the spot. The police can’t find any I.D on her, so they have no idea who she is or where she lived, or if she has any living relatives.
A month later the landlord goes into the missing mothers apartment, his intention is to ask for the rent she owes him, but when he gets there, it seems like the woman just picked up and left in a hurry. He notices something on the floor, and wonders why she would leave in such a hurry that she’d leave her black doll behind. A strange noise comes from the black doll, and the landlord bends over to touch it, only to find it’s a baby skeleton, filled with insects.
Now these two stories both play on every parents nightmare, that if something should happen to you, your kids would perish too, or for the soldiers story, not being there when your children needs you the most. Or you can translate it out into the same “parental no-no” as the babysitter legends, you know, the ones with the crazy axe murderer and clown figures. It’s all about not leaving your child unattended, and the horrors that can happen when you are not there.
Which brings us to ‘could it happen’ – Well of course it can’t, someone would notice a screaming baby in an apartment block, hells know i live in an apartment, and if a baby kept crying next door on/off for some time, i would eventually bang the door, and if i couldn’t get someone to come to the door, i’d call the police. And for the soldier story, well i know that army bases aren’t really super close knit, but i don’t think that anyone wouldn’t react if you hadn’t seen a specific person for a while, or her children.
I just think these stories both go to show how powerful something like an urban legend is.
Which then leads me to what i was really researching, the different variations of ‘child abduction’ legends, mostly the ones where a child is just spirited away to a bathroom or a such, in some huge supermarket, a circus, a playground, a fun fair or a family restaurant, to then be drugged, have a change of clothes, a new haircut and/or color, and disappears for ever. And believe me there is like a million of those stories, and i am quite sure that none of them are true, but still.
Law & Order SVU had an episode about this urban legend actually, it’s season 3, episode 3, called “stolen” It’s a hard episode to dig up for some reason, and i know that Americans are afraid of streaming stuff, so i will just link to a site that tells something about that episode. (should you want to stream it, it’s here at Novamov)
I will however return and write some more on this subject once i feel i have more on it. But if you have anything to throw in, i’d love to hear it.