USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘urban legend’
general
Initiations
Legends

The Legend of Camino Hall

The following informant is a 22 year old student from the University of San Diego. In this account she is describing a legend about one of the buildings on her campus. This is a transcription of our conversation, she is identified as S and I am identified as K:

S: There is this urban legend that someone, umm… like killed themselves in either the Camino bathroom. Thats like one of the residence halls but you know also where the administration building is. Umm… yeah so apparently, she had gone to class, this was a girl, and she was going through a hard time and she just like went to the bathroom, like in the middle of class. And people were like “what the fuck, why did she not come back” and then they were like “oh she is probably still in the bathroom”. So they went to the bathroom and she was just like hanging from the ceiling. So like it may or may not have happened, most people believe it, but like some don’t.

K: So when did this happen?

S: Like right when the school opened, like around that time, the school was established in 1949

K: How did you hear about it?

S: oh, just people were randomly talking about it when i transferred, like that first semester, and i was just like what the heck why are we talking about this right now. It was the older students telling the new ones, it was very random, and i don’t know if it was to scare us but i was just like “thank you so much for this information, what do you want me to do with it”

K: did they ever say why she killed herself?

S: no one knows why she killed herself

K: What did you take away from this?

S: I was kind of just like taken back, because i had just transferred, and so i was kind of like um so why are you telling me this. but i had not thought about it since they told me, so… yeah, its not something i think about often.

Context:

This conversation took place at a café one evening. I was visiting the informant at USD, and after providing a different collection of folklore, she launched into this story. As we were in a public space, people overheard the conversation and a few even nodded in agreement, like they were validating what she was saying.

Thoughts:

This is a particularly interesting legend for a couple of reasons. One is that out of my own curiosity I tried to do some research to see if there are more details on the internet and the search came up empty. This by no means insinuates that what she is saying is false, especially because the group of not so subtle eavesdroppers seemed familiar with the legend. But in the age of the digital realm, it seems odd there is no account of it only. The other interesting aspect is how the legend is used now. She explained that the older students tell it to the new students while they orient to the new campus. This seems like a mild form of hazing, in that in order to complete your transformation as a student of USD, you have to get mildly scared by the older students first.

Digital
Game
Legends

Herobrine

Collected privately in an empty hallway while his friends played a horror game in the other room, which he returned to after the interview. I began by simply asking, “What do you know about Herobrine?”

The informant first heard about Herobrine from a Youtube video in middle school, around the time when Minecraft was getting very popular.

 

Informant: “Uhh I know that it was, umm uh, a popular myth surrounding the game Minecraft. Uh, the idea it that it was, uh, an entity hidden in the code that would sort of on a random case-by-case basis do things to your game. Um I also know it’s not true. Uh, you can go through the codes of all, of every single version of Minecraft and see that there’s nothing. Um, but the creators had fun with people and would constantly tease about it, and all of their change logs ever since the old myth came up, they would put, like, ‘Herobrine removed,’ ‘Herobrine removed,’ like ‘he’s finally removed.’ And, um, yeah but it was really popular and it’s a common thing that people who play video games like to do. It’s the same concept as creepypastas of just writing haunted versions of games, especially because they think people are interested in exploring ghost stories as they relate to modern media and modern technology, um, as opposed to the old jaded, like, haunted house that no one’s scared of anymore because we’ve rehashed it in so many works of fiction. But something as ubiquitous as a software that can be downloaded that can be haunted is more interesting.”

Interviewer: “Do you know his origin?”

Informant: “Uhh, something about… the creator, Notch’s, brother passing away? Something like that? Which isn’t true… in the slightest. Other than that, not too well-versed.”

Interviewer: “Do you know anyone who claims to have seen Herobrine, or know someone else who claims to have seen Herobrine?”

Informant: “Umm… I knew a, I knew a lot of uhh… a lot of kids in uhh… uh middle school that would claim it. Uhh… and who no one would ever believe.”

Interviewer: “What does Herobrine supposedly do? If he appears in a game.”

Informant: “Umm, I’ve heard various accounts because, obviously, it doesn’t actually happen, so people’s stories like to vary and people like to one-up each other. Um, but it very, it can be something as just suddenly killing you, suddenly appearing and disappearing, things moving around, um, a lot of things you’ll find in a lot of other ghost story literature.”

Herobrine

This informant does not believe in Herobrine, and provides very logical explanations for why he was such a phenomenon. He is in the age group of people who would be playing Minecraft at its peak of popularity, and being interested in game design, he is well versed in gaming culture.

Digital
Game
Legends

Herobrine

Collected privately in an empty hallway while his friends played a horror game in the other room, which he returned to after the interview. I began by simply asking, “What do you know about Herobrine?”

The informant heard about Herobrine in middle school, primarily through videos and chat rooms online, around the time when Minecraft was getting very popular.
Informant: “So the Herobrine, at least that I know of, is a character within the Minecraft game that is your player? Basically, he’s the Steve [the name of the Minecraft player character] pro-, like, character pro-protagonist but, but he doesn’t have pupils. And the game developers keep trying to delete him, but every update he finds his way kinda back into the game. And what, most players never really see him, but yet there still seem to be leaks and rumors about him kinda k-existing in the game and doing weird stuff. And that’s all I’ve got.”

Interviewer: “What kind of weird stuff does he do?”

Informant: “Like glitches and some people like, who you ask later are like, ‘Oh my goood, he came out of my computer,’ and I don’t know if that’s all that true, but people get really into it.”

Interviewer: “He what their computer?”

Informant: “Came out of their computer.”

Interviewer: “Oooh okay…”

Informant: “Yeah that’s one I read. It was, I mean — And again, a lot of this is just like in. like, online boards and stuff where people are like talking about him. So I don’t know how much of it you take as… really happening, but it’s worth noting that people seem to take him very seriously.”

Interviewer: “Do you know anyone who claims to have seen him, or know someone else who claims to have seen Herobrine?”

Informant: “Personally, no. I’ve yet to meet anybody that’s actually seen him, but I – I do see posts like online about him, and there’s like Game Theory videos and…”

Interviewer: “Do you know his origin?”

Informant: “Umm, the most I know is that it was part of the g-, like they put him in the game at one point and then they were like, ‘Nah we’re gonna scrap him.’ And they kept kinda deleting it, but every update he seemed to find his way back into the Minecraft updates and… that’s that.”

Interviewer: “So is he real?”

Informant: “Uhh, I mean… [informant looks like he is about to speak, but takes a few moments] I guess? He’s not supposed to be there, anyways. So they’re like, ‘Ah g- let’s delete him?’ I mean now I kinda wonder whether they’re leaving him in there because people are making such a big deal out of it, but… real enough.”

Interviewer: “Okay! Um, anything else to add?”

Informant: “Mmm… I like the idea that there is this kinda like… computer ghost in a way? Like the idea that people are being haunted by a computer ghost is quite funny to me, the fact that he keeps trying to get deleted, and he’s not deleted is hilarious. Like I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but I appreciate it.”

Herobrine
While the informant has not seen Herobrine, or knows anyone who has, he does believe in him. He also believes that Herobrine was put in the game purposefully, and was then deleted. Because of this, his version of Herobrine’s origins does not originate from the Internet, but rather from a story involving the game’s creator’s brother. Interestingly, he has heard that Herobrine can be separate from Minecraft, coming out of the computer and haunting people instead of just the game. While the informant is not a game designer, many of his friends are, so he is fairly knowledgeable about gamer culture.

Digital
Game
Legends

Herobrine

Collected privately in an empty hallway while his friends played a horror game in the other room, which he returned to after the interview. I began by simply asking, “What do you know about Herobrine?”

The informant has not played Minecraft in recent years, but used to when it was first popular. He heard about Herobrine through the Internet, around middle school and early high school, when it was very popular.
Informant: “Herobrine is constantly being removed from Minecraft even though it was never there. Like I don’t know the exa- I don’t know what form Herobrine’s supposed to take, but it is some… NPC, before there were NPC’s in the game, who was supposed to appear and be spooky. And basically people used to think it was removed, and then, I think, Notch started adding in the patch notes that it was removed every time, and then it – now it’s in every single patch note; They just have a thing saying it’s removed.”

Interviewer: “Do you know his origin?”

Informant: “I don’t know the origin. I assume it started somewhere on the forums, but…”

Interviewer: “Do you know what he does in the game?”

Informant: “I don’t know what he does. I was playing the Alpha of Minecraft, a friend of mine gave me the Alpha when it had just come out, so I played it for years, but I’ve sort of forgotten.”

Interviewer: “Do you know anyone who claims to have seen Herobrine?”

Informant: “I don’t. I didn’t have any friends who were like, ‘If you look under the truck in Pokemon, in, in Pokemon Red, then you can get a hundred master balls.”

Herobrine
The informant does not believe Herobrine ever existed, and was created by fans. Although he has played Minecraft, he is not very immersed in gaming culture, and does not know much about Herobrine.

Digital
Game
Legends

Herobrine

Collected in a college apartment while the informant was preparing to cook lunch.

The informant played Minecraft in middle school, and, being a game designer, is well-versed in gamer culture. She, unlike many others, first heard about Herobrine from a friend rather than from the Internet.
Informant: “To my understanding – Sorry, I’m going to be a little noisy. [informant rustles plastic wrapping, preparing to cook] Okay. Herobrine, from my understanding, is, yeah, it’s like the Minecraft uhh… the Minecraft ghost? He’s got, like, white eyes and people claim that… I don’t know, that he behaves kind of similarly to Slenderman? Like he’ll just kinda show up. Um, I don’t remember if he does anything bad to you? I don’t think he does? But, there’s just like screenshots that are, like, very obviously edited [laughs]. Um, but those got a lot of traction, and then mods came out that had an actual Herobrine, but I’m pretty sure that it was just, like, another mod skinned to be looking like Herobrine… But I remember being kinda freaked out about it, like every time I’d play at night I’d be like, ‘Oh my god, what if I wake up in the middle of the night [in Minecraft] and instead of, like, a zombie… being over my bed in Minecraft it’s Herobrine’ and I’d be like, ‘OH SHIT, IT LOOKS JUST LIKE ME! [laughs] Except it has white eyes!’ And that was about the extent of, like, how deep the lore was for me [laughs]. And I kinda loved it, I don’t know.”

Interviewer: “When do you remember hearing about Herobrine, and through what?”

Informant: “Oh god, [chuckles] that was, like, middle school? One of my friends was like, ‘… [In a mocking, purposefully deep voice] Have you heard of Herobrine?’ And I was like, ‘ [In a mocking, purposefully high, airy voice] NO?! What’s Herobrine?!’ And he was telling me all about it, but it was like total fucking bullshit, like he told me the same thing three times, except each time was a little bit different about, like, the first time he’d seen it. So I was like, ‘Ian, you’re a jackass [laughs] .’ But… yeah then I, then I started digging into it on my own… because it was way more fun than listening to fucking [in a mocking voice] Ian talk about it. And then I told my other friends… and they all looked into it, except I was a much better storyteller than Ian was [laughs]. Do you have any other Herobrine questions?”

Interviewer: “Do you know what he does? So he appears in the game, right?”

Informant: “Theoretically.”

Interviewer: “Do you know what he does?”

Informant: “I don’t remember off the top of my head, no. Does he steal your shit? What does he do?”

Interviewer: “I don’t know, that’s for you to tell me.”

Informant: “[Laughs] I’m pretty – From my memory, he just was, like, jumpscare-man. Like he would just pop up, like all of the screenshots he wasn’t doing anything; He literally was just there. Uhh… like when people turn around they were like, ‘[In a mocking voice] And then Herobrine was right there!’ Or they’d be in, like, the desert, where you have a lot of visibility, and they’d see in the distance, like, the shape of, of Minecraft, you know, the Minecraft avatar, um, except they would have, like, glowing white eyes and they’d be, like, ‘[In a mocking voice] That’s not me.’ Uhh [laughs] yes. And that is my understanding of what Herobrine does.”

Interviewer: “Do you know Herobrine’s origin?”

Informant: “Umm, I’m pretty sure someone just, like… I feel like I, I saw, like, a 4chan screenshot? There was, it was literally just, like, the, the, the base avatar from Minecraft except with, like, Photoshopped white eyes. Umm, and then someone was telling this story about, like, their creepy interaction with Herobrine and how, like, Herobrine watched them. That’s, like, my most distinctive, and it feels like the most original [laughs].”

Herobrine
The informant is clearly amused by the notion of Herobrine, and by what, to her, is the sheer silliness of the character and her memories from middle school. She does not believe in Herobrine. Interestingly, while most others associate Herobrine with the statement, “Removed Herobrine” in every patch note, the informant had not heard of this ever being done.

Legends
Narrative

“Humans Can Lick Too” Story

Collected privately in an empty hallway while his friends played a horror game in the other room, which he returned to after the interview. I asked them if they knew, “the scary story where a girl gets her hand licked,” or, “the hand lick dog story.”

The informant first heard this story around the age of 11 in a drama class during a “ghost stories session.”
“Okay, I’ll probably get some of the details wrong, but, um… There’s this woman who lives alone… Well not alone, she has a dog. And every time she goes to bed, she gets into bed and hangs her hand over the bed because the dog licks it and it gives her comfort and all that. Um… she does that, dog licks her hand and she goes to sleep. Um… I, I’m missing a lot of details, but it’s like, that regularly happens. Until one day, she goes to bed, and of course the dog’s there, it’s under her bed, licks her hand. But one day she wakes up, goes to the bathroom, her dog is, like, bloodied, beaten, torn up in the bathroom and on the mirror it says, ‘Humans can lick too’ [laughs nervously]. And that’s how I remember that one [laughs].”
This version includes the dog being dead in the bathroom, but does not specify that the dog is under the bed. It also does not specify the dripping noise that wakes up the protagonist that appears in many versions.

An analysis of several versions of this story, as well as some folkloric history, can be read here: https://www.thoughtco.com/humans-can-lick-too-3299487. Additionally, a video portrayal of the same story can be seen here at http://urbanlegendsonline.com/humans-can-lick-too/, in which the girl actively sees her hand being licked by an intruder, and does not see her missing (presumably dead) dog.

Legends
Narrative

“Humans Can Lick Too” Story

Collected privately in an empty hallway while his friends played a horror game in the other room, which he returned to after the interview. I asked them if they knew, “the scary story where a girl gets her hand licked,” or, “the hand lick dog story.”

The informant most likely first heard the story in summer camp at the age of 11.
“So, um… I think a girl was scared of monsters under her bed, so, um, her parents got a dog and the dog lived under her bed, and whenever she’d get scared, she’d put her hand under the bed and the dog would lick her hand and she’d feel safe. And then one day, she got scared and put her hand under the bed and something licked it, and then the dog ran into her room… I mean there’s probably more to it than that, but that’s… as I understand the plot of that story… The dog may also – there, there’s probably a version of it, if not immediately, where the dog is dead.”
This version of the story interestingly does not include the titular message of, “Humans (or People) can lick too.” In fact, it does not involve the dog dying. Insead, it simply presents the dread of the intruder currently licking her hand by having the dog run into the protagonist’s room. It does, however, specify that the dog generally licks her hand from under the bed. This version does not specify the dripping noise that wakes up the protagonist that appears in many versions.

An analysis of several versions of this story, as well as some folkloric history, can be read here: https://www.thoughtco.com/humans-can-lick-too-3299487. Additionally, a video portrayal of the same story can be seen here at http://urbanlegendsonline.com/humans-can-lick-too/, in which the girl actively sees her hand being licked by an intruder, and does not see her missing (presumably dead) dog.

Legends
Narrative

“Humans Can Lick Too” Story

Collected privately in an empty hallway while his friends played a horror game in the other room, which he returned to after the interview. I asked them if they knew, “the scary story where a girl gets her hand licked,” or, “the hand lick dog story.”

The informant does not remember when or where she first heard the story, but assumes it was from a long time ago. She is aware of the variations, but her telling is what she considers to be the true one.
“Uh, I know there’s a bunch of variations on it, but the general gist of it that I remember is that there was a girl… who was having a slumber party with a bunch of friends. And they’re like, ‘Ah let’s all go to sleep.’ And they do, and she had a pet dog who slept under her bed. And when she was feeling scared, she’d, like, put her hand down, and the dog would lick her hand, and she’d be like, ‘Cool, my dog.’ And then she’s like – In the middle of the night, she, like, thinks she hears something, or something? So she puts her hand down and the dog licks it and she’s like, ‘Cool! … My DOG.’ And then she wakes up in the morning and all of her friends are dead, and her dog is dead, and the person wrote on the wall, ‘People can lick too,’ or something of equal stupidity. And that’s the version I remember.”
Unlike other tellings of the story, the protagonist is not alone in her home, but at a slumber party, and wakes up to find everyone dead, including her dog. This version does not specify the method in which the intruder killed, or how the bodies were found, but does specify that the dog was “under her bed.” It also is worth noting that the words on the wall read, “People can lick too,” not “Humans.” It also does not specify the dripping noise that wakes up the protagonist that appears in many versions.

An analysis of several versions of this story, as well as some folkloric history, can be read here: https://www.thoughtco.com/humans-can-lick-too-3299487. Additionally, a video portrayal of the same story can be seen here at http://urbanlegendsonline.com/humans-can-lick-too/, in which the girl actively sees her hand being licked by an intruder, and does not see her missing (presumably dead) dog.

Legends
Narrative

“Humans Can Lick Too” Story

Collected privately in an empty hallway while his friends played a horror game in the other room, which he returned to after the interview. I asked them if they knew, “the scary story where a girl gets her hand licked,” or, “the hand lick dog story.”

The informant heard this story for the first time at a sleepover many years ago, around the age of 11.
“So there’s this girl, and she has a dog, right? And her dog – She g-, she goes to bed and either wakes up in the morning and her dog’s licking her hand or she goes to bed and the dog’s licking her hand. And so that’s the typical, kinda, way her day goes. And then… for some reason something… [stumbles over his words] There’s some point… in the night where, like, some – where something’s licking her hand, but then it’s not – then she figures out that it’s not the dog anymore cause the dog is, like, dead in the closet or something. And then she goes to turn on the lights and realizes that there’s, like, written in blood it says… it says, I think, ‘People can lick too,’ or something like that, or something implying that it… the point is you figure out that, that the dog is dead and somebody else has been licking her hand. And that’s all I really remember.”
This version specifies the location of the dead dog, but it is the closet instead of the usual bathroom. This version does not specify where the dog is when it licks her hand. It also is worth noting that the words on the wall read, “People can lick too,” not “Humans.” It also does not specify the dripping noise that wakes up the protagonist that appears in many versions.

An analysis of several versions of this story, as well as some folkloric history, can be read here: https://www.thoughtco.com/humans-can-lick-too-3299487. Additionally, a video portrayal of the same story can be seen here at http://urbanlegendsonline.com/humans-can-lick-too/, in which the girl actively sees her hand being licked by an intruder, and does not see her missing (presumably dead) dog.

Legends

Bell Witch Legend

The following was recorded from a conversation I had with my mom regarding ghost stories she was told in her childhoods. Our family has a few Southern ties, and she specifically remembered an old Southern ghost legend. She is marked JS, and I am marked CS.

 

CS: “So can you tell me a little synopsis of this ghost legend?”

JS: “Absolutely. So I believe it was called the Bell Witch, or Bo Witch…something like that. You might want to research it. Anyways, how the story goes from when it was told is that the witch appeared around Tennessee and has been there for centuries. Around the 17th or 18th century, I believe, a man and his family had moved to some settlement along the river. On a random day, the man—wait, now I remember. The man’s name was Bell. So the witch must be the Bell Witch. Anyways, the man (something Bell) came across an animal on their farm—I think they had a farm. Or maybe it was a cornfield. In any case, the animal I believe had the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit. The man shot it, but the animal disappeared. After the incident, the man and his family kept experiencing kind of a haunting around the house—like, the kids would be sleeping and they thought someone or something was tugging at their covers, and each night the family heard a pounding at the door but couldn’t see anyone doing it. Then, they began hearing voices, and each night, the voice grew louder and louder, getting much creepier night after night. Then they eventually started to tell everyone in the town cause the presence was growing stronger, I think it had actually started hurting the younger daughter somehow. It may have been pulling her hair or pinching her? Something like that. Anyway, word of it spread around the town like wildfire and Andrew Jackson, who fought alongside Bell in the Battle of New Orleans, decided to pay a visit at the home. But his wagon stopped and the horses couldn’t pull it the closer they got to the home. It was there that even he learned of this Bell witch and believed the rumors he’d been hearing. Then I believe the witch later attacked one of Jackson’s men for being a fraud and many of his men left cause they were obviously so afraid. Eventually all of the men left. I think there was also a sub-plot to the story where the youngest daughter was engaged and had to end the engagement because of the presence of the entity whenever her and her fiancé would meet. And after she ended it, then subsequently the witch decreased her presence. Bell finally died from a poison, which was said to be filled with some kind of liquid in a vial, given to him by the witch herself. Apparently she told the family it was allegedly his cure. The poison also killed the dog. After his death, the witch stopped appearing and no longer tormented the family. I think it was at his funeral—yeah, at the graveyard—that all of Tennessee was there and all continually heard the witch laughing during his ceremony. Crazy story.”

 

Context:

A phone call conversation with my mom, JS, discussing old ghost legends and tales she’s heard of.

Background:

JS currently resides in Laguna Beach, California but was previously raised in Minnesota.

 

Analysis:

After hearing this terrifying legend, I decided to do some research of my own to compare my mom’s version with other recounts of the Bell Witch. For the most part, her version is very in line with most; however, there are a few variations (in part probably because of memory mix ups). For one, the “dog” she refers to I have read in other accounts was actually a cat. This was interesting reading the different variations and imagining how this legend came to be and its specific origins.

[geolocation]