Tag Archives: horror

Nat Sain Legend

Nationality: Burmese

Primary Language: Burmese

Other Language(s): English, Chinese

Age: 19

Occupation: Student

Residence: Hanover, N.H

Performance Date: 03/17/2024

P.P has been my friend since middle school and is also a Burmese person who is originally from Yangon, Myanmar. When I asked her of any legends, myths or tales she knows of, she recounts a known legend about people who died really unfortunate deaths becoming spirits. Her housekeeper told her this story since she is from the rural areas of Myanmar where a lot of these myths are considered true. Back home, it was common for most households to have housekeepers and so the relationships between housekeepers and the children of the house was usually one that was really familial and close knit. 

“Nat Sain are spirits who, before they died, were good and kind people but were killed off in really unfortunate ways. Because of this, Nat Sain are known to be full of vengeance and malicious intent. In this one story, the village is trying to build a bridge but the bridge keeps tumbling and falling apart no matter how hard they try to repair it. The people of the town believed in mythical spirits so they thought that if they found someone that matched a certain requirement for a specific birthday, age, day of the week they were born, then they should sacrifice that person so that the bridge can work. There is this woman who had a husband that worked on the construction site near the bridge. She always brought him food everyday and was friendly to everyone and fed them her food as well. One day she started to converse with someone near the bridge and they started asking her questions about her birthday and realized that she matched all the sacrifice’s requirements perfectly. The next day, people captured her, wrapped her in a sleeping mat, and dug a hole where the bridge’s support is supposed to be, and buried her alive. They end up building a bridge on top of it. My housekeeper said this was a myth for a real bridge in her village so people would always worship or say prayers for that Nat Sain whenever they cross the bridge so that they can cross it safely. Honestly I think my housekeeper was just trying to scare me and tell me an entertaining bedtime story before I went to bed for her own entertainment ahaha. I still think it’s a real story but, I don’t think there’s another meaning behind the story other than just focusing on the Nat Sain’s background. Maybe the legend’s intent was to make sure people respect the spirits since they have their own history and can be dangerous to others if people come to their area/sacred place.”

After hearing this story, I was pretty terrified to say the least. I interpret this legend as a spiritual tale in Buddhism or Burmese folklore, that was used to scare people with the purpose of spiritual or religious reinforcement. These stories are scary yet believable enough to ensure people don’t stray away from religion since it implies that there are many mythical figures out there that could harm you if you are sinful. I think this story mainly serves to explain why the bridge didn’t work previously. By creating a story, it provided answers while making sure people prayed and was careful when crossing the bridge.

The Pig Man

Text: “I actually got told this story while I was in the cabin–this was Cabin 2. The story is before it was Cabin 2, the place was a pig pen. Some guy came to the island and he killed one of the pigs, and he like carved out the pig’s head and made a mask-like thing, and like lived on the island and killed people on the low. It sounds pretty fried, but I lived in the cabin probably when I was like 10 years old, and I was told the story in a very scary way and I was sitting in my little bet like ‘dude, fuck, like this is crazy.’ In the moment this stuff is very scary. When you’re at this camp, you don’t really have your phone, so when the counselors tell this stuff that they’ve told a million times, they tell it very well and there’s no other authority to check the story against.”

Context: My informant, NR, told me this story while we sat together and played NHL while listening to house music and eating frozen yogurt. This was a pretty ideal storytelling setting. He first heard this story as a middle-school-aged camper at a sleepaway summer camp in New Hampshire, and was scared by it at the time. He interpreted the legend as the crux of a practical joke that counselors enjoyed playing on campers. 

Analysis: I believe NR’s legend bears elements of practical joking in that it is leveraged by an ingroup, the counselors, to display the ignorance of the outgroup, the campers. The legend’s employment of elements that could potentially exist add credibility to the horror factor and play upon the ignorance of youth to frighten children. NR also emphasized the credibility of the storytellers, emphasizing that he defaulted to believing their account because he lacked a method to investigate other possibilities without his phone. The Pig Man’s employment of the mask also creates a fear factor, as anyone wearing the head of a dead pig would appear frightening, certainly in American culture where people are far removed from the slaughter of animals and death of animals in general. This legend can tell us about summer camp culture, in which authority is valued as well as respect for the surrounding land, which is often unsupervised and can be dangerous for a wandering child. In that spirit, the legend also plays a cautionary role, encouraging campers to stay vigilant in nature–the closer a camper is to being alone in nature, the more the camper will think of the Pig Man and desire a return to safety. I additionally believe that the death aspect of the legend taps into the childhood interest in death as a taboo topic. 

The Outpost

Text: “Alright so basically it was like, so my sleepaway camp was on an island in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire and it’s like an all-boys camp whatever but basically the camp is all centered around this island and it’s all kinda in this one area and there’s this path you can take through the middle, and at the end of the path is this place called ‘the outpost,’ which is basically a little hut with a bathroom, it’s got a fire pit for camping and stuff–you could spend the night there if you didn’t want to sleep in the cabin, like people did cabin nights there. And so basically only older kids really spent the night at the Outpost, but there were these things called cabin nights where you go with your cabin and basically like post up at like a little beach along the island or play hoops for a while or you could like do random shit honestly-go swimming maybe. You’d camp out with marshmallows and do all that stuff. Basically older kids who could go to the outpost started the story, and essentially it says there’s a murderer in the outpost bathroom. All these kids are out camping, and this kid asks to go to the bathroom and basically gets like stabbed and like blicked. Nobody knows where he is after a while, but the counselor lets another kid use the bathroom–other kid pulls up, gets stabbed, whatever, blicked. At this point the counselor is like ‘yo what the fuck is going on.’ So two kids blicked, blood everywhere. Someone else gets blicked, then they run back to camp super far. One of the guys who works in the office, his dad owned the camp, and he grabbed a gun and killed the guy. It’s really scary when it’s told to you as a kid around a campfire at the outpost.”

Context: My informant, NR, told me this story while we sat together and played NHL (hockey video game) while listening to house music and eating frozen yogurt. This was a pretty ideal storytelling setting. He first heard this story as a middle-school-aged camper at a sleepaway summer camp in New Hampshire, and was scared by it at the time. He emphasized the combination of his youth, the campfire setting, and the storyteller’s authority as elements that enhanced the fear factor of the legend. As explained in the text, the camp was all-boys and the legend revolved around a remote location on the property known as the outpost, at which cabins (groups of campers) would sometimes spend the night outdoors. The legend is traditional at the camp. In hindsight, NR interprets the story as a classic scare-legend, told to encourage adherence to the ‘buddy system’ and to scare younger children. 

Analysis: In my interpretation, the legend of the Outpost offers insights into summer camp and childrens’ culture, particularly through the classic campfire-horror trope. A few dynamics at play make the legend material to the young NR. For one, his youth relative to the storytellers enhances their credibility and thus the plausibility of the legend. In the days of early adolescence, age plays a major role in credibility–this legend is most popular/effective with young children, reflecting this truth. Also, NR’s unfamiliarity with the area adds to the legend’s effect. While he was a regular camper, the Outpost region was still not completely familiar to NR, which can create gaps in understanding that are prone to being filled in with horror legends such as this. In this case, his fear of the unknown, already exacerbated by the campfire setting, became manifested by the legend of a murderer who lived in the Outpost, reflecting a classic youth’s outlook on reality. On the flip side, I view this legend as a practical joke played by counselors on campers and as a cautionary tale leveraged to ensure safety. However, contrasting with many uses of practical jokes, I do not view this necessarily as a rite of passage or an initiation ritual–I believe it is more just a tradition that the camp can collectively identify with. Due to the temporary nature of the camp experience, there is no investment in seeing the children on the other side of understanding the reality of the story. 

The woman in the window

Text (urban legend): 

“There was said to be a book called “The Woman in the Window” and if you opened it the woman in the window would alway be watching you in a window.”


A is my little sister who is 9 years old. She is in the fourth grade and loves to read. She recalls this story being shared around school by classmates of hers.”

Q: “Do you only need to open the book for this to happen?”

A: “No, if you open the book and read the pages out loud, then the woman will haunt you.”

Q: “Where did you hear about this book?”

A: “I heard it from one of my friends at school. We don’t know if the book is real or not (quietly)…”

Q: “What does the woman look like?”

A: “I have never seen her but my friend says she has long black hair and wears a white dress.”


The text is an urban legend as its truth value is unknown and it was shared between two people who both belief it to be true. The fact that the truth value is unknown likely plays a role in the nature of my informant. She heard it from another classmate in primary school and I find that children’s folklore is more likely to be based on fiction rather than actuality or fantasy versus reality. As the story was told and shared between two children, I also view this as a cautionary tale in a sense that the narrative cautions readers to be wary of what they read and a general warning against the unknown as my informant didn’t know if this book actually exists but she was fearful regardless as her voice tended to lower when speaking about the instance in which the woman in the window may appear. I also notice a connection or similarity between the woman in the window and the story of La Llorna such as the white dress, long black hair, and possible feelings of revenge fueling their actions. As described by Carbonell, a variation of the story of La Llorna involves her acting out of revenge on a lover that wronged her. In a male dominated society, I find this common that children’s horror folklore, specifically in young girls, is center around this notion of the volatility and frightening nature of women’s emotions. Ideas of male versus female distinctions in children’s folklore by Meechling also supports my ideas in interpreting this legend in terms of young girls where the stereotype is perpetuated that a female figure fueled by emotions is something of which to be afraid of.

Bloody Mary in the Bathroom – Legend


J is a screenwriting second-year at USC, raised in Canada but moved to American when J was 10 years old. The below text is a story told among the female students at J’s elementary school.


When J was in elementary school, there was a bathroom where people said that a girl had died in while she was a student in school who continued to haunt the bathroom because of how gruesome her death was without finding peace. Her spirit believed to be lingering there resulted in the creation of their own version of Bloody Mary. Students would say that “Bloody Mary lives in that bathroom.” They could tell because it was the very last stall and one of the pipes on the toilet had a splash of red paint on it, which students thought was blood. J themselves would go to the stall at the end of the day, and never got haunted by Bloody Mary. But, J was always on edge in the bathroom, where every little noise or motion may “summon” Bloody Mary, so J never did the “summoning” (saying Bloody Mary) to not chance the possibility of the ghost.


This narrative takes advantage of two legend themes: ghosts and Bloody Mary. Ghosts are an entity that lives on liminal boundaries: the line between life and death, human and non-human, and science and will power. The legend of a ghost forces the audience to question if one’s will truly is strong enough to overrule death, if a death with regret strong enough truly can provide haunting, or if there really is a line between life and death that is invisible to the living. Death itself is enigmatic and frightening for the living, so ghosts are a way people cope with it. For an audience as young as elementary students, ghosts not only become a way to deal with the permanence of death, but also a way to refuse grieving or accepting death, tying ghost narrative back to anti-hegemonic childhood folklore. So, the ghost itself as a literary object in a story subtly questions much of the real world’s ideas of death, maybe even denying them outright. Furthermore, because the legend is also about Bloody Mary, the story also becomes a coming-of-age for young girls. Bloody Mary serves the mark women’s menstrual cycle, a point at which blood comes out of the body, the girl is no longer chained to childhood and has to face harsh reality. Avoiding the bathroom stall avoids Bloody Mary, avoiding growing up as a young woman. An acknowledgement that Bloody Mary is not real (this childhood rumor is not real) marks a turning point in the young female world, that they have “risen above” childhood, gotten their period (marked by blood..Bloody Mary) and became women.