The world is a scary place, and we are definitely afraid of dying. In fact the only thing worse is living, because then the immortal souls of the damned which have been cursed to life in an endless purgatory even when their physical bodies have expired can come and bother us, with all their wailing and tapering off to have no legs.
Basically ghosts tell us that everything sucks because when you live you get haunted, and when you die you haunt. There's no way of winning. Why are we so obsessed with ghosts?
Well, it's probably got something to do with the ubiquity of ghost stories in Western culture. From the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall to the Amityville Horror, there are ghost stories that everybody knows and is rightfully spooked by. We shouldn't restrict our terror to our own fair isles and states, however; after all, there's a whole world of spine tingling tales out there, stories of ghouls and ghosts from all corners of the Earth, which'll blow the Mary Celeste out of the water and make the Enfield poltergeist look like a mere public nuisance.
These are twelve terrifying ghost stories from around the world. Note: WhatCulture cannot be held responsible for any sleepless nights, overactive imaginations or pant wettings that occur as a result of reading this article. But we do apologise. Sorry.
12. Screaming Trees At A US Mental Asylum
A place originally named "Illinois Asylum for the Incurable Insane" isn't going to be the happiest place on Earth - and, for copyright reasons, could never name itself as such either - but through a ghost into the mix on top of that, and you've got a recipe for true horror.
Dr George Zeller, the first director of what is now called the Peoria State Hospital, was one of the first to document the story of the spirit that came to be known as "Old Book". The hospital had existed in a different form before Zeller reopened it in 1902, with a new and more enlightened view of how mental health issues should be treated. In fact the original building had never been used, constructed to look more like a castle's battlements than a place for progressive treatments.
The eeriness truly began during Zeller's time there, though, as recounted in his book Befriending The Bereft. It was decided early on that anybody who died whilst working or attending the hospital would be shipped off to relatives or, if they were unclaimed, buried on the asylum's grounds. It was the latter fate that befell Manuel A. Bookbinder, a patient who worked with the burial crew until his death. Zeller and hundreds of other patients and employees saw Old Book's figure at his funeral, weeping over by the old elm in the potters field.
Since then Old Book - a nickname, but Bookbinder wasn't even his real name; he had suffered a breakdown whilst working at a printing press, and nobody knew his actual identity - was seen at dozens of funerals on the grounds, crying by the old elm. Even today visitors claim to hear his otherworldly sobs coming from the tree.
As if an old, abandoned mental hospital wasn't creepy enough on its own.