Pretty much everyone has fallen down the Wiki-hole of paranormal unsolved mysteries before. One moment, you're casually reading up on horror movies based on a true story, for a given value of "true," and the next thing you know, you're four hours deep into a Reddit thread about cults in the 20th century. You have to get up for work in three hours, but do you stop reading? Of course not. You just got to the bit about Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church —you can't stop now. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.
All this is to say that people love a good story, and some of us prefer the kind that sends tingles down our spines and keeps us awake for hours that night. Back in the day, fans of the strange and/or morbid mostly had to rely on campfire tales, horror movies, or our own imaginations to entertain ourselves, but the internet has opened up a whole world of creepiness to explore.
Generally, it can be divided into two realms, creepypasta and true crime, which are often considered mutually exclusive. Paranormal stories occupy one corner of the Internet, and the more factual stuff occupies another. But not all mysteries have an easy explanation — here are six stories that straddle the line between real life and the paranormal.
1The Mary Celeste
In November of 1872, the American brigantine Mary Celeste set off from New York for Genoa, Italy, with 10 people aboard. Nearly a month later, a British ship spotted the Celeste adrift some 400 miles east of the Azores, an archipelago off the coast of Portugal. Save for a few feet of water in the hold, the ship was perfectly undamaged and still contained six months' worth of food and water. The cargo was untouched, and the crew's belongings were still in their quarters. However, not a single soul could be found onboard. One of the lifeboats was missing, but the crew was never seen again.
Multitudes of explanations have been offered, particularly after an investigation at the time found no evidence of foul play. Today, the fate of the Mary Celeste remains largely a mystery; pirates probably would have left the ship in a worse state, and mutiny seems unlikely to historians. I don't know about you, but my money is on sea monsters.
2The Toxic Woman
Emergency room physicians have their share of weird experiences to tell, but the story of Gloria Ramirez is undoubtedly one of the most famous. In 1994, the young woman was wheeled into the ER by paramedics. Although awake, she sometimes seemed confused. Her blood pressure was extremely low, her heart rate incredibly fast, and a look at her medical history showed that she had advanced cervical cancer.
Here comes the weird part: Doctors noticed an oily sheen to her skin, and her mouth had an odd, garlicky smell. When a nurse went to draw blood, she found that the sample smelled like ammonia. Meanwhile, others noticed that Ramirez's blood contained whitish particles. Not long afterward, medical staff began to feel nauseous and faint. By the end of the night, 23 workers were affected, and five were hospitalized. After 45 minutes of treatment, Ramirez passed away from kidney failure.
Forensic teams have looked into Ramirez's death, but explanation after explanation has been ruled out. To this day, nobody has found out for certain what caused Ramirez to become literally toxic.
In Scotland, an otherwise-picturesque bridge is the site of dozens of deaths — canine deaths, that is. Found near the town of Dumbarton, the Overtoun Bridge has come to be called the "Bridge of Death" after at least 50 dogs since the 1960s have thrown themselves to their death in the gorge below. According to Slate, hundreds more have jumped and lived anyway, and some have actually gotten back up and leapt from the bridge again.
The most plausible explanation is that some sort of animal smell is luring the dogs to their deaths, or they're influenced by a noise at a frequency only dogs can hear. However, the exact cause is unknown.
4The Pollock Twins
On May 5, 1957, two English sisters, Joanna and Jacqueline, were killed in a car accident in the parish of Hexham. Two years later, their mother gave birth to twins, Gillian and Jennifer, who were identical in almost every way — save for Jennifer's birthmarks that resembled similar marks on her deceased sister, Jacqueline.
Not long after the twins were born, the family moved away to a different part of the country. As time went on, Gillian and Jennifer began asking for toys favored by their elder sisters, and when the family moved back to Hexham, the twins supposedly recognized landmarks they had no way of having seen before. Eventually, these incidents trickled off, but it was enough evidence for parapsychologist Dr. Ian Stevenson to write about the Pollock twins in a book about reincarnation, claiming they were reincarnations of their older sisters.
5The Atlas Vampire
In 1932, 32-year-old Lilly Lindström was a sex worker living alone in the Stockholm neighborhood known as Atlas. When her friend and downstairs neighbor, Minnie, went a few days without seeing Lindström, Minnie decided to call the police.
Officials entered the room to find Lindström's body lying face-down on the bed. Her clothes were folded neatly on a nearby chair, and she appeared to have died from blunt trauma to the head. What makes the case noteworthy, however, is what was missing from the scene: blood. Nearly all of Lindström's blood had been drained from her body, and police found traces of saliva on her face and neck. The latter could be chalked up to her line of work, but they also discovered a blood-stained ladle in her room, which police thought may have been used to drink her blood. Sound like a vampire to you? It certainly did to the press, who nicknamed the unknown assailant the "Atlas Vampire." To this day, the identity of Lindström's murderer is unknown.
6The Wow! Signal
In 1977, astronomer Jerry Ehman was using the Big Ear telescope at Ohio State University to search for signs of extraterrestrial life, and he found more than he bargained for. During his search, he received a 72-second blast of radio waves from the Chi Sagittarii grouping of stars. It was such a unique incident that he circled the data and wrote "Wow!" — hence the signal's moniker. Researchers were never able to find the signal again.
Some astronomers have their ideas as to what happened; last fall, an astrophysicist raised the possibility it came from comets. However, the mystery of the Wow! signal is far from resolved, and in 2015, astronomers found a similarly odd radio blast coming from a sunlike star 94 light-years away. Aliens, anyone?