By Sara El Halabi J.

Some years ago, I stayed at a palace-like-inn when something woke me in the middle of the night. I decided to take a peek outside of my room, and as I walked through the hallways, watching the pictures of previous occupants, a soft blow caressed my neck from behind. Aggh!

I ran back to my room, crept into my bed, shut my eyes and was frightened that all those ghost stories were true.

As a fiction writer, anything can inspire me, so while researching haunted places for my next story’s setting, I found five that I want to share with you today. Trigger warning: brace yourself for some creepy stuff that will give you chills.   

Poveglia Island Or The Island Of Death

Set on Venice’s coast in Italy, more than 100,000 people were isolated and left to die in Poveglia during the Roman Era when the Black Death stalked Europe. They sent anyone with symptoms to the island. The dead would be buried or set ablaze, and those who were still alive but too weak to fight were thrown onto the piles of corpses and burned with them. It is said that a thick and sticky ashy layer covers the ground from all the seared dead.

In 1922, a sanctuary with an impressive bell tower built in the 1800s was turned into a psychiatric hospital. However, a doctor submitted the frantic patients to cruel experiments and procedures, such as drilling their skulls. He later began hallucinating about the tortured souls of the plague victims. Some say the spirits led the doctor to the bell tower and pushed him to the ground (or maybe he jumped).

Today, the government has closed the island to tourists, and the Italians don’t dare set foot there. Even the fishermen won’t fish in the area, afraid they might catch human remains. I don’t blame them!

The Ancient Ram Inn

The oldest building in Wotton-Under-Edge, the Ancient Ram Inn, is constructed on a Pagan burial ground connected to Stonehenge. In 1145, it was home to the slaves and workers who built the nearby Saint Mary’s Church. However, it is believed that the diversion of streams around the church opened a portal of evil energies, ideal for satanic rituals and child sacrifices and strangely, became the home of a priest!

If you visit, make sure to see the Witch’s Room. A woman accused of witchcraft hid here, but she was caught and burned at a stake in the area. Among the other guests whose company you might enjoy are: ghostly children, a girl whose agonising screams will keep you up all night, monks, a centurion on horseback and an incubus gliding on your bed. Yikes!

Myrtles Plantation

If you love American ghost stories, you cannot miss a night at Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Originally a Tunica Indian burial ground, it was built in 1796 for General David Bradford, a rebellious military leader. It served as his prison, where he was kept under house arrest until his death.

His daughter, Sara, and two of her children were poisoned to death by her husband’s mistress, a slave named Chloe, who was then executed. After that, a series of murders and incidents also happened here.

Visitors still hear footsteps on the stairs and children laughing in the living room, while Chloe has been glimpsed walking on the porch. But watch out because sometimes, she will stand by your bed wearing her green turban and stare at you while you sleep. Creepy! 

Aokigahara Or The Suicide Forest

This dense forest, lying at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, is easy to get lost in. Sadly, many people have come here to end their own lives, especially after the economic depression between 2008 and 2014. A friendly warning sign sits at the entrance in the hope of preventing further suicides.

Tourists who enter during the night have reported seeing human shapes among the trees, including a mysterious monk known as the Jukai Monk, who has been seen rambling around. It hit the headlines when a famous Youtuber posted a video of a hanged man during his visit to the forest. Heartbreaking stuff. 

Monte Cristo Homestead

This late Victorian house built in 1876 is said to be the most haunted in Australia. With so many sad stories, such as the one about the child who fell down the stairs, the caretaker’s son who was found curled up next to his mother’s corpse, the stable boy who burned to death and the maid that fell from the balcony, if you survive the night you will have tales to tell.

Today, Olive and Reginald Ryan operate the manor as a museum. They will tell you not to freak out if you feel hands on your shoulders or catch a pregnant woman in white on the balcony. Someone will always be watching you!

These are the five most shocking haunted places I have discovered during my research. Will I visit them someday? I don’t think I am that courageous. Perhaps, I will leave this mission to you.