Thursday, August 27, 2009

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #7

St Kilda, Scotland

Where is it?

St Kilda is a remote archipelago in the outer Hebrides off Scotland. The natives of St Kilda had lived there in style for over 2000 years. And by ‘in style’ we mean specifically ‘stone age’. Until the last few centuries, St Kilda was reachable only by several days at sea and even then only when the weather was favourable. Which was approximately never. The St Kilda lifestyle largely revolved around these guys.

So wha’ happened next Angus?

The daft bastard pulled me feathers oot, din he

The Atlantic Puffin was to the islanders a primary food source, building material and the feather was the main currency.

The ownership of the island was hereditary, and residents had for time immemorial paid their rent in said feathers.

Hey, where did everybody go?

The islanders had happily lived in obscurity up until mainlanders started seeing the place as a tourist destination, spreading disease and just being fucking pests. Then when most of the able-bodied young men of the island got drafted into World War I the whole place spiralled into decline until in the 1930s residents demanded the government fly them the fuck out of there.

Did we mention that up until that point, the owner of the island, one Reginald MacLeod, was still bat-shit crazy enough to continue demanding the long-traditional rent payment? Yes, the feathers.

Why it’s scary as hell

This guy. Imagine this guy is your landlord. Terrifying.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #8

Hashima Island, Japan

Where is it?

Hashima (or “Battleship”) Island lies off the coast of Nagasaki. In the late 19th Century, the Japanese discovered a method for extracting coal from the seabed. And the seabed around the Nagasaki islands was littered with veins of coal. Hashima was set up as a base of operations. At its peak in 1959, Hashima island had the highest population density ever recorded anywhere on earth, with 835 people per hectare packed into the high-rise living quarters.

Hey, where did everybody go?

From the 1960s, coal operations started shutting down all over Japan along with the rise of petroleum as the primary fuel source. Mitsubishi, who owned Hashima, closed the whole place down in 1974.
Why it’s scary as hell

The whole place is constantly raining rubble. Hashima has resisted any attempt at turning into a tourist destination because apparently, just going sightseeing turns into a level from an old platform game where you have to jump across gaps and dodge falling bricks.

Except you only get one life.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #9

Now Zad, Afghanistan

Where is it?

Located in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, Now Zad was a thriving market town, boasting a population of around 10,000 and a popular bazaar. The UN deemed the town important enough to fund the building a school, until ...

Hey, where did everybody go?

The Taliban also saw Now Zad as a strategic point in their campaign to rid Afghanistan of Western infidels. Once the fighting started with British troops and their ninja allies (well, Ghurkas), the civilian population decided not to stay in the fucking middle of the shit, and got out of Dodge.

Honey, we're leaving. Start packing the car... oh

Why it’s scary as hell
When the British troops pulled out, handing over responsibility for the town to US Marines, they left some words of encouragement painted on building walls. Some motivational like “Good luck U.S!” (no double meaning there), and some a bit more to the point, “Welcome to Hell”.
And not without good reason. The insurgents had left the fucking streets paved with landmines, bombs in every shopfront, and bombs just everywhere, in a tactic known to many military strategists as the Home Alone Tactic, and to others as the If You Can Take Three Steps Without Blowing Up You Can Have The Place gambit.
Every marine on duty in Now Zad has a few additions to their standard issue gear, namely an emergency transfusion kit and two tourniquets. Stop and think about why one tourniquet isn’t enough. That’s right, you’re expected to lose both legs on any given day. Apparently going a day without losing a limb is against the norm.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Long Lost Bother's 10 Scariest Ghost Towns #10

Bhangarh, India

Where is it?
The state of Rajasthan in India. Although possibly inhabited for millennia given some of the prehistoric temples, the city itself was founded in 1573 by Raja Bhagwant Das.

Hey, where did everybody go?
As legend has it, the Raja’s younger son Madho Singh made his capital here, and local holyman Baba Balanath was fairly cool with it, only giving the one condition “If the shadow of your palace touches my feet, your whole city is fucked”. And Madho apparently decided “You know what? Fuck Baba Balanath, I’ma shadow all over that motherfucker!” and promptly built a massive palace which, as was intended, blocked some sunlight from Baba Balanath’s feet. We’re not quite sure what Baba Balanath did (besides, we assume, stand up and give a Dirty Harry glare at the palace) but the city has been abandoned ever since.
There’s a few other stories, but they all result in a sorcerer, shaman or demon slapping the crap out of the city, killing everyone and leaving the place haunted as fuck.

Why it’s scary as hell
So many ghosts they’ve virtually been included on the Indian census, that and the lingering threat of Baba Balanath getting pissy if you get your dirty fucking shadow on him.
The Indian Government’s Archeological Survey had a look at Bhangarh a few years ago and officially declared it haunted as fuck.

The official sign-post outside of town, translation: haunted as fuck.

Actually says “keep out at night”, but you know what the hell they mean.

Watch this space for the rest of this series. Gentleman Dan also writes at