The Legend of Mystery Mile
Throughout history, stories have played a prominent role in virtually every society. They embody our hopes, our dreams, our fears. They represent who we are as individuals and as a people. They inspire, enlighten, challenge us to be more than what we are. Their originators have become icons for the ages. Men like Joyce, Shakespeare, Poe, and Tolkein have taken us to places we never could have imagined.
But perhaps some of the most well-known stories have no authors. You've all heard them before. They happen to the cousin of someone you know, or maybe the mother of your friend's friend. They've happened in your neighborhood, on your street, even in the big old farmhouse you just moved into. They play on our most primal fears. They keep us guessing, sounding too outlandish to believe, but too dangerous not to. 'They' are urban legends, and although they have changed and evolved with society, they are still very much a part of our lives.
In years past, urban legends took on the form of morality plays. One of the most well known legends is the story of The Hook. Normally this story happened in a town near your own and involved a young couple who decided to go to lover's lane to make out. While there, the radio warns of an escaped convict from a nearby prison. The man is a killer and one of his hands has been replaced by a hook. The young lady often urges her boyfriend to drive her home and in almost every version of the legend, she gets her way. They pull into her driveway and the young man goes to open the door for her, only to discover a hook sticking out of the door.
The imagery in this story is obviously meant to warn of teenage infidelity, and was appropriate for the era it originated in. Today such a story would be laughed at if it were passed off as real, but fifteen or twenty years ago it worked well enough.
Today's urban legends are a bit more frightening. One of the most popular legends involves a package from 'The Klingerman Foundation'. Allegedly this package includes a sponge that has been soaked in some kind of virus which will infect whoever touches it. The story serves as an effective warning against opening strange packages in your mailbox, while at the same time playing on our fears of bioterrorism.
In some communities, we've found local versions of popular and well known stories. For example, in Grand Island Nebraska there is a version of the Bloody Mary game which involves flushing a toilet before chanting the mirror witch's name. In eastern Ohio, it is popular to chant the name 13 times, while in Rochester, PA three chants will suffice.
There are also some communities and towns which have their own urban legends, local stories indiginous to a particular region. They often revolve around some kind of landmark. A statue, a graveyard...or even a road. Stories like the one about Kelly Road...better known to many as Mystery Mile.
"One evening I went for a walk," says Dan Maley, who lived on the road as a boy. "About half a mile into the walk, I heard chickens cackling. I turned around to see eight or nine chickens charging at me. I ran, but they kept right on chasing me. They came out of nowhere. But once I passed the mile, they just stopped. And a few days later, the same thing happened with goats."
Dan's experience wasn't uncommon. Many other residents and visitors of the road had experienced similar phenomena. "My neighbors warned me about the road," Dan says. "They told me the road was called Mystery Mile because things like that happened all the time."
We got in touch with Arissa after reading her account. The below is an excerpt from her story, The Angry Boy on Mystery Mile, used with her permission:
"I can remember every night going to bed terrified. I was so cold, even in the summer when it was really hot out. My parents told me I would get used to it but I never did. For four years it went on, this sense of freezing cold and unexplained terror that I felt.
"But one night I decided I was sick of being so scared. I forced myself to get up and go to the window and look out at our back yard. There was someone there and even though it was pitch black outside I could see him as if it were daylight. His face was pale white and his eyes were so sad. I don't understand how but even though he was far away I knew what his face looked like. But the incredible thing was the clothes he had, which looked to be decades old.
"I was so afraid I could not bring myself to turn away from the window. The boy glared at me ... I tried to scream but nothing came out. I felt so sad and so afraid.
"I asked our neighbor about it a few days later. He told me how strange things always happened just past where my house was and that sometimes, the people who lived there would see things and sometimes they wouldn't."
Arissa's account goes on to explain several more sightings of the boy, including one where he appeared in her bedroom. This time, her parents saw the apparition and within a week they had moved out.
One young woman's account might not be enough to convince anyone of anything, but Arissa's story is corroborated by the account of Larry Robinson. A native or nearby Brighton Township, Larry's job as a lawn treatment specialist often took him all over Industry, Ohioville, Ohioview, and Brighton.
"I was on [Rural Route] 68, and I needed to get to Tusca," Larry explains. "Instead of going the long way and driving all of Engle Road, I took a shortcut. I made the left onto Wolf Run and then the right onto Kelly. I'd been that way in the daylight before and figured it would be the quickest way to go. About half a mile into the road, my truck stalled out. Before I could get out and check the engine, I saw this mist in front of me. As it got closer, it began to look like, I swear to God, it began to look like people. Kids, in real old clothes. They just walked right past the truck as if it weren't even there. As soon as they were gone the truck started up. I drove like hell. I was never so scared in my entire life."
There are several reports which seem to indicate a small group of young boys who vanished in the forest more than a century ago, and that occult activity is to blame. If those reports are true, could it be that the spirits of those young men continue to stalk Kelly Road and any who live on it?
"People enjoy being in the spotlight," he says. "They come in droves, everyone looking for their fifteen minutes of fame. We've had people who never even lived on the road try to make some kind of connection so they could get in on the film. But then some of the people who did live there don't want to talk about it. They don't confirm or deny - they just hide. Yeah, it could be because there's nothing to talk about. But it could also be that they did experience something, something that scared them enough that they don't want to bring it back up."
Whatever the explanation for the silence, whatever reasons there might be for the strange happenings on the road, one thing remains clear: the mystery behind this mile has never been fully exposed or fully explained. Perhaps it's because there is nothing to explain. Perhaps it's because those who witnessed it are too afraid to explain it. Or perhaps these events are merely born of our own expectations and preconceptions. Perhaps Mystery Mile is what we make it out to be, what we expect it to be. Perhaps the key to understanding it lies within understanding that we each follow our own way of seeming. Maybe it's not real, after all. Maybe nothing is.