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Horror story spawns modern Louisiana urban legend

The urban legend holds that a Halloween fright farm in rural northern Louisiana was shut down after people went crazy in one of its attractions — a cube-shaped cabin lined with lights and mirrors.
An attraction at a fictional Halloween fright farm has become a new Louisiana urban legend.(Photo: RUDY GUTIERREZ / EL PASO TIMES)

Have you ever heard of The Devil's Toy Box? The urban legend holds that a Halloween fright farm in rural northern Louisiana was shut down after people went crazy in one of its attractions — a cube-shaped cabin lined with lights and mirrors.

Since "There’s A Shack Called ‘The Devil’s Toy Box’ In Louisiana And People Who Go In There Supposedly Lose Their Minds" was published in April 2015, rumors about where the mythical box could be have popped up in my Facebook feed listing everywhere from near Alexandria to up in Union Parish and across the top of the state. (The story contains adult language and content that is meant to be disturbing.)

Particularly in the fall, people want to hunt down the ill-fated attraction.

The author, Joel Farrelly, said he hates to ruin anyone's fun, but the box isn't real.

Farrelly has authored several horror stories for Thought Catalog. Some of his other titles include:

It might be easy to laugh off the internet spawning a new urban legend, but keep in mind that in 2014, two girls stabbed a third child 19 times to appease Slender Man. The girl managed to crawl out of the woods and survived the ordeal. The would-be murderers said they needed to kill someone to appease Slender Man and protect their families from him. All three children were 12 years old.

Eric Knudson created Slender Man in 2009. The preternaturally tall, stretched out humanoid is eyeless, faceless and wears a black suit. Some images have black tentacles coming from its back.

Slender Man was photo-edited into the background of images of children at play, as though it were lurking. Most images imply it preys on children, but some show it holding hands with kids and facing the camera.

The concept of Slender Man has spawned movies, games and stories.

So in Louisiana we can add The Devil's Toy Box to our ghosts, vampires, bridge lights and rougarou.

From 2015: Hauntings found across Louisiana

Traditionally, urban legends have some version of a moral or lesson to learn.

In this case, the lesson is probably just stay out of creepy abandoned roadside attractions.

Farrelly said "Devil's Toy Box" is his most prolific story. It's been read millions of times that he knows of, and other people have reposted it across the internet.

It's met lots of positive reviews, and he's particularly proud of the NoSleep Podcast turning the story into an audio drama, like an old-time radio play.

When he first wrote it, he didn't even like it. Farrelly said he'd apologized to his editor and offered to work on another piece. The editor loved it and posted it.

Since then, the legend has grown more than Farrelly could have expected.

He said he purposefully made instructions to find The Devil's Toy Box conflict so people wouldn't troll along backroads looking for it. For example, Farmer Grave’s Haunted Orchard is a satsuma orchard. The fruit is mostly grown in South Louisiana, but the story is set in North Louisiana.

Farrelly and his friends loved driving to horror houses within a few hours of New Orleans, particularly in high school and college.

When Thought Catalog launched a "Creepy" category, his editor wanted him to create work similar to Reddit's No Sleep thread, where horror writers share stories written in the first-person point of view.

Farrelly said he based the premise on small mirror boxes used by paranormal investigators, also called Devil's Toy Boxes. The idea that the devil, or demons, would come to a room made of mirrors isn't new. It also helped inspire Clive Barker's Hellraiser films.

Joshua P. Warren, a paranormal investigator, discussed using one of the smaller versions as part of an investigation on the February 28, 2012 episode of Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.

Some retellings seem to have conflated Warren's investigations with the fictional shack in Louisiana. (According to the original story, the attraction was built in 2014.)

That was news to Farrelly, but he loves that people have adopted the story and believe in it so much. Sometimes fiction, and fictional characters, can have a lasting impact on people.

From 2016: Local ghost hunters brave the unknown

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