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Urban legends are like the dickheads you meet in school: every town has two or three and, without the internet, no one outside of that town would know who they are.

I love an urban legend. And I loved telling them when I was younger even more. The scarier the better. In fact, no, the more unsettling the better. I loved those urban legends that got so deep under your skin that you’d be picking them out for weeks. A good twist was great; waking up at 3 am in a blind panic that a possessed doll was climbing up your stairs (“I’m on the first set, gonna get ye. I’m on the second step, gonna get ye…” though obviously this one wasn’t told with a Scottish accent) was even better.

In all honesty, my favourite urban legend was that one with the guy flashing his lights at the girl from the gas station and the one that unsettled me most was The Russian Sleep Experiment. Annora Petrova might not knock Slenderman off his perch as king of the CreepyPastas anytime soon, but let me tell you why it’s worth a read.

Synopsis of the Story

The CreepyPasta is set in an epistolary form (a beautiful way to create an intimacy between reader and narrator!). Its an email, sent from an Annora Petrova to a former friend called Bree. It’s a story about a friendship gone sour. So far so Mean Girls, right?

Annora is stressed about an ice-skating competition and, to kill time and focus her mind a little, she Googles herself and finds a prophetic Wikipedia page about herself. It was oddly specific, enough for her to believe someone she knew made it about her. Except….

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Except it said on the page that she won the Crystal Classic the next day.

She confronted her family about it, and they denied creating the page. So she moves along with her life. That is, until she checks it before the next competition. And the one after that. And the one after that. Each time she checks, the Wikipedia page accurately details how she’ll place.

With success building and pressure mounting, sectionals come along and Annora doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. The page says her friend will come first and not her. So instead of leaving the page be, she decides to intervene and updates the page to say that she, not Bree, will win sectionals.

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Instead of now reflecting what she wrote, the page now says “Annora Pertova is a selfish little bitch who is going to get what she deserves.”

Annora Petrova

What follows is a basic, somewhat nonsensical email that details an eventual prediction of Annora Petrova’s death and a few minutes left on the clock.

Annora Petrova Explained

So while the plot is a little pedestrian, a little predictable, and all so very high school, there’s some real meat lingering underneath this story just waiting to be explained.

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The first is the danger of the internet. Now, don’t get me wrong, Wikipedia? Uh, please. Throw in a Tor browser and some Dark Web nastiness and we might have a story to tell, right? Well, lets break this down. One of the scariest things about Wikipedia, at least according to every high school teacher in every country in the West warns us “anyone can update Wikipedia, so it isn’t reliable!” (Try reading some of the articles on Google Scholar and you’ll soon realise Wikipedia is a little more rigorous than some.) And there in lies the fear. Anyone could be doing this to Annora. Not some tech guy or Dark Web organisation lurking between the Red Rooms and drug markets… anyone.

Annora Petrova

The second facet of this is that the danger to Annora Petrova only comes when she interacts with her page. It’s a little on the nose, I’ll give you that, but it’s compelling to its target audience – high schoolers and their parents. This is a fable of the digital age, one that fears the sound of typing keys and ethernet cables (I have no idea how the internet works, I’m just looking at one now). This is a Don’t Take Candy from Strangers like we’ve never really encountered before.

But let’s ignore this genie in a Wikipedia page and explain the true depth of horror of this story. It’s just how easy our lives can be ruined with a rumour. Forget the internet, and the page, and all the rest of it. Annora Petrova’s life is ruined because someone sees her with her friend’s ice skates right before she goes on the ice and the blade of that skate snaps. Suddenly, the promise of the Olympics, the career in competitive ice skating, her reputations within that community, and even the love her family have for her are all gone because of a whispered word.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like the world we live in now? Online or not?

Concluding Thoughts

Is the story of Annora Petrova the CreepyPasta to end all CreepyPastas? No. Not even close. But it does touch on some aspects of high school life that many of us may have forgotten about since we’ve left. The pressure. The friendships and how ephemeral they can feel. The constant seeking of validation from not just our peers, but also ourselves.

— FOUNDATIONS OF HORROR —

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And then let’s think about what went wrong for Annora Petrova… she tried to meddle in a good thing and got burned. Bad.

Last Updated on May 22, 2022.

Conner McAleese
Conner McAleese is a current PhD student at the University of Dundee studying 'spaces' in contemporary horror. His debut novel, The Goose Mistress, was published in 2018 by Dark Ink Press and details Eva Braun's experience of World War Two. McAleese now considers himself a horror writer and has had his short stories published in Blood Rites Magazine and Haunting Voices among others. He looks to the 'disturbing' for inspiration, hoping to academically push back the last taboos in literature to analyse what they represent for today's cultural fears and anxieties. However, he hopes to balance this with a satisfying and long career in horror writing. He currently lives in Dundee and is working on his first horror novel.

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