This creepy viral phenomenon is one of many tales revolving around a single strange photograph [like these, for example], which may have first surfaced with no available backstory — as is the case for so many vintage photos posted online.
As the saying goes, nature — not to mention the internet — abhors a vacuum, so countless imaginative individuals have come forward with some particularly spooky mock histories behind bizarre images like the one shown above — depicting a frightened young boy in the grip of two costumed creeps who appear to be dressed as Krampus, the infamous holiday demon of German folklore (and the subject of quite a few horror films and stories).
The image is so sinister that metal band Hellhorse appropriated it for the cover of their 2011 album DECADE OF DUST:
Apart from this use of the photo and a few “creepiest vintage images” lists and memes, its background seems consigned to the trash-heap of history… but one anonymous source claims they know the photo’s real story.
This particular user purports to have information that goes a step beyond mere flash-fiction storytelling, as documented in an odd disclaimer on the Creepypasta Wiki. Identified only as “a blogger from South Carolina,” the author traces the events back to the “Satanic Panic” mass hysteria of the 1980s. They point out that these devastating modern-day witch hunts were extremely widespread in their home state, but took a turn for the horrific in April of 1984, when the author was just 12 years old.
Running an after-school errand for his mother, the author mentions being accompanied by his younger brother Danny on the way to their neighborhood supermarket. He admitted Danny was being a pest that day, and while picking up the groceries their mother had asked for, his annoyance with the boy led him to put distance between them.
That turned out to be a major mistake. In a matter of minutes, Danny was suddenly nowhere to be found. Despite searching the entire store, and the manager calling out for him over the market’s loudspeakers, he had utterly disappeared. Even other customers, when questioned, claimed never to have seen the boy.
The resulting police investigation, though it continued for months, failed to produce any leads whatsoever… no suspects, no clues, no evidence. It was as if Danny had vanished from the face of the earth.
The case remains unsolved today, and the bitter, guilt-ridden author continues to punish himself for it; estranged by his parents, he turned to alcohol and drugs in his later teenage years, and is continually tormented by nightmares… fueled in part by overwhelming guilt and loss, but mostly because of a single, solitary piece of “evidence” the police provided his parents just a few weeks after the search was called off.
That item was the image you see above, which the investigators claimed to have found in an abandoned parking lot… and the author insists the terrified boy in the picture is his missing brother.
The entry ends with another desperate plea for help, asking any users with useful information to reach out via the comments section… but as of this writing, Danny’s whereabouts remain unknown.