• Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

Behind Edinburgh’s creepy letters: uncovering the mystery behind H

ByMatteo Smyth

Nov 10, 2020

As we prepare to dust over the cobwebs of this year’s spooky season and begin to look towards midterms and the Christmas break, there is still one mystery that lies unresolved.

Nearly a month after 15 rules enclosed in a letter spontaneously burst onto the pages of Edifess, The Student attempts to piece together the motivations of the man behind the mystery.

After discovering his feature in the front pages of The Student in the lead up to Halloween, H decided to get in touch to set the record straight. The speculation that has been surrounding his spectral superstitions will finally be uncovered.

So who is this faceless figure behind the stories? An opportunistic young writer marketing himself towards a career in crime fiction after university? A sadistic fourth year preying on the naiveties of this year’s crop of freshers? Or a master procrastinator attempting to divert their attention away from the existential dread of impending deadlines?

None of the above, H told me over the phone: “I just watched a lot of horror films over lockdown and thought it would be a fun little project if we ever made it back to uni, I never expected it to get the attention that it has done.”

After 3000 people visited his blog page in a single day, almost a fifth of the total number of students who follow Edifess, it is fair to say that he captured the imagination of Edinburgh’s young minds.

It is no surprise that the city of Edinburgh itself (with a sprinkle of Gravity Falls) was the inspiration for the whole hoax.

Ranked as Scotland’s most haunted city and riddled with gothic architecture, not to mention the countless ghost tours offering to lead unsuspecting guests through ancient lamp-lit cobbled streets, it provides the perfect setting to lay the seed of the supernatural.

H admits that the initial rules were general to Edinburgh: “It was only after I’d written them that I began to think of accompanying them with a story; I’ve been really pleased with how it’s caught on and intrigued people”.

It would seem that those affiliated with the university were the perfect crop to involve in an unfolding mystery, and it is not the first time that the university has been engaged in a sinister activity.

Between 1827 and 1829 Edinburgh was home to two infamous bodysnatchers, William Burke and William Hare, who made a living off the need for bodies to aid anatomical research conducted by the university.

This gave the two friends the perfect bargaining position to sell their 16 victim corpses to Dr. Robert Knox for use in his anatomy lectures. Burke’s crimes eventually caught up with him, and, in a cruel twist of fate, he can now be found in the university’s own anatomy museum.

So with the tales of the One-Eyed Beggar, the Fae of the Meadows, and The Smiling Man finally put to rest, the student population can walk the streets of Edinburgh stress-free in the knowledge that they will not be plagued by the paranormal.

This leaves us then to speculate on the future of the orchestrator of the stories popping up on the 15rulesfromh.com blog. With Halloween and Bonfire Night a distant memory, will we hear of rabid reindeer or perhaps a Santa Claws dropping something more spooky than presents down the chimney?

Probably not, says H: “I plan on writing my weekly stories around the rest of the rules on my blog site but I can’t imagine that I will continue the project after rule 15 has been written out”.

It would seem then that this is the end of the road as far as Edinburgh’s paranormal postman is concerned, but with his identity still firmly under wraps, one has to wonder whether he will resurface, and if he does, in what form this might be.

“I can leave you with one last clue”, H stated as we prepared to wrap up our interview, “the letters in the corners of each of the 13 pages that I sent out will uncover the final answers to the project”.

With the prospect of a second lockdown looming over the population, this then provides an opportunity to find Edinburgh University’s own student Sherlock to unravel the work of this month’s man of mystery.

Image: Matteo Smyth