10 Strangest Small Towns in Fiction
When travelling the world of fiction we see magical lands of wonder, far off planets and many, many small towns. Mostly they are harmless…actually most of them are insane. Filled with oddballs of every description and more than a few supernatural occurrences there are some that are best avoided. These are the ten you should keep off the itinerary.
For the purpose of this feature we’re sticking to locations classed as small towns. Some well known locales such as Stepford (a suburb) and Raccoon City (a small city) didn’t make the cut.
#10 – Sanford
Location: Gloucestershire, Western England
Description: Sanford prides itself on being the perfect English village, complete with rustic aesthetic. Members of the small community are dedicated to maintaining the the title of ‘Village of the Year’. Everything you imagine when you think ‘small English town’ can be found in Sanford.
Why It Should Be Avoided: When we say that the community is dedicated to keeping the ‘Village of the Year’ title we mean that they will murder anyone who gets in the way. Developers, gypsies, buskers and anyone who annoys them suffer violent death at the hands of the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance.
Seen In: Hot Fuzz (Movie)
#9 – Gatlin
Location: Nebraska, USA
Description: A simple town on the highway. Little more than a diner, petrol stations and residences. Much of the town is in disrepair except for the church.
Why It Should Be Avoided: There are a few things that set off alarms bells upon entering Gatlin. For one thing there aren’t any animals or insects. Or adults. The children of the town, who worship a pagan deity known as ‘He Who Walks Behind the Rows’, have sacrificed each of them. It pleases the corn.
Seen In: Children of the Corn franchise (Short Story and Movies)
#8 – Midwich
Location: Southern region of England
Description: A rather unremarkable town in rural England. Small enough that it only has two roads leading in and everyone knows everyone else. A real tight-knit community.
Why It Should Be Avoided: It all stems down to one incident when a noxious gas enveloped the town and an unidentified object was seen hovering over the town centre. Following these all the women in the village became pregnant, giving birth on the same day to a group of pale haired, golden eyed children. The ‘Children’ all form a group mind and possess psychic abilities, which they would use to make people who threatened them have ‘accidents’.
Seen In: The Midwich Cuckoos (Book) and adaptation Village of the Damned (Movies)
#7 – Arkham
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Description: A simple little New England town, with the classic architecture of the era and a straight forward grid layout of the streets. Home to the Miskatonic University, the Arkham Sanitarium and the Historical Society. Known for its gambrel roofs.
Why It Should Be Avoided: Because it is the home to nightmares. Missing, presumably sacrificed, children, eldritch and ancient horrors, tears in time and space, psychopathic madmen, re-animated corpses, alien invasion, bodily possession, witchcraft, cult activity – every Lovecraftian horror exists in Arkham.
Seen In: The works of H.P. Lovecraft (Books and short stories)
#6 – Twin Peaks
Location: Washington, USA
Description: Found near the US and Canadian borders and sitting on the edgec of a lake, the town of Twin Peaks is nestled in the dense woodland. The lumber mill is a major feature of the town, with much of the social scene centred around the diner. Could be described as typical Americana, and known for it’s damn fine coffee.
Why It Should Be Avoided: A dead girl (wrapped in plastic) washing up in the shore of the lake is unpleasant but not enough to warrant a place on this list. When the perpetrator of the murder is the girls own father, possessed by a demonic spirit named Bob, things get a bit for freaky. Supernatural occurrences and surreal prophetic dreams are commonplace. This is a town build on dark secrets.
Seen In: Twin Peaks franchise (primarily Television, also film and books)
#5 – Castle Rock
Location: Maine, USA
Description: A wooded town in a mountainous region tucked into the most north-eastern part of USA. The town is so small it only has a population of less than 1,500, maintaining the rustic cluster of houses and shops and keeping things focused on the community.
Why It Should Be Avoided: For a small place it certainly features a lot of horrible occurances. Madness, mass murder, psychotic dogs, alien intrusion and various supernatural happenings. In short, everything Stephen King decides to unleash on the poor residents.
Seen In: A number of works by Stephen King (Book and short stories)
#4 – Sunnydale
Location: California, USA
Description: Bright skies and high temperatures see plenty of tall palm trees and wide streets winding around Sunnydale. Being only a small town there’s only one nightclub and a couple of other entertainment venues. The high school and college campus are both impressive and much of the town is new. Unusually large cemeteries.
Why It Should Be Avoided: Sunnydale was founded on a very literal mouth of hell. Not only does this make the whole town neighbours with legions of demonfolk but makes it a magnet for all manner of evil activities ranging from vampires, witches, cultists, apocalypses and more.
Seen In: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Television)
#3 – Silent Hill
Location: North-eastern USA
Description: A lakeside resort town. Plenty of docks and public areas, with old fashioned New England architecture surrounded by tall pines. Weather conditions remain foggy.
Why It Should Be Avoided: The towns history of witch burning and cult activity has left a lasting impression on the region. Now abandoned, a supernatural fog blankets the town. Victims are lured into the town, usually looking for answers to a tragic event in their life, and find themselves trapped and hunted by misshapen horrors. The town is also linked to a dark parallel dimension. Although those drawn to the town often find themselves confronting their fears and finding their answers the nightmare they’re put through hardly makes it worthwhile.
Seen In: Silent Hill franchise (Video Games, plus movies and comics)
#2 – Night Vale
Location: A desert in south-western USA.
Description: A small desert town community, complete with a main street, an elementary school, a stadium, a community radio station and a dog park. Dogs are not permitted in the dog park.
Why It Should Be Avoided: Jeez, where do we even begin? Mysterious, supernatural hooded figures who converge on the dog park, the indescribable shape in the park, the angels who appeared before old lady Josie and did some housework for her, the sporting goods store being a front for the world government, glowing clouds that rain dead animals, rifts in the space time continuum at PTA meetings…there is seemingly no end to the strange events that plague Night Vale. The population largely take it in stride, considering such events as routine. Plus there’s the bonus of floating cats appearing in bathrooms.
Seen In: Welcome to Night Vale (Podcast)
#1 – Royston Vasey
Location: North England
Description: From the outset Royston Vasey appears to be the quintessential English rural town. Cobblestone paths and green lawns, and a local shop (for local people). The building of a new road was to help bring traffic in, but various issues prevented this. Still, foreign exchange programs and travelling circuses keep the place interesting.
Why It Should be Avoided: Everyone who lives in Royston Vasey is certifiably insane. The borders are packed with hidden graves due to the piopulation being perverted, murderous or just in it for the torture. If you don’t run afoul of Edwards and Tubbs, proprietors of the Local Shop, there’s the toad obsessed Dentons and their evil twin daughters, the butcher ‘Briss’ who sells his ‘special stuff’ to a select few, the demented government worker Pauline, Herr Lipp the obsessive German teacher, travelling showman Papa Lazarou…
Regardless of whichever one of these lunatics you wind up with, the town motto will ring true: You’ll Never Leave!
Seen In: The League of Gentlemen (Television) and League of Gentlemen: Apocalypse (Movie)