by reddit user EZmisery
I was born and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Unless you live nearby you’ve probably never heard of it. Even people in the large Wisconsin cities (Madison, Milwaukee) don’t know we exist. Wisconsin in general is known for our cheese, our cows, and our love of beer. And of course for our excess of mental institutions and serial killers.
Ed Gein and Jeffery Dahmer hail from my home state. In case you’ve been living under a rock, they are two of the most infamous serial killers in America. I don’t know if it’s the cold climate or what, but we seem to breed quite a bit of crazy up here.
Sheboygan is not immune from the crazy. We have this old abandoned asylum by the highway. Here’s a picture of it from an old post card. It used to house the criminally insane, at least according to local folklore. This is where the Milk White legend came from.
Milk White was supposedly a patient at the asylum. He was born there, his mother being one of the inmates. No one knew what to do with him so he just crawled around the asylum, eating scraps. He had no other kids to play with. He was an albino and any form of light would horribly burn his skin, so he was never awake when there was daylight. Milk White grew up learning madness from the other inmates, desperate for human companionship. Something about that madness turned him from a human into a demon.
The story is that one day he found a way to get in and out of the asylum. He got it into his head that he could go find friends from the city. He peered into the windows of every house to see if anyone was awake. If he found a child awake, he would steal them away. Of course children are loud, so instead of taking them alive he would use his huge teeth to crush their necks. He would prop up the corpses of the children in the asylum basement, pretending to have an entire room of friends. He would sing them nursey rhymes in the dead of night.
The asylum was shut down a long time ago. Milk White had nowhere to go. So they say he still lives in the abandoned building, going out at night and bringing back the bodies of any kid still awake after dark.
This was all regarded as an urban legend. But I remember that story back from when I was a kid. There was an odd little rhyme that we used to sing on the playground. It went:
Hush now, sleep tight
Or else beware of Milk White
He doesn’t fuss, he doesn’t fight
He’ll kill you dead with just one bite
Parents would use this tale to scare their children into going to sleep. It worked well, or at least it did for me. I fully believed the myth up until middle school. I remember that’s when a new kid moved to town. He was from New York City, so we all thought he had to be way cooler than any of us
His name was Jimmy. He had a New York accent and everything. He wore chucks and had a leather jacket. He wore it all year round, even in the middle of winter. He was never quiet about how much he hated it in Sheboygan. My friend Hans and I made an uneasy friendship with him.
Hans was seventeen but dumb enough to be held back to middle school. He was huge compared to us. We’d been friends for a while. I actually grew up with his brother, Peter. Peter disappeared on a camping trip when we were seven. After that I started becoming closer with Hans. We’d hang out, play video games, and just do nothing. He wasn’t very smart (hence being held back for so long) but he was a good guy. I liked being his friend.
I was a pretty typical 12 year old – scrawny, trying to appear cooler than I was. I wasn’t particularly special but I guess I was a good kid.
Jimmy was the one with all the confidence. He could talk to girls and get himself out of trouble easily. He also thought he knew everything.
It was Jimmy’s idea to scope out the asylum. I think he was bored of the snow and wanted to do something exciting. That’s when I told him about Milk White.
“What a crock of shit,” he responded. “That’s a fucking baby story. You don’t really believe that?”
I looked at Hans, who shook his head stupidly. Hans was pretty happy to have friends, so he would have done anything for Jimmy or me. I was scared, but I shook my head too.
Jimmy decided we would go to the asylum that night. He joked about Milk White, calling him a pathetic excuse for a ghost story. Hans and I were horrified that he would mock the creature that haunted our childhoods. But we tried to act calm about it.
We snuck out around midnight and met up at the over pass. I was bundled in about seven layers of wool. Jimmy, like always, just wore his leather jacket. He led the way as we trudged through the snow towards the abandoned building. It must have been impressive once, but now it just looked decayed. While we were walking Hans grabbed my arm and pointed to the ground. A set of footprints were in the snow. The prints were large, like that of a grown man. But there were toe marks as if the person was barefoot.
I debated showing them to Jimmy but I knew he would just laugh at me. I shrugged at Hans. “Come on.”
We got to the main entrance of the asylum just as a fresh falling of snow began to accumulate. Jimmy tried to open the door but it was shut firmly. He kicked at it but to no use.
Hans was shivering. “Looks like we can’t get in.”
Jimmy laughed at him. “You fucking pussy. We haven’t even tried yet.” Jimmy has a terrible mouth on him. Hans and I were good Midwestern boys, we never swore. But Jimmy was very different than us.
He moved around to a boarded up window. It was low enough that he could use his hands to pry under the boards. With a violent jerk he pulled a plank away. We could see that there was no glass inside. Jimmy made a loud “Aha!” sound and fought the other board loose.
“You coming, pansies?” He pulled himself up to the window and slipped inside.
Hans and I looked at each other nervously. If we went in, we’d be confronting the very thing we had feared since kindergarten. If we didn’t, we’d lose our friendship with Jimmy and probably any shred of reputation. I took a deep breath of cold air and hoisted myself through the window.
I landed on a pile of broken boards. Apparently other people had tried to get in as well, because there were planks everywhere. Jimmy was rubbing his leg. “I think I fucking cut myself.” His jeans had a long gash in them. I stood up and dusted myself off.
Hans flew through the window with a heavy thump. He shrieked and held up his hand. A nail was embedded into his palm. Jimmy went over to him and yanked the thing out. Tears poured down Hans’s cheeks. Jimmy rolled his eyes. “You’re a big fucking baby, aren’t you? Scared of a ghost and a little blood.”
He turned his back on us and started towards the hall. We all had thought ahead to bring flashlights, but they weren’t much help. The halls were pitch black. We walked along the wall, keeping a hand steady to balance. We heard a squeak from behind us and I almost jumped out of my skin. Jimmy just laughed. “Scared of mice now too, queer?”
The entire time we explored the asylum I barely breathed. It wasn’t just the darkness – it was the unknown. We found empty wheelchairs and creepy looking metal cots. Our flashlights scanned the blackness but nothing moved. Once we had been exploring for an hour or so I felt my heartbeat slow. Jimmy was obviously right. Milk White was just a baby story to scare kids.
It was Hans who found the door to the basement. He pointed at it with his flashlight. Jimmy tried the handle but it was stuck. He tried kicking down the door but he just hurt his ankle. I stood silently. Jimmy shone his light into Hans’s face. “You, big guy, kick the door. I want to see what’s down there.”
Hans started trembling and shook his head no. Jimmy pushed him. “Come on, you big idiot. Do something useful for fucks sake.”
Hans looked down, embarrassed. I stepped towards them. “Maybe we show go.”
Jimmy sneered. “Or maybe you should-“
We all stopped because of what we heard. It was footsteps. It sounded like there were coming up the stairs from the basement door. I stared open-mouthed at Jimmy, who was frozen in place. The footsteps were loud. They sounded like skin slapping on metal.
“Turn off your lights, now!” Jimmy hissed.
We all shut our flashlights off and huddled against the wall. Hans was shaking really bad and I could smell that he had peed himself. Jimmy was swearing under his breath.
The footsteps kept going until they were almost right next to us. Then there was the sound of a doorknob creaking. It was completely dark so we couldn’t see a thing. All we could do was listen as the door slid open.
That’s when we heard the voice. It was the deep voice of a man but sung unreasonably high. It sang/whispered, “Hush now……sleep tight….”
Jimmy was rocking back and forth. I could feel the fear emanating from him. He had his jaw clenched and his teeth made a horrible crunch. The voice kept singing, “Beware……beware…..of Milk White.”
I must have trembled because my thumb knocked the on button of my flashlight. In a single second it illuminated the hallway and we could see the source of the voice. All of us gasped as one. It stood barely two feet away. It might have been a man once but now had the posture of a scorpion. It was naked, standing with its feet spread apart like an insect. Its head reared back like it would spit venom. The nails on its feet and hands were so overgrown they curled back into its skin. The teeth jutted from its mouth. They hung down as if it were too heavy for it to list its head properly.
Its skin…it wasn’t white. Not like the rhyme said. It was stained red.
It took a step towards us and whispered, “Kill you dead with just one bite.”
And that’s when Hans bashed my head in with his flashlight.
I woke up on the floor of the asylum. Daylight had only just creeped into the sky. My head was pounding. I struggled to stand but I must have gotten frostbite in the night. My fingers and toes were completely numb. I looked around and saw Jimmy passed out near me. He had a giant bruise on his temple. I tried to wake him, but he wouldn’t stir.
I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to stand up and drag Jimmy out of the window. I wasn’t strong enough to sling him over my shoulder so I had to drag him through the snow. He made soft pain sounds but didn’t wake up. I made it to the tavern by the highway. They weren’t open but I pounded on the door until my knuckles bled, screaming for help.
The owner finally came to see what the noise was and let us in. He was visibly shaken by our appearance. He called the police and our parents. Soon I was wrapped in blankets and slowly beginning to feel warm again. Jimmy eventually woke up in the hospital with minor memory loss.
I told the police my story and they searched the entire asylum. They didn’t find anything. No evidence of any foul play except the blood Jimmy had lost. No one knew where Hans was. His parents were devastated. Now they had lost two sons.
Jimmy had no memory of the night’s events. At least that’s what he said.
My parents made me see a psychologist who told me I created the whole thing in my mind. She said Hans must have done something terrible to Jimmy and I, and I just blocked it out. After all, Hans was so much older and bigger than us. And then he left town so suddenly. The psych implied it was sexual abuse. She said I made up the image of Milk White because I knew that from my childhood. It was easier than facing the truth.
I went to bed before dark every night until I went away for college. I never went back to Sheboygan. My parents hound me to visit but I refuse to return. They think it’s because of what Hans did to me.
But I know what I saw. And I know that Hans only hurt me to knock me out.
He knew that Milk White can’t get you if you’re asleep.