Rationalizations of the “real” nature of paranormal encounters have become more prominent in the public consciousness than straight-up belief. Past trauma, suspected meteorological phenomenon, or visual hallucinations brought on by ingesting two fistfuls of weird mushrooms found growing on the side of the interstate are far easier statements for us moderns to take in than “well…I guess demons are real then.” But every once in a wonderful while, we get an example of the absolutely wild, hilarious, and even (dare we say it) plausible examples of encounters with unexplainable beings. Strap in, folks. This one’s a blast.
Related: 10 Mythological Creatures That Really Existed (Sort Of)
10 The Malawi Terror Beast
Panic is not just a natural human emotion; it is an event that can ruin a community. Many cases of mass hysteria have innocuous or even unidentifiable origins. A brief bout of brain fog due to a cold can send a classroom of impressionable youths into a full-blown fit of sympathetic (and escalating) symptoms, often accompanied by a spurious conspiratorial/supernatural explanation. This isn’t one of those cases. Well, sort of.
The main difference in the case of the “Malawi Terror Beast Attacks” is that the cause of the panic was quite real. Throughout 2003, 4,000 villagers from Malawi’s central Dowa district fled their homes after a spate of animal attacks that maimed and disfigured many and killed at least three. The monster tore our eyes and removed facial features and even limbs. Many locals claimed the beast had an array of magical powers that allowed it into people’s homes to prey upon them. It was probably a rabid hyena.
9 The Escaped Prisoner of War and the Abominable Snowman
Slawomir Rawicz was a Polish soldier and a prisoner of war in Russia in 1941. Not a good place to be, those Soviet gulags. So, he decided to flee. Alongside six other prisoners, Rawicz trudged his way across Siberia, the Gobi Desert, and over the Himalayas in Tibet into British India. This year-long march was punctuated by moments of great hardship and peril. Most notably, a period in the mountains where he and his comrades took a moment to view a pair of Yeti as they also journeyed across the frozen wastes.
The beasts stood 2.5 meters (8 feet) tall and, according to the author: “Their faces I could not see in detail, but the heads were squarish, and the ears must lie close to the skull because there was no projection from the silhouette against the snow. The shoulders sloped sharply down to a powerful chest. The arms were long, and the wrists reached the level of the knees. Seen in profile, the back of the head was a straight line from the crown into the shoulders.” They had shaggy, “brownish-red, grey, and a rust-like” hair all over their massive frames.
That’s quite the account, especially given all the other amazing details of this mammoth journey from bondage to freedom.
Yeah, probably didn’t happen. A BBC investigation in 2006 revealed that Rawicz had been transferred to a refugee camp in Iran in 1942, not the subject of a film-worthy escape across the harsh wilds of the East. Still, cool story.
8 The “Real” Location of the “Well to Hell”
In 2020, YouTuber TechRax traveled to a thermal hot spring called “Diana’s Punchbowl,” found in the desert of Nye County, Nevada. There, he lowered an iPhone 11 into the boiling waters in the pit with the aid of a drone and a fishing line. He wanted to test whether it’d keep recording while submerged in the steaming waters. The first test was successful—the phone was undamaged, letting the viewer get a good look at the rocky landscape beneath the boiling water.
The second test (which is what every good scientist will do—replicate their experiment) revealed something horrific. The rocky landscape was accompanied by the sounds of pained screams and mournful yelling. From inside a hot spring… Did this humble tech YouTuber just encounter a host of damned souls? Or do iPhones really suck at audio capture?
BTW, “Diana’s Punchbowl” is also known as “The Devil’s Cauldron.” Just sayin’…
7 The (Not So) Missing Link to a Tiny Past
Claims of ape-like people living a solitary existence in the more extreme and remote environments are a human universal. There isn’t anywhere in the world where some group or another won’t claim that there’s a tribe of monstrous hominids hiding away. In the islands of Southeast Asia, the hidden tribes of ape-men are called the Orang Pendeck. These critters are unlike the giants that supposedly stalk the Siberian Taiga, the Pacific Northwest, or the foothills of the Himalayas: they’re teensy.
Versus the slew of Bigfoot videos to be found online, it seems that the few Orang Pendeck videos are of a more convincing nature. It’s apparently harder to get a convincing shot of a tiny person (a child, maybe?) to move around like a human-like being in a small costume than renting a King Kong costume for a pal and film them wandering through thick brush (with added whispered exclamations and shaky camera work, of course). The rich folklore surrounding the Orang Pendeck, coupled with the existence of the hominid sub-species Homo floresiensis many millennia ago, will leave even the most ardent cynic/skeptic with a long, drawn-out “maaaayyyyyyybe” on their lips.
6 Witches in Our Airspace
Now, both the videos found in this entry are weird. They seem to show flying/levitating humans. The immediate thought from those who wish the preternatural to be real is, “Aaaargh, witches are real. Hide the kids!” But, even if these were humans with the ability to fly, why would they be evil? Isn’t it kind of cool?
In the video from Monterrey, Mexico shot back in 2006, a humanoid figure gently floats alongside a mountain range, seemingly in a seated position, like an old lady riding an invisible stairlift. The second video, shot in a forested area in (probably) Russia, seems to show the discovery of a mother training her daughter (or child she has kidnapped) to remain static in mid-air. When they hear the video taker’s dog (named “Tarzan,” which is cute) barking at them, the girl descends quickly and runs off into the brush.
Given that both these videos may as well have been shot using a potato (thus making wires and such aids invisible amid the graininess), there is no proof that the footage shows humans with supernatural abilities. What motivates those who wish it were so, however, is equally mysterious—a will for the fantastical…or fear of the unknown?
5 The South African Sea Monster
Back to Africa now, but not to regard a “real” monster. It seems to be quite the opposite—just a dead animal. “Globsters,” as they are wonderfully/grossly termed, are the putrid, festering carcasses of large marine animals that have washed ashore. The ocean is a weird, alien place to us land-dwellers; even the corpses of deep-sea denizens look strange to us. How would you react to a large, woolly white mass if you saw it on the beach? You’d probably assume that this was the body of some titanic polar Bear-God who lost a fight with the Whale-God if you didn’t know better.
What if it seemingly had a trunk?
Well, check out the monstrous pile of goop that washed ashore at Margate in 1924. Locals claimed to have witnessed the creature fighting with two killer whales off the coast a few hours before washing ashore. And, on looking at the mess of furry, stinking flesh on the beach, it seemed to be plausible—a long, unidentifiable creature with a protuberance that resembled a trunk could easily inspire tales of an aquatic mammoth-like beast wrestling whales. Or, as stated before, it was a globster.
4 The Monster with an Untranslatable Name
“Almasty,” what does this mean?
We don’t really know. A scientist at the Soviet Academy of Sciences suggested back in 1964 that the “Almas” (Russian Bigfoot) may be a population of Neanderthals surviving in the Taiga. Maybe it’s a word from their language?
Yeah, probably not.
Supposed interactions with humans are rarely recounted. One prominent story is the “case” (fabricated story, perhaps) of Major General Mikhail Topolski of the Red Army from 1925. On leading his men through the densely forested Russian interior, hunting for rebel fighters, Topolski’s scouts attacked some of the rebels as they made their base in an ice cave. They threw grenades at the entrenched rebels, sealing the entrance to the cave with dislodged rock and ice. One of the men emerged to sue for peace. While they made ready to tentatively engage with their captives, the Red Army soldiers became shocked at hearing gunfire and howls emanate from the partially sealed cave. Rebels began to rush out of the collapsing cave, easy pickings for Red Army marksmen. One survived.
The rebel prisoner claimed that they had been attacked by a tribe of Almasty inside the cave. The monsters began clubbing the rebels with long sticks, prompting the rebels to flee. Only he had made it out unscathed. Topolski’s men claimed then to have identified the body of an Alamsty amid the rubble. They buried the body near the cave, leaving the bodies of the rebels and remaining monsters inside the collapsed cave. Another swashbuckling tale, but probably just that. Russia is a big place, though…
3 Gnomes? Seriously?
There are plenty of people who will watch a “first-hand account” of a paranormal experience and believe it hook, line, and sinker. To most people, however, they tend to see them as either obviously the work of opportunistic liars or the ramblings of a broken mind trying to concoct a fantasy that either deflects from some real-life trauma or a plea for attention.
Well, there are quite a few videos that show encounters with tiny beings, usually sporting the same sort of garb as the gnomes from European folklore. The idea of there being a “hidden folk,” mischievous creatures that hide away from our perception, has long been a feature of folk traditions ranging from South America to Asia.
But gnomes? C’mon. Even leprechauns are scarier than these pot plant-guarding, bearded little old men.
2 Loneliness Is the Real Monster…or Weed?
Like all good love stories, the story of Nancy Hoggert and her lover John begins with some stolen cannabis buds getting consumed and a shotgun aimed at someone’s head.
Stick with it, folks. This is going to get weirder.
Despite the quirky nature of this story on the surface, it isn’t exactly newsworthy. Then the details emerge. “John,” the weed-stealing paramour that Nancy fell in love with, is a sasquatch. Given the obvious outcome of revealing his exact location (government tests and turning poor John into a super-soldier), Nancy keeps most of the details about her supernatural sweetheart under wraps. The sex is pretty good, though, she claims.
1 The Territorial Ghost
Every “psychic” will inform their punters that the spirits that remain, restless beyond the veil of our temporal existence and the hereafter, are just bursting to tell us all about the way they died. Sometimes, if the ghost is known to the asker, they want to tell you nice things and truisms. But, you never hear tell of a spectral incarnation that wants to explain to you how they pee in the in-between realm. Or where some lost treasure is to be found.
One recent story from England seems a good deal more plausible by dint of the fact that the legendary spirit which haunts a creepy part of Somerset’s Quantock Hills, known as “Dead Woman’s Ditch,” has a very simple message to passers-by:
How charming! Given that this lady is said to have been dragged to the ditch by her husband and had her throat cut open, one should be a tad more forgiving when hearing the foul-mouthed epithets thrown about by this gobbly ghoul.
Also, if any reader here has any experience of rural Somerset, this sort of angry response to carless ramblers wandering goofily onto someone else’s land is the exact sort of thing a long-dead local would say. They should count themselves lucky that they aren’t getting peppered by some ectoplasmic birdshot fired from an otherworldly over-and-under.
That, or some local miscreants are swearing at gullible ghost-hunters using Bluetooth speakers.