Strange Lights, Green Children and Scarlet Men

SymbolTun

The village of Woolpit is located in the county of Suffolk, to the east of Bury St Edmunds. At some point in the mid-12th Century, during harvest time, the villagers of Woolpit discovered two children out in the fields. Dressed in unfamiliar clothing, speaking in a strange tongue, and with a curious green hue to their skin, the boy and girl caused quite a stir locally.

Local legend records that the two emerald children were a boy and a girl; brother and sister, no less. They were taken to the local landowner, where the pair refused all food served to them until they stumbled across a plate of raw broad beans.

The aforementioned beans did not last long.

After some time, the children learnt to speak English, explaining that they came from a place without a sun, bathed in perpetual twilight: a place they called St Martin’s Land, where everything was green. The children had been herding their father’s cattle when they suddenly heard a loud and unfamiliar sound, possibly the sounds of the church bells at nearby Bury St Edmunds, and then the pair found themselves in the fields of Woolpit.

The children eventually lost their verdant hue and settled in the area, working in the household of the landowner.

There are no further reports of visitors from St Martin’s Land.

FieldCorn

It is widely accepted that this famous story is either descended from much older local folklore, or is a rather confused and muddled account of a real event of which the actual history has been lost.

Ufologists, however, are quick to point that this story is one of the earliest encounters of ‘little green men’.

I must confess, UFOs and extra-terrestrial beings are not my particular field of interest. However, a similar event was recently brought to my attention, an event that happened as the nineteenth century transitioned into the twentieth, and took place not too far from my current location.

Tun2BW

The Park Estate is a privately owned residential housing estate just to the west of Nottingham City Centre. Many of the houses are spacious villas, built for wealthy locals from 1809 onwards, despite the objections of the ‘ordinary’ citizens of Nottingham, who regarded the area as belonging to the public.

The area is laid out in the Victorian style, a network of wide streets lit by a network of gas powered lamps.

A copy of the Nottingham Daily Journal, dated Tuesday the 3rd of July 1900, carried a curious account of strange lights seen over the Park Estate the previous weekend. These lights were said to have hovered over the Park Tunnel (a wide walkway carved into a sandstone hill, allowing access to the city centre), before dropping down and vanishing into the earth. Four witnesses testified to this. Apparently this event lasted for several hours, and then repeated itself the next night.

But it seems this aerial display of luminescence was just an overture to something far more bizarre.

The following is a police report from two days later, written by a Constable DB Johnson (I have edited the language of this a little to update some of the more archaic terminology):

‘Having finished my rounds of the Estate for the evening, I was walking toward the tunnel back to the city. I was assailed by a bright flash of light and a smell I had never encountered before. Fearing that the lamp at the far end had ‘popped’ I entered the tunnel. Much to my surprise, I found a large and ruddy character lying upon the floor. He appeared to be completely in the nude. 

‘Having encountered intoxicated men in the tunnel before, I gave the fellow a swift kick on the behind and ordered him to move on.

‘He muttered something at me, a word I didn’t understand. It was then I noticed that the man was besmeared from head to foot in a thick, reddish liquid. He also appeared completely devoid of hair, on both his head and body. 

‘He began to babble something at me. Fearing he had injured himself, I blew my whistle vigorously to summon help.’

Several more constables arrived on the scene and together they attempted to take this large, naked yet hairless man to the local station. He initially resisted, but was eventually subdued.

The constables noted that whilst this man did speak, it was in a language that they could not understand.

The man was duly taken to the station and incarcerated for the rest of the night.

In the morning, the duty sergeant unlocked the man’s cell to check on him, hoping their guest was now in a position to explain himself.

The man was gone. All that remained in the cell to show he was ever there was a large patch of a thick, red liquid on the floor and the lingering smell of ozone in the air.

Tun3BW

All this was brought to my attention by a student at Nottingham University studying local history. She stumbled across the police report and then sought out local newspaper accounts from that period, hoping to glean some further information. The above excerpt was all she could find.

A thorough search of the Psychical Research and Investigation Society’s extensive archives details no further accounts of any other paranormal events taking place in or around the area of the Park Tunnel.

Tun4BW

So who was this large, scarlet man who appeared for six or so hours on that strange July night? Where did he come from? How did he escape the locked cell? And, perhaps more importantly, where did he go? Unfortunately, everyone involved in this particular event is long dead, so the only evidence available is what I have presented above.

Perhaps all this was no more than a misremembered encounter with a drunk. Perhaps the nocturnal lights were just coincidental examples of a little understood phenomenon know as ball lightning.

But coincidence is often a message that has yet to reveal itself. Indeed, this is not my first brush with individuals slipping in and out of reality. Those cases, too, were preceded by strange lights in the sky.

One wonders if there were similar airbourne shimmers in the area of Woolpit just before the appearance of the green-tinged pair in the mid-12th century. Alas, I fear that question will remain unanswered.

Dr Thomas Gotobed 

I’ve found a further entry where the good doctor discusses ball lightning and it’s relationship to paranormal activity, and it’s certainly very interesting! I will write that one up when I get a chance. In the meantime, further information on the green children of Woolpit can be found here – C.R. 

Ghostly Goings-on in the Lace Market

Devil_and_Drum_from_Saducismus_Triumphatus

Strewn throughout mankind’s history lay accounts of so-called ‘poltergeist activity’. The word poltergeist comes from the German, and translates simply to ‘noisy spirit’. A rather mischievous form of haunting, it throws small objects, drags furniture about and raps loudly upon walls and ceilings, often to the soundtrack of disembodied groaning and grumbling. Interestingly enough, these occurrences always seem to have a human focal point, often a young person on the cusp of puberty.

But sometimes it seems a focal point is not required.

Consider an event that took place in the September of 1862, in a quiet unassuming street named Laksegade in the centre of Copenhagen, Denmark.

A great commotion took hold early that morning in one of the houses on Laksegade, and all of the residents fled, panicked, out into the street.

Witnesses report windows being smashed from the inside. Potatoes, cutlery and other household objects soon began to be hurled from the building, all to the background of loud, guttural laughter and cursing emitting from inside.

A crowd began to gather, watching as firewood and furniture was tossed from on high with reckless abandon.

The activity began to fade with the arrival of the police. Officers searched the building thoroughly, but were unable to locate the source of the disturbance. Much to their surprise, the house was completely deserted.

The phenomena eventually petered out later that morning. Due to the lack of potential culprits, the public began to speculate that none other than the Devil himself was responsible.

This particular case gave birth to the popular Danish phrase: ‘Fanden er løs i Laksegade’, which roughly translates to ‘the devil is loose on Salmon Street’. It is a rather more poetic version of the English phrase ‘when the shit hits the fan’.

Copenhagen

A similar, although less well publicised, event took place in Nottingham, England, in 1998.

Early in the morning of the 10th April, Good Friday, on High Pavement in the Lace Market, the streets are sleepy and quiet. Owing to the bank holiday, many workers are at home.

At about 8am, the peace is broken by the sound of shattering glass. The first floor windows of one of the old buildings on the North side (originally a house, recently converted into offices) are blown out from within. Files and stationary begin to tumble to the ground. A passerby, out for a morning stroll, hears the commotion and calls the police, fearing some kind of explosion.

As in Copenhagen, some hundred years before, a crowd begins to form.

HighPavement

7th February 2006

Barry Glenn is a large, softly spoken man. Round of belly and with a warm handshake, he was a police constable in 1998, and one of the first officers on the scene that particular morning.

We meet at a small greasy spoon by Nottingham train station. Over a pot of tea, Mr Glenn shares with me his recollections of that day.

‘The three of us, Constables Reynolds, Constable Jacobs and myself arrived just after 9am. There was already about a dozen people gathered around the building.

‘There was paper and glass everywhere, and things like mugs and pens strewn about the floor, and also the odd television, the big fat type they used to have for computers. The strange thing was; nothing was smashed or broken.

‘We thought it was a prank at first. Everything looked like it had just been placed on the ground deliberately.

‘We started moving people back, when another telly come out of the window. There was a gasp as it fell, and it fell quickly, like you think it would. But then the queerest thing happened. It just hit the ground and stopped. Dead. No damage to it what so ever.

‘Now, I’ve never chucked a television out of window myself, that’s not my style, but I’m quietly confident that if I did, it would shatter on impact with the floor. That’s just common sense, right?

‘While we were puzzling that, this giant wooden desk comes flying out. A big, heavy bugger, made of solid oak.

‘Same thing as the TV. It hits the ground and stops. Not a scratch.

‘After we’d got everyone clear, I went and run my hand across it. The damn thing was warm.

‘All the while this is going on, there’s this odd, kind of ‘grumbling’ sound coming from the building.

‘Not like an earthquake. More like an animal growling. A big animal.’

#

Taking advantage of a break in the commotion, PC Allen and his colleagues try the door to the building, and, finding it locked, they break it down.

The minute the door is open, the activity ceases.

A thorough search commences, yet no one is found inside.

Whilst it is possible that someone slipped past the officers, if that were the case, there is more than a good chance the assembled crowds outside would have seen that person make their escape.

The glass tube that holds the door to the fire exit closed is unbroken.

One would have expected such an event to at least garner a mention in that day’s news. Mr Allen tells me he was interviewed by the BBC later that day, but his spot was bumped for coverage of the arguably more important Belfast Peace Agreement.

TV

These two cases are interesting in that they present certain, classic aspects of the traditional poltergeist haunting, chiefly the unexplained noises and the hurled objects. Indeed, even the odd behavior of said objects as they struck the ground was also reported in the now famous Enfield case. In that instance, marbles and toys thrown across the room at great speed also came to a dead stop, and were also warm to the touch.

But, in both the Laksegade and High Pavement occurrences, there is one important omission from the catalogue of traditional poltergeist motifs: the lack of a human focal point.

Is it possible that some disembodied force was capable of generating the power required to cause such destruction? Were they somehow manifestations of some kind of unfocused frustration or rage? It is worth noting that in both of these cases, not one person was physically injured during the activity.

If only it were possible to recreate the conditions required to bring forth such an event. The mind races at what we might discover.

Dr Thomas Gotobed

This all happened a short distance from where I currently work, and I have never heard of this case. I did some digging through back issues of the local paper in the library and managed to find a small two paragraph long article tucked away on page 17 of the April 14th edition of the Evening Post titled ‘Ghostly Goings-on in the Lace Market’. Sadly, Nottingham Central Library were unwilling to let me borrow their copy for reproduction.

Once again, I’ve added some links to the article for those who’d like to look into some of the mentioned cases – C.R.

Wires Crossed with the ‘Other Side’

SymbolPhone

17th August 1992

Denton Baines is a currently an electrical engineer, employed by a well-known British manufacturing company. Short but powerfully built, he is jovial fellow, quick with a smile, although one cannot help but perceive that he is probably someone you would not choose to mess with.

Back in the early ‘90s, during the Gulf War, he was a tank crewman for the 1st Armoured Division.

But it is not his military career that concerns us today, rather what he experienced on his return to the United Kingdom.

I have been in contact with Mr Baines for several weeks, and he kindly invites me to his house in Kingston for a spot of tea and to discuss the events that, in his own words, ‘started out weird and just got weirder’.

Tank

“The last action I was involved with was actually Operation Norfolk, in Southern Iraq. The ceasefire was called soon after that. I was there for a few more weeks before I got out. I’d been in the army for six years by that point. I’d got my Engineering certificates, so I was done.

“I went back to base at Verden to collect some belongings, then I drove to Hamburg and caught a commercial flight back to London from there. I was going to move back in with my parents in Croydon for a bit, so I could sum up my options. 

“The ‘plane was pretty empty, and there was lots of spare seats, including those next to me. About halfway through the journey this pale little guy in an ill-fitting suit plonks himself down to my right.

“I gave him ‘the smile’. You know it, the one you give when you want to acknowledge someone’s presence but you also want them to sod off? Most of the time, it works.

“Sadly, not that time. 

“This guy, he starts talking to me, asking me a bunch of personal questions.” 

“What kind of questions?” I ask.

“Weird stuff. Like which way I faced when I slept, did I ever sit down to take a whizz, had I ever had terrible dandruff. Stupid things like that. 

“He had this notebook that he was writing stuff down in. Which was odd, as I wasn’t even answering his questions, just trying to make him to go away.

“Eventually a stewardess came over and asked him to go back to his seat. I didn’t see him again.

“Then, as I’m leaving Heathrow at the other end, bags in hand, someone else starts badgering me. Another pale little guy, in an equally ill-fitting suit, would you believe. And he starts asking me stupid questions as well. 

“I just ignored this guy and got in a taxi. 

“And then something even odder happened.

“I hadn’t told my family I was coming home. I wanted it to be a surprise. But when I arrived, they  weren’t surprised in the slightest. Apparently I’d phoned a couple of hours before to tell them I was on my way.

“Not only did I not ring them, I was on the plane when they received the call.”

MapCroydon

This was just the first in a series of strange calls the Baines household receives after Denton’s return.

Over the course of the next few days the telephone rings no less than a hundred times. When answered, a distant, metallic voice asks to speak to Denton Baines. When Denton takes the call, the voice spouts a series of nonsensical ramblings and bizarre non-sequiturs.

Fortunately, Mr Baines is able to record several of these calls. The following is one example, recorded on the 20th of March 1991.

Denton Baines: Hello?

Voice: May I speak with a Mr Denton Baines, please?

DB: Speaking.

Voice: Denton Baines, of the family Baines?

DB: You know it’s me. Who is this?

Voice: You are destined for great things, Baines. Your waters will run clear for decades.

DB: Why do you keep calling me? What do you want?

Voice: I saw you once out in the sands. The others are just copies, pretending to be you. I saw you out in the sands. Hiding in that metal box on tracks… 

[static]

[a series of monotone beeps]

Voice: …in the dead of winter, steam will rise from the wounds…

[more static]

DB: Hello?

[more static]

Voice: …when the sun burns out on the lake and you have no more moves left. [laughter]

DB: What’s that even supposed to mean?

Voice: May I speak with a Mr Denton Baines please?

[dial tone as DB hangs up]

The voice speaks rhythmically, pronouncing each syllable with equal length and stress.

###

A second phone call, recorded on the 21st of March 1991:

DB: Hello? 

Voice: May I speak with a Mr Denton Baines, please?

DB: Speaking. Who is this? 

Voice: Alpha. Episilon. Zeta. Lambda. Kappa. Twenty clicks until goodbye-time. All your ducks in a row. 

DB: What is that supposed to mean? What do you want? 

Voice: Goodbye, Commander Baines. 

[dial tone as the Voice hangs up] 

It is worth noting that Mr Baines has never held any kind of officer rank, let alone ‘Commander’.

###

Mr Baines’ father contacts the phone company and asks them to check the line and trace the source of these nuisance calls.

The phone company does as requested. According to them, there is nothing wrong with the Baines’ connection. According to them, each phone call is being made from an entirely different location to the one before. Some of these locations are over a hundred miles apart.

The household also begins to receive a different type of phone call, chiefly from the proprietors of local businesses such as takeaway restaurants and taxi firms.

They all have the same request: ‘Please stop contacting us, Mr Baines, or we’ll go to the police’.

Apparently these businesses have themselves been receiving numerous nuisance calls, and when Denton Baines asks them who they have spoken to, they all give him the same answer.

You.

In the past few days, the phone has only been used to dial out to the phone company.

Wires

It is possible that it all this was simply an elaborate hoax. But how could these hoaxers co-ordinate a series of mass prank calls made from phones all across the country, and also impersonate Mr Baines’ voice accurately enough to fool his own family? And more importantly, to what end?

I put forward the theory that some unknown agency was having a great deal of fun at the expense of Mr Baines and his family. Indeed, these events appear to be a modern update of classic poltergeist behaviour, with garbled and nonsensical telephone calls replacing moving objects and notes written by an unknown hand.

However, this does not explain the appearance of the pale-skinned men on the aeroplane and at the airport, nor their puzzling behaviour.

Telephone1

The phone calls to the Baines’ household end a week after they begin, almost to the hour.

However, the final call is different to the others. It consists of a series of rapid squeaks and high-pitched babbling sounds.

This call is also recorded and I send the tape to an associate of mine who specialises in sound manipulation and analysis.

The tape is returned to me a few days later, along with a note that simply reads ‘very funny, Thomas’.

Perplexed, I follow this note up the next day. Apparently the tape I sent to my colleague consisted of nothing more than the sped-up audio track of an old episode of Scooby Doo.

If there is a great celestial prankster, it seems that he or she has learnt how to use the telephone.

Dr Thomas Gotobed 

When I first read this one, all I could think was ‘why don’t they just use caller ID!?’ It’s probably worth remembering that this report is from the early ’90s, when smartphones were non-existent and basic mobile phones weren’t exactly prevalent.

I’ve added some links to past articles to this one, hopefully to further illustrate some of the ideas that the good doctor mentions – C.R.

The Modern Golem: Part Two – The Tenth Iteration

This is the second part of this report. For this to make any sense, I recommend that you read The Modern Golem: Part One – Recollections of Prague – C.R. 

St Pancras

4th September 2011

After many months of correspondence, the mysterious ‘Mr Smith’ finally agrees to meet me in person. He insists that we meet in the daytime, in a crowded area, so I suggest a coffee shop located in amongst the bustle of St Pancras.

Mr Smith agrees.

When he arrives, I am surprised by his advanced age. Indeed, even with the aid of a cane, he can barely walk.

We shake hands and take a seat at a table. I order us some coffee, and Mr Smith pours a large amount of something golden from a hip flask into his cup. I decline his offer of the same.

After some initial pleasantries, he begins to talk about what has brought us here. He has a thick Israeli accent, but his English is impeccable.

“I was an assistant to Dr Bentov, one of several. The Israeli government set up a laboratory for him in the desert. State of the art, not a shekel spared. And this was in a time when all the country’s money was supposedly tied up looking after the thousands of refugees who were coming every year.

“But Bentov was special, and the government knew that. Sure, he was a grouch, with a nasty temper, but that was understandable after everything he had been through. And he was brilliant. An exceptional mind.

“They built the Foundation for him. 

“Most men of science refute everything spiritual, but not Bentov. Bentov was looking for a way to reconcile the scientific with the mystic, the natural with the supernatural. And he did it.”

“To what end?” I ask.

“That is simple, Dr Gotobed. Revenge.

“Bentov created a weapon from metal and clay, a weapon that the Lord himself breathed life into. A weapon without a soul.

“At least, that’s what we thought.

“I sense you don’t believe me, Dr Gotobed. Well, let me ask you this: have you heard of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre? Part of their remit was to track down surviving Nazis and bring them to justice, with mixed results. The Wiesenthal Centre had hundreds of investigators at their disposal, and several teams of agents out in the field. At the Foundation there was Dr Bentov, his six assistants, myself included, and our very own sword of vengeance.

“Our modern-day Golem.

“And she never failed.”

###

Kurt Backe, a doctor at the Birgen-Belsin concentration camp, fled Germany in 1945, using one of the many Nazi ‘ratlines’ to escape to South America. He eventually settled in a small town in Panama under an assumed name and found work as a General Practitioner.

His true identity was discovered in July of 1977. However, the Panamanian government refused to deport Backe, warning the Israelis not to come after him.

In the August of that year, Backe’s housekeeper claims a tall, dark haired woman walked into the house one evening and killed the doctor with a single blow to the head. His body was found stuffed into the trunk of a car parked at Tocumen International Airport.

###

“We built nine iterations before we achieved the desired result, Bentov refining the process and the formula each time.

“For the tenth iteration, we used clay from the banks of the Vltava and the Elbe, and a new metal the Americans had given us. They didn’t tell us what it was or where it came from, but it was as hard as steel and substantially lighter. Bentov used it to make a skeleton. And a clockwork heart. He spent months on that, putting it all together and inscribing the formula onto it.

“We named her Ten.”

###

Otto Fuchs, an SS guardsman at the Dachau concentration camp, resurfaced in Argentina in December of 1977. A week later agents from the Wiesenthal Centre visited a hotel in Buenos Aries with the intention of extraditing Fuchs to France to stand trial.

By the time they arrived, Fuchs was dead, killed by a single blow to the head.

###

“I was tasked with teaching her how to interact with people. It was tough going; she had a habit of taking everything literally.

“She asked me once if we’d made her just to kill people. I explain about the Holocaust, and how the men she would be hunting had to be brought to justice. I think she understood. But that’s why I struggle to believe that she didn’t have a soul. If that were true, why would she care?”

###

Klaus Ittner was a senior SS officer, responsible for the murder of hundreds of Italian Jews. He escaped to Bolivia after the war, where he was protected by the US intelligence service, ostensibly for his help with Anti-Soviet operations.

His location was discovered by the Wiesenthal Centre in 1980.

The US government sent word to the Israelis that Ittner was off-limits and not to be targeted.

The former SS officer was squirrelled away to a safe house in the mountain town of Sorata, along with a US security detail.

Less than 48 hours later, Ittner and the security team were dead, all killed by blows that resulted in massive blunt force trauma.

One witness reported that a tall, dark haired woman, a stranger to the town, was seen descending from the mountains on the evening of Ittner’s death.

She did not stay.

###

“She used to call me after her kills. I don’t mean the Foundation. Just me. She sounded… sad.”

###

Over the course of January 1978, a further nine suspected Nazi war criminals were found dead in Bolivia, all killed in the same manner.

###

“Bentov died in his sleep in 1981. He never trusted anyone else with his formula, so it died with him, and the Foundation closed.

“As for Ten, she called me one more time. She asked if she was now free.

“I didn’t know what to say.

“She told me that she was coming here, to London, to try and live like a person. I won’t ever forget that conversation.

“I never heard from her again.”

Cogs1

An assassin created from metal, clockwork and clay, animated by God and taking out former Nazis in South America? Even with all the things I have seen and heard over the years, this does seem rather far-fetched.

And yet, when I ask Mr Smith if he has any proof to back up his claims, he hands me a sealed file and gets up to leave. Before he goes, I ask him why he is telling me all this.

“Because, Dr Gotobed, if she is still around, and she decides she needs help or guidance, she will come to someone like you.”

“Like me?” I ask.

“Someone who will believe her.”

Top Secret

Inside the file was a communique, on paper headed with the official seal of the United States government, sent from US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to the then Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yitzhak Shamir, dated the 11th of March 1980.

It reads thus: ‘This policy of pursuing Nazi war criminals no matter what is putting serious strain on international relations. Call off your bitch, or we will do it for you.’

The reply came, not from Shamir, but from the Bentov Foundation.

It rather tersely states: ‘You are more than welcome to try.’

Cogs2

Still not convinced by all this, I mentioned Karl Bentov to an acquaintance of mine, an old friend from university who worked for the foreign office in the early 90’s as a liaison to Yaov Biran, the then Israeli ambassador.

She told me that when Biran was presented with a challenging diplomatic issue, he would often lament the fact that there was no longer a Bentov Foundation to take care of it.

My acquaintance tells me that she never understood the reference.

Dr Thomas Gotobed 

Wow. I’m not sure what to make of all this either. This entire report reads like the plot of a sci-fi film. I guess the good doctor saw enough in it to write it up, and that it would be of interest to whoever these reports are for – C.R. 

The Modern Golem: Part One – Recollections of Prague

Prague Golem

Scattered throughout the past are tales regarding beings created from inanimate materials and bought to life by some otherworldly agent or obscure process. From the Norse tale of Mökkurkálfi, a giant moulded from clay built to assist Hrungnir in his second duel with Thor, to the animated corpse of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a veritable jigsaw of a man pieced together from several, disparate sources. These stories litter history, and are often seen as a way to hold up a mirror to mankind’s ambition and hubris.

The Golem of Jewish legend is somewhat different.

While still a creation of clay bought to life by clandestine rituals and divine power, the Golem is seen more as a guardian, a protector, even a force for vengeance; a being capable of committing acts that Judaism, a culture that traditionally prides itself on reasoning and pacifism, would consider abhorrent.

A creature given life by wisdom and knowledge, but, without a soul of it’s own, a creature capable of terrible violence.

Prague2

The following is the tale of Jehuda Loew ben Bezalel, chief Rabbi of the Jewish town in Prague (the capital of what was then Czechoslovakia), in the 16th Century.  The Rabbi’s followers loved him so much he was known as the ‘Exalted One’.

In the year 1580 a fanatical priest named Thaddeus began to sow disharmony and discord in Prague, with the intention of disrupting peace and harmony by raising superstitious accusations of ritual murder against the people of the Jewish quarter.

Rabbi Lowe learned of this. In a dream, he raised a question upwards, hoping to discover a solution to the problem of how to fight this new, evil enemy.

The reply came.

‘Ata Bra Golem Dewuk Hacomer W’tigzar Zedim Chewel Torfe Jisreal.’

Put simply, ‘You shall create a golem from clay, that the malicious anti-Semitic mob should be destroyed’.

But there was a hidden meaning, one that had to be understood for the instruction to be effective. Using Kabbalistic formulae, Rabbi Lowe began to extract the real meaning behind the message. When he was done, he knew how to create a Golem.

Even to one so holy as the Exalted One, the creation of life is forbidden. But, in this case, could such an act be weighed against the lives that would be saved? Rabbi Lowe was willing to believe it could.

He called for two others to assist him, Jizchak ben Simson, his son-in-law, and Jacob Ben Chajim Sasson, a disciple, and entrusted them with the secret of how to create a Golem. 

“I ask for your help because for the creation of a Golem, four different elements are required. Jizchak, you are the element of fire; Jacob, you are the element of water, and I am the element of air. Together we shall create a Golem from the fourth element, which is the earth.”

On a certain day, after midnight, the three men bathed with special devotion in the ritual bath. At home they performed the midnight lament for Jerusalem and prayed. Lastly they travelled to the banks of the River Vltava and located a place where clay could be found.

Then they set to work.

Chanting the psalms by torchlight, they shaped a human body from the clay. And there before them lay the Golem, motionless as a dead body, his lifeless face pointing up, towards the heavens. 

Starting at the feet, Rabbi Lowe instructed Jizchak to walk seven times around the body, chanting the words of creation.

When Jizchak was done, the body glowed as fire.

Rabbi Lowe instructed Jacob to do the same.

When Jacob was done, the fiery red faded and water rushed into the body of clay. Hair began to sprout from the head and nails grow upon the fingers and toes.

Then Rabbi Lowe himself walked around the body, placing a parchment into the Golem’s mouth. Written on the parchment was a name; the name of God.

All three men bowed to the east, the west, the south, and the north. They spoke in unison:

“And the Lord formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

The three elements of fire, water and air combined with the earth. The Golem opened his eyes and looked about him.

He was alive.

Silent, but alive.

The three men walked their new creation to the synagogue.

On the journey, Rabbi Lowe said to the Golem: “We have created you from a lump of clay. Your mission is to protect the Jews from persecution. Your name will be Josef and you will live in the Rabbi’s house. Josef, you must obey my commands no matter when and wherever I may send you – into fire, into water, to jump from a roof or even to the seafloor.”

Josef silently nodded and gestured to show he understood.

Prague3

This is but one of several stories regarding the creation of Golem in Jewish history. This particular account is interesting in that it happens in a specific year, unlike most folk tales of this nature. And, again unlike most folk tales of this nature, the main character is an individual whose life can be traced throughout history.

This particular story ends with the removal of the parchment from the Golem’s mouth, rendering it immobile once the danger in question has been defeated. The clay figure was hidden in the attic of the Old New Synagogue, where it could be restored to life if ever required again. No one was permitted to enter the attic for many years. When the synagogue was renovated in 1883, workman found no inert body of clay. But, interestingly enough, some reports from the time claim that, inside the attic, in the thick dust that lined the floorboards, was the outline of a large man, as if someone of great stature had lain still upon the floor for a very long time.

But all this is just a story. There is no physical evidence to suggest that life can be granted to shapes made of clay.

But I have learned that even the most outlandish of folktales often contain at least a kernel of truth.

Not too long ago, my acquaintance at the Ministry of Defence put me in touch with an elderly individual who would only identify himself as ‘Mr Smith’.

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Mr Smith and I entered into a lengthy written correspondence, over the course of which this mysterious fellow claimed to be a scientist employed by an organisation known as the ‘Bentov Foundation’, based in Israel.

Mr Smith went on, at length, to detail a most intriguing sequence of events, events that span several decades.

I shall attempt to compile these events in this report.

The first takes place during the Second World War, in the same city where Rabbi Lowe spent his life.

VitruvianMan1

Karl Bentov was born in Prague in 1911. A highly intelligent and driven individual, Karl’s family expected him to become a great scholar.

But the young man had other ideas.

Whilst he did study the Hebrew scriptures with great conviction, particularly the older, more esoteric texts, he also took great interest in the natural sciences. Building a laboratory for himself, he quickly began to learn much about biology, chemistry and physics, alongside the knowledge he was acquiring into the ancient ways of his people.

He became something quite unique amongst his peers; a man steeped in the Kabbalistic mysticism of the past as well as learned in the scientific knowledge of the modern day.

Bentov was fascinated with human anatomy and the forces that drive it. His laboratory was strewn with diagrams of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and Mechanical Knight, and the shelves of his bookcase groaned with ancient tomes and manuscripts discussing the nature of the soul.

The following is a translated entry from the diary of one Velém Kohn, a resident of Prague and a friend of Karl Bentov. The entry is dated the 8th of July 1937.

‘Karl and I had a very animated debate last night about what it is that actually make a man ‘alive’. I was arguing on the side of God, that only the Lord possessed the power to grant life. He countered that one day science may be able to perform such a feat. I told him that that would be blasphemy, to which he gave the reply ‘not if it were justified’.

‘After a few glasses of beer, our conversation turned to Europe, and events beyond our borders, specifically the dark rumblings coming out of Germany, and how long will it take for her gaze to turn towards us here in Prague.

‘Karl told me that he was working on something, something that might save us. ‘Something new?’ I asked. ‘Not exactly,’ he replied. ‘Something new created with the help of something very, very old’. 

‘We went to his laboratory and he showed me what he was working on. It was a skeletal torso and arm, built from metal and articulated by an elaborate clockwork mechanism. 

‘I could tell as soon as he’d shown it to me that he regretted it. He made me promise not to tell anyone about his work.

‘I suspect it may be wise to stay away from Karl for a while.’

Whether Velém and Karl ever rekindled their friendship was sadly rendered moot in March of 1938.

The Nazis entered Prague.

Sudetenland+Hitler

In 1942, with the Second World War entering it’s third, bloody year, Bentov was separated from his family and deported to Theresienstadt ghetto, then to Aushwitz-Birkenau, on to the labour camps in Hamburg and finally the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Perhaps it was for the best. If the Nazis had known of Bentov and his work, they may not have been so quick to send him away.

After the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen camp, Bentov returned to Prague, only to find his family dead, his laboratory destroyed, and the Jewish Quarter of the city devastated.

Bentov never spoke a word about the horrors he no doubt experienced between 1942 and 1945, but he was often to be heard publicly cursing the Germans and swearing revenge on every single soul who committed those heinous acts on his family and his people.

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Very little is known of Bentov’s whereabouts and actions until 1950, when a representative from the Israeli Immigration Department turned up in Prague looking for him. He found Bentov, now cutting a somewhat bitter and frustrated figure, praying in the Old New Synagogue.

Bentov returned with this representative to Israel, which was unusual for two reasons: very few Czech Jews emigrated to that part of the world, and it was almost of unheard of for the Israeli government to actively seek out individuals to do so.

But emigrate Bentov did. And here he drops from sight once more, at least until the late 1970’s, when a series of murders occur in South America, murders that can be linked back to a foundation set up in Karl Bentov’s name.

Part 2 of this reported can be found here: The Modern Golem: Part 2 – The Tenth Iteration – C.R.

The Wolf of Awsworth

SymbolClaw

Awsworth is a small village in the Broxtowe district on the edge of Greater Nottinghamshire. A former mining community, a little over 2,000 people currently call it home.

Back in the early 90’s, it was the location of a series of most unusual sightings.

But first, an urban legend. One I have heard attributed to several places, but the first time it was told to me was in relation to Awsworth.

According to local lore, in late 1976 a teenage boy found a Ouija board in his grandparent’s attic. Deciding to test its power, he declared out loud that he would gladly trade his soul to Satan in exchange for the ability to turn himself into a werewolf. Later that evening, a friend of the boy received an odd phone call, consisting of strange growling and guttural noises.

The next day the boy was found dead in his bedroom, having slit his own throat with a knife made of silver*.

This tale is certainly interesting, if only because it highlights the English propensity for placing blame at the Devil’s door for the misfortune of the young.

But, as I stated, it is probably no more than an urban legend. There are no records of any young males passing away in the village in 1976, let alone by suicide.

Yet there is evidence of something lupine abroad in the sleepy lanes of Awsworth some fifteen years later.

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22nd May 2012

Phillip Bishop is a short and jovial fellow. Apparently in his mid-40’s, he has the countenance of someone half that age. Back in the August of 1992, he had just started as the local postman in the village.

Currently a painter and decorator, Mr Bishop has kindly taken an afternoon out of his schedule to meet me at The Bell Inn in central Nottingham. Over a pint of Guinness he tells me of his experience in the summer of ’92.

“It was a Saturday. I know that as I had the next day off. No post on a Sunday, yeah. I was ‘sposed to meet my friend Travis for a few beers at our favourite pub, The Gate. I ‘member that I’d woken up late. I always had a nap on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t want to be falling asleep at the pub. I’d done that before and woken up with a dick drawn on my face in permanent marker.

“Anyway, like I said, I’d slept a bit longer than I’d meant to. So I got dressed, scarfed down a sandwich and jumped on my bike.

“It was getting dark, but it was still warm, and a full moon with it. I flew down Main Street on my way to the boozer.

“As I was going down the road, I saw in the distance this tall guy. He really stood out, dressed all in black. It looked like he had a long coat on, one that went all the way down his legs, and a hat pulled down over his face.

“He seemed… out of place, just standing stock still by the side of the road in the moonlight.

“As I got closer, I realised it wasn’t a man at all.”

I ask him what it was.

“It was like a… a dog, I ‘spose. A giant dog. Stood up on is back legs, like a guy. With pointed ears and this big, long snout.

“It was staring at me with these big yellow eyes. I didn’t even think to turn around. I just pedalled by it as fast as my bike would carry me.

“As I went by it kinda growled at me. Like it was saying, ‘I see you, lad. Keep going. Keep going.’ And it didn’t take those horrible yellow eyes off me. Not once.

“I got to the Gate and told Travis about this weird dog-man. He didn’t believe me at first, but as the beers went down he could see I wasn’t lying. I was pretty shaken up by the whole thing. After a couple of hours and some ‘Dutch courage’, we decided to go back and look for it.

“We didn’t find it. I cycled that route many nights after, and I never saw anything like that thing again.

“I’m not crazy, Dr Gotobed. And I wasn’t drunk. Like I said, I was on my way to the pub when I saw it. Between you and me, I wish I’d never seen it.”

Mr Bishop’s apparent desire to be believed, I find, makes him all the more credible.

But were there other sightings of this mysterious dog-man that warm summer in 1992?

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Two mornings later, at nearby Swindlegate farm, two horses were found dead in their stables. Their carcasses were torn apart as if, in the words of the stable owner, ‘savaged by something particularly large and particularly nasty’.

The local authorities were at a loss to explain what could, and indeed, would, cause such carnage.

The trail falls silent, and no further sightings are reported. At least until early 1994.

#

According to police records, late in the evening of January the 11th, one Mr Tankard was on his way back to his home in Awsworth from Gatwick airport, his long-haul flight from the Caribbean having touched down a few hours previous.

Mr Tankard was, by his own admission, very tired from his journey, and he was struggling to stay awake at the wheel.

At about midnight, he turned off the A610 and onto Awsworth Lane, the road that eventually becomes Main Street. Half a mile along, a large black shape bounded across the road in front of him. Mr Tankard slammed on his brakes, but it was too late. His vehicle struck the dark mass head on and with a dull thud sent it flying into a nearby field.

Mr Tankard stopped his car and he went to look for whatever he had struck. He found it, a few yards away. He recalled it was a large animal, possibly a dog, although bigger than any canine he had ever seen. It wasn’t breathing, so, after checking his car for damage, he continued home and called the police when he got there.

CountryLane1

23rd May 2012

Paru Singh was the Scenes of Crime Officer on duty that night, and she was asked to accompany a local police officer out to the location of the accident. They were the first on the scene.

I meet her at a local coffee shop where she shares with me her recollection of that early January morning.

“An officer had gone to Mr Tankard’s home and was telling us over the radio what we could expect. He said the old boy reckoned he’d struck some kind of dog. Like, a massive dog. He seemed to think that it might’ve even have been a wolf.

“But you and I know that there are no wolves in England, am I right, Dr Gotobed? There hasn’t been for two hundred years.”  

She blows the steam from her coffee and takes a sip.

“But the officer who was at their home and had looked over the car said he’d found tufts of black fur stuck in the bumper and the radiator grille.

“So that I got me thinking it might’ve been a German Shepherd or a husky of some kind. They can get pretty big, and the old boy did say he was knackered. Maybe his eyes were playing tricks on him? Tiredness mixed with driving at night can do that to a person.

“But as we were driving down Awnswoth Lane it struck me how bright the moon was that night, and there were no clouds at all.

“We found the skid marks on the road, that must’ve been the point where Mr Tankard had hit the brakes, and we got out and searched the field next to the road. We found the body quite quickly.

“It wasn’t a German Shepherd, or a husky.

“And it certainly wasn’t a wolf.”

What was it?

“It was a man. A naked man.”

An autopsy was conducted on this corpse and the cause of death was noted as massive internal trauma caused by the impact with Mr Tankard’s vehicle.

The man was six foot seven tall, in his early forties, and judged to be in robust health at the time of his death. Apart from an impressive amount of body hair, there was nothing deemed unusual about him physiologically.

His fingerprints and DNA were taken and ran against all databases available to the police at the time, to no avail. Even after a huge media campaign, no one ever came forward to claim the body.

He was buried in a shared, unmarked grave, his identity still a mystery.

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So who was this hirsute man running around the fields of Awsworth during a January full moon? Was he somehow the same creature that Mr Bishop saw, the same beast responsible for the deaths of the two horses at Swindlegate farm? Or was the young postman mistaken that night in July, and the incident at the nearby stables merely coincidental?

Either way, Mr Tankard hit something that night on his way home from the airport, and to this day, he insists it was an animal, and definitely not a human being that he struck.

Once again, there is a curious end to this case. Paru Singh tells me that several years later, one of the other bodies buried in the same unmarked grave as our mystery man was exhumed, evidently to be subjected to further DNA testing. According to her, the officers charged with performing this task were most unamused to find someone had buried the remains of a large canine in the same plot.

The Scenes of Crime Officer did not point out the rather obvious correlation, instead choosing to discreetly hold her tongue.

I fear I would not have been able to do the same.

Dr Thomas Gotobed

* I also heard this tale was I was younger, but in relation to a village in Yorkshire, not Awsworth. When I read this file, I couldn’t help but note the similarities with this earlier report – C.R. 

‘Strange Effects’ out in the Desert

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The submarine U-122 was a type IXB U-Boat of Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine, active during the early years of World War 2. She was launched on the 20th of December 1939 and commissioned roughly three months later under her first and only commander, one Korvettenkapitän Hans-Günther Looff.

In June of 1940, she disappeared without trace.

Her last reported location was approximately 56.00N, 10.30W, apparently returning to her operational base just west of Cape Finisterre in Spain. Historians speculate that she may have been sunk by a collision with the British steam tanker the San Filipe on the 22nd of June, or by depth charges launched from the HMS Arabis on the 23rd.

Either way, U-122 was declared lost with all hands.

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In 1978, 33 years after the end of the war, nearly five thousand pages of translated U-Boat logs and diaries were released by the United States Office of Naval Intelligence. These documents were seized by Allied forces in the April of 1945 at Castle Tambach in Coburg. They consist of a daily narrative detailing operations, intelligence reports, claimed successes and losses, organisational matters, and discussions of tactical and strategic issues.

I must confess, I was not planning to peruse them: naval operations are not my primary interest. However, a few weeks ago, a colleague of mine at the Royal Navy sent me a package. Within this package were excerpts from these logs. Several passages that my colleague believed I would find interesting were highlighted. I shall reproduce these highlighted passages below:

16th June 1940

Situation:

[12.40]   Korevettenkapitän Looff reports that the Halo has been successfully retrieved and secured. U-122 is homeward bound via the Jormungand route. Expected date of return, June 30th. Radio traffic to be kept at a minimum during this voyage.                                                                                            

#

       19th June 1940

Situation:

[21.10]   Korevettenkapitän Looff has broken radio silence to report that the crew of U-122 are experiencing ‘strange effects’. The crew are blaming the Halo. Looff is concerned about morale and is requesting passing the Halo on to another vessel on the Jormungand route to complete its journey.

#

 Command:

[22.20]   REQUEST DENIED.

#

20th June 1940

Intelligence:

[03.00]   Reports of U-112 engaging and sinking enemy cargo ship.

Situation:

[03.15]   Korevettenkapitän Looff is reminded that the safety of the Halo is NOT to be compromised under ANY circumstances.

[22.20]   Multiple attempts to contact U-112 have been unsuccessful.

#

 22nd June 1940

Situation:

[00.45]   Garbled transmission received from U-122. Several voices talking all at once. Dive alarm heard sounding erratically in the background. Transmission ends abruptly. No further contact.

#

 Command:

[23.59]   UNACCEPTABLE. CONTACT WITH U-122 MUST BE RE-ESTABLISHED IMMEDIATELY.

#

1st July 1940

Situation:

[12.00]  U-122 declared lost along with all on-board. Fate of the Halo unknown.

 #

 

I have acquired the complete records, and, having read through them, I can find no further mention of the ship U-122 after this point, nor her mysterious cargo, the item rather ambiguously titled ‘the Halo.’

But the sinking of a submarine during war-time and allusions to its peculiar burden are, in and of themselves, no sign of the paranormal.

However, within the package from my colleague was a further document; the contact details of a gentleman named Eustace Hayes.

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4th February 1996

Eustace Hayes is a tall man, in his early sixties, with arms like tree trunks and skin stained by many a year out in the sun. I meet him in the bar he currently owns in Hue Province, central Vietnam. He was stationed here as a Technical Sergeant for the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War, and became part of the small contingent of American serviceman who stayed on after the conflict was over.

Back in the May of 1959 he was stationed at Wheelus Air Base in Tripoli, on the coast of Libya.

He invites me to sit on a small plastic stool by a low table topped by a sticky sheet of plastic. A young waitress brings us a crate of bottled beer and a bucket of ice, and in a slow but booming voice that seems to push through the humid air between us, Mr Hayes shares his story.

“The previous year, I think it was November, a group of surveyors for BP reported seeing a downed aircraft out in the desert, miles from anywhere. Top brass didn’t take them seriously at first. Why would they? There had never been any reports of missing US airplanes in the area. I think they assumed it was either a mirage or a classic bit of British leg-pulling.

“But as the months went by, more and more people began to mention it. Apparently the location of the wreckage was now being marked on maps for the next batch of oil surveyors.

“Well even the CO couldn’t ignore that.

“I was an Airman at the time, and I got sent out with the first search team. And we found it, right where they said it would be. It turned out to be the wreck of the Lady Be Good.”

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The Lady Be Good was an American Heavy Bomber. Following a raid on Napels in April of 1943, she disappeared on her return to Soluch Field in Libya. She was assumed lost in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr Hayes continues:

“It was amazing. She was split in two, but apart from that she was in almost perfect condition. You would think that fifteen or so years of just sitting there in the desert would’ve fucked her up. But the machine guns still worked, as did the radio. There was even a flask of tea on-board. It seemed drinkable too, not that we tried it.

“But that wasn’t the strangest we saw out there.” 

I ask him what else they found as he knocks back his beer and opens another on the edge of the table.

“Well, one of our crew noticed that there was something else on the horizon. Something glinting just over the dunes.

“Now, remember that I told you that the wreck was being marked on maps, right? Because it was a landmark, visible from the air, yes?

“Following that line of thinking, if there was something bigger out there, also made of metal, then logically that too would have been noticed.

“So, we travelled about 20 miles to the north-northwest, towards whatever this thing glinting in the sand was. I don’t think any of us were prepared for what we found.

“It was a submarine, just sitting there on her side. A German U-Boat to be precise. I recognised the insignia on her hull. And she looked to be in pristine condition. She even had her number stamped on the conning tower: U-122.”

Mr Hayes goes on to tell me how he and his crew circled the submarine, taking photographs and making notes. It’s hatch was open, but there were no signs of life, except for a set of bones about half a mile away, wrapped up in the remains of a Nazi captain’s uniform.

“It was really bizarre. It looked like whoever this man was, he’d climbed out and was crawling away across the sand. But maybe it was just the way the body had fallen.

“As I was looking over the skeleton, Sergeant Caine climbed into the sub, through the hatch. He was only in there for a minute or two, but when he came out he was trembling, and his face was as white as a sheet.

“I’d known the Sarge for a few years, and he was as tough as shoe leather. I knew he’d seen some pretty nasty shit back in the Pacific. But whatever he saw in that sub must’ve really, what’s the expression you Brits use? ‘Knocked him for six’, yeah, that’s it.

“He was mumbling under his breath. Muttering about strange things, things that didn’t make any sense.

“He was a mess. So we decided to pack up our gear and return to the base.

“The Sarge was shaking all the way home. And he was ice cold. Bear in mind that we’re in the middle of the desert, in May.”

Mr Hayes opens a third beer.

“I know what you’re gonna ask me. You’re gonna ask where the photos are that I took.”

I must confess, that was one of the questions on my mind.

“Two days later some ‘agency’ types turned up. Serious men in black suits wildly inappropriate for the climate, just like you now.” 

He smiles and winks at me.

“These fellas took everything; our photos, our notes, the lot. The made us sign something saying we would never talk about that damn submarine, or they’d throw us in jail without a trial.

“I’m not too bothered by their threats now. Hell, I’m an old man. What are they gonna do? I suspect they thought that no-one would believe us anyway.

“It was never mentioned again on the base. I went out there again a few weeks later. There was no sign of the submarine. Or that she’d ever even been there in the first place.

“And I never saw the Sarge again. Do you know what the top brass said when I asked about him? They said ‘don’t ask.'” 

To say this is a frustrating end to this case would be an understatement. But as I decide to wrap things up with Mr Hayes, he goes off upstairs and brings back a crumpled and yellowing piece of thin card.

“I’ve never shown this to anyone before. Hell, I’ve never even told anyone about it. I took it out of the uniform the body was wearing. Do an old guy a favour; don’t look at it here.”

We spoke for a little while longer as we finished our beers. As I was saying my goodbyes to Mr Hayes and thanking him for his hospitality, he shared something else with me about that day in the desert.

“As we were packing up our stuff, I noticed someone had written something in red paint on the side of the sub’s hull, in foot tall letters. At least I hope it was paint.

“It was in English. It said: ‘stop toying with things you do not understand’.” 

With this final piece of information occupying my thoughts, I returned to my hotel, where I duly unfolded the document the former Technical Sergeant had given to me.

It was Kriegsmarine identity card. The name stamped on it was Korvettenkapitän Hans-Günther Looff.

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This case poses many questions: Was that really U-122 that Mr Hayes and his colleagues found in the desert? If so, who or what on Earth could possibly possess the kind of power required to move her to the middle of the desert? And why did she go unnoticed for so long, indeed, if she was even there for all that time? Who were the ‘agency men’ who appeared so soon after it’s sighting? What, if anything, was the nature of U-122’s cargo, the mysterious ‘Halo’? Could the ‘strange effects’ experienced by her crew, and possibly Sergeant Caine as well, have been some kind of radiation poisoning? And who was the intended recipient of the curious message daubed on the craft’s hull?

Finally, where did this misplaced U-Boat go? Surely moving almost a thousand tonnes of submarine during peacetime would be substantially more difficult than during the chaos of World War 2, which in itself would be a Herculean feat.

Sadly, without further information, it seems the fate of the U-122 will have to remain an enigma.

Dr Thomas Gotobed 

There was a post-it note with the words ‘Nathaniel Defoe??’ written on it attached to this file – C.R.