“NOBODY BELIEVES MY PARANORMAL STORY” and More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Did U.S. Special Forces really shoot dead a 12-foot-tall giant in Kandahar, Afghanistan? How much truth is behind the story – and how does fit into the age-old narrative of soldiers, knights, and heroes battling against and vanquishing giants and monstrous creatures? (The Giant of Kandahar) *** Soon after the Cranmer family moved in to their new home on Brownsville Road, it became clear that they were not alone. (The Demon of Brownsville Road) *** The Elephant’s Foot was created after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 when reactor 4 exploded, releasing a lava-like mass of radioactive material called corium. So radioactive that it’s still dangerous if you try and see it for yourself today. (The Elephant’s Foot of Chernobyl) *** When something horrifying happens, it’s natural to tell others about your experience. But what if, no matter how much you explain it, people simply don’t believe you? We’ll look at numerous stories from people who have true tales that they have a hard time getting even friends and family to take seriously. (Nobody Believes Me)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“The Giant of Kandahar” by Angus Wright for the website, Where I Live: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3dyfh6rt
“Nobody Believes Me” by Amanda Ashley for Ranker’s Graveyard Shift: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/kxt7ey9k
“The Elephant’s Foot of Chernobyl” by Natasha Ishak for All That’s Interesting: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/ytfh4n57
PHOTO: “Elephant Foot with Photographer” https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/42r22v5e
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(Over time links seen above may become invalid, disappear, or have different content. I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing so for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I will rectify it in these show notes immediately. Some links included above may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
Trademark, Weird Darkness®, 2022. Copyright Weird Darkness©, 2022.
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STORY: THE GIANT OF KANDAHAR==========
Throughout history, tales have been passed down of men fighting monsters. These tales are generally loosely based on real-life encounters, such as the Kraken, likely being a giant squid or bigfoot, possibly being just bear sightings in dense forests. From UFO’s to the Loch Ness Monster, these fantastical beasts and the associated stories dominate our imaginations.
One monster race which can be found in the stories of most cultures is giants. From the fairytale “Jack the Giant Killer” to David versus Goliath in the bible, giants are depicted as huge, violent, beings. Depending on the story, they are said to feed on humans or livestock. Many cultures use giants as a foe for the hero of the tale, demonstrating the strength of character and intelligence over pure brawn and stupidity.
The word ’giant’ first appeared in Greek mythology in 1297, derived from the Gigantes. In Norse mythology, the Jotun are giants who live throughout the nine worlds and oppose the gods. The Jotun come in many forms, such as frost giants (hrímþursar), fire giants (eldjötnar), and mountain giants (bergrisar). While the Norse gods are described as human-sized, the huge giants are their foes in many battles – most notably Ragnarok, the final battle where the giants would storm Asgard (the home of the gods) and battle the gods until the world is destroyed. As you can see, giants were firmly fixed throughout Norse folklore, the gods were even related to the giants through many marriages. The whole Norse human world was even told to have been created from the flesh of Ymir, a giant of cosmic proportions.
In Icelandic folklore, two giants – a man and a woman – were traversing the fjord near Drangey island at night. As they were travelling, the sun rose and the sudden exposure to sunlight turned them to stone along with their cow which was with them, creating the island.
While in most stories giants are portrayed as the antagonist such as the popular children’s story “Jack and the Beanstalk”, there are also plenty of tales showing the giants as both intelligent and friendly – most notably in the works of Roald Dhal and Jonathan Swift.
While giants have been confined to ancient tales, books and films, a modern story has emerged from Kandahar in Afghanistan. While supposedly taking place in 2002, the story was not picked up widely until 2016 when a YouTuber named L. A. Marzulli posted an episode of his series ‘Watchers’.
The episode featured a supposed military contractor or soldier who said they witnessed a blade-wielding giant kill one of their fellow US special forces soldiers. The giant was then downed by the remaining troops, following the skirmish, the giant’s body was loaded into a military transport aircraft and flown to an undisclosed location to be hidden away from the public.
According to the supposed eyewitness, the ‘giant of Kandahar’ was 12-15 feet tall, 1,100 pounds with scarlet coloured hair and six fingers instead of five. The witness and his team were sent to a remote area to search for a patrol which had gone missing. As they arrived in the area, the giant emerged from a cave wielding a huge blade which it used to skewer and kill his friend “Dan”.
When questioned directly, the US Department of Defence stated that they had no record of this incident occurring. Furthermore, they said that the only member in service who lost their life in Kandahar in 2002 with the first name Dan or Daniel was one of four soldiers who lost their lives during an accident involving the clearance and disposal of explosives. This statement can be backed up by looking through the US Department of Defence press release page which publicly lists all military casualties. The press release page does not contain any records which involve a giant or an entire patrol disappearing in Afghanistan.
Although this casts doubt on the story, this has not stopped conspiracy theorists and monster enthusiasts from discussing the story. Upon the release of the YouTube episode which brought the story to light, several websites which are used for discussions about conspiracies and monsters crashed with the traffic from people rushing to look into and talk about the story.
In the interview in question, the witness goes into a lot of detail regarding the incident. The witness and the victim were part of a Special Ops Task Force looking for a missing US Army squad. After trekking along a mountain trail they arrived at a large cave surrounded by broken military equipment and gear. As they prepared to enter the cave, the giant emerged, impaling ‘Dan’ and proceeded to attack the rest of the squad. The witness states they took 30 seconds of continuous fire to down the giant.
Between them, the squad was armed with M4 Submachine Guns, .308/7.62 Recon Carbines (Semi-Automatic Rifles) and .50 BMG Barrett Sniper Rifles. This much firepower, concentrated on one target for one second, let alone thirty would create a lot of damage. Stating that they fired for 30 seconds would mean that the target was something big – if the story is true…
According to the witness, the giant wore canvas or animal hide covers on to protect its feet like moccasins and smelt like dead bodies. The creature’s body was airlifted back to the squad’s base by a helicopter and net. From there it was loaded into an aircraft and taken away, never to be seen again.
Upon their return, the soldiers were made to sign non-disclosure paperwork to stop the word spreading of their encounter. The witness states that he broke his silence because “people have the right to know what’s happening on our planet”.
Whether you believe it or not, this certainly makes for a compelling story. The thought of a cave-dwelling giant who can slay special forces soldiers in a single blow makes the hairs on your neck stand up. Throw in a government cover-up and you have something which will keep conspiracy theorists fuelled for years to come.
When Weird Darkness returns… if something horrifying happens, it’s natural to tell others about your experience. But what if, no matter how much you explain it, people simply don’t believe you? We’ll look at numerous stories from people who have true tales that they have a hard time getting even friends and family to take seriously. That’s up next. (Nobody Believes Me)
STORY: NOBODY BELIEVES ME==========
When something frightening happens to you, the first thing you usually want to do is tell someone. It can make you feel a little bit better and a little less alone when you share your story. But if no one believes what you say, it can make you feel confused or second-guess your sanity. On Reddit, people are sharing the eeriest events they’ve experienced that sound unbelievable but they insist are true.
From Reddit u/RealAbstractSquidII: I live in an extremely old house. It creaks, it groans, the house isn’t completely level so sometimes unlatched doors swing open “on their own ” but really because physics. If you sat in my house on a windy day you’d swear to God it was haunted because the window frames aren’t great and the wind screams through the gaps and rattles the glass as though it were angered. I’ve lived here for a couple of years now. I know every noise this house makes like the back of my hand. I hardly notice it these days. Which is why I found it odd that when I was brushing my teeth one night a few months ago, I clearly heard two men’s voices on the other side of my bathroom door. Now, it’s just me, the dogs, and my boyfriend here. My boyfriend was across the hall laying in bed, and the dogs were with him. The voices I heard were clear as day, two older gentlemen. “Should we tell ’em?” “No… (indistinct mumbling)…” “They in there?” And the second voice did not reply. I obviously yanked the bathroom door open and looked to see who was in my hallway. But there was no one there. I listened for a few minutes, thinking maybe I heard the TV or something. I don’t hear anything. I call out and ask if my boyfriend said anything, he hollers back no from where he’s at in the bedroom. I go back to my nighttime routine, shut off the bathroom light, and now the hallway is dark. I’m gonna go to the bedroom. I bring my hand down from turning the light switch off, and my hand brushes up against a cold, rough-feeling hand. Like someone with a lot of calluses on their hand… I felt the thumb and palm distinctly. Like someone had reached out to grab my hand but my movement kinda pulled out of the grasp before they could actually grab my hand, if that makes sense. The hand came from behind me, from in the bathroom. I obviously know there’s no one in the bathroom – I just left the bathroom. And then I heard someone mumble, from behind me. Not words exactly, just kind of a voice, like someone grumbling under their breath. I jumped, turned the bathroom light back on, saw no one, left the light on, and hauled [butt to the bedroom to tell my boyfriend what just happened because I was extremely freaked out. We checked out the entire house for an intruder. Found no sign of any. Everything was locked up as usual. Its never happened again. I have no idea what it was.
From Reddit u/PraderaNoire: I was 20 at the time, and was helping my girlfriend move from Alabama to Los Angeles. Because she had all her belongings and her car, we decided to drive. At that time, she had a suspended license so I was the one who was forced to drive the whole way. Because I didn’t want to get any speeding tickets, I brought my radar detector from home to take with us on the drive. Now it was the second day of our trip, and we had recently crossed into New Mexico. At the time, it was already well past sunset, so most of my drive that day was spent on the I-10 at night… I remember stopping that night really late at around 11 or 12 at a rest stop in Gage, NM. The only thing there was a small area with many identical concrete structures covering picnic tables… As we were pulling in, the radar detector started going haywire, showing codes for multiple different bands including X, KA, and Laser, all at once. I turned the radar detector off – not really thinking much of it at the time – and pulled into a picnic area near the back. From what I remember, I was going to eat a snack or something to tide me over, and as I was grabbing the food from the middle row, I heard a low rumble/squeak, as if someone was rubbing their palm along the side of the car. As I was grabbing some items from a bag in my lap, my girlfriend at the time grabbed my arm with the most intense grip and fear and just started saying, “We gotta go, we gotta go,” with increasing panic. I’ll never forget what I saw to be honest. In her side mirror, there was a large, rough silhouette leaning against the car just past the back door. Even from a glance, I could tell that the figure had to be much taller than the SUV, as it looked a bit hunched over. Seeing this, I immediately started to panic, as I was not sure if this was a person, animal, or whatever. As I was fumbling for the keys in the cupholder, I glanced in my side mirror and saw the same exact figure, motionless against the side of the car. A few seconds later, I started the car and punched it out of there. Where our car was parked, there was nothing visible from the light coming from the picnic awning. I’m not a huge believer in paranormal stuff, but this was an experience that I would 100% call my only real paranormal encounter…
From Reddit u/Ratiness: It was the first anniversary of my aunt’s death. She lived in the same house as me, but different apartment. I go to take a bath. The bathtub is positioned in a way that, when you are inside, you are facing the window. Suddenly, I hear a knock. I look at the window, and I see a hand formed into a fist quickly pulling down (like, someone knocked and quickly disappeared). The thing is, my apartment was on the second floor. And there is no way that someone could reach the window from outside at all. Now looking back at it, I just tell myself it was just my imagination. But then… I know what I saw. And no one believed me, of course.
From Reddit u/throwmeaway212223: I always put my keys in the exact same spot after I get home from work; no matter what, they always go in the dish in my living room. One day last August, I had been home from work for a few hours and was cooking dinner when the thought of “where are your keys” got stuck in my head. I looked around the corner, sure as sh*t I was going to see my keys in the dish, but there were no keys. I looked around the surrounding area and expanded my search to my purse, jacket, bedroom, only to turn up empty. I drove home from work and let myself in with my keys, I was home alone and my roommates had been out of town for a few days at that point, so I knew I had them and I knew no one would have moved them. I flipped my house upside down, searching for about four hours before I half-heartedly shook my heaviest winter coat hanging in the back of my closet… I found them zipped up in the inside pocket of a coat I hadn’t worn since mid-February at the latest. Everyone always brushes off the story as I must have moved them and forgot about it, but that makes no sense to me. I have absolutely no clue how they got there, and I really only have four possible explanations: paranormal activity, glitch in the Matrix, I blacked out and moved them for whatever reason, or there was someone in my house and that was the only thing they did.
From Reddit u/bcdevv: I grew up in a haunted house. My parents still live there to this day. Most traumatic experiences of my life. The one memory that tops the list is one I hate telling and rarely do. I would always wake up in the middle of the night and see sh*t. From as young as I can remember until I moved out at 18. One night – I was about six, maybe- I woke up to see a man and woman, both dressed all in white, palest skin I’d ever seen, both standing at the foot of my bed looking out the window. The woman looked average height while the man reached the ceiling. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t real, that I was dreaming, until the man turned and looked at me. His eyes were red. I turned sideways and covered my head, trying again to convince myself I was dreaming. After a few minutes, I looked over the covers, and the man was now standing at the side of my bed looking down at me. I remember nothing after. I talked to a specialist when I was older, thinking maybe I suffered from sleep paralysis due to these experiences but that was not the case. In every experience, I could move, and even ran out of my bedroom multiple times. Great times.
From Reddit u/dreamingdruidess: I have many stories because I do cleansings for people and dabble in pagan practices. They all can be pretty wild, but the one most people have the hardest time understanding was witnessed by myself, my mother, and my sister. This occurred when I was eight, so 1998, small town in Alabama. My family had bought this house on the lake. A real haunted (crapfest), but hindsight, yah know? Literally the second day of moving in, we experienced something. Also, this took place well before any dive into the occult. My family was nondenominational Christian. The house was six bedrooms, four baths, top and basement layout. We all had our rooms on the top floor. My room and my parents’ room were the furthest down the hall. My sister was near the beginning, right across from the bathroom. So the hall wasn’t super long, but my sister decided to put like 14 to 15 family portraits up on the walls. They varied in size and weight. Now, our mom was in the living room, which is what the hall opened to. So, not far and certainly in sight of one another. Dad was gone, probably work or something. I was in my room putting up posters. Nothing out of the ordinary, and it was midday. When my sister finished putting the pictures up, she came to get me to show me. She was proud of her work. We were right outside of my room talking when we suddenly felt super uneasy. The atmosphere had changed. I didn’t understand it at the time, but it was just heavy and difficult to think straight and breathe. Needless to say, our conversation halted. Even my mom felt it and stopped unpacking things. She turned to look at us. All of a sudden, we felt and heard this worship of wind go from my parents’ room right in front of us, down the hall. All of those pictures levitated off the wall and floated midair, resting in a horizontal position, parallel to the ground. We screamed and ran to our mom. We were hysterical as you can imagine. Mom said she was scared, but she had to be momma bear and protect her babies. She said firmly, “Stop! You are scaring my children!” She also told it to leave because it was not welcome here. Now this part I didn’t see because my face was buried into my mom’s side as I was crying. She said the pictures all floated down and came to rest in their original spot. The ceiling seemed to just raise and become far away suddenly. My sister saw this, too. I have no idea how else to explain it. They only ever described it this way. But the house became normal and still again like nothing had ever happened. My dad never believed it, despite all three of us experiencing that. Honestly, that was the most tame thing we experienced in the house. Seven years of hell we endured there.
From Reddit u/TheRedditScout: I was playing outside by myself, and a truck kept driving down the streets. I got uncomfortable and started to walk home, and they followed. I stopped, they stopped, I ran, they drove faster. I started sprinting home, and when I came near other people, they turned around and drove away. When I arrived home, I told my mom and dad. Nobody believed me. It’s been five years, and I’m still shocked.
From Reddit u/ichithekiller2001: Not sure if this is the scariest but grew up for awhile in this sh*tty apartment complex in a bad part of California, early 2000s. One night, my little kid self woke up in the middle of the night, went out to get something to eat I think… and took one look to the living room. Huge strange man is kneeling next to the TV. Big mustache. Has a gun. We just stare at each other. I slowly walk back into my room and go to sleep. Next morning, I tell my mom what happened, and she calls the police. The part no one believes is the dude took our Wii but not the little sensor thing that it needed to actually work.
From Reddit u/missrabbitifyanasty: I grew up in a haunted house. Nobody believes most of the stuff that happened to me. The top out of everything that nobody believes – I was yanked out of my bed by my ankles in the middle of the night.
From Reddit u/25Hams: My bathroom is weird. One time, it illuminated from the outside as if someone put headlights up to the window. Empty lots behind me and next to me. No outside light source. Same bathroom: I often find the bottom vanity drawer pulled completely out and on the floor. It would have to be lifted off the rollers. Same bathroom: Cat was growling and freaking out and doing the stalk stance.
From Reddit u/Jay-Dee-British: An out-of-body experience which I hope is never repeated. Almost cr*pped myself in fear. I was about 11 (maybe younger, hard to remember), and was sick at school, in the nurses’ station (called a sick room at my school). Laying on the camp bed, feeling just generally weird, looking out the very tall, thin windows that are typical of Victorian schools in the UK. Then I felt this strange, I can only call it a juke to the side but mentally, and I saw myself outside the window, looking in, and at the same time, I was looking out from the bed through the window at myself floating outside. Apparently, I yelled but I don’t remember that part. Then the nurse called my mum to pick me up, and I went home. I think I slept the rest of the day but I have no clear memories of that part.
From Reddit u/dawrina: I live alone and (at the time) had two cats. I have one of those galaxy projection lights. The kind that basically projects something onto your ceiling. It has an IR or Bluetooth connection because it uses a remote to change the colors and settings on it. It also has a speaker on it for some reason to let you know if the remote is connected. One night, I had it turned off and sitting on my chair next to my bed. I was in a dead sleep when I heard the voice toggling on and off, saying, “Bluetooth disconnected.” That was the initial thing that scared me because all I could hear was this disembodied voice. I found the source quickly and realized I had thrown some clothes over it so the IR port was blocked. I fell back to sleep and was awoken again, this time in the morning, by a MALE voice saying, “Oh, hello, Blaze!” It was coming from the direction of the light. Blaze is the name of my cat. I laid still for a moment, my heart pounding. I rolled over and found my cat sitting on the other side of my bed. He WAS in the room. That scared the tar out of me even more. I leapt out of bed and ran over to the thing and ripped it out of the wall. I haven’t turned it on since. It’s been sitting in a corner of my room with the plug detached. I’m afraid to plug it back in. I would blame hypnagogic hallucinations because I have had them before. Mostly my mom’s voice calling my name. But the fact that my cat was, in fact, in my room, sitting basically in front of the light TERRIFIED me. My cats don’t have collars/bells so it’s not like I would have passively heard him in my sleep coming into my room and then imagined the voice. Not only that, but he seemed freaked out, too, like he had heard the voice as well. I have no idea if it was that or he was just reacting to me waking up. I inspected the whole device, looking for cameras and microphones. I was going to take it apart but I was too scared of what I would find.
From Reddit u/Its402am: I think my friends and I almost got struck by lightning or some electrical phenomenon in Petawawa, Ontario when I was between five and seven. It was torrential raining, thundering, and very humid outside. I was ready to go in but my friends, two sisters who were my age and younger who lived across the street from me, were stuck outside – I believe their teenage brother had locked them out as a joke. I was standing across their lawn, debating going in or sitting with them on their stoop as the youngest sister was crying out of fear because of the thunder. Suddenly, a huge ball of blueish-white light came down from out of nowhere and seemed to strike the lawn between us. I remember it looked like it was spiraling or spinning, like a super bouncer. It seemed to bounce off the ground, and then it disappeared. The little sister SCREAMED bloody murder, and they both dropped their umbrellas and were holding each other. I ran inside my own house. I remember still seeing the light when I closed my eyes, and it haunted me for quite a while after… The lawn didn’t look damaged, and my mom thinks it was my imagination.
From Reddit u/tearductduck: When I was around the ages four and five, I would constantly see weird things in my bedroom at night. There would often be shadows on the wall talking to each other. It happened so often that I just took them to be normal occurrences. I saw all sorts of weird things at night but the shadows were one of the things I saw most often. One night in particular, I was dreaming about being in a large landscape of rolling green hills. Dotting the hills were odd buffalo-type creatures. Something seemed off about them. They seemed unnatural, evil, and slightly monstrous. I started to get scared and woke up. Laying in my bed, I turned over and saw a horned, shadow figure on the wall directly above my door. I tried to ignore it and flipped back over. I could feel it watching me and kept flipping back hoping it would be gone but it was always there. It was staring and smiling. After a while, I couldn’t take it anymore so I started yelling for my mom. As soon as she came in, it vanished. I have no good way to explain the things that I saw as a child. There seemed to often times be a blurring between my dreaming state and awakened state, so I may have just had a very active and odd imagination to the point where I was truly hallucinating on a regular basis. When I was about six years old, I had had enough of the crap so I remember opening the front door of our house and screaming, “Get out!” to everything that was bothering me. That’s when my nights began to become more normal, and I eventually never had any more problems with them.
From Reddit u/Dibba666: When I was seven or eight, I just got done watching an episode of America’s Most Wanted, and I went out onto the front porch to blow some bubbles. As I was doing this, I saw a guy run out of the neighbor’s house and hide behind some bushes [armed]. Then I realize I hear police sirens getting closer. They suddenly stop before they get to my street. The guy looks over at me, makes the “shush” gesture, then runs across our lawn to the other neighbor’s yard. To this day, and I swear to god this is true, I recognized his face as one of the guys on America’s Most Wanted. Don’t remember who, as far as I know the cops didn’t find him, and no one in my family believes that it happened. I was frozen in fear/shock until he ran out of my sight, at which point, I ran back inside and told my parents what I saw. I don’t blame them for not believing me, but at the very least, I did see a wanted criminal run across our yard that day.
From Reddit u/lets_get_wavy_duuude: So there’s this local legend that there’s a cult that practices deep in the woods in my area. One night, my friend and I decided to go on a hike in the woods at like 1 am. He said he knew the area; I did not at all. Unsurprisingly, he gets us lost. As we’re wandering around aimlessly, we hear what sounds like dozens of voices chanting all at once. Immediately, our first assumption is “we found the cult” because this is literally like two miles into the woods off of this road that’s in the middle of nowhere, no houses or anything for miles. We walk closer to investigate because we’re actual idiots, and this coyote appears on the trail in front of us. I swear it was some kind of spiritual thing or something because it literally appeared out of nowhere. My friend gets spooked and threw a gallon of milk at it (he brought the milk with him to drink… he’s a strange one). Coyote runs off. We decide that we should probably rethink our investigation, especially considering we probably made enough noise to alert them anyway. I tell people this story, and they find it entertaining but I don’t think anyone actually believes me…
From Reddit u/MI808IM: I was using resistance bands to exercise in our school gym. We had double doors with the post in the middle so the doors could close, so I wrapped the band around the post. I started pulling and a loose screw popped out, so the post came flying out at me. Only one or two inches from my neck, pretty close to one of the blood vessels, too. Luckily, it hit me closer to my shoulder instead, but I still landed on my back from the force. If not for the gym teacher, nurse, and four or five students, no one would believe it.
When Weird Darkness returns… Soon after the Cranmer family moved in to their new home on Brownsville Road, it became clear that they were not alone. (The Demon of Brownsville Road)
But first, the Elephant’s Foot was created after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 when reactor 4 exploded, releasing a lava-like mass of radioactive material called corium. So radioactive that it’s still dangerous if you try and see it for yourself today. That story is up next. (The Elephant’s Foot of Chernobyl)
STORY: THE ELEPHANT’S FOOT==========
In April 1986, the world experienced its worst nuclear disaster yet when a reactor at the Chernobyl power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine, erupted. More than 50 tons of radioactive material quickly wafted through the air, traveling as far as France. The explosion was so severe that toxic levels of radioactive material plumed out of the plant for 10 days.
But when investigators finally braved the site of the disaster in December of that year, they discovered something eerie: a heap of searing-hot, lava-like chemicals that had burned all the way through to the facility’s basement where it had then solidified.
The mass was dubbed the “Elephant’s Foot” for its shape and color and benign though that moniker is, the Elephant’s Foot continues to release extremely high amounts of radiation to this day.
Indeed, the amount of radiation detected on the Elephant’s Foot was so severe that it could kill a person in a matter of seconds.
In the early morning of April 26, 1986, a massive explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in then-Soviet Ukraine led to a meltdown.
During a safety test, the uranium core inside reactor 4 of the plant overheated to a temperature of more than 2,912 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, a chain of nuclear reactions caused it to explode, ripping through its 1,000-metric-ton concrete and steel lid.
The explosion then ruptured all 1,660 of the reactor’s pressure tubes thereby causing a second explosion and a fire that ultimately exposed the radioactive core of reactor 4 to the outside world. The radiation released was detected as far away as Sweden.
Hundreds of laborers and engineers at the nuclear plant were killed within weeks of being exposed to the radiation. Many risked their lives to contain the explosion and subsequent fire at the plant, like 25-year-old Vasily Ignatenko, who perished three weeks after entering the toxic site.
Countless others contracted terminal illnesses like cancer even decades after the incident. Millions who lived closest to the explosion suffered similar, long-lasting health defects. The effects of all that radiation are still felt in Chernobyl today.
Researchers continue to study the after-effects of the Chernobyl disaster, including the shocking resurgence of wildlife in the surrounding “red forest.” Researchers are also trying to quantify the broader ramifications of the catastrophe, including the strange chemical phenomenon that formed in the plant’s basement, known as the Elephant’s Foot.
When reactor 4 overheated, the uranium fuel inside its core became molten. Then, steam blasted the reactor apart. Finally, heat, steam, and molten nuclear fuel combined to form a 100-ton flow of searing-hot chemicals that gushed out of the reactor and through the concrete floor to the basement of the facility where it eventually solidified. This lethal lava-like mixture became known as the Elephant’s Foot for its shape and texture.
The Elephant’s Foot is comprised of just a small percentage of nuclear fuel; the rest is a mixture of sand, melted concrete, and uranium. Its unique composition was named “corium” to denote where it began, in the core. It is also referred to as lava-like fuel-containing material (LFCM) which scientists continue to study today. You can find a photo of it everywhere on the web if you do a search for “elephant’s foot radiation”. I also have a link to one of the photos in the show notes.
The bizarre structure was discovered months after the Chernobyl disaster and was reportedly still searing hot.
The several-foot-wide blob of chemicals emitted extreme levels of radiation, causing painful side effects and even death within a few seconds of exposure.
When it was first measured, the Elephant’s Foot released nearly 10,000 roentgens per hour. That meant that an hour’s exposure was comparable to that of four and a half million chest x-rays.
Thirty seconds of exposure would have caused dizziness and fatigue, two minutes of exposure would cause the cells in one’s body to hemorrhage, and five minutes or more would result in death in just 48 hours.
Despite the risk associated with examining the Elephant’s Foot, investigators — or liquidators as they were called — in the aftermath of Chernobyl managed to document and study it.
The mass was relatively dense and could not be drilled, however, liquidators realized that it was not bullet proof when they shot it with an AKM rifle.
One team of liquidators built a crude wheeled camera to take photos of the Elephant’s Foot from a safe distance. But earlier photographs show workers taking photos at close range.
Artur Korneyev, a radiation specialist who took the well-known photograph of the man beside the Elephant’s Foot, was among these liquidators. Korneyev and his team were tasked with locating the fuel left inside the reactor and determining its levels of radiation.
“Sometimes we’d use a shovel,” he told the New York Times. “Sometimes we’d use our boots and just kick [pieces of radioactive rubble] aside.”
The well-known photograph was taken 10 years after the Chernobyl incident, and he was only there for a few seconds, but still, Korneyev suffered from cataracts and other illnesses following his exposure to the corium mass.
The Elephant’s Foot no longer emits as much radiation as it once did, but it still poses a threat to anyone within its vicinity.
In order to conduct further studies without risking their health, researchers are trying to replicate small amounts of the chemical composition of the Elephant’s Foot in the lab.
In 2020, a team at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. successfully developed a miniature of the Elephant’s Foot using depleted uranium, which is about 40 percent less radioactive than natural uranium and is commonly used to produce tank armor and bullets.
The replica is a breakthrough for researchers who are trying to avoid creating such unintentional radioactive masses again.
However, researchers caution that because the replica is not an exact match, any studies based on it should be interpreted with a grain of salt. Andrei Shiryaev, a researcher from the Frumkin Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry in Russia, likened the simulation to “doing real sport and playing videogames.”
“Of course, studies of simulant materials are important since they are way easier and allow lots of experiments,” he conceded. “However, one should be realistic about the meaning of studies of only the simulants.”
For now, scientists will continue to look for ways in which the disaster that the Elephant’s Foot represents can be avoided.
STORY: THE DEMON OF BROWNSVILLE ROAD==========
From the outside, the Victorian house at 3406 Brownsville Road in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania looks like any other in the neighborhood. Inside, though, it was once a living hell.
This according to Bob Cranmer, who lived in the home with his wife, Lesa, and four children for 18 years. He recounts the horrifying events his family experienced in the book, “The Demon of Brownsville Road”. Cranmer writes:
“From the first, Lesa and I always had the feeling that we were not alone in that house, that we were being watched by someone, or something. I can remember the sensation so clearly. We felt surrounded by the past, as if we were almost living in it, that we were only temporary ‘visitors,’ tolerated for the time being—who would eventually be expelled.”
Strangely, Bob Cranmer felt drawn to the house ever since he was a little boy. When he learned it was up for sale in 1988, he moved in to purchase it.
Cranmer was right when he said he felt surrounded by the past; the property is steeped in history. The house dates back to 1792, and legend has it that a mother and her three children were killed by Native Americans on the ground upon which the house stands—and that their bodies were buried in the front yard.
Strange encounters began to happen before the family even moved in. While conducting a walk-through of the house soon after their offer had been accepted, Bob found his young son Bobby Jr. crying and hyperventilating by a staircase, terrified by an unseen force. Lesa also expressed that the house gave her the creeps. Nevertheless, the Cranmer family moved into the home.
Within weeks of settling in, it became clear to the Cranmer family that there was something off about their new home. At first, there were small nuisances. Lights came on by themselves. A pull-chain on a light wrapped itself around the light instead of hanging down.
Soon, however, things took a turn for the sinister. Bobby Jr. refused to sleep in his bedroom, sleeping instead in a closet with the light on. Also around this time, a ghost began to make its presence felt: sometimes as a black, foggy cloud and sometimes as a stench. The family heard footsteps and unsettling sounds. Then they found bent crucifixes and destroyed rosaries.
The Cranmers finally got the Catholic Church involved. They began to look at their situation not as a ghost haunting, but as a demonic possession.
“A ghost, if you believe in them, is generally the soul of a person who passed on in some tragic event or something. A demon is actually the opposite of an angel,” Bob told Hollywood on the Potomac. “The existence of this thing manifested itself in a much different way than a ghost would. A ghost is generally reliving some type of event that took place during a life. Sometimes they can interact with people that are alive. In our case, this was a demonic, evil, malicious, malevolent spirit that interacted with us on a regular basis and it wanted to hurt us. It wanted to drive us out of the house. There was no pretense of it being some kind of a lost soul.”
When the family brought in Catholic priests to bless the house with holy water, the sinister force allegedly responded by covering the walls with blood. Bob Cranmer writes in his book:
“Some of the areas where the blood was dripping from were so far up (over nine feet) that a person would have had to use a ladder to get there. Another interesting aspect was that it was only on the walls and not on the ceilings so that if it were thrown up there it would have been impossible to miss hitting the ceilings. It looked as if the walls were bleeding.”
The family worked with three priests for two years to expel the demon from their home–Lesa and two of their children were hospitalized for psychiatric reasons during this traumatic time. In 2006, they were finally successful. Today, at least according to Bob Cranmer, the house on Brownsville Road is quiet.