“ALIEN HAND SYNDROME” and 3 More Bizarre But True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Imagine losing control of one of your hands – and that hand tries to kill you. It’s not the premise of a B-horror movie, it’s a very real condition that is just as frightening as it sounds. (Alien Hand Syndrome) *** Thanks to the film Fire In The Sky, it is one of the most famous alien abduction cases in history. But what exactly happened to Travis Walton – and is the story believable? (The Abduction of Travis Walton) *** One of the most famous and well-documented cases of poltergeist activity has a funny name, Humpty Doo. The name is an Australian slang term meaning ‘everything topsy-turvy, or turned upside down’ – a perfect description of what poltergeists do. (The Humpty Doo Poltergeist) *** A Weirdo family member used to think he was just seeing things – until he began listening to Weird Darkness and realized he might be surrounded by very real dark entities. (I See Shadow People)
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STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Alien Hand Syndrome” by Trilby Beresford for Graveyard Shift: http://bit.ly/2MRiT6N
“The Abduction of Travis Walton” from The Scare Chamber: http://bit.ly/2W1sex6
“Humpty Doo Poltergeist” by Paul Cropper & Tony Healey for Strange Nation Australia: http://bit.ly/31nB60Y
“I See Shadow People” by Weirdo family member Jack Williams for Weird Darkness.
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In Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the titular character, played by Peter Sellers, fights with his hand as if it has a mind of its own. In the 1935 film Mad Love, a surgeon replaces a man’s hands with the hands of a murderer who still expresses the urge to throw knives. There have been various other horror films with characters who have possessed hands, such as Hands of a Stranger, Idle Hands, The Addams Family. There are also many B-movies that feature evil severed hands, like The Crawling Hand and The Beast with Five Fingers. But there is a condition is called “Alien Hand Syndrome” – and it’s more horrifying than any cinematic thriller can depict it – because it is real.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
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Coming up in this episode…
One of the most famous and well-documented cases of poltergeist activity has a funny name, Humpty Doo. The name is an Australian slang term meaning ‘everything topsy-turvy, or turned upside down’ – a perfect description of what poltergeists do. (The Humpty Doo Poltergeist)
A Weirdo family member used to think he was just seeing things – until he began listening to Weird Darkness and realized he might be surrounded by very real dark entities. (I See Shadow People)
Thanks to the film Fire In The Sky, it is one of the most famous alien abduction cases in history. But what exactly happened to Travis Walton – and is the story believable? (The Abduction of Travis Walton)
Imagine losing control of one of your hands – and that hand tries to kill you. It’s not the premise of a B-horror movie, it’s a very real condition that is just as frightening as it sounds. (Alien Hand Syndrome)
While listening, be sure to check out the Weird Darkness website. At WeirdDarkness.com you can sign up for the newsletter to win monthly prizes, find paranormal and horror audiobooks I’ve narrated, watch old horror movies for free, plus you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: ALIEN HAND SYNDROME==========
There are tons of weird diseases and disorders in this world, but have you ever heard of one where a person’s hand attacks them involuntarily? Unfortunately it exists, and it’s known as Alien Hand Syndrome. It is one of the rarer neurological disorders, and it can be both dangerous and terrifying when it strikes. Alien Hand Syndrome facts sound like something out of a sci-fi or horror film. The condition turns one of your hands into a stranger; it acts on its own, and it can do anything from grabbing something out of your purse to strangling you.
Cases have been observed and documented since 1909, and most of the sufferers reported having brain surgeries or traumas right before they noticed symptoms. Alien Hand Syndrome has baffled patients and scientists for years, though the latter have started to understand where the problem originates in the brain. If your own hand attacks you, you may have this unusual, but very real, condition.
Alien Hand Syndrome differs in severity from person to person, but extreme cases have reportedly involved self-inflicted violence. People suffering have experienced punching, choking, and stuffing food into their own mouths. The movements aren’t manic in nature, but rather purposeful and coordinated. Behavior like this is mortifying for the afflicted, so it’s no wonder they also report experiencing psychological trauma and social anxiety.
In 2010, a doctor observed a woman, Karen Byrne, whose hand was mysteriously unbuttoning her shirt – seemingly without her knowledge – while talking to him. She had no idea it was happening. Apparently she’d been experiencing AHS since having surgery for epilepsy, where a section of her brain was removed. This troubling side effect was eventually managed with medication, but the syndrome makes many never want to go under the knife again.
One account of this strange condition was recorded in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. A 50-year-old woman experienced Alien Hand Syndrome after a brain hematoma.
***”Suddenly I had a strange feeling on my left side; later I could not recognize the left arm as my own; I felt it belonged to someone else and wanted to hurt me because it moved towards me; I saw it quite big and distorted like a monster; I was terrified.”***
She had to be injected with Valium to keep her hand in check.
Although some medications, along with cognitive behavioral and muscle control therapies, can be helpful, there is currently no 100% effective treatment to correct the hand movements and restore brain functionality in Alien Hand Syndrome patients. The U.S. National Library of Medicine note that it continues to be a “challenge” for the medical community, and since the cases are reported so infrequently, clinical trials have never been preformed.
In the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, Dr. Ramon Leiguarda recorded a first hand account from an Alien Hand Syndrome sufferer:
***”While I was traveling on a bus, I noticed that a hand was approaching me on the right from behind, trying to catch me. After grasping my trouser leg, the hand did not release it. First, I thought somebody was assaulting me, but then I realized that it was my own right hand, although I did not feel it belonged to me. Thereafter, the fingers developed creeping movements, and repetitive jerks involving the whole arm soon followed. I was unable to control my right hand and I had to grasp and hold it with my left hand.” ***
He went on to say he felt “anguished, anxious, and frightened.” Can you blame him?
As most people are right-handed, Alien Hand Syndrome typically affects people’s left hand; it usually affects the non-dominant hand. This is called constructional apraxia. Apraxia is a neurological disorder in which people are not able to perform certain tasks with their hands, even if they understand the request and want to do it.
There have been isolated incidents in which those who suffer from Alien Hand Syndrome experience a rebellion from their dominant hand, but the experiences are rarer than the condition itself.
The first case of Alien Hand Syndrome was reported in 1909 after German psychiatrist Dr. Kurt Goldstein noticed strange movements in one of his stroke patients. There have been 40-50 cases since. Due to the condition’s rarity, it hasn’t been the subject of much research, though it is listed in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. They describe an incident where a 77-year-old woman observed her hand stroking her face while watching TV. When the symptoms subsided, that side of her body felt weak.
Even though Alien Hand Syndrome was first recorded in the 1900s, it wasn’t until 1972 that it was officially recognized as a real condition. According to the US National Library of Medicine, researchers observed “three cases of patients with callosal tumors who were unable to recognize their own hands.” They coined the term “alien hand.”
The reason for Alien Hand Syndrome is still baffling, though the medical community agrees it is the result of brain damage. Most of the recorded cases involve patients who had a corpus callosotamy – surgery to relieve the symptoms of epilepsy. When the nerves that connect the hemispheres to the brain are snipped, something can go wrong in the transfer of information between the left and right brain hemispheres. In the worst cases, that results in unwanted actions. AHS can also result from degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, aneurysms, strokes, and brain tumors.
When Weird Darkness returns…
A Weirdo family member used to think he was just seeing things – until he began listening to Weird Darkness and realized he might be surrounded by very real dark entities.
But first, thanks to the film Fire In The Sky, it is one of the most famous alien abduction cases in history. But what exactly happened to Travis Walton – and is the story believable? That story is up next.
<WEIRD DARKNESS STORE>
STORY: THE TRAVIS WALTON ABDUCTION==========
After a long day of work, especially hard labor, the last thing you want to do is worry about is aliens. November 5, 1975, the last thing on Travis Walton’s mind was UFO’s. He had been working on the Turkey Springs tree-thinning contract. Travis, Allen Dalis and John Goulette felled trees ahead of Dwayne Smith, Kenneth Peterson, and Steve Pierce were, who were piling the trees behind them. They worked past sundown, until quitting time finally came, at 6pm. He signaled for work to stop, and the team gathered up their chainsaws, gas and oil cans, and loaded them up into a 1965 International pickup. Then the 7 men arranged themselves for the ride out of Sitgreaves National Forest.
Travis rode up front, passenger seat, right next to the door, while their boss, Mike Rogers drove. Hot from work, they kept the windows down as they climbed up the ridge toward the Rim Road. It was then that a light, filtering through the trees, caught Travis’ eye. Considering the time of night, he quickly assumed it was just the glow from the sun setting in the west. That was until he realized, the sun had set at least 30 minutes before.
Curiosity kept him guessing, was it hunters camping out? Headlights of another vehicle in the distance? Perhaps a fire? His coworkers had caught sight of it too. They watched as they continued up the road toward the light. They hardly caught a glimpse of it through an opening in the trees as they drove past.
Travis couldn’t make sense of what he had seen. Maybe a crashed plane hanging in one of the distant trees? They drove on, stopping only when they could see without obstructions. It was a golden disc, stationary, hovering below the treetops. There could be only one explanation. It was a UFO.
The lights from the craft lit up the area, and Travis estimated it to have a diameter of fifteen to twenty feet, perhaps eight to ten feet thick. He described it as having a shape “like that of two gigantic pie-pans placed lip to lip, with a small round bowl turned upside down on the top.”
Travis did what any stunned, curious, and excited spectator would do. He got out of the truck and started toward the craft. He walked hesitantly, while the men in the truck questioned his actions. He made it all the way to the halo of light just underneath the ship. He was just a few feet away from being directly under the ship.
That’s when he picked up on a barely audible blend of low and high pitched mechanical sounds coming from the ship. His coworkers shouted at him to get away from the ship, but it was too late. The sounds from above had grown in intensity, the craft wobbling in a pattern like “the erratic spin of an unstable top.”
A bright blue-green ray of light shot out from the bottom of the craft, striking him with what he later described as “the numbing force of a blow that felt like a high-voltage electrocution.” His body arched backward, arms and legs outstretched, and his body was lifted off the ground and hurled backward through the air at least ten feet. From that instant, the world had gone dark, he couldn’t see, hear, or feel anything.
His coworkers, spooked by what they had just seen, started the truck back up and took off, driving frantically to get away before the ship could get to them. When they had put a good distance between themselves and where the incident took place, they began to question what had just happened. One said he saw Travis fall back, but nothing more. Another said it looked as though Travis had disintegrated. Another reported that he had seen him hit the ground.
They spotted another pair of headlights on the road, and then for a fleeting moment, saw the outline of a golden disc just through the trees. It raised into the air in a smooth vertical motion before taking off to the northwest at an incredible speed. They again, took off driving as fast as they could until they reached a turnoff, that would take them north to Heber. That’s when they made the decision to turn around and go back. They needed to find Travis and make sure he was okay.
When they reached the spot, they couldn’t see Travis anywhere. They looked, using the headlights of the truck and flashlights, and called out his name, but he was nowhere to be found. What’s more, they didn’t find any sign of a disturbance. No foreign objects, no markings on the vegetation, no burns, no tracks, no sign of a struggle.
Around 7:30 that night, Kenneth Peterson called police to inform them of Travis Walton’s disappearance. The deputy sheriff, Chuck Ellison, drove out and met the crew at a shopping center where the men, distraught, some in tears, related their story. Ellison notified Sheriff Marlin Gillespie, who drove out with officer Ken Coplan to interview the men.
Mike Rogers insisted they return to the site to search for Travis, preferably with tracking dogs. Unfortunately no dogs were available, but the police went with some of the crew back to the scene of the incident.
As they searched, the police, already skeptical, began to suspect there was more to the story than they were being told. Even they couldn’t find any physical evidence, and despite more police and volunteers, no trace of Travis was found. Knowing he was only wearing jeans, a denim jacket and a shirt, police worried that if he was out there, he would soon fall victim to hypothermia, thanks to the bitterly cold winter nights in those mountains.
By the morning of November 6, the area where Travis went missing had been thoroughly searched and no trace of him was found. That afternoon was spent searching with jeeps, officers on horseback, and even by helicopter.
Saturday, the story of Travis’ UFO abduction had made international news. News reporters and Ufologists alike began travelling to Snowflake, Arizona. Noted Phoenix UFO investigator, Fred Sylvanus, interviewed Mike Rogers and Duane Walton, Travis’ brother. During the interview, Duane reported he and Travis were quite interested in UFOs, and that some twelve years earlier, he had witnessed a UFO similar to the one witnessed by the logging crew. Duane reported that he and Travis had both decided that if they had a chance, they would get as close as possible to any UFO they might see. Duane also suggested that Travis would not be injured by the aliens, because “they don’t harm people.”
This interview didn’t help Travis or his logging team, as shortly after the Snowflake town marshal, Sanford Flake, announced that the entire affair was a prank engineered by Duane and Travis. He claimed that they had fooled the logging crew by lighting a balloon and “releasing it at the appropriate time.” Interesting enough, Sanford’s wife disagreed with him, suggesting that his story was “just as far fetched as Duane’s.”
Police didn’t let it go though, as they still had a missing person’s case on their hands. They made repeated visits to Travis and Duane’s mother, Mary Walton Kellett, often leaving her in tears. They even suggested that she was “hiding something. Or someone.”
Duane also interviewed with William H. Spaulding of Ground Saucer Watch. Spaulding suggested that if/when Travis returned, GSW could provide a doctor to examine him. He also said that Travis should save his first urination after returning, so it could be tested.
On Monday, November 10, authorities gave the crew polygraph tests, administered by Cy Gilson, an Arizona Department of Public Safety employee. His questions centered around whether any of the men had caused harm, or knew who had caused harm to Travis. He asked if they knew where Travis was buried and if they told the truth about seeing a UFO. The men all passed the test, denying harming Travis or knowing where his body was, and insisting that they had, in fact, seen a UFO.
Cy Gilson’s official report quotes, “These polygraph examinations prove that these five men did see some object they believed to be a UFO, and that Travis Walton was not injured or murdered by any of these men on that Wednesday.” The sheriff had no choice but to announce that he accepted the UFO story, saying, “There’s no doubt they’re telling the truth.”
Travis awoke on the cold pavement west of Heber, Arizona on the evening of November 10, five days after he had gone missing. When he looked up, he watched a light turn off on the bottom of a craft hovering above the highway before it took off, vertically into the sky.
He ran down the highway into Heber, and stopped at an Exxon station, using a pay phone to contact his sister. At 12:05am, his brother-in-law Grant answered. “They brought me back!” Travis exclaimed.
Grant took this as a prank call and nearly hung up, but chose to test his suspicions and agreed to go pick him up. He first drove to Snowflake and picked up Duane Walton, and together they drove to Heber.
They found Travis slumped in a phone booth. They got him into the truck and drove back toward home. Travis was sure he had just been unconscious for a couple of hours, only to discover he had been gone a solid five days.
Later that day, without having reported Travis’ return to the police, Duane drove Travis to Phoenix to meet with Dr. Lester Steward, for the confidential medical exam promised by William H. Spaulding of GSW. Unfortunately, Steward was not a medical doctor as they were promised, but rather a hypnotherapist. Travis and Duane spent the next 45 minutes trying to determine what exactly Steward’s qualifications were before leaving and returning home. Steward would later report that the Walton’s stayed with him for over two hours.
News of Travis’ return leaked out to the public and phone calls came rolling in. One from Spaulding, who was then told not to bother the family again. Another call came from Coral Lorenzen of APRO, a civilian UFO research group. She promised to arrange a medical exam for Travis at Duane’s home, by GP Joseph Saults and Pediatrician Howard Kandell.
The exam started at about 3:30pm that day. The exam found that Travis was essentially in good health, however they did notice a couple of unusual, and unexplained results. First, they found a small red spot in the crease of his right elbow. This spot was labeled consistent with a hypodermic injection, but strangely, the spot was not near a vein. The second was Travis’ urine analysis. If he had been gone for five days, with little or no food, as he insisted (which was supported by his weight loss) his urine should have had very high levels of ketone, however his urine was severely lacking. Also difficult to explain was his lack of bruising – which should be evident, considering the beam from the UFO shot him back and into the ground.
At this time, Travis had no choice but to relate his story to sheriff Gillespie.
After being struck, he awoke on a reclined bed, a bright light shining above him. He was in pain, and was having trouble breathing. While he originally thought he was in a hospital, he soon realized he was anywhere but the hospital. For one, he still had his work clothes on. Second, he could feel his shirt and jacket pushed up around his shoulders, and something cool and smooth was pressing down on his chest. He described it as being four or five inches thick, extending from his armpits to just above his belt, and was made of shiny dark gray metal, or plastic.
With blurry vision, he made out the forms of 3 figures, originally thought to be doctors, he soon realized were alien beings in orange jumpsuits. He described them as the typical “Greys”: shorter than five feet, big heads with no hair, large bulging eyes, all brown with very little white in them. Their ears, noses, and mouths “seemed real small, maybe just because their eyes were so huge.”
He managed to get to his feat, the device that sat on his chest crashed to the floor. He grabbed a nearby glass-like cylinder and tried smashing the end so as to create a sharp edge to fight with. It would not break, and the beings continued moving closer to him. He screamed desperately, threatening them, and while it did not stop them from approaching him, they did slow down.
With his back against the wall, the beings suddenly stopped, turned, and scurried from the room, leaving Travis alone. He took a moment to survey his surroundings before throwing the glass-like cylinder to the ground and then slipping out the door and into a curving hallway. No one in sight, he took off at a run, until he came across a room. He hesitated, but ultimately went inside.
The room was spherical, dimly lit, with nothing but a single high-backed chair sitting in the very center. He was hesitant to approach the chair, concerned that someone would be seated in it, but another glance behind him showed that the hallway was still empty, and so he chose to push further. He carefully walked towards the chair, and in doing so, the lights in the room grew dimmer and dimmer. Stepping backward, they would get brighter and brighter. Having reached the chair, the walls were dark, reflecting the speckled deep black of space.
The chair was empty, but had controls on each of its arms. Hoping one would open a door for him to escape, Travis pushed a green button. When nothing happened, he pushed another and lines on the screen moved. He pushed another and the lines rapidly changed angles, then stopped. Pressing more buttons did nothing. He sat down in the chair and carefully took hold of a T-lever. He slowly pushed it forward, and the stars on the walls appeared to rotate around him slowly. When he released the lever, the stars held their position. Concerned he was actually flying the ship, he decided it was best to leave it alone, not wanting to crash.
He stood up and walked back to the edge of the room, looking at what he believed to be other doorways, but finding no way to open it, he returned to stand beside the chair. It was then that he finally heard a sound, just behind him. He spun around, expecting more of the alien beings, but what he saw surprised him. It was a tall human figure, wearing blue coveralls with a glassy helmet. He took Travis by the arm and led him out of the room, down the hall and through a closed doorway, that slid open into the wall. They entered into a bare room, and the door behind them shut quickly and silently.
The room was small, no more than seven by five by twelve feet. They stood there in silence for approximately two minutes, despite Travis’ attempts to engage the man in conversation. Then another doorway, this time in front of them, slid open.
They stepped outside, and were greeted with warm light and fresh air. Travis breathed in deeply, then noticed that the aches and pains he had been experiencing were almost completely gone. They descended a ramp, seven or eight feet down to the ground. What he thought was outside, was merely outside of the other craft, but he was still inside, in fact, he was in a large metallic room which would best be described as similar to an aircraft hangar. He was led to another room, where he was met with three more humans, a woman and two men. They resembled the man who had led him there, except they weren’t wearing helmets. He again tried asking questions, and received no response.
They led him by the arm to a small table where he was quickly seated. The woman held a device similar to an oxygen mask on his face, but before he could fight back, he passed out. The next time he awoke, was on the highway, just outside of Heber.
Hearing his story, sheriff Gillespie suggested he had been hit on the head, drugged, and taken to a hospital where he mixed up the events of a routine exam with the UFO ideas he already had in his head. But Travis dismissed this idea, knowing that there had been no trace of head trauma or drugs in his system. He then offered to take a polygraph test, take truth serum, or even undergo hypnosis to support his account. Gillespie said a polygraph would be sufficient, and began making arrangements for it.
In the meantime, Travis and Duane drove to Scottsdale, Arizona to meet with APRO consultant, James A. Harder. Harder hypnotized Travis, hoping to uncover more details of the past five days. Interesting enough, Travis’ conscious recall and unconscious “memory” were the same, and he could only account for about two hours of time. During this session, Travis encountered a mental “block” and said that if they were to continue, he would die.
At the same time, William H. Spaulding of GSW announced to the press that during his and Dr. Steward’s time with Travis, they had questioned him for a solid two hours, during which time they were able to uncover inconsistencies in his account.
The arrangements for Travis’ polygraph test were made, but word of the exam was somehow leaked to the press. Hearing this, Duane canceled the exam, thinking the sheriff had broken his promise to keep the test a secret. Gillespie maintained his innocence, and said that in a sensational case such as this, it was difficult to keep anything secret for long.
The National Enquirer wished for Travis to take a polygraph, and arranged for one, after assuring Duane that he and Travis would have power to veto any public disclosure of the test results.
Though there was concern about Travis’ mental state, John J. McCarthy, of the Arizona Polygraph Lab, said he would take Travis’ nervous state into consideration.
Travis failed the polygraph, and McCarthy also claims he tried to cheat. Travis claimed that McCarthy behaved unprofessionally, thus skewing the results. The official report stated, “Based on his reaction on all charts, it is the opinion of this examiner that Walton, in concert with others, is attempting to perpetrate a UFO hoax, and that he has not been on any spacecraft.”
It was agreed by the Waltons, APRO, and the National Enquirer that the results of the polygraph would be kept secret, yet eight months later, that decision was made public, and more charges of deception and cover-up were made.
Travis would later take and pass two additional polygraph tests, and it was publicly argued that McCarthy had been biased and had asked Travis embarrassing, irrelevant questions in order to create conditions that would result in a negative result. Even recognized polygraph experts were divided on the validity of McCarthy’s test, one even asserting that his method was “more than 30 years out of date.”
Others proceeded to claim that the “incident” was pure fabrication for financial gain, and perhaps it was, we may never know. What we can say is that The National Enquirer awarded Travis and his coworkers a $5,000 prize for “best UFO case of the year” after they allegedly passed polygraph tests administered by the Enquirer and the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization.
Some UFOlogists believe he truly was abducted, while others believed it was nothing more than a story by “longtime students of UFOs.”
STORY: I SEE SHADOW PEOPLE==========
I found your podcast by chance, and have been catching up on episodes when I came across the story about shadow people and how they feed on negative energy which made me realise maybe what I was seeing wasn’t a symptom of my depression anymore, so I’ll start at the first sighting.
I was studying a masters degree, trying to work and maintain a social life for months, which led me to spiral back into depression. Negative thoughts, nights of no sleep, days of refusing to leave bed. One day, I woke up to my partner getting out of bed, and when I opened my eyes, seconds before she left that room I saw a short shadow person, on the heavier side, quickly rush out of the room before she did. I was startled, but put it down to the fact I had just woken up. That was the first time I saw one, and the only time I’ve seen that particular one.
Fast forward a week. I work in a timber engineering factory where we have to keep all paperwork for 60 years as we make the structural support for all our clients. The factory has been open 25 years, 2 years longer than I’ve been around, and I was tasked with organising all of it. This involved being in a long “office”, no social contact, no windows, just me. Being alone in there for so long made things worse, and made the shadow people more, I guess, solid. However, the one i saw from bed is the only one I’ve ever looked directly at, the others fade out quick with direct sight. Looking just next to them though, means I can see them and they don’t vanish.
The week after seeing the one in my bedroom, I was working, listening to music when I had the overwhelming feeling of being watched. So I turn around and sure enough there’s another one, this one tall, lanky, just standing there about 7-8 metres away from me. This became an almost daily occurrence and everytime I was struck with unease, almost fearful.
Fast forward again a few months and I was left with a choice between my mental wellbeing, my education, or my livelihood, one had to be sacrificed. So I chose education, I dropped out of my masters and the depression got better. Never went away, but it got easier. But the main thing I noticed was that the better I got, the closer they got. That 7-8 metres became 5 metres, 4 metres, then 3. They never got within touching range but they got closer, and they followed me everywhere. If there was room for them behind me, they were there.
I then heard the episode of Weird Darkness on them, about them feeding on negative energy and it all clicked, I suddenly understood. So when alone, I confronted them, I told them to leave, to stop following me, that sort of thing. And it worked for awhile. A few weeks of not seeing them went by until I noticed the peeking. I would see movement from the corner of my eye and when I turned to look I’d see that one or 2 of them would be peeking around a door frame, or a wall or corner. This was very infrequent, however. Though I did realise there were a few of them based on height, with one seeming to peek around the top of a saw in the factory, which stands at almost 15 feet tall.
They would often appear in the rear view mirror of my car while I drove, but eventually they stopped coming, they stopped peeking at me and I don’t know why. Months have gone by, it’s been peaceful. This morning on my commute to work however, I noticed they were back, when one of the shadow people was sat in my passenger seat.
One of the most famous and well-documented cases of poltergeist activity has a funny name, Humpty Doo. The name is an Australian slang term meaning ‘everything topsy-turvy, or turned upside down’ – a perfect description of what poltergeists do. That story is up next on Weird Darkness.
<WEIRDO WATCH PARTY>
<HOPE IN THE DARKNESS>
STORY: HUMPTY DOO==========
In 1998 a Northern Territory household claimed they were being terrorised by an unseen entity which displayed all of the traits of a bothersome poltergeist. Paul Cropper and Tony Healy spent a never-to-be-forgotten week in the “Humpty Doo House”.
It began as an ordinary Yowie hunt, but soon turned decidedly weird.
In December we taped a telephone interview with a woman who told us of a close encounter with a screaming, stinking 7-foot tall orangutan-like creature on her mango farm near Acacia Gap in the Northern Territory. Although the location was thousands of kilometres from the regions which normally produce reports of yowies (damnably elusive yeti-like apemen) she seemed a very good witness. So, when she phoned again in April to say the creature had returned we decided to don our yowie-hunting hats and fly north.
No sooner had we made that decision than a striking instance of synchronicity occurred. At the time we were working on an article for the Fortean Times about a couple of classic Australian poltergeist cases. We were up to our elbows in those weird old stories when we heard a Father Tom English speak on radio about levitating crucifixes and showers and stones which he had just witnessed in a house at Humpty Doo, NT – only 20km from the yowie site. Most fortuitous!
Once in the NT we documented the yowie story as planned and collected a footprint cast, but the beast itself, as usual, remained elusive. The polt, however, was much more accessible: for five days it obliged by showering us with pebbles, knives, bullets and anything else which came into its ectoplasmic grasp.
The haunting was focused on a four-bedroom house set on 5 acres just south of Humpty Doo, beginning in late January 1998. By the time we arrived on 26 April it had become Australia’s most-publicised polt case since the “Guyra Ghost” outbreak of 1921.
When Jill Summerville, her partner Dave Clarke and their mate Murph moved into the house in August 1997 they noticed nothing strange, but after a second couple, Andrew and Kirsty Agius, arrived with their 11-month-old toddler Jasmine, all hell broke loose.
During that monsoon season (“the Wet”) the area witnessed several of the loudest, wildest lightening displays anyone can remember. After one such ripsnorter the group was sitting on their front verandah at dusk when small pebbles began landing among them. Tiring of what they assumed was a mate’s practical joke, they moved inside, only to have the pebbles follow them: in classic polt-style, showers of half-inch diameter stones – all apparently from their long gravel driveway – landed on floors, tables, beds and heads after apparently materialising just under the ceiling. Though the property was entirely saturated from the monsoon, all the pebbles that fell inside were bone dry. To their increasing dismay, knives, batteries, spanners, broken glass and other objects also began to drop or hurtle across the rooms.
To the occupants – very tough, hard-working young men and women – all this was weird but bearable, but when messages began to appear on the walls and the floor the group began to get a little nervous. The words were spelt out in scrabble tiles, scrawled on floors or formed extremely neatly using scores of pebbles. The most upsetting aspect of the first series of words: “FIRE”, “SKIN”, “CAR”, “HELP” and “TROY” was that they clearly referred to their good mate Trouy, who had been incinerated in a road accident in January. A large cross and trident – both made up of hundreds of pebbles – also appeared. Fairly freaked, they called the clergy.
Father Tom English of Humpty Doo arrived at the scene to be greeted by a pistol cartridge, which fell from nowhere to land at his feet, and by a medicine bottle flying out of an empty room. Although inexperienced in such matters he gamely blessed the place and doused it in holy water. The polt reacted in the time-honoured way: it went ape-shit, smashed several windows, hurled Father Tom’s crucifix and bible around the house, banged and scraped on and inside walls and kept the occupants awake and thoroughly spooked all night.
Two other priests tried to pop the polt. Father Stephen of Darwin’s St Marys cathedral had seen several similar infestations in his native India. After witnessing a knife fall – apparently straight through the ceiling – he warned that polts are often very hard to exorcise.
A Greek Orthodox priest went the full Monty: setting up an altar on the kitchen table, blessing each room and reading arcane passages from a large black book. As the shell-shocked residents looked on, he was assaulted by an invisible force that repeatedly tried to wrench the book from his grasp and to twist his right arm behind his back. Ashen-faced, he finally sat down, declaring his adversary to be tougher than the average spook.
The local Litchfield Times was soon tipped off; its editor jack Ellis and two reporters visited the house, observed a polt-pelting, and in no time the story went ballistic: the sleep-deprived hauntees were soon fielding phone calls day and night from radio stations and newspapers from as far away as Scandinavia. They soon signed a contract granting exclusive rights to the story for a week to Sydney’s Channel 7. Although the promised $5000 would be most welcome, they signed mainly in the expectation of being protected from other media harassment and in the hope that video evidence would validate their story.
Although the entire TV crew quickly became fervent believers after dodging flying objects, they also became frustrated as the polt took to playing hide and seek with their cameras. Operators with hand-held cameras were invariably facing the wrong way when objects landed right next to them. With the house empty and locked, five constantly running fixed cameras recorded a whole lot of nothing until the battery-expired signals went off. Then, as the duty cameraman walked to the house with new batteries his exasperated but amused mates, drinking on the patio, would hear a tattoo of whacks as objects careened around the interior. Messages: “NO CAMERAS”, “NO TV” and “PIG CAMERA” appeared on walls and floors to taunt them.
After 24-hour work days and great inconvenience to the residents the crew managed to record only three objects in motion: a baby’s bottle inexplicably falling from the top of a microwave, a pistol bullet in the last foot or so of its fall and a plastic lid flying from behind a cupboard.
Channel 7’s Today Tonight, one of the country’s least ethical tabloid television shows, nevertheless used the story to great advantage, achieving very high ratings. Finally, to the horror of the hauntees – and to the dismay of their own cameramen – the program’s sceptical, city-based producers, having owned the story for a week, decided to scuttle it. Using a doctored video with misleading voiceovers they attempted to prove they had caught Kirsty in the act of throwing an object. The polt story, the declared, was over – dead.
The polt, however, seemed not to have heard its own obituary: it continued its pesky pranks while the tenants, feeling used, abused and betrayed – and still awaiting the balance of their money – vowed to disembowel any other “fucking media vultures” who dared to darken their door.
At that auspicious moment Healy and Cropper arrived.
We were received by two very tough-looking, unsmiling hombres. Shaven-headed Andrew guarded but polite; glowering, heavily tattooed biker Murph didn’t bother to hide his disdain for “youse media bastards”.
Fortunately we had with us our material on earlier Aussie polt cases. As they eagerly scanned it, finding many similarities to their own experience, and as they realised we were genuinely interested, they began to lower the barriers. After Dave and Jill, both quiet and easy-going, and the more intense but friendly Kirsty arrived, things became even more relaxed and we were invited to stay the night. Far from being a bunch of drunken layabouts, as some of the media tried to portray them, the residents struck us as being strong-minded, competent people. It was clear that above all else they simply wanted to be believed.
Well it didn’t take long to convince us. Nothing happened as we slept on the loungeroom floor that night, except for a sudden staccato cry from a gecko – which resulted in Paul having to carefully peel Tony off the ceiling – but during the next five days, often with only Kirsty in the house, about 30 objects fell on or about us.
Usually we heard a sharp whack as a missile hit, and then caught sight of it as it ricocheted off a wall or settled on the floor. Most of the objects were familiar household items but some, like a yellow light bulb which fell beside us on the concrete patio – without breaking – had not been seen before. We gathered the material and stashed it in a drawer on the patio, only to have the items appear – one by one – back inside the house. After some of the episodes we found Dave and Jill’s bedroom trashed: the mattress askew and sometimes gravel strewn about.
On one occasion Paul heard a rattling sound on the tin roof an instant before 13 pebbles landed on the kitchen floor beside him – having apparently teleported through both roof and ceiling. Stones later fell on his head and a skinning knife narrowly missed Tony’ s ear.
The more we saw the more we understood the residents’ fury at the smug, ill-informed sceptics who offered patently unfeasible explanations to the press from their homes in Darwin or Sydney. One such idiot seriously suggested that the group – with an 11-month-old toddler in the house – placed gravel, sharp knives and broken glass on top of their ceiling fans so the material would fly out in all directions at the flick of a switch.
Many of the incidents could – if one or more of the residents had been skilled conjurers – have been faked but several, such as when a pistol cartridge dropped vertically onto Paul’s leg as we sat facing the only other people in the room, seemed almost unfakeable.
Two incidents in particular were very convincing. A small crucifix left at the house after Father tom became a frequent flyer: several times a day it would disappear from the mantlepiece and later crash into a wall somewhere. When it landed on the rear patio beside Paul – with the only other people 30 metres away and plainly in sight – he became a near-total believer. When Tony saw a little brass plug fall vertically onto a table between he and Kirsty, who was holding a newspaper with both hands while reading a polt story aloud, he too had to admit that a hoax was almost out of the question.
It would be natural for sceptics to question the judgement of people like us – people who chase Yowies and Bunyips and who, like X-Files Agent Fox Mulder, obviously want to believe – so I hasten to mention that all six journalists we met who visited the house also came away firm polt believers.
Northern Territory News reporter Nikki Voss and her cameraman had their “extreme scepticism” jolted when they were greeted by a beer mug which shot with great force and uncanny accuracy through a very small hole in a window pane. Shortly afterwards, as they stood with their backs to a solid wall, they were hit in the nape of the neck with a shower of gravel.
Tracey Farrar of ABC Radio, Darwin, who had collected small brown shells at the beach only the day before, watched an identical shell land on the table in front of her as she interviewed Kirsty. She received an inexplicable shock from her microphone and, most tellingly, saw a remote control unit lift off a table next to her and fly into the air. Though thrilled, she was, like Nikki Voss, plagued by bad dreams for several nights afterward.
Like us, the journalists could not see how all of the phenomena could have been faked or why the group would do it. The money from Channel 7 was not significant, the group clearly did not relish the public attention and the flying objects were potentially dangerous – particularly to the toddler. A hoaxing individual or clique within the group would have risked “murder” by the others if discovered. We don’t believe hoaxers were at work, but if they were they were not only first-rate conjurers but first-class actors as well.
The origin of the Humpty Doo polt is unclear. Stavros Kanaris, who built the place in 1972 and lived there happily for 20 years thinks the polt is a result of his family’s anger at being evicted after his business failed: “The bank took my blood, 30 years of hard work.” The family still dreams of returning: “Every night I’m there in my dreams. My wife is always there too. It was our life”.
As she was forced from their home on the last day, Maria Kanaris did not curse the beloved house. She did however, put a heartfelt curse on the bank. (Although moved by the story, it occurred to us that if a polt appeared every time someone cursed a bank then every home would have one!)
Irene Winters, who cleaned the house before the group moved in, recalled that it seemed spooky, unnaturally cold and that doors seemed to open and close of their own volition. Andrew, however, thinks the polt, in a weaker form, may have followed he and Kirsty for some time.
Two years earlier at Bachelor, NT, they’d had stones thrown with great power and accuracy through their front door. Although they assumed their assailants were black teenagers reacting to Andrew’s unconcealed anti-Aboriginal views, they never so much as glimpsed them. Later, when he and Kirsty worked at a construction camp, coffee cups and other objects went missing in odd circumstances. Everyone seemed to agree that the Great Humpty Doo Weirdness began only when they moved in.
Having been told by a learned friend that Aboriginal “clever men” or sorcerers have sometimes plagued their enemies with showers of stones, we wondered if Andrew and Kirsty had been cursed in that manner. An incident that occurred a few days before we arrived seemed to hint that such was the case.
Kirsty, at home alone, noticed two very dark “bush Aborigines” digging a hole next to the house, which is 70 metres from the road. When challenged they walked silently away. Leaves had been cleared in a 6 by 2 foot patch around the foot-deep hole. After that mysterious visit all polt activity ceased for four days – the longest break they had had.
Despite all the references to his terrible death, the residents strongly rejected the notion that their mate, Trouy, was haunting them. Having noticed that the polt attempted to play on some of their fears and concerns – after apparently listening to their conversations – the group threw a challenge right back at its ectoplasmic face. Walking through the house they shouted such non-Vatican-approved invocations as “You’re not Trouy, you piss-weak bastard. Why don’t you just FUCK OFF!”
Thereafter all references to Trouy ceased and the residents, though never relishing it, slowly became used to living with the polt and at times even deliberately provoked it into tantrums. Andrew successfully stirred it up for us a couple of times by reading out psalms from Father Tom’s bible.
We admired the group for the way they refused to be driven from the house which, with its spacious grounds, large garage and pool-side bar, suited them perfectly at the time. Finally, however, in early May, after surviving the onslaught of the polt, the scrutiny of the nation and a curious, unjustified eviction attempt from their landlord, they walked away on their own terms, leaving the house – and hopefully the polt – behind them.
The Humpty Doo case seemed to have almost everything we have come to expect from a major polt outbreak: showers of stones, rappings and scratchings, dangerous objects thrown with great force but without causing injury, threatening messages, mind games, violent reactions to prayers and religious paraphernalia, resistance to exorcism, ill-informed pronouncements by sceptics and a half-arsed, contrived expose of supposed hoaxing.
The suggestion that a curse – Greek, Aboriginal or otherwise – is capable of conjuring up a polt is not entirely without precedent: in 1980 two South African teenagers were reportedly plagued by stonefalls after annoying a witchdoctor.
But two things observed at Humpty Doo have, we believe, not been recorded elsewhere.
After a wild night in February which left a thick covering of pebbles on their car roofs and outdoor bar, the residents noticed long shallow troughs in their gravel driveway – as though the pebbles had been vacuumed up in their thousands. Shortly afterwards Brett Styles, a mate of Murph’s, may have caught a unique glimpse of a polt “re-loading”. One evening he observed a strange object flying from the driveway, under the patio roof and away at tremendous speed. It appeared to be spherical, jet black and smaller than fist size – and it had a two-foot long stream of gravel behind it. Freaky.
SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========
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Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” on the website and I might use it in a future episode.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise), and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“Alien Hand Syndrome” by Trilby Beresford for Graveyard Shift
“The Abduction of Travis Walton” from The Scare Chamber
“Humpty Doo Poltergeist” by Paul Cropper & Tony Healey for Strange Nation Australia
“I See Shadow People” by Weirdo family member Jack Williams
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.
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If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you can find a link in the show notes.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” — Proverbs 26:20
And a final thought… “I’d rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not done.” – Lucille Ball
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.