8. The Incomprehensibles
‘Zooform phenomena’ was a term coined by Fortean zoologist Jonathan Downes to categorise ‘creatures’ which even cryptozoology – the study of hidden animals – dares not to investigate. These are the forms which have animal characteristics, yet are quite simply too bizarre to be flesh and blood.
Take for instance the Mantis Man of London, a weird apparition that visited a ‘Jim’ on the night of January 16th 2004 as he slept. He was awoken by a strange clicking noise and was alarmed to see a freakish cloaked humanoid, standing around five-feet in height with a head like a praying mantis. The being blasted the terrified man with a beam of light, sending all manner of confusing messages to his brain. The spectre then vanished, leaving behind it a purple vapour trail.
In 1815 at St Andrew’s Guild Church, at Beavor Lane, another peculiar humanoid was sighted – descriptions seem vague except to say it was cloaked and sprang over walls, yet this was more than two decades before Spring-Heeled Jack would hit the headlines. Fifteen years later when the cloaked marauder did become famous, there were also reports, particularly around St John’s Wood, of a ‘devil’ or ‘bear’-like humanoid. A solicitor at the time, reading to a packed Common Hall of stunned listeners stated:
There have been rumours in St John's Wood and its neighbourhood, for the last fortnight, of the appearance of the monster alluded to in the police report of yesterday of the Mansion House, inserted in The Times this morning. It is asserted that he has been seen in St. John's Wood clad in mail, and as a bear.
Two centuries previous and a bounding, horned figure was to blame for terrorising locals around the Smithfield area. The tormenting wraith sprang over the stalls owned by furious butchers, evading any attempts at capture, and those pursuers who stabbed and hacked at the mysterious intruder only saw their blades sweep through it.
Similar leaping, mischievous yet sinister figures have been seen all over the world, suggesting that not all of London’s gangly ghouls and bug-eyed humanoids are mere mortals hoaxing the public, but something embedded into our folklore.
By Neil Arnold
Monster! The A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold is available from Amazon now.