In a Liverpool backstreet in the autumn of 1904 a baying mob of over one hundred people rounded a corner to be confronted with one of the most terrifying paranormal figures in England's history, an apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack.
The figure was instantly recognisable as it became illuminated by torchlight, as the townspeople chased it leapt from roof to roof through the centre of Liverpool. From beneath the folds of its black cloaks were skeletal claws where hands should be, the eyes of the creature flared burning red from beneath a broad outlandish hat. Its grinning mouth stood open and blue flames licked outwards.
The dead-end alleyway in which the creature stood was surrounded by 30 ft walls on all sides. Such a demonic vision instantly stopped and silenced the crowd who then stood and watched as the creature flung its body skywards with unnatural force and leapt the 30 foot wall in one clean spring. The dumbstruck mob had encountered an apparition that terrified the cities of England for more than sixty years; Spring Heeled Jack.
The first documented sighting was by a young girl on her way home one evening in 1837 in Clapham, London. Her name was Polly Adams. Miss Adams claimed that a dark figure had launched over a high wall as she cut through Clapham churchyard.
The girl reported that the figure had looked like a man but had bird claw hands and burning, glowing eyes. The creature leered over her and groped at her body before hearing the shouts of approaching witnesses and turning to leap over another impossibly high wall to make its escape.
The next year another girl was attacked in the same churchyard and witnesses began to report an escalating number of sightings around the area. The beast was even seen scaling the church tower with unerring precision and speed.
One witness sent a letter to the Mayor of London who had it published in the press. This prompted many more witnesses to come forward. It seemed that the creature had been around for some time and witnesses were not prepared to put themselves forward for ridicule at the hands of a disbelieving public. London was starting to believe that the devil himself was walking the streets.
One night in 1838 a young woman named Jane Alsop answered a furious rapping at her door, it was a police officer asking her to bring a candle, for they had captured Spring heeled Jack. Miss Alsop of course wanted to see the famous demonic creature so she fetched a candle and hurried outside.
Outside stood the policeman who reached for the candle, only as he raised his hands young Jane was able to see beneath the candlelight that they were not hands, but claws. Before she could react the creature was on to her, raking at her face with its claws.
Her screams were heard inside and Jane's sister ran out into the night, scaring Spring Heeled Jack away. Though badly shocked by their ordeal the Alsop sisters were able to give a more detailed account of the creature's appearance than any previous witness. These new details made many Londoners believe that Spring Heeled Jack was not sent from the pit, but descended from the heavens above.
The Alsop sisters again described the creature as many had before it but both girls stated that their attacker had not been wearing a hat, but a helmet of some kind. They also described a white shining suit beneath the black cloak.
The terrified girls also claimed that Spring Heeled Jack did not leap as any person would leap, rather he levitated and then shot rapidly in a straight line, and there seemed to be no physical effort.
Rather than Jack being Spring Heeled his behaviour suggested that he was propelled into the air by something more powerful and advanced, perhaps rocket heeled Jack would have been more appropriate. As word spread throughout the Victorian London the people began to speculate that it was electrical sparks that flew from the grimace of Spring-Heeled Jack.
Jack next attacked a young woman on Green Dragon Alley in Lime house, the girl was temporarily blinded by a bolt of blue light hurled by a tall dark figure with glowing red eyes. Spring Heeled Jack was spotted throughout London over the next few decades, regularly reported to be seen surveying the city from church spires, bridge tops and even the Tower of London.
The Mayor was under immense pressure to rid the streets of this predatory spectre that had an unsavoury attraction to young girls. Gangs and police patrols scoured the city for Jack and sightings became fewer and more fleeting.
During the 1870's Jack was driven through the streets by a public patrol of irate vigilante Londoners but at the moment they believed they had cornered Jack he leapt over a huge hedge leaving his pursuers marvelling. The same decade saw reports from all over England. Spring Heeled Jack had been travelling and was up to his old tricks in cities hundreds of miles away from London.
A decade later and Jack was back in London, the creature attacked two sentry guards wrapping its icy talons around the guard's necks and attempting to strangle them. The veracity and intensity of Spring Heeled Jacks attacks were escalating wildly and an appropriate response was required.
The opportunity arose on a winter's night sometime in 1884 in South London. Jack had been spotted by a small group of people leaping from the pavement to the roof tops and back again as he wandered down the street.
The police were contacted and instigated a sweep through the area where Jack had been spotted. The search parties began to converge and a desperate figure of Spring Heeled Jack was herded toward an ambush.
Chased through the streets Jack came upon a large party of armed guards who instantly sent volleys of rifle fire at the demonic figure. It seemed as though any living creature would have died under such a barrage of fire but Jack leapt nimbly over the group and disappeared into the night.
That was all that was heard from Spring Heeled Jack and the public began to believe that the creature was truly dead, that the bullets had been true and the beast had curled up and died of its injuries in whatever pit it slept.
For twenty years the name of Spring Heeled Jack was once again thankfully absent from the collective conversation of London residents. Queen Victoria died in 1901 leaving England with a new monarch, the world was beginning its most difficult and progressive century.
So it came as quite a shock to Londoners to hear reports from Liverpool that a creature had been spotted after attacking a young lady as she made her way home. A tall dark figure with red eyes and traces of flickering blue flame emitting from its insane grin, long birdlike claws that hung where hands should have been and the creature had eluded capture by making a superhuman leap over a sheer brick wall and off into the night. Moving as freely and intensely as it had some 67 years previous, Spring Heeled Jack was alive.
The encounter in Liverpool in 1904 was the last documented account of a Spring Heeled Jack sighting. In the years that followed there were unsubstantiated accounts of dark figures moving through the streets of England's cities but the country was soon to be playing its part in the war and paranoia was rife, with police unsympathetic to such fanciful stories.
Spring Heeled Jack was witnessed by hundreds if not thousands of people during its reign of terror and it is entirely feasible that some of the story has become gnarled and the victim of artistic license but there is no doubt that many people saw a figure matching Jacks all across England throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
A mysterious masked creature whose appearance resembles Spring Heeled Jack has been spotted in East Delhi, India, 2001. Witnesses have reported what looks like a black shadow, with a monkey-like face, flaming red eyes, and sharp metal claws, attacking people at night, jumping four stories high and disappearing into thin air.
In May, a creature was repeatedly spotted, instilling terror and claiming two lives. The craze got to a point where vigilante groups armed with sticks patrolled the streets at night on the lookout for the creature and police announced a 50,000 rupee ($1,067) reward for information leading to its capture.
According to one report the masked man had appeared in the village of Ghaziabad around 8:30 P.M. and had remained there till 4:00 A.M., terrorizing the residents. Vineet Sharma, grandson of the first victim, said that that night, when he and his brother were sleeping with their grandmother, a masked man had entered the veranda and attacked the old lady and pushed her.
She suffered bruises in the abdomen and arms. Then the assailant went into the neighbor's house and injured a child, finally disappearing in the dark lane before villagers could be aroused.