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The following are alleged firsthand experiences with the stranger side of life. None of the following extraordinary experiences have been investigated -- they are reproduced here as raw data, to be analyzed by some and enjoyed by others. E-mail your accounts of strange encounters to

Giant Shrimp in the Laundry Room

Transcription of tape recorded phone message:

Hi. My name is Virginia Staples and in 1948 I lived in Bremerton, Washington. The apartment where I lived had a gigantically huge basement. There were huge holes in the walls and the apartment house manager used to tell me that it was rumored there was a passage to the water. The huge apartment houses were so close together and they all had basements and they were old buildings. There was a washer and a washtub and a clothesline. And on this particular day I had gotten my clothes all hung up but I kept feeling someone was staring at me or looking at me. And it was such a creepy feeling I finally turned around and looked towards the back of the basement and froze. I was so scared I can still feel it. I couldn't move. In one of the huge holes in the basement there stood this thing. [She breaks down here.] Oh, it was horrible! I stand five foot tall and this creature was as tall as I was. It had a bright orange colored body and little spidery thin legs and antennae on its head that kept moving back and in and out. [Crying now.] That thing started towards me. I backed out of the basement and got up to my apartment and I packed all my things and moved. I was so scared. I moved over to Seattle to my cousin's. I went to an aquarium to see if I could see anything that looked like what it was, and the only thing that I could find that looked anything like it was this little tiny shrimp. But it just doesn't make sense. I had horrible nightmares for years. I finally got up enough nerve a couple of years ago to go back to revisit Bremerton. But the Navy has enlarged so much and the apartment house on Denny Street has been torn down. Really nobody would really believe this, but as God is my witness it really happened.

Originally published in Strange 6.



The Flap of Pteradactyloid Wings

Dear Mr. Chorvinsky,
I received your name and address from a friend of mine who stated that you were writing a book about monsters and to have people write to you about their sighting. Mine was about ten years ago, when I was returning home at around 3 a.m. after being out with a few friends to an all night restaurant to eat. I was turning off 140 onto 91 in Finksburg, in Carroll County, Maryland, which at that time was not developed as it is now. The area was a high bank with a big cornfield at that time which was used for farming. The field backed up to a Jewish graveyard. After I made that turn, I saw what I thought was a man.

As I got closer, I saw what reminded me of a big pterodactyl-type thing, but standing on two feet like a man. The strange figure was brownish-gray and over six feet tall. The face of this figure was of a man, but the chin seemed to be pointed like a beak. The figure then started moving and, when it did, it looked as though it had wings, and the closer I got the faster it would flap its wings. It had a big wing span. The thing flew away. It flew over my car and the force of the wind made my whole car shake. The sound that wind made sounded almost like a helicopter. Driving towards it must have scared it. When I used to tell people about this, they thought I was putting them on but it's something I will never forget and even now, when I go through that area, even knowing how developed it is, I feel scared knowing the old story that strange things always go around twice.

Yours truly,
Mrs. Ruth Lundy
Woodbine, Maryland

Originally published in Strange 7.



Sasquatch and Scorpions

On a clear night [in] May 1948, at 10 p.m. at Phoenix, Arizona, in the open desert, my husband pulled off the road to a roadside for some much needed rest. We pulled onto the desert about five feet from the road. Bill got out of the car and pulled the pup tent out and began to set it up about six feet from the car into the desert. I reached in for the blankets. Sport pressed against my leg and gave a low growl. I froze!

Thinking it was a snake or Gila Monster, I slowly raised my head and looked at the dog. The hair on his back was straight up. I looked up and saw what made him growl.

I gently touched Sport's back, started toward the large thing standing about 50 feet away. Sport grabbed my jeans and pulled me back. But I felt the need to see what it was. The dog then stopped pulling and leaned against my leg, continued his low growl and walked along with me. I had gone about six feet when I heard my husband Bill call out, "Dorothy stop!"

Sport and I stopped, both looking at this huge creature. I did not feel threatened by it; did feel it was looking at me. There were no features visible even though there was a full moon. The shape of the head was similar to a gorilla. The body was so huge!

Then I heard the click of Bill's rifle as he took the safety off and [I] turned my head [to try to] stop him and suddenly Sport relaxed.

I turned back and saw nothing! It was gone, vanished.

Bill asked, "Where did it go?" There was nothing within miles for such a huge creature to hide behind.

The desert atmosphere in 1948 was clear; there was a full moon, no clouds. The mountains were at least 10 miles from the road. There had been no traffic on the road from either direction for at least an hour. I asked my husband, "What did we see?" He said, "It looked like an enormous bear. That's why I called for you to stop."

We looked around, found nothing, [and] went back to the pup tent. I began folding the blankets to put on the ground inside the tent, when Bill slowly reached for the blanket. He shook it gently and out fell a large scorpion.(We later found out it was a poisonous kind.)

Bill said, "That does it!" He shook the blankets and tent carefully and stored them in the car. He had unloaded the rifle and put it in the car. Sport and I got into the car and finished our trip into Phoenix. I have one regret. I did not go back to where that creature stood and check for footprints. The odd thing was, not even Sport ever went near where it stood. Not even to smell as all dogs do when something like this happens. This was 43 years ago It is still so clear in my mind that it could have been yesterday.

Dorothy D. Lonqfoot
Plnerville, Louisiana

Originally published in Strange 15.



A Bite in the Night

Dear Mr. Chorvinsky,
Many years ago, about 19 years ago, I experienced these "invisible bites." At that time I was 14 and seriously interested in and studying the paranormal. One morning in early spring I awoke to find blood spatters on my pillow and sheet. Not finding any immediate cause I went to take a shower. That's when I saw the bite mark on my left shoulder. After much inspection, I asked my mother to look. She had no answer except a stern look. The bite mark was the size and shape of a human bite.

After the initial bite, the marks began appearing on a regular basis until just after my 15th birthday. Since I never mentioned it again to my mother, I finally confided in a woman I knew and trusted. (By this time I was afraid to go to sleep at night and wondering if perhaps I was insane.) The woman, "Aunt" Lucy, asked me about my interest in the paranormal. I told her I was reading a lot and meditating. She said perhaps during my meditations I was bringing an entity from another level into our realm. She gave me an invocation to use after my meditations. For awhile it seemed to work. Then one night something actually took me out of my bed and threw me across my room. I was terrified, but managed to recite the invocation I'd learned. The dark figure near my bed "moaned" and vanished. I did have a bite mark that night, but it was the last one I ever received. Perhaps Aunt Lucy was right, that it was an entity from another plane? The invocation was used for protection and sending back unwanted "visitors." Although this experience frightened me, I continued my studies of the paranormal. Thank you for your time and patience.

Name and address on file

Originally published in Strange 8.



The Wraith and the Wreath

It was around 1936. I was about 24 years old--I am 79 now. We lived at Portage Des Sioux, MO. My son was sick and was at the Children's Hospital in St. Louis and I stayed in St. Louis with my sister to be close to the hospital. It was dark and dreary when I was on the street car. A couple got off and as they did the conductor seemed to watch them and see what I saw. It was a hooded figure that ran around them quickly. It then ran up the lawn onto the porch and stomped its feet. It had long boards on its feet making a loud noise. This couple walked up to the porch and by that time the streetcar was starting up and it was like I was coming out of a daze. I had the feeling that the couple went there to kill someone. That figure was hooded and wore all black clothes. The figure looked like a skeleton in those clothes. There was a skull in the hood and the long arms in those black sleeves were bones. It had something in its hand like a scythe.

It was like I did not know where I was, but I got to my sister's okay. The next day as I went to the hospital I watched for that house. It had a wreath on the door; someone had died. I wish I would have asked the conductor if he saw what I saw.

Clara Lindemann
Charles, MO

Originally published in Strange 15.



The Witchie Wolves of Omer Plains

I grew up on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, twelve miles north of Bay City, Michigan. With the limited nightlife available to teenagers in this rural area, the vast majority of teens during the mid-seventies would drive around the piny woods and wetlands looking for parties or privacy. Since at least the early sixties, it was a teenage rite for male students from Pinconning High School to pile into a car and drive twenty miles north to the wilderness known as "The Omer Plains." Located a few miles west of the little town of Omer (the Omer Plains is marked on Arenac County maps), this strange uninhabited place of scrubby pines and swampland is home of the phenomenon known as "The Witchie Wolves."

According to local Chippewa legend, Witchie Wolves are invisible spirit dogs that guard the graves of ancient warriors, attacking anyone foolish enough to venture out at night on foot. Although I went to the Omer Plains twice, nobody in our vehicle was brave enough to get out of the car. We could all hear the hideous high-pitched laughing bark that came from all directions out of the near total darkness. Several times a year, a skeptical youth, usually an athlete or an outdoorsman type would take the dare and get out of the car, only to be violently knocked to the ground by what always seemed to be an invisible wolf or dog, snarling and snapping at the victim's head. Screaming and scrambling back into the car, nobody ever stuck around long enough to see what else would happen. I have seen tough guys cry while telling of their experience. I have heard claims of torn clothes and I have seen scratches and dents on roofs of cars which the owner, straight faced and sober, would claim weren't there before the Witchie Wolf attack.

It seemed like everyone knew and accepted the Witchie Wolves. They were and probably still are given a wide berth.

David A. Kulczyk
Seattle, Washington

Originally published in Strange 15.



One That Will Grow on You

Dear Mark,
I write to you because you are interested in strange phenomena, things people tend to disbelieve. I have had an experience with a strange thing which is dangerous and harmful, but my attempts to warn others are disbelieved. Maybe you will want to help.

I live in a small desert town in So. California. I have no desire for publicity or notoriety, but this danger needs to be publicized.

Seven years ago, before I moved down here, I was living in Santa Barbara. When I told my UPS delivery man that we were moving to the Palm Springs area, he told me, "You don't want to go down there. Too many weird things in the desert." "Like what"

"Well there's giant cockroaches that fly, there's teeny tiny ants that sting you, there's mushrooms that grow on you--"

"Wait a minute? We've already sold our house! I don't think it's very nice to tell me a lot of scare stories."

He shrugged. I never spoke to him again. But he had definitely lived down here. Every word he said was true--there are giant flying cockroaches, 5 kinds of fire ants--and Podaxispistillaris, the Desert Inky Cap mushroom, a dangerous fungus, a puffball on a stalk.

Years ago, I was interested in mushrooms. I learned to identify the common types, and I have some understanding of their biology. I remember reading in some mushroom hunter's guide, long since read and discarded, about the Stalked Puffball mushroom of the desert. All puffballs (mushrooms which lack an umbrella shape and spread their spores by expanding a bulbous shape, which bursts, releasing a "puff" of spores in a dusty cloud are good to eat and safe to gather, the guidebook said, except the stalked puffball of the desert, which had been "implicated in attacks on living tissue" and must never be eaten. It didn't explain further, but said that since the stalked puffball "fruited" which means: sent up its mushroom from its mycelium, the living plant (which is a mass of threads underground) in the summer months when the desert is 110 degrees or higher every day, few people were likely to encounter it.

A lot more people live in the California desert now, year round. People are encountering it. I did. I know of three other people who have this mushroom growing in their skin, none as bad as my own case. I also have heard of hunters shooting ducks and rabbits who find their kill inedible because the newly dead animal has mushrooms growing on it.

I was gardening one day 4 years ago when I first saw Podaxis pistillaris in fruit. It puffed all over me, covering me with black spores, especially my left arm and foot which were not covered by clothes and which were nearest the fungus.

Having forgotten entirely the warning I once read about desert puffballs, I thought my blackened appearance was funny and, laughing, I rinsed myself off with a hose, but the spores stayed in my pores and in every scratch and small wound on my arms, neck and feet. About a month later, I got my first indication that something was wrong. A series of small black growths began to emerge from my left arm. I thought they might be spots of road tar that had somehow splashed on me, so I scrubbed them with no results. Then I dabbed them with bleach to see if that would take them off. It didn't but soon afterwards they crumbled to dust and fell off. I was relieved, until I noticed that the skin around them felt strange. I touched my arm and to my amazed horror, a circular area about 4 inches across was numb and cold. Absolutely cold. It stayed cold too, and began to harden and then disintegrate. A large sore appeared in its place, then another near it. The sores were painful, inflamed and itchy. Serum oozed out of them. I went to several doctors, but none of them had ever heard of such a mushroom infection, and I got little help.

Eventually, with lots of athlete's foot preparations, I controlled the sores. I am by no means the only person to have this infection, and I wish desert area doctors were aware of it. I particularly worry about it happening to little kids.

I met one man who, hearing about my problem, told me that he too had a persistent sore on his arm which he controlled with agricultural fungicide. I know one woman who has recurrent black growths on her leg, but I can't locate her to tell her what I now know about them. Doctors were no help to her. My husband has had one black growth on his lower leg so far. I touched it with bleach, and it crumbled off, leaving a sore which now is a purple scar. I am covered with white scar tissue myself. My left arm looks like a map with all the white lines squiggling over it from one big white spot to the other.

This fungus danger is real. I talked to local wildlife experts about it, and was assured that the spores of Podaxis plstillaris cause only a reaction on the skin of sensitive persons. They can't grow on living tissue. I showed them my arm, still with active sores years after my exposure, but I was not believed.

I poisoned the mushroom plant in my garden. We moved away as well, and I told the new owner my story, but was not believed. This dangerous mushroom may be infecting people all the time. The newspapers never discuss it, and wouldn't print my letters. This is a tourist area. Maybe there is a conspiracy of silence...but the UPS man knew about it. The knowledge must be out there, as folklore. If you would write about this and ask for people's experiences, maybe you could break the conspiracy and make this issue public. I wrote to the native plant society urging them to act to to protect the public. I received a letter saying I would soon be contacted by phone on the matter, but never was.

If you want to see photos of this horrible mushroom, look in any comprehensive book on North American fungi. In Mushrooms and Other Fungi by R.T. and D.B. Orr, Univ. of California Press, 1968, it's on page 33, plate 8. I hope you are interested and want to help.

Forgive me for remaining anonymous

Originally published in Strange 6.



The Host Was a Ghost

In the Spring of 1971 I moved into an apartment already occupied by a hard-headed ghost. I had been forewarned about the ghost by a friend and her husband who were moving from the apartment. I didn't believe the wild tales, and, besides, I decided I needed a place to live as bad as he did. I was having some repairs done on my house and would only be there a few weeks anyway.

The house is located on 80th Street South in Birmingham, Alabama. It's in an older section of East Lake where the old offices and doctor's clinics have been converted into apartments and similar dwellings.

I didn't mention the possibility of a ghost to my two children (age thirteen and seventeen). I knew they wouldn't go for it. And I didn't believe it anyway. The first two days and nights things went along nicely.

On the third night, after everyone was in bed, he made his move. Something came walking into my bedroom in what sounded like big lumberjack boots with steel taps on the heels. He went straight to the bathroom and started banging around on the water pipes. I was paralyzed with fear, I thought someone had broken in. My throat was so dry I couldn't swallow. Sanity returned and I reached for a pistol I always keep close by. I didn't turn on a light. I just sat on the bed and waited. Nothing--all was quiet. Needless to say, there was no sleep for me the rest of that night.

The next morning I found an old bent key on the kitchen table that fit the door lock. The landlady had told us not to lose the key; she only had one. After checking doors and windows for forced entry and finding none, I knew our friend from the other side had made a statement simply, "I was here first." And we would be sharing the apartment with "Bigfoot" whether we liked it or not. He had a thing about the water pipes. He fell into a routine of banging around on the pipes like he might have been a plumber in another life. The water started running in the bathtub and we couldn't turn it off. The landlady would send a plumber over to repair the faucets. It would work fine for a day or two, then start running again. This went on for as long as we lived there. The plumber was dumbfounded as to why the gadgets he put into the faucets didn't work. I had read some place about investigators going to haunted houses and using a recorder to tape sound. I decided to try it. The people upstairs had gone on vacation, leaving us all alone in the house. We felt very anxious about that. We turned on the recorder and left, knowing nobody was in the house. When we returned, we played the tape. We could hear the sound of our car backing out of the driveway, then some of the most horrible sounds I've ever heard came off that tape. Such violence was unbelievable. Men and women, screaming, beating on the floor and walls, breaking furniture and dishes. It was like a war zone. It scared us big time. I knew we would have to move right away because something horrible had happened there and some of those ghosts could be dangerous.

My son told me he had seen a man in front of the bath room. He said he could sort of see through him and he had strange-looking clothes on. I thought he might have imagined it. I didn't know whether to believe it or not. He was only thirteen and he was very much aware of what had been happening in the apartment.

I was soon to reach the horrifying conclusion that the apartment was not big enough for all its occupants. I was going from the kitchen towards the bathroom, when I came face to face with this dude. The times in my life when I have been really scared I would have a sweet, bitter, salty and sour taste in my mouth all at the same time. I had that taste in my mouth then, my stomach felt like a huge knot, my head was pounding, I couldn't move. I just gave him a good staring, not by choice, just because that's all I could do. He looked old, and he was only visible from the waist up. He looked almost transparent. He was wearing a grayish old uniform coat with shiny brass buttons on it. It looked like pictures I had seen of Civil War uniforms. His hair was gray, his shoulders stooped. I got the impression the coat was the kind that buttoned up all the way under the chin. But the top buttons were not buttoned. He disappeared as I was looking at him. I don't know how long I stood there after he disappeared.

That day we moved back home. That was twenty years ago. I still go back to the old house. I'm strangely drawn to it. It has had many tenants through the years. I have seen them moving in and out. As I drive by, I never stop. I often wonder how many people have seen the old man and if anyone ever tried to speak to him. Maybe someday someone with a little more courage than I had will speak to him and discover his problem.

Jean D. Clements
Birmingham, Alabama

Originally published in Strange 9.

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