The following creepy little story seemed appropriate for Halloween. This--for lack of a better word--”haunting” is one I find particularly disturbing, because the…ghost? elemental? apparition? natural phenomena? whatzit? was one that seemed to target not people, but animals. This account, written by one “G. Llewellyn” appeared in the “Occult Review” for November 1910:
I must inform all and sundry that I am not a spiritualist, and that I know nothing whatever about spiritualism. I have been informed by several people that I am what is termed a “sensitive.”
I have never attended a séance or any meeting or gathering of the kind, nor had I ever read any literature dealing with such subjects as spiritualism or mysticism or occultism or anything of kindred nature until quite recently, when my attention was called to the Occult Review, which I found intensely interesting and illuminating.
As a journalist, and a very busy one, I am, as a rule, so tired when I go to bed--invariably in the small hours--that I fall asleep almost immediately and sleep for hours without ever a break. On a never-to-be-forgotten night I was in my usual state of health, I was untroubled and without a vestige of care.
I had had my usual supper. I had been in bed a short time and was in that blissful condition of mind when one is just dozing off. The room was in total darkness, as I had switched off the electric light and drawn thick, heavy curtains over the holland blinds that covered the two large windows. My pet cat invariably sleeps on my bed, and was in its customary place, curled up on the quilt, fast asleep.
As I lay there, with half-shut eyes, there suddenly appeared at the top of the wall on the right (the side to which I had turned), a long shaft of light, of the most beautiful shade of light bright blue. It moved and quivered along in the direction of the right window, and I watched it with fascinated gaze.
“How extraordinary!” I thought, “I never saw the moonlight come in in this fashion when those thick curtains were drawn right across, and it is a different blue from moonlight blue, too, and moves about so oddly...what can it be?...but of course it must be moonlight, and perhaps there are clouds passing over the moon?”
The light--a heavenly forget-me-not sort of blue--the counterpart of which, however, I have never seen, either before or since, still wavered and drifted across the room in the same part, near the ceiling, and I stupidly looked at the top of the door (over which hung a heavy crimson plush portière) as if a light could have been cast through a solid brick wall!
At last I jumped out of bed, pulled curtains and blind aside and looked out of the window. Nothing but impenetrable darkness met my astonished gaze. No moon, not a star, not a ray of light to be seen! Intense blackness and gloom--nothing more. I could not distinguish the road, or the opposite trees, or, in short, anything at all. The street lights are put out early in the country, and the night was of inky blackness.
“Could it have been some one with a lantern, or a searchlight?” I pondered, still marvelling over the occurrence, as I returned to bed. I was not in the least alarmed, and it had not even occurred to me that there was anything at all supernatural in connexion with the affair.
As I went on puzzling, or rather, trying to puzzle it out, the cat suddenly jumped up on the bed, his fur bristling all over his body, his eyes glaring, and with one bound he leaped to the door; and as he tore frantically at the plush portière, he emitted the most awful howl or scream that I ever heard from an animal--in fact, I did not think such a horrid, blood-curdling sound could have been given. I think my hair stood on end then, but even after this I did not entertain the least idea of anything at all supernatural. My idea was that the cat had suddenly gone mad! As for the blue light, this new and startling development had quite driven it out of my mind.
Hydrophobia or no hydrophobia, I was so distressed at seeing the poor animal’s agony of fear that I took it up in my arms and tried to soothe it. Trembling all over as if with ague, it cowered against me, hiding its head, and giving evidence of the most fearful state of terror and distress. I soothed and petted it, and gradually it grew calmer; but to my astonishment it peered over the side of the bed, glaring fearfully, its eyes blazing as if on fire, and its fur bristling again as at first. I saw nothing, but that the cat saw something I am absolutely convinced, and nothing could shake that conviction.
Feeling safe in my arms, now that the first shock of the horrid sight--whatever it may have been--was over, poor Fluff craned his neck eagerly and looked down on the carpet, watching the movements of the (by me) unseen enemy, as it apparently travelled along the bedside and rounded the end of the bed in front of the dressing-table. The “thing”--whatever it may have been--was on the floor, and made no attempt to get on the bed. Had it approached us, I am certain that Fluff would have expired at once; but, from the safe shelter of my arms, he watched the nocturnal visitor, following it with his eyes along the side of the room, between the bed and a huge mahogany chest of drawers, and round the end of the bedstead to the left. It seemed so strange to see the cat craning its head and following with its gaze some object undiscoverable by myself that I got up, and, leaning over the brass rail at the end of the bedstead, looked anxiously and intently in the direction indicated by the cat. All I saw was the carpet!
But it must be remembered that I saw the blue light when the cat was asleep. It might be suggested that my fear of the light was communicated to the cat, but then I had no fear of it, for I deemed it an ordinary (though perhaps unusually beautiful) shaft of moonlight until I found that there was no moon, and the night was as dark as Erebus.
One friend suggested that perhaps it was all a dream! Well, I know, and am prepared to swear, that it was not. If I had been asleep, the mere fact of getting out of bed, going to the window, drawing the curtains, and switching on the electric light, would have been sufficient to rouse me; and, again, I am not, and never have been, subject to delusions of any sort. As the editor of the Occult Review knows, I am on the staff of a well- known London weekly paper, of large circulation, and my pen-name is known all over the world. I am practical, business-like, and logical--not a dreamer, or a visionary. I may say, too, that my house is a new one. There has never been the slightest suggestion that it was haunted. There have been no other manifestations in it either before or since.
Recent studies of the effects of light upon living things have brought many new and surprising theories to the front. It is said that we are bathed in light, visible and invisible, for there is a radiation which has been termed “black light” which cannot be seen by our eyes, but which may be visible to eyes differently organized. Professor Jerviss declares that it is possible that these ghostly sheaths of ours are perceived by certain animals possessing the power to see in the dark.
Some time after my own remarkable experience my attention was drawn by a friend (to whom I had confided the whole matter) to an almost identical experience related by Mr. Maurice Hewlett to Miss Constance Smedley. There was the same blue light, wavering and flickering; there was a pet animal--a dog, not a cat, in this particular instance--sleeping on the bed; there was the fearful terror of the animal, its whining and moaning and whimpering, and, finally, there were ghostly hands seen passing over the dog, as if stroking it. At length, the whimpers slackened, and, ere long, ceased. The dog was dead…In the event of any one scoffing at my own honestly set down experience, I would ask these questions: Whence came this mysterious light, and how could the cat’s extraordinary terror be accounted for? Suppose, for instance, that my mind might for once have been subject to such an extraordinary hallucination, or that my eyes might, for once, have played me false--for we know that there are such things as optical illusions--it is difficult to believe that the cat should at the same moment suddenly have experienced the same hallucination, delusion, or illusion--call it what you will. Then, too, the cat was obviously terrified to the farthest limit of its endurance--had I not soothed it, and covered its head, I think it would have died from its fright--but I was not alarmed in the least. Puzzled I was, most assuredly, but not alarmed.
Perhaps it was a “cat” phantom, or a “dog” phantom that my poor Fluff saw--the ghost of some former pet of mine that haunted its erstwhile owner, and was suddenly seized with an access of jealousy and rage. It must have been a horrid object, anyway, for Fluff is the quietest, gentlest cat I have ever known. For a long time we fancied he was dumb, for by day or by night no sound was ever heard from his “voice-box.” He was fearfully scalded on one occasion, but even then only gave two small piteous “mious.” On another occasion he was trapped in a door, in a gale of wind, and gave a small and almost human cry at the moment he was released, but the howl he emitted when he saw the ghost--or whatever it was that he did see--was so loud and so horrible that I shall never forget it, nor the sight he presented after I had got a light and I saw him tearing at the plush portière in frantic efforts to escape.
If any one can offer a solution, or even make an attempt at a solution, I should be both interested and gratified. I have no theories of my own on the subject, though I have exhausted every possible field of speculation.