Teeny Haunts: Porterville Gnome

Two seperate families, both owning the same property on the Tule River near Porterville, experienced this malevolent creature. A woman named Tammy moved onto an old farm with her children. Immediately she sensed a presence watching them from the old barn.

Returning home with groceries, Tammy heard a “very freaky, very evil-sounding chuckle”. The noise came from a three-foot humanoid figure about 50 yards away. She described it as wearing a red pointed hat, just like a gnome, only not at all cute and cuddly. It had sharp teeth with an ear-to-ear grin.

Tammy ran to her house and locked the door. Movement appeared outside the kitchen window, just the tip of the red hat. It wanted to get into the house. After a very long time, the tiny creature left. Yet for the remainder of her stint in that house, Tammy would hear creepy laughter coming from the barn.

Years later, a woman names Charlie moved onto the same property with her husband. They took a liking to a small pond on the property and decorated it with gnomes, toadstools, stocking the pond with koi fish. Only the old barn still emanated creepy vibes. The pair stayed away as much as possible.

In the still hours of the morning, they woke to the sound of “raspy, gurgling singing.” A tiny gnomish creature stood by the pond, again with the reddish hat.

The thing sensed them watching and snatched a koi from the pond, gobbling it up in one bite. Charlie’s husband threw open the window and threatened to call the police. The creature only grinned with it’s terrible pointy teeth, and gave the couple the bird before vanishing in the night. The only evidence of the encounter were small, childlike footprints around the pond.

The creature returned, night after night, eating more of the fish. Finally the couple took down all the decorations and got rid of the fish. This only served to aggravate the little creature, who ran around screaming in an unknown language.

Many years later, Charlie and Tammy met and compared their stories. They both had witnessed a tiny creature in a red hat. They attempted to visit the old farm, only the new owner didn’t want to speak to them. They did notice that the dilapidated barn had been torn down.

Was it possible that a red cap, a creature native to England, had ventured all the way out to California? Although neither of the woman’s stories detailed what would happen should the creature enter their house, I pulled from red cap mythology to fill in the missing pieces.

It makes me wonder what other nasties are lurking in the dark.

Tim Kane

Teeny Haunts: Nightcrawlers

I’m not one to fall in for video hoaxes (and there are loads on the Internet) yet… The first time I saw the footage of the Fresno Nightcrawler some years back it sent chills down my spine. Something about the gait and the eerie silence of the creature walking. The fact that it wasn’t meant to scare, made it all the more unnerving.

Theories abound as to what this creature might be. It is a recent phenomenon, dating back to 2007 when a Fresnan caught video of the creature on his security cameras (most of the YouTube videos add music or commentary. Visit this site to watch unadulterated videos). An anonymous home owner installed surveillance cameras because various dogs were trespassing in his yard. He had no idea what he could actually capture on video.

The image shows a pale creature with two long legs loping gracefully across the lawn. Several other videos exist, yet the creature has never been seen in the flesh (or in the sheet). Reactions ranges from a clever hoax to aliens. Even a few viewers have tried to link the creatures to local Native American legends (though these are tenuous).

Enjoy the nightcrawlers. They don’t seem the least bit harmful. Sometimes a mystery can simply be a mystery. And that is fine with me.

Stay creepy.

Teeny Haunts: The Dark Watchers

The Dark Watchers are shadow people who materialize in the mountains of Santa Lucia California. Many people have witnessed these strange folk, often singly but sometimes in groups. I read of one account where two motorists were surrounded by these glowing eyed figures.

Steinbeck wrote about them in his 1938 short story “Flight”.

“Pepe looked up to the top of the next dry withered ridge. He saw a dark form against the sky, a man’s figure standing on top of a rock, and he glanced away quickly not to appear curious. When a moment later he looked up again, the figure was gone.”

Short Story Collection: The Long Valley

This experience of the dark watchers vanishing when you look away is a common one. People glimpse them while driving or walking only to have the figures vanish upon closer inspection.

The poet Robinson Jeffers also commented on the shadowy observers:

“He thought it might be one of the watchers, who are often seen in this length of coast-range, forms that look human to human eyes, but certainly are not human. They come from behind ridges to watch. He was not surprised when the figure turning toward him in the quiet twilight showed his own face. Then it melted and merged into the shadows beyond it.”

“Such Counsels You Gave Me” from 1937

I used the idea of them melting into the shadows for the illustrations.

One theory posits that swaying trees cast against fog create these specters. Our pattern-seeking brains misinterpret the image (a phenomenon is known as pareidolia). This is similar to how a Rorschach test works.

Yet the accounts of people who have witnessed are too varied to be simply a trick of the brain. One eye witness stated that the dark watcher waved back and smoked a cigar.

Whoever these mysterious figures are, they seem to not want to harm us. Still, let’s leave them be. Just in case.

Tim Kane

Teeny Haunts: The Night Hag

The idea that some hideous creature slinks into your room at night to suffocate you both enthralls and terrifies me. Obviously the myth grew up around the sin of gluttony — don’t gorge yourself or else! But it also has some science behind it. People who stuff themselves will have breathing problems, especially if they sleep on their backs.

Digging down into the legend, I found that many cultures have this scream-stealing monster. In Moroccan culture it’s known as Bou Rattat — a demon that presses down on the sleeper’s body so they can’t move or speak.

Slavic mythology calls it the Notsnitsa (or the Night Maiden). She was known torment children as well, so that would make a frightening bedtime story. (Hey kids, if you wake up with the Notsnitsa in the room, don’t bother screaming… because you can’t.) Apparently a stone with a hole in the center serves as protection. (Where would you find one of those?)

In Spanish culture you have the Pisadeira, a demon woman who sits on your full stomach while you doze at night. Her victims are always people who have eaten too much. This is where I primarily pulled from for the illustrations.

In England, the creature is the Night Hag. In fact the word nightmare was coined to describe the shortness of breath you have awaking from such a terror.

Scientifically, there is a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis, in which a person wakes to consciousness, but cannot move their body. Laying in bed, totally immobilized, some people feel a chilling presence in the room.

Maybe this Night Hag is real and sneaks into our bedrooms at night, slurping up our fear and screams of terror. Now where did I put my stone with a hole in it?

Happy haunts,

Tim Kane

Teeny Haunts: The Crows

I have always been attracted to birds, crows especially. Many of them flock around my house and in the mornings, I can see the crows “commenting” on the kids trudging to school. It’s like they are a bunch of gossiping people.

I am always polite to crows. I read about a study where scientists donned face masks (the plastic Halloween type) and one scientist was mean to the birds while the other was neutral. Well the crows didn’t the like mean one much, dive-bombing him constantly.

Here’s the catch. The scientists came back every year or so with the masks. Thirty years later, the crows still didn’t like the “mean-naked” figure. Despite the fact that the original crows who experienced this were long gone. So the crows have taught their children to recognize and attack people they don’t like.

Message: be nice to crows.

Happy haunting.

Tim Kane