Within the world of the paranormal there are numerous strange cases of all manner of the strange and the bizarre. Everything from alien entities, to weird humanoids, to foul monsters have made the rounds, and there are many permutations within these various phenomena. One place that gets very little attention is that of accounts of roving, hungry mists or clouds, which have served to spark their own odd tales and which surely lie within the realm of the far fringe.
A rather interesting account of an ominous, mysterious cloud was dug up by the site Beachcomber’s Bizarre History blog, and it begins in a letter sent to The Times on Dec 1, 1858, from a person in Cornwall, England. The sender, calling himself Jabez Brown, describes a strange event that he claimed happened during a particularly dark and stormy night, during which a glowing mystery cloud seemed to sweep through the rural coastal area. The letter reads:
Sir, Last night, at 15 minutes to 9, it being very dark and raining heavily, I was ascending one of the steep hills of this neighbourhood, when suddenly I was surrounded by a bright and powerful light, which passed me a little quicker than the ordinary pace of man’s walking, leaving it dark as before. This day I have been informed that the light was seen by the sailors in the harbour, coming in from the sea and passing up the valley like a low cloud. Will you or any of your readers be pleased to give an explanation of the above?
It would appear that at least one reader took notice, because in that same month, on December 26, another letter came into The Times, which mentions the same storm and the sender of the previous letter, but also goes into more detail, outlining a very strange series of events. The letter in this case reads:
But the weather for Ten days has been very very awful and exceedingly strange – Thunder, Hail, Rain and Storms of Wind…. The whole countryside is excited about these storms, and the people connect them with the death of a Mr.– a Merchant of Boscastle and a notorious wrecker. As soon as a Ship was seen he used to mount his horse, and never leave her out of sight until she came ashore, when he would take possession, and make an enormous profit by charging Salvage, etc. He did so in Morwenstow twice. Ten days agone a Man called Jabez Brown living at Boscastle was returning at Night when he saw sailing up the Valley from the Sea Cloud filled with fiery light. All the Sailors also saw it. It glided on over –’s House, and passed inland up the Glen, until it reached a Church to which he belonged and where his Family Vault used to be and is. This sight so astonished Brown, that he wrote an account of it to The Times, and there I read it. On Sunday evening this day week – went out on the cliffs, and was seen watching the sea, it is supposed for Wrecks. He returned quite well and went to bed. At 5 in the morning his Servants heard him walk about his room. Then his footsteps ceased. He had returned to bed. At Six O’clock a vast roll of the Tide came up the Harbour, and one of his Vessels broke loose. The Servants went up to tell him – knocked – no answer – again – silence – frightened, they went in and there he lay quite dead. His head upon his hand. Ever since that day it is certain the storms have been continued – again and again with violence and while I now write my table trembles with the wind.
What was going on here? Who knows? Another case of a killer cloud is even more spectacular, in this case involving a cloud or mist that seemed to actually prowl about devouring people and dissolving things. The location of this very strange series of events is the woods lining the the Tomoka River west of Daytona, Florida. Beginning in the year 1955, fishermen and hunters in the area began to report seeing a strange, thick bank of pinkish mist that would form low to the ground out of nowhere and seemingly move about on its own accord, regardless of wind direction. Although this is perhaps spooky enough already, this cloud is said to have had some sort of corrosive property, supposedly stripping dead animals and even humans of their flesh to leave only bleached bones behind. It is even said that it is not only dead carcasses that were the victims of this ominous cloud, but that it also took living prey as well.
Indeed, the cloud over the years has apparently been blamed for around a dozen mysterious disappearances in the area, as well as the discovery of unidentified human bones, and it is said that this ominous pink mist is almost like some voracious carnivore oozing across the landscape to devour all it comes into contact with. Some of the carcasses and remains found have rather gruesomely been described as appearing to have been melted or half-digested, and there have even supposedly been reports of the predatory fog in action, with animals, birds, or insects that come into contact with the mist said to drop dead and be ensconced by its wispy tendrils. The mist was also said to strip trees of their bark or dissolve brush, leaving swaths of dead land in its wake.
Such sightings and strangeness continued up until 1965 or 1966, and there have been many legends as to what the bizarre cloud could have been. One popular theory is that it has something to do with a local Native named Chief Tomkie, who is said to have once been cursed for stealing a golden cup and drinking from some mysterious fountain of youth without permission. For his transgressions the chief was hunted down and killed by other tribes, and his golden cup taken back. It is the spirit of Chief Tomkie that is said to prowl the land intertwined with the mist, although what connection any of this has is up for debate. Other ideas are that this is just folklore based on the odd color of light hitting the frequent fogs of the area, that it is swamp gas, or even that it is some sort of toxic cloud of lethal fumes formed by chemicals from industrial plants. On the site Weird US there were several commentaries made by readers familiar with the area and this particular tale of the monster cloud, one of them by a person called “welder2,” who said:
They called it the cannibal cloud when I was in school and it was supposed to be pink and would eat the meat off anybody that came in contact with it. It wasn’t swamp gas; it was more like a fog that really didn’t cover but a small area in a low spot. If you go into the woods called the Tiger Bay preserve right near the Tomoka River you might be able to see it. I don’t think you can see it all the time, just certain times of the year when we get a lot of fog. I don’t think there is anything to the cannibal stuff or people disappearing, I think it is just fog that reflects a pinkish color in that area. Most of these newcomers who have moved in don’t know anything about it; you have to talk with people who were around in the sixties to hear about it.
Another commenter called “NSB” had more information to offer on the purported carnivorous cloud:
There’s a lawyer I know that could fill you in more on the Pink Cloud. What it was nobody knows, except it was like a thick pink fog that covered a wide area of the Tomoka forest. Now there are claims that many people vanished in that area and only their bones were found. The pink cloud was blamed for the disappearances and people said it would actually eat the flesh off your bones.
Not quite as deadly but every bit as weird and spooky is an account from the summer of 1975, in which a junior high school science teacher in New York by the name of Tom D’Ercole allegedly had a rather violent encounter with a nebulous, wraith-like entity like no other. D’Ercole purportedly woke up one clear, sunny morning to look outside his Long Island home and see what he at first took to be a small, uncommonly dark cloud that seemed to be hovering towards his house. Things got stranger still when he noticed that it was actually going against the wind to approach his residence, and that it was actually growing in size and changing shape, and as it drew closer he could see that this was in fact no cloud at all. He would say of the strange sight:
This basketball-sized cloud floated back and forth across the peak of the roof, changing in shape from a small globular mass to a larger ovoid and finally becoming an abstract, multi-curved, dark, vaporous ‘something.’ It finally measured about six feet in height and one and a half feet in width.
This is perhaps already alarming and bizarre enough as it is, but things got even weirder still when it further metamorphosed to form a “mouth” complete with “lips,” and began to seemingly inhale, after which it spewed forth a deluge of liquid that covered the teacher and his home and then evaporated into nothingness as if it had never been there at all. D’Ercole went through great efforts to try and preserve some evidence of his odd encounter by placing his wet clothes in a sealed bag, but when analyzed it was found to be nothing but plain water. Although it is unclear what the teacher could have possibly seen, it is an intriguing account in that it comes from a reliable witness in the form of a well-respected science teacher who seems to have no reason at all to have made up such an absurd-sounding story.
Finally, we have a very bizarre report given to me personally by a reader, which I have never really been able to quite figure out. The witness tells me that this happened at Mt. Shasta, in California, back in the 1980s, as he was out taking a hike along one of the countless trails of the area. He says that what started as a clear and bright day at one point very abruptly became dark and cloudy out of nowhere, and although the speed with which this happened was already strange enough as it was, things would only get more bizarre from there. He claims that as he stood wondering why the weather had become to ominous, a thick, soupy mist began to crawl amongst the brush on the ground from the forest ahead. This was followed by two deer bolting from the trees, and this is where things would get wild. The witness says:
One of the deer bolted right past me, coming within just feet. It was really booking it and totally ignored me. The other one stopped in the clearing I was in and just kind of froze, as if in fear. Then this mist, which was kind of hugging the ground, seemed to speed up. When it reached the deer’s feet, the animal sort of started convulsing and fell to the ground thrashing around. That’s when a sort of bank of fog emerged from the trees and headed straight for it. This fog was real tight, pulled together into sort of a blob-like mass and it stopped just where the deer fell. After a few minutes the fog moved off, that mist went away, and the weather returned to normal. I went to where the deer had been and there was no sign of it No body, no blood, no bones, nothing. I know it couldn’t have run off without me seeing it. It never left that fog. It was just erased. I don’t know how to describe it. I always wonder what would have happened if there were no deer and it was just me in that clearing.
It is interesting to note that Mt. Shasta has long had myriad mysteries and anomalies attached to it. Was this some sort of portal, or something else? In general what were these clouds we have looked at here, and what do they signify? Such reports are very rare, but they almost seem to point to an entirely new feature of the world of the paranormal, which defies easy classification and understanding. They remain obscure, baffling cases within the realm of other weirdness, and we will likely never fully understand them.