Today’s article is on one of those subjects that is bizarre for various reasons, as you’ll see. And, it’s a story that goes back to the mid-1980s, when I was a van driver and forklift truck driver. It was in January 1986 (I still very well recall) when the 1980 hardback edition of Janet and Colin Bord’s book Alien Animals arrived in the mailbox. It was a book I had heard of, but up until then I had not got around to see it. I eagerly sat down to read it and was completely amazed to find a mention of the infamous Man-Monkey; a bizarre, shining-eyed Bigfoot-type creature that I had never previously come across, but that the Bords said haunted Bridge 39 on the Shropshire Union Canal – a place only around about thirty minutes from my home at the time. This was of particular interest to me because the area, it so transpired, was actually very close to that of my daily van route. My first exposure to the Man-Monkey was, however, firmly overshadowed by a far more tragic event that had occurred on the very same day that I began to read the book; namely, the tragic and fatal explosion in the United States of the NASA Space Shuttle, Challenger.
I continued to heartily devour the packed pages of Alien Animals and made a careful, mental note to soon make the drive out to the infamous bridge where the Man-Monkey was said to have its lair. Beer, girls and work – in varying degrees of interchangeable order – were very much the collective order of the day, however. And even though my interest in the world of the unexplained had undeniably increased, and certainly to levels that easily exceeded those of my earlier, childhood years, I simply forgot about the Man-Monkey and its crazed and beastly actions, and I began to focus my attention far more on unidentified flying objects – that is, until the latter part of 1987. Specifically October 1987. That was when things got weird. Very weird.
During this specific period of time, I was working down in the Essex, England, town of Harlow. The company that was then employing me was also paying for a very nice hotel room (for a few years), and I most certainly had no complaints at all. There was a wealth of fine and delicious food, the plentiful supply of booze flowed, and there was a much more than adequate nightlife in town. One evening, in October 1987, I was sprawled out on the hotel room bed, triple whisky and coke in hand (or some such similar potent concoction, at least), and once again casually thumbing through the pages of Alien Animals – probably, I’m pretty sure, for the very first time since that fateful day back in January 1986. Very oddly, this second occasion, too, was one destined to be hit by deep tragedy and death: namely, a devastating, huge storm that decimated whole swathes of England.
The Blackout Report said of the catastrophic event: “October 1987 saw the biggest storm to hit southern parts of the UK in almost 300 years kill 18 people, cause billions of pounds of damage and leave hundreds of thousands of homes without power. The severe weather during the early hours of 16 October 1987 saw gusts of wind touching 120 mph hit the south of England and northern France. Even inland windspeeds topped 90 mph, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction.” I actually recall waking up in the early hours of the morning, with macabre images of the Man-Monkey fixed firmly in my mind, as well as hearing the driving deluge, and the wild storm whipping up a veritable frenzy outside of the rain-beaten hotel-room windows. Later, like so many of the locals, I drove around much of Essex, utterly amazed and appalled, yet also spellbound and transfixed at the scene of overwhelming destruction and carnage that the mighty storm had wrought, overnight, upon Britain’s much beloved countryside.
It may have been nothing but mere coincidence and imagination, of course, yet it seemed to me in those slightly paranoid and dark moments which occasionally surfaced, that whenever I chose to delve into the macabre world of the Man-Monkey, disaster seemed to quickly and inevitably follow ominously close behind. I wasn’t the only one, however, who had a weird night of paranormal proportions. This brings us to a certain author and a certain book. The book is The Black Alchemist and the writer, Andy Collins. The blurb for Andy’s book begins as follows: “The Black Alchemist is a real account of terrifying true events. The nightmare begins when Collins and his friend Bernard G. visit a secluded churchyard on the Sussex Downs of southern England as part of a psychic quest. They are looking for an ancient Egyptian treasure, a golden staff known as the Stave of Nizar, brought to England at the time of the Crusades. Yet instead of finding a long lost Egyptian relic they uncover a stone spearhead, inscribed with magical symbols. Through further investigation they discover it has been concealed as part of a dark occult ritual by a character they dub the Black Alchemist. Collins and Bernard are then thrust into a series of horrifying confrontations as this sinister figure attempts to put a stop to their unwanted interference.”
My well-worn copy of The Black Alchemist
The blurb continues: “Then, in the aftermath of Britain’s first hurricane in nearly 300 years, the Black Alchemist initiates the next phase of his great work [italics mine]—the creation of an antichrist, a second Adam, taking the form of an unholy child of unspeakable power. Even though Bernard now wants out of this dangerous affair, Collins convinces him it is something they cannot ignore, setting up a final psychic confrontation on the Sussex Downs. During the course of his investigations the author uncovers the true extent of the Black Alchemist’s obsession with Graeco-Egyptian magic and alchemy, as well as his use of the angelic invocations of Elizabethan magus Dr John Dee. Plus he learns the final fate of the historical object known as the Stave of Nizar.” And, as Andy’s book shows, there were a number of people who, on that crazy night, had strange and sinister nightmares of wolves. Over the years, and here and there, I’ve picked up a few more stories of other people who experienced strange visions and dreams on that same night in October 1987. It’s still a night I won’t forget.