Throughout history there have been many notorious figures that have followed us into the 21st century. But just as there are figures that actually caused major world changes or unearthed secrets about our universe that earned them a spot in history, there are also far stranger figures that no one can conclusively say is either human or inhuman. And if we take a moment to examine the similarities of characters sucha s the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, Spring Heeled Jack, The Bunnyman, Jack the Ripper, and the Spring Man of Prague, we can see that the deeds and mythos of these figures not only outlive them, but do so in a way that seems almost inhuman.
Each of these figures have been spoken of individually in the past, but there are elements to each of these stories that seem to form common threads throughout them that at once cannot be dismissed. The Mad Gasser of Mattoon, for example, was thought at first to simply be a person who had mastered some form of anesthetic, which he used to incapacitate pedestrians and people in their homes for reasons unknown. No fatalities resulted from the Mad Gasser’s presence, and no real property was stolen during his exploits. In fact, if anything there were objects left behind after the incident to give him an even more monstrous and mysterious persona. By the end of his reign of terror throughout Mattoon, Illinois, those living in the city were convinced that the Mad Gasser was more than just a human, and had taken on mysterious and almost supernatural qualities.
These stories were partially fueled by the fact that he (or she) seemed to attack with no real motivation other than to try to incapacitate people with an unidentified numbing gas. And while crimes of this nature were virtually unheard of, there was a great deal of time and effort dedicated to tracking the mysterious figure down. No arrests ultimately resulted in convictions that stuck. Instead, the mystery as so many of this nature grew to monstrous proportions.
Then there is the story of Spring Heeled Jack. Jack was, just like the Mad Gasser, said to be a normal person at first only possessing the ability to jump particularly high. But as time went on and the mythos continued to develop as more eye witnesses came forward, soon Spring Heeled Jack took on an increasing arsenal of paranormal traits including the ability to breathe fire. The exception in this case is that Spring Heeled Jack is said to have claimed the life of one prostitute before he ultimately disappeared.
The bunny man was just a simple hermit wielding an axe. As with the Mad Gasser, he acted out violently with no known motivation, though several different eye witnesses spotted him. Soon he was a man without age who could run fast enough to catch a speeding car.
So we have to ask ourselves if these figures are simply the result of overactive imaginations, or if these eye witnesses are not all collectively and coincidentally wrong. What if they are instead figures who are given these abilities and traits as more attention is paid to them? And in doing so they ensure their place in the mythos of the paranormal is always secure.