Forteana: An Argentinean Springheel Jack?
Forteana: An Argentinean Springheel Jack?
By Gustavo Fernández - Instituto Planificador de Encuentros Cercanos
[A note to INEXPLICATA readers: Our older followers will recall articles by our good friend and colleague Gustavo Fernández on a variety of subjects involving UFOs and the paranormal. He is among the few researchers who can claim having had a close encounter – strike that: an up-close-and-personal encounter – with a paranormal entity, delivering a well-aimed martial arts blow against it and plunging his hand into the entity, feeling the coldness of its substance. Here shares with us the “darker” side of Mount Uritorco in Argentina’s Capilla del Monte, a major place of pilgrimage for UFO devotees from all over the world. – SC]
[…] There have also been decidedly paranormal manifestations in the vicinity of Uritorco, but with truly horrific aspects. One of them involved the case of the “Uritorco Vampire”, on which a more complete narration can be found in the book “Hechos y relatos fantásticos de Capilla del Monte”, Chapter: “El extraño incendiario” (the strange arsonist) by Mario Gustavo Guevara. Ed. Del Prete, 2004.
September 1989. A fierce conflagration that had its origin near Cruz del Eje penetrated the jurisdiction of Capilla del Monte. It had a six kilometer long fire line and moved in a north-to-south direction, pushed by winds from the northern sector with thirty to forty kilometer per hour gusts, threatening the central part of a residence, the focus of the incident we are about to describe. Two squads from the local firefighting brigade headed to the area, requesting immediate backup, resulting in the summoning of personnel from other localities and support from the Argentinean Army, which contributed two Bell 212 H1H helicopters and several Unimogs to convey the “Orange Brigade’s” personnel.
Once all the personnel had been transported and the operating base established at the center of the ranch, fire extinction tasks commenced in a coordinated fashion, with the intended goal being promptly achieved.
By mid-morning, after part of the fire had been extinguished, new outbreaks erupted in the area where the fire had already been point down, causing delays in the firefighting personnel’s undertakings, forcing them to break into groups. It was precisely one of these groups that made visual contact with an individual, clad entirely in black and of considerable height, who was deliberately lighting the fires.
Upon seeing this, the squad leader sent three of his toughest men to find and apprehend the arsonists while the rest kept fighting the fire. When the main group was some 200 meters away, the three firefighters saw the figure some fifty meters distant from them. These were the brawniest members of the group, who shed their firefighting gear and grabbed their wilderness machetes. They headed straight for the character, willing to carry out the order they were given, completely unaware of the turn that events were about to take.
When they stood scant meters away from what at first sight seemed to be a man dressed in black, wearing a sort of cape and a broad-brimmed hat of the same color, it noticed them, breaking into a swift run through the wilderness, heading toward a promontory overlooking a creek. The three firefighters gave chase, their own speed and agility exceeded by that of their quarry – something utterly unnatural, as they would admit later. The chase continued right up to the promontory. The strange character got there first, taking a prodigious leap into the void, vanishing from the sight of his pursuers, who found a vertical drop of some eighty meters when they arrived. Below, they could see the silhouette of the strange being running at full speed down the watercourse, only to vanish into a cave set in one of the creek banks.
Astonished by the display of agility, and unable to understand how it had survived the fall, the small group rejoined the rest of the firefighters, advising their superiors of the situation. The higher-ups promptly contacted the military, requesting protection to insure the safety of the firefighters. Fire extinction duties proceeded normally and the strange arsonist’s presence was not noticed the rest of the day. As night fell, work came to an end and the firefighters regrouped at the operating base for dinner and to rest up for the next day’s efforts. Of course, the arsonist was the main subject of discussion, which had caused the higher-ups to assign an armed escort to each group.
After dinner – a delicious rice dish – the firefighters got together with the caretaker of the property, an older man endowed with enviable vitality, who welcomed them warmly and offered them the local wine. After the usual small talk, conversation turned to the subject of the strange character. The caretaker told them, in a very sober tone: “You must have a care with certain things.”
The firefighters grew interested and asked the man to tell them anything he might know about the subject. The caretaker nodded, drew a breath, had a drink of wine and started his story:
“This happened two or three years ago, when dead cows began appearing in the fields. The cows appeared to be exsanguinated, without any other injury aside from a small incision to the nape of the neck. One day, while surveying the property to round up the animals, I found a print which led to the far side of the creek along the edge of a hill. But when I reached the summit, the horse got nervous and refused to go further. My hounds began wheedling pathetically and back off, as if wanting to avoid something on the other side. I dismounted, grabbed my double-barreled shotgun and climbed along the trail. On the other side, I came across an indescribable scene – there was a cow on the ground, kicking, and standing over it was a man dressed in black, crouched over its throat. I thought he was a common rustler and shouted at him. At that moment, he stood up straight and turned around.” The caretaker paused for another sip of wine, and his facial expression changed.
“Fellas, I swear to you that I’d never seen anything like it my life. The man’s face could not be described. It was dark, with shining yellow eyes and a crooked grimace showing sharp teeth. He took a step toward me and all I could think to do was point the shotgun at him. This didn’t stop him, so I opened fire. The shot should’ve knocked back a bull, the man only wobbled. I fired again, and this time he fell backward to the ground, without making a single noise. After I recovered from the shock, I got to thinking about what I should do with the body. I couldn’t take him to town, because the horse refused to carry it. I didn’t want to leave him lying there, since I was afraid some wild animal would drag him away and people would call me a madman, so I decided to tie him up and drag him to a cave at the side of a creek.
"Once there, I buried him in a cave and sealed the entrance with stones, promising myself that I would never tell anyone about it. I broke my silence today, when I heard you talking, to make sure you watch your step. Don’t provoke that which shouldn’t be provoked.
“The last thing I’ll tell you – and you’ll decide what to do about it – is that a few months ago I found another dead cow like before. So I went to the cave and found it open, with the stones overturned from the inside out, and the grave empty and without dirt. Nothing but the hole I’d dug.”
A collective shiver ran across his audience. What mystery was concealed in this place, hidden in the heart of the sierras? The rest of the night was a tense vigil, made worse by the sounds of nature and the wild thoughts of my companions, who were made to see and hear unreal things, keeping them from sleeping.
The arrival of the new day brought with it an uncertain tranquility, tinged by what could happen. Armed groups were assembled to quench the fire and all the firemen set off with a degree of nervousness, accompanied by their military escorts, who were in the same state as the rest by being young men.
Helicopters flew over the area, conveying manpower to the most remote areas and conducting aerial surveillance to report any developments.
The strange character reappeared as it had at mid-morning the previous day. This time, the difference was that all groups had contact [with it]. Even the helicopters could see it, unable to follow the character’s movements, as he vanished into the verdant gorges.
The groups watched the figure watching them, some from a distance, while others were startled by its swiftness and speed, never giving the armed escorts a chance to take action. It always vanished toward the creek.
The firefighters closer to it were in such a state of nerves that most of them had breakdowns. It was necessary to relieve them from duty and evacuate them from the area. Others feigned accidents, dehydration and other excuses to be evacuated. Encounters kept occurring uninterruptedly and consternation was widespread, but at no point was personnel attacked by the strange character. There was not, and is not, an explanation for the simultaneous manifestations at different locations, some at considerable distances from others.
In the afternoon, and despite the nuisance, the fire was extinguished. A brief ash vigil was held without the character’s presence being reported or new outbreaks either. At sundown, all personnel withdrew from the area. While the column of vehicles pulled away from the heart of the property, they could see the figure in black standing on a hilltop, watching them as they withdrew from his domain.
Linking this apparition with “Springheel Jack” is inevitable. This entity prowled the London nights in the 1890s, jumping from one rooftop to the next before the startled eyes of the Bobbies, the British police who were unable to do anything at all to stop his absurd antics. Absurd because he only appeared to be interested in doing precisely that – leaping from roof to roof until vanishing. But the descriptions are largely unanimous: tall and very thin, fully clad in black, with a wide brimmed hat that concealed his face, a cape, and – the only difference from his counterpart in Córdoba – a bright white light at the center of his chest that could blind anyone coming near. With a century’s difference between them, both characters mark the intrusion of a strange reality into our everyday lives.
In the case of Mount Uritorco, two constants known to researchers of the paranormal can be added: cattle slain under strange circumstances (impossible not to associate the oft-mentioned Chupacabras to all this), and unexplained fires such as the ones we discussed in a recent podcast. The inexplicable mysteries endure.
[Translation (c) 2015 S. Corrales, IHU with thanks to Gustavo Fernández]