Victorian England was once terrorized by a leaping maniac called Spring-Heeled Jack. Sightings of Jack go all the way back to the year 1837. Many think he was a devil given form, and Spring Heeled Jack cut a path of destruction and horror across 19th century London. Back in those days, London was basically the capital of the world. It was like how New York is today. Most monster legends and folklore usually take place in desolate or more discreet places. But not Jack. He terrorized the greatest city in the world. Which makes his story unique among monster legends.
The first reported encounter with Jack was the least disastrous, but it spread what the devil looked like, and was the start of the fear he would inspire in Londoners. In the first encounter, a man spotted Jack from very far away. Unnerved, the man increased his pace to avoid him. Then all of a sudden Jack jumped inhumanly high into the air and landed right in front of the man, staring at him point-blank with his monstrous visage. However, Spring Heeled Jack let the man stumble away unharmed, though traumatized from the encounter. He told everyone he came across about the “jumping devil”, warning them that a monstrous madman was in their midst. This spread the rumor throughout the city from word of mouth which put many of the citizens on edge.
Jack has various descriptions, but they are similar for the most part. It was said he could breath blue firs and his eyes burned like fire. His hands were sharp claws that were cold as ice. The monster had such precision with his talons he could slash up people’s clothes without harming their skin. Jack was said to wear a dark cloak and tight-fitting white oilskin tunic. His features were demonic and grotesque, with a wide sharp-toothed grin.
At the beginning of Jack’s reign of terror, he committed more harassments than actual attacks, with his preferred victims being women. Jack would ring doorbells, only to shred the clothing of whoever answered the door with his razor-sharp talons. Or he would ambush people in dark alleys reveling in the terror he brought out of them. Reports of the monster would only increase in the following years, with the encounters growing steadily more dangerous.
In one attack Jack ripped the clothes off a woman, presumably to rape her. She screamed as loud as she could which got the attention of nearby people. When they ran over to help the woman Jack jumped impossibly high into the air, vanishing into the night. This was the first time a group of people encountered Jack, and with all of them giving the same story to the police, it added validity of the creature’s existence to the community.
In one of the most famous attacks, Jack ambushed two sisters as they walked down a dark road in the night. He breathed his blue flame into one of the women’s faces, causing her to collapse into a seizure upon the stone ground. Though the two sisters would live to tell the tale, they were horribly wounded by the assault.
From all the attention his attacks were getting Jack basically became a boogyman across all England. Parents would tell their kids that if they didn’t behave, then the jumping devil would come to snatch them up. If there were any unsolved crimes in the city, they would just be blamed on Spring Heeled Jack (though usually just to sell more papers.) Thanks to all the publicity surrounding him, Jack would be solidified as one of the most famous legends of the Victorian Era.