Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Decemystery (2022.3) 6: Richard Curle’s Nighttime Visitor


Before I even get into the introduction, the image source is from Anomalous Illustrations, which is a part of Thack! Pow! Productions. Really great art; I wish I had any level of artistic skill. Unfortunately, I have the drawing capabilities of a kindergartener.

Hello, dear reader; welcome back to my humble little blog. Here, we (or rather I) talk about anything and everything Fortean; if you want the strangest stuff imaginable, just visit here. Yeah, I’m not the best at advertising, but it’s a work in progress. The point is, it’s time for another bout of Decemystery goodness!

Today’s story, in my eyes, exemplifies that evolution as it’s classifiable as quintessential weirdness in its purest form. People claiming to have seen something strange is by no means remarkable on its own, but I believe that changes when it’s from someone of higher status. Richard Curle was a Scottish traveler, author, and critic; when he was but a young lad, he saw something truly bizarre; it was a creature most unexplainable. So come along, dear reader; it’s time to dive into the story of Richard Curle’s Nighttime Visitor.

The Tonight Show With the Fantastic Mr. Fox

Today’s story was found on sustained_disgust’s Obscure Unsolved Mysteries Iceberg; they found it on If you’re sick of hearing that, don’t worry: I’ll be mentioning a lot more this month. Some may say it’s unnecessary. I say it’s giving credit where credit is due. After all, I poach content like poachers poach animals. Take a shot of water every time I said “poach” in the previous sentence; you’ll get your daily intake of water from that alone!

In 1937, Richard Curle published Caravansary and Conversation: Memories of Places and Persons, which tells of Richard’s life and travels. You can read it on the Internet Archive if you’re interested in it; you’ll need to borrow it should you have an account, but it’s free. Anyways, our story begins on page 271 when Richard recounts one of the “most unaccountable things” to have ever happened to him. At the time, Richard was but a child; the man himself doesn’t give an exact age, only that it happened “many years ago” and later that he has “pondered it [this story] for over forty years.” As such, I can only guess that this occurred at some point in the 1880s (Richard was born in 1883). I could be wrong, though.

Anyways, one night, at around 2:00 a.m., Richard awoke. For what reason, he did not know, but he was wide awake in the dead of night. He looked outside at the snow when all of a sudden, he heard “steady, unhurried footsteps” approaching the rear of the house. It’s worth noting that Richard’s room was on the second floor (presumably, this is the British version of the “second floor” and not the American version). So maybe it’s just me, but I find it rather surprising Richard could hear the footsteps that were outside the house while being that high up. Though maybe I’m underestimating how well one can hear when there’s no noise pollution. After all, the night was a quiet one.

Anyways, the noise instilled a sense of unease in Richard. Still, he listened as a door in the back courtyard of his home was opened. This door was bolted every night, yet the being casually approaching the house was unimpeded by it. I think they should have had more locks on the door.

With the back courtyard door boss defeated, the being went from walking on snow (I’m guessing it had been walking on snow) to walking on the stone walkway of the courtyard itself. Then, it made its way to the house’s backdoor. Having mastered the art of defeating door bosses already, this was easy mode. Without breaking so much as a sweat, the courtyard door destroyer leveled up and earned the title of “home invader,” for it opened the backdoor and stepped inside!

The next thing Richard knew, the footsteps were in his home. Unsurprisingly, this filled the young lad with fear. That fear only grew as he heard the home invader make their way through the house, still at a leisurely pace. Soon, he could hear the intruder ascending the staircase until they reached the top. From there, the intruder made two sharp lefts and went down a fair steps. From there, it entered a room that had the door leading to Richard’s room.

By now, Richard was sitting up, his heart racing. He watched as the door handle turned, anticipation filling him and adrenaline coursing through his body. Then the door opened, revealing…

A fox.

Yes, you read that right. It was a fox. It was standing on two legs, had a bushy tail, and had on some clothes along with a top hat. That header image was not some joke (assuming you didn’t click the hyperlink—or any other hyperlink). Standing in Richard’s doorway was a bipedal fox. I’m not sure who the stranger nighttime visitor is: this or The Rake. The latter sat at the edge of someone’s bed, but this is a walking fox with a terrific fashion sense. Tough choice; you decide who the weirder 2:00 a.m. uninvited house guest is!

There were two things that separated this thing from a regular fox, though. The first is that it was “perhaps bigger than a real fox.” If we’re basing this off of the Red fox, then the average fox is 3 feet (0.9 meters) long (this excludes the tail, mind you) and 2 feet (0.6 meters) tall. With this in mind, I’m going to imagine that this creature was about 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall.

Moving on, though, the second difference is that this creature did not have a “rank odour” to it. I honestly had no idea what Richard meant here, but foxes apparently produce a “musky smell” for a variety of reasons. Learning about this was equal parts fascinating and disgusting; I’d say that Richard was lucky that this fox didn’t smell like a real one.

According to Richard, the fox fixed its gaze on him, but it was not “a malign expression.” This apparent lack of malice didn’t matter to him, however. With all the authority he could produce, Richard shouted two words at the creature.

Go away!

And it did just that. Without hesitation, it turned around, and—at the same unhurried pace it entered with—the fox left. According to Richard, the creature took the exact same route it took to enter the home; its steps were audible until they “died out on the road leading to the woods.”

That dear reader, is where the story ends. As mysteriously as the creature appeared, it disappeared back into the night. Richard never saw it again, nor did he ever get an answer he was satisfactory to him. He doesn’t say if he got back to sleep, nor does he say if his parents heard him shout that night. I also have no idea if the fox locked the doors as it left; I also don’t know if it tracked any snow into the house or if there were any fox tracks outside the following morning.

It’s a shame that none of this is stated or discussed in the book. My only guess is that Richard never asked any of his family members or investigated on his own, but given his age, I doubt he thought to do so. Anyways, while we may not know any of this, there are a handful of theories that have been put forward, so let’s dive straight into ‘em.


1. It was a Fae/fairy

I want to start with a theory that’s on, as it’s in territory I’m deeply unfamiliar with. Stories of the Fae and fairies are something I’ve never bothered looking into; I’ve read some stories on 4chan threads, but that’s about it.

From what little I’ve gathered over time, Far, along with fairies, are magical beings that can be mischievous. There are many variations of these beings in different cultures around the world, but they’re typically the same at their core. They’re magical, and they tend to not like it when humans intrude on their grounds. You could consider them to be those grumpy old folks who hate it when you walk on their lawn.

If I got anything wrong or left anything out, I would greatly appreciate it if you left a comment correcting me (or informing me). Anyways, this theory is mentioned by the author of the original article—albeit they do state that it’s “just a guess.” I’m unfamiliar with any Fae that resembles a walking fox, nor do I know of any nature spirit that looks like this. I also don’t understand why one would appear once and leave when told to. Still, I wanted to make a note of this theory; now, onto the ones mentioned in the book now.

2. Richard was drunk

This is the first theory put forth by Richard in his book, and it’s one he vehemently denies. In his own words:

I had never so much as tasted alcohol in those days.

I don’t know the culture of Scotland, nor do I know if it was common for a presumable child to taste alcohol back in the late 19th century, but I don’t know how being drunk would cause you to see a walking fox. The only thing I can guess is that he was suffering from a hallucination caused by alcohol (which is extremely rare, from what I’ve read). Unless it’s different in minors, this theory’s rather odd in my eyes.

3. A hallucination

Speaking of hallucinations, they’re our next theory!

This is one that Richard himself doesn’t outright dismiss. Exactly how he suffered from this hallucination, I don’t know. It’s possible to hallucinate just as you fall asleep or wake up, but given the length that this went on, it seems like a bit of a stretch. Of course, it’s possible it didn’t last nearly as long as it sounds; maybe those “unhurried steps” were, in fact, akin to Sonic the Hedgehog going for a morning “jog.”

Alternatively, if Richard was sick and suffering from a fever, I’d put good money on that being the cause for one. I remember when I had a fever of just over 105, I hallucinated that there was a man on the living room ceiling. Of course, this is more of me projecting, so let’s move on before IMAX sues me.

4. A dream (or a dream within a dream)

Inception reference goes here (I’m too lazy to make one).

Ever have a dream where you wake up, only you’re still in the dream? That’s what theory posits, and it’s one that Richard himself rebukes in his book; he insists that he was wide awake at the time of the sighting. He also states, “If one does not know when they’re wide awake, what does one know?” There’s a lot of stuff that I want to talk about with this theory, and as tempting as it is to do so now, I’ll wait for when we get to my personal take. For now, let’s continue.

5. A hoax

Who on Earth, even if he was able to disguise himself as a fox, could make his legs shrink?

As is the case with almost every other theory, Richard himself rebuked this one; and admittedly, it’s a relatively good argument in this case. I wish there was more I could say here, but when your theories are only presented by the man who experienced it all, it becomes difficult to add anything. I also think it would be a lot of effort to pull a prank like this when you could just get a mask or something else and stand in the doorway, as opposed to making an entire fox costume.

6. It’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson’s a real groundbreaking director. Now he’s retroactively influencing decades when he wasn’t alive! Next thing you know, he’ll be filming a movie on Pluto.

My Take

I won’t beat around the bush: I think this was a dream. There’s so much about this that reminds me of dreams I’ve had that it’s not even funny. The number of times I’ve sworn I was awake, only to then actually wake up, is somewhere north of “a lot.”

Richard heard this thing walking outside—something that still strikes me as rather preposterous. Maybe my understanding of how strong humans can hear, but that seems incredibly unlikely. Also, I feel if Richard had shouted, someone would have heard him.

If a creature had walked towards the house, I think there would have been prints—though it may have been snowing. Even then, I feel there may have been a noticeable disturbance in the snow. I also can’t help but think there would have been a sign—or multiple signs—if someone or something had broken into the house.

Of course, it’s possible Richard never went back to sleep. Alas, he never stated if he did or didn’t. Without that information, I can only assume, and frankly, I don’t think it was anything other than a vivid dream. If he really was awake, though, then I have no idea what this thing was. Dapper foxes standing in doorways isn’t something I’m well-versed in. The best I can do is guess it was an alien; that answer fits everything if you ask me.

Also, to circle back to something I said earlier: I think this bipedal fox is the weirder nighttime visitor, but The Rake is the scarier one.


Somewhere in this write-up, I’m certain I could have made a reference to Zootopia. Too bad I never saw that movie; I honestly don’t watch animated Disney movies nowadays. The last one I saw was Big Hero 6. That was great fun; watch it if you haven’t already. Anyways, ‘til the next Decemystery article goes up: stay happy, stay healthy, and thank you for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment