Spring-Heeled Jack

Dastardly Victorian Cryptid

Happy Weird Wednesday! Today’s blog post is on Spring-Heeled Jack, because just look at this dude.

The Victorian villain Spring-Heeled Jack terrorized Great Britain from 1837 through the turn of the century, stalking about the streets at night and making a nuisance of himself. He frightened people (and horses) with his sudden appearances and even more memorable disappearances.

If you met him on the street, you might take Jack for a gentleman— except for his silver claws and flaming eyes. He also had the ability to escape pursuers by leaping tall buildings in a single bound— thus the “spring-heeled” nickname. 

Like many monstrous apparitions, there was a danger in simply seeing Jack: he looked so diabolical and had such a terrible reputation that he terrorized people just by appearing. But Jack also attacked physically at times, sometimes with his sharp claws, and sometimes by breathing blue-white fire.

So was the urban legend of Spring-Heeled Jack based on something real? Was he a mass hallucination? Was he created by a group of bored aristocrats pranking the public? No one knows.

And now for some writing prompts!

*To begin with, there are obvious similarities between this Jack and Jack the Ripper, who was active in London in 1888. Perhaps they were the same man, or maybe fans of each other, or rivals.

*If we stray firmly into the paranormal, Jack could be a ghost, demon, or alien. He could be an active villain, or perhaps his appearance could simply be a bad omen. 

*What about a steampunk Jack with metal claws and real springs in his heels?

*Believe it or not, in penny dreadfuls, Jack sometimes appeared as a Robin Hood or superhero type, defending the innocent. Jack as a Victorian Batman?

*Jack might even make a good romantic hero. Perhaps he’s been unfairly villainized, or he could be under a curse. Or just in need of a redemption arc.

*And of course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula takes place in the late 1800’s. Maybe Jack is Dracula on an acid trip?

Thanks for spending your Weird Wednesday with Jack. I hope he’s put a little spring in your step!

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If you like cryptids, feel free to check out Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging from Improbable Press, which contains my story The Enfield Monster.