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A Malevolent Spirit In The Cotswolds: The Shapeless Spectre That Attacked A Woman

Mrs Joy McKenna from the Cotswolds, England, told her first-hand account of how a malevolent spirit allegedly attacked her in her home in 1976, an experience that remained with her for the rest of her life.

The incident took place in the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds
The incident took place in the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds

It is not very often that a ghost is malevolent. Frequently it is neutral, appearing erratically and apparently pointlessly as if it had some fixed psychic routine to perform whether it had an audience or not. At other times it seems to have a conscious and logical purpose for making itself known in a specific place at a specific time to a particular person. Only rarely do hauntings seem to harm deliberately, and this makes the terrifying experience of Mrs Joy McKenna at Broadway in 1971 all the more mystifying.

At the time, Mrs McKenna was living in a large Cotswold stone house which, though built only in 1936, stood on ground that had had a turbulent history and which had seen much violence in its early days. When her husband had to make business trips which necessitated him starting early in the morning, he usually slept in one of the guest rooms to avoid waking his wife - despite the fact that she invariably set her alarm clock to coincide with his so that she could prepare his breakfast.

It was on one such occasion in November 1971 that Joy McKenna set her alarm for 6.30 am when she went to bed at about 11 pm and fell asleep almost immediately. She woke sometime later and as she normally anticipated the ringing of the alarm bell by some minutes, she assumed that it was already morning. Her first reaction in her half-conscious state was a reluctance to leave the cosy warmth, a mild annoyance that the night had been so short - and then, suddenly, both feelings were obliterated by a terrifying sense of apprehension. She was aware, by what senses she does not know, that something was present in the room, moving along the side of her bed: the shock of an intruder cleared the last wisps of sleep from her mind but the faint hope that it might be her husband was shattered by the sound of his gentle snoring from the next room.

The awful sense of overpowering fear swamped a lifetime of rational thought and with the blind faith of billions of children in the dark, she sought safety under the bedcovers. Instantly the form, creeping stealthily about the room leaped on her with immense weight as she huddled beneath the blankets, and writhing and mauling, it began physically to pummel her shoulders, arms, and chest like a demented beast. Joy was conscious of being crushed, and then to her indescribable horror found that when she tried to escape the beating, every muscle had locked in paralysis: although she could still move her mouth she could not make it utter any sound.

But in the rigid catalepsy of the body, her mind remained crystal clear, her thoughts spun round the sheer impossibility of the situation, how utterly irrational it all was, that this was her death. She had never thought of dying in such a fearful torment. Although her brain told her rationally it was impossible because she was in complete darkness beneath the bedding, she could see clearly two terrible eyes, long, amber, and burning with evil, like those of a demon in the most savage of oriental art, staring at her. At the same time she had a sensation of a fearful cacophony of noise - a screaming discordancy which she knew logically she could hear with her ears, but which was all about her.

Then the deepest parts of her reason found the answer: she prayed vehemently, begging God to drive away the intensity of evil in the room. And immediately she was conscious of the immense weight slithering in a strange obscene fashion over the side of the bed to the floor. The moment the pressure lifted and she could move, she screamed and hurled herself from the bed to her knees to pray. A moment or two later her husband rushed in, alarmed by her shouts, and found her frantic, her face a cold, ashy grey. As they sat for the rest of the night around a fire, sipping coffee and brandy, her husband gradually became convinced that what Joy McKenna had experienced was not, as he had naturally assumed, a nightmare of particularly brutal intensity. They looked coldly at events of the recent past to try to find something that might offer a clue but found nothing - until Mrs McKenna remembered the strange incident in the same bedroom a few days earlier.

The McKennas were very fond of their four cats, who shared with the family the freedom of the house. No serious objection was raised to their sleeping on the beds, nor in cold weather crawling under the covers for warmth. Two days earlier, Joy had gone to the bedroom and had noticed a hump under the counterpane, which she assumed was one of her pets. After a movement, however, the shape slithered almost like a fish over the side of the bed and vanished. She was slightly surprised, first because it had disappeared without greeting her, and secondly because its movements had been so unnatural. The cats normally stood up, arched their back, and stretched, whereas on this occasion the creature had, without changing its shape, glided away with a single sinuous movement. Her puzzlement was increased when she went downstairs and found all four animals shut up in the dining room.

For the rest of their stay at the house, the McKennas experienced nothing that could throw any light on the frightening events. Perhaps the entity that invaded the building was not what many people would call a ghost at all, but some utterly malevolent manifestation that has nothing to do with the human spirit - an impersonal, illogical, uncontrolled, and wholly evil supernatural force.

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