The Singularly Strange and Uncanny Case of Mr. Z.

Excerpted from "Mysteries of the Unexplained" by Tony Phillips:

Mr. Z, also known as Spring-Heeled Jack, the Demon of the Ozarks, was believed dead in May 1861. Killed by the forest fire he lit while trying to escape from the combined police forces, mobs and U.S. Marshals that pursued him.

Generally believed to be one of the most evil men and premier black magicians of the nineteenth century, "Two-Claws" (as he was known in Cherokee folk-lore) was hunted for nearly a quarter of a century on 389 separate charges ranging from genocide to cattle mutilation to opium smuggling to gross sexual deviance. Federal obscenity laws, limited space and the authors own respect for all that is good and true prevent us from detailing the exaxt nature of his atrocities, but suffice it to say that 110 of these offenses were so outlandish and cruel that they do not have a name.

The case of Mr. Z did not end on "Black Tuesday", however, that fateful May night that left over 900 people (including an entire company of 6th Cavalry volunteers and 50 US marshals) dead or mutilated. Five thousand acres of land were scorched black, and an entire generation suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome for years to come. Another detail was that the body of the "Bloody Prince of Hampton County" was never found. Some observers reported seeing the Grand Master's contorted face passing in the billowing smoke, over farmland that would never again produce wheat.

For the next chapter of the Mr. Z-Crowley conspiracy we must travel forward over a century. In the year 1963 a young doctor named Mark Jennings began work at Lakeview Mental Hospital in Salem, Massachusettes. In the vaults of the hospital's underground maximum security ward he discovered a patient who was referred to only as Mr. Z. Beginning his research, Dr. Jennings found that Mr. Z had been admitted to Lakeview in October 1863 and had undergone no physical changes over his entire 110-year residence in the cell. According to the hospital logs the tattered figure of "Mr. Z" had arrived on the hospital steps at midnight one stormy evening muttering the words:

"I opened their heads so I could read their minds."

A physical examination revealed a well-exercised 30-year-old male whose only distinguishing feature was a birthmark on the lower forehead shaped like an Arabic occult symbol. Later investigation would reveal that to be an ancient symbol of damnation.

Upon reading all this, Dr. Jennings immediately requested an interview session with the curious Mr. Z, a request that was summarily refused. It was not until Dr. Jennings threatened to quit and reveal the warden's sexual indiscretions to the world that he was finally granted clearance, and then only on the condition that ie be for a single hour. Dr. Jennings met Mr. Z. in a plain white room, and asked him to tell him his story.

What transpired in this meeting we shall never know as there are no records and the monitoring cameras strangely failed to record. When the guards returned one hour later, however, Mr. Z was gone and Dr. Jennings dead.

There are numerous reports as to the state of Dr. Jennings body, and it is definitely known that he was in at least thirteen separate pieces. It is also confirmed that the strange arabic occult symbol on Mr. Z's forhead was now carved onto Dr. Jenning's own, though this was not discovered till one hour later when they finally recovered his head. It has not been confirmed that doctors claimed no man could contain as vast a quantity of blood as was found, as reports are conflicting, with some saying they were in it up to their ankles while others say up to their heads.

Perhaps the greatest mystery of all was the disappearance of Mr. Z. himself. A county wide and then state wide search immediately ensued, resulting in over 5000 man hours of work without a single clue found. Sources inside the Pentagon claim that this led the President to sign into office the "Z Directive", which states that should Mr. Z's location ever be found he must be immediately shot, hung, dismembered, cremated, and then his ashes scattered to the four winds. The final resting place of his blackened heart (which legend says can never be destroyed) would only be known by the President, the Chief Supreme Court Justice, and the Pope.

While these are the most peculiar cases concerning "Swift Nick", there are others, including a recording of his voice found on a telephone answering machine in 1988, the effigy of his face grown out of the bark of a California Redwood tree and a child born in Montana with a red NZ imprinted on his cheek. And many more.

But what is the real truth behind this grotesque chain of depraved events? Is it simply the work of a psychotic, demented madman, or something far, far worse? Hopefully, we shall never know.