Throughout history, we’ve assigned roles to harbingers of doom to various creatures and people. If a black cat crosses your path, it brings bad luck with it. If you see your own doppelganger, you’re dangerously close to an untimely end. If the grim reaper makes an appearance, your time is up. And on and on it goes.
In small towns in and around the United States and across the world, creatures lurking in the woods, sounds that can be heard at night, are all signs that something terrible is headed your way.
Here are seven of the spookiest stories about mythical creatures that might foretell your untimely demise if ever you cross their path ...
Mothman is a creature native to Point Pleasant, West Virginia who first appeared to a group of men digging a grave in 1966 (already as ominous a context as you could want). They claimed to see a winged, human-like creature with glowing red eyes. If that first encounter wasn’t scary enough, his presence coincided with the collapse of the Silver Bridge that caused the injury and/or death of over 40 people.
After the incident, it was said that his presence was prophetic in nature and that the creature appeared before terrible events as a warning. His power is in the psyche of so many that some even claim to have seen a similar winged creature flying around Chernobyl in the days before the reactor meltdown occurred.
2. Black Bird of Chernobyl
Speaking of winged creatures, sightings of the Black Bird of Chernobyl began just months before the Chernobyl disaster took place in 198 6. The creature shares many of the same characteristics as Mothman: It was humanoid, winged, covered in dark hair, and had glowing red eyes. Sightings of the Black Bird began in the days leading to the incident. Those who came across it often received mysterious phone calls and suffered terrible nightmares.
Sightings continued until the early morning of April 26th when the nuclear reactor blew. Rescue workers and pilots who battled the flames and bravely helped with the evacuation told terrifying stories about a huge black figure flying from the destroyed reactor, circling the black smoke rising from it. This was the last time the Black Bird was sighted, leading some to speculate that its dark deeds were finally fulfilled.
3. Nain Rouge
For this creature, we travel back to the United States and leave strange, flighted bird men behind to look at a creature much smaller in size. The Nain Rouge, translated literally to “red dwarf”, is said to be found in Detroit, Michigan. The dwarf is said to be a relic of the Ottawa native tribe that once inhabited the area, referring to the creature as the son of their stone god, and the invading European colonists as “harbingers of doom.” The creature received its French name from the founder of Detroit Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac after he witnessed it.
Over the decades, Nain Rouge has been sighted prior to the Battle of Bloody Run and before the fire of 1805. It was also sighted before General Hull’s surrender during the War of 1812 and again before the 1967 Detroit riots. All sightings have been accompanied by an attack from the dwarf himself. Recently, groups have formed to spread awareness about the folkloric origins of the dwarf and consider the creature a guardian of the city, rather than a malevolent force.
The Cyoeraeth (or ‘the wailing’ in English) is a mythological creature that can be found in Welsh folklore. This shrouded creature has long been said to stalk the land and people of Wales. An omen of death, legend has it that if you hear its terrifying moans and shrieks, a dreadful fate awaits you. If the Cyoeraeth is heard near the sea, a fatal shipwreck will soon take place.
Worse still, for those unfortunate enough to come face-to-face with the Cyoeraeth, you'll get a glimpse at a wild-looking creature with long disheveled hair, black pointed teeth, long withered arms, and a wail so mournful that death follows in its wake.
5. The Flying Dutchman
There is an old maritime legend that tells of a ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman, that is said to be cursed to sail the seas forever, never to make port or land again. The legend can be traced back to 1790 when John MacDonald first described the ship. MacDonald claimed the Flying Dutchman had attempted to make port in Capetown during a bad storm but was driven back by the poor weather and was lost to the sea, after which, visions of the ghostly ship appear.
Literary references to the ship continued throughout the end of the 18th century, and sightings of the ship have been prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is said that the ship’s appearance predicts disasters, both maritime and on land.
6. The White Deer
The White Deer, also known as the White Stag, is unique on this list, as they can definitely be found in nature. Thanks to their strange coloration, or lack thereof, these albino animals have long been found in myths and folklore around the world.
The Celtic people considered these animals to be the messengers from the otherworld. Specifically, they believed the appearance of the stag was a sign that one had transgressed a taboo against the gods and that sightings of the creature foretold imminent death. The White Stag can also be found in the Arthurian legends of England as a symbol for mankind’s spiritual quest, as the creature is unable to be captured or slain by mortals.
7. Black Eyed Children
Quite possibly the most sinister of all the harbingers of doom on the list, these creatures take the form of children and have pitch black eyes. While many believe the apparitions to messengers from beyond the grave, since the early 1960s reports of black-eyed children have regularly been sighted in and around Cannock Chase, England.
In 2015, black eyed children became national news when a group of paranormal investigators in Cannock Chase, in the county of Straffordshire, England, caught on camera an alleged black-eyed girl in a field near the area. They’re often reported to be seen hitchhiking or panhandling on the sides of roads and sometimes even come to the front doorstep of residential homes. The debate as to the exact nature of the children continues, with some believing they are aliens, vampires, or ghost. What is certain is that those who have seen these strange children often feel that they were extremely dangerous though they could not explain why.