Decided to submit two stories back to back, as they happened in around the same year and at the same house. Autonomous Toy Creatures are the second entities I remember in this house.
There's a story in my favourites list called "Puppet People". This person's experience echoed with striking similarity something I long assumed were a couple of childhood dreams.
Ever since reading "Puppet People", and a few similar experiences in the comments, I've been fascinated with these odd toy, puppet-like creatures.
Recently I did a bit of digging and one detail has thrown the dream theory sideways.
I was around 4-5 years old living in the same house where I saw my first ghost, my guardian. I could write an entire volume about my love for that house and garden, it was the best place to grow up in.
One of my favourite nightly activities (bedtime procrastination techniques) was to climb onto my parents bed while they were kicking back in the lounge room. I was pretty proud of this accomplishment because it was a water bed. Thus seemed near impossible to climb the shiny solid wood block fortress walls which chambered the water mattress. With the bed conquered I could reach and switch on the bedside lamps. From here I would pretend to be a panther prowling around the slow moving surface until I eventually fell asleep. Fun times.
One such night I conked out and curled up to have a doze. I noticed a spider on the wall and recognised it as a huntsman.
The huntsman (huntsmen, plural) is a large Australian spider which looks like a brownish hairy tree tarantula. I'm convinced they are tree tarantulas. But for some reason in Australia they're called 'huntsmen'.
Fun fact; the title of the movie 'Snow White and the Huntsman' is highly amusing. But I digress.
This huntsman on the wall was different. It was, for lack of a better description, colourful. I recall red and yellow patterns and a slightly different brown. Its legs were thin and tapered. It had only 4 legs and was striking a star pose. There was something very strange about this huntsman. I stared at it in wonder.
Another odd thing about Australian culture worth mentioning: Roughly 90% of Australians will tell you: "Huntsmen don't bite, they're harmless".
Fact: They do bite.
Fact: They're harmless in the sense they want to get away from you, after or before biting you. Either option is cool with Mr Huntsman.
My pay no mind reaction to the huntsman was based on wacky Australian conditioning.
As I gazed upon this peculiar huntsman my attention broke to a sound of murmuring voices. Clear and deep but muffled. At first I thought it was Dad, from the lounge, but the muffled voices were coming from a much closer source. I glanced around, nothing. I looked at the huntsman, he's still there, chilling out.
I was looking to the left when I saw out of the corner of my eye my parent's 'curtain wardrobe' move. The curtain wardrobe was a wardrobe without a door. Dad put a curtain on the front as a makeshift door. This fabric had moved.
I looked to the wardrobe curtain. The voices were still murmuring. Then came light quick footsteps on the sea grass matting floor. I don't know if I could hear or understand what these voices were saying. What I can remember is one saying "Quick" and "Hurry up". These two statements were particularly clear and deep, they sounded closest.
I was in the middle of the bed, slowly I etched to the end of the bed, to where the wardrobe and voices were. I peeked over the end of the bed and saw what looked like an animalistic doll sized toy looking out of the wardrobe, toward the bedroom door.* More murmuring. I looked to the door, where this entity was looking, and saw another similar looking entity running out of the bedroom. I only saw this one from behind, didn't see his face. He was wearing a yellow striped t-shirt and blue shorts. I looked back to the first one. He slowly slid behind the wardrobe curtain.** Could swear he was looking at me as he did this. Then I heard something I still get the creeps thinking about: "Ssshhhhhhhh!" The loudest shooshing I've ever heard! It decayed like the acoustics of a church, not a furnished average sized suburban bedroom. Everything fell silent. But for the TV in the lounge.
I made haste to the other end of the bed, as far away as possible, and hid under the covers. I wanted to yell for my parents but I knew they'd just put me in my bed. The one running had turned the corner in the direction of my room. I definitely wasn't going in there. I peeked out from the covers and stared at the huntsman again. For some reason this was comforting, like having company. I continued to stare at fancy pants huntsman until Mum came in and carried me to my room. I demanded Mum remove all the dolls from my bedroom. I don't know why, but I had an aversion to dolls after this. These critters didn't look like dolls though, they looked more akin to soft toys. So I don't know why I didn't freak out about the soft toys instead.
*I was curious yet calm, initially, to witness these beings.
**When the creature appeared to stare at me, while slowly slipping behind the curtain, all calmness was replaced with fear. A fear I had been seen by it.
The other time I saw one of these guys was in the backyard. This time is less vivid and less eventful. I was around the same age, it wasn't too long after the first time. I was playing on the lawn and I heard a deep resonate voice again. It wasn't my guardian, who I used to hear sometimes. Immediately I remembered the colourful huntsman night. I looked to the direction of the voice which was coming from a part in the backyard which was completely overgrown and gnarly. In the direct sunlight I saw a light pink skinned toy-like thing with black eyes, nose and frizzy sort of hair wearing a sweater scamper into the wandering dew. Didn't hear or see anything more than that.
The appearance of these creatures were similar but each had their own unique look. The two whose face I saw both had black beady eyes, black noses and red lips. Their skin looked like it was made of smooth cloth. Their hair was frizzy, as if it had been teased. I'd guess they were around 1ft tall. Varying in height and build.
The one peering from the curtain wardrobe had dark brownish orangey 'skin' and bright red lips. I think this is the one that said "Sshhhhhh!" I didn't get a look at his body, just his face poking out of the curtain. I'd say he was slight of build, going by his gaunt face. His nose was pointed.
The one running out of the bedroom had darker brown skin. He had a heavier build and a much larger head. Didn't get a look at his face.
The one outside was much lighter skinned, very pale pink. With a droopy red mouth and flatter nose.
These weren't toys of mine, never seen them before or since. I'm sure they weren't no howdy doody 'possessed' toys either. These guys had limb mobility, expressive faces, dexterity and motor skills.
The murmurs I'm not sure about. It could have been a language or just groans, my memory is vague on that. They all sounded male to me, all very deep. Not what you'd expect from a small cute 'toy'.
While I read "Puppet People" I shouted at the screen "No way! This can't be true! Those were dreams I had!" and similar self affirming statements. Because that encounter echoed mine and both seemed insane.
I've thought about those toy like creatures a lot ever since. Teetering on obsession, really. I decided to look into the huntsman from the first time. There's no such thing as a colourful 4 legged huntsman. I took to the internet in a quest for answers.
After many bungled queries and ridiculous search results I found the spider in question really does exist. (So did more perplexed yelling at the screen!)
According to the internet the St Andrews Cross spider is the Australian subspecies of a global genus of bizarre looking spiders. The St Andrews Cross spider is similar in appearance to a thin wispy legged huntsman with bright yellow and red markings. The St Andrews Cross spider rests by placing its front and rear legs together resulting in the appearance of a 4 legged pose: X, like that. That's where it gets its name. That's how it looked on the wall.
There was more info on a matching 'X' design which it builds into its circular web and rests upon as a matching center pattern. Awe, lil' spider got flare.
As a side note, the moment I clapped eyes on photos of this St Andrews Cross spider, that night came flooding back in a torrent of profound snapshots. It's been quite the momentous payoff finding this unique arachnid and staring at it again, all these years later.
Now I credit autonomous toy/puppet weirdos as more than an odd dream or two. Of all the entities these guys fascinate me the most.
Big shout out to YGS for making this possible, huge thank you to Clarence the author of Puppet People, and much thanks to the St Andrews Cross spider. Such a tangled web we weave.
Thanks for reading.