Two miles south of Liverpool on the picturesque banks of the River Mersey is the village of Hale. There is a grave in the local cemetery, which invariably attracts the attention of tourists. An inscription is carved on a huge tombstone: “Here lies John Middleton, Child of Hale, height nine feet three inches.”
A giant who lived in the village from time immemorial is buried here. A huge portrait of a giant, painted in oil, hangs in the Speck Hall estate. This is a modern copy of a lifetime portrait.
Old-timers say that the river spirit Durandul, the patron saint of these places, often appears on the grave. His body is covered with scales, his head is fishy, and there are webs between his fingers and toes. He comes to the grave once a month, on a full moon. These days it rains over the cemetery even in clear weather with absolutely clear skies.
According to legend, John Middleton was born in 1578 in a peasant family. He was an ordinary guy in everything except one thing: already at the age of 16, his height was 2 meters 82 centimeters. When John was sleeping, his legs stuck out of the window of his parents’ small house. Due to his gigantic stature, the peasant’s son was introduced to the local landowner Gilbert Ireland and served as his squire.
Legend has it that John Ross did not gradually, like all people, but at once became a giant. One day, a young man walking along the banks of the Mersey River saw a huge figure of a man painted on the sand, lay down on the image and did not notice how he fell asleep. And when I woke up, it turned out that he had become as big as the painted giant.
Locals believe that ‘it was the river spirit Durandul who made John a giant in order to serve him and carry out his errands. One day, Durandul told John to dig a hole ten meters deep. When the hero coped with the work, the river spirit filled the pit with water and let the goldfish go there. So a lake was formed, which is called the Durandula Mug. There are still a lot of fish in it.
In the near Moscow region there is a short section of the highway, which drivers call the devil’s asphalt, or the road of death. Accidents, including fatal ones, happen more than enough on these one and a half kilometers. That’s because in bright sunlight and on moonlit nights, supernatural disturbances appear here in the form of quite material or ghostly pedestrians, first giving signs to stop, then rushing under the wheels.
Especially annoying is an old woman in a brown coat and a white shawl, the first mention of a terrible meeting with which dates back to 1899. Killed horses and a cart loaded with salt, landed in a drainage channel, the head of the charioteers Sidor Gorelikov justified himself in writing to the owner, merchant Semyon Rogatkin: “There was no wind on the way. It was freezing hard. The sledge went easily and clung tightly to the roll. I expected to turn around by the evening. He would certainly have turned around if it hadn’t been for an old woman in dark cloth clothes, in a warm scarf, but barefoot. I, who was riding first, did not have time to marvel, as the horses reared up. The cart tipped over. Who is the old lady who caused trouble and losses, I do not know. I know that the cart ran over her and would definitely kill her. I can vouch, and other artel noticed that the old lady got off the road unharmed and went into the woods. I can swear, having witnesses, that there were traces of blood on the rolling, sledge runners, immediately after it was over, evaporated.”
A hundred years have passed. A barefoot old woman in a brown coat and a white shawl does not intend to leave the now well-maintained highway. Almost every day it appears out of nowhere, scaring not only those who are driving. Svetlana Rogacheva , a Muscovite who loves hiking and bought a house nearby , says:
– – I met an old woman, even in summer dressed up in winter, always barefoot, walking along the road, twice. I am a professional artist, which implies an ideal visual memory. But I could not remember the face of this person, because it was always different. Then the face disappeared, and an oval through hole was formed under the handkerchief, through which ghostly women – young and old – could be seen floating above the ground. At first, I had tantrums. I calmed down when I realized that meetings with ghosts are not dangerous. Living near ghosts is easy and simple. They are shadows, akin to those that cast objects in sunny weather.
Svetlana Rogacheva tried to comprehend and finally comprehended the art of peaceful coexistence with mysterious and not at all harmless legions of spirits. For people who are psychologically unprepared, these contacts with “aliens from the other world” sometimes end in tragedies. The number of tragedies in the areola of the so-called Lytkarinsky anomalous zone — where the cemetery of the X-XI centuries was imprudently cut literally through the bones of the “dear death” is multiplying. Over the past forty years, it has exceeded hundreds. The magi were hardly mistaken when they claimed that disturbed bones always mercilessly take the lives of the abused – young, strong, beautiful.
Maritime trade has generally ceased to pay off. The risk of losing goods at sea has become unimaginably great.