A Mystery Story for Halloween – The Single Footprint

Just over forty-five  years ago when I was about fifteen I bought a fascinating book called ‘The Reader’s Digest Book of Strange Stories and Amazing Facts’.

The book was an almanac of random stories with tales of the supernatural, mythical beasts, feats of improbable strength, a glimpse into the future and was divided into chapters such as “Strange customs and superstitions”, “Hoaxes, frauds and forgeries” and “Eccentrics and prophecies.”  There were actual photographs of the Loch Ness Monster, Sri Lankan fire walkers and “O-Kee-Pa, the Torture Test,” where young men of the Mandan tribe of Indians endured a brutal and horrific rite of passage that culminated in chopping off their own little fingers.

I learned that people sometimes spontaneously combust, and that an Italian monk named Padre Pio suffered Christ like wounds in his hands called stigmata that never healed.  There were weird facts such as pigs being flogged in medieval France for breaking the law, and that the entire crew of the Mary Celeste disappeared one day, leaving the ship to float empty around the Atlantic. I became acquainted with Anastasia, the supposed Romanov survivor; and Spring-Heeled Jack, a demon who leapt about London in the nineteenth century, spitting blue flames in the faces of young women.

Ouija Board

I acquired this book during my Ouija board occult dabbling days and the chapter on the supernatural I read over and over again. I was interested in the paranormal and here now was a book bearing evidence that ghosts were real and to prove it there were photographs of writings they’d scrawled on walls.  You can’t dispute evidence like that.  There was an article on the most haunted house in England and in another a photograph even showed how some ghosts could actually present their reflection on tiled kitchen floors.

One night together with some friends we held a séance and got to speak to the spirit of Donald Campbell!

I used to love this book, much to the despair of my dad who considered it to be a collection of useless false drivel that was distracting me from studying for my ‘o’ levels and he was right of course because I should have been concentrating on Shakespeare and Chaucer but for some reason Henry V and the Canterbury Tales were just not as interesting as ‘The night the Devil walked through Devon’!

I mention all of this because just last week I was on the island of Malta and came across a mystery of my own which would be worthy of inclusion in the ‘The Reader’s Digest Book of Strange Stories and Amazing Facts’.

Have you ever noticed that wherever there is freshly laid concrete someone manages to walk in it?  I have always considered that to be rather stupid, dogs do it but they are extremely stupid of course, in fact the combined brain cells of all the dogs in the World would still not equal that of the dumbest cat,  but  returning to the wet concrete, I have always wondered why people do it?

Anyway, I was rather perplexed by this bizarre example that I came across in Malta just recently.  Here is a slab of concrete measuring roughly six foot by three and right in the middle of it is a single footprint.  Nothing before and nothing after and nothing to either side and almost impossible to leap into the middle and back out again without losing balance unless you are a World Champion Hopper, surely a curious mystery equally as mystifying as ‘The night the Devil walked through Devon’! 

Is this perhaps the mystery of the Night the Devil walked in Malta but only managed one single footprint?  Who or what I wonder passed this way?


54 responses to “A Mystery Story for Halloween – The Single Footprint

  1. Loved those Readers Digest books. My parents were subscribers and many of my favorite literary bits were first enjoyed there. Most had beautiful bindings and great illustrations. My parents also subscribed to National Geographic. We got our Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia from a grocery store promotion and you can bet we were collecting S&H Green Stamps. Thanks for shoving me down memory lane!


  2. How’s about someone stuck a shoe on the end of a stick to create the single footprint in the cement……no hopping required….. 😳😂😱

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Intrigued by this book – my dad has a huge collection of Readers Digest books, I’ll be checking for this one!


  4. We used to have loads of RD books too, though I don’t remember this one. (We got the magazine as well, but I only liked the funny bits.) The shoe suggestion above is good, or maybe the lines in the concrete show it was done in sections? Determined there is a rational explanation!


  5. . . . there are tall people in this world . . . although without a reference, that doesn’t look like a very big shoe. However, it does look deliberate; looks like even pressure and not someone jumping in and out. It doesn’t appear angled as if someone was struggling to leave one there.

    I’m guessing the people who set the cement wanted to leave an imprint. Or, Superman screwing around with us.


  6. It is obvious the shoe belongs to a one-legged man. LOL. I love mysteries like this. Malta is full of mysteries.


  7. I vote for shoe on a stick as well. I had the same book and that story about Devon I have always found really intriguing.


  8. Or possibly what is buried under the cement, Andrew? The footprint being a last momento, a grave marker, so to speak. 🙂 –Curt


  9. I like the shoe on a stick theory, though perhaps a rope or scaffolding constructed over the concrete might have sufficed. I can picture a plank placed on some bricks to do the job. It really wouldn’t take all that much imagination I would think. But a good set up for Halloween spooking.


  10. Here’s my theory Andrew. Someone had a shoe and leaned over and put it in the wet cement ever so carefully. Knowing that so many people in future would wonder how that one footprint could have come to be. Or it could be a ghost. One or the other.


  11. Pingback: A Mystery Story for Halloween – The Single Footprint | Have Bag, Will Travel

  12. Well, I’ve read the comments and the definitive answer is Not There. Maybe this second outing of your tale will reveal an answer.


  13. Looks like the old “Boot on a stick” trick to me.
    Spring Heeled Jack is a most peculiar story. If you remember “Nationwide”, years ago they had an old codger who had seen him in Liverpool, jumping across terraced streets from one ridge to another. 1904 it was, if I remember correctly.
    The Devon story is very difficult to explain away, too, and I’ve never seen a decent explanation of it.


  14. Clearly a memorable book, Andrew


  15. Excellent spooky post. LOL.


  16. A bench with legs either side placed over the strip of concrete. Or someone held by others so that he could place one foot into the concrete!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. That sounds like a marvelous book, Andrew. No wonder you loved it. You simply cannot dispute that kind of evidence. I truly believed in Nessie at that age, and was so annoyed that the only photos of her ever produced were grainy and hard to make out. Ditto Bigfoot.


  18. I once layed a concrete path and did something similar. As I was troweling each section I put a handprint on the still wet concrete in front of me and continued trowelling as I shuffled back. I left just the one in the middle of a long and wide section.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.