The Boneless is a scary true story about a shapeless white apparition that plagued the Shetland Islands many years ago. It was what they called a “Frittening” – a shapeless ghostly apparition that could cause people to die of sheer fright. It is based on an account found in the book “Shetland Traditional Lore” by Jessie Saxby.
The Shetland Islands are a group of small islands off the coast of Scotland. Many years ago, the people of the Shetland Islands were plagued by a very unusual creature. They called it “The Boneless”.
Nobody who saw it could describe it properly. This was because no two people who encountered it ever saw the same thing. It always appeared at night when the veils between this world and the other are at their weakest.
One person said it looked like a large lump of white slop, another said it looked like a huge jellyfish, another claimed it was like a slimy white cloud. A thrid said it looked like a bag of wet wool and a fourth said it looked like an armless, legless, headless human torso.
Sometimes people would just catch a glimpse of some ghastly wet vile thing pressed up against a window, but in the blink of an eye, it would be gone and they could never be sure of what they had seen.
Even though it didn’t have legs, they said it could move faster than a dog and it could fly higher than a hawk, but it never made a sound. Those who were unlucky enough to set eyes on it were frightened out of their wits and found cowering in terror.
One night, a man was sitting in his house, reading the Bible by the light of a candle. All of a sudden, he heard a sickening splat, like the sound of a huge mass of wet meat slapping against the front door.
With his Bible clutched in one hand, he pulled open the door and looked out. By the light of the moon, he could see a puddle of slime on the front porch. His eyes followed the trail of slime and it led down the steps and into the darkness.
Just then, he noticed something moving in the dark. It was pale, white and shapeless, but he couldn’t make out what it was. He snatched an axe from the woodpile and followed the mysterious apparition.
With his bible in one hand and his axe in the other, he followed it down a road that led towards the cliffs, overlooking the sea. He caught up with it just as it was about to slide over the cliff and escape into the sea. The man hurled his axe at the thing and it stuck fast in the slimy creature.
He ran back to the house, where he gathered his servants and persuaded them to accompany him to the spot. The boneless thing was still there, silent and motionless, with the axe still sticking in it. None of them could tell whether it was alive or not. None of them could even tell what it looked like, because they all saw something different.
The men were frightened, so they hastily began to bury the thing, flinging earth over it until it was covered. Then, they dug a wide trench around it, so that nothing could get near it.
The next day, however, the man’s son heard his father telling people about the mysterious boneless thing and he became curious. The boy wanted to get a look at it himself.
When nobody was around, he went down to the heap of earth near the cliffs and jumped over the trench. He began digging into the earth with his hands. When he scooped out a handful of clay, he suddenly saw a strange, unearthly light and a white mist formed around him, like a dense fog.
The frightened boy scrambled to get away, but something rose out of the hole and began to slither toward him. It was pale, white and shapeless. He turned to run back to the house, but the thing overtook him. It slid up all over him and wrapped itself around him like a wet, heavy blanket.
He felt like he was being smothered. It was as cold as the night sea and it smelled like rotting flesh. Then, it tightened around him and he had the sickening feeling that he might be torn in two if it didn’t let go.
The horrible thing began dragging him toward the edge of the cliff. He could hear the waves crashing below. He tried to call out for help, but he was so scared that the scream died in his throat. He felt around with his one free hand and managed to grab onto a rock and hung on for dear life.
The boy was frightened out of his wits and all he could think to do was pray.
“Now I lay me down to sleep,” he muttered, “I pray the Lord my soul to keep; If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take…”
No sooner had he said that then the thing let go of him. It rolled over the cliff and disappeared. The boy lay there for a long time, clinging to the rock, shivering and shaking. Eventually, he managed to drag himself back to the house where he told his parents what had happened.