In 1958, a pair of panic-stricken Swedes were attacked by a horde of pulsating, protozoan creatures just off a desolate stretch of fog-shrouded road in what has to be one of the most terrifying close encounters on record.
On December 20, 1958, two friends — 25 year-old Hans Gustafsson and 30 year-old Stig Rydberg — were making the normally brief and merry drive from Höganäs to Heisenberg where the pair were staying with Gustafsson’s mother, Anna Berggren, following a night on the town with their girlfriends.
Due to the soupy haze that obscured the road, Gustafsson had slowed his DKW Combi-vehicle to nearly a crawl. He hoped that this precaution would allow he and his friend to have a safe and uneventful journey… this hope would prove to be in vain.
At approximately 3:00 a.m. the duo decided to pull over at an isolated spot on Route 45 — which runs along the Strait of Öresund near the village of Domsten — in order to stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Neither man could have predicted that they were mere moments away from the most traumatic experience of their young lives.
The first indication that something unusual was stirring occurred when the pair noticed a peculiar glow emanating from the trees approximately 150-feet away. Fueled by curiosity and the daring of youth, the men decided to walk into the misty woods to investigate the origin of this strange illumination. This decision would be one that they would regret for the remainder of their days.
As they approached the unknown light source, Rydberg and Gustafsson stopped next to a sign that prohibited camping in the area. It was then that the astonished pair spied a wide, radiant, discoid object. The duo later estimated that the disc was about 3-feet high and nearly 15-feet wide. The immobile “saucer” was supported on a tripod perched on the forest floor. According to Gustafsson:
“We saw a strange disc. It was resting on legs about two feet long. It seemed to be made of a peculiar, shimmering light that changed color.”
Before they could get their bearings, the duo suddenly found themselves surrounded by a throng of bizarre, undulating objects — all of which were roughly 3-feet in length — which began to surge toward the terrified two. Rydberg would later describe the shocking scene for reporters:
“They were like protozoa, just a bit darker than most, sort of a bluish color, hopping and jumping around the saucer like globs of animated jelly.”
Without warning, the amorphous creatures swarmed over the panic stricken Rydberg and Gustafsson; engulfing their arms and legs within in their yielding — yet surprisingly tough — gelatinous bodies. Rydberg would depict the feeling of being within these elastic entities as akin to being trapped in “magnetic dough.”
With an stunning “suction-like force” the awful smelling blob-like beasts began to pull the duo back towards the saucer, while still others engaged in what has been described as a “macabre dance.” Gustafsson described this dreadful experience:
“The drag the things exerted was terrific. And they gave off such a terrible smell — like ether and burnt sausage.”
The men, not surprisingly, lashed out in a fear and adrenaline induced frenzy, but as soon as they managed to pull themselves free from one of these nightmarish fiends, another would latch on. Rydberg attempted to punch through one of the things, but it just enveloped his arm up to the elbow. He tried to scream, but no sound issued forth. Rydberg described his futile struggle:
“It almost seemed as if the creatures could read my mind. They parried every move before I made it. Their strength was not so great as the technique with which the wielded it.”
Finally, Rydberg managed to break free and made a mad dash back to the parked car with two of the heaving beasts hot on his heels. As he ran for his life, Rydberg glanced over his shoulder and could see, to his utter dismay, that Gustafsson was in genuine jeopardy as he clung for dear life to the “no camping” signpost.
Gustafsson, meanwhile, could only stare in abject terror as his friend sprinted toward the road, leaving him to be consumed by these evidently voracious varmints, which had all but covered his lower extremities and continued to surge up toward his torso.
Gustafsson stole a fleeting glance toward his feet. He was astonished to see that these invertebrate predators — which could evidently defy gravity with no visible means of staying aloft — were pulling him toward the vessel; lifting his body horizontal to the ground. The tenacious 25 year-old could feels his grip slowly working loose as he clutched desperately to the signpost.
Rydberg, still being chased by the viscous fiends, knew that there was nothing he could do for his friend and ran all the harder. He threw open the car door; the pursuing creatures almost upon him, and slammed his fist into the horn in the desperate hope that some passerby would hear the piercing blare and come to their aid. It was at the moment that Hans Gustafsson and Stig Rydberg became two of the luckiest men on Earth.
The sound of the horn seemed to have a profound affect on the Jelly Bags. Instantly, the gooey pair that had been following Rydberg turned tail and began heading back toward the saucer without their quarry.
The organisms that had been pulling Gustafsson also released their victim, who collapsed onto the ground in a heap just in time to see the boneless beasts stampede their way back into the underside of their ship.
Beyond relieved, Gustafsson scrambled to his feet and ran for the automobile. As he threw the door open, Gustafsson turned back just in time to see the saucer soar skyward with a high-pitched whistling. The repugnant burnt chemical scent was all that remained of the otherworldly assailants.
The men sat in stunned silence, tears streaming down their ashen faces; each man trying to process the harrowing ordeal in their own way. The event had only lasted approximately 5-minutes, but they both knew that neither would ever be the same again. It would be the better part of twenty-minutes before Gustafsson’s trembling would subside enough for him to drive the remainder of the way home.
Upon arriving in Heisenberg the men concluded that it would be best if they kept their unbelievable experience to themselves. They were both understandably afraid; not only of the ridicule which would inevitably accompany any report as bizarre as the one they would be compelled to make, but also by the fact that their mental stability could come into question.
In his book: “The flying saucers: documents and theory,” famed Swedish ufologist, Gösta Rehn — who interviewed the eyewitnesses extensively — quoted Gustafsson as stating:
“Although our reasoning ability seemed paralyzed and our tears were just streaming down, after sitting in the car for about fifteen minutes, it became very clear in our heads that we could drive on to Helsingborg; and not until we were in the center of the city, we dared speak to each other. And the first thing we said was: ‘We should not speak to anyone about this, everyone will laugh at us.’”
For three long days Rydberg and Gustafsson suffered in silence. Rydberg had been unable sleep during the 72-hour period following the event, and both he and Gustafsson found that they were suffering from extreme anxiety and obvious physical injuries — such as massive bruises and reddened eyes — injuries which did not go unnoticed by Hans Gustafsson’s mother, Anna Berggren, or his brother, Bengt.
No longer able to keep their unbearable secret — nor their other PTSD-like symptoms — confidential, the men confessed to the entire ordeal around the Gustafsson family’s breakfast table, whereupon their worst fears were realized. In Anna Berggren’s own words:
“I burst out laughing at Stig as he told it. Yes, we all did. Everything sounded so weird.”
However, the group soon realized that this disturbing tale of alien attackers was not merely a flight of fancy, but — at least for Rydberg and Gustafson — a very real and traumatic experience. It was at this point that Berggren reported the event to Sweden’s largest newspaper: “Helsingborgs Dagblad”
It is difficult to ascertain what Berggren’s intention was in contacting the press. Did she think that by coming forward she could help her son and Rydberg get the psychological help they so clearly needed or where her intentions more self serving in that the story would likely generation interest in her business, Berggren’s Dry Cleaning, where both men were employed?
Whatever her purpose might have been, the media wasted no time in making household names throughout Sweden out of the two dry cleaners and on January 9, 1959, the pair were called into the Helsingborg police station for questioning.
Attending the interview — which by its conclusion would evolve into an interrogation; one which lasted well over eleven hours — were police officers Captain Lennart Bunke and detectives Sven Rudolph and Ake Fernebrant, who conducted the examination. Michael Wächter, a German military psychologist with a surprisingly poor grasp of the Swedish language, was also on hand along with lab technician Sture Risberg.
By all accounts the official purpose of this epic interview was to assuage concerns held by the Swedish military regarding an unauthorized infiltration of their sovereign airspace by unknown technologies — be they international or intergalactic — but the tone taken by the interrogators themselves seemed to be one of skeptics striving to debunk Gustafsson and Rydberg’s undeniably disturbing testimony. Nevertheless, despite their Herculean efforts to reveal some sort of grandiose ruse, Detective Rudolph would later confess:
“Actually, we did not leave out anything without asking pertaining to their encounter, but we couldn’t find anything that is considered a hoax.”
In a move reminiscent of that employed by police officers in the chilling PASCAGOULA ABDUCTORS case, the Swedish officers even went so far as to clandestinely microphone the interrogation room and leave the pair alone in the hope that they would inadvertently reveal their deception. But, as in the aforementioned case, the witnesses stuck to their strange story whether or not they knew they were being observed.
After a battery of medical and psychiatric tests, which lasted for days, Gustafsson and Rydberg were pronounced to be physically and psychologically sound young men who simply had endured a traumatic experience of unknown origin. Despite that fact, the Swedish military publicly denounced the encounter as a hoax.
Sven Schalin, a Swedish ufologist who conducted an interview with Gustafsson and Rydberg on January 7, 1959, felt that the pair‘s testimony was authentic and even attempted to hypothesize as to the alien being’s extra-gravitational capabilities:
“An acceptable explanation of [the] ‘creatures’ [ability to fly] may be that the UFO — through a surrounding gravitational field… of electrical origin — may have created swirls or similar concentrations [of energy].”
I first happened upon this weird (and frankly disturbing) case in a tattered paperback copy of Brad Steiger’s 1966 book about alien encounters: “Strangers from the Skies,” wherein he dubbed these bizarre beings “Terrible Flying Jelly Bags.” From the first moment my adolescent mind devoured this harrowing tale, I became enthralled with the case.
I think, in retrospect, my fascination came from a combination of the sheer randomness of the event; I mean who among us, when answering nature’s call on a desolate stretch of unlit road, does not get that thrill of fear racing up their spine speculating about what could be lurking in the inky darkness mere feet away from the spill of the headlights? Merge this with the utterly bizarre anatomy of the creatures and the sheer intensity of their unprovoked attack and you get the stuff from which nightmares are made.
There have been no further reports of the Jelly Bags — or Domsten Blobs as they are more commonly known — which has led some to speculate that the Swedish military was correct in their evaluation of the case; but when it comes to alien encounters very often there are not multiple sightings or — perhaps more terrifyingly — there’s the very real chance that other victims of these undulating entities simply never made it home to tell their tale.
Rob Morphy is an artist / journalist / filmmaker / graphic designer / crypto historian / podcaster / co-founder of American Monsters, Cryptopia and Cryptonaut Podcast