In a coastal naval port city just after WWII, a young woman had a terrifying encounter with an unnaturally huge denizen of the deep, but the strange thing was that she wasn’t in the water… she was in her own basement.
In 1948, a young woman named Virginia Staples lived in the city of Bremerton in Washington State. Surrounded by water on three sides, Bremerton is currently the largest city on the Kitsap Peninsula and serves as home to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
At the peak of WWII, Bremerton supported an estimated 80,000 residents due to the substantial amount of work of shipbuilding, repair and maintenance required for the massive Pacific war effort. The population density would not last as only 27,678 citizens were left in the city by 1950, but in 1948 Bremerton was still a bustling hub.
During an otherwise ordinary day in that same year, a young woman named Virginia Staples was bringing a load of laundry down into the basement of her apartment building where the machines were located. Preoccupied with her day’s chores Virginia paid little attention to the sprawling, seawater puddled expanse of the by now familiar cellar… and she never could have anticipated what it was that she was about to see.
Years later, Virginia would leave a taped message for the sadly deceased author and paranormal investigator, Mark Chorvinsky, who published the account in “Strange Magazine”, issue #6 on October 8, 2017. Here are portions of here tape recorded phone message:
“…The apartment where I lived had a gigantically huge basement… The huge apartment houses were so close together and they all had basements and they were old buildings…”
She would go on to describe the decaying state of the basement in more detail:
“There were huge holes in the walls [adjoining the buildings] and the apartment house manager used to tell me that it was rumored there was a passage to the water.”
These salt water “passages” that the house manager described as apparently running between and beneath the apartment buildings did not only carry a debilitating amount of moisture into the structures, but also something bizarre and very much alive. Virginia set the scene:
“There was a washer and a washtub and a clothesline. And on this particular day I had gotten my clothes all hung up, but I kept feeling someone was staring at me or looking at me… it was such a creepy feeling I finally turned around and looked towards the back of the basement and froze. I was so scared I can still feel it. I couldn’t move.”
Virginia peered through a series of rotting, moist, mold encrusted holes that connected her cellar to the basement of the adjacent building. She described what she saw:
“In one of the huge holes in the basement there stood this thing. [she breaks down here.] Oh, it was horrible! I stand five foot tall and this creature was as tall as I was. It had a bright orange colored body and little spidery thin legs and antennae on its head that kept moving back and in and out.”
At this point sobs are clearly heard on the recording. Even in the ensuing decades this experience has clearly left its mark. Virginia continued to recount the harrowing incident:
“That thing started towards me. I backed out of the basement and got up to my apartment and I packed all my things and moved. I was so scared. I moved over to Seattle to my cousin’s.”
Although she’d known immediately that she wanted to avoid contact with this potential predatory creature, her curiosity regarding what this thing was continued to gnaw at her:
“I went to an aquarium to see if I could see anything that looked like what it was, and the only thing that I could find that looked anything like it was this little tiny shrimp. But it just doesn’t make sense.”
As if it weren’t already obvious by her emotional response to the retelling of the event, Virginia admitted to being haunted by her brief yet life altering encounter, stating:
“I had horrible nightmares for years. I finally got up enough nerve a couple of years ago to go back to revisit Bremerton, But the Navy has enlarged so much and the apartment house on Denny Street has been torn down. Really nobody would really believe this, but as God is my witness it really happened.”
One can’t help but to wonder if anyone else ever saw or perhaps had an even closer encounter with this creature and if the results of said run-in justified the fear that Virginia felt all those years ago.
Rob Morphy is an artist / journalist / filmmaker / graphic designer / crypto historian / podcaster / co-founder of American Monsters, Cryptopia and Cryptonaut Podcast