The Alp by Kyle Germann
Nightmares have haunted the sleep of men and women since the beginning. These kinds of dreams can cause people to awaken very suddenly in the night, sometimes accompanied by screams of terror. In cultures all over the world, people have long believed that there are supernatural entities that are responsible for these horrifying dreams. In Germany and Austria, these beliefs have coalesced into a very frightening (and very confusing) entity that feeds upon the blood of unsuspecting women while they sleep. The German people know this vampiric spirit as the Alp, and it is one of the most dangerous of all supernatural predators.
Nobody seems to be quite sure what the Alp actually is since the spirit is perceived differently in different areas. Generally speaking, the spirit is almost always male, although, in some accounts, it is portrayed as female (Bane 10), and it is believed to have only one eye. In some areas of Germany, it is believed to be an elemental, much like a gnome or a tomten. In parts of Austria, it is described as a malicious spirit of the dead. Other people believed that the Alp could appear as a small elderly man, while others thought the spirit was a shapeshifting wizard of great power that would roam the countryside in the form of a bird or a cat (Curran 18). And that’s not all: some legends say that the Alp is the returned spirit of a man who died a horrible death, while others say that the entity is the vengeful ghost of a child that died before it could be baptized (Maberry 14). And still, others say that it is a male child who died as a result of a particularly long and agonizing childbirth (Bane 10). Then again, the Alp could be a voracious bloodsucking demon from the deepest pits of Hell. To reiterate, nobody is really sure. And in that same vein, nobody seems to know what the Alp looks like either. This may be because the Alp is usually invisible and is capable of assuming a number of different forms and may, thus, have no true form (Bane 10). However, what is known about the Alp is that it is a predatory entity that feeds on the blood and the breast milk of sleeping women, glutting itself on those fluids while weakening the victim and depriving her baby of the food it needs to survive and grow at the same time (Maberry 14).
The Alp has a variety of supernatural powers at its disposal. When it takes on a physical form, the Alp possesses unnatural strength and speed and is able to fly in any of its myriad forms (Bane 10). The Alp is a notorious shapeshifter, able to assume a wide variety of different forms. It can become any sort of animal that it wants, although the entity seems to prefer the form of a dog, a cat, a bird, a pig, a snake, a vole, a wolf, a moth, a white butterfly, a monstrous black dog with lecherous tendencies, and even an icy mist (Bane 10; Curran 18-19; Maberry 15). For this reason, the Alp is often linked to stories of werewolves in folklore, especially in Cologne, Germany (Bane 10). Interestingly, the Alp is always said to wear a hat called a tarnkappe, which literally means “cap of concealment.” This hat gives the spirit the power of invisibility and some other unspecified magical powers (Bane 10). This tarnkappe is usually a soft, old wide-brimmed hat, but it could also be a simple cap made of cloth or a veil designed to hide the entity’s face from its victims (Curran 18). But the spirit becomes even more formidable when wielding the power of its Evil Eye, a sinister spiritual ability that is feared all over the world.
The Evil Eye allows a person to curse or inflict misfortune and even death upon others with a glance or an intense stare. In the Alp’s case, the Evil Eye allows the spirit to manipulate the wills and, especially, the dreams of sleeping victims. With this power, the entity is capable of creating horrible nightmares that frighten its victims nearly to death and can also cause bouts of sleepwalking, seizures, and fits while they’re sleeping (Maberry 14; Curran 19). These nightmares, in turn, can lead to severe insomnia, and if this goes untreated for long enough, it will cause insanity and eventual death. The Alp must take great care to protect its eye from any kind of damage. Without it, the spirit cannot torment its victims with nightmares (Bunson 5).
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