"The Devil's Footprints" is the third short in the mini-series True Terror With George Takei, a series of The Terror shorts narrated by George Takei, focused on real-life terrors. As with the other installments in the series save the premiere, it was released by AMC on YouTube on October 1, 2019. However, subscribers to the premium streaming service AMC Premiere were granted access on August 7, 2019.
One morning in February 1855, residents of Devon, England awoke to find 40 miles worth of hoof-like footprints in the snow. Were the footprints made by a mysterious animal? Or were they left by… the Devil himself?
Some terrors are so frightening that the world does everything it can to forget them. Sometimes they stay buried, but sometimes one is so enduring that it refuses to stay hidden. This is the story of one such terror. A parchment box lies hidden in the back of a church, collecting dust for nearly 1,000 years. The box itself has no value, but its contents, unearthed in 1952, reveal a supernatural mystery.
In 1855, England suffered its coldest winter ever. Rivers which had never frozen before turned solid as stone. On February 9, late at night, a blizzard blankets the country. When the residents awake, they discover something strange. There are hoofprints in the snow, ones unlike that of any known animal. They extend for 40 miles, throughout a dozen villages. They extend even across rooftops and a garden surrounded by massive walls. In many places, the tracks simply stopped abruptly.
Though search parties are formed, no culprit is found. Dogs were even sent to sniff out a creature, only to come back terrified. The only creature the villagers can think of whose footprints could match those seen is that of the devil. Hysteria takes hold of the village of Devon, with people refusing to go out at night for weeks. Eight years prior, police had investigated a masked man with claws, reported to assault women then leap to unnatural heights to escape capture. This man would come to be known as "Spring-Heel'd Jack."
The terror spread to London, with many seeking an explanation. One rumor stated that two kangaroos escaped a local menagerie and hopped across Devon. Every columnist in the area seemed to have a theory - some suggesting that the tracks were made by hopping rodents, and others suggesting a variety of animals. The contents of the parchment box discovered in 1952 were letters of residents from the time of the snowstorm. In the letters, a local pastor claimed to have made up the rumor of the kangaroos' escape to distract his flock from the truth of it having really been the devil. Although the 1855 event is the most famous example, the Devil's Footprints are said to have appeared on other occasions. In 1840, a naval officer found cloven prints on an island, though no animals that could have possibly made them lived there. In 1945, such hoofprints appeared in Belgium during World War II, continuing for miles until they entered a forest vanished. In 2009, such hoofprints once again appeared in the snow in Devon in a woman's garden, with striking similarities to the ones from 1855. Although no firm explanation for any of the incidents have ever been found - if they are the Devil's footprints, then what is his motive for leaving them?
- Devil's Footprints on Wikipedia