The Terror That Lingers: The Mysterious Harlequin

The Terror That Lingers: The Mysterious Harlequin

The Harlequin

The Harlequin: Image Courtesy of Ezaf8 | Deviantart

Strange things happen all the time. Some just fade into oblivion with the ticking of the clock, while others, they chose to linger, and haunt, and cling to you for the rest of your life. This is the story of Dan Mitchell, and the mysterious creature that haunted him is entire childhood- The Harlequin.

The Mysterious Universe once posted a three-part series about a mysterious creature that has haunted Dan Mitchell of southern Wisconsin, ever since he was a child. Mitchell remembered, it was a thin, androgynous creature with wide-open eyes. The creature would visit him in his room when his parents weren’t nearby. Whenever it appeared, a rejuvenating aroma of summer rain followed. Through dance and theatrics, it would tell him stories,  entertain him. Mitchell remembered telling his mother about it a couple of times. Of course, she never believed him.

As a child, Mitchell’s life was full of happening. And by happening, I mean otherworldly experiences. Take for instance a particular spring night in 1981, as the Mitchell family sat for dinner:

 “I remember that my dad was very agitated. He kept saying that he was hearing somebody walking around upstairs. I was terrified by this because my Dad was so agitated and I had never seen him scared like that. He was a very tough guy.


But that wasn’t the end of it. Mitchell’s father rose up from the table, his face petrified with terror:

“Immediately there was a voice that he heard coming from upstairs. While I want to say that it sounded like a sinister and terrifying laugh, I believe it was just a howl of some sort that caused a tingling feeling up my spine. He [my father] was frozen with this awful look on his face. Everybody at the table was just frozen. The next thing I remember is waking up at the dinner table with milk spilled all over myself and the table.”

It is not unusual for children to blank out things they don’t wish to remember, given the horror of the incident, this is exactly what happened.

Turns out, Mitchell wasn’t the only one. His mother:  “has all these incredibly bizarre memories about people being in the house, either upstairs or in the basement, or strange looking people walking around in the garage at night. It’s very strange to hear her talk about it because she is quick to equate these memories to burglars trying to steal things from our house even though our house was never broken into.”

As Mitchell grew up, the harlequin’s visits ceased, however, it continued to leave some obscure signs to show him he was still around. 

In 1991, Mitchell’s father was driving 15-year-old Mitchell from the family’s cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin into the nearby town of Eagle River: “There (was) this steep hill we would drive down on our way into town. When we got to the top of the hill in the truck, this guy was walking on the gravel road pushing a stroller. Now, it was probably 9:30 at night, pitch black, and who would push a stroller in the pitch black? I could tell this guy was hiding his face,. There was just something not right about it.” As the figure disappeared in the distance, “My Dad looked a little bothered by it as well. But he didn’t say anything probably to keep me calm. I was really not wanting to go back to the cottage because it was headed that way.”

While Dan Mitchell’s encounters go on, he wasn’t the only one in the world. Karen Davis, who was informed of Mitchell’s experiences via a friend’s husband who listened to a paranormal radio show, said:

“I was probably about five or six the first time I remember him. I woke up to someone bouncing on the foot of my bed. It was all white, no color, abnormally long limbs, empty eyes, but not exactly expressionless. I don’t remember being scared, I remember thinking ‘not again,’ and ‘it’s back.’ I know he told me stories, or shared information with me somehow, but I don’t remember him actually talking.”

What is this creature that haunts little children in their bedrooms? A supernatural abductor, or an elder god? Or is it a gray alien just trying to communicate? Or perhaps a demonic spirit with roots in shamanism and Wicca? What do you think? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page, on Twitter, or in the comments below.


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  1. Coppertop

    04/25/2014 at 6:17 AM

    One heck of a spooky story, if nothing else. I’m going to assume no one got any pictures or recordings of it?

  2. A Man Called Da-da

    04/25/2014 at 12:03 PM

    Sounds like Da-da’s house before the last medium came out. Interesting, much of Noh Theater/Japanese horror films — as well as the Commedia del Arte of the Middle Ages/Renaissance — feature a white-faced apparition, though the Japanese one is mute.

  3. Dixie

    04/25/2014 at 2:41 PM

    Wow. I remember having conversations with what looked like Mr. Punch that lived in my bedroom wall when I was a kid, he used to whisper disturbing secrets at me till I screamed, after which he would become sad and a bit angry and leave.

    Used to think that was a lucid recurring dream of some sort, not so sure now!

  4. Fred

    04/25/2014 at 11:01 PM

    My younger brother claimed he had a visitor like that, only he had a name. Stanley. My brother said that Stanley told him that he (my brother) “used to a man named Ted”, and then he would go on to tell us about Ted’s family, including his daughter, Victoria, and the cottage they lived in, in England, of all places. Now, here’s the thing; these stories started when my brother was FOUR years old, barely hold enough to speak in coherent sentences, let alone weave long, complex stories about his previous life. This went on until he was maybe ten or eleven, then one day he announced Stanley had told him the night before that “it was time to go instruct someone else”.

    Some of the other things I remember was waking up in the middle of the night when us three boys shared a bedroom with the distinct feeling that someone had just left the bedroom, and finding my little brother wide awake. Only occasionally would I ask him who had been in the room with us, because I knew his answer would be Stanley. Also, he described Stanley as “white like paper, and very skinny.” And sometimes at night, when I would step out the back door to check on our dogs, which was something mom always insisted I do, to make sure the gate was closed, and they were in the yard, I would find them in the dog house, growling and afraid to come out, and I would have the distinct feeling I was being watched.

    I had never heard of teh Harlequin before tonight, but he sounds a lot like Stanley.

  5. mrs. eccentric

    04/27/2014 at 10:15 AM

    A writer claiming to be Dan Mitchell has some very interesting things to say about the nature and wellspring of his writings in this forum thread:

    The handle is “OWT”, post #76 on page 8 of the thread. steph

  6. tara

    04/27/2014 at 3:10 PM

    I remember reading Dan Mitchell’s story as he was writing it up on his blog- absolutely fascinating and absolutely freaky. It was riveting.

  7. Dawn

    04/28/2014 at 3:19 PM

    ” A demonic spirit with roots in shamanism or Wicca” ? Is that supposed to be funny? Wiccans don’t believe in demons or devils.

    • Ritoban Mukherjee

      04/28/2014 at 10:08 PM

      That’s the funny part. This idea war proposed by a catholic father.

  8. jake

    09/22/2014 at 1:52 AM

    this is pretty cool. I saw this motherfucker one night when i was trying to remember the things that scared me as a kid. not him, physically, but i remembered his face. it was vivid, i couldn’t move, and then i shifted my thought process quick as i could. i remember a sunhat looking thing on it though, black with red underneath. pale skin, some kind of makeup or coloring, and that smile. holy shit that smile. the pointed teeth and how much it’s cheeks contorted. no gum, just… teeth. when terror with no bais strikes you, it’s a different kind of experience, and it sucks. paralyzing. my coworker told me about this when i described the thing, and i’ve always wanted some proof of supernatural.

  9. Sardondi

    10/09/2014 at 9:07 AM

    Credit where credit is due – the Harlequin tales of Dan Mitchell didn’t originate in Mysterious Universe. They first appeared in Jason Offutt’s old blog, “From The Shadows”,, which, sadly, he rarely updates these days, having migrated to podcasts and for-fee publishing. But 5 years ago or so there was simply no better paranormal/arcana site than FTS. A fantastic site which Jason keeps on life support so we can view the archives which begin in 2006. I’m a fan of the site myself, and if you’re unfamiliar, do yourself a favor and check it out. Prepare to be spooked by creepy stories told by high-quality writing with just the right balance of skepticism and respect for the people with an unusual story to tell.

    The original stories about Dan Mitchell’s experiences with Harlequin, which continued well into his adulthood, are here:

    And then Kevin Brown has similar experiences which Offutt chronicled at FTS:

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