Urban Legends

The Rake

A Mariner’s Log: 1691 

“He came to me in my sleep. From the foot of my bed I felt a sensation. He took everything. We must return to England. We shall not return here again, at the request of the Rake.” 

Entries like this began to appear on message boards in the early 2000s along with creepy “photographs” of strange humanoid figures, and The Rake was born, a legend which only grow in the retelling. Tall, but hunched over and malformed, grey sallow skin, and giant claws to do its namesake raking, the Rake is a vicious entity born of Internet Creepypasta. 

The historic journal approach to storytelling plus most “sightings” being in rural New York really helped this bogeyman escape the Internet into a wider pop culture awareness, with a lot of campfire stories panicking that the creature may be a cryptid out lurking in the night waiting to strike. 

But The Rake is at least a confirmed case of being an Internet based spooky story! Although, it may also be based on the older folktales of something called a Fleshgait… 

The Rake is a pretty neat, if vicious, Creepypasta that popped up around 2003 and continues to make occasional appearances. Originally disseminated as fake journal entries such as historical logs and witness reports, further backed up by weird photographs and fan art. I’ll share a disturbing extract now since it manages to capture the dark appeal and disturbing nature of this one:

From a Witness: 2006

“Three years ago, I had just returned from a trip from Niagara Falls with my family for the 4th of July. We were all very exhausted after a long day of driving, so my husband and I put the kids right to bed and called it a night.

At about 4am, I woke up thinking my husband had gotten up to use the restroom. I used the moment to steal back the sheets, only to wake him in the process. I apologized and told him I though he got out of bed. When he turned to face me, he gasped and pulled his feet up from the end of the bed so quickly his knee almost knocked me out of the bed. He then grabbed me and said nothing.

After adjusting to the dark for a half second, I was able to see what caused the strange reaction. At the foot of the bed, sitting and facing away from us, there was what appeared to be a naked man, or a large hairless dog of some sort. Its body position was disturbing and unnatural, as if it had been hit by a car or something. For some reason, I was not instantly frightened by it, but more concerned as to its condition. At this point I was somewhat under the assumption that we were supposed to help him.

My husband was peering over his arm and knee, tucked into the fetal position, occasionally glancing at me before returning to the creature.

In a flurry of motion, the creature scrambled around the side of the bed, and then crawled quickly in a flailing sort of motion right along the bed until it was less than a foot from my husband’s face. The creature was completely silent for about 30 seconds (or probably closer to 5, it just seemed like a while) just looking at my husband. The creature then placed its hand on his knee and ran into the hallway, leading to the kids’ rooms. I screamed and ran for the lightswitch, planning to stop him before he hurt my children. When I got to the hallway, the light from the bedroom was enough to see it crouching and hunched over about 20 feet away. He turned around and looked directly at me, covered in blood. I flipped the switch on the wall and saw my daughter Clara.

The creature ran down the stairs while my husband and I rushed to help our daughter. She was very badly injured and spoke only once more in her short life. She said “he is the Rake”.

The Rake is a little bit of a stereotypical bogeyman, but distinctive enough in appearance to stand out with giant claws in a lot of depictions to make it The Rake. It’s a pale grey humanoid with long claws it isn’t shy about using. Within its own little mythos, they mostly lurk in rural New York State with some sightings in Idaho, and that detail makes it very easy for The Rake to leap out of the Internet and into campfire stories.

Yet there’s an extra layer here. The Rake may have a basis in older stories, being a type of Fleshgait. Maybe simply an adaption of the story, or else just worrying unrelated synchronicity. As is usual for this show, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here, and before I needed to record I have yet to narrow down if Fleshgaits are based in Native folklore, if they are a modern era Cryptid, or they are a more recent Creepypasta creation themselves. I will have to dig deeper and will be looking to tackle Fleshgaits as their own thing. The Fleshgait cliffnotes is that they are mimics that copy voices to lure away victims, in some stories they can also mimic appearances, and their true form is supposed to be a tall skinny grey skinned figure with no hair and long claws. There are some suggestions they relate to Skinwalkers, but my gut says that’s some cultural misappropriation to try and sell the story. I shall be back to that topic!

Story by Luke Greensmith of Lukelore Podcast

Listen: Putting the Creepy in Creepypasta Ep31

Art by Wanda Fraser

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