Note the creature in the Foreground of the above painting; that is the Alp. In the background stands a crazy horse that also intended to smother that woman, only to be let down by lax planning. The painting was inspired by the German children’s tale “The Alp and the murderous horse who slept in”. The moral of the tale: “Only a few are murdered, but we are all the victims of poor time management”. I should back up.
The Alp is a shape-shifting creature from German folklore that was known primarily for its suffocation prowess, but also dabbled in wide array of dream-weaving, sleep creeping, nipple sucking, and baby fussing nocturnal shenanigans. Damn it, I think I need to back up even further.
So there was this goblin and it had a magic hat, a Tarnkappe, that allowed it to shape-shift into all kinds of things. Now, at the time, the black forest was filled with all kinds of weird goatmen and hag ladies bent on ritualistic murder, perversion, and sundry household pranks, but they lacked a magic hat that would let them enter your home undetected . The Alp, however, had just such a hat, and a real appetite for horribly murdering people while they slept. Finding regular strangling gauche, the Alp’s preferred method of killing was to climb atop the chest of the victim ,whisper until the sleeper’s dreams soured to nightmares, and then feed so gluttonously off those nightmares that the Alp plumped up enough to crush the victim with its overwhelming Alpdrücke (Elf Pressure). That’s right, the Germans have a specific terms for being suffocated by an Elf made fat from your nightmares.
In addition to Elf-Pressuring the life out of people, mostly women, the Alp would:
- Tangle the hair of sleeping children
- Suck the blood from the nipples of young boys and men
- Remove clean diapers from babies, crap in them, and place them back on said babies
- Sour milk
- Scare Horses;
- Murder sleeping women by slowly suffocating them with their dream fattened asses. I felt this deserved a second mention.
Country of origin: Unsurprisingly, Germany.
Is It scary: On so many levels, yes. I didn’t mention in the overview that the Alp is wholly unkillable,and the only way to disrupt the murder process is to wake up and ask him to return in the morning for coffee and discussion about why you shouldn’t be killed. Come morning it returns in its true form, a human with unusually bushy eyebrows, and makes his case for why it’s really best for everyone if it returns around bedtime to finish the job. If you refuse it complains at length and tries to guilt trip you, but if you can resist its whining, it leaves and never returns. Unless it changes its mind at a later date.
Also, if you catch it sleeping you can shove a lemon in its mouth to weaken it, as it hates lemons.
Every bit of that is actual folklore without embellishment. The Alp is an immortal serial murderer that can only be undone by a timely brunch, persistent conversation, and citrus fruits crammed into its Elf-hole. Specific, terrifying, and difficult to satirize.
What does this say about Germany: I mean, nothing new. If Germany was a person this is exactly the sort of dream he would have after drinking too much Jager and breaking up with his girlfriend. The sort of dream that he never tells anyone about, but would inspire a sketchbook of drawings that he kept in a locked trunk in the basement. Jesus, keep your shit together Germany. We don’t need another “incident”.
What is the lesson: I honestly don’t know. To die at the hands of most of the monsters we cover, there is some error in judgment or moral failing that generally incites the situation, but the Alp kills you in your home…because you are sleeping. I suppose it mostly kills women, so perhaps the folklorists were encouraging girls to pose as men so they would only got their nipples sucked? Where is the social utility in that?
Maybe it’s some roundabout way of implying that the weight of dreams will eventually kill us all if we don’t wake up and shove a lemon in the mouth of practicality?