“This was a terrifying event, and it’s hard for me to talk about it. It was about a month after I moved into my current apartment. One evening, I came home from work, and I had an uneasy feeling. I don’t know how to explain it. It was almost an impending sense of doom that came out of nowhere. I decided to go to bed, and I didn’t even eat that night, which is very uncharacteristic for a guy like me.
At about 1:00 a.m., I heard rapping at the door. It wasn’t a standard knock-knock sound. I am near a college campus, so I figured it was some drunk kids fooling around. I had work in the morning, so I tried to forget about it and went back to sleep.
It just kept on, this rapping sound. Finally, I walked to the door and by this time it was 2.22 a.m. I opened it, and there was a girl standing there. I’d say she was probably 13 or 14 years old. She was looking down at the ground. The first thing she said to me was, “They sent me here.”
I was terrified as it was, feeling uneasy the whole night , and then this girl showed up with this cryptic message. I said, “Who sent you here?”
She said, “Just please let me in.”
I felt this cold air sweep over me and my stomach was turning. I had never felt that way before. I opened the door all the way. I hadn’t even made eye contact with her. She was talking in an emotionless, drone-like type voice, and again she said, “Please let me in.”
I said, “Look, I’ll go grab a phone. You can use the telephone. Do you want to call somebody?”
She said, “No, please let me in. They sent me here.”
I yell, “Who sent you here?” and added, “I’m getting the phone and calling the police.”
I turned around and switched the light on. She said, “let me in.”
I replied, “No, I’m not letting you in.”
She started getting extremely agitated. She kept saying, “They sent me here.” Then she looks up at me, and says, “This is only going to take a minute.”
I’m telling you that I have never been so scared in all my life. As soon as my eyes met hers, I realized they were blacked out. Not dilated pupils, but the whole eye itself was black. This put me back on my heels. Then and there I decided that I was calling the police. I turned around and grabbed the phone. When I swiveled back, I saw that the girl was gone.
I called the police, and they laughed at me and said, “A little girl shows up, and a grown man is worried about that?”
I just didn’t feel comfortable letting that child into my apartment, let alone one with completely black eyes. I was even afraid to share my story here. I was terrified that she might come back. My only hope is that somebody has the answer or possibly something that would help keep these things away. They’re not children, and I don’t want another visit.”
- Tony, Tennessee
Throughout the internet and around campfires, whispered furtively from friend to friend behind pints of ale in the darkened corners of pubs and scribbled in the night in journals, incidents of encounters with Black Eyed Kids (BEKs for short, and sometimes also called “Black Eyed Children”) appear to be increasing in frequency. Virtually unheard of until the late 1990s, stories of encounters with these creatures are becoming more and more common as time wears on. In addition to allegedly true accounts submitted to websites and in chat rooms the internet over, BEKs and the lore surrounding them have inspired a full-length movie as well as a short by the same director, dozens of books, both fact and fiction, and, somehow, a tote bag. But what are these mysterious children, and where did they come from? Are they just tall tales to be told around the campfire, or something far more sinister?
There is no consensus on what a Black Eyed Kid actually is. Experiences with these entities run from encounters on roadsides and in forests and fields to the very front door of the experiencer. Always, there’s a feeling of strangeness and terror in the air. Always, the black eyed child or children ask to be let in. And always, the experiencer finds him- or herself gazing into a disquieting pair of preternaturally, entirely black eyes.
The first written modern account of the Black Eyed Kids was penned in 1998 by Texan journalist Brian Bethel. Bethel, who was the one who coined the term “black eyed kids” in the first place, wrote that two years prior he had found himself approached by two boys, roughly between the ages of 10 – 14, as he sat in his car and filled out a check for a nearby drop box.
Mr. Bethel’s account, which can be found here, tells of a sudden and unexplained overwhelming sensation of illness and unease that heralded the arrival of the boys, the increasing urgency of the lead boy to gain permission to get in his car, his own horror at realizing that he both boys had pure black eyes — not merely very dark human eyes but eyes lacking sclera, iris, and pupil — and their disappearance as he (wisely, it would seem) sped away into the night, shaking and deeply afraid.
Author and researcher David Weatherly, in his book Black Eyed Children, sought to find earlier cases of encounters with BEKs, pre-dating both Bethel’s account and the advent of the internet in general. The earliest written first person account he uncovered of a BEK was the experience of a teenaged boy named Harold in the 1950s.
Harold was out for a walk by himself one day in the 1950s, when he encountered a strange child on the side of a country road. The child was strange and distant, and insisted that Harold take him to Harold’s own home. As in the experience with Bethel, Harold found himself more and more afraid as the boy became more and more insistent, until ultimately he fled (on foot, in this case).
There are some subtle differences here between the modern accounts and this early one: Harold lacked the immediate feelings of unease and illness, as Harold had stood and spoke to the boy for some time before the sense of danger kicked in, and this having occurred in full daylight. The most defining features of the case are certainly consistent with BEK encounters, however: the orbs of the boy’s eyes were entirely black, he demanded an invitation to Harold’s home and appeared powerless to follow him without it, and the child disappeared immediately after the encounter. Upon hearing of his son’s frightening encounter, Harold’s father had immediately left the house with the intention of hunting down the devil, as his father supposed he must have been, who had alarmed his one. He found no trace of the creature, who hardly could have made it very far on foot in so short of time. It had simply vanished.
Weatherly further traces accounts through a group of five strange figures very similar to modern reports of BEKS in France in the 1970s, to a black eyed woman remembered from the experiencer’s childhood in Chile in the mid-1950s, and all the way back to what Weatherly suspects may be the earliest representation of a black-eyed creature in Gobekli Tepe more than 10,000 years ago. Author G. Michael Vasey cites another encounter in the 1970s at a gas station in his book Your Haunted Lives: the Black Eyed Kids, several from the 1980s, and a few from the same era as Brian Bethel’s account, though it’s unclear if those were reported at the time of the encounter as well as being submitted to his website in recent years.
Vasey has searched through mythology to find potential precedents for the BEKs of modern day. He cites both the legends of the Otkon of the Iroquois and the Indian Acheri as clear antecedents to our modern Black Eyed Child. He has also dug up an account purportedly written by a BEK itself, claiming descendancy from Lilith with a Vampire the Masquerade-like coevolution with humans; as Vasey himself notes, of course, there’s not a great deal of reason to believe that the account is genuine.
A very different tradition of Black Eyed Children seems to have sprung up entirely independently in modern-day UK, featuring an entirely different sort of black eyed child. In the seemingly bedeviled area of Cannock Chase Forest, England, there have been multiple sightings of a child, with pure black eyes as in the US sightings, who has been traced back to the ghost of one of the three children murdered in the mid-1960s in the area. These poor black-eyed spirits seem to not threaten or harass, nor even ask to come in, but simply to ask for the help that was denied them in life.
Much work has been done on these particular black eyed children by researcher and author Lee Brickley, whose blog Paranormal Cannock covers the children, as well as extraterrestrials, government experiments, and other weirdness experienced in the area. Unusually for ghosts in general, he notes that the Black Eyed Kids of Cannock Chase appear regularly in daylight, and that reports on these children continue to this day.
Commonalities Between Accounts
In the North American tradition of Black Eyed Kids, Weatherly lists both a set of primary attributes to the appearance and manner of the children (solid black eyes, extremely pale skin, monotone voice with unusual use of language, clothed often in drab-coloured clothing often said to fit poorly or look homemade) as well as secondary characteristics (attempted mind control, strange noises and foul odours, electronic interference) that speak very much to a common source of the reported North American experiences, and a complete separation from the British tradition of Black Eyed Children. He also notes trauma-like after effects of these North American experiences, including a strong feeling of paranoia, dreams and nightmares featuring BEKs, and disrupted sleep or insomnia.
Explanations, rational and otherwise
There are a large number of skeptics of this phenomenon, though a limited number of proposed explanations. Rational explanations include the use of sclera contact lenses as part of a prank, drugs or a blown pupil/medical condition (the author of the linked article notes that this would not fully cover the sclera, but certainly would give the impression of extremely dark eyes), or simply that the experiencers are mistaken or lying. Believers, of course, find none of these explanations fully satisfactory.
There are a number of theories on what BEKs actually are. Some cite the prevalence of the creatures at night, the odd odours that accompany them, and their constant pleas to be let in as proof of vampires, while others note that their black eyes and the apparent hunger in their desperation for something undefined as noted by many experiencers suggest they might be demons (as indeed young Harold’s parents believed in the 1950s). Still others offer the electrical disturbances as evidence that they’re either extraterrestrials or hybrids, as Weatherly suggests, or something else entirely. What can be agreed upon is that terrible, terrible things come of letting them in.
Reports of the cases wherein the experiencer has let the creatures in are few and far between, which suggests a bad end to those who do allow them inside; reports can be found, however. In one well-known case, a kindly couple takes in two black eyed children and suffers a frightening evening, and deteriorating health thereafter. Another report of an encounter with these beings ends with a healthy young man dead within the year.
To return to the question at the beginning of this colloquy: where do Black Eyed Children come from? What are they? Are they real, and do they need to be feared? No one knows. Clearly, people believe it, and clearly they’re afraid. Perhaps BEKs are not extraterrestrials or demons or vampires at all; perhaps they’re something so new, so different, that we can’t conceive of what their true nature might be. Or maybe they’re kids playing pranks or kids on drugs or simply an internet legend that has come to life either literally or metaphorically. It’s impossible to say for certain.
One thing is certain, however; if they come knocking at my door, I’m turning up the music, turning on all the lights, and positively not letting them in.
Sources and further reading:
Dying for more stories of alleged BEK encounters? Please see the following articles:
16 Terrifying Encounters with ‘the Black Eyed Kids’ compiled by Chrissie Stockton
10 Terrifying Stories About the Black-eyed Children compiled by Lyra Radford
Dying for more analysis of the phenomenon? We recommend these books as an excellent starting place:
The Black Eyed Children, 2nd ed. By David Weatherly
And, of course, the following article by the excellent Ryan Sprague:
Can we Come In? The Lore of the Black Eyed Children by Ryan Sprague
Want to stay home, curl up in your blankets, and hope against hope that they don’t knock on your door next? I can hardly blame you. I might be sleeping with the lights on tonight myself.
Obsessed with all things dark and weird from a young age, E. Madelyne Hilker has used every opportunity to steep herself in mysterious lore, and is working on her first novel Hallow Earth. She works as a new media producer by day and crochets like a madwoman by night. Maddy lives in small town Ontario, Canada with her family and a large collection of houseplants.