It’s that time of the year again. The time when we drool over pumpkin spiced lattes, wiggle our way into the ‘ol autumn sweaters, and glue our eyes to our televisions to watch countless horror movies under a full moon. But for those of us who find ourselves researching the paranormal, this is just another typical day for our curious minds. And while my previous article for The Hidden Auditorium focussed on the possible crypto cousins of the grays, I thought this time it would be interesting to cover another topic that involves black eyed beings of the human persuasion… or so it would seem.
Imagine sitting in your living room one night, reading a book. You begin to doze off, the strain of the day slowly fading away as your eyes close. Suddenly, a harsh knock on the front door springs you to full attention. It’s so late, you think to yourself. Who could it possibly be? You make way to the door and peer out the peephole. There’s a dark silhouette of a small figure in your distorted view. You open the door, assuming this is a child. You are right. But what you notice next makes this anything but a normal encounter with an adolescent.
Staring back at you are two eyes. But they aren’t the average iris, pupil, or sclera you are used to seeing. They are pure black, from lid to lid. Nothing but the moon bounces light off of these deep pools of nothingness. You shudder, trying to take in this unusual sight before you. That’s when you realize, that standing behind this child are two more figures. They slowly move forward, their eyes identical to the leader. They wear simple clothes. Perhaps a solid black hooded sweatshirt. It falls baggy over their unusually pale skin. The leader finally speaks.
“Can we come in?”
You stare at them dumbfounded. Why would you let a child into your home this late at night? Where are their parents? They unintentionally (perhaps) answer your queries with blunt assertion.
“We’re lost. We don’t have anywhere to go. Please let us come in.”
You are sweating. You tremble. Adrenaline courses through your veins as you take stock of the situation. They continue staring at you with their soulless eyes. The debate wages in your head of whether or not to slam the door on them, or let them inside. They’re just kids, you assure yourself. Aren’t they? As the debate wages on, you can feel your heart pounding harder than ever before. Something about this situation is not only unusual. It’s downright terrifying.
“Please. Let us in.”
No matter what you do next, it feels like it is the wrong answer. You are left in your doorway, having just encountered what has been coined as an experience with The Black Eyed Children. This phenomenon spans continents. And with each passing encounter, these strange children seem to become more and more aggressive. But what exactly is it that they want? And what happens if you let them in?
While once thought to stem from online urban legend, the BEK’s (Black Eyed Kids) became a dark and disturbing sensation, stories cropping up all over the world recounting terrifying tales of the children and their devious pleads for car rides or invites into homes. It was now harder than ever to separate fact from fiction, the BEK’s soon falling into the same skeptical box as Slenderman and other legends thought to be created online. And it all seemed to have begun with a singular encounter that sparked a phenomenon.
Encounter at the Movie Theater
Brian Bethel was a journalist out of Abilene, Texas. It was believed that the BEK phenomenon had stemmed from a story Bethel recounted to colleagues in a personal email almost two years after the incident had occurred. It was 1996 when he was on his way to pay an internet bill at a local provider’s offices. He pulled over near a movie theater, using the marquee’s light to write a check. It was in this moment when a knock frightened him, a pair of pale knuckles tapping his driver’s side window. Bethel looked up to see two young boys with hooded sweatshirts covering their faces. An immense rush of fear suddenly rushed over him. The fear, as Bethel remembered, was incomprehensible at the time. The boy who seemed to be the leader of the two had curly hair and an olive complexion. The other boy stood in the back ground, red hair a freckles. Their appearance, though average at first glance, soon sent even more fear through his bones. The boy’s both had eyes that lacked any substance. They were just large swathes of pitch black. No life to them whatsoever.
Frozen in his car, Bethel listened as the leader asked if they could have a ride to their mother’s house. They wanted to get money to see a movie at the nearby theater. “ It won’t take long,” the boy assured Bethel. “We’re just kids,” the boy would continue. Though these words were perhaps meant to ease Bethel’s obvious terror, it only made him panic even more. He rolled the window up and put the car in reverse, ready to drive off. The boy yelled to him through the window of the car. “We can’t come in unless you tell us it’s okay. Let us in!” He drove away, quickly glancing one more time for the boys. But he saw nothing. Within seconds, they had completely disappeared out of sight.
I caught up with Bethel recently, hoping that he could shed some more light on his terrifying incident that night, and just exactly what he thought of his story sparking countless tales of the black eyed children. My first inquiry was if the incident had instilled any type of paranoia or follow-up events of high strangeness, as had often been reported in other cases of BEKs. He would tell me: “My sleep was greatly disturbed. I didn’t want to sleep at all, actually. I felt unsafe doing so. I kept having this fantasy of them appearing at the foot of my bed, or waiting outside my door for me when I went outside. It was a rough few weeks, I’ll say, and the effects linger to this day. The use of black eyes to symbolize evil has become a common trope in horror films and other media, and I will tell you that every time I see such an image, especially if I’m not expecting it, I flash back briefly to those terrible, agonizing moments in my car. I legitimately did not know if I was going to die or not. I have never been so terrified.”
So as for Bethel’s leaked email becoming a template for similar stories, both fabricated and real, I wanted to see what his thoughts were on this controversy and just exactly how he felt about possibly creating an accidental urban legend. “It’s easy now to write something quasi-convincing based on the model of kids knocking on a car window, asking to come in, door opener detects something is wrong, terrible revelation, rinse and repeat. I judge each story shared with me on its own merits, but I apply greater skepticism to anything that adheres too slavishly to the basic formula. I look and listen for little variations and details that add more verisimilitude. If it’s just a carbon copy of what I’ve heard or seen, I tend to dismiss it or at least give it less credence. That said, I have heard many, many stories that I’m convinced are true.”
So if true, what exactly are these children? Whether it be aliens disguised as children, hoping to abduct innocent humans, or if they are some sort of soul-sucking demons trying to take over a vulnerable host, the possibilities remain endless. I found Bethel’s answer to this very question most intriguing. “I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that they are predators, and we are the food. I don’t think they eat us in any literal sense, but they do want something from us. Maybe they do just want to kill, but I tend think the design is far more complex than that. Until you’ve been on the receiving end of those terrible, dark eyes, filled with hate and torn from the very depths of night and time, I’m not sure you can understand. The people I’ve spoken with who have truly seen them understand completely.”
In trying to better understand these accounts, assuming there are genuine encounters with these children, my research would soon lead me to perhaps one of the most comprehensive studies on the “BEK” phenomenon to this day. Author, David Weatherly, compiled an extensive list of experiences with these enigmatic youngsters that he aptly titled in a full length book, Black Eyed Children. I spoke to Weatherly about these accounts and his approach to disseminating actual testimony from urban legend. “One of my goals when I wrote the book was to find out if the encounters pre-dated the internet and television,” Weatherly explained. “The trick was, while researching, to eliminate the catch phrases: ‘BEK’ and ‘black eyed children.’ Those terms are very modern. But I was able to find cases that certainly go back through history.”
The Black Eyed Beings of Aisne
One of the more stunning accounts Weatherly came across dated all the way back to 1974 in the Picardi region of Aisne, France. According to an early witness report from the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (N.I.C.A.P), two men known only as Alain and Patrick were making a leisurely drive through a small village, enjoying the autumn weather. It was around 3pm when they decided to turn around and take a different route. Upon turning, Patrick noticed something near the last house in the village that made him hit the breaks. There, in the courtyard of the house, were five small figures. Three of them stood in the background, huddled together. Another was tracing its hands along the home. The last figure stood facing Patrick and Alain. Alain rolled down his passenger side window to get a better look. “He reports that his blood ran cold when faced with the being,” Weatherly would tell me. “The appearance of the five characters was as strange as their behavior. They were all just over four feet tall. They were dressed alike with long garments that almost reached the ground. These garments were decorated with multicolored spots. The beings themselves had earthy yellow skin and long hair that fell down their backs and to their waist. Their noses were compressed inwards, and their eyes were described as enormous, solid black hemispheres, the size of billiard balls.”
Soon, the being closest the car began to wave to Patrick and Alain, gesturing to come closer. The motion of the being scared Alain so much that he screamed in terror for Patrick to drive away. Patrick hit the gas pedal and they sped out of the area to a nearby town. They told several locals of what they had witnessed. They returned hours later to find no sign of the small beings anywhere. “Eight months later, an investigator finally made it to the scene and spoke with nearby residents,” Weatherly recounted. “Interestingly, he found a neighbor who had noticed the beings on the road in front of the home. He reported that he thought the beings he saw were ‘children dressed in yellow oilcloth’.”
While this pre-internet account of black eyed beings was intriguing, it didn’t fit the mold of the stories that littered online forums and fringe websites. What about the children who begged to be let inside a home? Weatherly would come across a case slingshotting us back to the 1950s when a young man named Harold would have a startling encounter with a boy with black eyes.
The Screaming Boy at the Fence
Harold was sixteen years old when it happened. He was making the long walk home from a friend’s house. As he made way down the dirt road leading to the entrance, he noticed a small figure leaning against the fence in front of the house. As he approached, he noticed that it was a boy. Being a small town, everyone knew everyone. Harold was puzzled, having never seen this child before. He immediately started talking to the boy, but received no response. He asked if the boy was alright, and after a moment, the boy finally replied. “I wanna go to your house. Take me to your house.”
A chill rushed through Harold. He didn’t know how to respond. It was in that moment that the boy looked up at him, a pair of solid black eyes staring at Harold with a desperate assertiveness. Harold felt glued to the ground, terrified. He looked up the road, planning to run when the boy immediately shot back. “Now don’t you run away from me. You’re gonna walk me to your house.” Harold was now feeling threatened. He made a run for it, sprinting up the road. Too scared to look back, all he heard was a screeching wail, like that of a bobcat. Was it the child? Was this a wail of anger for not listening to his threatening words? He wasn’t about to stick around to find out.
The front door to the home flung open as Harold barreled through the entrance. Startled, his parents asked him what was wrong. Struggling to speak, he finally explained what he had seen to his protective father. Soon, the father grabbed a shotgun and headed down the road, desperately searching for this boy. There was absolutely no sign of him anywhere. The family was left wondering just exactly what it was that Harold had experienced that night. His mother, fearing that it had literally been the devil in disguise, brought Harold to a local clergy and had him blessed. And with that, the encounter with the screaming boy at the fence came and went with more questions than answers.
In the cases of Brian Bethel, Patrick and Alain, and that of Harold, each encounter with these beings brought one singular sensation of pure terror. While strange in scope, these small children, unthreatening in size, more than made up for it with their sinister eyes and unexplainable persuasiveness. In Weatherly’s examinations into countless cases involving these black eyed beings, he was able to find many connections. It was almost as if, feeding off the fear of their victims, these beings were able to read the emotions and minds of those they approached. In turn, they seemed to either try to calm them down, or take the extreme route of threatening them. Either way, their goal of getting closer to the witness, whether in proximity or by literally entering a home or vehicle was clear and threateningly concise. They wanted in. They wanted in to a home. Or perhaps even more terrifying, they wanted in to the soul of those they came into contact with.
There is no arguing that many accounts of these black eyed children are completely fabricated, a digital game of telephone tricking through each online forum, website, and message board. But the research done by David Weatherly proves that black eyed beings can be traced back to even that of ancient China, where accounts of a ghostly black eyed girl were often reported. Angered by her wrongful death, she would haunt local villages, terrorizing vulnerable passersby, also being a supernatural cause for many natural disasters in the area. Other examples of folklore in Asian culture were also brought to the attention of Weatherly and his research. One can look at Japanese horror films that were directly inspired by ancient tales of demons and evil spirits, showing us modern day versions of these apparitions and beings in the form of children with identical black eyes. Weatherly states: “There’s a lot to indicate that these kids may be omens of ill fortune, or, perhaps warnings of coming difficulties. Those who have reported intense and fearful encounters often say that prayer and spiritual protection are what they believed saved them from worse consequences. The tradition doesn’t seem to matter since reports have come from every religion and every walk of life imaginable.”
Weatherly would also tell me of one of the first accounts of a black eyed being. This time, it was in the form of a statue. “I’m very intrigued by the Urfa man found at Gobekli Tepe, a strange humanoid figure carved 13,500 years ago. Whoever made this statue took the time to carve solid black eyes out of obsidian. Countless people who have stood in front of this statue report a creepy, unsettling feeling they get from being in its presence. I think this builds on the evidence that these black eyed beings have been visiting the planet for a long time.” Could this lend more credence that perhaps we are in fact dealing with an alien presence rather than ancient evil or ghostly apparitions? Perhaps it’s a mixture of both. Perhaps it’s neither.
No matter the case, while these beings seem pure in their dark intensions, Brian Bethel would calm my own nerves with these words of warning: “They are dangerous entities, to be sure, but we have something they don’t. Something they desperately want. I believe it is the light within us, the human soul, that they crave. Whether they wish to corrupt it or consume it, I don’t know. But it is that very thing they desire that gives us the edge over them. It is something they apparently can’t just take. Permission has to be given, and in that is our strength. It’s good advice in general, but beware who you allow into your life and don’t open doors for just anyone. Be discerning. Be aware. And most important, be safe.”
[clickToTweet tweet=”Your life as you know it is now in the cold, pale hands of the black eyed children.” quote=”Your life as you know it is now in the cold, pale hands of the black eyed children.”]
We now return to the hypothetical situation we found ourselves in the beginning of this article. A child stares up at you, no emotion whatsoever. Their lifeless eyes pierce so sharply into you that you are left paralyzed. You try to speak, but can’t. The children inch forward, their persistent presence altering the entire world around you. With no knowledge of the phenomenon before hand, you have no conscious warning signs that you may have just sealed your own fate by a simple break of the paralyzation. You open the door a bit wider, stepping to the side. You let the children in. What happens next can only be speculated. But whatever it is, as you close the door behind you, you know that this isn’t right. But for some incomprehensible reason, you are left with a dismal sense that you had no choice in the matter. Your life as you know it is now in the cold, pale hands of the black eyed children.
Ryan Sprague is an investigative journalist, focusing on the topic of UFOs. He is the author of the upcoming book, Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon, published by Richard Dolan Press. He is also the co-host of Into the Fray Radio with Shannon LeGro and a frequent contributor to the geek website: RoguePlanet.tv. His work can be seen at: somewhereintheskies.com