Meandering thoughts on ghost stories and the paranormal/paranatural Part 2
This is part two. Part one was yesterday.
Just like yesterday, for the sake of simplicity I lump all stories of the paranormal/natural together as a ghost story. This includes faeries, demons, ghosts and everything else. It's just easier that way for me.
I wrote about lizard-men, shadow people and black-eyed kids. These are weird things that don't have an explanation that I know of, that explains them in their entirety.
If you can't handle scary stories, then skip this one, too. These are more creepy things, but I don't want to set off anyone's anxiety.
I do try to be rational. I read these stories with a 50 pound bag of salt; rarely do I take them at face value. I know there are things that I don't know, and don't understand-- but I also know that sleep paralysis is not caused by a hag sitting on you, and that you're not being sexually molested by an incubus if you have a sexy dream at night.
That doesn't change the way people perceive these happenings, though, and I think that's one of the most interesting things about ghost stories. One person might wake up and experience sleep paralysis and equate it with alien abduction, while another might feel oppressed by evil and yet another might just panic for a second thinking they're paralysed (that would be me! The one time I experienced sleep paralysis I'd dreamed I was in a train crash and couldn't move, so when I woke up and couldn't move I thought my dream had come true.)
I will be the first person to admit that not everything can be rationally explained. Some things are just so odd, so discomforting, so “Am I really fucking seeing this?!” that you just can't explain it. All you can do is tell the story, seek out others who had the same experience and maybe if you're brave postulate about it.
Such is the case, in my opinion, for so-called “Black-eyed Kids”, or BEK's. Before you Google that, let me warn you, Googling BEK will lead to some very interesting corners of the internet-- corners with conspiracy theories abounding, with Art Bell and his weird radio program, corners with “They Don't Want You To Know!!” scrawled over brightly scribbled web pages. About.com and From The Shadows blog both have a handful of BEK stories that are pretty interesting, though.
Some are downright creepy. If you feel brave, take a gander at MysteriousUniverse's page, and their BEK article. The photo has been manipulated, yes, but you get the idea of what they look like. For the record, Mysterious Universe is a pot-pourri of weirdness, but I haven't found an agenda anywhere (unlike say the Art Bell-type people who honestly believe aliens rule the world, and they're being persecuted by them for “telling the people the truth!”). If I'm wrong, and they're also conspiracy theorists, I am so sorry! I would never link to a tin foil hat page-- they're scary.
OK, now that I've introduced you to BEK's let me elaborate and tell you about an experience I had.
It was 2004, and my sister lived next door to me. She was at a job interview and I was watching her two children. My youngest was very small, maybe four or five months old; he and my younger nephew were napping in my room while my daughter played in the living room. My son and older nephew were doing their homework at the kitchen table.
We lived in a rough part of town, and having little kids, we always kept our doors locked and bolted. Out of nowhere, I heard someone tapping on the door. Looking at the clock I saw that it couldn't be my sister-- she was scheduled to be in the interview right them. So I looked out the peep-hole.
Standing there was a woman, about my height with brown hair. She wore a beautiful dress, very summery and flowery and had a red sweater over her right arm. She looked right at the peep-hole, which I do when I see the person has one, “here I am,” I am saying-- and her eyeball holes looked empty. As though I was seeing empty sockets.
This spooked me, but I thought “I can't be seeing that right”. I was still pretty uncomfortable, so I sent all the kids into the bedroom and told them close the door. Inexplicably I picked up the phone and held it in my left hand (it would be behind the door.)
“Can I help you?” I asked, opening the door.
“Let me in,” this woman said. She completely lacked inflection. She just said it-- flat, but as though ordering me to let her in.
“What do you want?” I took in her dress, white with flowers on it, very clean and pressed; her bright red cardigan sweater folded over her tanned arm (which was weird, because it was a very warm day). Her pretty brown hair tumbling down to her shoulders, framing a face that was pretty nondescript, but not ugly. And her eyes.
I saw then they weren't black holes, but black. I've heard the description “pools of ink” and that's what they looked like. Not black like bruises, or a genetic disorder-- one called alkaptonuria can cause the sclera to darken as the person ages and not “so brown they are black” eyes. My brother's eyes are so dark you can't see the iris from the pupil. These are completely black-- no white sclera, no pupil, no iris. Just black.
“Let me in,” she said again. Well, demanded. She didn't ask.
Standing there, in the doorway, staring out past this woman at the Texas early-afternoon I was frozen. I felt so cold. It wasn't a physical feeling, it was a terror feeling, that icy terror that makes you stop, unable to do anything.
I wanted to let this person in! I was ready to throw open the door, and greet her like I did anyone else I invited in, “Welcome to my home”.
I wanted to vomit on her little beige pumps. I am not easily frightened, and it's pretty hard to intimidate me. This woman terrified me. I had never felt such terror in my entire life-- and have not sense them. I felt like I was being sucked into her eyeballs; like I was falling in a deep well of nothing, losing myself.
She leaned in, smiling this predatory smile. I felt like I was being sized up, like I was food, if that makes any sense. “Let. Me. In.” She said again. I wanted to. Part of me was ready to throw that door open. Part of me was paralysed with frozen terror.
Something snapped, and I said no. “No. Go now. You are not welcome here. Go now, and never come back!” I pointed past her, to the road. Later I realised that I didn't throw her off my property like I would a person. I'd say, “Go now, before I call the cops!” In fact, I threw her off like she was an evil spirit!
Then I slammed the door in her face and locked it. I saw my daughter's little face peering around the corner, “all done, Mummy?” she asked.
“One moment,” I said. “Go on back in there, I'll be right there.” Then when she was gone, I pulled the sofa down the wall about five inches-- so it was under the doorknob.
I heard scratching on the front door, insistent scratching, for about ten minutes. I kept the kids in the room with me for about a half an hour, watching videos on NASA's website until my sister called me to tell me she was on her way home-- she was only five minutes away. Then I let them come out and play.
I casually moved the sofa back (lucky for me it's easy to slide) and stepped out front to smoke, waiting for my sister.
“Who is that woman?” she asked, pointing at a white four-door (it was a very boring, ordinary car).
I looked and gulped, and told her quickly about what had happened. That brown haired woman was sitting just across the street, and down a little, watching the apartment building.
“Oh, God! She's sitting there, watching the building, I thought she was with CPS, or casing the joint or something, but I felt so creep-ed out walking up the stairs,” my sister said (our mother was threatening to call CPS on us, on a weekly basis at this point). “At least until I saw you standing there.”
All I could say was, “I felt like I was dying.” There is no way to explain the deep-seated fear I felt. The disturbed feeling, like something was very very wrong-- but didn't appear to be. There's nothing other than “WTF” that would normally accompany a woman demanding entrance to your house. You're going to tell her fuck off, but you're not going to be afraid of her. I'm a tall woman, strong enough to hold my own if I have to, and I felt physically threatened by this person demanding entrance to my place. Like she wanted to eat me, devour me, kill me and suck the marrow from my bones. I felt like a mouse, even though we were the same height-- and she was a lion.
It was years later that I learned some cultures don't knock, but scratch on the door-- I'd learned that it was the normal before Reformation in many parts of the world. Why I remember that so clearly, though, I don't know.
I tried to put it out of my mind, and did for a few years. Then in early 2008 my sister mentioned the woman “in the car, with the eyes”, did I remember? When I said yeah, I did, she said she heard of BEK's and did I know what she meant. Being that I didn't, I dig some Googling, and after laughing my ass off at some of the information, other stuff chilled me.
I had thought the woman was on some kind of drugs and wearing weird-ass contact lenses. I chose to interpret my experience that way, as I had no other way to explain it. "She must have been on drugs, and wearing lenses to freak people out, must have been!"
I still have no real explanation for what happened, for my terror. It causes a physical reaction to this day, to tell the story. I get the icy lump in my guts, the goosebumps. The stories I've read from people who experienced something similar tell that they felt the same way. I would have never gone looking for that information if I hadn't seen it... it's in my “curiouser and curiouser” mental file.
I went digging for a rational explanation. I didn't get one. I got some weird explanations, some conspiracy theories and a couple very wild, very out there ideas that made me think, “What the fuck are they smoking!”
One hilarious explanation for the BEK phenomenon is that they're lizard people. See, I guess that the world is ruled by these extra-terrestrials who are humanoid lizards, and they wear a disguise to look like humans, and everyone in charge is one, or was one, from Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatchers to small time dictators like the Marco's in the Philippines and Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania-- of course Putin and Merkel and Brown and Obama are lizard people too, I guess. Probably Romney is one as well-- can't have a human accidentally finding out about our overlords?
I have to admit, that the idea of lizards putting on human suits and going to work as politicians makes just as much sense as any other conspiracy theory about how the world is run. Why would lizards come from their home planet far far away just to take over our United Nations, rather than say, enslaving us, I have no idea. But I'm sure that someone explained it somewhere-- and of course the FBI and Men In Black and NSA, and They ™ do not want you to read their book which you can get from Rinky-Dink Crazy-Pants Publishing for the low, low price of $49.95!
I shouldn't laugh so hard at the lizard-men idea. Maybe it makes perfect sense for them to enslave us through our political processes, but if I were an evil alien overlord, I wouldn't waste my time trying to take over the UN. The level of crazy needed to be a member of the UN, and the amount of bull shit that the more sane members have to deal with, well, my Overlord-self just wouldn't waste the time.
That's all I know about these lizard people. I never looked any further, because the idea amused me too much. I don't want the actual conspiracy to mess with my inner 12 year old tittering about old men being scared of geckos.
The other phenomenon I love to read about is shadow man. There are a lot of different kinds, and many entities get lumped in as shadow people. The ones I mean, are the hooded man, and the cowboy, gun slinger, man in a hat kind. (There's another shadow person seen in a top hat, but I've never seen that one).
These look like very dark shadows, as if someone were standing in front of a powerful light, and casting a shadow on the wall, except the shadow doesn't behave like a shadow should. It doesn't stay on the floor, or move the right way, it's more like a two-dimensional person, who just happens to be all black, often with red eyes.
The cloaked man, is a tall shadow that looks like your stereotypical “grim reaper” shape. The hood and cloak flow down. No, I've never read about one carrying a scythe, though I did look into it as a visceral fear of death is a normal part of being a human. The gun slinger one, he looks like an actor from an old movie, wide shoulders, long trench coat (or duster) that moves in a breeze you can't feel, Stetson hat.
The explanations range from “oh you were sleep deprived” or “seeing things” or “something in your eye” to “OMG it's aliens!” or “Time travellers” or angels or demons, or you name it. Given that there are an infinite number of universes that are all connected with strings, there's no reason for me to believe that they're super natural-- they could just be overlapping our universe when our strings got tangled. (Yes, I subscribe to the multi-verse theory).
Just because I accept them as a natural phenomenon doesn't mean that they are pleasant. Black holes are natural, but I don't want to go skipping through one, after all
I have had the displeasure of seeing one, the one in a hat, many years ago. In 1998 I lived on Ft. Hood, in Texas. The duplex was older but still very nice and my son was one. My now-ex was away for work and my son had just gotten over a cold.
I thought I was coming down with the cold, and I just could not sleep. Usually when I have insomnia I'm bone-tired but can't sleep. This night I was wired! I felt like I'd had double-strength espresso poured straight into my veins! Caffeine has never had an affect on me, unless I took a double dose of No-doze pills, but I felt wide-awake. It was close to 3am, and I was telling myself to relax, get some sleep, the baby would be up early.
Finally I decided I'd been laying there long enough, and got up. Walking down the hall from my bedroom, I passed the loo; I popped my head into my son's room and he was sleeping soundly and then walked into the dining room. To my left was the back door, and to my right was the tiny foyer and front door. Right next to the back door (leading to the yard) was the closed kitchen door (the kitchen was in a galley-style and I would close the door at night to keep the cats off the stove-- they liked to lay on it because it gas and they could feel the pilot under the top).
I saw what looked like someone in the back yard (we had blinds and they were closed) casting a shadow on the window, just as I flicked on the dining room light. If I had noticed it a second earlier, I wouldn't have turned on the light.
That's when the shadow shape stepped from the window. At first I thought the shadow was still being projected, but the very rational part of my brain was lagging terribly at this point. Taking a step, the shadow walked toward me, and was then clear as day against the kitchen door. This part is hard to explain, so bear with me
I was standing less than 10 feet from the kitchen door, right where the hall met the dining room. There was a computer to my 11 o'clock, a sofa under the windows to me 9 o'clock, and nothing else in the room. (My 12 o'clock was the connection with the living room where it was offset from the dining room, slightly, and the wall that cut the dining room from the kitchen.)
For a moment my brain looked for John Wayne, wondering when “Tombstone” moved to Texas. I honestly looked for a cowboy! Then I thought a LARP-er* must be outside casting a shadow in the house and wondered why one was out so late and why the game had ended up in my back yard. Then I thought, “No, stupid, the dining room light is on, and that would eliminate the shadow coming in!”
So I stared at this shadow and I knew it stared at me.
It was between 6 and 7 feet tall, as the crown of the hat was taller than the kitchen lintel, and broader than the door. It looked like a giant of a man was standing there, casting his shadow on my wall, hands in his coat pockets, collar up, and hat on. The hat shadow fascinated me the most. My Dad owns a Stetson, and I've loved those hats my whole life. When I went looking for the right name of the hat I found it, the Royal Flush, the round crown hat.
Then my kid, bless his heart, started talking in his sleep. They all three do it, and at that age it was a babble of baby noises, and the handful of words he had. His bedroom door was cracked, and he sounded like he was having a happy dream.
The shadow startled, and then took a look at me as though I'd finally pierced its' consciousness. I think I was no longer part of the scenery, but actually appeared as a person to this thing. “One of these things is not like the other” kind of deal. That's when I noticed there were little red lights where the eyes should be... almost like an animal's eyes reflecting the lights on your car at night.
I think I would have stood there until dawn, trying to figure out what I was looking at, except it actually took a step toward me, off the wall. This was the strangest thing! It was like watching a life-sized, black-silhouette paper doll take a step; it felt scary as hell, but it looked so weird! It walked across the room, and stood under the light, about five steps from me. Just stood there, staring at me.
I looked down at its feet and saw that it didn't cast a shadow, which made me want to laugh, but I was afraid it would be the laugh of the hysterical, and so swallowed it. I noticed that the tails of the duster it wore swayed in a breeze I couldn't feel.
It took another step toward me, and I started shaking my head. No, it would not pass me. No it could not go down the hall. No, I wouldn't move. I tried talking, but couldn't, my throat was dry as sand.
Then it shrugged, in a “Whatever,” attitude. If you haven't seen that, tell a teenager to do something, or lose computer privileges... it's infuriating, but very human. Then it spun on its heel, coat swaying out and it walked through the back door. It even reached out, gripping the doorknob and pulled an invisible door open to walk through and out.
I stood there for another few minutes, trying to figure out if I saw what I thought I saw. Then I walked into the kitchen and made a cup of tea. I sat on the counter, near the sink, smoking and flicked the ashed into the sink, staring out the window. I kept expecting to see that shadow walking across the yard, in that sodium-yellowish light that is so common in street lights.
What was it? I have no idea. I wasn't afraid it would hurt me, but I was afraid of the unknown of it. What did it want, what was it, where did it come from, that sort of fear.
Like I said, some things are easy to rationalise, and some aren't. I love the rational and scientific as much as I love the irrational and paranormal.
Next paranormal instalment will b about dolls. But not for awhile.
*LARP-er: Life Action Role Player. This was pretty common in the 90's near where I lived. It was basically a bunch of nerds getting together and acting out D&D or Vampire: The Masquerade instead of rolling their dice and using paper and pencils. Every once in a awhile I'd see them at the park across the way from me, having a blast.