Whether it’s innocent babbling about the “parents they had before” or the particularly macabre games they made you play in boarding school that sees you being accidentally waterboarded, kids are creepy.
With no perception of consequence, context or the permanence of death, it’s no surprise their make-believe games leave you worried your sharing your home with a would-be serial killer.
Luckily, this is rarely the case, and soon enough they’re fed through the mechanism of rigid social-cultural normality and come out the other side as shells of their former self, just like the rest if us.
Even so, there’s something quintessentially creepy about the “little girl ghost” trope, whose disembodied laughter can leave the most hardened paranormal investigator sleeping with the lights on.
Ghostly kids have haunted us for centuries, but in recent years, a particular type of ghastly child has made the internet its playground, terrifying ghost hunters across the world – the Black Eyed Child.
Supposed encounters with “Black eyed kids”, or BEKs, as is sometimes abbreviated, follow a similar narrative: Children, often in pairs, appear on dark nights and ask to be let in to a stranger’s house or car. This is usually under the pretence of using a bathroom, making a phone call, or needing a ride home. The accosted stranger is met with a sense of dread and then notice the children’s eyes are completely black.
The tales usually end with the stranger denying entry and the children leaving, although they sometimes lurk menacingly about the house or car.
The very first tale of this nature is often attributed to a Texan journalist named Brian Bethel, who featured his encounter in a “ghost related mailing list” back in the ’90’s. This was allegedly cohoborahed by a similar account in Portland, Oregon. Both of these accounts can be read here via the wayback machine.
Since Bethel’s story leaked into the wider internet, tales of these eerie black eyed children have become part of modern urban folklore. Even here in the UK, tabloids latch on to the phenomenon every now and then, recounting the infamous black eyed girl who wanders the woods of Cannock Chase – itself a hotspot for a variety of paranormal activity.
So, if we are to take these accounts at face value, what on earth could these children be?
It seems that many like to categorise these kids as their own particular type of entity, so let’s compare and see if we can figure out where they belong in the great scheme of paranormal things.
To summarise, the features commonly associated with these little creeps include:
- Black eyes, of course. This include the sclera, thus blacking out the entire eye.
- A childlike appearance, usually between the ages of 6-16.
- Travelling in groups of two or more.
- Clothing that reflects the current time period.
- Seemingly trying to gain entry to a location or vehicle. They claim they can not enter without permission.
- An eerie presence, leading to many eyewitnesses reporting a sense of imminent danger
What makes a BEK different to a regular ol’ ghost? Well, unlike a typical “ghostly” occurrence, these kids are set apart by the lack of regular haunting phenomenon. Their sightings are not tied to places of historical significance, and don’t seem to reflect the spirit of a deceased person.
However, if we are to believe that spirits of the dead can appear to us as “ghosts”, there’s no reason for them not to appear with black eyes. Many first hand accounts seem to indicated this can be the case, but even so, interactions with black eyed kids claim them to be physical beings, despite the fact that they are sometimes said to “disappear” at the end of the interaction.
Oh yes, the corporeal undead. In folklore, it is commonly accepted that the vampire has to have permission to cross the threshold of a dwelling, seemingly comparable to the BEKs need to be “let in”. Once inside, perhaps they intend to feed upon their victim’s blood or psychic energy?
Conveniently, there are very few reliable accounts of what happens when these kids are let inside, so their ultimate goal is unknown.
Unless, of course, their victims don’t live to tell the tale?
Aliens, Demons or Inter-Dimensional Beings?
It was only a matter of time before aliens show up. Some speculate that these black eyed kids are alien hybrids, inheriting their paranormal parent’s iconic eyeballs.
Perhaps, as others state, their black eyes are a symptom of demonic possession? Or maybe, these beings come from another dimension entirely, and by asking permission to enter your house, they’re asking to transition to our reality completely and maybe even take your place in it.
Ok, so I might have got a little carried away towards the end there, but these are all theoretical explanations that have cropped up at one time or another, to varying degrees of credibility.
Of course, there is also the possibility of prank playing kids being their awful selves. Sclera covering contact lenses are readily available these days, and any child appearing in the middle of the night is enough to fill you with dread.
The problem with so many weird and wonderful things, particularly where the internet is involved, is that to explore such a topic we are reliant on firsthand eyewitness accounts only.
We know that eyewitness testimony is not nearly as reliable as we’d like to believe, even when the witness is recalling an event that undeniably happened. Little details change, memory fails us and the subconscious fills in the blanks without us noticing. Over time, we remember the memory of the memory and not the events as they happened.
So why has the popularity of the black eyed kids endured?
Creepy kids have been a cliche in horror media since horror media became a thing. The Turn Of The Screw, The Midwich Cuckoos,The Children of The Corn, The Omen the list of evil children is endless.
Children are meant to be innocent and inherently good. Even more so, they are vulnerable. When that narrative is challenged, we’re naturally unnerved because we’re supposed to protect them.
Society has taught us to be weary of strangers so it’s easy to lock your door to a fully grown adult. They could be a weirdo with a knife, and really, who asks to use a landline these days anyway?
But, when that narrative shifts, and the person outside on a rainy night is a child, how are we supposed to react?
We want to protect them, and why shouldn’t we? They’re just a kid, right? Then again, shouldn’t a kid know better than to knock the door of a stranger? We could be the weirdo with a knife? Perhaps that means they really need your help.
Then again, what would it look like if you were caught in your car or house with a kid you didn’t know? You don’t want other people thinking you’re the weirdo with a knife, do you?
So, what would you do in that situation? Would you let them in? These thoughts resonate when we hear of black eyes kids and it’s the answers to them that has let the tales seep into our modern folklore.
We’re not afraid of the big bad wolf anymore, because we know that the real monsters are human.
In a 2013 article, Bethel reiterated his original account, and maintains that the two boys he saw were, for want of a better descriptor, eerie children with black eyes, although he is still unsure as to their origins.
As for myself, I am happy to confine most accounts of black eyed children to the realms of internet urban legend, but like most legends, I’m reluctant to write them off entirely.
I’m sure Bethel and others have encountered eerie children in the dead of night, but if their origin is paranormal, I hope they remain unexplained.
It’s nice to keep some mysteries mysterious.
– Dr L J Hawthorn
Have you ever seen a Black Eyed Kid? Let me know and follow The Hawthorn Files on social media for more and keep up to date with all manner of strangeness.