Urban legends used to be the kind of thing that was shared around campfires, the stories told by school kids at sleepovers and the warnings offered to freshman by sophomores. Urban legends are supposed to be the juvenile and hyped up generational lies that we all assimilate through a lifetime of trials and tribulations. Their role is to make it difficult for anyone to discern what is real and what is fantasy, especially in the realm of paranormal exploration…but today is a different day.
Today is a day of unsubstantiated rumour and bold face lie being redressed in the form of credible testimony through internet chat rooms, discussion forums and blog comments. Even now, the powerful networking tool Twitter is being used to disseminate wholly untrue stories of encounter, abduction, affect and abuse. Everything from horrific encounters with snarly beasts in the dark, to alien abduction, to the weird effects of psychic influence, and still we crave more.
Among this growing mountain of anecdote, hearsay and prejudice are some legends that warrant a little closer scrutiny though, something about them endears their story to the eye of the sceptical observer (namely me), and makes them stand out from the crowd. One such story is something I hesitate to mention; to a former me this would have been the stuff of ridicule and disbelief, but something today causes me to take notice of the common theme in the many accounts I’ve witnessed on this strange topic.
On January 16th 1998, Texas Journalist Brian Bethel submitted a blog post to a newsgroup recounting a tale of supposed terror and mystery. Brian claims that he was approached by a pair of children, who asked for his help, and in a fit of panic, he fled to the safety of…well, anywhere but there.
Ok, so you probably don’t buy that a grown man would be so intimidated by a couple of young children, but then, you don’t know the whole story, and neither did I until I went digging.
The story Brian submitted to the news groups (and I’m not entirely certain if the story was submitted on the above date, or if the event occurred on that day, but that date is often referred to when the story is discussed) described a rather innocuous situation in which he found himself in the Winter of 1998. Mr Bethel, while spending time in a park somewhere in Texas, was approached by two young boys, often said to have been somewhere around 14 years of age, the boys allegedly asked for Bethel’s help in getting home from the park. The accounts generally agree that the boys were both confident and insistent in their request for Bethel to drive them home in his nearby car. Bethel claims that he was inclined to help, until the children began acting strangely.
Accounts vary greatly on the specific turn of events that let up to Bethel making the decision to leave the park, and not in the company of the children, but all are quite clear on the point that Bethel’s fear piqued when he finally noticed the children’s eyes. He said in graphic detail that the children’s eyes were black as coal; no pupils, no iris, no sclera, nothing but cold solid blackness.
Brian Bethel’s account is intriguing, in so much as it is entertaining, but there is little supportive information to back up his claim, and one might be inclined to think that a journalist (as he has been confirmed to be) would be aware of the “evidence factor” in such a story. The critical observer would ask such questions as, ‘why were you at that particular park on that day?’, ‘were there any other witnesses?’, ‘what were the children doing prior to approaching you?’, and maybe ‘what did you do following this encounter?’ I personally might have had a field day poking holes in his story, though after the fact, I’ve come to find a surprising number of similar reports flooding those same message boards in recent years, and this leads me to a much broader look at the Black-Eyed Kids phenomenon (also known as B.E.K.).
The first black mark in the record against the Black-Eyed Kids is the fact that Brian Bethel’s encounter is the first ever recorded. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there were no encounters prior to January 1998, but if there were, those people have yet to speak up. Without exception, every BEK account I’ve read or heard about has taken place after 1998, and most have been in the last few years. This also doesn’t necessarily discount the phenomenon as fantasy or hoax either, as there are potential explanations that might account for the rather sudden appearance of these Black-Eyed children.
One such account, is a compelling, albeit second hand (or actually third-hand) telling of a fairly recent BEK encounter via Jason Offutt on his blog titled ‘From the Shadows, True Tales of the Paranormal’.
Bill was driving through Afton, Okla., a town in the northwestern part of the state on historic Route 66 just south of the Will Rogers Turnpike, when he stopped to see some old friends.“I saw they had a new dog; a very stout dachshund,” Bill said. “I asked them about it and Michael said, ‘The weird kids left her when they left town.’”Bill asked Michael and his wife about these “weird kids.” They told him a group of young people had knocked on their door and begged to come in and talk. The “weird kids” were driving an old van, but Michael thought it was in good shape because it didn’t make noise.
“However, he and his wife felt uneasy and didn’t let them in,” Bill said. A few of the kids left the van and walked the dachshund Michael and his wife ended up with. “But they didn’t seem too attached to (the dog).”
Bill asked Michael if these young people were Mormons.
“Hell, no,” Michael said. “They didn’t dress right and they were junkies.”
“Junkies?” Bill asked.
“Yeah,” Michael said. “Their pupils were huge.”
The kids’ eyes were solid black. Looking into their eyes was like staring into a void.
Turned away at the door, the black-eyed kids eventually left, to the relief of Michael and his wife. Some time later, Michael saw the dachshund wandering around town, felt sorry for it, and brought it home. Michael and his wife are thankful the black-eyed kids never returned for it.
Bill, which is a pseudonym given to the “victim” in this case by Offutt, it would seem was the unwitting prey of a group of young hippy punks, or was he in fact a narrow escapee of a horrible fate at the hands of the Black-Eyed Kids? I am obligated to reveal that this story is not supported by any facts, dates, locations or actual names, so I’m inclined to believe Offutt is spinning a bit of a yarn at our expense.
There are other accounts though; some more and some less compelling than Bill’s narrated experience, one message board in particular offered seven BEK testimonials on a single page of discussion.  Though I do warn before you dive into that content, I found the whole thing to be a demonstration of internet one-up-manship, and even though each individual encounter may have its own merits, they don’t seem any more credible than the possible fiction above.
The reason I present these various tellings of Black-Eyed Kid encounters is not only to illustrate the many discrepancies found throughout the accounts, but more so to illustrate the glaring similarities that run through every encounter I’ve studied.
There are three main characteristics of a BEK encounter, 1) the children appear normal in dress and behaviour until they begin to interact with the witness, 2) the children’s eyes, which are normally noticed late in the encounter or possibly only in retrospect, are completely black, and 3) there is a feeling of overwhelming foreboding and terror associated with contact.
When I consider these characteristics, I’m stricken with the notion that there is another such phenomenon that elicits that same sense of fear and panic in witnesses; Schattenwesen.
More commonly known as Shadow People, or even the Hat Man; Schattenwesen is marked by the single trait that every report of a Shadowman encounter contains a highlighted sense of fear and panic, and of a definite sense that the entity meant harm to the witness. I have long theorised that this effect may actually be a defence mechanism by, what many claim, is the physical manifestation of an inter-dimensional being.
In-so-far as I am sceptical of these Black-Eyed Kid reports and aside from some anecdotal evidence gleaned from a few trusted sources, I suggest that, were these beings to exists, as described by our anonymous witnesses, they might actually be further incarnations of IDB incursions into our reality.
If Schattenwesen are a real phenomenon, and I admit that this is a stretch, then is it much more of a stretch to correlate them with these Black-Eyed Kids? I will continue to seek credible accounts of the BEK phenomenon, and in turn to present the most complete picture I can create of the reality we may be facing, as it pertains to creepy kids who ask for help from strangers.
 I have not been able to find an original copy of the post submitted by Mr. Bethel, though there are several versions of it to be found on popular message boards, usually in paraphrased content and with subtle variation to the details.
 Here though, is the unfortunate disclaimer I must include, Jason Offutt it seems, is much more of a novelist and fiction author, than a researcher, investigator or even a paranormal pundit, so in that spirit his telling of this story may not be entirely above board.