The term Black-Eyed Children, or Black-Eyed Kids (BEKs), is defined by Wikipedia as “supposed paranormal creatures that resemble children, between the ages of 6 and 16, with pale skin and black eyes.” The most haunting detail in all of the narratives featuring Black-Eyed Children is their aberrant black eyes- not bruised eyelids or dilated pupils, but eyes which are “pure black, from lid to lid.”
The term Black-Eyed Kids was popularized in the late 1990’s by a reporter from Texas, named Brian Bethel, in a “ghost-related mailing list.” While sitting in his vehicle writing a check for his cable bill in the parking lot, Brian was approached by two boys wearing hoodies and described as being between 10-14 years old.
The boys said they wanted to see a movie at the nearby $1.50 theater, but had forgotten their money, and needed a quick ride back to their home so they wouldn’t miss the flick.
Brian detailed the interaction that followed:
“What movie were you going to see?” I asked finally.
“Mortal Kombat, of course,” the spokesman said. The silent one nodded in affirmation, standing a few paces behind.
“Oh,” I said. I stole a quick glance at the marquee and at the clock in my car. Mortal Kombat had been playing for an hour, the last showing of the evening.
The silent one looked increasingly nervous. I think he saw my glances and suspected that I might be detecting something was not above-board.
“C’mon, mister. Let us in. We can’t get in your car until you do, you know,” the spokesman said soothingly. “Just let us in, and we’ll be gone before you know it. We’ll go to our mother’s house.”
We locked eyes.
To my horror, I realized my hand had strayed toward the door lock (which was engaged) and was in the process of opening it. I pulled it away, probably a bit too violently. But it did force me to look away from the children.
I turned back. “Er … Um …,” I offered weakly and then my mind snapped into sharp focus.
For the first time, I noticed their eyes.
They were coal black. No pupil. No iris. Just two staring orbs reflecting the red and white light of the marquee.
At that point, I know my expression betrayed me. The silent one had a look of horror on his face in a combination that seemed to indicate: A) The impossible had just happened and B) “We’ve been found out!”
The spokesman, on the other hand, wore a mask of anger. His eyes glittered brightly in the half-light.
“Cmon, mister,” he said. “We won’t hurt you. You have to LET US IN. We don’t have a gun …”
That last statement scared the living hell out of me, because at that point by his tone he was plainly saying, “We don’t NEED a gun.”
He noticed my hand shooting down toward the gear shift. The spokesman’s final words contained an anger that was complete and whole, and yet contained in some respects a tone of panic:
“WE CAN’T COME IN UNLESS YOU TELL US IT’S OKAY. LET … US …. IN!”
I ripped the car into reverse (thank goodness no one was coming up behind me) and tore out of the parking lot. I noticed the boys in my peripheral vision, and I stole a quick glance back.
They were gone. The sidewalk by the theater was deserted.
I drove home in a heightened state of panic. Had anyone attempted to stop me, I would have run on through and faced the consequences later.
After Brian’s story was posted for public dissemination and became popular, it “spread across the internet, and with it came more reports.” There have been hundreds of eye witnesses claiming to have had interactions with Black-Eyed Kids in the years since.
Besides being deeply unsettling and chilling, most stories which feature Black-Eyed Children also share several other characteristics:
- The children appear in groups of two or more, unaccompanied by an adult, and seemingly in need of something like a ride, a phone, food, or shelter.
- The children always ask to be invited inside a car or house. Oftentimes, they are described as panhandling or hitchhiking.
- Most tales emphasize how the children are almost robotic in nature and speak in a assertive, adult-like way. Some articles claim that these children are considered “to be some of the most dangerous spirits in existence by those who’ve encountered them” and almost all accounts reference the person interacting with them as feeling terrified, or having a fight or flight response, before noticing their abnormal eyes.
- As mentioned in Brian Bethel’s above account, those who actually interact with the children oftentimes describe feeling an almost trancelike compulsion to comply with the requests of the children.
Though paranormal critics easily point to Brian Bethel’s account as being the inception of the Black-Eyed Children phenomena, similar themes are found throughout history.
In 1974, two men reported seeing five unnatural “beings” standing outside of a house while taking a drive through the French countryside. They said that one of the beings began to wave a hand at their car as if they should come closer, but as they began to see the beings more clearly, the two men quickly became unnerved and drove away.
The following account was provided to authorities:
“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.”
Surprisingly, once an investigator was eventually sent to the area, over eight months later, they were able to locate another witness. This person was a neighbor to the house and reported that they “noticed the beings on the road in front of the home,” but had assumed they were “children dressed in yellow oilcloth.”
And, the concept of black-eyed beings may extend much further back than the 1970’s. In fact, the world’s oldest known statue of a man, the Urfa Man, is generally estimated to be over 10,000 years old, and was carved to have eyes made of “segments of black obsidian sunk into deep holes.”
“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.”
But, for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, the statue creator also took the time to carve a prominent penis, which the Urfa Man is pointedly grabbing (/protecting?), and perhaps, that is also why viewers find the statue creepy.
Many characteristics ascribed to Black-Eyed Children are manifested throughout the legends, lore, and literature of many distinctly different cultures.
Like vampires, BEKs apparently need an invitation to enter a home (or car). Like aliens, they are described as having large eyes and pale skin. Like (traditional accounts of) demons, they appear human, until an alarming physical abnormality is noticed.
The critical observer may propose that the stories featuring Black-Eyed Children are simply recycled legend. However, a paranormal believer may interpret the recurring concepts throughout history as evidence that similar beings have always been encountered and reported.
The burning implication of every Black-Eyed Kid story is that if you allow them into your home or car, then something bad will happen. But, no one really knows what happens exactly.
One witness account submitted to the Week in Weird website, warned that after a strange visit from two young Black-Eyed Children, the residents experienced dire health issues.
The below is a heavily edited version of the story; however, the account can be in read in it’s entirety here.
A little over a year ago I woke up because I heard a loud banging on my front door…
When [my husband] opened the door there were two children standing in the snow looking toward the ground. They were a boy and a girl and could not have been more than 8 years old… The girl’s hair was very long and straight and the boy had a dated haircut that looked almost like a bowl cut. They weren’t dressed for winter and my first thought was that they must have been Mennonite children but as far as I know there was never a large community of Mennonites near us.
Thinking back on it I know that my normal reaction to seeing children in a snowstorm would have been to rush them inside and bundle them up with some blankets and hot cocoa, but that’s not how this felt. The children were very unnerving. They would not make eye contact and when my husband asked them if everything was ok, they asked if they could come in. My husband looked at me like “What do I do?” and I asked the kids where their parents were.
“They’ll be here soon,” is all they said.
It was around 2 o’clock in the morning at this point so the only reasonable thought in my head was that there must have been an accident or these kids got lost. As much as my instincts told me not to bring them inside I did it anyway…
I started to notice that our cats (we had four) were all hiding except [one]… none of them even tried to see who was here which I thought was very strange…
I turned back to the children to give them cocoa, but when they looked at me I gasped. It took everything inside of me not to drop the mugs and run away. When they looked at me their eyes were completely black. They had no whites just giant black pupils.
When they saw that I was scared they stood up and asked if they could use the bathroom. .. [My husband and I] were in the middle of talking about whose children they could be when my husbands nose started to bleed. He’d never had nosebleeds as long as I had known him. I just knew inside myself that this had something to do with the kids…
That’s when the power went out. I heard my husband yell my name from the living room and as I started to walk back through the hallway I stopped dead in my tracks. The two children were standing at the end of the hallway. They weren’t moving and I have never been so scared in my whole life. They just stood there in the dark.
After what felt like forever the boy said “Our parents are here,” and they walked to the door, opened it, and walked out leaving it wide open. My husband jumped up to go close it and almost fell over. We looked out the window and saw two men standing by a black car idling at the end of our driveway. The men looked like they were wearing black colored suits and were very tall, at least 6 feet. When my husband waved at them they just stared at us, got into the car, and drove off.
Our power came on about a half an hour later but nothing was the same after that.
Over the next few months three of our cats went missing…
After my husband’s nosebleeds became a regular occurrence we went to see the doctor. He didn’t know what to make of it other than “dry nasal passages” but my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive skin cancer… The doctors think he will recover but don’t understand how it got so bad so quickly…
Since we let the Black Eyed Kids inside our home I’ve also suffered from regular dizzy spells and nosebleeds on a regular basis. I’ve had other issues which I won’t mention here but trust me when I say that I am suddenly in the worst condition of my life and no one can do anything about it. I know that all of this is because I let the Black Eyed Children into my home. We’ve told everyone we could about the strange kids that showed up that night but no one else saw them and some laugh at how scared we were of the “Mennonite kids” but we know what we saw. I wish my husband had never opened the door.
Feel free to publish this as a warning to others about the Black Eyed Kids. My advice would be to lock your doors, call the police, and wait for morning. Don’t make the same mistake that I did.
The invitation into the home is also an interesting implication in itself. While researching the topic, it became apparent that there is no one widely-believed reason why vampires, or any other supernatural being, must be invited into a home.
A few reasons that an otherworldly creature may require an invite are discussed in the linked sources below; however, it seems that even the most ardent paranormal believers disagree over the rationale of why some monsters are invitation only.
- Native Americans, and/or Celtic cultures, tired of being harassed and eaten by vampires, cast remarkably effective spells on the land which made homes inadmissible by vampires without an invitation.
Unfortunately, because “human free will is a powerful mystical force all its own,” these magnanimous spell-casters couldn’t prevent the monsters from entering completely and had to craft a free will loophole.
- One Reddit poster (in a science fiction forum, no less) presented possibly the most reasonable explanation. Beetnemesis explains the concept of thresholds, or how a home has an inherently protective energy surrounding its occupants. As a matter of pragmatism, unnatural entities must illicit some form of invitation, or experience a “damper on supernatural energy.”
This is particularly important concept in vampire lore, because a vampire is essentially “a dead body animated by dark magic” and “needs a relatively strong connection to his source of energy to stay alive.”
If this rationale explains why vampires must illicit an invitation, in contrast to other supernatural beings, could the same theory be applied to Dark-Eyed Children? Does the need for an invitation suggest they are some form of the undead?
There is a variety of interpretive reasoning which justifies the necessity of an invitation for vampires and other supernatural creatures. However, like the dark implication of allowing a Black-Eyed Kid into your home or car, the exact logic behind why an invitation is needed is ambiguous at best. Certainly, the creatures would be more horrifying if they could just do as they please.
However, perhaps, the fact that there are unknown rules at play enhances the strangeness, and the chilling sense of foreboding, surrounding the lore. In fact, many accounts of Black-Eyed Children align with subversive, yet distinctly human, fears.
The stories present an ever-present danger which is unexpected and unknown, and consequently, difficult or impossible to defend against.
But, Black-Eyed Children sightings are also creepy because they incorporate the idea of an evil something disguised as innocence, which forces readers and listeners to question their everyday vigilance. The stories play on the implicit desire to help vulnerable people. They are reminders that, in reality, assumptions about others and theirs motives can be dangerous.
While reading through the various internet accounts, one may find themselves asking, if Black-Eyed Children do exist, what are they? Theories abound regarding the creepy visitors. Different websites claim they are offshoots of various traditional monsters: ghosts, demons, aliens, vampires. Nothing about the lore surrounding Black-Eyed Children is definite.
Critics argue that the witness accounts are, at best, “an over-reaction on the part of the witness who had been prepared mentally for such an event” by hearing other stories about the Black-Eyed Children.
As in, perhaps, an interaction definitely took place, but the details, eeriness, and paranormal aspects surrounding the (quite ordinary) happening were colorfully interpreted by someone with genuine, but preconceived, beliefs about the existence of Black-Eyed Children.
Some critics of the BEK sightings fault “priming, pareidolia, frame of reference (fictional movies, books), and context.” Other, less forgiving, critical assessments deem the sightings “textbook urban legends”- the byproducts of “faulty perception, mistakes, or people just making stuff up for fun.”
Most skeptics argue that the the vast majority of Black-Eyed Children sightings are hoaxes. Regardless of the frequency with which encounters are reported, not one witness account has produced any supporting police report documentation, surveillance video, or photos.
And, considering that the mysterious paranormal beings literally just stand outside the door repeating their requests over and over, apparently incapable of harm without an invitation, it seems spurious, at best, that no one has attempted to even Snapchat the encounter.
However, witnesses remain fervent about and terrified of their encounters, and new stories are posted everyday. Some believers even postulate that talking or reading about Black-Eyed Children make them more likely to visit you.
So, True Noir readers take heed, and the next time you’re approached by a strange, demanding child, get a picture.