Jun 10, 2015 I Nick Redfern

The Grinning Man in Black

"The door banged really slowly but hard, like someone was hitting it with their fist instead of knocking, [and] when I opened it there was this horrible little man, about five feet tall. He was dressed in a black suit and tie and had a funny little black hat on. His face was really strange. He looked like someone with anorexia, you know? His cheeks were all gaunt; his eyes were dark and his skin was almost white."

That's how a British woman, named Helen Sullivan, began her remarkable story, when I interviewed her about what can only have been an encounter with a Man in Black, back in early May 1994. It wasn't, by any stretch, the first personal interview I had done with a witness to one of the menacing MIB, but it was certainly the most memorable and bizarre. Helen, who, at the time of both the encounter (1992) and the interview, lived in the English county of Staffordshire, continued:

"I didn't know what to do and just stared; it was really frightening. Then he suddenly gave me this horrible grin, and I could tell his lips had been colored, like with make-up or something. He took off his hat and had this really bad wig on. You know, he looked about sixty, but the wig was jet black.

"All he said was, 'We would ask you cease your studies.' I said, 'What?' Then he repeated it, exactly the same, and I had to ask what he meant. 'The sky lights, always the sky lights,' he said. Then it dawned on me. I'd seen a UFO late at night about a week before when me and my husband had been driving home and we both had a really weird dream after about some little men standing around our car on the edge of the wood [Note: which was a portion of Staffordshire's Cannock Chase].

"Then he said something like, 'Cease and dream easy.' I think that was it and he gave me a really long stare, like he was going to attack me or something. But he just walked away, down the drive. I started to feel dizzy and slammed the door. I just crawled to the bed and fell asleep for about three hours.


"But when I woke up there was this horrible smell like burning rubber all through the house. We had to have the windows wide open for days and get the carpets cleaned and the furniture cleaned to get rid of [the odor]."

What stands out about this affair, for me at least, is that it was the first case I investigated that personally exposed me to the stranger side of the MIB puzzle. I had, of course, read books such as John Keel's The Mothman Prophecies and Albert Bender's seriously strange Flying Saucers and the Three Men. So, I was fully aware of the downright oddness attached to the MIB controversy.

But, prior to Helen coming forward, all of the MIB reports I had investigated in the UK, pre-1994, were of the "government official" variety. Helen's was the first that impacted on the territories described by Keel and Bender (and by many more, too, needless to say). I still think about Helen's story to this day - hence why I'm writing about it right now!

I guess all of us interested in UFOs have certain, defining moments when things become very curious and we find ourselves plunged into deeply mysterious situations that push us down pathways very different to those we had previously walked along. Helen Sullivan's story, for me, typifies that situation when it comes to the Men in Black.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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