Oct 04, 2022 I Nick Redfern

When Imagination Comes to Life: More on the Slenderman and the Black Eyed Children

Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote an article here at Mysterious Universe on how the Slenderman was brought to life by the massive numbers of people who willed him into life. Not a good thing to do. But, certainly, a lot of people have done exactly that. For example, In 2015, publicity was given to a story coming out of the U.K. of sightings in and around Britain’s Cannock Chase woods, of something described as looking like the legendary “Slenderman.” If you don't know, it’s a fictional character created in June 2009 by Eric Knudsen (using the alias of “Victor Surge,” at the forum section of the Something Awful website), who took his inspiration from the world of horror-fiction. The Slenderman (also spelled as Slender Man) is a creepy creature indeed: tall, thin, with long arms, a blank (faceless, even) expression, and wearing a dark suit, it sounds almost like a nightmarish version of the Men in Black. While there is no doubt that Knudsen was the creator of what quickly became a definitive, viral, meme, people have since claimed to have seen the Slenderman in the real world.

(Nick Redfern) Slenderman: "Born" out of the Mind

In other words, so the theory goes, it’s a case of believing in the existence of the Slenderman and, as a result, causing it to actually exist – which is very much akin to the phenomenon of the Tulpa. And of the approach of the Black Eyed Children, also. An entity is envisaged in the mind, and the imagery becomes so powerful and intense that it causes that same, mind-based imagery to emerge into the real world, with some degree of independent existence and self-awareness. Such a scenario may well explain why people are now seeing something that began as a piece of fiction. All of which brings us to the matter of the stories on the Slenderman of the Cannock Chase. As people who have followed my writings will know, I grew up only a very short drive from the Chase, which is an undeniably, deeply strange, area. It’s filled with reports of so-called “Alien Big Cats,” Bigfoot-type beasts, flying humanoids, giant snakes, and much more of a monstrous nature."

As Mike Lockley (a well-known journalist and editor in the area), said: “A paranormal probe has been launched in the Midlands following four sightings of Slender Men – long, stick thin specters feared around the world. Each of the chilling close encounters took place in the Cannock area, and now X Files investigator Lee Brickley is trying to fathom why the ghoul has descended on the Staffordshire mining town. Slender Men have been a part of global folklore for centuries. They may be known by different names, but their harrowing, elongated appearance remains the same around the world.” There’s little doubt that the controversy concerning this breaking story will run and run. But, there’s something else I want to bring to your attention, something that I think is pretty intriguing. Back in 2007 and 2008, I corresponded with an Englishman named Mike Johnson. Back in 2001, Mike had an encounter on the Cannock Chase with a paranormal entity that – with hindsight – sounds very much like…wait for it…the Slenderman. I described this in my book, There's Something in the Woods.

In Mike’s own words: “This character was tall, with very thin arms and legs, dressed in what I presumed were grey trousers and a tight long sleeved shirt of the same color. His hairless head was elongated and neck spindly, and his arms reached practically past his knees; I could not discern a facial feature. I realized he was around three meters tall.” It must be said that just about every aspect of this description conjures up Slenderman-style imagery. Of course, the Slenderman meme was still a year away when my book was published back in 2008, and the encounter took place in 2001 – seven years before the publication date of There’s Something in the Woods, and, as of today, fourteen years ago. In view of this, one has to wonder: did the 2009 creation of the Slenderman meme create a Tulpa-like, living equivalent? Or did a real, earlier Slenderman exist before the fictional one was looming on the horizon? Intriguing thoughts, to say the very least! Now, we have to focus on the Black Eyed Children on the Cannock Chase. 

(Nick Redfern) Horrors and Hoodies

It's very important to understand why the Black-Eyed Children were given the name that has since become so notorious in paranormal circles. Most witnesses to these strange children describe them as being aged between ten and fourteen. They are usually noticeably skinny, and they have very pale skin – even to the point of looking deathly ill, even if they’re actually not. They generally dress in black hoodies, which are usually pulled down to ensure that very little of their faces can be seen. There is a very good reason for this: the eyes of the BEC are solid black. Their modus operandi is very much like that of their adult counterparts, the aforementioned Men in Black. They almost always surface late at night, knocking on doors and ringing doorbells, and with one, single goal in mind: namely, to find a way into the targeted person’s home. Sometimes, they claim to be lost and ask if they can come in and use the phone to call their parents. On other occasions, they say they are homeless: can they have some food and drink? Of course, when the targeted person catches sight of those black, soulless eyes, they quite understandably slam the door shut – as all of us surely would! So, we don’t really know why, exactly, they have such a pressing desire to invade people’s homes – but, nevertheless, that does appear to be their disturbing agenda.

So far as can be determined, the phenomenon of the Black-Eyed Children began in 1998 – specifically in Abilene, Texas. It was late one night that a local news reporter named Brian Bethel had a run-in with a pair of such strange children. Darkness had fallen when Bethel reached a local mall, with the intention of dropping off a check in a secure mail-box. As he wrote the check, Bethel was jolted by a knock on the window of his car. Two, pale-skinned kids stood before him, one of which asked if they could get a ride home, specifically to get some money so that they could go to the local cinema. For Bethel, however, there was something very wrong about the pair. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but there was something just not right about the odd, almost staged situation. An uneasy atmosphere enveloped Bethel – one which became terror-filled when he caught sight of the eyes of both boys. At this stage, I surely don’t need to tell you what color they were. Both amazed and scared witless, Bethel exited the area at high speed, leaving the BECs far behind. A definitive mystery was born; one which shows no signs of going away anytime soon.

There is, however, a body of data that shows it's not just the Slenderman that has been seen on the Cannock Chase, but now the Black Eyed Children, too. This cannot be a coincidence: the chances of both creatures (the Slenderman and those creepy children) both appearing on the Cannock Chase is highlly unlikely. Unless, they were willed into reality inTulpa form. I suspect strongly that the reports of (a) the Black Eyed Children on the Cannock Chase and (b) the Slenderman on the Cannock Chase provoked so much excitement and amazement that both entities have now beocme to life - in Tulpa form - and on the Chase. A case of Tulpas / Thought-Forms getting out of control? That's how I see it. Now, let's have a look at some more reports, but ones that revolved around events from decades ago.

David Weatherly is a renowned author, good friend, and researcher of many issues of the supernatural kind – including that of the Black-Eyed Children, who are just about as malevolence-filled as the Slenderman himself, which is certainly no mean feat to achieve. But, not even the Black-Eyed Children have succeeded in ousting the Slenderman from its number one position in the supernatural stakes. Over the last few years, David has been following the Slenderman controversy and, as a direct result, he has been on the receiving end of more than a few accounts of real world encounters with the Slenderman – encounters that are as sinister as they are intriguing. David has been good enough to share with me certain cases that, in the high-strangeness stakes, really stand out. As is the case with Robin Swope, who has dug deep into the Slenderman affair (and found very early cases). David too has cases in his files of the Slenderman having been seen decades ago.

And, as I said in my book, The Slenderman Mysteries:  "We’ll look at the story of Matt, a witness to the unearthly, black-suited thing as both a child and as an adult – something which indicates that age has very little to do with the issue of when one might encounter the creepy creature. It also suggests that when, as an adult, one moves away from the family home, the Slenderman is still able to track you down and find you. And endlessly torment you, too. Bear that in mind if you ever encounter the Slenderman: it may well be equipped with a supernatural equivalent of a sophisticated tracking-device, something along the Global Positioning System, GPS. As Matt told David Weatherly in 2004, it was when Matt was a child – which was long before Eric Knudsen’s Slenderman ever became a definitive phenomenon – that he first encountered the Slenderman, and while he was growing up in the state of Ohio.

(Nick Redfern) Avoid the Slenderman at all times

And, in a similar pattern, to the Slenderman, I have a few early Black Eyed Children cases - ones that occurred decades before the Black Eyed Children were known of. Here's one: The story was given to me by the great-granddaughter of the witness, a woman who I have dubbed “Jane.” Her experience is an interesting one, as it demonstrates that the BEC phenomenon is not the relatively new one that most people assume it to be. Jane, unfortunately, is no longer with us: she died in 1992 at the age of eighty-seven. Jane’s granddaughter contacted me in 2016 to share the details of the encounter – which all of the family had heard of, and which was kind of like the definitive skeleton in the closet: everyone knew of it, but no-one really wanted to talk about it. At least, that is, until Jane’s granddaughter related the facts to me. At the time of her encounter, Jane was just eighteen years old. This would have put her encounter in 1923 – which is astonishing, given that the BEC phenomenon is assumed to be one of fairly modern times. Jane and her family were living in a small town in Eastern Louisiana. Times were hard and the family of seven struggled to make ends meet. If that were not enough, it was in January 1923 that Jane had her first encounter with what can only be described as one of the Black-Eyed Children

(Nick Redfern) Just a small portion of the Cannock Chase: the lair of the Slenderman and the Black Eyed Kids

It was in the early hours of one particular morning that Jane awoke – unable to move and unable to speak – as a young boy, dressed in black, stretched out his hand and pointed at her. Instantly, she began to feel ill and lacking in energy – the paralysis and the inability to scream making things worse still. Then, suddenly, it was all over: the paralysis was gone. And so was the boy in black. Jane, practically hysterical, woke her parents and told them of what had happened. The most terrifying part of the encounter? The boy’s black eyes. For the next three nights the boy returned. The story was the same every night: the boy with the black eyes would manifest next to Jane as she lay in bed, unable to move an inch. As per the first time, he would reach out – the result of which was again a sudden feeling of overwhelming weakness. Although the boy never returned again, it took Jane – like Martin, decades later – days to get back to her normal self. 

So, going into the crux of all this: in a relatively similar time-frame, we have the Slenderman on the Cannock Chase. And the very same location for the Black Eyed Children. Is this a case of thousands of people reading the local  news and believing in that skinny thing and those weird kids? I'm sure that's exactly what happened on the Cannock Chase a few years back. My final words: should you dare to create entities from your mind, be very careful.

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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