May 20, 2023 I Nick Redfern

Close Encounters of the Shadowy Type: Beware of These Supernatural Creatures

In the last decade or thereabouts, a great deal of research has been undertaken into a phenomenon that is known as the Shadow People. Their title is most apt, as they appear in the form of a one-dimensional, flat shadow – and usually in peoples’ bedrooms while they sleep. Many of these entities – but certainly not all of them – have one thing in common: they wear an old-style fedora hat and a black suit. In that sense, there are deep similarities between the Shadow people and the Men in Black of UFO lore. It’s fair to say though that, for the most part, that’s where the similarities end. Apart from one important, extra thing: like the MIB, they are intent on terrorizing those who they maliciously target. And, they do an extremely good job of it, too – unfortunately for us. 

Precisely who or what the Shadow People are, is a matter of deep debate. Jason Offutt is an expert on the subject, and the author of a 2009 book on the subject titled Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us. He says there are eight different kinds of Shadow People – at least, they are the ones we know about. He labels them as benign shadows, shadows of terror, red-eyed shadows, noisy shadows, angry hooded shadows, shadows that attack, shadow cats, and the hat man. Certainly, the latter category – that of the Hat Man – is the one which is most often reported, and from all across the planet. Imagine a silhouetted character that had stepped out of a 1940s / 1950s-era piece of black and white film-noir, and you’ll have a good idea of what the Hat Man looks like. That he is entirely shadow-like in nature only adds to the menace. 

(Nick Redfern) Beware of these shadowy monsters

Heidi Hollis is an expert on this topic, too, having penned a 2014 book on the subject titled The Hat Man: The True Story of Evil Encounters. She has collected literally hundreds of reports of encounters with this particularly dangerous shadow-thing. One example from Hollis’ files, and which appears in her book, reads as follows: “Dear Heidi, I was maybe 5 years old when The Hat Man started to visit me. Every night I would lay in the top bed of my bunk bed and watch as my door would crack open for him to creep inside. As high up as I was, I would still have to look up to see him and I would freeze in horror at the sight of him.” According to the witness, the Hat man would lunge towards her, at a phenomenal speed, and always warn her that, “One day I will have you!” To be sure, this was a deeply traumatic series of encounters for a young girl – a girl who never forgot the torment and the terror. At first glance, it may seem that the sole activity of the Shadow People is to create terror – and just for the warped sake of it.

Well, yes, that is at least a significant part of the story. There is, however, another agenda to  havoc in England. Given that I am someone who has written three books on the Men in Black mystery and one on the interconnected issue of the Women in Black, I get a lot of feedback from readers. Plus, the fact that many of the Shadow People are undeniably MIB-like in nature and appearance – the black suit and the black hat being the most obvious parallels – ensures I get a lot of reports that fall into this realm of darker than dark shadows. I’ll share with you several such cases – all of which make a strong argument for the idea that the primary interaction between us and the Shadow People is feeding. And we’re the banquet.

“Margaret” is a retired school-teacher who lives in a small town in Wales, U.K., and who had a series of encounters with a Hat Man-type Shadow Person back in 1967, which is long before most people had any inkling that such a phenomenon even existed. Admittedly, Margaret hadn’t heard of it at the time – it was only in the 2000s, when the phenomenon grew and grew, and soon became a staple of the Internet, that Margaret realized that what people were talking about was the shadowy creep who invaded her space, way back in the sixties. In 1967, Margaret was twenty-five years old and then working and living in the English city of Bristol. All was looking good for Margaret: she had moved from her home city of Norwich, England to Bristol to take on a new job teaching five-to-eight-year-old children. The work was fun, the kids were well-behaved, and all was good. Except for when night fell. Margaret was hardly rich, and so she rented a small room in a 19th century old, three-floored house on the fringes of the city. 

Only two nights after moving into the building, Margaret inexplicably woke up in the early hours of the morning. This was not typical for Margaret, who rarely ever had sleep issues. She put it down to nothing stranger than the move to a new environment and the new job. Nevertheless, she was at a loss to explain why she woke up in a state of overwhelming terror: her heart was beating and the bed sheets were soaked with sweat. After an hour or so, she managed to get back to sleep. Even more disturbing, though: on waking up when her alarm-clock rang, Margaret developed a sudden feeling “there had been someone in the room.” She didn’t have any kind of conscious recollection of a particular, identifiable, intruder, though. It was just an uneasy, hard to define, feeling. That all changed on the next night.

It was hardly surprising that when Margaret went to bed the following night, her sense of unease – which had pretty much gone away during the day, when her mind was on looking after a classroom-full of kids – returned. In spades. She tried to put it out of her mind and went to sleep. Three or four hours later, though, Margaret was wide awake. To her terror and horror, she found herself pinned to the bed by a shadowy figure – and by “shadowy” I do mean that literally. It had her by the wrists and wore a large, black, brimmed hat. The unearthly thing straddled Margaret and moved its face towards her: “I couldn’t see anything at all; the face was just dark.” Things got worse: although the monster appeared in shadow form, it bent even closer to her and kissed her on the lips. Margaret tried to scream as the thing put its black lips to hers and, in Margaret’s own words, “began to take my life away; as if it was pulling the life out [of] me.” Then, suddenly, the shadow was gone. Over the course of the next few months, the very same thing happened on four subsequent occasions. The weirdest thing, however, was that on one occasion, and as the shadow prepared to exit the room, it morphed into the form of a large black cat, then leapt off the bed and vanished into the darkness of the room.

(Nick Redfern) Creatures of the night

This is particularly interesting, as there is a longstanding tradition of cats stealing the breath of babies. As an example, consider the following from a Snopes article of 2007 titled “Cats Suck Babies’ Breath”: “In 1791 a jury at a coroner’s inquest in England rendered a verdict to the effect that a Plymouth child had met his death by a cat sucking out its breath. The superstition itself is older, with print sightings of it recorded from 1607.” The tales of cats stealing the breath of newborns have a long history – in 1233 Pope Gregory 1X maintained that cats were in league with the Devil and had as many killed as conceivably as possible. The unforeseen result of all this was the development of the saga of the breath-stealing demonic kitty. It should be noted, though, that Margaret’s experience suggests yet another possibility - namely, that there may have been some truth to all of this: Shadow People, with the ability to suck energy out of those they kiss, and then morphing into the form of a large, supernatural cat. Thankfully, Margaret was never again assaulted by the Hat Man. By the way, she and her husband of forty-three years, Joe, share their property in Wales with a parakeet and a semi-tame fox that lives in the woods at the back of their home. But, not a single cat. No surprise.

“Dan,” of Barstow, San Bernardino, California, had a very disturbing encounter with two Shadow People in early 2011. And, just like Margaret’s experience more than forty years earlier and a world away, the initial encounter prompted several follow-ups. A no-nonsense, tough biker, Dan is hardly the kind of person who it’s easy to intimidate and scare. But, the shadow-things that intruded on his sleep - as he slept in a tent on the slopes of Mt. Rainier, Washington State in the summer of 2011 - had Dan in a state of near-hysteria. An enthusiastic outdoorsman, Dan spent four days hiking around the huge, 14,000-foot-plus high mountain. He would live to regret doing that. It was around 3:00 a.m. when Dan woke with a start – and with an unsettling and intense feeling of being watched very closely. He lay still, holding his breath and clenching his fists. Something was definitely afoot; of that much he was sure. That’s an understatement. In seconds, Dan was “rushed” by two skinny, spindly shadowy monsters that were humanoid in appearance.

 Dan suddenly found himself unable to move as the two figures hovered over him – at which point Dan he felt incredibly weak, short of breath and dizzy. A cold sweat enveloped him. All the time, the Shadow People had their index fingers on his stomach. It was only when they removed their silhouette-like fingers that the weakness went away, and normality suddenly returned, as the pair exited the tent at high speed. Dan didn’t even try and get back to sleep: he leapt out of the tent, got all of his belongings together, jumped in his truck and hit the road. It’s intriguing to note that this issue of the Shadow People touching Dan’s stomach is very reminiscent of the actions of the Black Eyed Child that drained energy from Jane, in Louisiana, back in 1923 – by pointing at her. Unfortunately for Dan, this was not the end of things: the Shadow People were not about to leave Dan alone.

Three nights later, Dan had an almost identical experience – even down to the Shadow People once again touching his stomach with their fingers and causing him to feel suddenly weak and near-completely incapacitated. This time, though, the location was the living-room of his Barstow-based apartment. The creatures came back on two more occasions: one several weeks later and the final time in August 2014 – more than three years later after the encounters had begun. Dan had a deep suspicion that the Shadow People has the ability to take away his strength, and to the point where he was so weak he could barely move. It was a sign that he had been “zapped” – to use Dan’s very own and concise description – by something that was feeding on him. Indeed, Dan was unable to shake off the idea that what he had encountered were akin to supernatural vampires, surfacing in the dead of night and on the prowl for a tasty feast – which they found in Dan himself. What particularly worried Dan, though, was that the Shadow People clearly knew where Dan lived: he remains baffled and concerned by this admittedly odd and unsettling issue. 

So, with these cases addressed, what can we say about the nature of these creeps? Are they extraterrestrials? Might they be supernatural entities? How about demonic monsters? When it comes to the Shadow People, there are a lot of cases, but we are very short on answers and theories. But, I can say that their numbers are growing, and that has to be a bad thing.

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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