If you’ve been reading this blog for any substantial length of time, then you already know that I’ve always experienced strange ghost-y haps, even when I was a Super Christian and adamant that paranormal stuff didn’t exist (because apparently The Holy Ghost doesn’t like competition? It’s weird that we try to explain away the unexplainable with “Satan’s making it up to scare you away from Jesus!”…because, like, if a ghost shows up in my bedroom, I’m not going to be all, “Cool, Satan’s my bud now!”
I’m gonna repeat-pray “OMGJESUSILOVEYOUPLEASEMAKETHISTHINGGOAWAYRTFN” as if my life depended on it.)
Just because this stuff happened, though, that didn’t mean I wanted to admit or confront it. Earlier this particular year, however, a series of events – mainly, the death of someone close to me – seemed to “thin the veil”, so to speak. Either because my connection with death was now fresh or because I was subconsciously searching for messages from beyond, it seemed like, all of a sudden, all the stuff I had previously tried to explain away was now intent on defying any explanation. And tbh, I was so tired with everything else going on that I just sort of gave up on trying to pretend like this shiz wasn’t actually happening. Instead I decided to just finally accept that my life was super weird + set out to find some answers.
Yeah. It was a strange year.
As luck would have it, this was also right around the time when message boards were becoming a thing. I found this awesome site called Ghost Study, and soon became a regular poster on the Ghost Study message board community.
The Ghost Study message boards were a really cool place. There were your occasional “OMG I heard a noise and I know it was a ghost!!!!!!!” hysterical posters, but for the most part, the regulars on there were what we called “believing skeptics”…people who didn’t *want* to believe in the paranormal, but, like me, had experienced too much first-hand to *not*. There were also a lot of other peeps who had experienced a myriad of lifelong weird stuff that they always had difficulty understanding, much less explaining…empaths, lucid dreamers, casual psychics, imprint mediums, etc. It was a super accepting and oftentimes incredibly informative (not to mention weirdly comforting) place.
Howevs, much like how you learn a word for the first time and then suddenly start hearing it everywhere (a.k.a., the Bader-Meinhoff Phenomenon), the same was true for hearing about other people’s ghost stories + seeing their freaky ghost captures, etc. In my personal experience, there’s a thing that happens where, once you start opening yourself up to the possibility that the paranormal exists, it’s like you’re sending a “OMG, CHAT ME UP PLZ” mass text to every paranormal entity within a 50 mile radius.
Which brings me to my story…
One afternoon, the boards were abuzz with a new thread simply titled “Black-Eyed Kids.” It was the original urban legend story, which at that time was pretty brand new on the internets – Brian Bethel had shared the story with some friends on an email list, and it had somehow found its way onto Ghost Study – and it was the first time any of us had ever heard of it. Here’s what we read:
Near as I can figure, this happened in 1996. I’ve managed to pin down the date that far. I feel like it happened in the spring or summer, since I remember wearing a pair of shorts, but one of my great regrets is not recording the actual date of the event.
After you hear the story, you’d think it would be something you’d never forget. But given enough time between, not the case. My memory, while good, isn’t quite eidetic.
I had gone down to the former site of Camalott Communications, one of the area’s original Internet providers, to pay my bill. At the time, Camalott was located on North 1st Street, near the movie theater, in the shadow of what is now Chase, then Bank One.
I was using the light of the theater’s marquee to write out my check, which I planned to put in Camalott’s night drop-slot. Involved in my work, I never heard them approach.
There was a knock on my driver’s side window. Two young boys, somewhere between nine to 12 years old and dressed in hooded pullovers, stood outside.
I cracked the window a bit, anticipating a spiel for money, but I was immediately gripped by an incomprehensible, soul-wracking fear. I had no idea why.
A conversation ensued between one boy, a somewhat suave, olive-skinned, curly-headed young man, and myself. The other, a redheaded, pale-skinned, freckled young man, stayed in the background.
The “spokesman,” as I’ve come to think of him, told me that he and his companion needed a ride. They wanted to see a movie, “Mortal Kombat,” but they had left their money at their mother’s house. Could I give them a ride?
Plausible enough. But all throughout this exchange, the irrational fear continued and grew. I had no reason to be frightened of these two boys, but I was. Terribly.
After a bit more conversation, I looked up at the theater marquee and down at the digital clock display in my car.
Mortal Kombat’s last show of the night had already started. By the time I could have driven the boys anywhere and back, it would practically have been over.
All the while, the spokesman uttered assurances:
It wouldn’t take long.
They were just two little kids.
They didn’t have a gun or anything.
The last part was a bit unnerving.
I noticed that my hand had strayed toward the lock on my door. I pulled it away, perhaps a bit too violently.
In the short time I had broken the gaze of the spokesman, something had changed, and my mind exploded in a vortex of all-consuming terror.
Both boys stared at me with coal-black eyes. The sort of eyes one sees these days on aliens or bargain-basement vampires on late night television. Soulless orbs like two great swathes of starless night.
I did what I feel any rational person would do. I full-on freaked out inside while trying to appear completely sane and calm.
I apologized to the kids. I made whatever excuses came to mind, all of them designed to get me the hell out of there. Fast. The aura of fear was now a palpable, black-hanging thing, almost as if reality itself was warping around me.
I wrapped my hand around the gearshift, threw the car into reverse and began to roll up the window, apologizing all the while.
My fear must have been evident. The boy in the back wore a look of confusion. The spokesman banged sharply on the window as I rolled it up. His words, full of anger, echo in my mind even today:
“We can’t come in unless you tell us it’s OK. Let us in!”
I drove out of the parking lot in blind fear, and I’m surprised I didn’t sideswipe a car or two along the way. I stole a quick look in my rearview mirror before peeling out into the night. The boys were gone. Even if they had run, I don’t believe there was anyplace they could have hidden from view that quickly.
Real talk: A lot of us had heard much scarier-sounding stories (not to mention had seen lotsa Kodak-certified photographic evidence that would flip yer shit)…but there was just something about this story that gave us all serious chills. Part of it, we decided, was the fact that it involved kids…kids can be creepy as fuck, anyway, with their oracle truth-telling and Indigo-Kid psychic medium stuff, but a story that has them being the soulless creepster aggressors? UM NO THANK YOU.
Later that afternoon, I left work still feeling a lil’ creeped out, but tried to shake it off as I drove the not-even-a-mile-long commute to my house.
(The above is what we in the story-telling world call “foreshadowing”. “Foreshadowing” is a thing where I tell you about how, in the story, that I’m worried that something bad is going to happen WHICH MEANS THAT SOMETHING BAD IS 100% GOING TO HAPPEN)
It all happened super fast…keep in mind, as you read this, that even though there’s a lot of detail in what I’m about to tell you, the following events happened in maybe the span of three minutes, tops:
As I was making a left-hand turn onto a short stretch of four-lane highway, I spotted a teenage boy strolling down my side of the road (coming towards me). He looked to be about 15 or 16, he was dressed all in black (black jeans, black t-shirt, black hoodie), he had pale skin and short dark hair, and he had dark sunglasses on. The sunglasses are what first caught my attention – the afternoon had turned cloudy and dark, and it was like seeing someone wear sunglasses at night…it didn’t make sense.
The moment I saw him, the thought came suddenly and unexpectedly, as if it were someone else’s voice inside my head: “That’s one of them.”
And the second I thought that, he looked up and stared straight at me – just stopped on the sidewalk and stared at me as I passed him in my car.
Which would kind of creep anyone out, right? But the thing was, and this is going to make me sound crazy, but I actually don’t care anymore…I was thrown off most by the wave of hostility that floated out from that stare. I had never seen this person in my entire life, and the way he was staring at me…it was as if he absolutely hated me.
But since I knew that road like the back of my hand, I knew there was a stop sign coming up ahead, so in that next second, I took my attention off of him and turned it back to the road as the vehicle in front of me began slowing to a stop.
As I was coming to a full stop, I watched as a car in the intersection ahead made a left-hand turn into the farthest lane opposite me on the 4-lane highway…and kept turning…and turning…and turning…until it was heading right for the side of my car.
I remember sitting in my car, literally watching this car careen towards me, and the moment I knew it was going to hit me and there was nothing I could do to avoid it – I was at a full stop and sitting between two vehicles – I glanced into the rearview mirror. As the car made impact with the left side of my car, I watched the boy as he kept walking. He was only a yard or two away, so unless he was deaf, he absolutely would have heard the sound of one car crashing into another.
But he never turned around.
He didn’t even glance back…he just kept strolling casually down the street, as if absolutely nothing unusual at all was happening right behind him.
That was what creeped me out the most – as anyone who’s passed a car crash on the interstate knows, it’s kind of a basic human reaction to rubberneck an accident.
Or at least look to see where an abrupt, loud noise is coming from.
But he didn’t.
And then another thought rushed into my mind: It was as if he already knew what was happening.
Like he didn’t HAVE to look.
The other driver got out of her vehicle, and she was visibly shaken up. She was young, around 18-19, and she kept trying to explain that she didn’t know what had happened – “It was as if the steering wheel had a mind of its own!” Her repeat insistence on that point that was kind of awful, because deep down I knew it was true – I had literally watched her the whole time she was making that turn, and she wasn’t on her phone (cell phones were still kind of rare back then – I didn’t even have one at the time) or playing with the radio, or any of that jazz. And she definitely wasn’t going fast enough to lose control of the car (I should also mention that this was in early April, so there wasn’t any ice on the roads, etc) – if anything, she had been driving at a reasonable enough speed where she definitely would have had enough time to catch herself and straighten the vehicle if she had swerved due to a momentary distraction.
Yet it was as if, like she said, the steering wheel had had a mind of its own.
Here’s the thing I always think about, when I think about this happening: It would have been a totally different story if I had hit someone with *my* car after seeing that boy. Then that would have just been me, being dreamy and distracted and stupid. But the fact that the boy had stared right at me, all creepy-like and as if he hated me, and then I was literally crashed into mere seconds later…
It felt like a warning.
(A warning I obviously ignored, of course – I mean, I’m writing + sharing this on a public forum, after all, so if I publish this and then suddenly disappear, I mean…think about it, maaan.)
When I finally got home, I burst in the door, threw myself down onto my couch, and began to furiously write a story based on the Black-Eyed Kids. What had happened hadn’t at all been a “typical” BEK experience the way Brian Bethel had described it (nor how others after him would end up describing their own run-ins with some seriously creepy kids)…and even if all the events that had just transpired hadn’t really had any sort of connection (they might not have. I’m totally cool if it was all just a series of unrelated but seriously strange events), it had still lit a huge fire in the ol’ imagination receptor.
That was ten years ago. What I wrote that night has become a story that I’ve dearly loved dreaming about but just haven’t been able to sit down and finish (it’s literally been my NaNoWriMo novel topic four different times now…basically, every year I didn’t make the 50,000-word goal). Then, a few weeks ago, I stumbled onto this girl’s YouTube network, and holy whoa…I found myself so in love with what’s she created and the way she’s created it and it’s definitely a thing, to be 36 and be so inspired by a 16 year old, yeah? Which I love…F*CK YEAH, Sunshine Girl! But then I saw that she’d done a movie about BEK…and my heart started racing the same way it did when I first saw a huge wall of Twilight books at the downtown MPLS B&N (when it first first came out, long before anyone you know had read it)…I was suddenly super afraid that I had lost my chance to tell one of my favorite stories thanks to dicking around with it for too long and now someone had already beat me to the punch.
Luckily for me, her story is a great story but it’s not my story. But I still took it as a sign that I needed to sit down and really work it out with this idea before it’s too late.
So! Since autumn + paranormal fiction + creepy kids + Halloween = The Best Thing Ever, I’m doing a weekly story serial called The Black-Eyed Kids.
And yes. That was the most original title I could come up with.
Here’s how it’ll work:
A long-read installment of The Black-Eyed Kids will be posted at least once a week. I was going to set a particular weekday for this, but history shows that I’m not real good at sticking to one day a week for certain stuff, and plus, since October is all about Halloween + spooky stuff, I might get suuuuper into this story and post a new installment every day. So, like, I’m not gonna hem myself in by your bullshit bourgeois blogging rules about having to do only one thing on one particular day once a week, mmmkay?
(but if I *did* have to set a particular day for you to check back for a new installment, it’d probably be Friday)
I’ll be writing some of it as we go, kind of like with fan fiction. I like the idea of having an entire book already written and then posting it on here in installments, but one of the main reasons why I’m doing this is to keep me motivated + accountable so I can actually finish this thing.
(And also, if I had already written the book, I wouldn’t be posting it on here for free. I’d be charging you $4.99 on Kindle to read it. I have to eat, too, y’know. And cake frosting ain’t free.)
If you wanna make sure you never miss an installment of The Black-Eyed Kids, you can subscribe to the blog via the lil’ sign-up box over there on the upper right (note: emails only hit your inbox once a week, so you won’t get spammed every day with blog posts you don’t care about).
If you hate waiting and are kind of a brat about having to delay gratification (it’s okay. I’m not here to judge you for being exactly like me!), you can also sign up for the VIP Book List e-newsletter. Cats on the VIP Book List will get access to the next part of the story before anyone else (plus, they also get a buncha super special secret books stuff that you have to enter a password to access, which will make you feel like a a hot espionage spy gettin’ codes to bombs and stuff).
And we start next week.
Next week, we start!
So byyyyeeeee! Hope you don’t get stopped + get your soul eaten by a bunch of Black-Eyed Kids on your way home after reading this!