Conspiracy Corner – Black Eyed Kids

Harmon Lanager, Staff Reporter

Imagine, if you will, you’re home. Alone. It’s midnight, with only the faint streetlights through your narrow blinds and the pale glow of the tv. Suddenly, there’s a knock on your door. This is strange. You weren’t expecting visitors, let alone at this hour. Putting aside your popcorn, you make your way to the door. You glance out the peephole and see no one there. Not until you look down. There, two children stand, patiently. Another knock to the door. You open the door and, before you can say anything, a wave of anxiety hits you. Your heart beats faster, your eyes grow wide, and your mind screams for you to get away. “Can you let us in?” they say in unison, “We can’t come in unless you invite us.” They look up. And you realize their eyes are pure black. 

Welcome back, kids, to Conspiracy Corner as this week we discuss the Black-Eyed Kids phenomenon. For the unaware, the Black-Eye Kids phenomenon is a series of sightings from thousands of witnesses involving strange children. These children will approach adults in either their cars or houses and ask to be let in. Adults report an instinctual, intense fear from these children and their presence. Most striking, however, are their eyes: pitch black.  

The story of the Black-Eyed Kids (known also as BEKs) began with one Brian Bethel, a journalist in Abilene, Texas. One night in 1996, he stopped in a parking lot of a movie theater – using the lot’s lights to write up a check. Suddenly, he was interrupted by a knock against his window.  

When he looked up, he saw two young boys. Their faces were obscured but he could tell they were roughly teenage, with one slightly older. They asked if he’d let them in his car, saying they needed a ride back to their mother’s house. For some reason, though, Bethel felt a wave of intense fear sweep over him. 

It was then he realized that their eyes had no color. Bethel immediately turned his car on, hoping to escape from whatever these children were. As he tried to pull away, the children yelled through the glass, “We can’t come in unless you tell us it’s okay. Let us in!” Bethel’s car shot out of the lot in seconds; yet, when he looked back, the two children were gone without a trace. 

Bethel wrote of his experience on a mailing-list dedicated to those interested in paranormal happenings. From there, the story leaked to the wider public and the tales of the BEKs have become an internet horror icon. Thousands of people have told of their encounters with Black-Eyed Kids. Some of these stories are fictional, some supposedly real. Regardless of their validity, the stories share a common modus operandi: the children will appear suddenly at night to an isolated adult or small group of adults. They will ask for the adults to let them into their house or vehicle. For no discernible reason, the adults will feel an intense fear which prevents them from allowing the children inside and they lock the door of their house or car. The BEKs will continue to demand entry but would either eventually wander off or the adult victim escapes. 

So, the question remains: what happens if you let them in?  

The answer may lie in a report sent into the paranormal website, Week In Weird. The account is from an anonymous woman from rural Vermont. One night, around 2 AM, the woman was sleeping when a sudden, loud bang woke her. Looking through her window, she noticed a series of footprints through the snow surrounding her house. She could see someone standing at the door but, feeling unsafe, she woke her husband. It was her husband who actually opened the door, revealing two children on the other side. 

The two children, a boy and girl, appeared odd right away. Despite trudging through snow, they were not wearing any heavy coats. Instead, they wore clothes reminiscent of Mennonites – despite the fact that no Mennonites lived anywhere near them. 

The woman stressed in her story that she normally wouldn’t hesitate to welcome children in from a snowy night. Yet, she felt uneasy. She asked them where their parents were, to which they only replied, “They’ll be here soon.” As cryptic as it is foreboding. 

Eventually, their paternal instincts overcame their better judgment and they allowed the children to come into their room. The tone of the home shifted immediately. Pidgeon, the couple’s typically friendly house cat, became skittish and reluctant for interaction. He even retreated into the kitchen and hissed when the woman attempted to pet him.  

Hoping to ease some of the tension, the woman made hot cocoa while her husband stayed with the children. Upon returning, the husband mentioned that he was feeling dizzy. It was at that point that she noticed the children’s eyes. Black as coal. The children did not notice the woman’s fearful reaction or, perhaps, didn’t care; instead, they simply asked to use the bathroom and walked off as though nothing was strange at all.  

While the children left the room, the husband’s nose began to bleed. She turned to get him tissues when, suddenly, everything went black. The power was out. But she could still make out the two children, standing eerily still at the end of the hallway. Just staring at her. 

“Our parents are here.” 

Without another word, the children walked past them and through the front door. The couple watched as the kids walked to the end of the driveway – where two men waited by an idling car for them. The men were described as 6 ft tall with black suits, not reacting to any of the couple’s attempts to get their attention. 

The ordeal continued over the following months. Three house cats disappeared from the house and Pidgeon, tragically, died of hemorrhage. Her husband developed skin cancer, developing at such a rate that even professional doctors were left baffled; although, doctors do remain hopeful that he will recover. The woman herself was not left unscathed. She developed health issues similar to the effects her husband experienced – namely nosebleeds and sudden dizzy spells. 

With this, we come to the final eerie question of the BEKs. What exactly are they? Needless to say, theories abound. But now that we have established the methodology of the BEKs, we can examine the three most common explanations. 

First is the belief that the BEKs are vampiric in nature. Your thoughts may have jumped to vampires when you heard BEKs are most active at night and cannot enter a room without permission. Yet, we must ask, is that truly accurate to what a vampire is? Over the centuries, vampiric lore has become diluted and altered greatly. It has gotten to the point that our modern idea of vampires barely lines up with the creature described in the original folklore. So, how do BEKs compare to the original documentation of vampires? To find the answer, I dived into Romanian legends of the “strigoi” and cracked open 18th-century texts describing the undead. 

Treatise on The Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants is an extensive document detailing accounts of ghosts, magic, and, yes, vampires authored by the Reverend Father Dom Augustin Calmet, a Benedictine Monk and Abbot of Senones in Lorraine. Being one of the first professional works written on the subject, it delivers a frightening revelation: vampires, in fact, do not die in sunlight. Detailing an account of a resurrected corpse terrorizing a village, it clearly states, “They are seen by night and by day”. However, it is also noted that vampires were known to appear more often at night – probably preferring their natural advantage over blinded humans. This lines up with the BEKs’ preference for stalking victims at night. 

The next bit of evidence is how the BEKs ask for permission to enter a house or vehicle. This idea is a common facet of modern vampire lore but, as is to be expected, is not fully accurate. According to Leo Allatius’s De Graecorum (1645), vampires are perfectly capable of entering a house without invitation. Yet, De Graecorum does mention a strange activity of the “strigoi” that may explain how that particular legend began. Leo Allatius notes incidents were vampires will stalk the living outside their house and ask to be let in, even changing their voices to mimic the living. And it was said that if one were to invite the creature within, the creature would spare them but then curse them to suffer a terrible fate soon after. This matches up with the anonymous woman’s story and the tragedies to follow her after allowing a BEK inside. 

The next common theory is that the BEKs are demonic in origin. Personally, I find this theory to be the one with the least amount of evidence behind it. Besides being unnaturally malevolent, there is little connection between Black-Eyed Kids and demonic beings. They do share one notable similarity, however. And that would be the power of invitation. It is specified in many grimoires, such as The Lesser Key of Solomon, that demons gain a vast amount of power when openly invited into one’s home or life.  

There is also the sub-theory that BEKs are simply mortal bodies possessed by demonic entities. It is known that demonic possession is often followed by impossible amounts of physical manipulation. An example could be found in the possession and subsequent exorcism of Anneliese Michel, a case that ended in her tragic death. What is truly relevant to this article is that Anneliese was described as having black eyes during periods of her ordeal. So, it is possible that the phenomenon of supposed demonic possession may, in some way, be linked to the cases of BEKs. 

The final theory is one that crops up in almost every instance of the supernatural: aliens. The strongest connection between the BEKs and extraterrestrials is the presence of literal men in black, as seen in the anonymous woman’s encounter. The cutting of power and the rampant health problems also align with people known to have endured close encounters with alien beings. 

In the end, however, we have only guesses as to the origin and purpose of the BEKs. They are living reminders that safety is merely an assumption and that anyone, even one as young and innocent as a child, can hold within them a dark, cruel nature. So, when night falls and the last slivers of sunlight dip under the horizon, stay indoors. Pull your blanket a little tighter. Turn your tv up just a little louder. Pretend you don’t hear the knocking. The night is not ours, after all. We are simply visitors, straying from our homes to peek into where the strange things roam. No, the night belongs to them – those orphans of reality, the keys that fit no locks, the questions that have no answers.  

That reminds me though. Did you leave your door unlocked? You should go check.