I’ve talked about fear already during this creepy high holy season, but the fears I mentioned weren’t paranormal in nature. Those fears were relatively minor compared to the things I want to talk about today.
So, at this point you all know that I’m a creepy bitch; I don’t shy away from the paranormal and in a lot of cases actively seek it out. I spend the bulk of my free time researching, reading about, or listening to things about ghosts and creatures. I have a paranormal bucket list. I hang out in cemeteries. The thought of being haunted or running into a sasquatch aren’t things that really scare me. However, there are some things that fall under the umbrella of “paranormal” that terrify me on a level I don’t even have words for. These are things that I can’t even think about without getting goosebumps and looking over my shoulder.
I’m not going to include any links or photos of the things in this post because that’s how much of a pansy I am about them. I encourage you to research them for yourself and see how fucking terrifying they are.
Black-eyed children, or BEKs
There’s a reason this comes at the top of this list.
The first highly publicized sighting of black-eyed children or black-eyed kids (BEKs) came in the mid-90s. A journalist named Brian Bethel from Texas was sitting in his car, making out a check to his ISP so he could leave it in the after-hours drop box. Yes, this was a common thing before online bill payments. The drop box happened to be near a movie theater, so he was using the parking lot lights and the light from the marquee to see what he was doing. As he sat there minding his own business, someone knocked on his window. He saw that it was just a couple kids so he rolled down the window, and one of them told him that they’d come to the movies but forgot their money, so they needed to go home and get it. They then asked him to drive them home.
It seems like a simple enough request, but for some reason he was hesitant. He’s said in interviews that his gut told him that something was wrong with these kids. The spiel sounded too confident, even rehearsed, and though he was really uncomfortable he found that his hand kept straying toward the door locks without him noticing. He also realized that the timing of the movie didn’t fit with that they were asking; they were supposedly going to see Mortal Kombat, but the last showing had already started, and the box office would be closed before they could get back. When he turned the kids down, they got really pushy and confrontational, saying things like “We’re just kids, we won’t hurt you. It’s not like we have a gun.” Yeah, odd. When he still declined, they told him that he had to invite them in. They couldn’t come in unless he invited them. Fuuuuck that noise.
Later he realized that the most off-putting thing about these kids was their eyes; they were completely black.
No one really knows if they’re supposed to be aliens, cryptids, demons or some other otherworldly thing. In the 22 years since Bethel reportedly saw these kids, there have been other sightings all over the world, despite this story being written off as an urban legend or creepypasta.
I’m not sure what I believe about them, but just the concept of these kids frightens me to my core. When Dan was working in Michigan last winter he was living in a tiny vacation cottage with extremely low windows that didn’t have locks, and the front door was mostly glass. It was in a remote area and it was pitch black at night, which is when he works. When I visited I’d have to be there alone at night, and I’d be so afraid of looking out the window and seeing one of these creepy ass children. I wouldn’t look out the window, period; I was convinced I’d see a face with black eyes staring back at me. Even now, living on the second floor where I’m presumably safe, I don’t like even thinking about them. It’s almost like thinking about them will allow them to find me. I know, it’s kind of crazy, but it’s a serious fear.
When I was a kid I’d go visit my dad (as in biological father) in the mountains of North Carolina during the summer, and he’d often take me to do mildly strange things. It was mostly tame, like sneaking into movies and going to some of his job sites to see the mansions he was hired to build, but occasionally we’d go stand in a field in the middle of the night looking for aliens. Yes, really. I don’t remember going with him more than a couple times, but something about it gave me horrible nightmares and instilled in me an intense fear of aliens.
It’s not that my dad told me scary stories or tried to give me nightmares, but the idea that there were creatures in the universe that didn’t look human who’d be coming here to study us… nah man, it’s just not for me. Now that I’m older and have read many books about philosophy and science and whatever I’ve come to terms with the idea that there’s intelligent life out there somewhere. I mean, the Universe is massive and we’ve explored so little of it; it would be extremely arrogant to think that we’re the only planet capable of sustaining life. I still find traditional images of aliens scary, with their gray skin and giant eyes and bulbous heads. I don’t like watching alien movies. Even Paul, the alien with Seth Rogen’s stoner laugh, creeped me out a bit. I’m down with most of the aliens on Star Trek and Babylon 5 though. They can visit us and hang out.
Demons/religious paranormal stuff
I’m not a “religious” person. I wasn’t baptized, I didn’t grow up going to church weekly, and I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea of “God” in an Abrahamic sense. I don’t like saying that I’m spiritual because that sounds lame and kind of terrible, but in this case, it’s a lot more accurate than other labels. I’m not an atheist because I believe that there is a force in the universe that’s larger than us. I just don’t know what it is. So I guess I’m agnostic?
Having said that, stories about demons and other religiously based supernatural stuff is extremely scary to me. It’s why books like The Exorcist and The Demonologist end up in my freezer. I think it’s because, if demons do exist, they’re violent and their only goal is destruction. Destruction of people, families, of humans in general. It’s not like they have unfinished business or are trying to avenge their own murders or just want to be mischievous; demons don’t stop wreaking havoc until their target is dead. Then the process starts over. And from all of the things I’ve read, the only weapon against them is a belief in a very specific idea of God. There’s no preventative measures we can take to protect ourselves other than believing, and even that’s not a guarantee. Oh, and maybe avoid Ouija boards, but that’s just a general best practice.
Do zombies count as paranormal? I’m not sure… maybe it depends on their origins? I know if we’re talking about Resident Evil zombies it’s more like sci-fi because it was caused by an evil corporation and a virus, but there are other zombie stories where it’s caused by magic. Either way, they’re really scary and I hate them.
Zombie movies have only been around for 50 years. Night of the Living Dead was released in 1968, and as far as I know, it was the first movie in the genre. I don’t mind those zombies. They’re slow and relatively easy to fight off. They also don’t know how to open doors so the people in this movie were safe to a point. It’s more modern zombies that scare me the most. They’re fast, they’re smart and they scream and growl. Why is that necessary? They’re animated corpses; do they really need to make noises to be even more intimidating? With one exception (Warm Bodies), I actively avoid watching anything involving zombies.
Skinwalkers as a “real” thing to be afraid of is a relatively new concept for me. I’m a big fan of fantasy novels so the concept of shapeshifters is familiar, but until I started obsessively listening to paranormal podcasts I’d never heard of them being a thing in our reality. Then I started hearing about Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. From everything I’ve heard, this piece of property is home to all manner of paranormal things, but it gets its name from the Navajo skin-walker, a creature that LITERALLY WEARS HUMAN SKIN. Also animal skin.
I don’t mean to yell, but can you blame me?
Apparently, these things are like the T-1000 from the second Terminator movie. When they’re wearing someone’s skin they look like the person or animal they’re attempting to imitate, but there’s always something… off. In all the stories I’ve heard, there’s been something not quite right about the way the creature looked, walked, talked, there’s always something. It makes me think of the girl in the Ring movies. So scary.
Spontaneous human combustion
I learned about this phenomena when I was a really little kid, not more than 6 or 7, when I checked a book out of the library about the occult and “unnatural” deaths. Yeah, I was a weird kid; we’ve covered that. I don’t remember what this book was called, but it was one of those Time-Life books that you could order from infomercials in the 80s. It’s not terribly surprising, given that I was in elementary school in the mid-80s and I lived in a tiny district with barely any money. Someone likely donated a set of these weird books.
Anyway, I distinctly remember the pages on spontaneous human combustion being extremely detailed, bordering on sensational, with illustrations. They reiterated more than once that this is a total mystery and there’s no explanation for it, and in most cases, the person is the only thing that goes up in flames. Not the furniture they’re sitting on, not the stuff around them, nothing. They made it seem like this could happen to anyone, at any time, and I think that’s what made it so scary. We all like to think that we have some element of control over our own deaths, but there’s no way to stop spontaneous human combustion. That’s next level terrifying.
So, I’m super freaked out now. What kind of paranormal things are you afraid of?