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Attack of the Shadow People

The latest, and I personally think by far the creepiest addition to the list of beings that go bump in the night, are the Shadow People. Although shadowy presences and dark spirits have long been part of folklore and myth, tales of encounters with the Shadow People have become widely reported of late. Described as dark and human-shaped, occasionally with glowing red eyes and a hat or cape, the fleeting figures appear sometimes at the end of beds, sometimes in wooden areas, and often in the peripheral vision.

To describe my own experience, I awoke from sleep in the apartment of a woman I’d just started dating. It was dusk and the light was dim, but not gone. I looked at the end of the bed and standing there, facing me, was the dark silhouette of a man wearing a fedora style hat. He seemed to be wearing some sort of coat (weird for Texas) and was in his entirety just as black as could be; no details were discernible other than what I could tell  from his outline. Immediately I struggled to get up but I found that I was met with invisible resistance. I could not move and for a moment, could not speak. I managed to utter my lady-friend’s name and grab her by the leg. She awoke suddenly and with a blink of an eye the figure was gone. Excited and shaking a bit, I explained what I had saw and she decided right then and there that she was not going to renew the lease next month. Speaking as the white guy in every horror movie that audiences yell at who reads aloud the words in the ancient book, spends the night in the cursed house, and pokes at the mysterious dead looking thing, I probably would have stayed and bought a whole bunch of fancy “Ghostbusters” looking equipment.

In 2001 the host of the popular Coast to Coast AM radio show, Art Bell, did a show about Shadow People, asking listeners to submit drawings of their own experiences with the dark ones, and he got swamped with art.

This show has generally been credited with the rise of anecdotal reports of the Shadow People, much as the number of UFO reports went up after a civilian pilot in 1947 reported seeing 9 “saucer-like” objects in the sky, which led to a barrage of newspapers stories of “Flying Saucers” which have never really let up since. But what does that mean? Did people who had shared these experiences finally feel like they had a context to discuss them, or did the reports themselves lead to mistaken interpretations of natural phenomena?

Science has offered a number of explanations for the frightening apparitions. Certainly my experience, and that of many others, of the hazy creature as well as the paralysis, bears much in common with the ‘old hag’ or even alien abduction stories. Known as Isolated Sleep Paralysis (ISP) these experiences are usually very short and are associated with ‘incubus’ visitations. For those curious to know more, the subject has been intensely studied and is generally considered to be pretty well understood. But, you know, the brain and all. Who’s to say sufferers aren’t really being visited and we’re just observing the effects? Not me. Because I can tell you my experience damn sure FELT real. For whatever that’s worth. I’m going to firmly fall on the side of, I can’t say, and generally speaking, I prefer not to think too much about it. Because what if? What if.

There are a ton of ideas and theories from believers about what exactly these things are. Some say they are aggregated negative mental energy formed in areas where terrible events have occurred, that has taken on a kind of sentience, feeding on negative emotions and energy. For the record, I’m pretty sure the apartment I was in at the time of my own experience was brand new, and the LAST thing I was feeling right then were negative emotions. New girlfriend and all. Alternate explanations say they are beings from a parallel universe or perhaps things that live in the space in between them. And then there are the demon and twisted spirit explanations…I prefer not to think about those too much. That’s WAY past the point that I really want to be creeped out.

Oddly, most believers firmly separate the Shadow People from ghosts, even though they are often sighted near supposedly haunted locations. Those into the lore say they are…‘something else’. Hey, they even have their own movie! Not a good one, mind you, but it’s a start.

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