The 13th Floor

The Haunting Phenomenon of “The Black Eyed Children”

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It’s time for a look at one of the earliest — and still spookiest — viral stories to make the rounds: the unsolved mystery of the Black Eyed Children, also known as BEK (Black Eyed Kids).

<i>Image Credit: iStock/User63774ca5_63</i>

There have been enough diverse tales woven around the BEK phenomenon to put them in a creepypasta subcategory of their own. One of the earliest known reports (if not the first) appeared in 1998 with a series of posts by Texas-based reporter Brian Bethel, who shared descriptions by separate witnesses in multiple cities. The viral popularity of the stories was enough to make worldwide news, and Bethel was eventually featured on an episode of the Destination America series Monsters and Mysteries in America.

Most of the stories describe these beings as more or less like normal children… except, of course, for their eyes, which are solid black. Not just the irises, but the sclera (whites) of the eyes are black as well; in some descriptions, the eye sockets themselves are empty, black voids. The children have frequently been sighted wandering in parking lots, empty streets or mostly vacant urban areas, and many posts describe them as wearing hoodies that obscure the upper part of their faces.

Since the legend began, the tales have varied widely, but the most common connection between them is one specific behavior: they’ve been known to approach random people and make soft-spoken, polite requests – to give them a ride home, for example, or to let them use your phone. Another consistent trait is the way the children speak: their diction is unusually mature for their age. Usually they avoid eye contact when addressing you, but if by chance you do meet that solid black gaze, they reportedly become agitated, fearful, or even hostile… and their voices may deepen, often well below the range of a young child.

It would seem that some or all of these unnatural children have the ability to hypnotize people into complying with their requests… though all the shared stories apparently come from those who were able to resist their influence. It’s implied, therefore, that those who did comply were never heard from again.

The children can sometimes be heard chanting creepy songs or nursery rhymes, including a Mother Goose poem which goes something like this:

Old father long-Legs
Can’t say his prayers;
Take him by the left leg
And throw him down the stairs.
And when he’s at the bottom,
Before he long has lain,
Take him by the right leg
And throw him up again.