I consider myself to be a fairly skeptical guy. Granted, I tend to take most paranormal encounter stories at face value.I generally believe that people have had an experience which is meaningful to them, whether that included a paranormal aspect is up for debate in my mind, but for the person the encounter was most certainly real. As such, I very rarely come out strongly on the side of paranormal phenomena being imagined or in some sense not “real”. I’m finding it hard to keep my open-mindedness about today’s relatively recent phenomenon which we are going to discuss. The Black Stick Men are paranormal creatures which, not entirely unlike the Black Eyed Kids, seem to have been born on the internet.
The origin or at least the modern fascination with this phenomenon seems to stem from a 2009 Listverse article entitled “Top 10 Modern Paranormal Phenomena”. All the usual suspects of the paranormal world make an appearance on this list; chupacabras, dog-headed men, shadow people, etc. Among the more normal, paranormal, menagerie the author snuck in a strange report of something he called “Black Stick Men”. From the site:
The black stick man is another entity encountered in modern times. Not to be confused with the shadow man, incredibly he is even stranger. Stick men are supposed to look like totally black, thin, stick figure drawings, such as teachers would make in kindergarten. They have been reported as between average height to impossibly tall. Their heads are just a black circle with no facial features being discernible. They are totally two dimensional, without any depth.
Usually they’ve been sighted walking along roads at night, or at transitional times such as twilight or just before dawn. Bizarrely, some have reported them wearing what appears to be a top hat.
Their walk is described as a weird “lolloping” gait. They are surprised when actually seen, and have followed unfortunate witnesses on occasion. Their pace remains leisurely as they approach. Obviously to be pursued by such an otherworldly creature would be anything but pleasant, and those who have encountered them have been understandably terrified. So far however, apart from being bizarrely frightening, they have done no physical harm, and ultimately just disappear.
Attempting to wrap my head around this “phenomena” is a whole lot harder than most of the paranormal creatures I’ve discussed here at Forteania in the past. Regardless of how bizarre the Black Stick Men might be, it doesn’t seem to stop people from having encounters with them. Author Martin J Clemens, at his Paranormal People Online site, has a great write up about this phenomenon which I recommend checking out. In his post, he points out that the comments section of the original Listverse article has a few examples of encounters with Black Stick Men. Clemens points readers to the following comment:
“In 1982, when I was a student nurse at Warley Hospital, Brentwood in Essex, England, I encountered a ‘stick person’ in the grounds of the Hospital as I was walking home one night. It lopped across the roadway having been, seemingly, pressed up against a wall. It stopped when it saw me and raised it’s arms in fright and quickly walked off into the undergrowth. It was very tall with very thin, extremely long arms and legs and a very small oval head. Totally black and no obvious clothing. I saw no face even though it emerged very near a street lamp and so was well illuminated. I was terrified and to this day, no-one believes me…”
Everyone’s favorite website AboveTopSecret, has a thread dealing with this topic. From the thread I was led to a forum posting on the Fortean Times message boards from 2003, predating the 2009 listverse article, where the anonymous poster reports a Black Stick Man encounter which was supposed to have occurred back in 1978. From the forums:
“The following account is slightly shortened but otherwise unchanged and comes from my diary record for Tuesday, 31st October 1978. Only the names have been changed. We were all aged between 15 and 17 at the time. The Loose Valley referred to is near Maidstone in Kent. My diary record also indicates that there was a new moon on that night.
"I will record a rather unpleasant experience which took place tonight. A group of about ten of us were sitting chatting in the Loose Valley at about midnight. After about 45 minutes Will leapt to his feet slapping his head saying there was a bee in his hair; he looked absolutely terrified. Both Dorothy and I saw the outline of a tall, thin figure wearing a hat dancing behind him. Will said later it was if a terrifically loud buzzing was coming-up through the top of his head. However only Rachel heard any buzzing.
We partially satisfied ourselves that it must have been a bees' nest, and so we moved a little distance away. As we moved away Dorothy and I saw a ring outlined in the grass which enclosed where we had been sitting. Eventually it started raining so we headed for Rachel's house. As we left I turned around and saw the same thin black figure walk across the opening between the trees to where we had been sitting.”
Here is another account from the same Fortean Times forum thread. Another anonymous poster recounts their experience with the Black Stick Men:
This is my first post. I wanted to share an experience that happened to me some years ago, for which I have no explanation but still to this day I'd like to see if anyone out there has any ideas to contribute. The fact that I stumbled across these accounts on the FT website of black silhouette figures confirms a lot to me, namely that myself and a friend are not alone in something we experienced. Please read on!
I was walking from a friend's house to my own, in the early hours of the morning after a night of general chat while I was at university here in London, UK – specifically, a relatively leafy suburb called Brockley in South-east London. I had drunk only everyday tea or soft drinks all night and had consumed no drugs whatsoever. I'd simply gone without sleep. The time was around 6am and dawn was literally breaking when a friend and I found ourselves walking down my street to where my apartment was located, when we saw a figure walking up the street towards us. The word we coined later to describe its movement was 'lolloping' - a kind of up-down bouncy walk. It took a few seconds for the two of us to realise this was no human being. I asked my friend: "See that man?" "Yes," was the reply. "It's not a man, though, is it?" I found myself asking. "No,' said my friend, sounding scared. "It isn't."
The creature was entirely black and like a cardboard cut-out, flat and one-dimensional. It had no features at all, and it had arms that hung down to its knees. It seemed to be ignoring us, then it seemed to realise we could see it and it began to 'lollop' faster towards us.
We ran to my front door and hid in the hallway as quiet and unmoving as possible when we saw the thing - we felt it was male - approach the front door and appear to look through the glass from the way its head moved up and down and around. It then turned away.
We didn't sleep for some time after that, discussing what we saw. It was shaped like many descriptions of 'greys' but both myself and my friend came away with the impression that what we saw was either of this world or from another parallel dimension. To all intents and purposes, it appeared to be sauntering along the road enjoying the walk before it became shocked to see us staring at it in horror. We instinctively felt this was not a creature to try and communicate with, this was not something that it was good to be near. We might have been wrong but neither myself nor my friend would ever like to see this creature or others like it again, though I'd love to get some ideas on what it was. We felt that if this creature had somehow gotten hold of us, we would not be around today to tell the tale to anyone who might believe us or at least give the story open-minded consideration.
The Fortean Times thread is full of other accounts of encounters with these mysterious entities. I highly suggest you check it out for some more creepy tales of Black Stick Men. Just what in the world are these things? Even considering the things I’ve discussed on this blog in the past, these entities seem beyond the realm of the possible. I’m not discounting them, after all reality is far stranger than fiction at times. I can’t even begin to think what these creatures may actually be. Figments of the imagination of the witnesses? Sure, may be in some cases.
A part of me can’t help but be suspicious of their modern appearance. True, most of the stories you’ll read will be from the 60’s or 70’s. Yet people only began to relate these strange encounters recently. Could this be because the events were simply too bizarre for the people to recount. Fearing that they would be at best dismissed or at worst ridiculed? I can certainly see how that might be the case. I can’t help shake the suspicion that these entities might be a modern myth in the making, not entirely unlike our friend the Black Eyed Kids. As always, I’d love to know what you all think. Feel free to post your opinions in the comment section below.