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The Shadow Man (SCP 017)

Have you ever felt as if you're being watched? Perhaps you're reading a book, perhaps you're in the middle of some household chore, maybe you're even sitting watching a video on YouTube. When all of a sudden, this unshakable feeling comes over you. The hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It feels as if someone else is in the room, even though you are alone. Then out of the corner of your eye, you see a movement. Only fleeting: a shadow in your peripheral vision. It was right there. But when you turn your head to look, it's gone. Or what if you lying in bed, when this feeling comes over? You feel a cold chill. You look over the top of your duvet and sure enough, there is a dark figure standing at the end of your bed. In your wide-eyed terror, you managed to blink in an attempt to clear your eyes and when you open them again, the figure is gone.

If you have experienced something similar to this, then you are not alone. It is a phenomenon experienced by millions of people all over the world regardless of age, race religion or culture. It knows no prejudice, no preference, no borders.

The strange figures are known simply as shadow people and we as a species have been seeing them since time immemorial. They appear in one of two ways. There are the "peepers" which manifest right at the edge of your visual range and look as if they're peeping at you from behind something. Then there are the far more terrifying full visual apparitions, which visit you at various inopportune times, but mostly whilst you sleep.

They have been linked to hauntings, violent Poltergeist activity and in some instances have even been thought to have caused death. There is one figure amongst them, that is said, to be Pure Evil and if you ever see him, it is considered an extremely ill omen. He is known as the Hat man and he only appears to those who are about to face a personal tragedy. We have pulled together a few tales for this post. All of them were submitted by some friends and all are said to be true. But we'll let you be the judge of that. Who are these mysterious and elusive beings that have been seen by millions? Whichever stance you take, sit or lie back and enjoy.

Michael Collins' experience

Our first story comes courtesy of Michael Collins from Brendale, a small suburb just north of Brisbane, Australia. Michael would never forget Christmas of 2002, when he was just eight years old. It was the height of Summer and Queensland was experiencing something of a heat wave. Michael had woken up several times during the night, his body covered in sweat, tossing, and turning over to the cooler side of his bed. He didn't know what time it was when he had this particular experience. There was no clock in his room, but he knew that it was after midnight because his parents had gone to bed.

The house was still and quiet. So quiet in fact that he could hear the muffled sound of his parents snoring in the other room. Taking a sip of his water, he turned onto his back and just lay there in the darkness staring at the ceiling. The heat was troublesome, but he was also extremely excited about Christmas day. He had asked for a Nintendo GameCube that year and the prospect of opening his presents was more than he could bare; Christmas was just two days away.

He was contemplating which game he was going to play on first. Then a slight movement in his peripheral vision caught his attention to the left of his bed was his bedroom window. The curtains were open and directly outside was the top of the porch roof. Oftentimes, he would climb out of his window and just relax on top of the porch whenever he wants to get away from his annoying younger brother. He was five at the time. Michael didn't see what had moved, but when he turned his head to look, there was nothing there. He wrote it off almost immediately. But as he lay there, it happened again. And again when he looked over, he couldn't see anything.

It was as if someone was outside just hiding behind the edge of the window frame on the left. This happened again, and again, and each time he turned his head to look in the direction of the movement, whatever it was had vanished. The fourth or fifth time it happened, Michael decided to just lie still and try not to look at it. His head was angle just enough, so that out of the corner of his eye, he could make out a dark figure standing outside just off to the left. After dithering for a few seconds, it proceeded to walk past the window, then turned around and walked back.

It paced back and forth several times. Each time it turned, it did so quickly like a soldier on parade, but when it was walking past the window, its movement was more sluggish and deliberate as if trying to show that it was there. Michael remembered thinking that whoever it was seemed to be dressed like Dick Tracy. The figure wore a long trench coat and he could just about see the outline of a hat on top of its head. He couldn't see any features. Everything was just black, silhouetted against the street lights, outside. Strangely, he didn't feel scared by this experience. His young mind was not quite world-wary and he didn't consider the implications of a possible prowler outside his window.

If anything, he found it annoying. As he got out of bed to close his curtains, he heard footsteps running across the porch roof, which abruptly stopped as he looked outside. Whoever had been out there had seemingly disappeared. By the time, he awoke the next day, he had completely forgotten about the strange figure and in fact, didn't think about it again until many years later. When Michael was in college, a friend lent him a book on the subject of strange phenomena, and they're just so happened to be a chapter in there regarding Shadow People.

When he read one passage in particular, his mind was immediately transported back to that night all those years before and a sudden chill ran up his spine. He realized that what he saw could more than likely have been the infamous hat man. But what disturbed him the most were the implications attached to seeing such an entity. When he went home at the end of term, he told his mother about what he had seen outside his window when he was younger and told her what it was supposed to mean. He wanted to ask whether anyone in the family had passed away at around that time. But before the question even left his mouth, his mother simply said, "I wonder if he was here for Emily". Initially, Michael drew a blank and his mother had to glue him in. Emily was his friend from next door. She had died in her sleep, somewhat mysteriously on the 23rd of December that same year. He was shocked to find that he had completely forgotten all about it and wondered why this was so. Was it so traumatic that he had just blanked it out? Or did his late-night visitor, have something to do with it?

Sarah Whitaker's heart freezing moment

Our second tale comes from Sarah Whitaker. Sarah submitted the following story regarding her grandparents, Albert and Susan Putney who were from Cranbrook in Kent, England. Albert- or rather his wife would have a chilling experience in 2013. They slept in separate bedrooms, as many older married couples tend to do for a variety of reasons conducive to a peaceful night's sleep.

One morning, Susan got up in the early hours to answer a call of nature. On her way, she passed her husband's room and could hear him snoring as he always did. This was one of the main reasons they had taken to sleeping in separate rooms. It was also the reason why on the way back from the bathroom, she stopped at his door and listened. It had gone awfully quiet. Albert had always suffered with sleep apnea and she wondered if he might have stopped breathing in his sleep. It is after all a potentially dangerous disorder, which can be fatal in extreme circumstances.

Putting her ear to the door, she was horrified to hear the sound of her husband choking. It was almost inaudible behind the solid oak panel, but there was no mistaking it. She immediately opened the door, ready to rush over to Albert, but instead she just stood still, frozen in place. She would be in floods of tear when she related this tale to her granddaughter some years later. Sarah was moved enough to believe her grandmother when she said that what she saw inside that room chilled her to the core and almost stopped her heart dead.

"It had your granddad round the throat" she said. It was just black sitting there on his chest. No face. Just this black thing. I could see the outline of a head and shoulders, but the rest of it was just a sort of mist. As I opened the door, it sort of turned to look at me and then sunk into the bed. Vanished, gone. Susan never told anyone else about what she had seen, not even her husband, "for fear of being committed" as she had put it. Sadly, Albert passed away in April 2018.

The couple's terrific experience of shadow man

The final story comes by way of a couple living in Cardiff, capital city of Wales in the United Kingdom. Lynsey Morton and her boyfriend, Ian Jenkins had recently moved in together. They had been living in their house for only a month when weird things began to occur. First, the activity started small. Things would go missing and reappear in odd places. They would find tins of canned food, which had been placed in a cupboard suddenly stacked in weird formations and other times, they catch a strong scent of sulfur throughout the house.

Of course, they accused each other of playing pranks, but over time, they began to realize that something was not quite right. They had recently bought a golden retriever puppy, which would growl and bark at thin air and the couple began to get an unshakable feeling that there was another presence in the house watching them. What the presence was, they did not know and as they described it, it wasn't something they were consciously aware of. It was just a strange feeling in the back of the mind.

They were cuddling on the sofa watching TV when they caught their first glimpse of this presence. The TV was directly in front of them and the doorway to the living room was over to their right, outside of which was the hallway and the stairs leading up to the first floor. Mitch, their retriever was stretched out on the rug in front of them and they were just settling down to watch a film. When all three of them, including the dog suddenly looked over towards the doorway. "Did you see that?" Ian asked. I saw something, "What did you see?" Lindsay replied.

They both described that they had seen a head peeping around the door frame at them. Most peculiar of all was that the dog has seen it too and was now letting out a low growl. Ian went out into the hallway to check, then checked all the other rooms to make sure there wasn't an intruder. Other than Mitch, they were completely alone in the house. Over the course of the night, they kept seeing this thing peeking around the door at them. Its movements were fast, but jerky almost as if it was moving at a lower frame rate. But they never caught sight of it directly. It was always in their peripheral vision.

This went on for several weeks whenever the couple watched TV. It was definitely strange, but became something of an amusement to Ian and Lindsay who would often laugh it off and say, "Looks like our little friend is playing peek-a-boo again". They described it as little, because judging by where the head always appeared in relation to the door frame, it couldn't have been any taller than four foot. The amusement wouldn't last for long, unfortunately, as the activity in the house became more malevolent.

Doors would open and slam shut of their own accord. There would be thumps and bounds from upstairs, when no one else was up there. Objects would fall off shelves. One day, the couple came home from shopping and found a number of plates smashed on the kitchen floor. How they had made their way out of the cupboard to the other side of the kitchen was a complete mystery. Ardent skeptics though they had been, they began to accept the possibility that they might be dealing with a poltergeist.

The most disturbing experience would occur during the week commencing the 11th of August 2014, when Ian had to work away for a couple of nights. At around 4 a.m in the morning, Lindsay called his mobile in hysterics telling him to come home right away. Apparently, she had been asleep in bed, when she was awoken by the feeling of someone grabbing and shaking her foot. When she turned onto her back, she was fully expecting to see Mitch at the bedside. But instead, it was a huge dark figure towering over her. It was completely black with no features. It was easily around seven foot tall. The only thing she felt she could do at the time was hide under the covers crying her eyes out.

As she heard footsteps walk around to the other side of the bed and then the sound of the bedroom door closing, she remained under the duvet for as long as she could, but in the end it was summertime that the heat became unbearable. When she finally emerged, she saw that the room was empty. Afterwards, she checked the whole house and found that all entrances were locked. There was no way it was an intruder, at least not the kind of intruder one might expect. Unfortunately, Ian was unable to make it home the next day and Lindsay went and stayed with a friend. When Ian did return home, they went to visit a spiritualist church despite the fact that neither of them were religious. A medium offered to come and visit the house and when she arrived, she had something rather disturbing to tell the couple. Her words were something to the effect of, "There is more than one presence in this house and they are so far back behind the shroud that I cannot see who they are. They speak in a language I don't understand".

Lindsay felt silly as she went from room to room, holding a candle and reciting a prayer as instructed by the medium. But as she went into Ian's room, she felt a tremendous pressure on her chest, which she said felt like resistance. After the blessing was complete, the couple settled down that night and for the first time in ages, they felt comfortable as if a weight had been lifted off the house and the paranormal activity ceased completely from that day onwards.

Conclusions on the shadow people (SCP 017)

So, what do we make of these stories? They are certainly compelling but like the majority of ghostly sightings, they are anecdotal and this is the unfortunate tragedy that surrounds such phenomenon. These are very personal experiences which are often fleeting and terrifying, but there is no real way to prove whether or not something actually happened. We, as onlookers, can only choose to believe or disbelieve until it happens to us. But what do we make of the so-called shadow people? Who, or what are they and do they even exist at all? There are many hypotheses out there.

We have already established that there is a definite link between these entities and Poltergeist activity. And for this reason, the go-to explanation is that they are ghostly or spiritual in nature. The reason they appear black is because their energy is negative, suggesting that their souls were either evil or tormented during their lives. Obviously, there are those who believe that these beings are demonic and that they exhibit parasitic behavior, feeding off negative energy such as fear and anger. It is not certain whether they are the cause of paranormal events or whether paranormal events attract them due to the levels of fear being induced.

On the other hand, there is a whole host of leftfield ideas, which are as bizarre as they are baffling, but intriguing nonetheless. Particularly in modern times, shadow people have been thought of as interdimensional travelers phased slightly out of our visual range, which is why they always appear somewhat obscure and distorted. They have also been linked to aliens. Believe It or not, shadow people and poltergeist activity are common occurrences in the houses of alleged alien abductees. So maybe there is something more to this idea. Furthermore along the same lines, people have also made a connection between the Hat Man and the elusive Men In Black due to the fact that both seem to favor wearing fedora hats.

On the flip side, Skeptics argue that shadow people are non-existent in physical terms, but are in fact visual anomalies, particularly as far as the "peepers" are concerned, which only seem to appear in one's peripheral vision. It is thought, although not proven, that very low (VLF) and ultra-low (ULF) frequencies can manifest visual hallucinations and feelings of intense fear in human beings and animals. It is also important to understand how the brain fills in the missing information gathered from the senses. If you have ever been listening to someone speak and not quite heard a particular word or sentence, but then worked it out a few seconds later, you'll understand this process. The brain does the same thing with visual information particularly in the peripheral range. Up to eighty percent of a person's peripheral vision is recreated within the brain based on very limited information.

So, it seems likely that the odd anomaly might slip through. But this process would be unique to each individual. How do we explain instances when multiple people see something in this way such as with Lindsay and Ian, as well as their dog. Whilst we assure that many instances where "peepers" occur are visual anomalies, surely not all of them are. Secondly, what about when shadow people appear in full view? It seems skeptics also had explanations for this in the forms of either sleep paralysis or waking dreams, but not all shadow people are seen upon waking, not all of them are seen at night and not all of them disappear after a few seconds. They are seen all over the world in all kinds of locations and at all times of the day. Short of accusing people of either lying or being mentally ill, this explanation doesn't always stand up to scrutiny.

In the end, it seems the world will always be divided regarding the existence of Shadow People. Their appearances are so fleeting that photographing them or capturing them on film has proved difficult and even when they have been recorded, the phenomenon is so easy to fake that skeptics remain unconvinced. But disproving their existence is just as difficult as proving it. These experiences are deeply personal and the only way to know for certain is to see one for yourself, but that is not something to hope for. In fact, you should hope for the opposite. You should hope that if you wake up in the middle of the night, you don't see a terrifying dark figure standing at the bottom of your bed watching you whilst you sleep.


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