Shadow people and urban legends
There are many different urban legends told over campfires and during sleepovers. They are used to entertain with scary stories, but many really cannot be traced to one solid source. They always happen to "a friend of a friend" or someone my "family member" knows who knows someone else. When a story starts that way, it is surely a tall tale or an urban legend.
For example, one famous urban legend is the Bloody Mary ritual, which I have written about in a previous column. That's the legend that claims if you stand in front of a mirror in a darkened room, you can evoke this spirit which allegedly harms the summoner. While this is the legend, I have yet to meet anyone who successfully performed the ritual and met the spirit witch. This is probably for the best, however as she is allegedly a rather mean, violent spirit.Another urban legend I have read about are the shadow people, and specifically the "Hat Man." Shadow people are silhouetted, full-body phantomlike apparitions which some people believe stalk or harass them. Many reports of shadow people during night hours and center on a sleeping person.One of the most common encounters with the shadow people is in the middle of the night. The typical event begins when the person, upon waking, sees the shadow of a person standing in the room staring at the sleeper.Many describe the observer as wearing a fedora, and the person just stands there watching the waking sleeper. In many cases, the figure moves out of sight or vanishes, creating fear in the person who has awakened.While this is the basic story, there are variations. Some describe the shadow person as standing over the bed. Others claim this shadowy figure wakes them by repeatedly whispering in their ear.One alarming aspect of this nighttime specter is some describe the person as having glowing red eyes. While in some cases this appearance is a one-time event, many who have experienced the Hat Man claim he returns and stalks them. Those who experience this entity will pray, order it to leave or just try to be brave, but it seems from anecdotes these strategies don't always work. The man returns repeatedly and it becomes a pattern of harassment.Neurologists and psychiatrists will dismiss these nighttime encounters as waking paralysis or night terrors in which the mind wakens before the body completely does and it interprets the odd physical feedback from our bodies in unexpected ways.Our subconscious allegedly creates imagery and situations to explain why we cannot move right away, and thus the shadow menace appears. While this may explain a good many of these encounters, especially since some people are prone to night terrors, it does not necessarily explain all of them.Another explanation that might be used is hallucinations brought on by alcohol or drugs, yet there are still those who are sober and have these experiences.I am inclined to believe that the mysterious figure on the room as you wake could be manufactured by the brain and is a remnant of our slumber, however that does not explain those cases in which an already fully awake person encounters the Hat Man in the dark of the night and not necessarily in the bedroom.I have a friend who has had many experiences with this entity from the time she was a girl until adulthood. Even now, the being will occasionally appear in front of her.She's a good person, totally sober and not prone to imagination, but you can see her demeanor change when she discusses him. She becomes furtive and shaken. While the being does not appear as much to her now, she still sees him and it is not related to sleep. She sometimes looks out a window and notices him standing by a tree or under a streetlight.While I cannot claim to have experienced the Hat Man, I have seen a shadow person twice in my life. My first experience I think could be explained by a breaking fever. As I lay in my bed rolling from side to side, I became aware of a shadow being standing in the doorway to my room watching me.I rolled over and looked straight at it, rolled back, and when it registered I rolled back but the person was gone. Decades later, my brother would describe similar encounters while growing up in our family homestead, but neither of us never shared it.The second time was soon after I moved into my current house. For weeks I would wake at 4:15 a.m. in the darkened, still house while my family slept. About the sixth or seventh straight day of this, I woke to a commanding man's voice saying, "DAVID!"My eyes shot open and I immediately leaned up on my elbow (indicating I could not have been having waking paralysis). At the end of the hall was a figure, pitch black and featureless. It swallowed all the light at the end of my hallway, which is normally well-lit with ambient nighttime light.As I watched, the figure moved to my left and disappeared on the stairs. I jumped out of bed, grabbed a bat and hurried down the hall. There was no one there. That night I searched the entire house but to no avail, the doors and windows were locked and secured. There was no one in the house but us. After that I did not see him again.I'm curious, though. Have you seen the Hat Man or encountered shadow people? Please write to me at
email@example.com and let me know. I will keep all experiences with the strictest confidence.Till next time …