Of all the supernatural entities I’ve encountered, I’ve encountered shadow people the most. That seem rather fitting since I love things that are dark and mysterious, writing about and exploring the unknown since I was seven years old. Just recently, I gave a presentation at the haunted Exchange Hotel in Gordonsville, Virginia, in which I spoke at length about the different types of shadow people that are believed to exist, legends and folklore throughout the ages, and various theories we have about them today.
Below is an online version of that presentation:
I began this presentation with my own account of my first encounter with a shadow person which occurred when I was only about eight or nine years old. This story was featured in the first volume of Encounters With The Paranormal, and Adam Tillery drew a fantastic illustration representing what I had seen.
As a special treat, here is an excerpt from that book, the chapter “The Shadow Person” in its entirety:
I was young, very young, the night I was scared speechless. I’d like to put an age on it, perhaps seven, eight, or nine. I can’t be sure other than it wasn’t the first time I had witnessed something paranormal in nature. That honored is reserved for “the blinking gorilla” I saw at my grandparent’s house when I was perhaps five or six.
I was lying in bed in the front upstairs bedroom of their house built by my great grandfather in the 1920s when my eyes traveled to the doorway. Beneath the Fenn College sticker affixed to the door there stood the ghostly apparition of what my child mind deduced was a gorilla. I can’t say for sure what it was – a short, squat man, perhaps – but it glowed white and faded in and out in the doorway. I called for my parents who came rushing upstairs and I told them of what I saw. Of course, what I saw was simply excused as a dream or my eyes playing tricks on me, but the blinking gorilla did become a part of family lore, more like a side joke, for years to come.
A couple years later I was, again, in bed, but this time it was my own. Something had awoken me out of a dead sleep. It was the middle of the night and the house was deathly still, dark save for the light from the street lamp coming through the window and the soft glow from the Peanuts nightlight against the far wall. My eyes adjusted to the dim lighting and looked down the length of my bed. That’s when I saw it.
In the corner of my bedroom, between my closet door and the window to outside, stood a shadowy figure. It was as tall as a man with vague features of a face, but nothing else discernable. I couldn’t even tell if it was wearing clothes.
For a long while we stared at each other, I at it and it at me. Part of me hoped it would just go away, perhaps slide into the open closet doorway and just disappear. Then, perhaps, I could just chalk the incident up to a strange dream in the middle of the night. But that’s not what happened.
The shadowy figure approached me where I lie and hovered over me. Its presence blocked out the light the filtered in from outside and the world around me grew dark and heavy. I still could not see any features the shadow may have borne. It was dark and ominous and as quiet as the dead. Then it reached for me.
I tried to scream, but couldn’t. My mouth gaped open and all my muscles tightened as I struggled to let loose with a cry to my parents for help. My body failed me while shadowy hands took hold of me. I was frightened out of my mind not knowing what this creature had in mind to do with me. I was absolutely helpless, but its next actions made no sense.
The shadow grabbed my arms and pulled them across my body, yanking my wrists up to my neck. I continued to try to scream, but still nothing came out. What was this thing going to do with me? Why had it crossed my arms? I almost felt like I was choking.
It let go of me then and rose from my bed. It turned from me and exited my bedroom door, which was directly to my right. I rotated my head and watched as it suddenly ran down the hall to the linen closet, opened it, and then darted inside, closing the door behind it. I lied there motionlessly for a long moment, arms still crossed, mouth still gaping open trying to scream over what had just happened to me.
Finally, I was able to climb out of my bed and shuttle over to my parents’ bedroom directly across the hall. I woke them from their slumber and told them what had happened, but like all good parents they were comforting and reassuring and told me it was all just a bad dream. I slept with them the rest of the night.
Years later others would try to tell me that what I experienced was sleep paralysis and that upon waking my mind was still in a bit of a dream state and hallucinated the incident while my body… my body. Sleep paralysis requires complete muscle atonia, the complete weakness of the muscles while one sleeps. With my mouth open, my arms crossing, and my head turning to watch the shadow person run down the hall, I was able to move. I just wasn’t able to scream.
Since that time I’ve seen many wisps of shadows darting to and fro at other haunted locations, peaking at me from around a corner, or darting into an open doorway. I’ve even seen one dart across a room and slam into a swinging metal door, producing the sound of the slam but not actually moving the door. However, after countless paranormal investigations and visiting scores of active locations, I have never again seen a full figure shadow like that nor has a shadow person touched me in such a way ever again.
Encounters With The Paranormal is available from Haunted Road Media: http://hauntedroadmedia.com/index.php/books/5-encounters-with-the-paranormal