In the paranormal world it is rare to have a whole new type of entity that doesn’t fit into anything known or cataloged before. Aliens are aliens, ghosts are ghosts, mystery animals are cryptids, and so on. Yet on occasion there will be accounts that are so off the beaten path and deep into uncharted weirdness that they deserve their own category. Such can be said of the absurd, yet increasingly prevalent presence of reports of people encountering what can only be described as Stick Figures, and so here we will take a little detour into the wilds of the very bizarre, where strange things lurk and Stick Men walk about in the murk.
The phenomenon of the Black Stick Men is rather recent, mostly said to have really taken off in the late 2000s when across Internet forums there began to circulate a growing number of accounts of people seeing a totally new type of anomalous entity, usually described as very tall, impossibly thin black figures typically devoid of any noticeably features, almost as if, as their name implies, they were crudely drawn stick men come to life and stepped off the page. In some cases they are even described as being actually 2-dimensional, becoming almost invisible when viewed from a certain angle, or even morphing between 2 and 3-dimensions, and their movements are at times said to be disjointed and odd, but in other reports very smooth yet unnatural. Reports of feeling dizzy or tired in their presence are also not uncommon, as well as the distinct sense of a sort of static charge in the air and sometimes a sense of malevolence, although the entities are not known to be aggressive. Indeed, they are usually described as being rather skittish and acting almost surprised that they have been seen, usually escaping by creeping off into the night or simply vanishing into thin air. It all seems completely absurd, but there is actually quite a large number of supposed sightings of whatever these entities are, and they are every bit as bizarre as you might think.
Some accounts even go far back through the decades, only recently cropping up from witnesses online, and one of these was related on a forum for Fortean Times, where a witness only known as “Simon” claims that he had an encounter with a Stick Man in Kent, England, way back in 1978. He says of his experience:
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.
In another comment on the site Listverse, there is an encounter that supposedly happened back in 1982, in Essex, England. The witness claims to have been a nurse at the time, and to have had her brush with the outlandish entity as it crept about the shadows of the hospital grounds at night. She says:
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.
In quite a few cases the witnesses describe having seen these creatures when they were children, yet the memory has remained etched into their minds as clear as day. One such report comes from Reddit, with a witness who says he has a visitation from a Stick Man when he was just a very young boy. He says that one evening he woke up to a heavy feeling of dread, and got out of bed to go sleep with his parents down the hall, but he wasn’t alone. He says:
When I got out of bed and opened the door, about 5 feet away from me in the hallway was a tall black slender figure that was very thin, all black, no facial feature, a circled head, the arms and legs were really thin and the fingers looked sharp, it made no sound and was gliding as it walked. The way it walked was the most scary part for me. I only saw it for 2 seconds then slammed the door and started whaling and crying. Minutes pass until my mom shows up to my door and calms me down. I don’t remember mentioning it to her, so she just thought I had a bad dream. She then got a role of blankets and put them on the hallway floor for us to sleep together. (For some reason, my mom likes to sleep on the floor because she grew up that way.) My feet ended up being scratched very badly, it couldn’t have been my mom nails and i remembered it left a burning sensation. I’m 18 now and it’s one of the few earliest memories I had. I still live in the same house in Connecticut.
This report is interesting in that it gives a relatively rare glimpse into the possibly malicious nature of these entities, as they are most typically described as having a menacing air about them, but being for the most part harmless. Another report comes from a witness called “Amalthea,” who posted her story on both Reddit and on the site True Ghost Stories Archive. She says that this happened to her as she was growing up in California between about 1997 and 2004, and that her strange encounter would happen as she was hanging out with her best friend, Jenny. The witness says she had kept to herself out of fear of being ridiculed until she realized that others had seen the same thing. This particular account seems rather sinister in nature, and she says of her own sighting:
When I was growing up I had a best friend who lived down the street. We lived in a quiet, small town where her dad was always working. I would walk to her house everyday after school and we would often take walks, walk to the liquor store to buy candy etc. I would often see a stick man following us, peeking out from behind her couch etc. He was all black and changed sizes. Sometimes the size of a small cat, other times taller than a normal size man. I felt very scared of him and felt he was mischievous at best, perhaps evil, I finally got the courage up to tell my best friend and she admitted to seeing him too. I always got the feeling he was the same one every time, not different stick men. One time he appeared in the shape of a stick figure horse (like a bad child’s drawing.) I always believed him to be somehow following me and watching me. Until, when my best friend passed away suddenly our senior year of high school. She had a genetic heart condition that nobody (including herself) had known about. I’ve never seen what we called “stick man” ever since. I believe now perhaps he was some form of grim reaper awaiting his time to take my friend. I don’t know if that’s really the case, but it seems odd the sightings of him disappeared after she passed. I never saw who we dubbed “stick man” again. I’m researching him now that I’m in my late 20s because I recently confided in my husband about these weird experiences.
Another witness who was a child at the time says that her and her parents witnessed a Stick Man from their moving vehicle as they drove home one night. The whole encounter is dripping with a certain sense of dread, although the thing in question did nothing to really threaten them in any way. She says:
I noticed something moving very quickly in front of the car. Here’s where it gets difficult to describe: what appeared to be two, black, stick-like legs, as if the bottom half of a “stick man”, ran quickly past the car. Everything in that moment seemed to slow down, and I entirely lost my train of thought. The area around the “legs” even almost seemed static-like and blurry. Neither my mom or dad said anything immediately, so I shrugged it off as looking out in the night at a moving road for too long. But as I started my sentence again, my mom interrupted me.
“What was that?” She genuinely sounded terrified. And I knew immediately what she was talking about. I basically screamed back, “the stick man?” And my mom began panicking. My dad seemed very confused and pulled over and we looked around the area where we saw it “run”. My mom said that she saw an entire “stick man” run from one side of the road to another. Tall, lanky, almost 2D, just like a kids’ drawing. When she calmed down, she started describing everything about what she saw, including how it walked. This was only about half a mile from their house so we drove back, my dad still in a state of confusion and my mom and I nearly shaking.
Ultimately, we all came to the conclusion that everything in that moment was very hazy, as if time slowed down and we were seeing into another dimension (?). Why my mom and I saw it and my dad didn’t, I still have no idea. Both of my parents are religious people and typically try to debunk stuff like this, but they both agree that there is no way what we saw wasn’t other-worldly. We began researching, and found that we weren’t the only people to ever see the “stick man”. When my mom read one post about the way it moved, I saw her heart drop. The post said something about claims of the thing “galloping”, which is exactly how she had described it right after it happened. Normally I am very interested in stuff like this, but I was so terrified I just wanted to forget it happened. For some reason, something about the situation felt menacing.
Of course it is not only children who have seen these things, and many of the more remarkable sightings are made by adults during their sightings and are rather recent. One very interesting report comes from a forum on Fortean Times with an anonymous poster who saw one in England in 2010. He claims that the encountered occurred at a suburb called Brockley, in South-east London, which has a rather park-like atmosphere and plenty of trees. At the time he had been walking along a leafy street with a friend back towards his apartment at around dawn when they noticed something very surreal coming down the street towards them. He says:
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.
An even more recent report comes from 2015, with a Reddit commenter who says he was with a couple of friends on the night of this strange experience at around 10 PM, taking a shortcut home through a dark alley, that had the creepy detail that it also happened to be right up against a cemetery. He says of what happened next:
This alley is pitch dark and pretty cold too, the only lights were all the way down at the end of the alley with some other lights as well. So we halfway down this alley, so then I started getting a weird feeling like I was being watched, but it was a different feeling because it’s my instincts telling me I was for real being watched but I thought I was being paranoid. So we make our way down the alley into the light so then I stopped and turned around awhile my friends were looking at me. Right at that moment that’s when I saw it.
Just coming now coming into the light a very tall, 8 or 9 feet very dark and very very skinny like well a stick figure. And it was walking at us. I couldn’t believe it at all. 1 number saying “what the fu” when he was saying that I ran as fast as I can. my friends ran behind me as well thank god. We all make it out of the alley so I turn around for the last time, it was were I first saw it standing and theirs no way because I ran really really fast and nobody can be that fast at all, and the funny or worse thing was that it was still walking at us. We ran all the way home right after that. We talked about it in group chat not knowing what we saw at all.
These things are seen all over the place, and another report comes from up in the Rocky Mountains, out in the middle of nowhere a witness was out setting up fish traps at a remote mountain stream at approximately 2 AM in the morning. There were apparently 5 of them out in the dark going about their work, or maybe six if you count the strange abomination lurking about in the gloom nearby. The witness says:
After a buddy and I finished lowering a trap into the water the atmosphere around us got real heavy. It felt like it was humid but without the presence of moisture in the air. On top of that our muscles suddenly felt real weak as if we had just run a few miles with weights strapped to our back. My visions, and the vision of my friends went blurry for a moment or two. When it all cleared up we all noticed that something was not right. Off in the distance, no more that twenty yards away from us was this tall, slender, pitch black figure. It looked to be about ten feet tall and it’s limbs were real skinny looking.
It just stood there for a moment, it’s limbs just movin’ around real slow like as it looked at us. The creature had a head but no real torso. It’s body was as thick as its arms were its legs and it had a real skinny lookin head with two bright white eyes. It just stared at us for the longest time. It didn’t even make a noise. After a moment or so the thing walked off to the side and as it got farther away from us it got easier to breathe and we were able to move once more. Naturally we packed our shit an high-tailed it back home. To this day we don’t speak of what had happened and we never did go back for our traps.
These sorts of encounters with Stick Men can be extremely unsettling for those who experience them, and can really cause people to reassess what they thought they knew. One good example of this is a commenter on True Ghost Stories Archives who is a self-proclaimed skeptic and seems to be having a hard time reconciling his own brush with a Stick Figure, of which he explains:
I honestly thought I was crazy. I’m 33, level headed, and while I won’t rule anything out I generally don’t think much of the paranormal. The other night (morning maybe, I keep odd hours) I went outside for a smoke. My lawn has a low retaining wall, about bench-height, and a long, sloping road down to the creek, noted for its malfunctioning street lights. I saw something walking down the middle of the road. I have a neighbor who walks at all hours day or night, I didn’t think much of it. As it got closer, it looked like a pencil drawn picture of a man done by a kid. It wasn’t black, so much as it was nebulous, like the static on a TV channel. Grey and black moving in a blur, in the shape of the sign that lets guys know which door to go in. The street lights flicked on and it stopped, “looked” around (I assume as much, all I saw was its head move) and saw me. As soon as it did, it took off down the road faster than my eyes could follow. I didn’t tell anyone for a few days, then did the “promise you won’t think I’m crazy” with my girlfriend. She said she had heard of similar stories, and asked it I’d googled it. I did, and here I am. At least if I’m crazy I’ll have company.
These are just a few of the numerous reports of these Stick Figures foating around out there, and they are each almost stranger than the last. We are left with an array of accounts outlining these encounters with something that doesn’t really seem to fit anywhere else in the world of the paranormal or cryptozoology. Just what is it we are supposed to be looking at here? There are lots of ideas on what these things might be, such as aliens, ghosts, demons, inter-dimensional interlopers, something more akin to the Black Eyed Kids, or simply just tricks of the light or even a flat-out Internet urban legend in the making such as Slenderman, the Hat Man, and Momo. Yet the reports seem to be given with just as much earnestness as reports of any other paranormal phenomena and we are left wondering whether they really did see something, and if so what it was. Absurd? Maybe. Ridiculous obvious drivel? Quite possibly. Very weird? Definitely. No matter what one may think of this Stick Figure phenomenon, the reports continue to come in of these mysterious phantoms, and it seems like a new feature of the landscape of the paranormal that is here to stay.