Weird and wonderful. Spooky and strange. Skin-crawling, nail-biting, head-mashing, gut-wrenching. Stories to make you check on the kids at night and tuck your feet safely beneath the duvet. Tales to make you gape with wonder or tremble with fear. Ghosts, aliens, magic, enchantment – we have it all here – all you have to do is step inside . . .
. . . if you dare.
First up – The Hat Man
Tales of The Hat Man go as far back as you like, but for me, he goes back to when I was approximately four years old.
A man of mystery, he watches his victims with nary a sound, mist-shrouded feet barely touching the ground.
There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of reports of Hat Man sightings all over the globe, and every report describes the same eerie shadow of a man that doesn’t move, doesn’t speak . . . doesn’t utter a word. In fact, he doesn’t seem to do anything other than watch (pervert!), and for most of us that’s more than enough to give us the willies (ahem!).
But who is he? Many would like to know, myself included, yet no-one seems to have the answer. Is he an alien, sent to observe us foolish humans? An inter-dimensional being, zip-zapping in and out of worlds? Or a demon from the pits of hell, preying on innocent souls? Or is he merely some random guy that’s been popping up all over the world for centuries? Time-travel perhaps?
No-one knows, not even me, and I’ve met him personally . . . more than once.
But that’s not to say that Mr Hat Man isn’t real. Au contraire, mon ami. He’s as real as you or I, though there are plenty of ‘experts’ who would have you believe otherwise. Monsieur Hat Man is also a bit of a nifty dresser and remains true to his name by consistently donning a wide-brimmed hat, more often than not described as a fedora, though for me it was more like something the Witchfinder General might wear.
He’s also described as wearing a long coat or cloak, and this I do agree with, though on occasion he has also been accused of wearing a suit – rather like the so-called ‘angels’ in The Adjustment Bureau.
A select few have also claimed to see red eyes or orange eyes glaring down at them, but almost all agree (as do I) that his face is obscured by shadow, and only the gut-curdling silhouette of a man can be seen.
‘Poppycock!’ I hear you cry, ‘he’s nothing more than a figment of your imagination.’ And for some that might be true.
But not for me.
When I was very young (around four, as I said earlier), I would often wake at night to find The Hat Man stood beside my bed. Now, you may think that four years old is too young to recollect such a thing, but let me tell you, dear reader, I do remember – and very bloody clearly too! In fact, I have one extremely vivid memory of said nutter observing me as I frantically searched for my dummy late one night (pacifier, if you’re reading this in America) and I distinctly recall him being eerily silent and spookily still as I called out to my mum in the next room, who, by now, was sufficiently disturbed by my late night ramblings to disregard my complaint that ‘the man was in my room again’ as nothing more than the overspill of a bad dream, and wisely told me there was no-one there and I should go back to sleep!
At this point I feel I should reiterate that this was not the first time I had seen Hatty McHatter, nor was he the only strange phenomenon that I observed in my room at night. I also complained frequently about (and distinctly remember seeing) fishes swimming around my room, and a dismembered hand crawling over my bed! So who could blame ma for opting not to check in on this strange shadow fellow for the umpteenth time and instead remained in her bed? And rightly so, because when I turned to confront my observer and give him a piece of my four-year-old mind, he was no longer there.
That was the last time I ever saw him.
Years went by without me ever giving The Hat Man another thought, though that’s not to say I forgot about him. The cheeky wee mongrel stayed with me into my adult life (if not at the forefront of my mind, at the very least always lurking somewhere in the back, albeit covered in cobwebs), but I never really had a way to describe him back then, not in a way that made any sense (to me anyway). So I rarely (if ever) spoke of him.
Then one day Van Helsing hit the big screen.
One rainy afternoon (I don’t know if it actually was raining, but it kinda feels like it should have been), I was sitting in the cinema waiting for the dashingly handsome Hugh Jackman to grace us with his vampire-slaying presence, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen. I would have been in my early thirties then – mature(ish), stable(ish), and grounded . . . (ish), but when Hughey McDewy popped up on that big ole screen, dressed in his Nosferatu fighting garb, I almost choked on my popcorn. Because right up until that moment The Hat Man had always been just that shadowy guy from a maybe dream when I was a kid. But now, unbelievably, he was standing right in front of me, literally larger than life. ‘That’s him!’ I declared, ‘that’s the guy from my bedroom!’
Now then. I don’t want you all to go getting your knickers in a twist! Just for the record, Hugh Jackman was never, and has never, been in my bedroom (more’s the pity!), but his neck-biter slaying attire (including the hat, but minus the kick-ass cross-bow) has. Because that’s how The Hat Man appeared to me. That’s exactly how The Hat Man appeared. To me.
Does that make me a vampire? Hell yes, if it means Jackers will manifest in my bedroom again! But, sadly, no. I am no more a vampire than Hugh Jackman is my Facebook friend.
But I confess, I have neither read nor heard of anyone else describing The Hatster as Van Helsing before, though the descriptions I have read are not too far from the mark. And who’s to say I’ve not exaggerated my memory of him over the years? I was only four after all. But then again, that’s also not to say my recollection is incorrect, or anyone else’s for that matter.
Reports of Hat Man sightings are on the rise (our little friend is fast becoming a legend) and I confess, if he were to appear to me now, as an adult (me, not him), I would likely crap my pants. But back then, perhaps because of the innocence of childhood, or perhaps because I hadn’t stayed up all night watching cheap horror movies (none, in fact, before the parent police bash down my mother’s door) I don’t ever recall being afraid of him. I don’t know that I liked him particularly, he definitely gave off some kind of weird vibe, but nothing like the demonic, hate-fueled vibration that others have described. There are many, many reports of Hat Man visits if you care to delve into the rabbit hole that is the world-wide-web but to save you the trouble I can tell you that some (and by no means the majority) claim that he is the devil himself.
Utter tosh! – but don’t quote me on that.
Some claim The Hat Man sat on their chest, pushing down so they couldn’t breathe, while others say that he spoke to them. No such thing ever happened to me. My version of Hat Man is simply a spooky, shadowed weirdo who watched me sleep and gave me the creeps.
But none of the above explains who he is.
Experts would have you believe that Hat Man sightings are the result of sleep paralysis, a state of being where you can’t move, neither asleep nor fully awake, and that might be true for some. But personally, I have experienced sleep paralysis before, and my visit from Hat Man was nothing of the kind. Others claim to have seen Hat Man whilst taking hallucinatory drugs. Well, maybe they did, but I can say, quite emphatically, that I was NOT taking drugs at four years old (or at any age, for that matter) – so that rules that theory out too. And then there’s the nay-sayers who insist he appears to those in unhappy households, those with depression or living in an abusive relationship – and again, this may be true of some, but not me. My memories of Hat Man are very clear. I was a normal, happy, healthy four-year-old child. But Hat Man still visited me – multiple times.
I’ll grant you, it’s all rather odd. A shadowy man with no face, dressed like an angel bureau guide or Dracula’s killer? But how can so many people, from so many walks of life, from childhood to adulthood, have the same vision?
Truth be told, there simply is no explanation for who Hat Man is, where he comes from, or why he’s here. The only thing we can be certain of is that he is most definitely very real – either that or thousands of people globally are having mass hallucinations. Whoever he is though, he mostly visits in the dead of night while you’re sleeping, and watches from beside the bed (good luck sleeping tonight!), and it seems for now that his identity shall remain a mystery. But if you’re reading this – Mr Hat Man – and I sincerely hope you’re not (gulp!), then just know that we humans that hail from the planet earth are on to you and your nighttime skullduggery, and if you so much as show your shifty face in my bedroom again, I swear on my favourite fluffy white slippers that I’ll . . . I’ll . . .
. . . (*whimper*)
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