Locked away in attics, basements, and dark corners across the world are stories of beings and beasts that hide in the night.
These are those stories.
This is the Sleepless in Suburbia Podcast.
I’m Brooke, case manager for our team, and this is the audio recap for Case 115: Windom’s West Bank Hideaway.
I had just grabbed my Door Dashed Chipotle from the porch when a text alert pinged from the sofa where a season 1 episode of Ghost Hunters sat paused. Grabbing my phone, I headed to the kitchen, chucking the metal burrito bowl lid in recycling, fumbling to key in my phone passcode since, per usual, my face recognition didn’t work.
The text screen finally opened. I stared at a text from Pru convinced my mind was mentally autocorrecting Allen or Alabama or Alligator to the word Alien. One hand texting, I stepped forward, tripping over Laney the Yorkipoo, spilling a freshly delivered veggie burrito bowl with extra guacamole to the floor.
Ping Ping. Pru “Yup, Alien. Check the inbox; this case is a must go.”
Scooping the sad remains of my once perfect burrito bowl into the trash, I flopped on the sofa, hitting play on Ghost Hunters. Inbox open, I clicked the starred email with the subject line “Alien Invasion.”
The email read:
My name’s Walt Windom, my wife Sarah and I own Windom’s West Bank Hideaway here in Madison. Our small vacation cabin community is everything someone wanting to escape the city could want. Private beach on the West Bank of Canary Lake. Cabins, with private walks nestled in individual clearings in the forest. Electronics lockers, so you can fully unplug for your stay without the temptation of checking your Facegram. It’s perfect, except for the rash of alien sightings at almost every one of our seven cabins.
It started about two months ago; a guest watched an alien walk under the gas lamps lighting the path to the water. A week or so later, the aliens started knocking on guests’ cabins, some say the aliens even communicate with them in English.
Words getting out about the reoccurring alien encounters. Our sleepy little Hideaway is almost empty of actual guests and crawling with wackadoos wanting to investigate by trespassing in the middle of the night. Not that we think your investigation is wackadoo, we really need you to come here and get this sorted out before our years of hard work goes up in smoke.
Aliens speaking English strolling around a cabin community like it’s an extraterrestrial club med?
Here’s what we know about the property.
The Windom’s bought the property in 1981.
There are 7 Guest Cabins – Each sitting at the end of a long river stone walkway set back in the woods. At your cabin, you’re entirely secluded; you can’t see your cabin neighbors. You r choose to Hideaway from the rest of the world here.
Walt & Sarah’s House has a similar secluded stone walkway and setup to the other cabins.
The Lodge is the central hub, set up in the middle of the property. Here guests check-in or out, borrow books or board games from the Hideaway Library, purchase snacks/alcohol, or hang out with other guests outside the Lodge at a fire pit area.
There are a handful of storage sheds along the dirt path leading to the lake, which holds kyaks and other water recreation supplies.
We got a late start hitting the road to Maddison; Claire had a third interview for a dream numbers job, which ran late. Like two hours late…. Because she landed the gig. Congrats Claire. May all your spreadsheets balance, and your ten key batteries never die.
The Madison Public Records building was a no go, a typed sign on the door read, “Closed Due to Flooding Until Further Notice.” Cell service was spotty at best in this rural of an area forcing Pru to opt for post-investigation research.
Onsite Interview Recap
Turning off County Road L a long gravel road curved through dense trees that canopied overhead making a tree tunnel, before opening up into a large clearing with the Lodge in the center and paths jutting off from the center like sunbeams from the sun.
It was a beautiful day, warm air, cool breeze, birds chirping… how could anything creepy happen at such a picturesque location? We joined the Windom’s at a picnic table for ice tea and animal cookies with little icing tubs. My hand to the snack gods; they were a big kid version of the dunkaroos my mom used to pack in my elementary school lunches.
Sarah asked about our trip if the storm that morning had slowed our travels, and likely would have continued the small talk pleasantries, if not for Walt. Who sat at the end of the table leg shaking before finally blurting out, “Oh, for Pete’s sake, Sarah, they’re here to chase away the aliens.”
Chit chat over. Cookies and dunking icing abandoned on the table for the darn flies to enjoy. We were off to the Windom’s house.
The invasion began on a warm spring evening, Sarah finished cleaning up supper and sitting down in her rocker on the screened-in porch to work on a Sudoku puzzle. Voices came from the darkness just before beams of light from flashlights became visible up the path. She was surprised to see Mr. & Mrs. H (we will leave their names out for their privacy) jogged towards her.
While out for a romantic moonlit stroll, the couple noticed two shadows moving along the pathway leading towards the lake. The shadows stepped from the edge of the path under the glowing gas lights. The shadows were children, neither older than 12. The children stopped walking, looking at Mr. & Mrs. H motionless, but the shadows caused by the gas lights made it hard to see the children’s faces, especially their eyes shrouded in darkness. Mrs. H noted they were unnaturally still, before turning and walking towards the lake. Concerned about young children heading towards the water unsupervised, the couple followed down the path, but the path was empty. The children were gone. Panicked, the children would get hurt; the H’s went straight to let the Windom’s home.
Windom’s West Bank Hideaway was an adult-only getaway. No children onsite. To be safe, Sarah called the Sheriff’s station, deputies arrived looking for the wayward children, but found no one.
Two weeks later, Sarah was in her kitchen, making a wine spritzer when she noticed movement out her back window near the trees. Shadows moved, dark figures making their way from the woods towards her house. Figuring it was a deer with a fawn, Sarah went back to drink, dropping a handful of frozen raspberries into her glass. Turning to head towards the living room to finish her Lifetime movie, she paused, hoping to catch a glimpse of the fawn, and her glass slipped from her grasp, shattering to the floor. Outside, lit bright enough to see easily were two children. The girl was taller than the little boy, and they both looked at the ground unmoving. Sarah rushed outside, but the yard was empty. Looking around, she noticed the night was quiet, no crickets or other insects buzzing about.
That same night on the opposite side of the property in cabin 5, a young woman sat typing away on her laptop, using the Hideaway as her personal writing retreat. In full writer’s flow, she was startled back to reality by banging on the cabins back door. Looking at the clock, it was after midnight, “who would be knocking this late and on the back door,” she thought. Making her way to the back door, she called out, asking who was there. No response. Sliding the lace curtain aside, peering out onto the dimly lit deck, she saw a child—a little girl, maybe 13. The child turned to look at the window, directly at the writer, who became sickened with an overwhelming feeling of dread.
The girl said, “Ma’am, please let me in; I need to phone my mother.”
When the woman didn’t respond, the girl continued, “Please, I can’t enter unless you let me, I must phone my mother.”
She grabbed her cell to call to lodge for help, but it was dead, despite having been sitting on the charger. The girl began knocking on the door, asking over and over to be let in. The woman’s not sure how long the knocking lasted, but as abruptly as it began, it stopped.
A man unloading bags from his car one night turned, closing his trunk to find two teenage boys standing a foot behind him. Their clothes looked outdated; one boy wore knicker style short pants and tall socks. The taller of the two teens was very quiet looking down at the ground while the other teen said, “Excuse me, sir, can you give us lift in your automobile to the market?” The man said their voices were monotone, and something about the pair made him uneasy. Backing away, not daring to turn his back to the boys, he made his way to the driver’s side door, dropping his bags as he hopped into the car, locking the door. He pressed start and jumped at the sound of knocking on his window. The shorter teen was there, “Please, sir, drive me in your automobile to the market to get milk for my mother.” The man refused looking at the teen’s face, his eyes were totally black, assuming the teens were on drugs, the man sped away. Calling the Windom’s to let them know he wouldn’t be staying in such a drug-ridden unsafe area. The Windom’s shipped the man his dropped luggage.
The alien sightings happened more and more frequently. Rumors started to circulate on social media about alien beings taking over the Hideaway. Reservations canceled. Guests checked out early, some demanding a refund, while others fled in the night with little explanation. Night after night, things happened surrounding these drug-addicted alien children.
It felt like my stomach would fall right out of my butt. What the heck had we gotten ourselves into?
“I don’t think we’re lucky enough to be dealing with aliens,” Lark mumbled nervously picking at her Lincoln Park After dark deep plum nail polish.
I hated to admit it, but she was right.
We walk a line between logic and mystery. We debate how something unexplainable can happen without reason. Only in our world would you hope for alien invasion over the more and more likely unsettling possibility of black-eyed kids.
So what are blacked eyed kids?
Frankly, we have no idea.
There is a whole lot that we don’t know and very little that we do.
Here’s what we are reasonably confident about. Black-eyed kids come out to play at night, almost always approaching adults. They appear to be somewhere between 6 and 16 years old with ashen skin, always needing something like to use a phone or a ride home, and overall, they seem like any sweet little kiddo totally non-threatening just in need of help. Until you realize the vibes kind of off about the kid, and after a second or two, you notice their eyes are vacant black balls of darkness. No white of the eye, no colorful iris, just deep darkness where the eyes should be. This is one the encounter can turn dangerous.
If you ever come face to face with blacked-eyed children, the best advice I can give you is do not acknowledge their eyes or let on that you think there’s something “off” about them. This is important; it could save your life.
Many accounts have the children approaching adults at their car or front door; some have seen these terrifying creatures watching them from outside a window or even lurking in the bedrooms’ shadows watching them sleep.
And without question, you should never let these beings in your car or home.
There’s a lot we don’t know for sure about these creatures, but there are several theories.
Lark found a black-eyed kids origin theory in a book called Your Haunted Lives: The Black-Eyed Kids by G. Michael Vasey. In this excerpt, Vasey explains how the black-eyed kids may be connected to the Iroquois.
“The Iroquois Indians believed in a dark power called the Otkon that could take over children and an ‘Evil One’ who would mate with human females to produce black-eyed, chalky skinned, children. These children were killed by the tribe soon after birth and burned to stop them from resurrecting. Children wandering alone in the woods could also be taken over by Otkon and would re-emerge with black eyes and pale skin acting nervously while repeating themselves over and over. Their goal was to destroy the tribe and infect all of the people with Otkon.”
You can grab a kindle copy of Your Haunted Lives: The Black-Eyed Kids on Amazon, if you want some light nighttime reading.
Some believe that the devil or demons are housed in the bodies of blacked eyed kids and that by letting them into your home or car you are inviting hell into your life.
Perhaps they are aliens, ghosts, or even blood-sucking vampires. Though there haven’t been any accounts of them actually sucking blood, it’s believed they can cause severe health issues for those who invite them in or acknowledge their eyes. There is a story of an elderly couple in Vermont who let two children into their home on a snowy winter night. After the husband mentioned their blackened eye sockets to his wife, the power in the house suddenly went out, and the man’s nose began bleeding heavily. The children left the home, meeting with two tall string bean skinny men at the end of the driveway. After the children left, the lights came back on. For days the husband continued experiencing severe nosebleeds, eventually visiting his doctor, where he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of skin cancer.
The only thing we knew for sure about them, is we really had no clue what we were dealing with.
Walt gave us the name and number of the former property landscaper, Mary Beth Arnold. Claire gave Mary Beth a call, who agreed to meet with us, as long as our meeting space was nowhere near Windom’s West Bank Hideaway. Mary Beth suggested a dinner off the highway called Maggie’s Mud Pies in an hour, Claire, Lark, and Pru headed towards the dinner. Leaving Lo, Ford, and myself at the Hideaway.
Mary Beth worked at the Windom’s West Bank Hideaway for over 15 years; she quit without notice ten days ago. After working an 11 hour day mowing and edging the property Mary Beth was beat, the next day would be a long one as well. Sarah offered Cabin 3 for Mary Beth to crash in so she wouldn’t have to drive home while exhausted. Since so many of the cabins were empty because of the social media alien drama, Mary Beth gladly accepted.
After a shower and heating up a frozen pizza, Mary Beth flopped on the couch to read a couple chapters of a vampire romance novel before heading to bed. A little before midnight, there were tandem knocks at the front and back doors of the cabin. Thinking maybe she’d dozed off and imagined the noise, Mary Beth went back to reading. The duel door knocking began again, steady, repeating, not stopping until Mary Beth stood up. Then the cabin was quiet. At the front door, Mary Beth looked out the peephole seeing two small children no older than 7. One looked up towards the peephole, “Hello miss, may we use your toilet?” When Mary Beth didn’t answer it continued, “I see you standing there on the other side of your looking glass, let us in won’t you, our father will be here soon.”
A pounding began on the backdoor, stopping long enough for an even-toned voice to say, “We saw you today ma’am we know you’re here, let us in, we’re nothing but little children.” Then banging on both doors continued. Terrified Mary Beth text the following to Sarah, “The aliens are trying to break down both doors. Call Sheriff Leary.”
Standing in the middle of the small cabin, figures appeared in the windows. Two at a front window, one at the back window, and three at the window beside the fireplace all tapping on the glass. She could easily see they were all too young to be teenagers, they were all sickly pale, and they all had black orbs where their eyes should be.
She heard something say, “Let us in Mary Beth.” Realizing that it came from her mind like they were calling to her from beneath her subconscious. The table lamp began flickering; the microwave buzzed on and off, a small radio on a bookshelf clicked on first to an oldies station, then scanned to nothing but static volume blasting. The voice echoed in her head, “We’re just children Mary Beth, let us in”. She dropped out her knees, clasping her hands over her ears humming Silent Night to herself.
Headlights cut through one of the windows grabbing Mary Beth’s attention; the cabin fell silent, looking around the three windows were empty. She walked out of the cabin, told Walt she quit, and drove home… never returning to the property.
Mary Beth’s hands continued to shake as she concluded her story, taking a trembling sip of her coffee. Pru slid an untouched slice of French Silk Pie across the table towards the anxious woman, “You need this more than I do.”
Though none of them will admit it, I’m confident they considered leaving us at the Hideaway to investigate on our own. Debating how angry we’d be if they resurfaced the next day off the side of Country Road L, where we could have a ride home if we hiked to them.
- Prior to the BEK sightings, there was nothing to report. Unlike many other locations we’ve investigated, this location was inactive, until it wasn’t.
This investigation would be different than any in the past. All investigators onsite, all in different locations. We would each take our own cabin, which seemed like the worst best idea I’d ever come up with.
Me – Cabin 1
Lark – Cabin 3
Claire – Cabin 5
Ford – Cabin 7
Pru – The Windom’s Home
Lo – The Lodge
Lo put together research packs, filling them with extra supplies for our overnight research.
Our Research Packs are just backpacks with supplies including:
- Digital Voice Recorder
- Digital Camera
- Full Spectrum Video Camera
- Complete First aid kit
- Avon skin so soft bug guard – though I wouldn’t encourage a lot of outside exploring with potential black eyes children strolling the grounds
- Walkie Talkie
- Battery Kit – if it took batteries, you’d find a replacement for it in the Battery Kit.
- LifeGuard Whistle
- Snack boxes provided by Sarah that thankfully included her dunkaroo cookies and frosting.
- Holy water left over from the Francis House Investigation
- Cellphone charger
As night fell, the Windom’s locked the gate leading to the main area, wishing us luck. They were off to spend the evening with their daughter and grandchildren.
Leaving Lo at the Lodge, the rest of us headed down our individual stone-lined paths towards our cabin for the evening. I could have enjoyed the stroll, lightning bugs dancing through the trees, crickets singing, an owl hooting off in the distance. It was a glorious summer evening, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were being watched.
These are our Experiences
- Me – Cabin 1
Arriving at cabin 1, I decided to take advantage of the few remaining moments of pink and purple tented twilight, exploring the area around the cabin rolling video. Walking around the cabin towards the deck, something scuttered at me from under the boards…. I screamed, jumping back camera flying.
“Devil creature” I shouted as the walkie talkie on my hip came to life.
“B, you okay?” Claire’s voice crackled. “What Happened?”
I sucked in a few breaths before responding, “False alarm, false alarm, it was a devil bunny.”
“Only Brooke can be taken down by a rabbit.” – Lo’s voice mused.
I glared at the spot in the woods where the brown rabbit had vanished, listening to it rush deeper into the woods. Better a bunny than you know what. Suddenly feeling like a character from Harry Potter afraid to mention he who shall not be named.
An EVP session inside the cabin revealed nothing.
After my rabbit attack, the night was uneventful, like finished ⅔ of Megan Miranda’s new book kind of uneventful. I wish quiet would have been the evening’s theme, but eventually, the clock struck midnight.
- Lark was assigned Cabin 3
She settled into the window seat at the kitchen table, taking advantage of the quiet distraction-free evening to work on a paper.
She reported nothing out of the ordinary until around 11:55 pm, the noise from nighttime nature was silent. She radioed, “Uh guys, did the crickets and cicadas stop?” They had, from cabin one all the way around the property to the Lodge’s center point, the woods were still.
Grabbing her camera and flashlight, Lark headed out the front door to explore. The wind was gone, no more lightning bugs flickering here and there, the night was void of noise. “I’m outside, heading to the deck,” she updated us over the radio.
“Be careful,” Claire said.
On the back deck of the cabin facing the woods, a sound broke through the darkness, a stick snapping in the wooded darkness. Flipping on the flashlight in the woods’ direction, the beam illuminated the chalky pale face of a child wearing a grey t-shirt and jeans. In the time it took her brain to register that what she was seeing was real, the flashlight went out. Moving off the deck, she sprinted towards the front of the house, hearing a voice call out, “Excuse me miss.” Inside slamming the door, she radioed, saying, “They’re here.”
We only heard They’re.
Before her two-word walkie talkie broadcast finished, the lights in her cabin cut out.
I was already running towards her cabin.
- Things were going downhill fast for Claire in Cabin 5
When Lark’s walkie talkie transmission cut, the entire team’s walkies died. Claire quickly realized she had no service on her cell either. We were completely isolated. Grabbing her research pack, she headed towards the front door when fear gave way to an overwhelming wave of dread. Each step towards the door slower than the one before, her stomach knotting, unease filling her entire body.
Then a knock rattled the door. She froze. Another knock.
Then a tiny figure took shape at the window by the door, with a tiny tap tap tap on the glass.
“We are just little children, may we come in and use your phonograph?” – Phonograph what freaking year was it?
From the back of the cabin, a voice, “Ma’am won’t you let us in, our parents will be angry if you don’t.”
- At Cabin 7 – Ford sat in the dark
The microwave turned on and off on it’s own, even when there didn’t seem to be electricity to the cabin.
Despite the craziness unfolding around her, cabin 7 didn’t have any sightings of anything unusual.
- Pru was stationed at The Windom’s Home
Walkie Talkies dead, lights flickering, three taps came from the wall of the cabin. Then three more at the back door. Followed by a steady knock at the front.
“Go away,” Pru yelled to the phantom knocks.
“Don’t be cross,” a voice said from the front door. “We’ve come in before we can, come in now if we’d like.”
“You may not come in young man,” Pru replied.
Their response….. Laughter. The doorknob turned, “Unlock the door ma’am. Our father says it’s okay.”
Knocking began again, then pounding, then….. A loud horn.
- Lo at The Lodge
About 12:10, the lights went out in the Lodge, and she knew it was time to go.
Lo found me; first, half jogging have girl with asthma foot shuffling along the main path towards cabin 3. My lungs thanked her.
Using the footpath as a road Lo, blared the horn flipping on her lights as we approached Lark’s cabin. She was out the door and in the car before Lo took her hand off the horn.
We repeated the same loud, bright process picking up Claire and Ford.
Outside of the Windom’s cabin, Pru wouldn’t come out. I got out of the SUV racing to the front door, “Pru Pru it’s us, come on we gotta go,”
Silence from inside.
“Pru it’s me come on we have to go, they’re here, they’re everywhere.” Silence.
Standing in front of the window, I begged, “I swear it’s me, would those freaks know about that time in Colorado when you….”
The front door opened and we ran.
Thanks to Lo’s mad offroading skills, we maneuvered around the locked gate and headed towards Country Road L. Sitting next to me, Ford said, “Oh Shit,” and grabbed my arm. I followed her glance out the back window; the lights were back on at the Hideaway lighting up several shadowy figures standing on the road watching us leave. They were there.
“Lo,” I said. “Faster.”
This is the first time in the history of the Sleepless in Suburbia Society that we’ve fled a location. The first time we took on a case that we had zero idea how to handle.
Are there really at least ten different blacked eyed children roaming the woods around Windom’s West Bank Hideaway? Or is there a singular creature, manifesting in numerous different forms.
What caused such a concentration of aggressive negative entities? We looked for answers days following our escape from the Hideaway but came up empty. Though the Windom’s were thankful for our help, we knew we weren’t able to provide them the assistance needed. We aren’t even exactly sure what that assistance is. We do know they shouldn’t be on the property, especially at night, until the infestation is resolved.
We are unable to close Case 115 at this time; it seems premature to do so when there are still sightings, and cleansing of the property provided by our experts aren’t working. There’s more to this story, more with the property that we need to figure out, in order to get to the bottom of this blacked eyed kids infestation.
If you want to check out some of our pictures from Whitehurst Winery case file, listen to the EVP’s, and stay up to date with everything happening behind the scenes you can stay connected with us on Facebook and Instagram we are at @SLEEPLESSSUBURBIAPOD
We will be back next week with another case, until then thanks again for listening to Sleepless in Suburbia. If you enjoy our cases, please make sure to rate and review us on Apple Podcast, and make sure to subscribe, so you get our new case each week.