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"Have you ever seen something so far outside your everyday experiences you are at a loss to explain what you saw? What follows is the true story of an extraordinary encounter with an apparently alien presence in urban surroundings.

In the early hours of a weekday morning when I was living in London as a student, back in the early 1990s, I was walking back from a friend’s house where another friend, Sue, and myself had spent the whole night talking and revising with a group of other people. No drugs or alcohol had been involved other than coffee. Sue lived some way away, so I’d offered to let her crash over at my place.

Dawn was just breaking as we turned onto my street. We were very tired and didn’t say much to each other until I spotted a man walking up towards us on the same path, some distance away. I didn’t think anything of it; in a city like London, people are up and about at all hours and besides, weren’t we? He could have been a milkman, a refuse collector, a night-shift worker heading home.

We walked towards the man. He walked towards us. My home was between us. I began to feel uneasy. I still, to this day, don’t know why I said what I did but I turned to Sue, and the following conversation took place in whispers:

"Sue, see that man?"
"Well, this is going to sound weird. He isn’t a man, is he?"
"No. Did I just say that?"
"You did. And he isn’t."

The figure we had taken to be a man had changed, as if a *glamour had been lifted. What we saw was humanoid in shape, about five feet tall and with very long arms but short legs. It was a black silhouette, very thin-looking. I’ve often described it since as being similar to the stick man which is often used on bathroom doors to tell you that you’re entering the men’s room. And when I say black, I mean black - no light, no shade, nothing but a void. It was as if someone had taken a cookie cutter and had shaped a hole in reality in the shape of something almost, but not quite, human.

The creature seemed to be, well, I’ve used the word ‘lolloping’ before now, which isn’t really a word but denotes the dancing, jolly steps it was taking as it walked. It stopped. Both Sue and I felt the creature had realised we could see it for what it really was rather than what we were supposed to see. It turned, or seemed to turn, ever so slightly and it was then we could see the creature wasn’t three-dimensional. It was flat, so much so that turning made parts of it vanish from before our eyes until it turned back to fully face us once more.

We freaked. We ran without discussion. I got my key out and fumbled with the front door of my home, which was a big Victorian house converted into flats. I lived on the middle floor. Sue behind me urged me to hurry. We were both terrified. I got the door unlocked, we dashed inside, closed and locked it again. We ran up the stairs and hid round the corner, like little children peeping at the big front door, which had two big glass panels through which we could see the front garden.

The black stick man approached the door and we could see its dark shape pressing up against the glass. Neither of us breathed. The creature looked - I say looked, it had no eyes - through first one pane, then the other. It waited for what felt like an eternity before vanishing. One second it was there, the next it wasn’t. It was a few minutes before either Sue or I could find the will to move and get ourselves into my living room to discuss what we had seen. We knew whatever it was, it was alien - either from ‘up there’ or ’sideways’ but definitely not of the world we knew and felt comfortable with.

It was over ten years later, through a forum post on the Fortean Times website, that I discovered our experience was not unique, that there have been sightings of this creature all over the world.

It remains the case today that I find the notion of being able to encounter a being from either another world or another dimension on a London street to be truly terrifying. My guess - and of course, all you can do is guess, and intuit, or mock others or yourself if that’s your thing - is that what we saw was related to the various mythologies of faeries and spirits the world over. I do not think the black stick man was a being from another planet, but rather our own. Normally invisible to human beings, something made him - if it was male, who knows? - visible to us for a time that day.

Perhaps the fact that dawn was breaking was significant. Maybe our having gone all night without sleep left us open to senses not usually engaged being switched on, so that we could see things ‘not there’ in ways similar to genuine mediums, or maybe it was a shared hallucination - but if it was, there’s no explanation of how two people can share a hallucination, or why. I don’t buy into the hallucination theory and not because I don’t want it said I imagined the creature; as a writer, I inhabit the imagination more frequently than most, and feel no shame in saying so.

The imagination is a wonderful thing but this being was not imagined. It was real. It was something unexplained, some aspect of the natural world, the universe, which was revealed to us most likely through a conjunction of environmental and other factors - the time, the place, the weather, our lack of sleep, and so on. Was the being friendly? I don’t think so. I think our instinct to run and hide was primal. The creature had affected us emotionally throughout the encounter. We had not only experienced great fear but we both felt the being had been arrogant, superior in attitude and angry that its glamour had been pierced or had failed to operate.

I never want to see this creature again. Whatever dimensions it came from, I hope I never find myself walking in them. My belief as to what it was has come to me over a decade. It was no spaceman. It was closer in behaviour and perceived threat to those goblins and elves of folklore than any little green man. Where was the spaceship? There was none. Besides, parking in London is always a bitch.

Seriously though, the shape of its outline whenever I draw it - its oval head, its long arms, its short legs - always makes people think of shows like The X Files or the film about Whitley Strieber and his encounters with aliens, Communion. Ultimately, I don’t know what we saw, man from Mars or inter-dimensional pixie, but I do most sincerely hope none of you ever encounter this creature or, if you do, never do so alone.

Our thanks to Andy for sharing the above encounter. Please note that the article above may not be republished without the permission of it's author.

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* Glamour: The original meaning of the word glamour was the act of casting a spell over someone. The modern meaning of the word relates to fascination, charisma, beauty or sexual attraction. A person, or their lifestyle, can be described as glamourous. The alternative spelling glamor is little-used, even in the United States. This is because the word is from the Scots language. In Christopher Priest's 1984 fantasy novel,The Glamour, the innate ability to turn one's self invisible is to possess the glamour.

In his book It, Stephen King uses the Scots word glamour in reference to the creature known as It or Pennywise, saying that it means a creature able to either truly change its shape and/or physical appearance at will, or be seen as different things by different people.

A benevolent version of (possibly) this creature, Glommer, was featured in the Punky Brewster animated cartoon of the 1980s. Unlike King's monster, Glommer was cuddly and vaguely celtic."