During the winter of my fourteenth year, something very strange happened to me. For three months, every night I’d be visited by a man in a trench coat and a top hat, who came to me in my bathroom mirror. Whether or not I was actually dreaming, this is what would happen: I’d be sound asleep and then, for no reason, would wake up. My eyes would snap open and for a few minutes, I’d lay paralyzed on my bed.
Then, slowly, I’d sit up, without even trying. My body would turn itself to look in the large mirror to my left. Standing inside the mirror, was that man in a top hat, just watching me. When he was there, I was never able to move even an inch. I came to think of him as Top Hat.
At first, I thought it was just a dream. But it was so realistic and happened so often, that it creeped into my own reality. I see his face in a large crowd, just for a moment. I saw him rounding a corner in my home. I saw him everywhere, even outside of my dreams and during the day time.
Every night, I was terrified to go to bed. I would repeat, “not tonight” over and over, hoping he would not show up. But he always did. Sometimes he had with him a gold watch on a chain and he’d check the time. Other times he would just stare at me for what felt like hours. Top Hat came to me for three months and then one day, there was just nothing.
But I never forgot it because every time I was visited by that apparition, I was petrified. I couldn’t understand why, but that didn’t really matter. Dozens of journal entries were written about him but after a few years, he rarely crossed my mind.
At least, until the summer of last year.
I was babysitting the children of a family friend. The two younger ones had gone to bed, so the oldest of the three (who was fifteen years old and a close friend of my sister) and I decided to watch a movie. We chose The Nightmare, a horror documentary that follows eight people who suffer from sleep paralysis and night terrors.
The crew found these people through YouTube, message boards, and internet chatrooms. They’d interview each person, who would talk about their experiences with sleep paralysis. A lot of them mentioned a presence that they either sensed or saw in the room with them. The Nightmare set the scene as supernatural or demonic events. For me, it was entertaining, not really scary at all.
But then one of the main characters told his story. He talked about something that happen to him as a child. He’d be laying in bed, in a deep sleep, and then wake up, feeling like there was someone else in the room. He’d slowly be raised to face from his bed to see a man in his doorway. A man in a trench coat and top hat. When I saw that, my blood ran cold. That was my shadow man.
After babysitting, I went home and immediately found the diaries from that point in my life. Sure enough, there were dozens of entires about him. That night, when I laid down in my bed, I was convinced that this would be the night that he would return for me.
But he didn’t. He never came.
I ended up doing a bit of research and found out that this apparition is not uncommon. There are dozens of forums online with people talking about their experiences with what they called The Shadow Man or The Top Hat Demon. People claim he is only a small part of an entire demonic group of Shadow People.
From what I gather, the majority of people who are visited by The Shadow Man are in South East Asia, although they do seem to cover all corners of the globe. They are people who are dealing with some sort of trauma or sadness in their lives. Many of them said he had glowing eyes, but I never personally saw that. Others saw him with two other henchmen-like figures.
Yet, what disturbed me the most was that a lot of them had also brought up the gold watch and chain. That’s a really specific detail.
The more I read about him, the more unsettled I became. For weeks, I read dozens of people’s personal accounts with The Shadow Man and watched numerous YouTube videos on the matter. Everyone seems to think it’s a demon.
It got to the point where I was making myself sick with worry. Every night, just like eight years before, I was convinced I would see him. I thought my new discovery that other people knew of him would somehow conjured him up.
I count myself lucky because I haven’t seen the Top Hat Demon in nine years. Still, I’m not sure how long this will last.