Lair of the Beasts: Monsters & the Men in Black (Mania.com)
Date: Saturday, May 21, 2011
For decades - or perhaps even for centuries, some firmly believe - the infamous Men in Black have been elusive, predatory, fear-inducing figures that have hovered with disturbing regularity upon the enigmatic fringes of the subject of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), coldly nurturing, and carefully weaving, their very own unique brand of horror and intimidation of a definitively other-world variety.
The preferred tools of terror of the MIB are outright menace, far less than thinly-veiled threats, and overwhelming, emotionless intimidation. And they are relentless when it comes to following their one and only agenda - that is, to forever silence witnesses to, and investigators of, UFO encounters. Unfortunately, it has to be admitted, they have been highly successful in achieving their unsettling goal, too.
Indeed, and without any shadow of doubt whatsoever, the long and winding history of UFO studies is absolutely littered with fraught, frightened and emotionally-shattered figures that have been forever menaced into silence by the Men in Black, and who, as a result, have firmly distanced themselves from the UFO controversy, vowing never, ever to return to the fold.
But what’s far less well known is the fact that the Men in Black have a deep and lasting link to the subjects of Cryptozoology and strange creatures – as my brand new book, The Real Men in Black, demonstrates.
There can surely be very few people reading this article who have not at least heard of the legend of Mothman – a creature that haunted the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and its surrounding areas, between November 1966 and December 1967. The diabolical exploits of the beast were chronicled in the 2002 hit Hollywood movie that starred Richard Gere: The Mothman Prophecies, named after the book of the same title written by the previously-referred-to John Keel.
A devil-like, winged monster sporting a pair of glowing, red eyes, Mothman came hurtling out of nowhere. And, some say, its presence culminated in high tragedy, doom and death when Point Pleasant’s Silver Bridge collapsed killing dozens. The manifestation of Mothman also coincided with the spine-tingling appearance of significantly more than a few dreaded MIB in and around Point Pleasant, too.
It was throughout this entire, fraught period – from when Mothman first appeared, to the time of death and disaster on the cold, wintery, Ohio River – that the Men in Black dutifully delivered their calling-cards adorned with the words paranoia and fear. Many of those same MIB cases were either chronicled by, or actually involved, a woman named Mary Hyre, a journalist based in Point Pleasant.
In early January 1967, for example, Hyre – who, at the time, was working as the Point Pleasant correspondent for the Athens, West Virginia-based Messenger newspaper - received her very own, and typically absurd and unsettling, visit from a Man in Black. The new stranger in town wore his black hair in a bowl-style, was less than five-feet in height, possessed a pair of weirdly hypnotic eyes, and had curiously thick soles on his shoes. Notably, the late Jim Keith, who wrote his very own book on the Men in Black, pointed out that: “Thick shoe souls are a recurring detail in many MIB encounters."
Crazier still: the odd, little man seemed strangely entranced by Hyre’s ballpoint-pen. When Hyre told him he was welcome to keep it, his only response was a bone-chilling, cackle-like laugh, and he charged out of the door at high speed, duly vanishing into the cold, dark night as mysteriously as he had first arrived.
Beyond any shadow of doubt the strangest encounter occurred in late 1967, when a pair of MIB, looking like identical twins, and dressed in black overcoats, turned up at the offices of the newspaper and began making confounding conversation of the flying saucer variety.
One of the Men in Black noted, blankly, that there had recently been a lot of UFO activity in the area; a statement with which Hyre concurred. Then a barrage of questions began: had anyone asked Hyre not to publish the details of such activity?
Hyre assured the pair that, no, there had been no hush-up attempts by anyone. And, the MIB wanted to know, what would Hyre’s response be if someone did warn her not to print such tales?
Her forthright reply was concise and clear: “I’d tell them to go to Hell." Perhaps this dark duo interpreted Hyre’s words quite literally. After glancing back at the mounting workload on her desk for a moment, Hyre looked up again and both MIB were utterly gone.
The Men in Black, it seems, are as intimately linked with mystery animals and strange creatures as they are UFOs and Flying Saucers…
Nick Redfern’s new book, The Real Men in Black, is published by New Page Books.