She lost her children in a horrible fire due to no fault of her own. But now she roams the alleys and faintly lit streets at night in search of them for eternity. It was the anguish of such a sudden, heartbreaking loss that tormented her and cursed her into becoming the hideous being that she was now. A tattered, blackened dress did nothing but highlight her pale, near-glowing and hallowed face. Anyone unfortunate enough to meet her alone at night would be rushed upon and thrashed about by her while she bellowed the words “My children! My children!” over and over until the victim went mad. That is the myth of Black Annie, or Black Annis as she was once known in old England. What if it wasn’t a myth at all and the stories are true?
I believe that I may have had my own experience with Mother Annie and was fortunate enough to escape with my sanity. I had only just moved to Illinois after completing my degree in Psychology and set up my own practice in an average, unassuming town just outside of Chicago. I figured that it would be a good place to gain experience without having to deal with the hustle and bustle of the big city. And once I gained a reputation, I’d be able to open an office somewhere closer to the city. And I always felt like I’d enjoy getting to know a community on a more personal level, so it seemed like the perfect place. I was able to rent one of the older houses in the downtown area and lived in the upstairs to save money. It was a wonderful first few months and things were starting to really take off for me on a professional level.
One of the benefits of making your own work schedule is that you get to avoid the times of day that don’t agree with you. I’ve never been a morning person, so I would never schedule a patient before ten A.M. so that I could stay up later into the evening. I never did much besides read on the back porch or go for walks, but it was that peaceful time of night in which small towns come to a standstill. Only a few cars would be out on the roads after nine at night and I could enjoy the sound of the crickets and peaceful atmosphere in the dim light of the old-fashioned street lamps.
Even though I had been living there long enough to know my way around, there were still some side streets that I hadn’t yet ventured down, so I’d make a habit of finding new ones on my evening walks. That’s what first led me into my regrettable meeting with that woman in black. I turned down a very dark alleyway without much thought, as there was no real crime to be worried of in our town. I got about halfway down the path when from nearly out of thin air came a horrid looking woman scurrying towards me from somewhere hidden in the shadows. I heard her at first, feet dragging along through the gravel. My first reaction was to just freeze and put my hands up, but before I knew it, she had hold of either side of the collar on my jacket and began violently shaking my upper half around. It took a moment to process what was happening or what I was seeing due both in part to the randomness of the encounter and the darkness.
Once my eyes focused, the sight of her horrible visage was enough to send me stumbling backwards, though she had such a grip on my coat that she too moved with me. Her face was an unnatural white color and wrinkled with what must have been decades of sadness. She spoke in a gravely, strained voice that was not natural sounding at all as she said the words over and over again just inches from my own face:
“My children! Where are my children?!”
A very prominent part of my mind was ready to lose all control and I knew enough about the human psyche to sense that it was quickly coming to fruition. The uncontrollable fear that surrounded the entire encounter was nearly too much for me to withstand, but I somehow managed to block it out and break free from her tightened grasp. I believe I said something that was meant to resemble “I don’t know where you children are!” as I turned and retreated back down the alleyway. I wanted to run, but instead I just swiftly walked away from her as she continued to moan in sorrow. I did not hear stunted walk following me, however, which I was unbelievably pleased to realize.
I returned to my home and immediately went about trying to process just what I had experienced. I can’t say for sure what happened, but I knew that it wasn’t normal. I called an old professor of mine who I assumed would also be awake at such an hour, and told him what had transpired. He recommended that I not speak of the event and try to move on from it. He would not say whether or not he thought it was just a vagrant or something more sinister, but I could tell in his voice that it was a subject that I should just leave be. And that is what I tried to do.
It was not until many years later that another patient brought up an almost exact retelling of my encounter with that ghastly woman in black. He said that the only reason he escaped with his sanity that night was that he was aware of her existence since he was a young boy; the tale of Black Annie was one that his mother told him to keep him from going out late at night. I did not mention to him that I had my own run-in with the being, but reassured him that he was not crazy and that the world was full of very mysterious and sometimes awful things.