The preschool boy was menacing.
Terri Clevenger worked at the southern Missouri Christian Learning Center in 2003, and a four-year-old boy named James terrified her.
“He was just different,” she said. “He had dark brown eyes and always had a mischievous grin on his face. He had a temper, too. I always was on him for his behavior.”
James knocked over his food at lunch, hit and bit other children, and did things that, on the surface, appeared to be tools to grab attention. They weren’t; something was odd about the boy.
“He was always different. He would play different,” Clevenger said. “He usually played by himself because he was mean and the other children didn't want to play with him. He usually wanted to play crazy things; violent things that really didn't interest most of the others.”
James didn’t want to participate in the learning activities. He just wanted to play violent games.
“As far as skills go, he was behind the other kids. He scribbled and didn't even try to do the simple worksheets I had for them to do,” Clevenger said. “He was the youngest of three, so I think he was exposed to other things at home. (When he played violently) he knew what to say and what to do, if that makes sense. His eyes always had the glimmer of mischief.”
James’s mother, who worked at a local hospital, dropped the boy at the Baptist Learning Center earlier than anyone, and always picked him up after every other child had gone home.
“His mom worked at the hospital and always seem frazzled,” Clevenger said. “It was common for her to get a bad report about her son, but I really tried to find something positive he had done during the day.”
During those pickups, James’s mom would sprinkle in details about the boy’s home life.
“She would say things about how they couldn't control him,” Clevenger said. “That when he got home he'd strip down to his underpants and run around like a crazy person. He'd never go to bed; stay up until 11p.m. or later. She'd even asked if I could keep him up at naptime, which we couldn't do, because bedtime was hell at her house.”
Every time James’s mother picked him up, he ran to embrace her, but there was something more.
“He always would hug her, but he would sass her, too,” Clevenger said. “It was pretty clear that he ran the show.”
The reason became apparent every time James got into trouble; there was something dark about the boy.
“It was always a struggle and I usually had to physically hold him back because he'd hit and scratch me,” Clevenger said. “I was pregnant at the time, so I had to be careful around him. I didn't want him to kick or punch the baby.”
Then one day, Clevenger heard the Voice.
“One time, he was horrible,” she said. “He was in our time-out square and he was just hateful. Since it was a Christian preschool, I made a comment about how Jesus likes us to make good choices and he about flipped.”
James screamed in a different voice, “Don't say that name to me.”
“I swear, it was a hiss,” Clevenger said. “He then began to spit at me. I was just shocked.”
The Voice was much more than a hiss. Something about James had changed.
“He seemed older,” Clevenger said. “When he was mad and used his evil voice at me, that was an older, more mature, tone. That's one of the reasons it creeped me out so much. I spoke with my pastor about this odd behavior and Pastor Dave took it very seriously.”
The preacher told Clevenger to be careful around James.
“In the next few weeks, whenever James would get in trouble, I'd be sure to let him know that Jesus loved him, which almost always got a negative reaction,” she said. “He would yell, spit, and even cry every time I'd mention Jesus' name to him.”
One day James was in the time-out square when Clevenger couldn’t stand the threatening feeling anymore.
“I remember looking him square in the eyes and telling him that I wasn't afraid of him,” Clevenger said. “It was strange because James only had this horrible reaction to the name of Jesus when he was mad or in trouble. In normal conversation or play, if I told him Jesus loved him, I got a smile. It was when he wasn't getting his way that he turned into Damien.”
Was James just an undisciplined child, or did something dark have an unholy influence on this little boy?
- - -
LOOKING FOR STORIES
Have you met someone like James?
I’m looking for stories like this for my next book "Dangerous Entities." Have you encountered a being that appears human, but something about it cannot be “human.” Did this being seem out of place? Did it terrify you for no obvious reason? Was it a human possessed by evil? Was it extraterrestrial? Was it Fae? Was it your imagination? Or something else?
My chapters include encounters with:
• Strange men: such as Men in Black and other out-of-place people.
• Dangerous men: people who evoke a feeling of terror from you.
• Evil children: children who seem to be anything but children.
• Little people: menehune, gnomes, etc.
• The Fae.
• Time Travelers.
• Shape shifters.
If you’ve had an encounter with an entity like this, I’d like the opportunity to share your story in “Dangerous Entities.” Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or email@example.com. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.