As promised we continue to share Ghost Stories for the month of September. Whether you're enjoying a campfire or just gearing up for the scary season it's always fun to hear a good ghost story. These stories were runners up for a contest hosted by Jim Harold for a story to be featured in his new release.
“Are you ready,” she asked, slowly positioning
the needle near my bicep. I nodded. A tinny buzzing sound instantly filled the
air, followed by what could only be described as the intense pain of a sharp
razor blade being dragged across my upper arm.
Though it was all mildly annoying, I was excited – just like all the
other times someone etched a tattoo onto my body.
This time was different though. I had been waiting almost 30 years to get
this particular tattoo.
It all began when a girl named Allyson transferred
into my 6th grade class. Our
teacher called her “special” in an attempt to prepare us for the shock we might
feel upon initially seeing her. You see,
Allyson had many medical conditions. She
had scoliosis, was overweight due to her medication and had a scar running down
the middle of her chest. Our teacher
described it as looking like, “a long white worm.”
When Allyson was finally introduced to the class, I
let out a soft groan of disappointment.
The new girl wasn’t some hideous beast like I secretly hoped. Sure she was bit overweight and leaned
slightly to the left from scoliosis, but otherwise she was positively
normal. I couldn’t even see the
But as I, along with my friends Michelle and Jason
got to know Allyson better, we discovered that she was actually “special”. Not only that, Allyson had a secret addiction
that quickly took hold of all of us and wouldn’t let go.
When Allyson introduced us to her addiction, we
were instantly hooked and getting our fix whenever we could. We’d feed our habit in Michelle’s bedroom
during cold wintry days, in my basement when the moon was full, on Jason’s
porch late into the evening or on dark Saturday nights in Allyson’s living
If we tried to stop, our addiction seemed to call
us back. Whether it was through the wind
rustling the autumn leaves, the awful cry of cats fighting in the bushes
beneath our window or the creaking of a settling house - the four of us always
found an excuse to go back and fulfill our needs just one more time.
When we’d do it and inevitably get spooked, we’d
promise never to touch it again. But its
call was too strong and we were soon at it one more time. We couldn’t stop.
Like all addicts, my friends and I thought we had a
handle on our habit. We could totally
control it. That all changed one
rain-soaked weekend afternoon in Michelle’s room.
Allyson, Michelle, Jason and I were sitting on the
bed and listening to music when someone suggested it. It was the perfect setting, after all. With Michelle’s parents downstairs, we
quietly retrieved the necessities from beneath the bed and turned off the
lights. Carefully removing our dirty
habit from the box, we arranged ourselves in a circle around it, placed our
fingers on it and silently began by asking the same question before we could
Allyson always asked because, as she told us,
spirits always answered witches. That’s what made her so special. Our very own pre-teen witch would close her
eyes and whisper, “Is there a spirit in the room?”
Then we’d wait for the planchette to move on the
The planchette never failed to move. At first, we could get the spirits to answer
just ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. With patience and
practice, we were soon getting one word answers and names. Soon we were so skilled that the spirits
would answer in full sentences and even predict future events. But it was this dreary afternoon when we
finally stepped over the Ouija threshold of no return. This was the day when the spirits read our minds!
This is how we intended it to work. Three people would put their fingers on the
planchette while the fourth person would think of a three digit number. Then, this person would run downstairs to
whisper their number to Michelle’s mother.
When the planchette predicted the number, we would compare it to the one
Michelle’s Mom was told. If they
matched, not only would we be mystified by the amazing powers of the Ouija
board, our addiction would be fully justified and we’d no longer have to hide
it from anyone. That was the plan
How did it really go down? Well, three of us sat Indian style around the
Ouija board and placed our hands on the planchette. The fourth person thought of a three digit
number and ran downstairs to tell Michelle’s Mom. Upon returning, they’d sit on the far side of
the room and ask the spirits for their prediction. Slowly, the planchette moved and revealed
three digits. The person who picked the
number would turn ghostly white and ask Michelle’s Mom to yell up what was
whispered to her. And when she did…
The numbers always matched.
We sat around in a darkened room for hours waiting
for the spirits to make a mistake. They
never did. Time and time again, someone
would think of a number, the spirits revealed their numerals and Michelle’s Mom
would scream up a number. And they were always the same.
As day turned into night, the four of us got
increasingly spooked. Every time a
prediction turned out true, we became a bit more unnerved. And when the four of us were completely
freaked, we threw the Ouija board back under the bed, switched on the lights
and vowed never to touch the thing again.
But then the wind would call our names, the cats in
the bushes would hiss out a haunting question or the house would creak in such
a way that we wouldn’t be able to resist.
Our compulsion once again beckoned us to play. And we’d drag out the Ouija board – seeking
answers from our haunting addiction. One
letter or number at a time.
“All done,” my tattooist chimed almost 3 hours
after she began. Wiping down the
artwork, she added, “I love doing
original tattoos like yours. Not just by the numbers.”
Looking down at my bicep, I saw perfect renditions
of the sun and moon featured on the Ouija board. I now had something on my body to forever
haunt me with memories of my old childhood compulsion and that day when the
spirits read my mind.
I smiled at my tattooist. “Oh, this tattoo is more ‘by the numbers’ than you’ll ever know.”
Coincidences? ….Mysteries of Found Money
Submitted by BETH
All my life I have
had a strange relationship with money. I find money, mostly coins, sometimes
larger amounts, almost daily. It’s not like I’m thinking about money and trying
to manifest it in my life. I never think about money. In fact, numbers in
general don’t hold meaning for me. When I see numbers, I notice the shape of
the numbers (and sometimes I associate colors with numbers) but an amount
doesn’t enter my mind. So it’s odd that money shows up in my life so
often. The following was one such
information: I grew up in a very disjointed, chaotic family. My mother married
and divorced several times. Most of my childhood, we had very little money,
getting by day to day. I started working at age 15. When I was 17, I left home
for college. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship with paid for
tuition and room and board. But I still needed to have a part-time job while in
college to afford to purchase books, and the basics of living.
My freshman year I
got a job on campus, which barely covered my expenses each month. I lived
paycheck to paycheck, not able to save any amount. During holidays, winter
break, and spring break, the campus was closed and I didn’t work (or get paid).
During winter break
of my sophomore year, I found myself staying at a friend’s apartment who had
gone home for the month. I had family nearby but there was no room in their
apartment for an extra person. They also were strapped financially. I made it
through most of winter break fine until the final weekend, that is. It was
Friday morning and although I was looking forward to the dorms opening in 2
days, I had run out of money. The dining hall was scheduled to open Sunday at . I didn’t
have much gas in my car, but decided to drive over to my family to see if they
could help me out.
I had a nice visit
but they had very little in their refrigerator, and nothing extra to spare. I
decided then, that I would just have to wait until Sunday early evening for my
next meal. I left my family’s apartment and was walking to the parking lot to
drive back to where I was staying. I was upset about facing the prospect of
going 2 days without eating, and I wasn’t sure I had enough gas to even get
back. And yet, I was also resigned to the reality of my situation. Looking back
now, I had pretty much decided that I had no control over my current situation
and I was surrendering to whatever will be, will be. Things will unfold and I
will go with the flow, as they say.
As I approached my car though, I saw
something on the ground next to the driver’s side door. I bent down to pick it
up and saw that it was a folded wad of bills! I picked up the wad of bills and
looked around, but no one else was in the parking lot. In fact, I noticed that
no one was out in the apartment complex anywhere. I unfolded the bills and
counted $100! Needless to say, the first thing I did was gas up the car (and
back then, gas had just risen to $1.00 a gallon!). Then of course, I got
purchased food for the next 2 days.
Was it just a
coincidence? Or was it luck? To me, it
felt like someone was looking out for me (a guardian angel perhaps).
The Mermaid (from Latin mer, “sea”), a beautiful woman from the waist up and a fish from
the waist down, is a favorite creature of legend and romance. She personifies
the romance and treachery of the sea, especially the coastal shoals upon which
many a ship is wrecked. Bare-breasted Mermaids are often shown sitting on rocks
combing their long, green hair to entice sailors to a watery doom. They have
been confused with Sirens, even giving that name to a class of marine mammals (Sirenia). However, the original Sirens
of Greek mythology were not aquatic at all, but birds with the heads and
breasts of women.
The folklore of Mer-people is ancient and widespread,
crossing cultures, continents, and millennia. Inhabiting splendorous undersea
kingdoms of coral castles, they are said to be as soulless as water, but they
may acquire a soul by marrying a human. The heraldic Mermaid is commonly shown
with a comb and a mirror which represents the moon, ruler of the tides.
The Mermaid of tradition is beautiful and dangerous.
For a sailor to see a Mermaid is almost always a portent of disaster—storm,
shipwreck, drowning. Merfolk are said to dwell in a kingdom ruled by Neptune on the bottom of the sea, and with seductive singing they entice
sailors to leap into the water to join them. However, Mermaids do sometimes
rescue drowning sailors.
The Mermaid was believed to be real by both natural
historians and explorers, who have reported many sightings and encounters over
the centuries. The classic form of the Mermaid was provided by the influential
5th-century bestiary, the Physiologus,
which describes the Mermaid as “a beast of the sea wonderfully shapen as a maid
from the navel upward and a fish from the navel downward.”
According to legend, the people of Eynhallow in Scotland’s Orkney Isles were once in communion with the Fin
People of Finfolkaheen, a mirror village beneath the waves. If any of the Fin People could succeed in seducing a
human, they would lose their fish tail and live on land. Hans Christian Anderson’s story of The Little Mermaid is based on
such creatures, as was the 1984 hit movie Splash!
But the quintessential mythology of Merfolk that can become human is found in the legends of the Roane and Selchies (Orcadian, “seal”) from the Orkney and Shetland islands of Scotland, Ireland and Britain. Rather than sporting fish tails and human bodies, the shy Selkies and Roane appear as Grey Seals while in the water. However, they can remove the sealskins if they wish and walk upon
land as humans. In that state, they can be captured by taking their skins and hiding them. If a Selkie or Roan thus captured is forced into a marriage, she will be a faithful and loyal wife, albeit somewhat sad. But if ever she should recover her sealskin she will return to the ocean and never look back.People born with webbed hands or feet are said to be “Selkie-born.”
In July of 1983, off the coast of New Ireland, 300 miles northeast of New Guinea, Dr. Roy Wagner of the University of Virginia observed an unknown sea mammal. Natives called it a Ri or Ilkai, describing it as having a fishlike lower body and a humanoid head and torso, with prominent breasts on the females. In other words, a Mermaid! This identification was reinforced by its Pidgin name: pishmeri (“fish-woman”), and confirmed by the natives’ pointing to the Mermaid depicted on cans of tuna as being the same creature.
The animal flexed its back sharply, waved its wide, fluked tail high in the air when diving, and stayed underwater for periods of about ten minutes, surfacing for only two seconds. Although unable to approach closer than 50 feet, Wagner got a few murky photos of a rolling
back and an uplifted tail.
In 1985, I led a diving expedition to New Ireland to identify and videotape the Ri. We chartered an Australian dive boat
and sailed to NokonBay, where Wagner had sighted the Ri/Ilkai two years
We arrived at Nokon on Feb. 17 and immediately sighted
the tail flukes of an animal above the water. We also saw a rolling back, often
with a head. Another smaller individual was also sighted. A native confirmed
these as Ilkai, saying that there was a family living in the bay: a male, a
female, and a baby.
Early in the morning of Feb.15 we saw villagers
pulling a large animal out of the water onto the beach. Upon swimming to shore,
I discovered it was an adult female dugong. My autopsy revealed that she had
been shot. The night before, a Japanese tugboat, named the “Cuddles” had
anchored in the bay. The next morning it was gone. We could only conclude that
the Ilkai had been shot by someone on that boat.
There can now be little doubt that the animal
variously known as the Ri or Ilkai, and associated with stories of
Merfolk, is in reality the Indo-Pacific Dugong.
One may wonder how the myths of lovely Merfolk could
arise from the reality of the rather homely dugong. The key elements are the
breasts and genitals of the females, which are virtually identical in
appearance to those of women. With long streamlined bodies and whale-like
tails, they have a distinct head and shoulders, and their front flippers are
jointed just like human arms. The mothers nurse their infants upright in the
water, just as human mothers do.
Moreover, these are very shy creatures who keep a good
distance away from human observers, and only surface for a few seconds every
ten minutes or so. Living mainly in the open sea, they come into shallow water
to feed only at dusk and dawn, when the light is poor; thus making it hard to
get a really good close-up look at them.
And so another creature of legend turns out to be
based on fact, albeit not quite as elegant as the myth!
Oberon Zell has accomplished many things in his long and colorful career. A modern Renaissance man, Oberon is a transpersonal psychologist, metaphysician, naturalist, theologian, shaman, author, artist, sculptor, lecturer, teacher, and ordained Priest of the Earth-Mother, Gaia. Those who know him well consider him to be a true Wizard in the traditional sense. He is also an initiate in the Egyptian Church of the Eternal Source, a Priest in the Fellowship of Isis, and an initiate in several different Traditions of Witchcraft. He holds academic degrees in sociology, anthropology, clinical psychology, teaching, and theology. His books include Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, Companion for the Apprentice Wizard, Creating Circles & Ceremonies, A Wizard's Bestiary, and Green Egg Omelette.
If we look back into history—and I’m not just talking 40 or 50 years ago—I mean centuries and centuries ago—one of the oldest traditions that stood the test of time was storytelling. From the beginning, tales were written or passed along by word of mouth generation to generation.
One of the reasons I love working in publishing is because I get to hear stories every single day. Whether it is in a book about business strategies or a book about vampires I always learn something not only from the story, but from the person who is telling it.
The World’s Creepiest Places is my eighth project with Dr. Bob Curran. The first book I did with him back in 2005 was one of my very first edits, and I remember being so immersed in the storytelling that sometimes I would have to flip back pages and pages to edit what I had just read, remembering that my job, after all, was to edit, not read.
I saw Dr. Bob’s book, Encyclopedia of the Undead, on the title list, and though I was very green to the editing process I excitedly asked my director if I could take the project. Since then I’ve been not just Bob’s editor, but Bob’s biggest fan.
Subsequently, my six years at New Page Books have been spent awaiting the next acquisitions meeting when the words “We have another submission from Bob Curran” are spoken. I can never wait to hear what stories Dr. Bob is going to pass on to me next, whether it concerns werewolves, zombies, fairies, or different places around the world.
What makes Bob one of my favorite authors is his ability to tell the story in a way that completely submerges you into the subject matter. Many times I can hear his voice speaking the words instead of just reading something that was conveyed thoughtlessly onto paper. I can feel his passion for the stories, the lore, the history, and that ability to make it feel as though I’m really THERE.
There have been times during the editing phase of his books when I have taken his manuscript home for no good reason at all—his edits are always easy, and always done by the deadline, but it was for the mere fact that I wanted to keep reading. Two of his books, Walking With the Green Man and Zombies, were mostly completed outside of the office due to my inability to put the books down when it was time to go home.
So, when I was approached with the prospect of another book, this one called The World’s Creepiest Places written by Dr. Bob, I had barely read the first page of the proposal when my answer was “Yes, we should definitely do this book!” If someone out there could convey the creepiness of the world’s legends and lore, Dr. Bob would be the one.
As I awaited the manuscript I started to prepare a template and design the format…four months in advance, which is just ludicrous, considering a template is usually designed about a week before the format begins. But I couldn’t wait…I couldn’t help myself. I was excited.
Finally the day came when I got the go-ahead from my fellow editor Kirsten Dalley that Bob’s manuscript was ready for edit. I printed it out, and as I smoothed out the hot, crisp pages fresh from the copier I couldn’t help but think of the world of adventure, fun, and intriguing reading just awaiting my eyes to meet the words.
After reading the first two chapters I ran out to the other room where my coworkers sat and declared that it was my favorite book that Dr. Bob had written yet. As usual I got some skeptical stares, considering I had said that about every single book he wrote for us so far, but I said, “No, really, it is the best one! Definitely my favorite.”
My title here has changed throughout the years. First I was editing his books as an assistant editor, then an editor, then a managing editor, and now as the editorial director. Unfortunately, as the editorial director I don’t get much time for edits—in fact The World’s Creepiest Places is the first edit I’ve been able to do in a long while—but it was worth the weekends of reading it—I mean, editing it—at home, the early mornings of barely being able to have the energy to drink my coffee while I read through another chapter, and putting off more important matters all so I could immerse myself into Bob’s storytelling.
As I grew in the company, my interest in legends and lore grew also. My family and friends always find it so interesting that my days are often spent reading Dr. Bob’s stories about man-made monsters, zombies, or similar subjects. No job can compare to the one I have, and I like it that way. I get to come in every day and continue the tradition of storytelling by doing my part—sprucing it up a bit here and there to make it just right for the thousands of eyes that will read these words after me. I want them to be as excited as I am to get lost in the book. I want to do my part in passing down stories from generation to generation by conveying the message that Dr. Bob wants to pass on.
So, in the end, even if you don’t believe in ghosts or spirits or the supernatural you have to, overall, appreciate the gift of storytelling. You must allow your mind to open itself to a world that Dr. Bob wants to share with you. The story, the words, and the author are what make it come alive. When the lines blur between reality and fantasy THAT is the essence of a story. THAT is the talent of a true storyteller, and whether you believe in monsters, fairies, ghosts, and zombies…or not...at least believe in the story, and would could lie beyond the words on the page.
Gina Talucci joined Career Press/New Page Books in 2005 and currently serves as the Editorial Director. She graduated from Ramapo College with a BA in Journalism, and credits the Harry Potter series for inspiring her transition into the world of publishing and her interest in the fantasy and supernatural genres.
We continue this Monday with some ghost stories from a contest hosted by Jim Harold regarding his new book on his show Paranormal Podcast. New Stories will continue to be featured into October! Also look for the winning story which is part of the finished book.
Christmas Eve, 1935, Mr. Jingle, the old sexton at our church, went to sleep
waiting for Santa and never woke up. He was found Christmas Day by my grandfather
(my mother’s father) when he was looking for Mr. Jingle to open the church. It
was a sad holiday. A frantic search for his keys ensued since services were to
begin shortly, but no one could find them. If the keys were lost this
would mean that many of the locks would have to be broken and replaced, a
costly endeavor during the Great Depression.
grandfather, somewhat angered by the situation, stood in the middle of the old
sexton’s room and said out loud, “Well Mr. Jingle, if you don’t bring me those
keys these locks will have to be broken and this will cost our church a lot of
money. You know we will miss you but I promise not to chew, cuss, or carouse,
and I will be honest in everything dealing with the church!” My mother then heard
a familiar sound of keys rattling. Her father heard it, too, and when my mother
was about to say something her father said, “Quiet dear, I think Mr. Jingle
believes us now.” At that moment the keys dropped from a bookcase, which
startled both of them.
Mother picked up the set of
keys and they were all there. My mother could not explain how the keys could have
fallen from a bookcase that they had looked through just moments ago. She
believes that Mr. Jingle just had to make sure his church was safe; after all,
he was the one who had the keys.
The Night The Hounds Came submitted by RANDI
This story occurred at Candle
Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada,
in the summer of 2003. My family owned a cabin there and two of my guy friends,
Brad and Chris, and I decided to go out for the weekend. The cabin originally
belonged to my grandma Lydia.
She purchased the land and built the cabin there. When she passed, it was left
to my father.So my family had been the only occupants of that cabin up
until that point.
It was a relatively quiet evening.
There was a thunderstorm brewing across the lake and we were just sitting
around relaxing, playing a board game and having a couple of drinks. I remember
thinking it was odd for it to be so quiet and for there to be so few people at
the lake on a nice weekend. The layout of the cabin was very open. You entered
through the kitchen and to the left of that was a long, open room that was the
living room. There was a couch against the far wall in the sitting area with a
large chair and table and a television, as well.
I was sitting on the couch with my
back to the wall when all of a sudden the little chimes that were hanging above
the table started to ring and I got this feeling of eyes boring into my back. The
hair on the back of my neck stood straight up and a shiver crawled up my spine.
I looked at my friend Brad and said, “Did you feel that, too?” He replied, “Yes,
I could tell that he had felt it
too by the look on his face.
Brad and I have always been very
perceptive about things of a paranormal nature; he and I would always go ghost
hunting together and we both were extremely aware of “presences.” Our friend
Chris, however, was never one who was very in tune with psychic or paranormal
phenomena. At this point, Chris said, “Yes! I feel it too! It’s coming from
over there!” as he pointed to the lake. Brad and I informed him he was feeling
the energy from the storm and not what we were feeling. We abandoned our game
and began to check the doors and windows of the cabin to make sure they were
locked and secure. I had a feeling of pure terror that would not go away. Once
the doors were checked we tried to go back to our board game; however, the
strange energy would not dissipate. Neither would the eyes boring into my back
every time I sat on the couch.
I remember feeling very uneasy and
terrified. We decided to abandon the game and watch the storm from the big
picture window in the living room. The storm had moved across the lake and was
now raging outside. The wind whipped and howled and the fork lightning lit up
the sky. The rain pelted down, giving everything a hazy look to it. As we
looked out, I saw a large, black figure on the grassy part just before the
beach. It looked like a large dog that had gotten loose from someone’s yard. As
it turned to face us, the hair on the back of my neck and arms stood straight
up—I saw a great big pair of glowing red eyes!
I was frozen with fear. I heard
Brad whisper, “What the hell…?” and then he bolted up and ran out the door. I
screamed at him not to go. I didn’t want to leave the cabin! I had the feeling
that as long as we were in the cabin we were safe. I told Chris to stay where
he was and I ran outside on the deck calling to Brad to come back inside. While
I was out there I felt another evil energy to my left. I peeked around the
corner of the cabin and there by the wall was another hell hound. It was huge
and it wouldn’t take his red eyes off me. It was right on the other side of the
wall where I had been sitting on the couch. I knew it was those red eyes that had
been boring through the wall into my back. I pulled my gaze away and
immediately began screaming at Brad again to hurry up and get inside. He was
standing on the grassy area screaming at the other hound.
After what seemed like an eternity
he turned around and headed back into the cabin. I slammed the door behind him
and locked it. All I could feel was a sense of evil and dread encircling the
cabin. It lasted for quite a while, too. The feeling did not dissipate for a
number of hours. It was the wee morning hours before I was able to fall asleep.
The next day I went outside and
surveyed the yard. I found no disturbances in the dirt beside the cabin where I
saw the hound. No paw prints or anything. No lingering negative energies. It
was just bizarre. To be safe I went inside the cabin and grabbed a box of salt.
I returned to the spot where I saw the hound beside the cabin and made a
protective circle around it. That was the one and only time I’ve ever seen a
hell hound. I don’t know what it was that drew them that night, if it was the
storm or something paranormal. All I know is that they were terrifying and I
never want to see them again.
Fall is the perfect time for a ghost story and a campfire. Jim Harold's new book has just arrived and to kick things off we thought we'd share some ghost stories that didn't make the book but were part of a contest on his show Paranormal Podcast. Look for new stories every week leading into October! Also look for the winning story which is part of the finished book.
It was Friday night, and my
initial plan was to go the movies with friends. I really wish I had! All of us
met that night at my house—three couples, all teenagers. My boyfriend and I
decided to get a pizza and play pool and arcade games instead of going to the
movies. The other two couples continued on to the movie, leaving one of their
cars behind and agreeing that we’d meet back at my house later.
The pizza parlor was busy that
night, with children running around, lots of noisy conversations, and gaming
sounds filled the air. It was my turn to take a shot at the game of pool we
were playing, and that’s when I sensed something, that feeling you get when
someone’s watching you. Looking out at the crowd, I searched for what had
suddenly made me feel so uncomfortable, and my eyes met his.
I remember his eyes were very
black, and he had a dark, penetrating stare that was focused intensely on me. What is wrong with his hair? I thought
to myself. Unruly, wild, choppy, and odd in appearance. I looked away, saying
to myself, Just a weird guy; ignore him. Which
is what I did.
Bob, my boyfriend, and I left
the pizza parlor. He had to work the next day so he dropped me off and went
home. My friends were still at the movies, my father out on a date, and I was
alone. At the time I was a smoker, and my father wouldn’t have approved if he
had known. Naturally I didn’t want the house to smell like cigarettes, and I
knew I could sit in my friend’s car to smoke because she never locked it.
I wasn’t sitting there for very
long when I suddenly noticed a shift in light in my peripheral vision, where the
big picture window of the kitchen was. I glanced over, and standing there was the
man from the pizza parlor, in my house. He
had followed us home! I was terrified. I locked the car door, but with no keys
to start it and the horn not working, I was trapped!
I thought, What can I do?If I try to
run he’ll catch me, and the neighbors live too far away to hear me scream. My
mind raced from thought to thought. What if
I’d stayed in the house? This crazy monster wants to hurt me, please someone
come home! It’s been 20 minutes, 40 minutes—almost an hour has gone by! My
body was feeling heavy with fear, paralyzed.
Someone, help me!
I looked up and saw another
movement in front of the car: he’s moved
closer now; he’s kneeling, watching me, and looking into the front windshield.
Am I going to die?
Suddenly I saw my father’s
headlights shine into the car I was sitting in, and I watched the man’s image
fade away, just vanish in front of me. It dawned on me that I had just seen a ghost.
Window submitted by MMVI
In my family there is something that happens that no one talks about. As my father has gotten older and his health has started to fail, you can see it in his eyes. You can see the fear. It’s not the normal fear we all have of death; it’s much deeper. It’s knowing that what already happened once is about to happen again.
It was the early years of the 1960s and I was 4 years old. I remember it was October and warm. It was Saturday, laundry day, and since our old wringer washer no longer worked my mother had taken all the girls to the Laundromat.
The day had started late, so instead of folding all the clothes there, we packed it all up in plastic bags and pillow cases and brought it home to fold so mom could start dinner. I was old enough now to learn how to fold clothes and I was to help my mom as my older two sisters helped out in the kitchen. Of course back then all this was women’s work, so my father and brothers sat in the small living room watching television as work went on around them.
was mere feet away from where all the laundry was in my parent’s room (along with me). The rooms were separated by a large maroon curtain hanging on a wooden dowel. The house was once a one-bedroom home but with eight people, my parents became inventive with the living space. At one time their room became the living room, with an archway separating it from the dining room. In such a small space someone was always very close by, but on this night it would seem like miles.
My mother was constantly on the move that night—folding clothes, correcting the ones I did wrong and showing me how again, grabbing an armful to be put away in drawers, into the kitchen to check on the food and my sisters, back to the bedroom for more clothes, and around again. The curtain separating the rooms, once carefully tied back, had come loose, so the view into the living room was cut in half. A small lamp on a nightstand next to the bed was turned on.
There were two windows in the bedroom, both covered with the same maroon curtains as the archway. Behind the headboard of my parents’ bed was a great picture window that looked out to our street. Off to the west side of the room there was a smaller window facing the side of the neighbor’s house; this window latched in the middle to lock. Both windows were closed against the night.
As time passed it seemed to me the clothes would never end and I would be doomed to spend to spend the remainder of the night there with mounds of clothes and my mother’s voice saying “No, not that way, Peggy. Like this,” as she undid what I had done for me to do over. I was resigned, however, and put my head down and concentrated as much as any 4 year old could and kept on.
I was alone in the room when I heard the first taps on the window, almost next to me outside on the great window at the head of the bed. The first ones were light and so I ignored them. The next taps were a little harder and seemed to have intent behind them. This made me stop with shirt in hand to look at the curtain that covered the window. My mother came in just then and put me instantly at ease and so I went back to the shirt.
Tap, tap, tap, again harder with more intent. I stopped dead and looked at my mother who seemed to have also paused a moment longer than usual over a pile of clothes she was picking up to bring to my brothers dresser.
“Momma, do you hear that?” I said in a half whisper. I had a feeling whoever it was outside was listening.
“What do you mean? Hear what?” She picked up the armload of clothes and gave me a blank look.
As if on cue the tapping came again but this time traveled the length of the window and then back to the spot it started. I jumped, scared. As I looked at her I could feel tears in my eyes.
“Peggy, stop.” Her tone was exasperated “It’s nothing but the wind.”
Again, as if on cue, the tapping resumed on the window and traveled across it but instead of coming back in my direction again it continued on to the outside of the house, around the corner, and stopped.
I know she heard it; I could see it in her eyes but her face was blank.
"See?” she said with vindication after it stopped. “It’s only the wind. Now get to work and finish those shirts—dinner is almost ready.” Then she walked out of the room with clothes in her arms
I knew I couldn’t just follow her out and leave the room.
Scared or not, I had to do what I was told.
We had to grow up quickly in my family. So I did the next best thing. I moved as far away from that window as possible while staying within reach of the clothes, which in this case I thought would be the end of the bed. I was wrong.
When the tapping resumed it was more of a pounding, this time no longer on the glass but on the frame around it and the house itself. No longer was it at the big window, either, but at the side window—it had moved, just as I had.
When it started I thought my heart stopped—I couldn’t breathe, the room itself seemed to change around me, I couldn’t move. It wanted my attention and now it had it wholeheartedly. I watched as the curtain on the window jumped and rippled with each blow to the frame and house. I looked over to the curtain opening to the living room, and it was like looking through a telescope the wrong way: I could see my father on the couch and two of my brothers sitting next to him, the
light of the television illuminating their faces as they laughed at the show they were watching, their voices seemingly far off.
I turned back to the window; the curtain was now jumping high enough away from the window with each impact that I could catch it in my hand if I wanted. As soon as my mind let in that thought, my hand began to rise up. Despite the fact that I wanted to go now, my hand caught the curtain by its edge and jerked it back to reveal the window behind it. Then I saw it and it saw me.
Its eyes were glowing red, its skin pale greenish-gray and rough, with bit of what seemed to be coarse hair on the top and sides of its head, pointed ears sticking out just a little, just enough to see, and the features of its face long and flat. A hand rose up and pressed against the glass, three long fingers and what seemed to be a thumb with claws at the end of each. The glass creaked against the weight. It looked up at the lock on the window back at me, pointed
at it, with the same hand pointed a finger at me then turned the hand around and did the “come here” sign with its forefinger as it smiled.
That smile did me in: it went from ear to ear in a lipless grin, showing each and every one of
its pointed, razor-sharp teeth. That smile forced all the air I had been holding in, out in one great expulsion, air that had to be replaced immediately as the first found no voice to carry the terror that my eyes were seeing. The same moment my breath finally found the voice it was looking for, my legs found the movement they needed to move away, far away, as fast as they could go, my hand neglected as it still held tight the curtain as it was pulled from the window in my flight.
The last thing I remember was running into something (now I know it was someone) and everything going dark. I don’t remember anything for a long time afterward. A space in a life of someone who remembers so much is utterly
Much later I heard a story from my aunts on my father’s side who came for a visit. The story was about my one of my great grandfathers, a priest, and about a creature that is still tied to the family. Apparently everyone in the family
is destined to see it twice, once when they are very young, and again right before death. This creature is the reason for the look in my father’s eyes and the reason my curtains are always drawn tightly against the night. We don’t
talk about it.