True Ghost Stories submitted by our Readers!
I have experienced ghosts or unexplainable activity around me my whole life. I can usually intuit whether something is there, but not always; the strength of the sensation ebbs and flows. Sometimes, the feeling is steadily active for months—then, it’s gone again for years.
For some reason these experiences don’t seem to scare me, probably because I haven’t had to deal with anything that could be labeled “demonic” or anything that has tried to hurt me physically. I can only imagine how frightening that would be; it’s hard enough to deal with a physical attack by someone who is present in flesh and blood—much less an attack by something unseen or undefinable.
For the Fall Issue and in the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to include some true ghost stories. I’ve started off with one of my own and follow with readers’ experiences. Please feel free to write and share your personal stories with us!
Mine occurred a couple of years ago when I was working at a nightclub in Los Angeles. In the back of the club there was a long dark hallway leading to several rooms. Often, when I walked down this hallway I would see from the corner of my eye a woman walking by. She was tall and thin with long straight brown hair; she might have been Native American or Latina. But, whenever I looked straight at her she’d be gone.
One night I went to the back to get something from one of the storage rooms. I opened the door and there she was right in front of me against the opposite wall. She was half materialized and the part that wasn’t looked like trails of smoke in a still room. I gasped. She gasped. We both stood there shocked, staring at each other. I then said, “Sorry,” shut the door and left the hallway. Somewhat unsettled I walked slowly to the cashier at the front of the store; I wanted to bring it up to him but didn’t want to scare him or have him think I was seeing things.
I knew that sometimes he spent the night at the club as he had to be there in the morning and he lived far from work—this is L.A., remember. So I casually asked him if he’d ever felt spooked staying there alone at night. He looked at me quizzically, knit his eyebrows, and asked, “You mean the girl with the long brown hair?” We had never talked about this before and I had never mentioned it to anyone, nor had I ever heard of anyone who worked there bringing it up.
One night I went out with my cousin and her boyfriend. For fun and to do something spooky we decided to go to different graveyards. My cousin had a hand-held recorder and she planned to record sounds while we explored. So, we drove to the small town of Old Salem, to a very old cemetery that was closed. As soon as we got out of the truck I began to feel scared so I stayed glued to the side of my cousin as she was recording. Her boyfriend was being an idiot, running around, yelling things, peeing in the graveyard, just being horrible. So, my cousin and I kept our distance, and I have to say that I was still feeling uneasy. We started walking slowly when, suddenly, I heard something startling—but my mind didn’t really register what it was. I yelled, “Oh my God, what was that?” Then, a few seconds later I heard it again. I still couldn’t tell what it was, but just said, “There it was again. We need to go.” When I said that my cousin and I ran straight to the truck and told her boyfriend we wanted to leave, but he continued to run around like a fool. So, we sat in the truck and she stopped her recorder. She rewound it and played it because we were curious to see what we got, if anything. As we were listening to it, right before the part where I said, “Oh my God, what was that?” we heard, “Get out!” in a very husky voice. And again, right before I said, “There it goes again,” it said “Get Out!” even louder! And, I knew that none of us had said it.
My oldest son Joseph is now 16, but when he was about two we lived in an apartment, and my husband worked nights so at night it was just me and the kids. Well, one night Joseph was asleep, as far as I knew, and I was in my room lying in bed almost asleep when I heard heavy footsteps pounding and dragging on the carpet in the hallway outside my room. I sat up quickly and listened some more—it was getting closer to my room. I jumped up and ran for Joseph’s room to see if there was an intruder, but no one was there—just Joseph asleep in his bed. I picked him up and held him tight. He asked me why I was waking him up and I told him that I thought I had heard somebody walking around the apartment. He said, “Mommy it’s okay, it’s just the professor.”
I knew it was coming but still wasn’t prepared when my mom called to tell me the news that my grandpa had died, at age 87. He had lung cancer and recently had taken a turn for the worse, rendering him almost completely helpless and in a lot of pain. The week before, Mom told me I wouldn’t have even recognized him, so I knew.
When we got home, I told my son Emerson the news. He was just 3 ½ and I wasn’t sure how he was going to react. We had never really talked about dying or death, or even religion for that matter. Growing up in a devout Catholic family, I’m still trying to figure out answers to all of those things for myself. So, I just tried to tell him in simple terms about what had happened.
I started crying as I told him. I couldn’t help it. He didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Then he looked at me very calmly and said, “It’s okay, mommy. GG’s (Great Grandpa) all better now. He’s not sick anymore. He’s flying around in a white helicopter-airplane in the sky.” Needless to say, that wasn’t the reaction I was expecting.
The next day I spoke with my dad (GG was his father). I remembered what Emerson had said and told him. Dad is not a man who cries easily but he cried; he was astounded and thanked me for telling him. Later that week we flew back for the services. During the wake, Dad spoke about Grandpa and his life, and he mentioned that during WWII Grandpa had wanted to serve as an air force pilot but at age 17 was too young, so he enlisted in the army. I had never known that. But, as I thought about it, I wondered if the “helicopter-airplane” Emerson saw could have been one of those old planes with the propeller on the nose. I imagined that would have been the kind of plane Grandpa wanted to fly.
During the wake, my sister-in-law approached me and offered her condolences. For some time now she’s been known as getting into “weird spirituality stuff.” She pulled me aside and said that she had gotten a “message” from my grandfather. She said that he said, “I can’t believe everyone is going to such trouble for me.” This was totally him, always so humble. He was amazed that someone was making his favorite dish, the Swedish meatballs my uncle had made. She also said that he wanted everyone to know that he was so happy and playing cards with his sisters; my grandfather had five older sisters. What was odd was that my sister-in-law had only met Grandpa a few times, did not know him well, and had no idea about his history.
There is really no logical explanation for these testimonials. The whole experience forces me to wonder about all such things we don’t know and can’t explain. It gives me peace and hope knowing that there may be things beyond what we can touch or see. Ultimately, it makes sense to me that if anyone could be let in on the secrets of the universe it would be a child and someone open to “weird stuff.”
My grandpa was a great person. He was strong, brave, adventurous, and had a fantastic sense of humor. He left us with so many great memories. While none of us were ready to let him go, I take comfort in thinking about him up there having too much fun, happy, playing cards with his sisters, and flying around the sky in his white helicopter-airplane.
For three years my husband and I lived in an apartment in Hollywood, California. I didn’t notice much unusual activity the first year—just strange feelings more than anything. But, in the second and third years, I started to sense a cold depressed presence throughout the place, and as time progressed even though I never actually saw anything, I formed a picture of a tall man in my mind. The activity in the apartment slowly began to escalate and it always seemed that I would feel his presence at night after I had been drinking.
One night when I returned home after being out, I clearly knew that I had had one too many and started feeling sick. I lay down on the bed and my head started spinning. I got up quickly and headed down the hallway toward the bathroom when I felt someone physically push me, but when I turned to look no one was there. This physical pushing began to happen more frequently and always after I had been drinking. A couple of times I heard a man’s voice when I was lying down after drinking, and he would ask, “Whadya doin?” It felt like he was disappointed in me. One night it happened again; I was very sick from drinking and got up to go to the bathroom and was pushed back strongly on my chest. After that, the T.V. in the living room started turning on and off by itself. It woke my husband—we didn’t know what was going on. We lay back down on the bed and the bed started to shake. We were scared, but I wanted to think it might be an earthquake, even though nothing else in the apartment was shaking or moving— just the bed. I went online to check whether there had been an earthquake, but there was nothing. Needless to say we were both pretty freaked out.
The next day I went downstairs and asked the manager if something like a death had happened in our apartment, because freaky things were happening to us. She said, well, a man had once drowned in the pool. But I said, no, I don’t think that’s what it is. Then she thought about it and said, “Oh yeah, there was a guy in your apartment who lived there right before you moved in, and he died.” So, I asked, “What happened and why didn’t you tell me about this before I moved in?” (In LA., landlords are supposed to disclose any deaths on the property within the year prior to your moving in, though most of them don’t unless a prospective tenant asks.) She finally told me that he had been an alcoholic and then an AA counselor; he was a kind friendly man and had died of liver failure. Then, the owner came into the office and asked what the trouble was. When I told him the story he believed me, and when I asked him what the man looked like he described him as tall and the rest of the description totally fit the mental image I had of this man. Then it all made sense why he would come to me when I was drunk and sick: he was angry with me for being drunk and was trying to snap me out of it.
Rae: Lauren and I lived in St. Augustine in a tiny apartment on the top of a warehouse—and we loved it. It had one bedroom that we used as a closet (we slept on a fold-out futon in the living room), a kitchen conjoined with a living room, and a bathroom. It was an odd place. There were two double doors behind our futon that opened up to nothing, because someone had planned on building a porch there but never did. Small unexplained things begin to happen in that place. For instance, we seemed to have a ghost who hated Bob Dylan. Whenever we would listen to Bob Dylan on record, the speeds would change and cd’s would fly off the shelves.
Lauren: At first we wondered, “Is that normal for the speed to change?” but it happened only when we played Bob Dylan.
Rae: Yeah, and the weird thing was that to change the speed, you had to flip a switch that was pretty hard and really had to be flipped by hand. We would just be sitting in the room, and “click, click” it would change and warp. You can chalk that up to something going haywire technically, but what about the cd’s flying off the shelves? Since, around that time we were experimenting with drugs (we took DMT for the first time around then) a lot of people denied what was happening to us, saying that we were just on drugs. But, we weren’t on drugs when these things were happening.
Lauren: There was also this little hole in the back of the warehouse, and I think sometimes people squatted in there because we would hear people walking around. But, that couldn’t account for all of the sounds we heard. They seemed to upset our dog that would bark and whine and bow down when these sounds would happen.
Rae: So, there was this one night when Lauren and I went to sleep and I woke up and looked around the room. Lauren couldn’t sleep that night and had just taken two Benadryl for her allergies and put on a sleeping mask.
I remember having night terrors growing up, and the weird thing about them was that when I woke up I couldn’t tell if I was still dreaming or not or if what I was looking at was really there. I had to try to decipher what was real or unreal, and then something terrifying would happen. They were awful. But at this point I hadn’t had them for years.
So, when I woke up and looked around at the kitchen and saw everything in reverse colors I thought, “This is weird I’m going to go back to bed.” Then, all of a sudden, I got this overwhelming feeling of sadness and started thinking I should write everyone and tell them, “Sorry I can’t be here anymore.” But, I have never been suicidal, ever. Then I heard this voice, “Walk to the bathroom.” So, I got up and walked to the bathroom. I could hear my dog outside crying. I then looked back and saw a dark shadow come in from behind the futon, through the doors from nowhere. It moved fast towards me in the bathroom. Then, I felt another presence come in from the window. One of the voices started telling me things like, “You’re doing awful. You’re ruining Lauren’s life. You hear your dog out there whimpering?
It’s because of you.” Then a third one came in the door and started saying, “Your mom is about to have a baby and you’re just holding her down.” Voices just hammered out all of these negative things, and through it all I kept hearing my dog whimpering outside. Then one of the voices said, “Just fucking kill yourself.” The strange thing was that I didn’t respond to this in a negative way; it felt more like I had seen the light and was agreeing, “Your’e right, I have to kill myself for Lauren. I have to kill myself for these people.” So, I just grabbed the bottle of Lauren’s Benadryl, poured the pills out in my hand, and swallowed them all.
Lauren: And just the day before my dad had given me the bottle of Benadryl and Rae’s mom had just given us six or seven bottles of water. It just seemed that Rae had all of this set up in the bathroom for her to do this.
Rae: Yeah, so I was just swallowing all of these pills with the bottles of water and I don’t even know how many pills I took. . ..
Lauren: There were about one hundred pills in the bottle minus the two that I had taken.
Rae: I must reiterate that I have never had a suicidal thought in my life, and if I were going to do that I would have planned it where I said goodbye to everyone. So anyway, after I had taken all of the pills I walked back to the bed, colors were popping in the air, when, suddenly, whatever had a hold on me let go and I snapped to and thought, “What have I done!” I could feel my body shutting down—I couldn’t feel my feet and then my legs, and I started to panic thinking, “What did I just do? I really was not myself; it was like sleepwalking with four people guiding me towards death. I squeezed Lauren’s hand and she took of her mask and asked me, “What’s going on?”
Lauren: I’ll cut in here because this is something I’ll always remember, Rae spoke in an excited whisper, almost laughing, and said, “Hey, I just took a whole bottle of pills.” I was shocked and thought maybe she was just saying this in a mean way because I had recently broken up with a long-term boyfriend, who after we broke up attempted suicide by taking a whole bottle of oxycontin and lying in the bathtub to drown. It was a very sensitive issue. When she said this, somehow I didn’t believe her and said, “Pshh, no you didn’t” and rolled back over. Then, I started to think about it and actually got angry. I turned back over more awake now and said, “What the fuck, why would you say that to me knowing what I have just gone through?” I looked at her and she was just looking around the room crazily and she said, “I threw the empty bottle behind the microwave.” I jumped up and looked but nothing was there, then I ran into the bathroom and saw the empty bottle, and ran back into the room. By then, her whole body was convulsing. I was screaming, “Why would you ever do this? Why would you leave me? This is fucked up!” I called 911. When they came I just remember seeing her on the stretcher with her arm hanging limply off the side, and it all seemed so surreal—even the street lighting.
While Rae was in the hospital in a coma strange things were still happening at home. One night as I stood outside smoking a cigarette I heard the sound of horses running by me—stomping and snorting—but there was nothing there. On another night I stayed at Rae’s mom’s house with her cousin while her mom was traveling. We were just going to sleep when we heard Rae’s younger brother’ toys in the living room start to turn on and play by themselves. Then, we both heard a voice that said, “Well, well, well, what do we have here?”
Rae: I remember finally coming to in the hospital and not knowing where I was or what was happening; I had all of these tubes in me and I saw Lauren through the window sitting in the other room. The doctor came in told me that I had tried to kill myself, which I objected to, and he said they were going to have to admit me to the psychiatric ward for supervision. So, I got sent to the psych ward and when I was there I tried to piece together what happened. I was in my room and I remember hearing outside the window someone laughing and saying, “Well, well, well, what do we have here?”