Welcome back to the final installment of what may become an annual Audiences Everywhere tradition, Ghostwriting. This is the final crop for 2017 but we’ve saved the best haunting experiences for last. Enjoy and we’ll see you here next year.
I was born in 1969, which makes me the right age to be a second wave Beatles fan. By the time I was old enough to ask for records (first record asked for: Gary Numan, The Pleasure Principle, but only because he was a guest on SNL), the individual Beatles were all fairly well along into their individual careers: Paul as prolific jukebox, George as actual Hippie, Ringo as Ringo, and John Lennon–well, in the fall of 1980 Double Fantasy had just been released, so John was the Beatle of the moment. The first single, (Just Like) Starting Over, was climbing the charts, and a whole new generation of fans were becoming acquainted with the Beatles for the first time, but also learning that one half of Double Fantasy was a whole lot better than the other. And I was a shy sixth grader whose family had just moved to the area, so I had the spare bandwidth for falling into a deep Beatles hole. Of course, being a Beatles fan meant picking your favorite Beatle, and I picked John, mostly because he was the Beatle in front of me.
So then, not a couple of weeks later, on a school night, I had a dream: I was on a school bus, and the bus was taking a different route than I was used to. Instead of crossing the Erie Canal to the elementary I went to, it went up a hill past the high school I wouldn’t go to for another four years. The flag in front of the high school was at half-mast. So I asked a dream-kid next to me on the dream-bus why. “You didn’t hear? John Lennon’s been shot.” I had that dream the morning of December 9, 1980, and at 11pm the night before, John Lennon was shot, and didn’t survive.
I was eleven. Surely I imagined that.
Seven years later, which seemed like a very long time at the time but not so much looking back, it’s a lazy summer day. I’m a high school graduate, doing what I did in between vacations, friends, etc.: staring blindly at the television as I rolled through cable channels like rolling end credits, much like I’d be doing 30 years later, but with a phone, staring a Twitter timeline. This was right around the explosion of the basic cable channels, who realized that a playlist of a combination of old network reruns and super-cheap non-scripted content could fill a nation’s worth of bored eyeballs. It was hypnotizing. There were only a sixty or seventy channels then, but that felt like a lot, after a TV Baby childhood of three network channels and another two or three UHF channels (for watching F Troop, of course).
I clicked to a cheap docu bio, or maybe it was some sort of paranormal show. I wasn’t paying attention. It was talking about John and Yoko, about how they believed in life-after-death, had talked about it with each other. Each promised the other, as I recall, that if one died before the other, the deceased one would signal post-corporeal permanence by floating a white feather across the room. I was wool-gathering, maybe wondering if I should actually motivate, call a friend. Maybe I was reading a book? I did that too, spinning around the channels, looking for something good as background noise.
Anyhow, the thing I do remember is getting up to go do something, maybe grab snacks, and glancing the TV screen as I turned. I took a couple steps and then stopped. The screen had been blank. There was a white feather floating across it. I turned around, to double-check what I saw. On the screen was a commercial, in the middle of the commercial.
I was seventeen, surely I imagined that.
I never was really a John super-fan. As I grew, I grew to like all the Beatles, even Ringo. And as much as I always wanted to be a spooky paranormal type, Tarot-card readin’ and ghost-huntin’, it never really took. (Despite this having happened.) But if I was to receive a message from beyond the grave, having it come from John Lennon was pretty boss. – @Titivil
A Tap on the Shoulder
I was commuting to/from college at Miami University. I was living in the Colerain area, but not at my parents’ house (thank God!). Anyway, I stupidly decided after hanging with friends late at school to drive home down Rt. 27 to sleep in my own bed, despite it being very late and me being tired. Just before I got to Ross, OH I started to fall asleep at the wheel. My car had just started to cross the double line as the road turned to the right and my car continued straight. I felt a distinct, hard double tap on my shoulder that jogged my mind awake and startled me. I realized that I was drifting off the road and pulled back on. Thankfully, no one was oncoming and, in fact I didn’t see anyone on the road at all behind nor in front of me. Once the car was back in lane I started waving my arm and hand into the backseat and foot wells thinking someone was in the backseat screwing with me. There was no one. I turned on the overhead light and took quick glances into the backseat to confirm, because I could still feel the place on my shoulder where I had been tapped, as if the small hairs had been disrupted under the fabric. I must have checked 10 times as I rolled past the exit to Ross. I was thankful, but scared to death, as it was my one and only time something “supernatural” had occurred to me. I’ve read countless ghost stories and paranormal stories as a kid. I felt lucky, and glad to be alive at that moment. Guardian angel? My patron saint, St. Nicholas (the patron saint of travelers, by the way) who’s icon I’ve always kept in my car, giving me a helpful tap? A ghost from the hundreds of students who have died on that road? (all the crosses that lined that highway for years before they decided to take them all down!). Whatever it was, I’m grateful. -N.M.
Where He Shouldn’t Have Been
When I was a teenager, living with my mom in the Baltimore suburbs, I have a distinct memory of driving home one night with her in a bad rainstorm. Just lots of rain and wind and difficult to drive in. I remember that as we got home, it suddenly started to clear up.
At the time, we lived right across the street from a middle school. I can remember getting out of the car and it was really misty out, but it was still daytime. I remember looking across the street just by chance and on the sidewalk in front of the school was a man on a horse. This was strange for all kinds of reasons.
First, this was a normal, suburban sidewalk. And, in theory, there really shouldn’t have even been enough room for a horse to be standing there. Also, we had just passed the area where he appeared. I say ‘appeared’ because it was like he was suddenly just there. We didn’t hear anything. But out of nowhere was a man on a horse. And he was dressed in an old-fashioned way. I’m not an expert, but the closest I can describe it would be that it looked like something out of the 19th Century.
At some point as we were standing there—and I can’t remember exactly how this happened—he was just no longer there. I tried to run through explanations in my mind, but nothing made sense. For one, it had been storming for a while. I can’t imagine anyone would have gone out in a storm to ride a horse through a regular neighborhood. Then I thought about if he was some kind of re-enactor. I guess that’s possible, but again, why would he be doing that in the rain? And with no one else around? The whole thing just had a distinct, weird vibe I can still remember.
I tried to talk to my mom about it years later. Just like “Hey, do you remember that time we saw that guy on a horse?”
And she very quickly and decisively said, “We aren’t not going to talk about that” so clearly, she remembered it the same way I did. – C.B.
I had my first experience with the supernatural when I was in pre-school. It’s the one that stuck with me all my life. My nickname when I was a kid was “Safety Laura” because I was afraid of everything.I was always afraid of getting hurt and I would do things like look both ways before crossing the street five or six times. I remember that I felt ok about going down stairs, but going up them terrified me, and I used to crawl up them instead of walking. I used to play sometimes downstairs in the basement and I remember one day crawling up the stairs to find that the door had closed. I wasn’t scared. I just figured I would yell for my mom and she would come open it. But I yelled and yelled and I couldn’t get her to hear me. I remember being too afraid to stand up to turn the knob, so I just turned around, went down a few steps and sat there crying. I just cried and cried. I don’t remember what got my attention, but I do recall that at the bottom of the stairs there was sort of a wall there and you could go to the right or left. If you went to the right, there was a bar there and something caught my eye. I looked toward the bar and I saw a ghost. It was exactly like you would imagine. Just a white, floating shape. I saw it and I wasn’t scared at all. In fact, I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of peace. So much so that when it disappeared, I went to go follow it. But that’s where my memory ends. I remember talking to my mom about it years later and she said she had something similar happen down there, but in the laundry room. Just an ordinary day doing laundry, but she looked up and saw the white, floating shape and didn’t feel any fear.
I don’t know much about the history of that house but I know that my dad’s father owned it before we lived there and I remember that it had one of those old coal rooms in the basement. It would seem like in both those sightings that the form appeared from that general area.
Later on, my sister, Beth, lived in that house as an adult. She had a close friend named Michelle who was in the kitchen doing something while Beth and some others were outside in the yard. Bet said she remembers Michelle flying out of the house and said “I don’t know how to tell you this, but you have a ghost in your house. It was a man, and he was just staring me down, and I had to get the hell out of there.
I don’t know how to tell you this, that there’s a ghost in your kitchen, and it’s a man and he was staring me down and I had to get the hell out of there. It made her uncomfortable and she did not have that peaceful feeling.
So later on, Michelle was murdered. She dies in October of 2004. She was shot by her husband in the head and then he shot himself. The weekend before it happened, we were all together and she talked to Beth privately and she said she was trying to figure out how to leave her husband. That weekend, I had a dream that I found out that someone had been murdered in my house. And I can remember in the dream yelling about how anyone could have sold me that house without telling me someone had been murdered. I can remember in the dream pulling up carpet. It was just vivid. I told my sister about it because the dream really upset me. We got started talking again about Michelle and how she wanted to leave her husband and she told me that Michelle was hoping her husband would just kill himself because he had a gun. I remember thinking…that’s not a good idea. During that conversation, Beth asked her about all the possibilities. You know, what if he kills you first?
And that’s what ended up happening. So after it happened, we were talking about Michelle one day and how it all went wrong. We were on our way to a movie theater, discussing what happened and just being really upset about the choices that were made. How none of it had to happen, and those kinds of things. When we got to the theater and sat down, Beth took her phone out of her purse and opened it and got the craziest look on her face. So she turns to me and shows me the screen. It was the delete contact confirmation screen. It just said “Delete Megan Phillips?”
It was just so strange. Not only was her phone locked and in her purse, to get to that screen, you’d have to take it out of the purse, unlock it, go to the contact menu, scroll to that contact, choose delete, and then get to that confirmation screen.
So I think about how Michelle also had a connection to that house, but not a good one.
The final experience I had was really my son’s. He’s older now, but when this happened he was about three. We were pulling into the driveway of our house. My husband had grown up in the house. As we were pulling in, my son starting waving at someone. My older daughter looked at him and asked “Who are you waving to?” He answered “The man!” She asked “What man?” and he said “The man. The man right there.” She asked him again which man, and he said “The man who takes care of the house. He feeds the birds.” At this point, I wanted to know more, so I asked him “What else does the man do?” He said “He feeds me and cleans up the house and takes care of the birds.” And that described exactly my husband’s father’s role after he retired. He made all the meals and fed the birds and was the handyman. We showed our son a picture of him and said “Is this him?” And he said “Yeah, that’s him!” My son had no way of knowing that some of the birdhouses in the basement were his. He made them.
My husband had always felt bad that he never had kids until after his dad had died and that he never got to meet his grandson. And I don’t know what you believe, but out son had no way of knowing any of that. He couldn’t have made it up. – L.K.
A Woman in the Doorway
When I was a kid in Ontario, we moved to a very big, very old house. Most of the house felt fine, but I never felt comfortable in my room. It was near the door to a bathroom I hated. I remember that my sister and I used to go to the bathroom in pairs. One of us would stand outside the door while the other used it. The most vivid experience I had in that house was sleeping one night in my bed, and feeling someone move right up behind my ear and whisper my name. I can remember running straight to my parents’ room and jumping into their bed and refusing to go back to mine.
My mother also had an experience in that house, hearing footsteps and once, seeing the door to that room I hated turn slowly by itself. Strange experiences must run in the family because my sister also had an experience years later in her own house. Her husband was out of town on business and her dog was sleeping in the bed with her. Her dog was incredibly restless and was whining and barking at the door to her bedroom, which was very out of character for him. She figured maybe he had to go to the bathroom, so she grudgingly got out of bed and took him to the backyard. He went outside but didn’t go to the bathroom, just stared at her. Figuring he as just being weird that night, she took him back up and they lay down in bed. But it wasn’t long before he began barking and growling again at the door. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore and opened her eyes and looked over at the door. I should explain that my sister is not at all afraid of death. She works in the funeral industry now (and has even more stories from that), but to her, it’s not something to fear. So when she saw an older woman standing in the doorway, holding her arm across her body (almost the way you would if you were cradling a hurt arm) and staring at her, she just looked back at her and in a calm and friendly way, my sister said “Oh, hello.” Sensing things were ok, her dog immediately settled down and they both fell asleep.
Later, when my sister told our mother about it, she had an instant look of recognition. She said she knew who my sister had seen. Her mom—our grandmother, whom we’d never met—had always had a physical quirk of standing in a particular way when she was lost in thought. She’d always cradle one arm in the other.