A “Haunted Friday” Story – E. Stone
I was never afraid of ghosts when I was a child. It probably had a lot to do with living in a haunted house where my my siblings, my mother, and I nonchalantly shared paranormal experiences over dinner. It wasn’t that we dealt with spirits every day, but every so often, one of us would spot the old woman on the stairs that my sister brought home after her class visited the morgue. Or the old man who would wander through the laundry room door. There was also a small boy who would sit in the kitchen just in front of the pantry door. It’s strange looking back on it how very normal it seemed. None of us were afraid of them, and we went about our days as if everybody had spectral roommates.
My cousins, aunts, and uncles on my mother’s side had their fair share of stories to tell, too. Whenever I visited my grandmother, my family would sit around the dining table, talking about dolls that would literally get up and cross bedrooms, men clad in khaki clothes passing through corridors, or silhouettes walking in front of windows… on the second floor.
You could say that I’d become desensitized to it. In fact, I found the topic fascinating. I collected horror novels from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to Goosebumps and pretty much anything by Christopher Pike. I began to write my own stories as well, and during our family get-togethers, my younger cousins would gather in what we called ‘the blue room’ and I would try to terrify them. Apparently it worked as I found out, many years later, I’d taken on the reputation of the ‘scary cousin.’ I wore it as a badge of pride, though. As an aspiring writer, it’s always nice to hear that the stories we come up with leave lasting impressions.
I didn’t understand it so much, though. Sure, the psychology of it made sense. I realized, on some level, that people enjoyed being afraid, but again, I couldn’t quite figure out what was so scary about ghosts.
I get it now.
It began when one of my friends from school suggested we use the Ouija board at a sleepover one night. I didn’t think anything of it. “It’s just a game,” I thought. So, we set it up and put our fingers on the planchette. One of my friends asked if there was anyone with us, and when the pointer moved to ‘yes’ I assumed she was playing around. Things like this weren’t real. I honestly don’t remember, in detail, the questions we asked, but I do know that none of them were particularly sophisticated. We were barely teenagers, and after we finished playing, we would probably go back to eating junk food, talking about our crushes, and complaining about the one awful teacher while pretending to watch a movie.
I didn’t know the rules. None of us did. I didn’t know that when it started counting backward, you needed to stop it. We said ‘good bye,’ but by then, it was too late. Whatever was on the other side of the veil, whoever it was that was communicating with us… we’d opened the door right open and let it come through.
The first time I saw him, I was in my bedroom. It’d followed me home. I was sitting on my bed, writing in my journal, when I saw a figure fill my doorway. My parent’s bedroom was right next to mine, so I assumed it was my father walking by, but it stopped and stood still, not coming into the room. Just standing. Watching. I looked up and froze. I didn’t know what else to do. When it comes to fight or flight, my instinct is to put up my fists and swing, but this wasn’t… normal. And I couldn’t run… So I looked back at it…
He was a tall man. Well above six feet. Sandy colored hair fell in curls around his gaunt face. He wore a brown trench coat, tattered and dirty. His hands were large… He looked almost human. But his eyes… His eyes were missing, his sockets dark and empty. Yet, I somehow knew he saw me. I’m not sure how long I sat there, waiting for something to happen, but for whatever reason, he never crossed the threshold into my room. I finally looked up above the door frame. I remembered then that my mother had left her own blessing, a palm she’d gotten from the church, that she hanged so that ‘no evil would enter.’ Was that the reason it couldn’t come in?
He finally left, turning on his heel and walking out of sight. I waited a bit before I left the room. He didn’t come back that night. The next morning, when I got to school, my friends from the sleepover came up to me at my lunch table and asked me if I’d seen anything weird. I played what happened a little close to my chest, not wanting anyone to think I was crazy or lying. But when one of them said they think something followed them home, I asked them to explain exactly what they meant. They described seeing a man, tall, who wore brown and had no eyes. Only, for her, instead of hollow holes were they should have been, there was a red glow to them. The other two girls confirmed this, and finally I told them that I’d seen the same thing as well.
That wasn’t the end of it. I saw him again the next day. Standing in the same spot. Staring without his eyes… He never said anything. Never made a sound. Didn’t even move. Just stood. And then the next day… And the next day… I started losing sleep. I was afraid that I’d open my eyes and he’d be there. I was afraid that if I closed them, he’d come in. I was afraid to tell anyone in my family… What if they didn’t believe me? What if they thought it was my fault?
Then one day… He stopped coming. Stopped appearing. I didn’t know why. Didn’t care why. I was just glad he was gone.
Except… He wasn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t consider that anybody else in my family could see him. Especially since they always said they saw everything and everyone else that came into the house. All I knew was suddenly my sister was no doing well. She became sick. Angry all the time. She was scared. I didn’t know that she’d provoked it. That she purposely made it latch onto her so it’d leave me alone. I had no idea that it was throwing things in her room. Scratching her. Hurting her. My mother did, though. She took my sister to our priest to see if he could help. They dismissed her. Told my mother that whatever was upsetting my sister was normal, teenage behavior.
My mother didn’t accept this. She knew that my sister’s injuries were real. That her nightmares were real. She might not have ever seen the man, but she knew he was there. And she wasn’t about to let him keep hurting her children. She blessed her own house. She told it to leave. Went room to room and banished it. It was only before she did this that she asked me if I’d ever seen it. That’s when I found out what was going on, and I tearfully told her that it was my fault. That all of the crap my sister was going through was because I stupidly played a game that I had no business playing.
My sister dismissed it. All she said was, “I knew you’d done something stupid.”
After my mother blessed the house, everything stopped. Everything. My sister and I never saw the man again. I didn’t see the old woman on the stairs. Or hear the boy in the kitchen. Everything just went quiet. And it stayed like that until we moved.
The last day we were in the house, I was standing at the top of the stairs, yelling down for my sister to catch a bag I was about to throw down. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. But I was the only person still on the second floor. I looked around, and there, standing in front of my door was a tall man in a brown trench coat… I didn’t freeze this time. Lifting my hand, I gave him a wave good-bye and said, “I’m out.”
For all I know, he’s still there, but I know he didn’t follow. I guess the only people who’d know for sure are the ones who live in the house now.
And that’s why I don’t use spirit boards!
“Haunted Fridays” are true personal accounts of people who have had paranormal experiences. For the purposes of privacy, names and locations may be changed.
If you have a personal paranormal experience or ghost story you’d like to share with us for a future Friday, we’d be happy to hear from you!