In honor of Halloween I thought I would answer a question I get asked a lot – Why paranormal stories?
Well simply put I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal. Maybe because of growing up reading science fiction early on, or watching StarTrek, the Outer Limits or the Twilight Zone. Or maybe it has to do with my own experiences.
My first brush with the paranormal was around age 4 or 5 – still living in Michigan. It was a dark and stormy night (really I’m not kidding). It was one of those storms where you wonder if at any moment you’re going to hear the tornado sirens. I don’t remember my dad being home, but I remember mom shuffling my sister and I down to the basement with pillows and blankets. At some point I looked up at one of the windows and staring back at me were two red eyes. Now I know animal eyes glow in the dark but to this day I’ve never seen this color before, and they were too big for any animal that would have been around (Dog, cat, raccoon). And there was that feeling of wrongness about them. Of course when I pointed them out to my mother they were gone and I was told it was a dream and to go back to sleep.
I might have been able to go back to sleep, to even forget what I had seen, if not for what I had felt. Somewhere deep inside I just knew it wasn’t right. You know what I mean?
The next experience that I can remember clearly happened just a few years later. At that time I was in and out of the hospital for tests. I usually stayed a week or two and then went home.
At this age I still had imaginary friends so I was comfortable talking with them – it never dawned on me that maybe – just maybe – one or two might be real.
Now let me preface this by saying that I didn’t realize what this was until I was in my late teens.
On this visit there was no room in the pediatrics wing so I was placed in a room with a adult woman (40ish ) and a girl around 19 or 20 – both very nice.
At night an elderly woman, like a grandma, would come in and check on me, tell me everything was ok, and leave. No big deal. It’s a hospital. You get doctors, nurses, orderlies, volunteers, people coming and going all hours of the day and night. Your monitor beeps wrong and you could get two nurses.
One night the alarms on the young girls monitors started going off – not the usual “hey something fell off” beeping either – these things were screaming. That I remember clearly. I also remember that among the nurses, doctors and orderlies that the visiting grandma came in and told me it would be ok. About then an orderly put me in a wheelchair and removed me and the other roommate from the room. It seems like hours before they wheeled the bed with the girl in it from the room and let us go back in and go to bed.
I never saw the elderly woman after that night
I found out before I went home that the girl had died – her heart had stopped. That’s why she had been there, she had a bad heart.
I asked about the late night volunteers. Guess what, the hospital doesn’t have volunteers at night, only during the daytime visiting hours. In fact no one knew who or what I was talking about – not even the 40ish woman also sharing the room. She always thought that I was talking in my sleep or to invisible friends.
Yeah, I guess in a way I was.
I’d like to think that the grandma was there to comfort me and be there when that young girl passed on. Maybe she was the girls’ grandma. Who knows.
Now you ask, how did I come to this conclusion.
Well I met a girl in school who told me a similar experience. She’d been sitting at the hospital with her mother who had been in a terrible car accident. She told me about this really nice man who came and waited with her whenever the doctors made her go out in the hall while they examined her mom. Always told her it would be ok. Days later when they were checking her mom out of the hospital she asked a nurse about the guy, she wanted to thank him. The nurse told her she hadn’t seen the guy and didn’t know who she was talking about. As the volunteer was escorting them to the door she told the girl “I know him. We see him sometimes at night in the waiting room outside emergency. He and his daughter had been in an accident about ten years ago – she lived, he didn’t.”
I’ve had many more happenings in my adult life as well.
In the catacombs below Edinburgh I had two encounters while on a ghost tour. No don’t get me wrong, I do not see dead people – ok there was that one possible time – but I feel them in a way that almost makes them seem real, solid. The first was a grumpy old man who didn’t like the tourists walking though his home. The tour guide didn’t like me asking if we could move on because the old guy in the corner was getting upset. And as we were leaving I “felt” a small hand take mine. I looked down and while I didn’t see anything I got the impression of a small child thanking us for visiting. And then it was gone.
At Gettysburg while walking along the tour path of Little Round Top I was shot. Ok, ok I wasn’t shot but I was. I felt the bullet hit me in the back just above the right shoulder blade. I felt the pain and confusion and then it was gone. I would like to point out that I have never ever actually been shot so I have nothing to compare the experience too, however in that moment I knew I had been shot. I even told my companion “I think I’ve just been shot.”
I think what happened is that I momentarily passed into the energy of a spirit memory.
As we walked up the street something in the distance caught my eye. It was a bricked over train tunnel in the hillside – but that’s not what I noticed. What caught my attention was the presence. When my friend asked what I was staring at I told her “There’s something bad over there”. Her response was “Well stop staring at it!” and pulled me along.
We made it to the jail and took the tour. As we went up the stairs to the second level I mentioned to my friend that there was someone standing in the corner on the landing. She ignored me. The tour ends with a visit to the dungeon – the underground solitary cells. It felt weird, but that could have been the cave like atmosphere, so I ignored it. Then we came to the room where you sit and listen to the story of the twenty people executed (murdered) for a crime they did not commit. That’s when things got weird for me. The energy changed around me. It was getting close, the air was tightening around me. It’s like the beginning of a panic attack. They were there, those twenty spirits and more, agitated and upset. I don’t hear voices but I refer to that type of crowding feeling as “they are getting loud”. When the talk was over I excused myself.
My response while non-verbal was akin too “Are you F**king kidding me?”
The worst experiences I’ve had so far?
You would think Gettysburg would be just as bad if not worse – honestly the only “bad” place I tripped over in Gettysburg is at Devils Den in the spot where the photographer moved bodies to get a better picture. Those soldiers were not happy about that. And there are two other spots around the rocks that feel that way so I have to wonder if others hadn’t been moved. But at Antietam the energy is more compact, heavy, almost buzzing in the ground.
Similarly is Ground Zero in New York. I went to pay my respects about a year after 9/11 – I don’t know what I was thinking going so soon. I’d like to point out that some of this was relayed to me later because I kind of shut off at some point.
We took the subway as far as we could and walked the rest of the way – it’s about 6 to 8 blocks. We were talking about getting a NYFD shirt for a friend of mine but the closer we got the less talking I did. By the time we reached the fence I had gone quite – walking as if no one was with me. I do remember the noise. Not the construction or the people but eh air. The air was noisy in my head. It was the energy crowding in.
I remember stepping up onto the viewing platform overlooking the giant hole. I remember feeling like the air had been sucked out of the world. And I remember that all the real sounds seemed so far away. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move.
From the point of view of my companion I had shut down, almost catatonic, other than I was crying and gasping.
She lead me from the platform, something I don’t remember. We were blocks away before I “came back to myself”.
I never felt pain or fear. A lot of people have asked me about that. I can’t say I felt emotion so much as the energy or rather the disruption of energy. Like that moment when a hand slashes into water. The water is still there, but now it’s disturbed, moved, unsettled.
I felt the same thing at the Pentagon memorial but not to this degree.
I hate to say it, but just like with Antietam I don’t think I could go back to the New Trade Center.
Do I always feel something when I go to reported haunted places? NO. Most places just feel like “normal”. I think you have to hit them at just the right time or even step into the right space at the perfect moment. Like an old record needle hitting that scratch just right to make the song skip that one time.
Because of all the above, and more, people ask if I’m afraid of something attaching itself to me? Well to that I answer, not so far. First I do not invite anything into my personal circle. Second I do not antagonize anything. And third I give the energy my respect.
No I don’t call them ghosts or spirits necessarily, I just think of them as energy. Energy can’t be destroyed, but it can be changed. Energy can linger, but it can’t stay static.
So while I do go on ghost tours I’m not hunting ghosts, I’m not courting the dead. I’m just fascinated by the possibility. The “what ifs”.
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