Monday, December 11, 2017

A Haunting in Idaho 8: What The Shadow Knows

Have you ever heard of shadow people? I suppose it’s a relatively new phenomenon in the paranormal world, but extremely interesting to me. I’m not sure what to think about it to tell you the truth. To be honest, I’ve never really gave it that much thought until a close friend of mine had his own sighting of a shadow person a few years ago.

So, what is a shadow person? Well, nobody really knows and there are many theories on it, but the typical sighting usually goes something like this: The witness will unexpectedly notice movement—many times from the corner of their eye, just inside their peripheral. Most witnesses report seeing the shadowy form of a person, with no identifying features. Many describe it as looking like a three dimensional shadow where you can see the outline and shape of the person only.

In most cases the shadow person seems oblivious to those witnessing its appearance. A lot of the time this phantom is in the act of simply walking—a lot of the time walking right through walls. Usually, the sighting only lasts a few seconds. The shadow person is there … and then … gone.

There are a number of theories on who or what these beings are. Anything from visitors from another world, to time travelers, even guardian angels. Most agree that these are probably not ghosts and don’t tend to haunt or linger in a specific area. Anyone can conceivably encounter a shadow person anywhere, anytime. Although, some people may be more prone to seeing these strange apparitions than others.

The theory that I find the most interesting is that shadow people are actually beings from another parallel universe or dimension. For whatever reason, just for a moment, the interdimensional fabric that separates our reality from theirs thins just enough that we catch a glimpse of someone in that other universe. It’s quite possible that we ourselves unknowingly appear as shadow people, from time to time, in their dimension! As Commander Spock might say ...

This is a true story told to me by my friend, Duane. Duane experienced a classic shadow person sighting with a little bit of a twist a few summers ago while he was mowing his lawn.

It was an average summer day, nothing out of the ordinary going on, and Duane was enjoying the nice, warm weather as he sat astride his lawn tractor, mowing his lawn. As he came around the side of his house towards the front yard, he looked up to see a man striding purposefully across the grass towards him. Duane's first reaction was to assume that a neighbor was paying a visit, or perhaps a door to door salesman had stopped by. The man seemed quite tall and lanky, his long strides carrying him quickly in Duane’s direction. The figure was wearing a top hat of all things! Duane could see the outline of an old fashioned, long coat with tales flapping behind the man.

The most unnerving feature, to suddenly jump out to Duane, was the fact that this man walking towards him had no features. He was just a black shadow, like a cut out hole in the fabric of reality, through which only the darkness of some unseen void shone through. At that moment, before Duane even had time to become alarmed by the appearance of this Lincoln-like specter, the figure seemed to notice Duane sitting there on his mower. There was almost the feeling that the two had met one another’s gaze—if it’s possible to meet someone’s gaze who doesn’t even have eyes. Then, without even missing a stride, the lanky figure changed his direction. In one diagonal step, he vanished behind the trunk of a tree, growing nearby, and was gone.

The whole thing lasted less than two seconds according to Duane. It was broad daylight, he was wide awake, and he swears it was not some fleeting trick of the light or his eyes playing tricks on him. He knows what he saw. He has not seen a reappearance of the tall man in the top hat, but to this day, when he’s mowing his lawn and comes around the side of his house, his eyes go directly to the edge of his lawn, half expecting the strange visitor to be there once more.

Who knows, maybe in a parallel universe there is a tall, lanky man—perhaps he’s the president of his country—wondering if he’ll ever again encounter that strange, shadowy figure sitting on the strange contraption, staring at him.

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 If you have a personal story of the paranormal or an adventure that you would like me to share on my blog please contact me at I'd love to hear your story. You can remain anonymous if you wish.

Some images in this blog post were obtained through Google. The author does not own these images and takes no credit for them. No copyright infringement was intended. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

Most of us can look back on our childhood, or some other occurrence in our lives, and point to a moment that may have defined us in some way or another. In this post I’d like to share one such moment from my childhood. This story is not of a paranormal nature, but still haunts me to this day, just as sure as any poltergeist or demon might. Looking back on it now, it’s probably one of the early experiences of my life that may have traumatized me into becoming a writer.

I grew up in a rural neighborhood that consisted of a row of about twenty houses, isolated in the country, surrounded by farmland on all sides. Across the road from our split-level home ran an irrigation canal that carried precious, life-giving water to the nearby potato and wheat fields. The canal was relatively small compared to some of the larger channels in the area, but was an adequate source of entertainment and adventure for the children growing up on Crowley Road.

We built sketchy forts and swung from rope swings in the ancient Russian olive trees that grew along the steep, grassy banks. We assembled rickety rafts from rotten lumber scraps and old, leaky inner tubes. Most of these hastily constructed vessels would usually disintegrate shortly after an unceremonious launch into the murky currents from which always wafted a faint odor of mildewing vegetation.

After too many failed attempts at navigating the deceiving waters in our crude boats, we eventually resorted to assigning the task to our platoon of G.I. Joe action figures. Courageously, and with nary a complaint, the Joes made these voyages in crafts constructed of pop cans, sticks, and kite string. Incidentally, the action figures usually enjoyed much more successful expeditions than us kids. Although, there were a few casualties that were lost beneath the swift, opaque currents that often churned the same color as the chocolate Nestle Quik that our moms made for us on hot, summer afternoons.

I remember on one such afternoon being down at the waterfall, which was the geographical representation of my mother’s imposed limits upon where I was allowed to range. This was only about five houses away from my mine, so I must have been fairly young still—maybe seven or eight-years-old.

The waterfall was actually just a head gate, where boards could be stacked between two vertical concrete slabs in order to raise the water level upstream. This would result in a waterfall where the water would pour over the top board and rush, foamy and white across another concrete slab, creating a small section of whitewater below. Even the G.I. Joes knew not to float this section of the canal. And knowing is half the battle. (Sorry about that.)

On this particular day, myself and a few friends were hanging out at the waterfall, throwing sticks into the sun-dappled water upstream and watching them take the tumultuous tumble over the falls. I would often imagine that the stick was a small canoe filled with a few unlucky jungle explorers about to meet their demise over a one-thousand-foot cascade.

Our little game was suddenly interrupted when a water snake introduced himself to us by slithering out of the tall grass and into the canal. We watched, mesmerized, as the snake wriggled his body in a sort of whipping corkscrew maneuver to propel himself through the water. He wasn’t very big—probably less than twelve inches long—but at the sight of him, my blood ran as cold as that water flowing by.

I’ve always had an irrational fear of snakes. Even as an adult, just the sight of the smallest snake causes my breath to catch slightly in my throat and my heart to palpitate into a momentary arrhythmia. I blame my best friend’s older sister, Angie, for chasing us around one day with a big blow snake when we were really young—three or four-years-old probably. Pure terror, I tell you.

I don’t remember how long we observed the little reptile swimming there in the white-capped waves, just below the waterfall. Squatting along the bank, I was watching the water snake in such a state of horrified fascination that I didn’t notice the approach of Johnny Roadrash (as he will be known in this story) until he brought his beat up BMX bike to a skidding slide, locking up the rear tire, and spraying us with bits of gravel from the road.

Johnny Roadrash was a few years older than the rest of us, and to say he came from the wrong side of the tracks would be putting it mildly. Sometimes, I think the whole neighborhood was on the wrong side of the tracks, but that’s a story for another day. Johnny’s house was located down at the opposite end of the street, which was in the Forbidden Zone for me. Johnny was an emissary from that mysterious, unseen end of the neighborhood, where the older, sort of bad kids would occasionally emerge, like orcs from the Black Gate of Mordor.

Johnny was the embodiment of rebellion, with his long, shaggy, dirty-blond hair, weathered, sun-chapped face, and capacity for unpredictable outbursts of violence. He smoked, he swore, and he talked back to those in authority. This was a kid that was breaking all the rules and he knew it. He reveled in anarchy. The rest of us feared, and on some deeper level, kind of admired him for it.

I remember one time when Johnny came to our Cub Scout meeting. He showed up with his Cub Scout shirt unbuttoned, the shirt tail flapping behind him like a flag of war as he arrived on his battered bike with the squeaking chain and rusty sprocket. I’m not sure what caused the altercation, but within a short time of his arrival, Johnny punched another kid in the face, dropping him to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Our den mother was furious and evicted him from her yard. I’ll never forget the way he seemed to simply shrug off the enraged screaming of an adult woman, as he sauntered over to his bike, gave a flip of his wild hair, and rode away, like some legendary gunslinger out of a Sergio Leone western, never to return to Cub Scouts again.

I looked up from the swimming snake to see Johnny Roadrash flying from the torn up seat of his bike, allowing the abused contraption to crash in a sprawling clatter to the hot asphalt below. How that bike continued to function was always a mystery to me. I assumed it was just as tough and rebellious as its owner—angry, even. Johnny ran to the bank of the ditch, his bare knees poking through the ragged holes worn through the knees of his faded jeans.

My heart skipped a beat as he picked up a rock, a murderous gleam glinting in his eyes. Was I to be the target of Johnny Roadrash’s legendary rage? To my relief, he didn’t throw the rock at me but directed his aim at the water snake. Barely missing the animal, the rock hit the canal, ejecting a plume of water that sprayed droplets into my face. Another rock followed immediately after, followed by another, and another.

I swear to this day, I have no idea how a kid could find that many rocks and throw them in such furious and rapid succession. It was like a severe hailstorm had suddenly burst out of the perfect, blue sky above. Johnny’s arms whipped the stone projectiles with such rage and reckless abandon, you would have thought that at some point in his childhood water snakes had been responsible for killing his entire family.

Now, I may have an irrational fear of snakes, but I’m also quite the soft-hearted sap when it comes to animals. So I watched with a new-found horror as this poor little snake slithered this way and that, in an attempt to stay clear of Johnny’s vicious barrage of rocks. But the poor guy never stood a chance. Not against the likes of Johnny Roadrash. After churning the water into a literal froth, Johnny finally hefted a huge boulder, roughly the size of a Nerf football, up over his head and hurled it with every ounce of force that all of his ninety-eight or so pounds could muster.

The impact of this larger rock created a huge splash that nearly soaked me and sent a small tidal wave cresting against the bank of the canal. I wiped my eyes, and as the water cleared, I saw that there was no sign of the snake. I assumed the poor creature had simply disintegrated into a million pieces, but secretly held out hope in my heart that it had somehow made it to the bank and escaped into the grass and weeds.

Johnny stood up on the high bank, surveying the scene like some avenging god, arms hanging loose, each hand already loaded with a rock and ready to let fly at the slightest movement in the water. The movement never came; the snake was gone. Johnny sniffed, dropped the rocks, mounted back on his mangled bike—the front tire was still spinning—and pedaled away back to Mordor, from whence he had come.

A movement caught my eye then: a wriggling motion below the surface of the water. At first, I thought it was a strand of algae that had been dislodged from the bottom of the canal by Johnny’s attack. But upon closer inspection, I realized it was the snake. His tail had been pinned by that last big rock, trapping the animal under the water; he was writhing for the surface, just a few inches from his outstretched nose.

An immediate terror took a hold of me that I’ll never forget, rendering me immobile; paralyzing me with fear and indecision. On one hand, I was in empathetic agony as I watched this poor snake struggling to obtain the surface, precious air almost within its reach. On the other hand, my crippling fear of snakes was preventing me from reaching down into the water to remove the rock that was pinning his tail.

I so desperately wanted to help the snake. A couple of times I dipped my fingers into the water, intending to help him, but just couldn’t quite go through with it. In my frenzied mind I imagined myself removing the rock, only for the snake to quickly latch itself onto my hand and then go slithering and twisting up my arm. It was more than I could bear.

So I squatted there on the bank of the canal, watching in my paralysis, as the snake writhed, jerked, tugged, and struggled. Most people would agree that reptiles are incapable of expressing emotions, but I saw the fear and hopelessness in those small, oil drop eyes that afternoon, as the snake finally opened its mouth in a silent scream and exhaled the last of its air. The air bubbles roiled upwards, breaking upon the surface of the water. The little snake struggled for a few more seconds and then went limp. His lifeless body soon joined in with the long, hair-like strands of green algae that grew along the bottom of the canal, swaying gently in the smooth flow of the current.

I don’t remember anything else about that day. I suppose I left the canal, after a while, and went about occupying my time with whatever it is little boys do on hot, summer afternoons. But thoughts of the snake and its senseless demise did haunt me throughout my childhood, and continue to plague me to this day. As the years have passed, I have taken this experience and twisted a meaning out of it, I suppose. I look back on it now as a time in my life when I knew what the right thing to do was, but allowed fear to hold me back from acting. For the rest of my life, I’ve suffered the emotional consequences of this failure to act.

At a young age—too young, I think—I learned how deeply an internal conflict like this can twist itself up and burrow into your psyche. Everyone goes through life and has experiences like this; I’m in no way unique. But, I believe it’s these human experiences that give writers that insightful glimpse into the human spirit, which allows them to flesh out and weave interesting and believable characters into their stories. For that reason, I’m thankful to have been gifted the type of mind that latches onto these moments and stores them away, while looking for hidden meanings and interpretations. Even if it means I have to go through life with a bit more sensitivity to death, tragedy, and the cruelties of our human existence.

I’ve always wondered if watching that snake drown at a young age influenced my later decision to become a lifeguard. Is it possible that the numerous times I’ve snagged a drowning toddler or plucked a panicked kid out of troubled waters, have made up for my lack of action on that day? I’m not sure I believe in karma, but I’d like to hope that if such a thing exists, then perhaps I’ve managed to balance the scales somewhat in this regard.

Even now, I can’t stand to watch a creature suffer death by drowning. I will go to great lengths to rescue ladybugs, earwigs, hornets—even spiders—from perishing in our backyard swimming pool. My kids probably think I’m sort of nuts. I say, I’m just trying to make up for an opportunity lost, many years ago.

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Some images in this blog post were obtained through Google. The author does not own these images and takes no credit for them. No copyright infringement was intended. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Free Falling

The following story comes from a close friend who wishes to remain anonymous. In the following story I will refer to him as Tyler.

Have you ever heard of astral projection, or OBE (out of the body experience)? The principle is pretty basic. It’s based on the belief that your spirit can vacate the confines of the physical body, for a time, and then return back to the body. This isn’t to be confused exactly with a near death experience but the two can definitely be linked, I believe.

An OBE can happen accidentally to someone. Some people have reported that in a moment of extreme duress, pain, or exhaustion, suddenly finding themselves floating outside of their body and observing what is taking place from a different angle, as if they were someone else merely observing. Others have reported to have left their body inadvertently while sleeping. They might be having a dream and then, the next thing they know they are standing in the bedroom, looking down at their own unconscious body.

Astral projection is the same concept, except that it is the deliberate action of leaving the body. Some claim to have figured out how to meditate and concentrate in the right way, allowing them to leave their body at will. Those who have been able to do this, say that they then are able to move about on what they call the astral plane. They are still here but are able to move through walls, fly about, and even meet other beings and spirits. NO THANKS.

My dad used to know a man that claimed he could do this. According to this person, there was a sort of silver umbilical cord that connected him to his body. He had the feeling that when you die, the silver cord is severed and your spirit is permanently separated from your body. Off you go towards the light. This man gave up the practice, however, after laying down on his bed one night, he meditated and successfully entered the astral plane.
He turned around to look at his body and was horrified to see a dark, shadowy figure standing in the corner of the bedroom. He felt an evil vibe coming off this specter and had the distinct feeling that this character was trying to figure out how to take possession of this now vacant vessel. He jumped back into his body without hesitation, and gave up the practice of astral projection. SO WOULD I! 
In my debut novel, The Summoning, the main antagonist, Daniel, uses astral projection to inhabit the body of someone else and commits a murder that can’t be traced back to him in any way.

The story of my friend, Tyler, is not that scary, but still quite incredible.

One late afternoon, after returning to his second-story apartment from an extra hard rugby practice, he collapsed on his couch. He was so exhausted that he didn’t bother taking a shower or anything. He doesn’t recall ever being in such an exhausted state before in his life, and immediately began to drift off to sleep.

He tells of suddenly experiencing the sensation that he was sinking through the couch. He opened his eyes and was shocked to be looking up at the ceiling, just a few inches from his face. He realized that he was falling, but very slowly—he wasn’t sure how he got up there to begin with. He tried to turn himself around to face the floor. He got about half turned and looked down. This was when he discovered he wasn’t even in his apartment!

Below him, on the floor, was a blow-up mattress with some big guy sleeping on it. He didn’t recognize the man, but he was distinctive, being a very big guy with long hair, possibly Samoan or some other type of Pacific Islander heritage. I’m out of my body, he thought to himself. At that moment, he felt himself fly back up through the floor, the couch, and into his body, like the snap of a rubber band.

At first, he just assumed that he’d experienced a really bizarre dream, brought on by his extremely exhausted state … until the next morning when he went to leave for work. He almost had a heart attack when, coming out of the apartment, he ran into the big Samoan man he had seen sleeping on the blowup mattress. He had not seen the man before hand and had originally thought he was just a figment of his imagination. Now the guy was standing right here in the flesh!

It turned out the big guy was spending the night with a friend and that’s why he had been on the blowup mattress in a spare bedroom. It was at this point that Tyler had to seriously take into consideration that he had, indeed, inadvertently slipped away from his body for a few seconds.
Personally, I don’t condone that one should try to experiment with this stuff on purpose. The story of the evil presence waiting there on the astral plane should serve as warning enough to those who might be curious. I don’t know what to actually think about this particular phenomenon. Of course, I do believe that we all have a spirit that inhabits this mortal house of clay. So, it’s not too far of a stretch for me to think that under the right circumstances we could find ourselves straying a little from our physical body.

But as far as I’m concerned, I’m only planning on my spirit taking a leave of absence from my body once, thank you.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Haunting in Idaho 7: The Girl of My Dreams

The following happened to me in November of 2000.

I was twenty-seven years old and was excitedly anticipating becoming a father for the first time, in just a few months. My wife, Kimberly, and I had just purchased our first home in preparation for starting out a family. The house was an old, brick farmhouse, built in 1898 by some of the first people to settle down in the historic, little village of Iona, Idaho. This is the same house where I had my experience with Charles, mentioned in a previous post. Read about that good time right HERE.

We were thrilled to be in our first home and I still remember those wonderfully terrifying feelings of responsibility and stewardship that would come over me from time to time, as the idea of being a property owner and a father began to sink in. And if I’m honest, me being me, the idea that the house could be haunted was also on my mind. A hundred year old house is bound to have a ghost or two hanging around, right?

I don’t remember exactly how long we had been living in the house when I had this experience, but I do know it was within the first few weeks or so. One night, after having gone to bed and falling asleep, I suddenly woke up for no particular reason. I was lying on my right side, my back facing the open bedroom door. In this house the master bedroom was right off the living room. I don’t know why I awoke, but didn’t think much of it and decided to roll over onto my left side.

As I did so, I was taken completely off-guard when I saw a little girl standing in the doorway! She was about six or seven years old and was wearing a white nightgown that had an old-fashioned look to it, like something you’d see the Ingles girls wearing on Little House on The Prairie—minus the bonnet. She had long, dark hair and was smiling at me.

I didn’t feel any fear. In fact, the thought that this was a ghost didn’t even enter my mind. She didn’t look like what I would have imagined a ghost to look like. She seemed solid, right down to her little, bare feet planted on the old, hardwood floor. My first thought was that a neighbor kid must have been sleepwalking and somehow found herself in my house. Yes, that was it.

I was about to ask her who she was when she raised one hand up in a sign of farewell, smiled sweetly, and said, “Bye … “ She dragged the world out like, “Byyye.” Suddenly, she became less substantial, like the dimming of a light, fading into transparency, her hand still up in the air. Before I had time to be scared or disturbed by this, she was gone. Vanished into thin air.

I remember experiencing a sensation of wonder more than fear as I tried to come to terms with what had just happened. What in the heck was that?  I thought to myself as I rolled back onto my right side, once again putting my back toward the bedroom door.

As I rolled over, I caught a strange movement out of the corner of my eye. Some shadowy thing slipped into the bedroom at that moment. Flew into the room, would be the better way of putting it, I guess. The best way I can describe it would be if a black blanket of mist slipped into the room by flying through the doorway, up high near the top of the frame, and then floated up into the corner of the ten-foot ceiling. It hovered up there, watching us in our bed.

I was seized by such a fear at that moment that I suddenly felt paralyzed, like a charge of electricity was coursing through my body. I thought I could sense this thing spreading out across the ceiling, becoming larger. It began to descend, as if to completely drape itself over us. With sheer mental force, I powered myself out of that feeling of paralysis and turned on my back to face this spectral threat. But, there was nothing there.

I lay there contemplating what had just happened. The fear slowly dripped away as several minutes ticked by. I concluded that somehow I had dreamed the whole thing. And, maybe I did. To this day, I’m not exactly sure about that. Was it all a dream? I felt like I was awake, but … I just don’t know for sure. To be honest, maybe I don’t really want to know.

I never saw the girl again, or the strange, black shroud that had flown into our bedroom that night. I’ve spent the years since, telling myself that it was all just a bizarre dream. There was never any other evidence to make me think that there was the spirit of a little girl haunting the house.

Except for this one time when our dog, for no reason at all, got his hackles up and started growling at our darkened kitchen one night. But a dog wouldn’t growl at the ghost of an innocent little girl. Would it?

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The images in this blog post were obtained through Google. The author does not own these images and takes no credit for them. No copyright infringement was intended. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Haunting in Maryland: If These Walls Could Talk

This week’s true paranormal story comes to us from my friend, Thomas. It takes place in Maryland, over a period of about fifteen years. The story, in an almost classic style, begins with a recurring nightmare.

Through much of the 1980s Thomas had a recurring dream that he was living in an older home. In this dream there was a feeling or sense that the walls of the house were to be avoided. One was to avoid touching or rubbing up against the walls. Even pushing furniture up against the walls was a bad idea. This was because the walls were infested with the spirits of the evil dead. Nothing ever happened in the dream; there was just a sense that the walls were evil.

Sounds like a typical, demented nightmare—I’ve had similar dreams myself—except for the fact that this particular dream persisted throughout most of the 80s for Thomas. That’s something that I would not consider normal if it were happening to me.

In 1992 Thomas found himself renting the second story of an older home, constructed in the 1840s. The home had been renovated some years prior into a rental unit. He recalls that there was a stairway on his floor with a landing that led to an attic door. The door was actually boarded up and also had bars installed across it. He began to feel like something might be wrong with the house when his bluetick coonhound started wandering up the landing to just stare in quizzical fascination at this off-limits door. Was this the house of his recurring dream with the infested walls?

His suspicions were confirmed one night while he was watching TV in the living room. For seemingly no reason the ornamental plaster medallion, mounted above the fireplace, fell off the wall, all by itself. But it didn’t just fall off the wall. It practically sailed across the room, assuming an impossible trajectory, and crashing to the floor! Thomas climbed up to where it had been solidly attached just moments before. He looked for anything that might explain this strange occurrence. No explanation was to be found, and it was at that moment, he suddenly realized that he was actually living in his nightmare house!

He took the dream and the flying medallion as a warning and moved out of the place, having only lived in the old house for three months. Years later, just by chance, he actually bumped into a man who’s grandparents had purchased the house some many years before and had renovated the place.

Remember how Thomas’s dream included the idea that the walls were infested with the evil dead? Well, according to the grandson, when the house was being renovated, four complete human skeletons were found hidden inside the DANG WALLS! I know, I know! How creepy is that?

The bodies were never identified, I guess. The house was close to the old Mason-Dixon Line, and the working theory is the bodies must have been the murdered remains of a small group of runaway slaves. But, nobody really knows for sure.

What do you think about dreams? Was Thomas warned ten years before to stay clear of this particular house? If so, where do dreams like this come from? Is there a higher intelligence reaching out and trying to warn us, or does the dream somehow come from within our own minds? Perhaps, through and extra-sensory ability that we possess but are mostly unaware of?

Whatever the case, I think I might start paying a little closer attention to my own dreams for now on.

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 If you have a personal story of the paranormal or an adventure that you would like me to share on my blog please contact me at I'd love to hear your story. You can remain anonymous if you wish.

The images in this blog post were obtained through Google. The author does not own these images and takes no credit for them. No copyright infringement was intended. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Haunting in Idaho 6: No Vacancy at the Hotel Rogers

As I went to do a little research on The Rogers Hotel in order to write up this blog post, I had no idea of the building’s already infamous reputation in the community for being haunted. And I certainly wasn’t aware of it when I got hired to work for a company that was using the haunted hotel as an office space at the time.

I did a little googling on the building to see what background information I could find on the place and was surprised—but not really—to see a few websites where the haunted building is mentioned. There has even been a paranormal investigation done in the place.

Some videos have been posted by the group that did the investigation on YouTube:

The Rogers was built in 1937 by Bronson Marshall “Brunt” Rogers, one of Idaho Falls’s first millionaires, for the cost of $300,000. Upon its completion, the hotel boasted 100 beautifully furnished rooms with attached baths that went for $2 and up. The hotel enjoyed celebrity guests over the years such as: Herbert Hoover, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, and Roy Rogers.

My own experience with The Rogers takes place in 2001 when I took a job as a graphic designer for a publishing company that had just moved into the building. The antique structure is comprised of three stories in which all the rooms have been converted into offices; my office was on the second floor, if my memory serves me correctly.

I was excited about this new job—I had my own office for cryin’ out loud, with a window and everything! And I loved the building, located in the historic section of Downtown, Idaho Falls on the corner of B Street and Park Ave. To this day, the old sign still remains on the side of the red-brick building. Painted in fading lead-based paint, it reads:

One of America’s better places … to eat and sleep.

As I said before, this building was not only new to me, but new to my coworkers too, as they had just recently moved in. Well, it didn’t take long before a coworker shared a ghost story with me, and my new workplace began to take on a whole new meaning.

Apparently, two guys stayed after hours one evening to put together a few modular desks. They were on the top floor—what turned out to be the hotspot of paranormal activity—with the parts and pieces of a new desk spread out in front of them on the floor. They were kneeling side by side, hunched over the instruction sheet, trying to make sense of the instructions—you know how those things go. Anyway, as they were kneeling there, they both suddenly felt a hand clap them each on the back of the neck. They both turned in surprise, having thought they were the only ones in the building at the time. They expected maybe to see a coworker, perhaps even the boss standing over them. But, there was nobody there!

In wide-eyed astonishment they looked at each other, and without a word, jumped to their feet and got the heck out of there, the skin on their necks still prickling with the sensation of a hand being laid there. They returned the next day and were forced to confess their story to their coworkers and explain why they had left a desk in a state of complete disassembly for everyone else to find in the morning.

A saleslady, who’s office was located on the third floor, told me of a time when she was working. It was midday and everyone on her floor had gone to lunch, leaving her alone as she worked to finish up a rush job that day. As she concentrated on the work in front of her, she caught a quick glimpse of a man walking by her door. She didn’t see much, except to note that he seemed to be wearing a pair of overalls and a checkered flannel shirt. She found it very odd, as this was definitely not company dress code.

She got up from her desk thinking that perhaps the boss had come in from a day off and was heading to his office, just a couple of doors down. Maybe he’d just come back from camping or something, she figured; he maybe just needed to grab something real quick. Although, it was strange that he just walked past her door without saying anything. She went to the door and called out his name. There was no response. She stepped out into the hallway. It was completely empty; all the doors were closed and there was no place the man in overalls could have gone! A chill spilled down her spine as a very uneasy feeling creeped through her body. She decided the rush job could wait and left until some other workers could return with her to the third floor.

There were other incidents: doors opening and closing by themselves, lights flickering, footsteps, a disembodied voice, etc. A few more employees thought they too had seen the man in the overalls and some had actually given the wandering specter a nickname. I can’t recall what the nickname was. Something like Bill, I think.

Things apparently got bad enough that someone reached out and contacted some people who had worked for the company that had previously occupied The Rogers. These contacts all enthusiastically corroborated our suspicions that the old hotel was haunted, saying that their employees had also experienced similar incidents while working in the building. I don’t know if there’s any proof to the rumor, but we were told that the man in the overalls was probably the ghost of the hotel’s maintenance man who had worked in the building for years, until he was discovered deceased in one of the rooms one day. Dare I speculate he was probably found in a room on the top floor?

Naturally, these stories and incidents served to incite my imagination quite a bit. I would make excuses to walk the halls of the old building, looking for perhaps a shadowy figure lurking in a corner, the ominous creak of a door slowly opening by itself, or even Bill’s ghost gliding down the hall.

One evening, I found myself working late on a project that had to be done by morning. After a while, I decided to get up and walk around a little to stretch my legs and give my eyes a break from staring too long at a computer screen. As I walked around, I soon realized that I had the entire building all to myself. All three floors. Gulp!

I took possession of my faculties and decided that if I was ever going to see a real ghost, this was probably my best chance. Don’t ask me why I actually wanted to see a ghost; seems like a foolish thing to wish for now. With all of the courage I could muster, I began to walk the hallways of The Rogers, one deserted floor at a time. “Come on, Bill,” I said, now and then, as I made my way closer to the top floor, “Come on out and show yourself, if you’re really here.”

I know … Dumb!

For whatever reason, Bill chose not to manifest his presence to me that night, and to be honest, as I left the building to go home, I think I was kind of grateful he hadn’t. I refer you to my previous post: Charles

I kind of have this theory that when we’re actually trying to see a ghost or communicate with them, collect evidence, etc, we’re less likely to see something then if we just go about our normal existence. I think that maybe when we are in the act of pursuing an experience with the paranormal, perhaps we aren’t in the right frame of mind, making an occurrence not as likely. Perhaps, when we’re just going about our normal routines and daily lives, we are more relaxed and therefore somehow a bit more susceptible to a glimpse at the other side. Which leads me to what I count as my own experience at The Rogers.

At some point, I kind of forgot about the supposed ghost or haunting of the building as I went about my daily life there. I even began to doubt the stories I had heard from others. Not that I thought people were making up the stories, but I started to assume that people had probably just allowed their imaginations to get the better of them. Saw and heard things that just weren’t really there. Personally, I had just spent too much time there—many times all by myself—and had not witnessed any kind of paranormal activity. Not even an unexplained cold spot.

One day, I approached my boss and told him that my office needed a second chair for clients to be able to use when they came to see me. He told me that I could probably find a decent office chair down in the basement, where they had stored a bunch of office supplies and furniture when the company had moved in. Basement? Up to this point, I had no idea there was a basement in the old place. If I’d been on my guard, maybe the thought of going into the basement of an old hotel, that was alleged to be haunted, would have at least raised some concern. But, I admit on this occasion, I thought nothing of it, as I took the stairs, making my way down there.

The basement, itself, wasn’t particularly creepy as I remember it now, some sixteen or so years later. It was a pretty open space with an uneven cement floor and, indeed, it had a great deal of office furniture that had been stored down there: desks, chairs, filing cabinets, old computers, old fax machines, etc. The lighting wasn’t too bad, I remember. About what you might expect in a space such as that.

I began to rummage through the selection, in search of a decent chair that would fit well in my small office space. Before long, I had selected a good candidate and separated it from the conglomeration of stuff. With my primary task complete, I took a moment to have a look around. Maybe there was something else in the pile that I could use for my office.

And that’s when I took notice of the dark, far corner of the basement.

It was an empty corner that held this aura of being farther away then the rest of the room—detached somehow from the rest of the basement. It seemed a little darker than everywhere else too, as if the already weak light emanating from the lightbulbs down there just couldn’t quite penetrate into that one corner. Feeling somewhat drawn, perhaps like a moth to the flame, I took a few steps in that direction. But only a few steps.

I pulled up short, the dim corner gaping in front of me like the giant maw of some lurking monster that just might snap shut and swallow me whole, if I were to go any nearer. The skin on my arms prickled and I’ll be danged if I didn’t suddenly feel a slight chill in the air as I stood there, unable to go further—unwilling to take even one more step closer to that darker little realm of shadows.

I thought I actually felt a presence down in that corner. An unseen phantom watching me from the darkness, warning me, maybe willing me away from its otherworldly abode. For a long moment, I stood there wrestling with myself, questioning my instincts, trying to rationalize away these odd feelings of foreboding that had suddenly come upon me. In the end I chose to heed that sixth sense that was trying to tell me that something about my surroundings just was not quite right. I left with my chair.

Before heading up to my office, however, I stopped by the office of a coworker named Chris. I felt comfortable enough with Chris to tell him about my experience—I knew he believed in the ghost stories that had been circulating. I was sort of going nuts inside, wondering if I had just imagined those feelings in the basement, so I asked him to make a little trip downstairs, and see if maybe he might experience something similar in the far corner. Chris agreed to humor me and headed down to the basement while I waited in his office.

It didn’t take long for Chris to return. He was smiling, but looked a bit shaken up. I asked him if he had also had the uneasy sensation of being watched from the corner. He said that he had definitely felt uneasy while he was down there … and yes, especially while standing near the far corner.

I don’t think I ever went back down in the basement of The Rogers hotel during my employment in that building. And never again did I walk the halls, during after hours, audaciously calling out the building’s ghosts to make themselves known. To this day, and even immediately after my experience in the basement, I question what really happened down there. Was it just my imagination, after all? Was my mind just playing tricks on me?

I suppose these are questions that most people who experience a ghost sighting or paranormal event probably ask themselves. And to be honest, I don’t have an answer as to the truth of what really happened. But, I do know this: at that moment, as I stood there feeling as if the very walls of the room were yawning after me, my blood suddenly turning to ice water, there was no doubt. No doubt at all.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

An Adventure in Budapest: To Dungeons Deep and Caverns Old

February twenty-sixth, 1993 is a cold day in Budapest, Hungary, but the sun shining brightly in a clear sky of cobalt-blue offers the promise of spring, as I jump off the bus with my mission companion, Matt. As young, nineteen-year-old missionaries for the Mormon church, it's our free day, the one day a week when we aren't expected to be out knocking on people's doors, or teaching gospel lessons to people who are investigating our church. We've just crossed over the Danube River to the Buda side of the magnificent city, in order to visit the old royal palace and the medieval fortress walls that once protected it. We've been here before, but having a fascination for castles and old structures, I make every excuse to come here. Fortunately, Matt is an easy going guy that doesn't seem to mind my little forays into what is known as the Castle District.

Budapest, known as the gateway to the east, just might be the most beautiful city in the world. Before being connected by a bridge, Budapest was actually two cities separated by the Danube River: Buda on the hilly north bank, and Pest on the flatter south. Even though Budapest is officially now considered one city, the Hungarian people refer to the two sides as if they were still separated.

On foot, we head past the famous Mathias Church toward the palace, which at the moment is a museum. This is a touristy part of the city and the cobble-stoned streets that lead to the palace are lined with quaint souvenir and pastry shops, little cafes, and bookstores, along with other similar shops and stores meant to attract foreigners. But, having lived in Hungary for almost a year now, and having learned to speak the language, Matt and I have no interest in such places, and we walk right on by.

It's not a long walk and pretty soon we arrive at the huge gate cut into the massive, thick outer wall of the palace grounds. The Hungarian coat of arms, emblazoned on the side of the wall, stands out as a reminder of the nationalistic pride of the Hungarian people, and I can't help but feel a small sense of reverence as we enter the grounds. One of the first things we see is a statue of an eagle high up on a pedestal, its wings outstretched, a sword clutched in his talons, his beak open as he screeches in silent rebellion against those who would attack. This particular statue bespeaks of Hungary's more ancient roots. To the time when the pagan, Magyar tribes arrived in the Carpathian Basin over a thousand years ago and conquered it for themselves.

I haven't come for any particular reason except to walk the battlements and take in the unbelievable view that is to be had from this vantage point. The entire city sprawls away to the south, the enormous dome of St. Stephen's Basilica rising up from the clusters of buildings on the flat Pest side, floating on the horizon like a black moon. The unmatched Hungarian Parliament building stares out at its own reflection in the Danube River as the water snakes by the opulent, Victorian structure.

As we walk along the top of the fortress wall, we pass beneath thick arches that once might have served as gatehouses that could be closed as a means of defense. We pass crenelations that line the top of the wall like a row of giant, stone teeth. In my mind's eye, I can envision the top of the wall lined with determined warriors, courageously defending the walls against a besieging army in some forgotten struggle of an age that has long past.

It's as we are passing through one of these arches, a door made of iron bars, coated with faded, red, and chipping paint, grabs my attention. The door is set into the side of the castle wall to our right. We've definitely walked by this inconspicuous door of iron bars before, but on this occasion I stop and take extra notice of it. Walking up to it I can see that beyond the door, is a narrow tunnel with a low, arched ceiling burrowing its way straight back into the wall. I can only see a few feet of the tunnel before it's swallowed up by darkness. "Wow," I say, my imagination beginning to spin up, "I wonder where that goes."

For some reason, I grab onto one of the bars and give the door a small tug. The door swings open as the old, rusted bolt that holds it shut breaks loose!

In disbelief, I look back at Matt, the silent question hanging between us: are we going in there? I note the look of resignation on Matt's face. This isn't the first time we have worked together as missionaries and he probably knows me well enough by now to realize the answer to that question is, a big YES.

One advantage to sightseeing in Budapest on a cold February day, is we mostly have the area to ourselves. So, nobody is around as we both slip into the tunnel and quietly close the little door behind us. The tunnel is only wide enough that we can go single file. I feel like I'm at the start of one of my childhood Dungeons and Dragons adventures as I lead the way, the darkness quickly enveloping us. The only thing missing is a guttering torch in one hand and a gleaming sword in the other.

Only after about ten or fifteen yards, it has grown so dark, that I'm just about ready to turn back, when the tunnel comes to an abrupt end. We are now standing in front of a spiral staircase made of stone that winds its way upward. Another staircase next to it vanishes downward into pitch-black darkness. We choose to go up--at least there seems to be more light coming from up there.

The stairs are just as narrow as the tunnel that brought us to them, and we are forced to stay in single file. Still in front, I lead the way up the sharply-twisting stone steps. The staircase doesn't climb far before we find ourselves on a small landing, any more forward progress blocked by another door of iron bars, just like the one at the front of the tunnel below. Except the locked bolt isn't rusted and broken on this door and we are forced to retreat back down the way we came.

Undeterred and thirsting for adventure now, we make an attempt at taking the downward staircase, but only make it a few steps before the absolute darkness forces us to retreat back up and into the tunnel. There is just no way to continue without some sort of light source to illuminate our way. I quickly make the determination that the only worthy way to continue this adventure is by candlelight. Torches would be better, but don't seem like a viable option at this time. Matt, being the laid back guy that he is, decides to go along with my eccentricity, and we set off immediately in search of a store where we might be able to purchase candles and matches.

It doesn't take as long as I thought it might, and we have soon returned to the broken door in the castle wall, candles and matches in hand. After ensuring that nobody is around, we quickly slip into the mysterious tunnel and quietly close the broken door behind us. We walk to the back of the tunnel, the stone staircase stretching before us in the gloomy shadows. We light our candles. It's time to head down. Let the adventure begin.

With the score to Indiana Jones thrumming softly in my head, I descend down the winding stairs. I have the presence of mind to count the steps as we follow them down like a giant corkscrew. I hit twenty or so and begin to grow slightly apprehensive. How far down do these stairs go? How far do I dare to keep going? What would Indy do?

Indy would keep going, and so do we. Finally, after taking more than thirty steps, the staircase ends abruptly and spills us into a tunnel. It's narrow, lined with ancient-looking bricks, and with a low, arching ceiling. By the dim light of our candles we can only see a few yards ahead. I take one apprehensive step into the tunnel's yawning mouth, Matt nervously encouraging me from behind. As we follow this passage, I'm nearly overcome with a mixture of fear and exhilaration. I was born for this stuff, I think to myself.

Suddenly, the tunnel floor drops away into a straight flight of stone steps going down even further. We cautiously descend these stairs, and I begin to become extremely aware of the encompassing darkness, and the closeness of the walls as they press in from all sides.

At the bottom of the stairs, the floor's grade takes a steep angle downward, and the walls grow much narrower. It also begins to twist and turn more severely. We almost have to turn our bodies sideways to fit through. I'm not normally claustrophobic, but at this point I'm starting to get less comfortable in this enclosed space than I care to be. As we press downward into the gloom, I half-expect to hear Tolkien's pitiful creature, Gollum, scrabbling around somewhere nearby, in search of his lost Precious.

At last, this narrow, winding tunnel comes to an end and we find ourselves in a much, much larger tunnel--several feet across--with a tall ceiling, at least twice my height. Maybe more. You could probably drive a truck down here. More stairs lay at our feet, beckoning us down, deeper still. Here, we no longer need our candles. Small rectangular apertures are spaced along the top of the ceiling through which the natural light of day filters through, illuminating our surroundings. At first, I'm baffled by this. I was sure we were at least a hundred feet underground by now. Then it all makes sense as it dawns on me that we have only been following the downward slope of the hill as it runs down to the north bank of the Danube.

Having come this far, we naturally continue our exploration, and begin descending these other stairs. We pass a bit of graffiti spray painted on one of the walls. So, we aren't the only ones who have been down here recently, it appears. The graffiti is a giant, crude depiction of a devil with horns. It's a bit of an ominous sight to come across down here in a derelict tunnel beneath an old castle. My mind immediately conjures up the image of mysterious, hooded figures that perhaps gather down here on certain nights, engaged in unholy, forbidden rites and dark ceremonies.

I do my best to push these unsettling thoughts from my mind and continue to take the stairs, one at a time, until at last we have reached the very bottom. I turn and look back up the way we came. It's been far enough that I can no longer make out the top of the stairs through the gloom. Before us, the tunnel continues on a little further until a pile of rubble marks the end. But, a door made of iron bars--identical to the one that we used to get down here--sits slightly ajar on the left wall. Perhaps our journey is not over, just yet.

Stepping through this door, we come upon another stone staircase, spiraling upwards. With candles still flickering, we head up. It becomes immediately evident that this staircase isn't nearly as tall as the one that originally brought us down here. After only ascending a few steps, I can see a wooden door several feet above me. I hear voices coming from behind the door; it sounds like two or three men speaking casually in Hungarian. I can't make out the nature of the conversation.

I nearly jump right out of my skin when a dog suddenly, begins viciously barking and snarling on the other side of the door! I turn to Matt, and mouth the words, Let's get out of here! Behind me I hear the dog hit the door, its toenails scratching frantically at the wooden surface while we run back down the stairs as quickly and quietly as we can.

I have no idea who those men with the angry dog are, and have no intention of finding out. Matt and I hurriedly trace our steps back up the way we came, and in short order we find ourselves exiting the secret tunnel beneath the Buda castle, closing the iron door behind us. We've definitely had enough adventure for one day and agree to head home, but determine to return in a week to have another look around.

I spend the rest of the afternoon recording the day's events in my journal. I even render a crude map of the tunnel and fold it between the pages. Over the next couple of months, before I'm transferred to the small town of Kecskemét in central Hungary, we make several more excursions into the tunnels. Word spreads through the mission of our unique find and other missionaries request to be shown the way. I become a sort of quasi tour guide, taking other missionaries into the tunnel. My only rules: No flashlights, candles only. And we don't go up the stairs where the dog was.

It's been 23 years since I left Hungary and I've never been back. I have plans to return someday--hopefully sooner rather later. When I do, I definitely plan on making a visit to the castle, and walking along its walls once more. And perhaps that little door of iron bars is still there. And perhaps I'll test it again, as I did so many years ago.

Will it be locked this time? Or will I find myself staring once more into the yawning mouth of that mysterious tunnel, the thrill of adventure and exploration beckoning me forth? I'll have to be sure and bring a candle or two along, just in case.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Haunting in Minnesota Part II: If I Die Before I wake

Welcome to the exciting conclusion to my two part story: A Haunting in Minnesota. Before you continue, make sure you have read Part One.

I'll just go ahead now, and dive right into it.

Some period of time passed after my Uncle Dale's experience that night in the attic bedroom. I'm told it wasn't long, maybe just a week or so, but at some point my dad, Ken, found himself alone one night--his mom was working late--getting ready for bed.

He was on the cusp of leaving home to attend college out west in Idaho, and had recently purchased a brand new turntable--a record player, for some of you younger readers--to take with him to school. This particular turntable had the fancy capability of automatically playing a whole stack of records, without requiring a person to manually switch them. This was not unlike today's modern CD changer, which is becoming a thing of the past itself. But I digress. Probably feeling a little extra sensitive to the emptiness of the house, especially in light of Dale's recent experience up there, Ken decided he would fall asleep to music that night. He placed a few records on the turntable, set the needle, got into bed, and pulled the single bed sheet over himself that he slept in during the warmer summer months.

After several minutes in bed, his music playing softly in the darkness, Ken was slipping away into subconsciousness when suddenly, his music stopped playing. He heard the needle lift up off the record and return to its off position, as if it had reached the end of the record. Except, the needle had only made it through two or three songs.

The turntable was brand new and had been working flawlessly until now, so he assumed that perhaps there was a problem with the record. Maybe a big scratch? He got out of bed and pulled the string on the single, naked, light bulb that served as the room's lamp. He inspected the record for any problems. Finding none, he put it back on the player, set the needle back to playing music, shut off the light, and got back into bed. But, a few minutes later, at almost the same spot in the music, the record player repeated its previous malfunction.

This time he was positive that there must be a problem with the album itself, so he got out of bed and removed that particular record; even though he couldn't see any problem with it. He placed a new record on the turntable, set it to spinning, and went back to bed, sure in the knowledge that he would soon be fast asleep.

But again, his attempt at sleep was thwarted when the needle, once more, lifted itself off the vinyl disk and returned to the off position. At this point, Ken was angry. Obviously, his newly-purchased record player was broken. Frustrated with thoughts of having to return the machine to the store, he got up and shut the player off. He would just have to sleep in silence.

He lay on his side, waiting for sleep to make its much welcomed return. Sure enough, he once again grew drowsy and began to drift. When all of a sudden, he felt the sensation of his single bed sheet slowly sliding down his body. It only slid a few inches and at first he thought that something weird was wrong with his sheet. Maybe he had just draped it over himself wrong? Not really thinking much about it, he grabbed the top of the sheet and pulled it back up around his shoulder.

He instantly realized, at this point, that something was very wrong when the bed sheet was suddenly tugged out of his hand, and then proceeded to slowly slide down his body--this time gliding almost all the way down to his waist. His older brother's prior experience, from a week or so before, came to his mind now, and he lay there too terrified to move.

When Dale had related the tale of his nightly visitor earlier, the idea of a ghost or the experience being of a paranormal nature never entered anyone's mind. The going theory was that a burglar had assumed the house was empty and had broken into the home while Dale was upstairs in bed. The burglar prowled around a bit and when he had come upstairs and seen Dale in bed, he got spooked and left.

Now, as Ken lay there with his sheet halfway down his body, his mind conjured up another horrifying possibility: someone was secretly living in the house, cleverly staying out of sight, maybe hiding in the cubby hole and only coming out at night! And now that individual was standing in the shadows, somewhere near the foot of his bed, toying with him. He made the quick decision that if this was indeed the case, then it would be better for him not to let on that he was awake. There would be no telling what the deranged individual might do.

He lay there for a long time, pretending to be asleep, but straining all of his senses, probing out into the darkness. But, he couldn't see or hear a sound. Was there really ever anything there at all? Maybe he was alone, after all. Maybe not.

He formulated a plan. On the count of three, he would roll over and moan, as if moving in his sleep, pretend to subconsciously grab his sheet and pull it back up to his chin. Then, see what happened. In my dad's words, "I must've counted to three at least hundred times." I can imagine the heart-pounding fear that would prevent him from carrying out his plan. But, finally he mustered the courage and went for it.

He was now on his back, holding the sheet to his chin in both hands, feigning sleep. And sure enough, to his shock and horror, the sheet began to tug in his grasp. At first, it was a gentle little pull that stopped for a second as Ken chose to hold on to the sheet this time. It tugged again, with a little more force. He maintained his hold. Again, even more forcefully. Realizing that he wouldn't be able to continue his farce of being asleep while engaging in a game of tug-o-war, he relinquished his hold on the sheet.

Although it was a warm summer evening, chills pricked across his skin as the sheet, once again, slid down his body--even farther this time. Out of options, he simply lay there, continuing his gambit, hoping that whoever or whatever was up there with him would eventually grow bored and leave. As impossible as it might sound, after a certain period of time, Ken actually did fall asleep. When he awoke the next morning, there was the bed sheet lying at the foot of the bed. He never slept up in that room again. He spent the rest of the summer sleeping on the couch until he went away to college in the fall.

He had only been away at school in Idaho for maybe a month or two, when he received a phone call from his mom, back in Minnesota. She called to inform him that she had sold the house and moved into an apartment. He was shocked to hear this and asked her why in the world she would sell the house. She told him that after he had moved out, she started hearing footsteps in the attic at night. Sometimes she'd be sitting downstairs watching TV in the living room and hear, quite audibly, someone go stomping from one end of the attic to the other. At other times, she'd be in bed and hear the disturbances.

One night the footsteps got so scary and loud that she got out of bed, threw on a robe, and ran across the street to the neighbors. The neighbor came over with a flashlight and searched the house. Of course nothing was ever found.

I certainly can't blame my grandma for selling the place. I don't think I'd do very well either in that circumstance. Incidentally, my Grandma Margaret is one who I give a lot of credit to for my own fascination and love of the paranormal and the mysterious. I have many fond childhood memories of sitting up late at night sharing ghost stories and tales of UFOs with her. When a particular story would strike her just right, her hand would fly to her lips and her blue eyes would dart nervously around the room. "You don't suppose ... " she'd often say.

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Some images obtained through Google Images and are not my own.

 If you have a personal story of the paranormal that you would like me to share on my blog please contact me at I'd love to hear your story. You can remain anonymous if you wish.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Haunting in Minnesota Part I: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

This particular true ghost story has haunted me most of my life--ever since my dad related it to me years ago, when I was a young boy. Honestly, I've been hanging on to this one, holding back a bit in a desire to do the story justice. This one is a legend in my family and happened to my dad and his older brother, Dale. I've decided to break the story into two parts, beginning with my Uncle Dale's experience.

The year was around 1965-66 in the small mining town of Coleraine in northern Minnesota, where my dad and his brothers grew up. At this point in time, my dad, Ken, was at or around eighteen years old, and preparing to head out to Idaho for college. As the youngest of four boys, he would be the last one to leave the nest, and was living in the house alone with his mom at the time--his father having passed away recently.

On this particular night, Ken and his mother had gone to visit a relative in a neighboring town and decided to spend the night there. Ken's older brother, Dale, had decided to come home for the weekend and arrived to find the old family home in Coleraine to be empty. This was nothing strange or out of the ordinary, and he figured he would be sleeping alone in the house that night. He was wrong.

Growing up as kids in the older house, the four boys all shared a bedroom in the attic and all of their beds were still up there. To access the attic bedroom, one opened a door at the bottom of a long flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs was a window and then a right turn which would take one directly into the bedroom with steeply sloping eaves for walls.

Dale climbed into the old bed of his childhood that night and nestled into the blankets, allowing the weariness of the day to carry him off into slumber. As his mind drifted and sleep began to take hold, he was shocked back into full lucidity by the unmistakable sound of the door at the bottom of the stairs creaking open on its hinges.

In the darkness he lay there, straining his ears for any other sound. Had he just imagined it? Had a strange draft of wind been generated somewhere in the old house and caused the door to swing ever so slightly?

After a time, he concluded that it must have been nothing. Just as he was getting ready to dismiss the entire thing, he was jolted again by another unexpected noise: the loud creaking of a stair.  This was not his imagination! The fear level jumped inside him as he again, found himself straining his auditory senses to their maximum potential trying to determine what could possibly be the source of the noise. He listened for the sound of breathing or the dry whisper of clothing scraping on a wall. Anything.

And sure enough, another stair groaned. This time it came from a stair further up the flight, and closer to the room where Dale now lay terrified in the darkness. There was the sense that someone was doing their best to sneak up to the room quietly, but being foiled by the squeaking stairs. Dale listened to this occur a few more times, each occurrence resembling how one might react after having a stair squeak underfoot: pausing for a long moment, then proceeding to creep upward.

After a time it got to the point where Dale knew that this visitor--whoever it was--must be close to the top of the stairs. In horror he fixed his eyes on the window just outside the bedroom door. The yellow glow of a streetlight shinning through it, weakly illuminated the entryway.

His heart pounding like a drum he watched in utter disbelief as the black, featureless form of a man was revealed, momentarily, when the figure glided past the window and into the bedroom.

Apparently, this final revelation was just too much for poor Dale's nervous system and his mind decided to check completely out of the situation. Dale fainted from fear. When he came to, he had no idea how long he had been unconscious. His unwelcome night visitor was gone.

He never was able to explain away the events of that night. There were no signs of a forced entry into the house and nothing had been stolen. When the figure had revealed itself for that brief moment in the streetlight shining through the window, Dale had not been able to discern any features that would have made the being identifiable in any way.

To this day that night remains a mystery in my family.

But, the story doesn't end there! It wasn't long after that my dad had his own frightening encounter in that same bedroom! Be sure to check back to hear the second part of the story. Or, follow my Facebook page so you know when part two is out.
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Some images obtained through Google Images and are not my own.

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