My family and I used to go “camping” a lot when I was younger. Camping consisted of renting a cabin in the woods and spending a little time in the wilderness. So we consistently rented this cabin in Pennsylvania where we would spend long weekends, when everyone in the family had some time off.
My two brothers and I, each being in the 9-12 year old range, would always run off into the woods and bullshit about while my parents did whatever. The cabin was on a mountain. If you followed a dirt road a ways past the cabin, the forest would open and there was a large field on the top. The field was about the size of a football field.
Near the edge of the field, on the far side, was a graveyard. The grave yard was pretty small, about 20 graves, surrounded by a wrought iron fence. The fence was about 10-12 feet tall with the gothic-ish spikes on the top. The fence had a gate but it was locked with a thick, rusty chain and padlock. Being kids were able to spread the gates apart enough to squeeze through.
The small grave stones were very old and worn, I remember seeing one dated 1890 something. On top of one of the graves, just resting on it, was a smooth black stone. It looked like Onyx or something, a little smaller than a golf ball but not perfectly round.
My older brother pocketed it, we dicked around a little then left. Back at the cabin, which had one bedroom (where my parents stayed) and large living room/kitchen (where we stayed), we were hanging out while my parents were sleeping in bed. It was probably about 11:30 or so at night when a loud BANG! BANG! BANG! happened at the front door (which is right in the living room.)
Me and my brothers were all scared shitless, understandably too afraid to answer the door. BANG! BANG! BANG! again the door shook moments later. It sounded like someone was trying to knock it off the hinges.
My father emerged from the bedroom asking WTF was going on. BANG! the door clashed. He knew by the looks on our faces we had no idea. He grabbed a wood chopping axe we had and walked over to the door. He looked scared shitless himself. He swung the door open and there was nothing but the night. No one in sight. After hounding us for information, and us having no idea, we went back to bed. I think no one slept much, if at all that night. The next day we were back to dicking around in the woods and we again found ourselves in the old graveyard.
The smooth black stone, that my brother took, was on top of the same grave. We ran, we ran fast.
I was in Taiwan one year when I was younger, and had travelled to a busy night market (these are popular gatherings that usually operate in the evening). Nearby I spotted a sign for a netcafe in a 5-6 story tall building. Thinking I’d fire off some quick emails, I walked in the dark, small entrance of the building. The building was older and hasn’t been well maintained, but it’s not out of the ordinary in Taiwan. The entrance just had a dark hallway that led to a small elevator.
I pressed the elevator call button and entered. The elevator was uncharacteristically new compared to the building, but I didn’t think much of it. Like some Chinese buildings, there wasn’t a fourth floor (it’s considered bad luck since “four” sounds like “death”), so it just read 1-2-3-5-6, which was usual. I looked for the floor the netcafe was at– 6th floor, and pressed the button. It lurched into action quietly and began the ascend. When it stopped, I figured it was my floor so I instinctively began to step out. Right before stepping out, however, the sight outside the elevator stopped me. It was pitch dark, only lit by the light in the elevator, it looked like it hasn’t been occupied for decades, with some random pieces of furniture covered with white cloth or similar. It was a small building, so each floor were single occupancy, so I could see pretty much the entire floor from the elevator. Thinking I must have gotten the wrong floor, I checked the light (that indicates which floor you’re on). Strangely, there was nothing, none of the indicators were on, but the floor button to the netcafe was still lit so I know I haven’t gotten there yet. All this happened within a couple of seconds.
That’s when I noticed a figure moving in the distance of the floor– it was not very visible but I could make out what looks like a person dressed in some kind of gown, moving slowly towards the elevator. I was thoroughly creeped out, so I started pressing the close door button. As soon as I pressed it, the elevator light flickered off. I am this close to pissing my pants, and it’s actually kind of freaking me out thinking back to it. The lights flickered back on under a second and the door closed, the elevator jolted back to life. A few moments later it opened again to the netcafe.
I am beyond relieved at this point. I walked out immediately and sat down at a computer. After gathering my wits a bit, I walked over to the cashier’s desk and told them what I saw. The girl working there listened and her face turned a bit ashen, so I asked her if she heard of similar.
She told me that she’s never experienced it, but some coworkers and occasional customers have brought it up– basically, the building has 6 floors, and the fourth floor had a history. Apparently the floor used to be a hair salon of sorts, until one of the employees killed herself there for some reason. She slit her wrists over the hair wash station and died. The store continued operations despite stories of weird appearances– when customers got their hair rinsed the water would look a little red, like the customer was bleeding, little things like that, and a couple people reported seeing someone’s figure walking away in the mirror. Naturally, the business closed down a few months later.
The building owner tried to re-rent the place out, but never had any luck. Most businesses are quite superstitious, and no one wanted to rent the fourth floor after someone had died in it, even at a very cheap price. Finally, after dropping the price to nearly nothing, a stationary supplies store wanted to rent. During the renovations of the floor, however, several accidents would happen. Tools would end up in strange places, a mirror from the previous business shattered when no one was near it, and finally a worker had his hand jammed between the elevator doors when it closed on him unexpectedly. The workers refused to continue working and finally, the business left and the building owner finally gave up and shut down the floor. He then had the elevator company come in to replace the panel so that the elevator could not go to the fourth floor.
Let me repeat that– the elevator was programmed to never go to the fourth floor. It doesn’t even have a button. But for some reason, sometimes when people take the elevator, it would go to the fourth floor and the doors would open, and some, like myself, would see a figure walking around in the dark.
My 4 year old daughter was supposedly asleep when I heard noised coming from her upstairs bedroom. I tried to listen but could not make out what was being said. I approached the room, and she stopped talking.
Thinking I alarmed her I went into the room. At the time she was sharing it with her 3 year old sister. I walked in and saw the 4 year old sitting up in bed. I smiled and said is everything o.k.? She said fine, but her sister said they were keeping her up. I asked who? My 4 year old said sorry but that she was talking. When I asked her who she was talking to, my 3 year old sat up and said “the girl in the window, she said you were coming.”
After I shit a brick, I asked who the girl was and they both said a girl comes and stands in front of the window at night and talks to them. Not knowing what to say, I said o.k. tucked them in and hung around outside their door. The next day I asked about the girl. they said she came back but was mad! I waited a few days and asked again. My 4 year old said the girl in the window was still mad.
I forgot about it for about a week, when my wife said, who are the girls talking to upstairs. Freaked out I ran upstairs and both girls were sitting under the window looking up. They turned and looked at me and asked if I wanted to meet the girl. When they turned around, disappointed, they said the girl left. It has been about 5 years since and I have not heard about the girl in the window since then.
When I was a child my family moved to a big old two-floor house, with big empty rooms and creaking floorboards. Both my parents worked so I was often alone when I came home from school. One early evening when I came home the house was still dark. I called out, “Mum?” and heard her sing song voice say “Yeeeeees?” from upstairs.
I called her again as I climbed the stairs to see which room she was in, and again got the same “Yeeeeees?” reply. We were decorating at the time, and I didn’t know my way around the maze of rooms but she was in one of the far ones, right down the hall.
I felt uneasy, but I figured that was only natural so I rushed forward to see my mum, knowing that her presence would calm my fears, as a mother’s presence always does. Just as I reached for the handle of the door to let myself in to the room I heard the front door downstairs open and my mother call “Sweetie, are you home?” in a cheery voice. I jumped back, startled and ran down the stairs to her, but as I glanced back from the top of the stairs, the door to the room slowly opened a crack.
For a brief moment, I saw something strange in there, and I don’t know what it was, but it was staring at me.
I was super excited to get my first apartment. It was in an old antebellum house that was split into four units. Very cool place to live. However, every time I was taking a shower, I would get this overwhelmingly creepy feeling. Like somebody was watching me. Then the dreams started. I kept dreaming about this old lady in a pink nightgown. Sometimes she just looked frail and sweet, and she’d say that I should go with her. She never said where we’d go.
Other times, the dreams were terrifying. Her eye sockets were empty. Her hair was greasy, stringy, and falling out. Her mouth was twisted in a tormented scream. And she’d frantically claw the air trying to grab me. The longer I lived there, the more menacing the dreams got. Also, the feeling of unease and the feeling of being watched in the shower increased dramatically. By the time we moved out, I couldn’t close my eyes in the shower. It sounds silly, but I had this overwhelming feeling that I was going to die or lose my soul or something if I had my eyes closed too long.
After moving out, I discussed all these weird feelings with a friend of mine who had recently moved into a house across the street from the old apartment. I was trying to laugh it off. He said that another friend of his used to live in the apartment above mine several years ago. An old lady died in what used to be my apartment. Nobody else wanted to live in that unit for more than a couple of months at a time. The building recently burned down. The fire started in my old apartment. They still don’t know what started the fire. Still creeps me out.
This is long but my favorite: I have an odd habit a friend recently picked up on, a habit I developed about a year ago. He noticed that when I enter a room, any room, and shut the door, I turn my face away from it and close my eyes until I hear the lock click. Only after the door is fully closed will I open them. He gave me a hard time about it until I told him where it started. I work for a water-seal company in St. Paul. We produce sealant for exposed wood — decks, boats, that kind of thing. You hear about sealant being a dirty word in the Ashland-Ichor Falls-Ironton area, but not all those companies were part of the infamous “Ethylor summer” that wiped out the local economy in the ’50s. I got sent to an industrial park outside of Ichor Falls on business.
I checked into this dismal hotel, the Hotel Umbra, that looked like the decor hadn’t been changed since 1930. The lobby wallpaper had gone yellow from decades of cigarette smoke, and everything had a fine layer of dust, including the old man behind the front desk. I hoped that the room would be in better shape. Mine was on the fourth floor.
Being an old place, the hotel had a rickety cable elevator, the kind with the double sets of doors: one of those flexing metal gates, and a solid outer pair of doors. I shut the gate and latched it, and pressed the tiny black button for my floor.
Just as the outer elevator doors were about to close, I was startled by the face of a young woman rushing at the gap between them. She was too late; the doors shut, and after a moment the elevator ascended.
I thought nothing of it, until I needed to take the elevator back down for one of my bags. I entered, pushed the button for the lobby, and pressed my tired back to the elevator wall opposite the doors. They had nearly completely shut when again I was surprised by a woman’s face moving towards the gap, staring into the elevator through the gate, too late to place her hand in to stop the doors from closing. This time I sprang forward and held the “Door Open” button, and after a moment the doors lurched and slid open.
I waited a moment. From the opening I could see partly down the hallway: no one in sight. Still holding the button down, I slid open the metal gate and craned my head into the hallway to look down the other direction. No one. No trace of the girl, no recently shut hotel room door, no footsteps, no jingle of keys.
I released the button, but did not lean back against the wall. I stood directly in front of where the gap in the doors would be, in the center of the elevator. After a pause, the outer doors again began to slide shut, to move towards each other until the space between them was the width of a young girl’s face.
In that quarter-second several fingertips appeared, followed immediately by her face again, rushing from around the corner, staring at me as the doors met. I had been watching the gap where I thought she might be, so I saw her — she was about thirteen years old, and very plain, almost homely, with a pale complexion and neck-length dark brown hair that looked mussed or slightly dirty.
I didn’t have time to glance down at her visible shoulder, to see what she was wearing; from her behavior I wondered if she was a runaway or a homeless person who had gotten into the building. She had had a glassy, blank expression, tinged with a little desperation, some distant desire or need. A look that could easily be accompanied by the words “Please help.”
The next time I passed the front desk, I asked the old man if he’d seen a young girl running through. “Heard the stories, then,” he said between throat-clearings, rocking gently in his seat. “Young Maddy has been here a long time. Takes a liking to gentlemen guests. Always been shy. Never says a word, not a word. Just curious.”
I told him I hadn’t heard any stories, and that there had been a girl taking the stairs and standing in front of my elevator on every floor.
“That’s our Maddy,” he said. “She likes you then. Sweet on you. She just wants to see, that’s all, just to see. All she ever does. Curious little thing. Just wants to see.”
I stayed at the Hotel Umbra for three nights. It was a four-night business trip; the last night I tried sleeping in my car. It didn’t help.
Let me tell you about Young Maddy. You only catch glimpses of her, of a face with a resigned look of quiet desperation, dominated by a pair of wide, dark eyes. Locked doors, barricades, nothing made a difference; she gets inside. I never saw her longer than half a second. Every time I laid eyes on her she retreated instantly, only to appear again an hour or two later. An hour or two if I was lucky.
Let me tell you about where I saw Young Maddy.
Every time I shut the door to my bathroom, in my hotel room, I saw her. If I watched as I shut it, at the last possible second I’d see the crescent of her face moving fast at the gap. I’d throw the door open to find nothing. Every time I closed the closet door I saw her. If I watched that gap, she’d suddenly be inside the closet, leaning her head to watch me just as it shut. It’s as if she knew where to go, where to be, so that my eye would meet hers. But there was never an impact, never a moment when she’d make contact with the door or the wall.
The first time I sat at that writing table I saw her. As I closed the large bottom drawer. She rushed at the gap from inside the drawer, her wide eyes pleading for something I could not give. I pulled the drawer from its rails and threw it to the floor.
I did spend that last night in my car, but like I said, it did no good. Tossing and turning on that rental car seat, the back ratcheted as flat as I could get it, I’d have to open my eyes sometimes, and if there was a place for her to dart from my view when I opened them, she did. In the side-view mirror, or peeking over the hood of my car — once upside-down, at the top of the windshield, as if she was on the roof.
I’m back in St. Paul again, and I’ve been back for a year. But Maddy hasn’t stopped. If I keep my eyes open long enough, if I watch a place long enough, I’ll eventually catch sight of movement — near the copier in my office, a pile of boxes in an alley, a column in a quiet parking lot — and my eye will get there just in time to see her eye retreating from view. There’s never anything there when I go to look, so I’ve stopped looking.
That’s how I’ve had to change things since the Hotel Umbra. I’ve stopped looking. I keep my eyes shut when I close doors, when I shut drawers and cabinets, fridges, coolers, the trunk of my car. Not all spaces. Just ones that are big enough.
At least, that used to work. I was getting ready for bed a few nights ago, standing in front of my bathroom mirror, door shut, cabinets shut. Watching myself floss. I opened up wide to get my molars. I swear I saw fingertips retreat down the back of my throat.
So, this is how my grandmother tells the story.
It was 1933 and she was thirteen, living in the middle of Manchester, England. One night she got out of bed to go to the bathroom, and as she wandered through past the staircase, she saw her aunty standing at the top looking out the window.
Curious she trotted upstairs and stood next to see what she was looking at, but only saw the back garden and the alleyway out the back. She turned to ask her aunty what she was looking at only to see a nebulous, faceless figure staring back down at her. The figure then reached out her hands and gripped my young grandmother’s face. The next thing my grandmother remembers is her older brother (about 27) running down the hall towards them, picking her up and carrying her into the nearest room.
She then spent the next week in and out of consciousness, eventually recovering, but now without a sense of smell.
Her family insist it was all a hallucination caused by a severe case of influenza, which is probably true, but my grandmother said she never felt safe in that house ever again. She moved to New Zealand about 10 years later and only ever returned to England, and that house, once before she died.
My family and I used to live in an old semi-Victorian house, and I was always freaking out about the house’s many dark corners at night.
Once late at night in high school after my parents separated, I thought I felt a draft, like someone opening a door. It was only my mother, younger brother and I living in the house at the time, but they were currently on a camping trip.
So I gummed up the courage and went quietly down stairs. It was very dark but it was a full moon so I could see enough to walk around. I was feeling very nervous looking around the pale moonlit furniture which seemed to move with every step.
I thought I heard a stair creak from the basement. Bravely I crept for the basement door while my throat tried to swallow my Adam’s apple. I began opening the door when the door began opening moving faster than I was moving it. A distorted face appeared in the moonlight inches from my face.
I barely screamed as my lungs seized up as I tripped backwards and hit my head on the slate floor.
I woke up the next day in the emergency room with a mild concussion. Apparently my father had snuck into the house while my mom was away to grab a few things he had left (like his grandfather’s revolver, which didn’t work btw). The part that creeps me out was that we never had any halloween masks and my dad was never* the type to pull pranks of any type. When I talked to him about it, he said he never went into the basement and that he found me on the floor bleeding like a stuck pig on the floor. He mentioned he was very glad he had came or I would have been in trouble.
Years ago my grandfather was dying of complications from alheimers. My little sister gave him a white stuffed bear with a pink heart on the stomach while he was in his death bead. When you squeezed the bear it said “I love you” in a pre recorded voice.
He would constantently squeeze the bear and the voice made him smile. My grandpop had the bear in his bed until he passed away. Several days before he died my mother made him promise that he would somehow let them know he had “made it there safe.” After he died we placed the bear on the mantel above the fire place. The family gathered shorthly after his death to remember him.
Just as we all sat down in the living room, the bear started speaking on its own. “I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU…”
Apparently, soon after I was born, my parents bought a second-hand cot for me to sleep in (not sure WHAT I’d been sleeping in before that, but petty details ruins a good story, if you get my meaning). They went to collect the cot from the person the bought it from–it was one of those old wooden ones with the drop-bars, and painted white. They put the cot into what would be my room, smiled, and went about their business of the day as usual. That evening, they put me down to sleep in the cot, and went about their evening routine.
After they’d both gone to bed, my mom wakes up to hear me crying. So she gets out of bed and pads across to my room, switching on the lobby light as she goes. She gets to the room, opens the door, peers inside.
There’s the sound of crying coming the cot, all right.
But I’m still fast asleep.
They got rid of the cot the very next day and bought one brand new instead.
A(nother) story from a friend of mine:
One night I was having this really odd dream. It was one of those ridiculously long dreams, that seems like it lasts for years while you are asleep. This one lasted a whole lifetime.
I watched a woman live her life. I watched as she was a child, as she grew up. I watched her go through school, college. I watched her social life evolve, I watched her romance and her marriage and her pregnancy. I watched her live her mid-life, raise her children and then grow old. It was a pretty normal life, I didn’t see any trauma. I didn’t remember how she died, but the moment it was over I woke up.
I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I stumbled out of bed, probably 4 in a morning in a most-asleep daze and went to the bathroom. As I sat and peed, I saw her face looking at me through the window. There she was, old, wrinkled, wide eyed and gaping mouth with the most horrible, scornful face looking at me.
It didn’t phase me at the time. I got up and walked back to bed and fell right asleep. I didn’t realize until the next morning the horrifying thing I had seen.