1. The Helping (?) Hand
When my sister was about 3, my parents were just completing building the house I grew up in. My dad was working late one night and my mom was reading my sister a bedtime story when my sister asked, “Who was that?”
My mom immediately stopped and asked her what she meant, and my sister clarified, “Who was that who went into the room?”
“What did he look like?” asked my mom.
“He was black.”
“Like a black man?”
“No, like a shadow man.”
My mom plopped my sister by the phone and told her to call the police if something happened. She went and checked the rooms upstairs, and no one was there. My mom chalked it up to shadows or something, but called my dad, who immediately came home.
That night, my mom had a dream from which she woke up because she thought my dad was folding newspapers at the end of their bed. When she told him to stop, her eyes cleared and she saw a woman crinkling her hospital gown, staring back at her.
The next day, my dad called my mom at lunch, and he started telling her a dream he had the night before that spooked him. It was the exact same dream my mom had had.
During this call, my sister was playing upstairs by herself and my mom was in the kitchen. Suddenly, my mom heard my sister crash down the stairs. Our stairs were particularly steep and, at that time, unfinished, so it would’ve hurt anyone, especially a 3-year-old. My mom ran over and my sister was just sitting there, not crying, without a scratch on her. My mom asked if she was OK, to which my sister responded, “I’m fine. He pushed me but then he caught me.”
After that, the ghosts seemed to disappear.
2. The Benevolent RA Spirit
When I was a freshman in college, we were told that our dorm was haunted by an RA who was murdered by a student in the 1950s — which actually did happen — and you could see his bloody handprint on one of the doors on the third floor — which you actually could, though it looked more to me like someone did it with wood stain.
Anyhow, I lived with three other guys in a two-room, first-floor suite with its own bathroom (rare where I went to school, apparently), and my roommates and I would hear distinct footsteps pacing on our ceiling between the living room to the bedroom, even though there was a solid wall that separated those spaces on the second floor. The stereo would randomly turn on when the remote was on the floor in plain sight and none of us were near it.
One night, I woke up and looked over by the door to the bedroom, and distinctly saw the outline of a man’s head and shoulders on the wall just next to the door. This woke me up completely, and I stared at this shadow staring back at me for about 20 seconds. I moved around, in case it was my shadow (from what light source, I couldn’t tell you), but it did not move. I lied back down, convinced it was just a trick of the light, but when I sat up again almost immediately, it was totally gone. This was the semester I first came out, and the story is that the RA haunts students who need watching over.
—Adam B. Vary
3. The Creepy Photograph
I once bought a black suit jacket from a thrift store and wore it on a night out. Around midnight I looked in the breast pocket and found a faded black and white photograph, from what looked to be Manchester in the 1960s, of a little boy and a man sat on a wall, who without doubt was wearing the same jacket.
4. The Disappearing Psychic
When my cousin Flavio was 4 years old, he almost died of complications from a burst appendix. While he was in the hospital, my aunt (his mother’s sister) convinced my cousin’s father to go to a psychic that she knew of. The psychic walked into the waiting room and looked right at my uncle. She told him that Flavio would get worse for three days and that he would almost die, but that on the fourth day he would start to improve. On the seventh day, she instructed my uncle to bring him to her for a blessing. If he did not come back, she said, there were no guarantees. They were skeptical and afraid.
Day three passed, and it looked like Flavio wouldn’t make it. On day four, they called a priest in case they would need to give Flavio his last rights.
But then my cousin started to improve, and his dad started scheming to take him out of the hospital to visit this psychic as she had instructed. No dice: You don’t just get a kid who is almost dying and cart him off to some random place before the hospital allows it. When he finally sprung Flavio from the hospital and went with my aunt back to the psychic, the house where she had had a shop was completely abandoned. In fact, he says, it looked as if there had NEVER been anyone there for many, many years. They never heard from that psychic again.
Flavio recovered completely, and the real crazy thing in this story is that his mom, my aunt, eventually married the surgeon who saved his life.
5. The Soap Ghost
I was on vacation with my family in Savannah, Ga. — a notoriously haunted place. We were staying in an old house converted to a bed-and-breakfast. I was a kid, so I was afraid to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night in this strange old house, specifically because I was afraid of ghosts.
Sometimes the need to pee trumps fear. But then, once I got into the bathroom, the soap dish started moving around by itself. Thanks a lot, ghosts. It was sort of jumping up and down on the sink, but nothing else on that surface was moving.
In an uncharacteristic move of bravery, I quickly touched the dish, and it stopped moving for a little while, but then it started back up again. I am fully willing to accept a rational, scientific explanation for this, but it remains a mystery.
The (haunted?) object
6. The Unexplained Object
I was house-sitting for my parents one night when I got a notification on my phone that my then-roommate had tagged me in a post on Facebook. I looked at it and saw this picture of a little wooden object, kind of in the shape of a wrench without the handles, or I guess a wishbone. My roommate had written, “Katie, do you know what this is???” I wrote back that I didn’t, and she wrote back a series of increasingly frantic comments, like “Whaaaaat” and “wtf wtf wtf” and “What IS IT THEN.” She’d been cleaning our kitchen (which, thanks!), and stepped out to take out the trash. When she walked back in, this thing was in the exact middle of our kitchen floor. She kept giving me updates: She searched the apartment high and low, looking for things it could have broken off of or fell out of. Nothing made sense.
She wrote again: “I’m going to break it I think!” and I wrote back, “No, don’t!!!!!!!!!!” because I was worried that would curse us, I guess? I don’t know. But she’d already broken it, and then quickly put it back together. When I went home to our apartment the next day, I was equally clueless as to its source. As far as ghostly drop-offs it doesn’t seem especially clear or meaningful (we’re like, “…Thanks?”), but it just showed up out of nowhere.
Every once in a while after that, something little in our apartment would go missing, and turn up days later in a really weird place. It is possible that we are both just scatterbrained.
7. The Premonition
When I was 14, I used to spend the night at my friend Paige’s house a lot. We’d stay up all night playing video games and drawing, or sneaking out and going to the 24-hour Walgreens for sodas. One night we had an argument about something stupid and I decided I wanted to go home, so I called my mom and told her to come pick me up.
Paige and I sat in silence for a while, and then she suddenly said, “Don’t go.” I asked her why not, and she said it again. “Don’t go. I’m sorry, it was stupid, just don’t go. I feel weird.”
I asked, “Weird how?” She said she didn’t know, she just felt weird. She said something wasn’t right. I looked at her and she seemed genuinely worried, but I didn’t know what to make of it so I didn’t say anything. My mom pulled up in the driveway and Paige said in a very small voice to call her before I went to bed and I said I would.
On the ride home, my mom and I were hit by a drunk driver who’d run a red light. The airbag smashed my glasses into three pieces and my nose bled all over the sweatshirt Paige had let me borrow the previous summer. My mom and I were both OK, thankfully.
I called Paige that night and she was really quiet and then said, “I told you I felt weird.”
8. The Shadow Woman
While I was mainly raised in Manhattan, there was a five-year period (ages 8–13) during which my already insane, bohemian, musician parents decided to buy and renovate an 1832 Italianate federal house in western Massachusetts, which they then turned into a bed-and-breakfast.
One day, Tracy, a woman who helped clean rooms, was alone in the house and vacuuming in the living room. She says a woman in a black gown walked in. It wasn’t unusual to have strangers just walk in the door to check out the place, so Tracy said, “Hello, can I help you?” The woman didn’t answer, and proceeded to walk through a dining room wall.
Here is where it gets weird. The place this alleged ghost walked through was a recessed arch with shelves that held plates. A couple months later, the town historian came to our home and told us that this arch, the alcove with the plates, was where THE ORIGINAL DOOR to the house used to be.
9. The Polter-Grandpa
My mom’s side of the family is incredibly superstitious and will often say things about our dead relatives like, “Grandpa was in the room when X happened” or “X happened because Grandma was upset.” Because I’ve never been present for any of these ghostly “appearances” and because my family can be willfully dramatic (and because I hate spooky stuff), I’ve written most of these stories off.
Until my sister’s bachelorette party weekend. We went to a cabin in the woods of Massachusetts with her closest friends and our cousins. It was the first night and we had been drinking, getting progressively more personal as the evening wore on. Family stories were swapped, and my eldest cousin was telling my sister’s friends about our spectral grandfather.
To cite an example, my cousin told them how her own daughter, Kiersten, had been babysitting for a young girl when the girl decided to draw a picture of Kiersten. But when she was finished, there were three figures in the drawing. Kiersten pointed to the extra figures and asked, “Who are these people?” And the little girl said, “Those are the angels that follow you around.”
Kiersten said, “What angels?” The girl said, “Harry.”
So Kiersten asked, “Which one is Harry?” And the little girl said, “Both.” Which, *cue the organ music*, are both my grandfather’s and recently deceased uncle’s name.
All of my sister’s friends looked adequately spooked, so I, tipsy and indignant, made a loud argument about how *I’ve* never been present for this sort of thing and how these stories are always told second-hand and the odds and the statistics and the superstitious nature of our family and blah blah blah.
Right as my cousin opened her mouth to protest, BANG, every light in the cabin went out, and because there were no lights for miles (again, the woods), it was too dark to even see each other. We all sat screaming in the pitch black. Terrified, I jumped up and flew into my cousins lap and started loudly, drunkenly apologizing to no one in particular. When I was done, for no reason at all, the lights flickered back on.
We had no other electrical issues for the remainder of the weekend. Grandpa made his point.
Do you have a spooky story of your own? Add it in the comments!