Flash Non-Fiction Challenge: Share Your Spooky Experiences

IT IS NEARLY OCTOBER.

The time of Pumpkin Spice.

The time of Candy Corn.

AND THE TIME OF VISCERA-FILLED SCARECROWS WHO RISE UP FROM THE GROUND TO EAT YOUR EYES AND YOUR TONGUE AHHHHHH.

What, just me? Whatever.

Throughout October (and starting now), we’ll be going with the spooky Halloween vibe, and to start, I want you to write something non-fiction. I want you to remember a time where you were scared, where you felt you were experiencing something strange or supernatural or preternatural — some “glitch in the Matrix” moment, some scary, unreal event.

Due by 10/7, Friday, noon EST.

Write it here in the comments or at your blog with a link.

Time to sit around the campfire and tell some stories, folks.

51 comments

  • My dad died 16 years ago after several years of failing health. He was a fantastic cook and I always looked forward to him making breakfast when we visited him, because he had a flair for pancakes. He had his own recipe that I never have been able to figure out.

    Anyhow, the day before the funeral, my husband and I went up to Kentucky to spend the night with my stepmom. The next morning, my husband got up before me, as he often does, and I went back to sleep for a bit. Not much later, I smelled breakfast cooking in the kitchen. I knew there wouldn’t be pancakes, but I definitely smelled eggs frying.

    I tarried in bed a little longer, because who looks forward to going to a funeral? When I finally got up and went into the kitchen for coffee, I didn’t see any signs of breakfast. “Did y’all eat?” I asked.

    “No,” my stepmother said. “Just coffee.”

    “Really? Because I smelled something cooking a little while ago. You didn’t fry any eggs or anything?”

    “Nope. Not even any toast. You want some coffee?”

    I’d like to think my dad was there, making breakfast for us one last time.

  • One summer home during college, my friend and I took a bunch of mushrooms and I got stupid paranoid as usual. We always combined drugs with lots of drinking and pot, too. Cocaine if we had it. I never once had a positive trip from hallucinogenics.

    This night, I finally made my way home to my bed. So, I get in my bed without waking my parents, safe and sound. I shut my eyes and these giant pulsing, fiery, flaming red eyes appear. Huge and alive. I was terrified. So, I open my eyes to make them go away and they didn’t go away.
    Shudder. Heart racing. Blink. Blink. Nothing. They are there, hovering above my bed. Panic.

    I started to pray in my head, over and over and over. Our Father, Hail Mary, without pause, directed at the beast. This went on for what seemed like a long time. I must have finally fell asleep. After that, I could never really conjure the memory without feeling terrified afterwards.

    Many years later, a friend asked if he said anything to me. I don’t remember any words but the over-riding feeling was that he wanted me. Not in a sexual way. Just that he had me… She thought it was the devil of psilocybin. Another woman I met said that, at the Wizard of Oz conventions she attended, there were usually a few people who had experiences with the flaming eyes. She was completely convinced it was the devil.
    I never took psychedelics after that ever again.

  • A few years ago my boyfriend and I moved into a new apartment in one of the more historic sections of our city. This particular apartment happened to be about a block away from a very old, very large cemetery (the kind with massive crypts and statues of angels shrouded in sheets and so forth).

    That evening my boyfriend left to get dinner for us and I stayed in the new apartment to begin unpacking. After a few minutes I hear someone walking up the hallway and, assuming my boyfriend had returned, went to investigate. Surprise, surprise the hallway is empty. I’ve lived in my share of apartments, and I know they all have their weird noises so I think nothing of it and return to unpacking. A few minutes later I hear it again — distinctly, this time, since I’m already on edge — footsteps, walking up the hallway. I get up and go and stand at the end of the hall and wait and almost immediately I hear the steps again, so loud and clear I can almost see where on the floor the noise is coming from. The steps stop just a couple feet from me.

    At this point I’m freaking out. It’s pitch black outside. Only a couple lights in this apartment have bulbs in them. And my boyfriend isn’t back yet. So I call my friend who is a die-hard believer in ghosts and tell her what’s happening. She tells me it’s definitely a ghost and that it’s pissed that I’ve moved into the apartment it believes it rightfully owns. I can see the cemetery from my windows and there are no cars in the lot behind the apartment so I’m alone in the building and in literally no place to argue. I ask her what to do. She tells me I’ve got to sprinkle salt all around the apartment to get rid of any lingering bad energy and that ideally I should burn some incense as well. I dig the salt container out of a box and walk around the apartment shaking it out onto the floor but midway through this little exercise I hear the footsteps AGAIN, and this time a door slams, at the far end of the hall.

    I freeze, still on the phone with my friend, who’s freaking out right along with me, and asking what’s happening. I whisper what’s going on to her and she tells me I’ve got to find something to burn or this ghost is going to stay in the apartment with me FOREVER and probably murder me in my sleep. I tell her I don’t own incense and I don’t know what box the candles are in. She says any kind of herbs will work. I have no idea where the spices from my kitchen are and as I’m frantically digging around for something to burn I hear a voice. A male voice. Coming from the hallway. And then: more footsteps. I’m about ready to lose my mind at this point so I grab the closest thing to herbs I can find — a head of romaine — and a lighter and put my friend on speakerphone while I walk around the apartment, trying to get salad to catch fire. I’ve got the salt shaker and the lighter in one hand, the lettuce in the other, and I’m dancing around trying to shake salt out while trying to force the lettuce to burn and right then my boyfriend walks in the door.

    I scream. My friend on the phone screams. And my boyfriend is staring at me wondering why I’m waving around slightly smoking lettuce and probably thinking his idea of moving in together isn’t off to a great start.

    “Why are you burning stuff? And dumping salt on the floor?”

    “Because there’s a GODDAMN GHOST walking up and down our hallway!”

    The boyfriend very casually glances towards the hallway and says:

    “That’s our new neighbor. His car’s parked out front. I just got off the phone with the landlady. He called her a few minutes ago and said he would take the other apartment.”

    Apparently the floorboards between our hallways were attached so anyone walking in the hallway sounds like they’re walking in both hallways and there’s a draft from the exterior door that made doors slam shut in the apartment. Dude was just walking up and down his new hall, probably wondering what in all hell is going on next-door.

  • When I was about 8 or 9, I got a play organ for Christmas. A few months later, a friend was over and we thought it would be fun to record ourselves performing, so we set up the cassette recorder and commenced our “show”. We took turns playing the organ while the other sang. We did this for about 15 or 20 minutes. Then, it was time to play it back and laugh at ourselves.

    About halfway through the tape, during a pause between songs, a tremendous, terrifying, demonic, loud roar sounded from the tape. We both jumped up and ran from the room screaming. After we calmed down, we convinced ourselves it had just been the scrape of a chair on the floor and we’d over-reacted, so we went back to my room and rewound the tape. Again with the demonic roar. We couldn’t justify it as the scrape of a chair because just a bit before that there WAS a sound like the scrape of a chair because we were switching places – the roar was something else entirely.

    We, as you might imagine of kids of 8/9 years old, freaked right out after listening again and being unable to dismiss it as anything but a demon roaring into our tape recorder. In our panic, we erased it, which meant I couldn’t play it for my parents later, so they never believed it. But it was several weeks before I slept easy in that room again.

  • A few years ago, I worked in a low-cost animal shelter. They performed euthanasia there, and there were times when I felt like I could sense the presence of death as the veterinarians and techs helped the sick and dying make that final journey across the rainbow bridge.

    It was unlike anything I’d ever sensed: dark, ominous, final. Over time, I came to understand that it was a gift of mercy for those who had been so affected by pain and disease. These beautiful animals, once so full of life and playfulness, had succumbed to devastating injury, or rapidly spreading cancer, or some other malady that destroyed their quality of life.

    One time in particular, an elderly poodle was brought in, his eyes nearly bulging out of his head. His brain was swelling rapidly, and there was no way to cure him or to alleviate the pain. Standing nearby, I assisted with another dog while the techs administered the ultimate act of kindness. As the final serum was injected, I could sense death’s cold, nearly tangible presence. A moment later, I saw a vision of the poodle, romping around, confused about where he was and what had just happened. I knew at that moment that he was freed from the pain of his broken body, and that he could be happy again.

    That wasn’t the first, or the last, time I’ve encountered an animal from beyond this life. I’ve had pets that I loved come back to me and thank me for caring for them. I even had one return as I was mourning to tell me to be happy. It didn’t surprise me; he always had a smile for me when I came to walk him.

    I’ve always known that there was more to life than what can be measured or calculated. And those we have loved in this realm can still send us messages of love and kindness from beyond.

  • Ink zoo

    An Appearance in Delft

    The background scene was ordinary that night. My dark companion could have been thought unusual, and his presence may or may not explain it.

    To traverse the old city of Delft on foot, from its western boundary all the way to the river that forms its eastern border, takes twenty minutes if one isn’t sauntering. The native no-nonsense Dutch tend not to saunter. I, however, sometimes did, reveling like a tourist in the immense beauty of the two medieval churches and the narrow canal streets lined with antique facades. I lived in the town from late summer until spring for several years, occupying the ground level of a nineteenth century house — “new” construction in the neighborhood — less than three blocks inside the river.

    In the Middle Ages and beyond, Delft had been moated and walled. Wall material had long since been repurposed by the thrifty Dutch, but the town retained its watery city limits on three sides. Bridges connected the inner city’s old streets with what was once farmland, now fully developed and densely populated. Barely within the old city, my friends’ house sat on Phoenixstraat, the boundary street that, in the 1960s, replaced the medieval canal on the west. I visited them often, so the real estate between us was familiar to me, as was the ambience and, to a large extent, the people I could expect to encounter, day or night.

    My preferred route from their place to mine took me into the bricked courtyard of a medieval nunnery and alongside the “Oude Kerk,” the Old Church, ca. thirteenth century. From there, a small bridge across one of old Delft’s many canals led into a well-lighted shopping street.

    “Mixed use” development is standard in the Netherlands. Apartments above and behind retail shops are considered highly desirable. Also, Dutch people routinely leave their blinds and curtains open at night, proof that they are well-behaved with nothing to hide. It is considered bad form to stare into someone else’s space but, since Dutch people walk briskly, interior privacy is quite well preserved. Pedestrians and bicyclists find the practice adds to a sense of security after business hours. For years I routinely walked alone through Delft, night or day, without incident.

    A friend from the states had been visiting me for a week. After spending the evening with my Phoenixstraat friends, we headed home along my usual route, past the former nunnery. We saw a few pedestrians and cyclists, not many because of the hour, all of them purposefully heading somewhere. Both church clocks struck twelve as we left the Oude Kerk behind us. We, too, stepped right along, not sauntering, and, I should add, both of us were dressed as the locals do: casual dark colors, leather tie shoes. We would not have been mistaken for tourists. But we were speaking English.

    A few windows above the stores on the shopping street were lighted, but all shops, of course, were closed for the day. As we arrived at the far end of the street, we encountered loiterers. Two of them, male, Middle-eastern in appearance, speaking loudly in Arabic. My friend was a tall African American. The two sounded excited as we approached. Laughter. I think my friend and I may have nodded in their direction, but it isn’t customary for Dutch people to greet strangers warmly on the street under any circumstances.

    The four of us were the only people in sight. My friend and I didn’t understand Arabic except for one word the others repeated numerous times: “American.” We crossed the small bridge and took the slight detour onto our own canal street, striding (purposefully) next to the buildings with a block to go. To our dismay, the two strangers followed us down the dark street, a few steps behind and closer to the canal, talking excitedly and laughing. I had my key in my hand. At the door, I used it quickly. My friend and I closed and locked at once. Through the front window, which I kept uncurtained, Dutch style, I saw the two strangers pause and glance into the room.

    With more excited talk and laughter, they walked on without changing direction. Unless they lived on the street, they had gone out of their way. No hotel is on that street, which is almost entirely residential. I had seen only Dutch people occupying the houses. The river was straight ahead and the only bridge across lay two more long blocks from that dead end. I had never seen the strangers before, and their behavior was unlike any I ever encountered in the Netherlands. For weeks after that I looked around for them, but I never saw them again.

    Midnight in Delft. It had been six p.m. at home, in the eastern time zone. The date was Sept. 10, 2001.

  • “Don’t go looking in there,” my father says.
    Not to my seven-year-old self, worrying the ceiling panel in the milkhouse, wanting to see where the dubious wiring disappeared to and where the barn cats go to die.
    Not to my seventeen-year-old self, poking around the metal chest hidden beneath a vinyl tablecloth in the basement where all the letters he wrote to women before my mother are stored, covered in mildew and cat piss.
    He said it to my thirty-year-old self, balancing on the loose cement slab on my grandmother’s back porch, picking rust flakes off of the hand pump I played with as a child. It’s limp handle had no resistance. No draw.
    “There’s a cistern down there,” he says. “They used to be lined and every so often, you’d pay someone to empty it out and scrub it. But, we moved here in 1963 and it’s never been opened since then. You don’t know what could be down there. You don’t want to know. Just leave it alone.”
    Wisdom imparted, he reverses his riding lawn mower and buzzes away.
    My grandmother’s backyard has always been a place of danger and mystery. From the large sandstone stoop someone robbed from the Union Canal lock across the creek, strange, red and out of place with the limestone topography, to the mossy brick under the wizened apple tree where my brother and I buried the pigeon we hatched. The little mewling squab, which died two days out of the shell.
    He said it was because I spilled the white sloppy pigeon milk we’d made.
    He said it was my fault.
    I spent summers in that backyard, walking on curled toes to avoid the spiny shells dropped by the Japanese Chestnut. Brutal, sharp hidden hedgehogs obscured by lawn and shade. Between the chestnut tree and the pine tree, the grass never grew quite right on that side of the house. I’d sit on the back porch and watch my grandmother use an ax to decapitate my pet chickens. Their blinking heads rolled down the ha-ha, chased by her mongrel mutt while their wings flapped wildly. We’d sit on the stoop, plucking the carcass. The dog chomped away at the bones and brain while lying at our feet.
    I actually hadn’t been thinking about looking in the cistern until my father told me not to do it. However, I’m the sort of person emboldened by a warning.
    I shift on the cement slab again, hearing concrete knock and the hollowness beneath.
    Had I been a child, I’d have spent the afternoon lying on the porch, daydreaming about the undiscovered glowing fishes swimming beneath. Water dragons. Or plasma eels. Or tiny mer-fairies, no bigger than my pinky. I’d have gathered up my friends some blissful Saturday and, armed with a weak flashlight and our tiny arms, worked at that slab until someone called us for supper.
    Had I been a teenager, I’d have sneaked up the hill to my father’s shop, grabbed the railroad jack, and lifted the thing myself, bent on some ecological fantasy of green slime and festering water. New pharmaceutical ingredients like those found in the rain forest. Or, perhaps I’d contract scarlet fever and come to a beautiful death.
    I’m thirty. The slab rocks beneath my feet.
    Corpses, I think. It’s got to be corpses.
    I don’t know why it’s got to be corpses, but the thought does its job. I abandon the backyard for the warm safety of the asbestos tiled kitchen and Formica counter-tops.

    A few weeks later, I’m in the ground cellar with a flashlight clutched between my teeth. Perfect white and gray molds grow on my experiment cheeses. I flip one over to find an phosphorescent yellow creeping up the side. I try to wipe it away with a cotton rag, effectively spreading it all over the wheel. Jaw aching, I set the flashlight on the shelf and scrub harder. Still, a glowing smear remains.
    Below my feet are bricks caked with years of potato dirt. Gnarled meat hooks hang from the white washed ceiling. The steps are slick with moisture and dust. There are no lights unless you bring your own.
    I used to hate the ground cellar. Hated having to walk down the damp stairs to get ingredients for my grandmother’s Sunday dinners. Hated having to pass it to get outside, the stench of wet wood, garden tools, and earth. I still avoid visiting it at night.
    Moisture beads on the southwest wall where the cellar is abutted by the cistern. It’s fifty-six degrees in the cellar. Eight-five percent moisture. Perfect for cheese, in part because of that cistern. Water no longer trickles off the roof to fill it. Whatever remains inside it is older than I am. It’s existence forces its way into my mind at the oddest moments. While kneading bread or shaking out fodder bedding.
    During the daytime, it seems to me that everyone should have a working cistern, a means of collecting clean rain water. It’s a matter of conservation. And protection, because no one is going to want to hoof it down to the creek during the zombie apocalypse. I tell myself I’ll hire some Amishmen to open the cistern up and give it a good scrub. I’ll do it sometime when I am far away and don’t have to see what is within.
    There used to be an open dry cistern by the barn, my father said. It was full of rats. He’d grab up one of the half-feral barn cats and toss them into it, watching them slaughter rats like some kind of bestial Thunderdome. In his defense, my father has a complicated relationship with rats. As a child, they’d chewed clear through every closed door in their former home. My grandpop would give my five-year-old father a baseball bat and chase them out from under the chicken coop with a laundry pole.
    My father had to kill as many as possible.
    Our wagon shed was built with a concrete base to deter rats from making nests. It was moved, piece by piece, across the county when my grandparents’ bought the farm in 1963. It had to be rebuilt, piece by piece, too. One of the workmen fell from the second floor and died during its reconstruction. We once picked currants at the foreman’s house after seeing an ad for free fruit in the newspaper. “Don’t mention the farm,” my mother said.
    I tell myself there is nothing scary in the cistern. It’s just old water and dirt. I tell myself I have an anxiety disorder and need to stop avoiding the backyard. I remind myself that my father might have an anxiety disorder, too. Once, when cleaning up fishermen’s trash along the creek, my mother came across a lone black garbage bag hanging from a tree.
    “Don’t open it,Janey,” he told her. “You don’t know what’s inside. Don’t know what someone would leave so far out here.”
    It was beer cans.
    I tell myself the only terrible things that happened around our farm occurred centuries ago. The neighboring farm where the owner pinched the fingers of six Lenni Lanape into a log by pulling out the wedges and shot them all, inciting years of raids and death. The mill down the road where the tribe exacted their revenge. One scalped thirteen-year-old girl and a baby survived. The twin farms over the hill that face each other, one lane split between them. Barn looks at barn. House looks at house. Two brothers built those farms. Two brothers worked side-by-side. Then, something happened and there was only one brother left. No one asked questions. No one asked why. They just accepted that one farmer suddenly had two farms facing each other.
    But these are old stories.
    Stories of things that happened decades ago.
    Stories from long before my family bought the farm.
    They shouldn’t concern us. Just like the contents of the cistern.

    Snow coats the split wood stacked on the back porch. My friends and I are half-drunk, stumbling around for the beer we’ve stashed in the ground cellar, gathering logs to feed the woodstove to keep us warm.
    A hollow thunk as one of them trips over the concrete slab.
    “What’s that?” he asks, piling my arms high with wood.
    “The old cistern. It borders the ground cellar. Helps it maintain its temperature in the summer and keeps the moisture steady.” I lift my chin higher so he can shove another log on the pile.
    “Cistern? We’re going to need one of those for the zombie apocalypse.”
    I stomp the snow off my boots before going inside, shake my head. “Don’t go looking in there,” I say. “You don’t want to know.”

  • In 1992 I went to Atlanta to visit some friends of mine. They were involved with the city’s Historical Preservation Society and, as landscape architects, they were the caretakers of Oakland Cemetery. It’s a great old place, full of private gardens, impressive monuments, formidable tombs, and well-known names.

    One afternoon they went out there to do some cleanup work on some of the statuary and I tagged along, wanting to see the monument and grave of author Margaret Mitchell, who wrote Gone With The Wind. At one point I decided to walk around by myself to read some of the headstones, and I came upon a beautiful classical tomb. There was a door beneath a portico and in that door was a wrought iron grill.

    I’ve never been spooked by cemeteries or “ghosts”, having lived in a number of old houses that seemed to be “haunted”. Today, I live in an old house with a ghost cat; the entire family has tripped over him any number of times.

    Standing at the door of the tomb, I said something like, “I hope you’re at peace,” although I had no idea of who was buried beneath the tomb. Suddenly, there was a sudden rush of black birds from the tree behind it and from deep within I heard the eerie sound of concrete scraping on concrete. My blood turned to ice and I ran like a bat out of hell back to where my friends were working. I’d definitely felt unwelcome at that tomb. I haven’t spoken to the inhabitants of one since!

  • I was a teenager when we moved into a house in the middle of nowhere. We were on a lane with four other houses and a Holstein cow farm on the opposite side. It was dark and quiet there, other than the howling wolfs at night. One evening I was in the carport, it had really high windows up near the roof, and I saw a man’s face looking in the window at me. I’ll never forget it. He was gaunt and pale with big black circles around his eyes.

    I screamed for my boyfriend (even though his best friend was standing right beside me) and I ran into the house. Well the two tough guys, grabbed a baseball bat and a crow bar and ran outside. Of course there was nothing there. The window had to be 12-14 feet off the ground and there was nothing pulled up underneath it that someone may have stood on.

    As they checked the perimeter of the house, the white picket fence that ran from the bushes to our house was shattered. It was like a million toothpicks! And yet we heard nothing and saw nothing. At this point even they said “screw this” and went back inside.

    I never saw the face again. But one afternoon when I was home alone I saw – out of the corner of my eye – a man walk from the kitchen and turn into my bedroom. I waited outside alone until someone came home. I refused to sleep there again.

    We moved out a week later. And I have goosebumps now retelling you all.

    • That one on my blog is pretty friendly compared to some things I’ve experienced – still do to this day.

      I live with Epilepsy… and as some know, you can get an operation for that. But it must be a last resort to get it done; and I was looking that way. However, I had to fly to Melbourne, Australia to get tests done in a private hospital where I was taken off my medication and deprived of sleep and put into a hot room for almost 2 weeks – that’s 12 days.

      I went through all kinds of things – from seeing black cats that weren’t there to seeing and old man standing at the lifts pressing the down button to get out of the hospital. The lifts would arrive, but he’d just stand there looking inside unable to leave. I called out to him from the door of my room (as I had a 24-hour EEG attached to my head, which was attached to a computer in my room) for him to go, but the nurses told me that there wasn’t anyone there. I said, ‘Sure there is… he’s got on a grey dressing gown, brown slippers and he’s got white hair.’ They told me he had passed away 3 days ago and his body was downstairs in the morgue… and after that, they called the family to pick up his body immediately, fully creeped out that I could see him, but they couldn’t.

      Anyway, my sanity became worse at time went on. I don’t remember eating food, but apparently I ate everything that they gave me. I missed a vital game my favourite AFL team played only streets away (and yet the hospital didn’t have the sports package on their Foxtel – how bummed was I?)

      But all in all I wasn’t allowed to go to sleep… this had to trigger a seizure and the doctors had to monitor it. I got close to having one, but my brain was being a smart-ass and stopping them as they came up… which pissed off me and everyone else around me.

      At around day 11, was exhausted and feeling pretty bad about not being able to get the results they wanted from my brain. It was really late. One of my friends had visited me the previous week and screamed at me – all the while I couldn’t respond because I was zoned out from coming off my medications; and I was still wondering if her visit had really happened. While wondering that, and watching late night television repeats of old sitcoms, the room became really bright, filled with what looked like sunlight.

      I freaked out! I sat up in the bed, yelling for help. Because I was being monitored by cameras that the nurses could see, they came racing in, past the bright light I could see to hold me down (as I had climbed up into the corner of my bed pointing and screaming: ‘What is that! Can’t you see it??? It’s so fuckin’ bright!’ they were all trying to get me to sit down and stop screaming as I pointed still and stared at the bright entity at the end of my bed who – which – stood there praying (?) over me. I’m a Pagan, this wasn’t possible.. couldn’t be… who would be coming for me now? I didn’t know what the hell to do but be scared of whatever this was.
      All the while the nurses were trying to calm me down. And the only person who could was the professor who was overlooking my case – Prof. Mark Cook – he showed up in his slippers and track suit (he only lived a few streets from the hospital) and shouted at me to look straight at him, ‘It’s not real, okay! Now, I can see… it’s really bright, like a sunset, right?’
      I nodded, ‘Yeah.’
      ‘Okay… I want you to sleep. Your brain is readying itself for a coma, this is why you can see this and we can’t.’ he was crystal clear about this, ‘I wouldn’t lie to you about this kind of thing.’
      ‘Sleep? But what about the tests? The results?’ I asked.
      ‘It’s not going to be working out for you… I’ll talk to you when you wake up.’ he squeezed my arm, ‘Sleep.’
      I remember saying something like, ‘Thank the Gods…’ and closing my eyes.

      15 hours later, I woke up to a priest in my room. She asked what I had seen. Because I wasn’t sure, I said nothing, that I sure what that thing was, and to go away.

      Years later, I was still puzzled about what I had seen. But I also had things that were happening to me… things where I’d be somewhere and a voice by my left shoulder would tell me to ‘don’t stay here, you’ll need to move now.’ and I’d go and do it… while looking over my shoulder where nobody was standing. Within minutes, something horrible would happen where I was standing.
      Not long ago, I was driving along a road by myself, behind 4X4 with my stereo blasting music when I heard the voice again, ‘Slow down, you’re too close.’ I wasn’t that close to the 4X4, but I did as it suggested and 30 seconds later, the vehicle in front of me slammed on the brakes and turned the corner without indicating.

      In the last year, I found out from a religious friend that all those years ago in the hospital, I had an Archangel tether himself to me. She asked me a few questions about my experience in that room – which I’ve never forgotten, nor told anyone – and I said to her that he had a golden halo or ring that I noticed (but never told anyone about, just that he was almost too bright to look at). She grinned, saying to me that I had Michael looking at me. I’m not sure whether to believe her or not; but after some of the things I’ve experienced since seeing him… well, it’s difficult to not believe he’s around.

  • “You do know how that sounds, don’t you?”

    “No, I don’t know how that sounds. It’s true, we both saw it.”

    My mother-in-law continued to look askance and annoyed, However, I was delighted and pressed right through. I have spun a yarn or two, but this, this one, was as real as her sitting across from disturbing, haunting, and to this day that sight has never left. There it goes, the eye rolling commences and I begin.

    “Ok, for the last three weeks Katie Anne has been fussy.” One eyebrow lifts. “Of course I tended to her but just couldn’t go back to sleep. The first time, I woke and watched Gary gingerly walking down the hallway.” I laugh. “Ha, this is a guy who did two tours in Vietnam.” Oops, other eyebrow lifts. “What are you doing. I already checked on Katie. He shushes me.” She then delivers the proud mother look, what the hell.

    “So, he gets back, asking me did I hear it too. I ask him, not sure what I’m supposed to be hearing, he said, some one walking down the hall then going out the garage door. Well, I’m half asleep. No, just Katie a little while ago.” Feining intrest, gracing me with lidded eye contact.

    “Look, it didn’t happen every night, intermitantly and only to Gary for the next three weeks. You know I’m a light sleeper but I felt as if I were drugged, after waking to sense Gary getting back in bed after he would go and see to what it was he thought he’d heard. The next night I woke, just me, and sure enough I heard foot steps and the the door to the garage shut. Funny thing is, I wasn’t alarmed, didn’t wake Gary and went back to sleep. Well, I assumed I was dreaming because I heard a voice fill the inside my ear from the beside. I knew it was some sort of language nothing I’d heard before. It was a communication with sounds, gutteral, metallic, and quite annoying. I was being pulled awake, from the safety of sleep. The noises or language got stronger, I wasn’t frightened but the part of the brain that handles that insisted I should be. I became fully awake, the voice thing carried a need to make me fully aware of it’s presence beside me. Oh God, Mom, suddenly, a foggy form the size of a small child, but I wouldn’t say it was exactly human stood in front of me at the foot of the bed. At this point it began to lift itself and come apart, sending tendrils lit from within, maybe organic. I blinked, or thought I blinked, now it was hovering over me. Another nano second it burst soundlessly into a net of bright green that spread over the entire ceiling. I couldn’t get over how beautiful it looked, really, sparklers with the intensity of plasma pulsed at every junction of the net, and It just vanished. I shouted, raising my arm, grasping. No, Wait, What do You Want! I felt a severe loneliness. Gary touched me, “Did You See That?” I didn’t reply, then we just immediately went back to sleep. We compared about the next morning. He told me with out a doubt, he’d seen the shadowy presence at the side of the bed and every moment after. Come on, if both saw the same exact events, it did in fact happen and Mom, we still do.” There it was again, that look she does so well, the mother-in-law look.

    “Kelly, it seems to me you spend an awful lot of time creating these stories, I hope you spend as much time tending to your daughter.” Ok, I thought it was hopeless, so be it.

    Post script, we are divorced now; it is nearly forty years after but when we see each other at family occasions, there is not a doubt in our minds what we experienced was very, very, real. Funny, what keeps the spark between us, even now.

  • I used to work for the Secretary of Culture of my state and we managed a 100 year old horse shoe style operahouse. One, day, around dusk, I went to there to look for some friends that would be in charge of the evening show.
    The place, as you might have guessed, has a very creepy vibe when it´s empty, as was the case when I arrived. I went in through the front door and made my way into the seating area, stood in the middle, and called out my friend´s name. No answer. tried again–nada.
    A few seconds later I start hearing voices behind the closed curtains of the stage. “Oh, they must be back there, ” I think to myself and walk onto the stage, and behind the curtains. To the left of me there are some stairs that lead to some dressing room ( yes, i went there). I can hear the muffled voices coming from inside ( 2 or 3 different voices speaking),
    I go up´the stairs and make my way to one of the closed doors–where I am certain the voices are coming from, since they are getting louder as I approach. I swing open the door and step inside. Immediately the voices dissappear- There is no one there. Just the small room full of mirrors, costumes and props, but I swear, there is someone standing next to me, behind me, in front of me, all “eyes” are on me…suddenly I hear the voice on the other side of the stage. So, I think to myself–get a grip on yourself, sound tends to travel and bounce in theatres. I calmly walk down the stairs and make my way to the other side of the stage, towards another closed door. I reach for the doorknob and open. Nothing. It´s a large room, dark and smelly. There is a baby grand in the center and nothing else save for a couple of pigeons fluttering about.
    BUT as soon as the voices stop, I hear laughter coming from the other side–from the room I had just come from. Well, I was NOT going to stick around any longer. I found my way out of there ASAP. And as I walked up the aisle, toward the front door, I felt the hairs on my neck stand up, and behind me a soft voice, like a female voice, giggle. As I write this, chills are running up and down my back.
    The theatre has a long history of spooking people, and there are many more stories where that came from. One that realy freaks me out is a story this friend of mine told me about ( he is the person in charge of sound and music in the theatre). One day when the staff had nothing better to do, they decided to do a bit of ghost hunting and set out some tape records hoping to catch an EVP. Well, they did. They caught a eerie voice clearly saying out loud “we´re all dead!”

  • You know that saying, ‘when it rains it pours’? That’s how this family’s eldritch experiences arrive. Many. All at once. And then nothing at all. Ever again.

    It begins when we the kids are young. First the orb of light floating over our apartment complex late one evening. Some elderly neighbors see it, too, because they don’t sleep very much anyway. We stand around talking about how it was probably a weather balloon, although there was that funny mechanical ‘pshht! pshht!’ sound it made as it floating through.

    On another night, when the digital clock in my bedroom seems to freeze and do wacky things earlier in the evening, I am awoken by the same sound outside my window, but when I sit up and try to open my eyes to look at the clock, I realize I cannot see properly. Everything is super blurry. Our infant has also woken and is crawling all over the bed and me. I grab her tight to stop her from falling off the bed. When the sun rises, I can see light in the room getting brighter, but it takes another whole hour for my eyesight to return. I visit the optometrist and doctors that week and they find no underlying cause for this transient condition. Brain scans and blood tests are all fine. It never happens again.

    We move to another place not long after this, with a big garden, and I am again woken in the evening by the mechanical sound in the night. I think it must be trucks on the nearby highway. My husband is away from home for work. I go back to sleep. But a short time later, a cry from the children’s bedroom awakens me. So I get up and trudge towards the bedroom, half asleep. I lie down there for a while offering hugs and get up to walk back to my room in the dark, imagining that as I leave the bedroom for my own, I brush past a shadowy figure standing in the corner of the room.

    Of course there is nothing there. And I don’t care if there is. I would just like to go to sleep, thank you very much. I crawl into my bed and lie on my stomach, with my head turned to the left. I start thinking about this and that thing I must do the next day but within seconds, I hear something very loud and alarming in my room, like the sound of many dentist drills whirring at once. And it sounds as if they are moving very quickly to right behind my head.

    A second later, before I can turn over to see, I feel the sensation of something like a hot rubber band snapping hard against the base of my skull, and I realize that I cannot move my limbs. The warmth spreads out from the strike across my body. Then the whirring sensation begins again.

    I don’t know why I did what I did next. But I was unable to use my mouth to speak, so I formed words in my mind, and cried out in my head (if such a thing can be called crying) – ‘Stop, I’m still awake!’.

    And there was a sudden silence.

    I had strongest impression in that moment that not only was someone standing on the right side of my bed, but that my reaction had surprised or alarmed them. I lay there, listening so hard for anything, my eyes searching the dark space on the left of my bed. Then it I heard it. A smooth, low voice, filling my head:

    “You can go back to sleep now. The baby is sleeping.”

    Until this moment, I was not at all alarmed by any of what had happened. I thought I would just coolly observe it all. It was strange but unremarkable. But the additional idea that there was some sort of intruder in my home absolutely freaked me out. My mind started racing through possibilities. I strained to listen hard for any noise from the children’s room now. And then I heard the squawk of an unsettled toddler.

    So I went back to the screaming inside my head routine, and abusively contested the idea. NO SHE IS NOT! SHE IS NOT SLEEPING! (See, you can think in capital letters, too). This small fact seemed to matter far more in the moment than the weirdness of anything else that was happening: simply that this visitor was a liar. I felt panicked, but defiant. And I could feel its alarm at my waking and being angry.

    Then there was silence again, after which I heard something moving over the carpet, receding from the room, and I was sure, from the house. All the way out the hallway I followed the sound with my ears. I was breathless, and my heart was racing. When I finally felt the sensation returning to my limbs, I grabbed the phone to call my husband. I explained nothing. Simply asked – when are you coming home again? I am a pretty fearless person, but the tremble he heard in my voice was enough to convince him that something had happened, and he returned home swiftly.

    It was the first of many weirdings in our home that year. We slept with the lights on for months. And not in fear, but really just outright shittiness. We really wanted confrontation.

    Fast forward. Some years later one of our children calls out from her bed, early one morning as we are all waking. She wants to know: how do stars fall? She is three years old. So I explain to her that what looks like a falling star is really just a meteor or maybe a bit a space junk burning up on re-entry. I explain why this happens. Stuff gets hot as it falls. She accepts this.

    But then she says, just by the way, that last night, a star fell on our driveway.

    Oh really, I ask? Yes, she says it landed at the end of the driveway, and that it talked to her.

    Aha. It talked! This pretty cute, we think. We are grinning at each other. Kids say such funny things. And what did it say, I ask?

    Her: It said – ‘sun go down, you go up now’. Something inside me shifts a little apprehensively.

    Then she tells us: I went up with them like you used to. They were nice. They eat salad and milk, and they have crystals for money. I start to have flashbacks of childhood dreams. I suddenly don’t feel good. OH, THAT SOUNDS NICE, I tell her. I can see the way my husband is looking at me. We don’t bring it up again.

    Some years later, I have a vivid dream that I am being taken in the night with this same child, into this place I think I have often dreamed of, but then they separate her from me. I complain that a child should be with its mother. Don’t worry they tell me, she will be well looked after. I can see her on a table, and I can see what they are doing for a moment, before being whisked away. It’s a vivid dream, but it’s just a dream.

    Then a day later I am changing her clothes for school, and I see it.

    On her lower right breast, flesh has been removed.

    Not just a little, but a lot. It looks like a huge punch biopsy mark, perfectly formed into a circular hole the size of a penny, and in the middle of the deep well of this fresh, but perfectly healed wound, is a single, dried, pin prick of blood.

    I freeze and catch my breath, my imagination starts to tangle over the details of that stupid dream. It was a stupid dream. A REALLY STUPID DREAM. I calm myself and look carefully at the wound. Then I ask her, what did you do to yourself here? Did you hurt yourself? She really has no idea what I am talking about. I ask her a second time, slightly agitated. And there’s that shifting sensation again. My stomach slightly churning. I think, oh my god, nobody must know. And then conversely, everyone must. No, nobody. I quietly mention the wound to my husband. We whisper about it and after he sees it, we whisper about it again.

    As she grows up, and the skin stretches, it becomes less apparent, but there is still an obvious chunk of flesh missing from her right breast. And there are still other things and events for which there is no time, or space, or polite society. So many more of them. Children, pets, us. Horrible intrusions, often followed by kindly intercessions, equally strange. All the weirdness. But after a few years of this weirding, there was suddenly nothing at all. These days, we do an excellent job of pretending it never happened. For your edification and spooky story archive, now.

  • October 1, 2016 at 12:01 PM // Reply

    My story is incredibly cliche, dull, and rather hazy, considering it happened when I was a very small child (and am now 18).

    I lived in a row house with my mother, my two “full” siblings, my grandmother, her husband, their three children, and their dog. I remember very little about the place other than the fact that the basement entrance was immediately across from the bathroom door, and our room (my, my sister’s, and my aunt’s, that is) was to the right of that. I also, for whatever reason, associate the color blue with it. In my mind, there’s always been a black and white image with a bright blue house in its place, but I know the color’s inaccurate. I can’t help but wonder why the memory aged like this for me.

    It was late one night – well, late to a child – that I went to use the bathroom, only to hear the faucet running. I assumed someone was in and returned to the room to wait, knowing I’d hear if the door was opened. A good amount of time passed before I got up to try again, thinking maybe I just missed it, but the tap was still running. My next logical assumption was that someone just forgot to turn it off, but when I tried to open the door, it was locked. Being the naive child I was, I thought literally nothing of it and returned to my room. Apparently I didn’t have to pee all that bad, because I’m fairly certain I managed to go back to sleep.

    Because I remember being woken in a panic by my mother.

    This part is where specific details get particularly blurred, because I can’t remember how exactly it went about happening or what was said to explain it, but my sister, my aunt, and I were all hurried down into the basement where the rest of the household was gathered. Apparently, my mother passed by the bathroom and heard the shower running, assuming Zach (her brother) was taking one. He was known for doing things like that – showering, eating, etc. – late in the night, so it was an easy jump to make. However, she realized she was wrong when she saw him leaving the boys’ room, and went to check if everyone else were where they should be.

    (Spoiler alert: we were.)

    According to her, she went back to check the bathroom, found the door locked, and pressed her ear to the door to try and hear if someone was in there. She’s tried many times to describe what she heard, but he best image she could conjure was insect-like clicks and a “very metallic ringing.” Because of this, my family decided it was smart to corner ourselves in the basement for the night (which, were there any hostile forces in the house, would’ve been the most white-person-in-a-horror-film move possible). Most of us chose to call it a night, though I know my mother didn’t get a wink more of sleep, and we checked the bathroom again in the morning. It was unlocked, with no running water, and no sign anything was out of place. They insisted we had to get out of that house – something we’d been planning on doing anyway – and as soon as we could manage, we packed and left.

    For years, I wondered if maybe this memory was all in my head, just a dramatized excuse born in the mind of a very imaginative child, but we passed the house again once, a few years back. When my brother pointed it out, it was my sister who asked if any of us remembered all this.

    My mother never forgot.

  • The Christmas before I turned seven, back in the late 80s, a ‘remote controlled robot’ toy; the sort of Wall-E-shaped kitsch that thought ‘remote control’ meant ‘directional control pad attached to the toy with a shortish wire. Also if you pressed one arm down, it’d go ‘HELLO!’ and the other, ‘I’M ROBIE JR.!’ as its eyes lit up. Yeah, it was the sort of toy that would be interesting for maybe a few months, and forgotten about. Which is what happened to this one, the batteries wore down and I didn’t replace them, just left it under my desk out of the way.

    Cut to mid-October of that year, I’m doing my homework out in the kitchen. From my bedroom I hear ‘HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!’ Mind, the last time I’d played with it was around Easter, so this was startling enough. I run into my bedroom, and its eyes are flickering rapidly, and now it’s stuttering as it tries to say ‘I’M ROBIE JR…’ …and then it goes dead again.

    That toy swiftly got stuffed in my closet behind the hamper, let me tell you. I’d’ve thrown it away if I didn’t think my parents would have gotten upset about the waste.

  • Eight year old sleepover. All three of us evolving metalheads with mix-tapes full of Metallica, Medageth and AC/DC. We’re rocking out, playing video games and doing all the other young-boy stuff. There was some “Truth or Dare.” I seem to remember being dared to rub a tub of Vaseline through my hair and thinking ‘how the fuck am I going to explain the stain on my pillow to my mom?’

    We get to telling scary stories in much the same way that Mr. Wendig has us doing now. One kid tells us about his dead grandmother coming to visit him in his sleep. She always smelled like mothballs and cabbage so he knew it was her. It was like her old lady perfume. The other kid tells some bogus, made-up-to-scare story but I am only half paying attention to all his talk of demonic voices and rippling walls. I am too busy trying to think of something that will redeem me for my refusal to permanently stain my pillow in dino-goo. His talk of demonic voices though – it triggers a memory in me. Something happened when I was a kid that I was never sure was real. Dreams are sometimes more real than reality, aren’t they? In this dream reality, I was in a spillway with a couple of my uncles. I was young and they were stoned. They were always stoned. And I was only a kid.

    My uncles told me the spillway was safe and that even though it seemed like we were in a horror movie sewer, we were actually wading through an underground spring. They said people did it all the time and that was why there was a hole in the grate. I remembered the water being fresh and clear, but the underground area that housed the running water was too dark. I could only see by the light slipping through the broken grate overhead, and my uncles didn’t look like my uncles. Not in that light. Not down there. Even their voices were screwy. The chamber around us caused their voices to echo and the water carried sound in strange ways. They sounded garbled. They sounded evil. I remembered how scared I was that I was underground standing in running water with two men I didn’t trust. I remembered the way that their voices echoed into the deep, dark pits from which the water flowed and receded. I remembered thinking that they were going to push me into one of those dark holes and that I would never get out again. Their screwy voices told me I was going to die in the machines beyond those dark holes. I knew it then and I knew it now even as my friend was telling his unrelated story – strange voices meant pain. They meant death or something worse.

    So my friend is telling me about this weird voices, trying to scare me and it would never have worked except I had really heard weird voices before. I knew that weird voices were real and I knew that sometimes weird voices came out of wasted uncles who took their young nephew on impromptu fishing trips. And sometimes they came from the deep, black wells from which water flowed. Though I was with friends in a basement I had been in a hundred times before, I could even smell the water and the rusted grates.

    I might have kept a grip on my rattled nerves despite the memory. I might have. Except we were three young boys in a dark basement telling scary stories. Except we had Metallica playing in the background… ‘Welcome Home’ and the demon voices of my uncles had their talons sunk seep into my mind. Just as my friend is finishing his story about voices and just as I am thinking how stupid this freaking game is, our Metallica cassette stops playing Metallica and starts playing a garbled, backwards voice. “Fall in. Drowning. I will push you down” the voice says.

    I still remember my friend, Matt was his name, screaming in shock and hitting the pause button on the cassette deck of his boom box. His own story had sacred him and the cassette was too much. The other boy, there were three of us, he thought it was some kind of gag Matt and I played on him. When we said it wasn’t, he believed us. He believed us even though he didn’t want to because you can’t pretend to be scared. No one can. Scared is scared and we were fucking terrified.

    I think we slept upstairs that night. And if you like spooky stories, stop here. Because I am about to let you in on the secret. This story is real. Stoned, sketchy uncles are real. Underground springs found beneath broken sewer grates are real. Scary voices are real because sound can be bent and twisted and warped. Especially if it is recorded on the cheapest cassette money can buy because cheap cassettes have a tendency to twist and flip. And the interesting thing about a twisted cassette tape is that the flipped and twisted tape plays the material from side two while you are listening to side one. And it plays it backwards.

    Thanks, Chuck for all you do. You are an inspiration and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to talk to growing writers like me. We need to be talked to. Often. And loudly. And sometimes in a garbled, satanic voice that sounds strangely like AC/DC being played backwards.

    • “Old lady perfume.” Love that. Thank you for this story, Jonathan And my hand is waving wildly in the air for my turn to say thank you to Chuck, as well. Can’t remember when I happened upon this connection, but I’m grateful for the same reasons Jonathan mentions.

  • I posted this on my blog back in May, based on an experience that had happened that morning. I wrote it as a 99-word story, but every word is true.

    On a cold, damp, May morning, my son and I were walking to the school breakfast club. There’s a serenity to that hour that the day erodes, bit by bit, as the noise seeps in. We crossed the empty road, hand-in-hand, and both stepped aside instinctively as a black shape fluttered out into the centre of the road, and disappeared.

    “Dad, did you see that bird’s shadow?” he said, wide-eyed and innocent.

    I looked up at the brooding grey sky above, the lack of any street lighting, or lights from houses, or cars…

    “Yes, son,” I said, and gripped his hand.

  • Back in 2014, my husband and I took a road trip cross-country, from Miami all the way to Seattle.
    During our first night in Seattle, exhausted after driving for two weeks, we went to sleep ready to remain comatose for an unnatural number of hours.

    Something woke me up in the middle of the night. Not sure if it was a noise, a light, or something else entirely. No idea.
    But I woke up, sat up in bed. My husband was standing by the window, staring out over the Seattle skyline, leaning on the window sill, the curtains wrapped over him, almost like a cape.
    “What are you doing?” I asked him. Maybe he’d heard something, too?
    But he didn’t respond, just kept staring out of the window.
    “Babe? What’s up? What are you looking at?”
    No response. I sit up higher, try to see past him. He was perhaps only four feet away from me. Past him I saw street lamps and traffic, but nothing out of the ordinary.

    Beside me, in bed, my husband turned over, unsettled in his sleep.
    My stomach plummeted into my feet.
    “Nope,” I thought, and dove under the covers.

    To this day I have no idea what I saw standing by the window. But it sure as crap wasn’t my hubs.

  • I can’t wait to read all of these!!

    I don’t actually believe in ghosts but I LOVE ghost stories!! Here’s mine, courtesy of my father:

    When my father was a young man he did many young Irish men of the 1980s did and left the motherland to search for work in England. And as many young Irish did, he found himself in London. He took a room in an old flat that creaked and groaned and where the walls were paper thin.

    My father has always worked physical jobs, mostly painting and decorating but occasionally he also took jobs as a carpenter, a janitor and the like. I can’t be sure exactly what his job was at the time, but it’s safe to say it was probably something along those lines. Whatever his job was I know it required him to get up early every day.

    Shortly after moving into the flat, my father was woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of someone in heavy boots running up the stairs, past his door, and up the next flight. He thought nothing of it and went back to sleep. The very next night it happened again and he was woken by the loud thud, thud, thud of the boots on the stairs.

    A few days went by and the same thing occurred night after night – the heavy boots would run up the stairs and wake my father. He began to get cranky – surely this fella should show his neighbours a bit of respect? Didn’t he know that some of them had work in the morning?

    One night, sick and tired of being woken, my father decided to wait and confront the heavy-stepper. He was sure if he just told his neighbour to keep it down that would be the end of it.

    He stayed awake and sure enough, in the early hours of the morning, he could hear the thump of the boots making their way upstairs. My father ripped open the door, ready to yell at the offending neighbour, when the sound of boots thumped right past him and up the next set of stairs. There was no one there.

    My father moved out shortly after, and here we come to the part of the tale that may or may not be true – a few months after he moved out, the City Council demolished the flats to make way for something more modern, and there, in the foundations of the building, they discovered the remains of someone who had died (or been killed?) very long ago.

    So, was it a ghost or simply a creaky old building? What do you think?

  • The garden had me on my knees late into the afternoon. I couldn’t seem to turn enough soil to keep the mums happy. The zinnia too, had given up. Just last week, they gleamed in the flowerbed. What happened? I pinched and pruned and poured, still their tiny leaves curled into small cones, making the brick façade of our home look troubled.

    Then phone rang. And rang and rang as I traversed the severely blemished drive into our carport. If we owned this house, I cursed, the first thing we’d do is repave this mess. The screen door swayed open in the wind and cried out as I slammed it behind me. Of course, I missed the call.

    No matter. I put the kettle on and went looking for my other half.
 My husband crouched over the downstairs bath tending to a recent plumbing issue. By the sound of things the faucet had not let up. I thought he could be a while. So, I sat by the window and drank my tea alone. The kettle’s moisture fogged up the glass and hung on long after I drained my cup.



    The following morning, I listened to the machine. The voice on the other end spoke unsteady but sure. I held my breath while my mind wandered through and beyond the garden piecing together what I held onto from yesterday.


    boggy soil
    furling leaves

    troubled face
    missing pieces
    fleeting wail

    running water
    misty eye

    The message played back from his relative, informing us that the landlord passed away. I braced myself against the counter, suddenly feeling small and shiverish.
    The landlord had indeed come home.
    Even before the call came in… the house knew

  • I’m not making this up. I am telling you what I remember.
    My grandparents lived on Erie Drive, at the top of a street so long you could not see down to the end of it. At one time five kids and two adults were packed into a house made for three humans, total. The wooded area across the street was still largely undeveloped when the grandkids came along and none of us would play there, or in the creepy basement which supposedly was a cool place to be when my parents were in high school. Grandpa died of Cirrhosis when I was very young, after my mother’s twin brother died in Vietnam, before I was born. But when this happened grandpa was still alive.
    The family had gathered on the lawn on a late summer day in the early 70’s. Grandpa sat on the steps watching the rest of us milling out on the front lawn. Eventually dusk descended and a wind kicked up, pushing leaves that already smelled of Autumn into the air. I don’t remember if the gust was warm or chilly but it didn’t bother the adults, who were still standing around talking to each other as if time had not passed. My mother had left me in a yellow inflatable Sylvester the Cat chair with a gaping face for a back. No one noticed when the wind picked up enough strength to pull me up over their heads. I must have tried to yell or kick but all I remember is the terror of invisibility. No sounds would come out of my mouth. Something was taking me away right in front of them but no one heard my panic over the beer and macaroni salad. Sure, it could have been a dream. I’m still here, so if it really happened obviously the black entities failed. It’s possible that someone finally pulled me down; perhaps I just didn’t fly as high as I thought.

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