Every day horror: my true ghost stories.

Everyone always asks horror writers if they’ve had any “real” supernatural experiences. I’ll skip the ones that are more strange than scary and just go right for the ghost-y tales.

1. The door opens. It was 1986. My grandmother had just died. All of a sudden, all over my parents’ house in Oregon, doors began opening on their own. Latched doors. And, no, not blowing open in a non-existent wind, displaced air conditioner’s draft, or being opened by a three and a half year old sister who couldn’t even reach the doorknob a lot of the time. It was a strange couple of months. One night, the door to my parents’ room opened, closed, and opened again. Whenever I would look at it, (usually while it was opening) it would close quickly. No one was in the room at the time. Very creepy. Eventually, after an odd summer of these disturbances, the doors closed up for good.

2. Phantom movers. In 1989, my parents had just purchased their second house. We liked the older, Cape Cod style property, as it seemed to have just enough room for everyone and was well-maintained and clean. Then Mom and Dad started having to leave us alone there. Dad had work and Mom had school. One rainy afternoon, my sister and I (eight and eleven, respectively) were in the kitchen and began to hear the sounds of furniture sliding over the floorboards of the attic bedroom. For hours. Not one or two items, either, it sounded like beds, dressers and heavy chairs being dragged from one place to another. We huddled in the kitchen, totally freaked. Finally, our Dad came home from work and didn’t believe us. (Not cool, Dad, by the way.) We lived in that house for ten more years, but thankfully, no repeat of that incident.

3. The apartment with the…vibe. In the summer of 2000, I was looking for an apartment with my intended roommate. We were on a budget, but young, with immaculate credit in a college town. I guess this put us at the top of a list that June, which is typically too late to rent the ‘good’ stuff close to campus in the city we occupied. However, for some strange reason we discovered a nice place only three blocks from the University, with a working dishwasher, that was, for some reason, wide open in the middle of the year. We applied immediately, and moved in that August. Everything seemed generally okay, except right away I noticed some funny…rust stains on the blinds in my room. Never could scrub it off, whatever it was. We also both observed that the temperature in the apartment seemed to fluctuate wildly, especially at night, no matter what the thermostat was set at. The most uncomfortable part, though, was this overall strange feeling to the place. Just supremely…off, like you couldn’t ever settle into it. I never said anything to my roommate because she was religious and I was worried about offending her with talk of the paranormal. But when I was finally moving out, I mentioned, “You know, I think this apartment has kind of a weird vibe to it.” I was not surprised when she and her friend both replied in unison, “Yeah.”

4. The helpful spirit. In the dark days of late 2001, I was in a tough, unpleasant, financially painful situation with a soon-to-be ex-boyfriend and one other roommate. I was really not enjoying my life at this point.  I had taken to sleeping on a heating pad a lot, because the house we were in was very drafty. Sometime in the middle of winter, when my roommates seemed to be gone all the time, we once had an overnight guest who swore someone had awakened her at midnight when no one but the two of us were in the house. (We both knew it wasn’t me.) Freaked out, I began to expect the worst. However, the only change I noticed was that occasionally, I would go to bed to find my heating pad already turned on and warm for me. I know that sounds impossible, but I swear it happened. And believe me, exactly no one in my living situation at that time would have been so considerate.

5. The book thief. For a while now, in my current domicile, I’ve had occasion to become somewhat frustrated by the periodic evaporation of certain novels I was really looking forward to reading. I know I have the kind of lifestyle (read: sort of like Hoarders–Bibliophile Edition) in which you might think I wouldn’t miss a spare paperback or two, but I definitely know when one has gone missing. No, I don’t buy I could have accidentally thrown them away, misplaced them or had a roommate rip them off. These aren’t the kind of books anyone would steal. (The Genius of the Irish Theater is one that has become a casualty of one of these mysterious disappearing acts…not exactly a hot bestseller.) This is one I actually don’t want to believe has a supernatural explanation. I just can’t come up with a logical one. Not too scary, eh? Yeah. A lot of us say that. I don’t actually think I’d want a truly out-of-this-world ghostly encounter now, though. Not now that I’m writing things that sometimes cause my own hair to curl. That might be too much. Better left to The Ghost Hunters.

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