Ghost Stories

It’s February, and, if you work in Hollywood, anyway, that means two things.  First, an overabundance of cheesy romantic movies for Valentines Day, and second, it’s time for the theatrical release of the scary movies so they’ll be come out on DVD in time for Halloween.

I thought I get into the spirit (ahem) of things, and, since I don’t have any plans for Valentines Day (besides going to church) I thought I’d share my experiences with ghosts.  Or something.

The first one happened when I was about 14.  I was spending time with my grandparents on the ranch they owned at the time, in Steptoe Valley, in Eastern Nevada.

Google wouldn't let me embed this map, but if you click on it, it will take you to the Google Maps version of this image.

I can’t remember why I was there when my sister or none of my cousins were–I spent a lot of time on my Grandparent’s ranch, but usually as part of a family gathering–holidays or helping to vaccinate, brand or AI the cattle (if you don’t know what AI is, don’t ask.  And yes, I have helped with all three activities, although, there is a shortage of wimmenfolk on that side of my family, so I usually spent my time in the kitchen helping prepare meals for the big strong working men.)

One night, I was asleep with my arms above my head.  I felt a tickle on the inside of my arm and armpit–like someone was dragging a feather across my arm.  I had a pet bird at the time, (though not with me in Nevada) and I woke up enough to think it was my sister (who was perhaps one hundred miles away) tickling me with one of Sidney’s feathers.  I mumbled “Knock it off, [Sister’s Name]”, and opened my eyes.

I saw, standing at the foot of my bed, a boy about the same age I was at the time.  He had red hair and freckles, and was wearing a plaid flannel shirt and overalls.  I could see that he was laughing, but not maliciously–it was more like he’d just pulled a joke and was happy to see that it worked, but I didn’t hear anything. Oh, and I could see through him.  I thought “Oh, it’s just a ghost”, and closed my eyes to go back to sleep.  By that time, what I had just seen had time to sink in, and my brain started shouting at me, so I sat straight up in bed, with my eyes wide open, but whatever I had just seen disappeared.

This ranch is very secluded, and I was the only kid my age for perhaps 20 miles.  One of the hired men who lived on site at that time had a wife and children, but the kids were little–4 and 2, not to mention Hispanic.

It was years before I told anyone that story, I still haven’t told my Grandparents–they are very down to earth and Grandma would probably just laugh at me.

I fully acknowledge that the tickle that I felt could have been something like a fly or a random breeze, and the ghost could have been part of a dream, but I haven’t experienced anything like that before or since–and it change my life, at least in the fact that when I sleep with my arms above my head now, I make sure they’re covered.

The second experience is much more difficult to put into words.

I was living in Logan, Utah, going to school at Utah State University.  I moved into an off-campus apartment, and, during the course of the year that I lived there, several strange, if subtle, things happened–it wasn’t until after I moved out did I think that they might be connected, and perhaps there was a paranormal explanation to them.  I am aware that it could have all been a series of strange, random coincidences that just happened to take place while I was living in that apartment–and only when I was living in that apartment.

First, I would have episodes sleep paralysis, averaging out to be about once every six weeks or so.  I would feel like there was someone sitting on the foot of my bed, then wake up enough to know that there wasn’t, start to fall back asleep, feel like there was someone sitting on the foot of my bed, wake up enough to know that there wasn’t…this would happen four or five times in a row until I either managed to completely fall asleep or completely wake up.

I was taking a psychology class at the time, and knew about sleep paralysis and hypnogogic trances, so they I found these episodes more annoying than freaky.  And they completely stopped when I moved out of that apartment–even though my sleep, work or school schedules hadn’t changed, and my stress load hadn’t lightened any.

That apartment had three bedrooms, so I had two roommates.  We were all issued keys that would lock and unlock the front door, and the door to our individual bedrooms–but not the other two bedrooms in the house.  Somehow, I managed to constantly lock my keys inside my bedroom–to the point where I had an extra made that I kept hidden in one of the house plants.  On one occasion, I locked myself out of my bedroom, but the property manager couldn’t come to open the door for me until morning.  I spent the night on a cramped, uncomfortable love seat.  While I was trying to fall asleep, I felt a kindly presence, and had the distinct impression that it was amused that I had locked myself out of my bedroom.

In retrospect, that kindly presence was pretty much a constant companion in that apartment, to the point where it felt like I was never alone.  I remember on more than one occasion, coming home and feeling like the apartment was occupied, then being surprised when a while later both of my roommates walked through the door.

The word “Townhome” might better describe this property–it was two stories, with the kitchen, living room and a half-bath on the main level, and the bedrooms and a full bath on the second level.  One day, I was coming out of my bedroom and tripped on the stairs.  I slid down on my knees–I remember watching in horror as the wall at the bottom of the stairs came closer and closer, but my arms were pinned to my side, so I couldn’t raise my hands to stop myself from hitting the wall.  I did manage to turn my head so I didn’t break my nose or split my lip–though I did end up with a wicked rug burn on my knees and a large bruise on my cheek.

I fully admit that I’m a klutz, and I could have tripped on my own, but I don’t know why my arms didn’t work when I tried to pull them up to protect my head from hitting the wall.

Like I said, I’m not even sure that these experiences were connected in any way, or that there is a paranormal explanation to them.  I certainly didn’t think so at the time–I loved that apartment and would have stayed, but the property management company raised the rent to the point where I could no longer afford to.  It wasn’t until much later did I realize that some people might consider that apartment to be haunted.

I don’t know if my experiences with the paranormal mean anything–or even if they were paranormal experiences.  I do believe in an afterlife, and I think there’s a lot in this world that we don’t understand–and it’s phenomenally stupid to try and seek out ghosts and demons and the like.

That being said, even if I was provided a scientific explanation for what happened to me both in Nevada or in Logan (like sleep paralysis) I don’t know if that would be the beat-all, end-all answer.  Just because we know how something happens, doesn’t mean we know why it happens.

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