Scary Monsters & Super Creeps -- A Spoopy Creppy Post October 13, 2023 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Unexplained shadow outside your window? Cold spots in the kitchen? Is that one conference room no one uses cursed? Settle in with a cup of something warm, light a candle, and tell us your own personal ghost stories!

This thread is meant to fun and bring the chills. Don't yuck the yum!
posted by Kitteh to Uptime at 11:32 AM (51 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

My mother said that when she was a girl (1920s Scotland) she had to back up against the wall of her close one misty night to make room for a coffin being carried out. Only to discover later, of course, that no one had died there.
posted by pracowity at 12:12 PM on October 13, 2023 [5 favorites]

My father awoke one night to see an elderly woman, dressed in turn of the century (20th) clothes floating over the bed. She appeared to be trying to talk to him, her lips were moving, but there was no sound, and his reaction was to swat at the apparition and it disappeared. Not long after, my mother suffered a heart attack. She wasn't even 40 year yet. Not longer after that, my parents happened to be at a relatives house and my dad suddenly said, "That's her." It was a photograph of a long deceased relative. They both believed the ghost had been trying to warn of the pending heart attack.
posted by Atreides at 12:58 PM on October 13, 2023 [5 favorites]

My friend and I moved together from Florida to St. Paul a month or two before the Halloween blizzard. We got ourselves a little apartment and spent our time lining up terrible Kelly Girl jobs and cooking recipes out of the Moosewood restaurant international cookbook. Halloween night we took our meager earnings and walked to a nearby restaurant for pizza. It started snowing as we were nearing the place, continued snowing while we waited for our pizza, snowed harder while we ate the pizza, and by the time we left it was gearing up for some Little House on the Prairie snow, to the point where it was hard to walk because the snow on the sidewalk was approaching knee high. And that was the last time for several days that we left the apartment to go anywhere farther away than the corner grocery store because... SNOW.

It was kind of magical, those adult snow days. We couldn't get to college or our dopey jobs because the roads were impassable, so we just hung out in the bright, cozy apartment reading and playing games and making hot chocolate and tollhouse cookies. It was really fun. At some point, my friend broke out her Ouija board, which was a hand-me-down from her oldest sister, left behind when the sister went off to college. My friend had told me stories of many a spooktacular night spent with her two older sisters and their friends. The sister whose board it was had a real gift for manipulating the "planchette" in a manner completely undetectable. Sister had reportedly made contact with a spirit named Cecil, and after their first encounter with him, every time they used the Ouija board, Cecil would pop up and volunteer to help them contact other members of the deceased community. Cecil was patient, friendly, and lighthearted. He was always willing to assist in finding people's grandparents or Jimi Hendrix or whoever you wanted to talk to.

So after the usual "would anyone from the spirit world like to talk with us?" stuff and a bit of a wait, the planchette started to glide around the board aimlessly, and my friend asked, "Could we speak with Cecil?"
"Is this Cecil we're speaking with now?"

My friend and I asked a bunch of questions that I now forget, but according to my friend, the answers weren't in Cecil's "voice," so to speak. They were slow, garbled, and sometimes nonsensical, and I remember that they were once or twice a bit mean, which my friend shook her head at because it was not in character. Finally she asked again,

"Is this Cecil?"

Right away, no meandering, the planchette swooped to "yes" and then jiggered rapidly back and forth, repeating:

"How can we know for sure that it's you, Cecil?"
Very long pause.

"Are you still there?"

"How do we know it's you?"
With startling speed and with no pauses or aimless gliding, it spelled in quick succession:
[I ] [ B I T E]
posted by Don Pepino at 3:29 PM on October 13, 2023 [15 favorites]

I do not believe in ghosts but I have several clear memories of ghosts from my childhood. I mostly discount them on the grounds that I also have several clear memories of things even less probable than the disembodied human spirit.

I get sleep paralysis every couple of years. I used to think of the term "the hag" for the sleep paralysis hallucination being a sign of society's ingrained sexism. I guess I still do but I also acknowledge the frequency with which I semi-awaken to discover a horrible, faceless old woman sitting on my chest preventing me from comfortably breathing. I don't think anything supernatural is happening here but it's still scary when it's happening.

The one inexplicable event from my adult life was one night in my early twenties when a friend was spending the night at my house. We were up late and lounging around the living room chatting when we both shot up on a panic as we had seen the dark outline of a man standing in the hallway leading toward the front door. It was momentary and whatever it was disappeared immediately but both of us agreed we had seen it. Had my friend not reacted to it at exactly the moment I did I'm sure I would have dismissed it as a trick of my sleepy mind but as it stands I have no rational explanation for what we saw.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:51 PM on October 13, 2023 [5 favorites]

I may regret following this thread but will do it anyway. I grew up reading “true” ghost stories with my dog at the foot of the bed and watching lots of horror but I don’t particularly enjoy being scared these days. And I can scare myself plenty good without help from outside media. But it’s still fascinating.

In fact, I recently moved into a new place with a soundtrack of the podcast My Favorite Murder playing pretty constantly. It’s actually sort of charming for a podcast with a lot of murder. It has other stuff too, including ghost stories sent in by listeners.

I have often seen, out of the corner of my eye, human figures standing or lurking in corners. You know, the kind you see for a split second in a dimly lit room before you focus and realize it’s a shadow or a sweater on a chair. (By “often” I mean maybe a dozen times over a few decades.) I’m mostly sure it’s all been tricks of light or my brain but I still get the willies.
posted by Glinn at 4:53 PM on October 13, 2023 [4 favorites]

I've been cleaning out my mother's yarn hoard for the last three years. Earlier this year I final shifted the last minivan's worth of it. After helping the lovely lady from the charity to load her van to the gunwales, and waving at her as she drove off, I went back inside and was pottering around dusting. Turned around and right there - in the very center of the white kitchen floor - was a ball of pristine bright red yarn.

I froze.

But then had a laugh and went to chase the cat who has been contributing to the general mess of the house by "hunting" balls of yarn (oft still attached to projects) and bringing the "corpses" in to show me (once threaded around so much furniture and THROUGH the cat tunnel that it took me a good 15 minutes to unravel the maze - would have been faster but I was laughing too much). I know my mother would have found the whole thing hysterical. I've kept that ball and I'm sure the cat will kill it again soon.
posted by ninazer0 at 5:46 PM on October 13, 2023 [16 favorites]

When I was ten or twelve (prob. twelve as it was very hot so 1976) I was walking in the wood, around mid-afternoon, near my home in southern Hampshire, UK, and about 75 metres away there was a low ridge above what was probably an old holloway, when I saw a hooded figure in a black cloak and that kind of scythe over their shoulder, striding very certainly along the ridge - and there was zero noise - when every twig was dry as dust. My eyesight then was near perfect but I could not see a face, I hid behind a tree and watched the wraith pass - it was very odd (but I've often found with the UK it's very easy to experience the beyond).

Have had several experiences there since which really defy any explanation, a few scary, a few really weird, real Rivers of London stuff. My mum was Romany (and a mysterious woman I know so little about), and it was obvious others were wary of her - called her fey behind her back, so maybe something rubbed off there.
posted by unearthed at 9:14 PM on October 13, 2023 [9 favorites]

I was living in a forested area in an old house, and one night we heard a loud bang before bed. We looked at each other and then went to sleep. In the morning, a glass casserole dish would be sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. Unharmed and unshattered. It was just sitting there, squarely in the center of the kitchen, mocking us. We spent hours that day trying to understand what had happened - it wasn't the cats, because it's very heavy glass, and even if the cats somehow got hulkish enough over night to push it off, it wouldn't have fallen from on top of the oven and stayed in one piece.

It's been almost four years and I think about this and other odd things that have happened in that old colonial-era house, a lot.
posted by antihistameme at 11:08 PM on October 13, 2023 [4 favorites]

All my childhood, I often saw the same, very solid and very real, apparition appear in the hallway of our tiny house. I never mentioned this to anyone.

Flash forward umpteen years and my new spouse and I are having dinner with my parents at the tiny house and, as parents are wont, my folks are relating embarrassing childhood tales of me to my wife. So, in the spirit of the reminiscing, I finally relate my childhood-long seeing the apparition. The room went dead silent. It turned out that everyone at the table, including my wife who had been in the house only twice before that night, had seen the same apparition.

Logically and scientifically, it’s really hard to believe in ghosts/spirits, but odd stuff like that can’t help but insert a big “maybe” in your head.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:25 AM on October 14, 2023 [10 favorites]

I would like to blame ghosts when I misplace things in my home (home decor is my passion!), but I think I'm just forgetful. Still fun to envision some frustrated ghost trying and failing to haunt my 120 year old house while we oblivious occupants fail to notice.
posted by the primroses were over at 5:01 AM on October 14, 2023 [6 favorites]

When Shepherd and I moved into our 100+ year old house, an acquaintance who claimed to see spirits told me that there was something in our house--the previous owner is known to us and knew said acquaintance--and didn't elaborate further. All I know is, if there is a ghost in this house, it has found us so unbelievably boring that it hasn't bothered to do anything in nearly a decade. Also we have bossy cats so maybe the ghost is like, "Eh, I do not want to bother with those cats. PASS."
posted by Kitteh at 5:35 AM on October 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

If like me you didn't know what a holloway was, these are holloways.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:24 AM on October 14, 2023 [16 favorites]

Late one night, my father woke to see my mother standing at the bedroom window from which our front stoop was visible. She told him she had to hurry downstairs to let her parents in. Both her parents had died, her mother fairly recently. She recognized the clothes they were wearing very specifically. For some reason, the idea of her going down there really scared my father and he prevailed on her not to.

Years later my mother would say in a matter-of-fact way that her parents would come to visit her after their deaths, and she would mention the coat her father was wearing in particular. That was the only example of her seeming to see ghosts, but she always had a funny kind of second sight. She died at a young age herself. I once had a dream where she was telling my elderly dog, "Don't worry; you're just going to go to sleep now." That is exactly what the vet said to my dog on the last day of her life. Probably a common thing to say, but it was so exact that it gave me chills.
posted by BibiRose at 10:04 AM on October 14, 2023 [7 favorites]

My best friend tells a story of his then three-or-four-year-old daughter looking through old family photos with him. She points to a picture of an old man and asks “Who’s that?” My friend replies that the picture is of her great-grandfather. “I don’t like him.” she says. “Why not?” my friend asks. “He sits on my bed at night and talks to me.”

Great-grandfather, of course, had passed away long before my friend’s daughter was born.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:54 PM on October 14, 2023 [4 favorites]

My friend and I asked a bunch of questions that I now forget, but according to my friend, the answers weren't in Cecil's "voice," so to speak. They were slow, garbled, and sometimes nonsensical, and I remember that they were once or twice a bit mean, which my friend shook her head at because it was not in character.

One of my college friends became a neo-Pagan while we were there, and the rest of us joined her in a more desultory fashion; after college we all still hung out for a while, and occasionally we would poke our toes in, lead by K. One of the things we did was occasionally get out the Ouija board.

One time K's boyfriend and I were using it, while K was making more popcorn or whatever. Whoever we were talking to started out talking to us, but as time went on, the planchette became less and less sensible - random non-sequitur words, garbled nonsense. C and I read out aloud to everyone else what the planchette was spelling, gradually getting more and more confused as it made less and less sense.

Finally, K stalked over to where we were sitting with the board and plonked her own fingertip dead-center on the planchette C and I were touching. "Are you being a pus-head?" she said, sounding for all the world like a mother warning a misbehaving child.

There was a pause, and then the planchette slowly - and begrudgingly - slid over to [YES].

"Then you'll have to leave," K ordered, her finger still on the planchette.

Another pause. Then the planchette slid down to [BYE]. K called time on the Ouija board for the night - not because there was any "occult danger," more like, she didn't have the patience for rambunctious kids that night.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:41 PM on October 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

a glass casserole dish would be sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor

One chilly fall morning when I was maybe eight years old, I discovered a butter knife sticking straight out of the hardwood floor in the dining room. Who could have done this, and why? My parents? The cat? To have this knife fall from the table and land this way would be astronomically unlikely. Its tip was round and dull, and its center of gravity in the handle. I still ponder this mystery!
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 3:48 PM on October 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

My sisters are 11 and 13 years older than I and born during our mother's first marriage (my dad was her second husband). Our mum had a lifelong fear of thunder and lightning, and when my sisters were little and our mum raising them on her own, she would huddle the three of them together on her bed under the covers, with the idea that this was some form of protection. The sister who is 11 years older than I absorbed this fear of thunder and lightning and carries it to this day.

One evening, when I was about 12 and my sisters long gone from home, I was getting ready for bed. As I put on some sort of nylon pj's, I saw that a fluorescent bedside lamp lit up, not at full power, but sort of a tremulous flicker. I realized I was watching static electricity generated by friction in the nylon pj's, and thought that was cool.

About 20 years later, I too was long gone from home, and living about 5,000 km away. My lightning-scared sister was house-sitting in that house while our mum was travelling. About 11 pm my time, about 2 am in her time zone, my sister phoned me, terrified of a ghost.

She'd decided to hide in the basement with a flashlight to wait out a thunderstorm. The basement was mostly occupied by Dad's woodworking shop and lit by about a half-dozen pairs of 1 meter fluorescent tubes. She only got as far as, "There's a thunderstorm, so I'm hiding in the basement, and there's a ghost, and it just turned on all the lights..." when I started to giggle.

Thankfully, she got over being scared very quickly because she was too angry with my laughing at her brush with not the paranormal, but the very normal static from the thunderstorm. Mind you, I did tell her to get off the phone, for heaven's (quite literal) sake.
posted by angiep at 5:32 PM on October 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

I love pyjama lightning! In my case it was an ankle-length nylon nightgown, voluminous enough that there was a lot of fabric to generate static. The best thing about settling into bed was watching the lightning storm under the covers.

I love how old houses settle at night. Walls and floors creak; pipes tap; radiators bubble. I grew up in the city, but when we went to visit grandparents in more remote places, the complete darkness at night was amazing. With that and the nightly noises, one could see (or not-see) where ghost stories come from: imagination and the easy startlement of a moonless night when anything could be out there… or in here… coming towards you… slowly… slooooowlyyyy….
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:06 PM on October 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

I've led an interesting life. Backpacking solo in the mountains, doing van life stuff along the Gulf Coast and some of the USA southwest. I've been in castles and forts, unmapped caves, ghost towns, abandoned churches, civil war battlefields, and WW2 ships that saw combat fatalities. Been to murder sites and saw very pale horses at a Native American burial mound at midnight. So I don't get rattled super easy. The best way to handle it has always been to not panic and keep on rolling.

And yet. The one place that scares the absolute hell out of me is a house. Not an old house, I don't think they ever got it fully built even, before it was torn down. I've never been anywhere else that had a fraction of the pure, malevolent evil radiating from that simple building. My also adventurous friend felt it too, and it rattled her just as much. If I was told by scientists, priests, psychics, anybody with that kind of authority to make the determination the house was a literal portal to hell, I'd believe it. It felt that obscenely wrong. I don't think anything could induce me to go in there at night. Not my family, not a lover, not enough money to live in luxury for a century. And even doing it during the day would have been a terrifying concept. I still feel that throat closing sense of wrongness every time I think of that damn building.

In a more funny story, my brother and I were camping/crashing/more or less had some sort of vague permission to be at a friend of a friends beachhouse. On a dark and extremely stormy night. Being early,20's idiots, we decided to watch.... The Shining. Not our brightest idea ever. So to relax, we popped the movie out of the VCR, and put on Twister. Which.... Immediately played more of The Shining!!!! (There's a brief clip in Twister where the crew is at a drive in movie theater. Stupid VCRS and not rewinding)
posted by Jacen at 1:59 AM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

The one place that scares the absolute hell out of me is a house.

I walked through a place like you described 20 years ago, when spouse and I were house hunting. I lasted five minutes, then had to get out of there. The vibe was that bad.

Early on in marriage, spouse and I owned an old, unusually shaped home. Both of would routinely experience scents wafting about the place that could not be explained by outside sources. Once I was home alone, working in my upstairs office space and I heard a door open and close and footsteps across the foyer. I went to the top of the stairs and called spouse’s name. There was no one there.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:03 AM on October 15, 2023 [3 favorites]

I love these stories, thank you! I always wanted to experience something weird like that, but never have. All weird sensory things I’ve ever experienced are perfectly explainable, sadly.
posted by gemmy at 6:49 AM on October 15, 2023

I don't have a ghost story of my own but I once pranked some friends in to thinking they were in danger of being murdered by a ghost.
posted by saladin at 8:53 AM on October 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

This was told to me as a freshman in college by my friend Bill Turner in 1967 about a night he spent with three friends a few years before in an allegedly haunted house on Bainbridge Island.

The story they had heard about the house was that the couple who owned it had died in a plane crash in Alaska in the late 1950s. The house had gotten a reputation over the years after that.

So, Bill and three friends had gotten stoned one afternoon, talked about the house and decided to stay that very night there. This was way before cellphones, by the way. What they did was stay together and went to each other's homes to collect sleeping bags, munchies, weed and beer. And to keep each other from calling anyone outside their group so as to prevent shenanigans.

The house had seen better days -- a tree had crashed through the roof upstairs on the second floor and it was a mess inside. But they cleared a space near the fireplace in the living room and après smoking, drinking and opening two glass paned doors to step out to a patio to pee. Eventually they got tired, closed and latched the doors and hopped into their sleeping bags and nodded off.

The next thing that happened was Bill awakening to a vise-like grip on his arm. Through his sleeping bag. Which he endured with eyes closed as long as he could until his arm began to go to sleep.

He then turned his head, cracked his eyes and saw the grip belonged to the hand of the friend next to him. He looked at his friend's face and saw an expression of stark terror. He then looked towards the glass paned door at which his friend was staring.

Framed in one pane was a mottled glowing pale white face with two black smears where eyes should have been. And as he looked, it vanished into a tiny white dot as if receding into the distance. In an instant.

At which point Bill yelped and everyone else was up and wide awake that moment.

In the aftermath, they finally got their trembling shaking friend to describe what happened.

What he told them was that as he was drifting off, he opened his eyes and a pale dot of white far away. Which grew in size as it approached the doors. It got bigger and bigger as it got closer and closer. Until it filled one pane and then pressed against the pane.

At which point his friend put the death grip on Bill's arm just above the wrist through his sleeping bag and woke him up to yell and wake everyone else up. He told them what he saw and then added one last detail.

When the glowing eyeless face pressed against the pane, the glass squeaked. As if from the pressure. Which was when he grabbed Bill's wrist and squeezed. Hard. In a death grip.

Bill added that his friend had been on the wild and crazy partying guy side of the spectrum until that night. Which stopped right there. He was never the same. He became serious, somber and withdrawn ever after. In a word: haunted.

And that's my true as-told-to ghost story. I will say this -- between the death grip and squeaking glass part, it has made my skin crawl on each of the few times I have retold it. Including now. I kid you not. Not at all.
posted by y2karl at 9:47 AM on October 15, 2023 [15 favorites]

That gave me goosebumps, y2karl!
posted by maryellenreads at 11:18 AM on October 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

My family's from the northwest corner of Tennessee where everything's haunted. I think spirits get tangled in the humidity from the river, or else held tight to the land by generations of blood and sweat spilled into the black soil. Life and death mingle there. You can't walk through the woods without the vague feeling of someone or something peering at you through cypress, through kudzu.

For a visit some years ago for a family birthday, I was 29 that year, we'd borrowed the house my aunt had recently inherited from the local principal and his wife. They had been childless, but they adored my aunt, who since childhood had become kind of a devoted niece to them. I had met them several times as I was growing up. We'd get a watermelon in the country and the principal would eat his slice with a knife and fork, salting every bite. The house was on the historic register, pretty, surrounded by roses and with gables and gingerbread on the eaves, perched on the top of a rolling hill. My aunt was planning to move in that summer, but at the time it had been standing empty for a long while.

One morning as we were heading out for the day, I found myself alone in the house. As I was leaving through the side door in the kitchen I felt... I would say it was a presence. It was barely a shadow, but I could feel it acknowledge me. It wasn't a negative energy, or even a positive one. It was more of a neutral regard. I stood still, examining the shadow in the shaded light of the morning, and considered whether I should move. It was positioned between the refrigerator and the door, the way out. Through the curtained window, I could see my family out at the car, chattering happily, but despite the thin glass I could hear nothing at all, no car doors, no birds. Everything outside of the house looked like pantomime in a place very far away. I took a breath and slipped around the shadow, dashed for the door, and burst into the sunlight.

Birdsong, the sound of cars on the main road, my family discussing the plan for the day. Everything normal and a little too loud. Clearly I looked pale, but no one said anything. I didn't mention it to anyone until late that night. I found myself hesitant to spend another night in the house and said so, when my mom tilted her head and said, Where was this, again? And then: Oh, that was probably the principal. Heart attack. That's the spot where they found him. Nothing to worry about, he always liked you.
posted by mochapickle at 12:12 PM on October 15, 2023 [7 favorites]

In November 1988 I woke up early one morning to see a diffuse ball of coruscating colour and sparkle in my bedroom, which hovered there for a bit, and then faded through the wall. My visiting uncle came in a few minutes later to tell me my mom had just [finally] died of metastatic cancer in the other bedroom.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:14 PM on October 15, 2023 [6 favorites]

y2karl, I REALLY REALLY wanna know more. Like, I'm on the verge of channeling Agent Mulder over here.

....You've also reminded me of an "eerie floating face" story that has a spoopy funny ending...I've told it before, but will tell it again.

There are a handful of old military bases and forts scattered throughout New York, some of which have been here since the 1800s. One of them has a "haunted house" kind of thing every year, with one of the officers leading people on a "walking tour" through the abandoned fort and a lot of volunteers in costume staging tableaux of mad scientists, monsters, and other such things. It's corny, but the fort's got all these dark corners and people were good about knowing exactly when to time their jump scares, so you get creeped out beside yourself. And the last leg of the tour required walking through a pitch-black tunnel, long enough that it takes a minute to walk; you're underground walking up this slight slope, but then you end up back aboveground in the parking lot and everything's fine.

Anyway - the year I went, our group was shown into this tunnel, and we all started creeping through it, up the slope towards the faint lights from the parking lot at the other end. After a few seconds, it looked like one of the lights started to grow brighter; and then bigger. More and more of us noticed it - it was definitely something faintly bright coming towards us. As we got closer to it, and vice-versa, it started to look like a face - a glowing, floating face, slightly off-center, and hovering in the air at about chest level. It kept getting closer and closer to us, and more and more of us noticed it, watched it floating in the air and coming closer and closer. It was really eerie and totally silent.

That is, it was totally silent until it got to within about ten feet of us, and some of us started to gasp or whimper. Then - suddenly we heard a bored teenage voice coming out of the dark, from somewhere ABOVE the face. "Omigod, people," it said, "I'm on my damn break, calm down."

It wasn't a creepy floating face - it was one of the teen volunteers who'd been wearing a glow-in-the-dark mask, and had left it hanging down to his chest while he was on his break. He was returning to his post, that was all.

He passed through us as we all laughed in relief and finished our trip through the tunnel.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:18 PM on October 15, 2023 [11 favorites]

Haaaaa, I love that story so much!!
posted by maryellenreads at 7:48 AM on October 16, 2023

Several years ago, when my husband and I lived in Massachusetts, we were renting an apartment that was the whole second floor of a two-story house. It was set up so that, when you entered the house, you went right up a flight of stairs, where you could turn left to go into the living room, or right to walk down the long, long narrow hallway. The kitchen was on the opposite end of this long hallway, and the bathroom, bedroom, and spare room were between the two. Being an old house, with wacky wiring, the light switch for the hallway was ether in the kitchen or directly outside the bedroom door, so either on the opposite end of the hallway from the living room, or from halfway down the hall. It got DARK in that hallway, too -- especially in the summer, when we used window a/c units, and deployed thermal curtains over the living room, bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen doorways to contain the cool air. We put up some motion-sensor lights along the hallway ceiling to make getting around easier.

At the time, I worked nights and my husband worked mornings, so I was usually up pretty late after he went to bed. One evening, I was sitting in the living room playing a video game, when I glanced up and saw the cat staring intently at the curtain across the living room doorway, and realized that the motion-sensor lights were turning on one by one, then off, as though someone was walking slowly up and down the hallway -- I could see the light around the very edges of curtain. I went and opened it, and confirmed -- no one there. No bugs, no critters, no people, no nothing. The weather was calm. My husband was in bed. He did see the lights doing their thing, though, when he got up to use the bathroom. It happened a couple more times on subsequent nights, then stopped and never happened again. I'm sure there's a logical explanation, but I don't know what it is! It was fun, though, in a spooky sort of way.
posted by maryellenreads at 7:59 AM on October 16, 2023 [4 favorites]

Oh, cats! Cats and their staring! Ours loves to wait until, like, 2 a.m., and then come to wherever I am sitting quietly reading or doing the crossword and choose a spot on the wall or a random section of air to stare at for a while, ignoring me calling her name. She'll make sure I've clocked this, continue it for a few moments, and then suddenly crouch in a defensive posture, do one of her piercing heart-stopping shrieks*, and skitter fearfully out of the room. This is probably her most innovative and helpful home ecosystem service. When she performs it, I invariably drop whatever stupid thing I'm wasting time with and go to bed.

*She's not Siamese, but she may as well be. Her normal "hey, what's up?" meow is earsplitting.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:50 PM on October 16, 2023 [4 favorites]

We are house-sitting our friend's new (old, 1930) house in the Northeastern US while they finish preparing to move from another part of the country. It's a lovely house but it is almost entirely empty and has things I am very unfamiliar with like basements and oil heating and propane.

And I was here alone this morning when something went BOOM and shook the floor. Like, it felt like some kind of furniture had fallen over. But there isn't any furniture that substantial, and I searched for maybe a closet door that had fallen off and landed flat on the hardwoods, that's the sort of rattle-free thud that it was. I went down to the scary basement. I went outside and walked around the house to see if there were...flames? Or a fallen tree or something?

Everything's been fine all day, and I made sure the smoke/CO2 detectors are working, and have reviewed possible causes with my friend.

I was only half-joking when I said to myself that I guess we'll just have to wait and see how expensive that boom turns out to be. But I am also really really anxious for my husband to get back home so I don't have to jump at noises all by myself.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:10 PM on October 16, 2023 [4 favorites]

I don’t believe in ghosts.

But, when I was 21, I was in a terrible car accident in which my best friend and her boyfriend died horribly on-scene, and I walked away with barely a scratch. Just awful. Minor ptsd from it. And without my friend to help me grieve.

One day about 6 weeks later, I slogged home after class (I noticed that semester, I had lost all of my energy - I had to allow twice as much time to walk anywhere, because each step took so much effort) and came to my 1960s era California apartment building with a big exterior covered entryway over a row of 12 or 15 brass-plated mailbox fronts. Someone had stuffed about 30 coupons for a free Jamba Juice all across the top of the mailbox plates. But, there was no Jamba Juice in my college town. I had always gone to Jamba Juice with my friend, when we were back in our home town… I actually peeked at the next building over and their entryway didn’t have any Jamba Juice coupons, so it seemed like more than a “leave a stack at every building” situation (although logically I'm sure that’s what it was).

And so I collected them all, absolutely certain they were a gift from my friend. I didn’t even use them, I hoarded them, a gift from my ghost. I still have one fifteen years later.
posted by samthemander at 8:21 PM on October 16, 2023 [13 favorites]

Oh, I wrote this up for Facebook a few days ago; I suppose it can't hurt to share it here.

I haven't told this story in a long time, but we find ourselves on a Friday the 13th in October, the spooky season, so it seems appropriate once again to tell it. This happened around fifteen years ago, back when I was an undergrad at Ball State, and it happened on the top floor of Bracken Library. That's the fourth floor, unless you count the basement. I liked it up there, since it was generally pretty dead, and a good place to study. What I'm going to tell you is why I stopped going up there.

One evening I was up there to study, as I often was, and after awhile realized I needed to pee. I went over to the one of the bathrooms and pushed on the door, just like I had probably a hundred times before on a hundred similar nights. This time was different though, because instead of gently swinging open to reveal the little corridor that provides privacy for those in the bathroom, it held firm, as if jammed in place. Confused, and figuring it was just jammed, I gave it a harder shove, and it swung briefly open before slamming shut again, feeling as if somebody was on the other side holding it shut!

While I'm a fairly skeptical sort of person, I've seen the odd bit of weirdness- stuff that I just couldn't find an explanation for, no matter how I tried- and every time I get this awful feeling in my stomach, just at the base of my abdomen. Between the sudden heaviness in my stomach (which was a fun companion to the existing pressure on my bladder) and the "oh god, oh god" feeling as my skin prickled into goosebumps, I started to panic. I thought about just leaving- I was pretty sure I was alone, and if somebody was trying to keep me out of that bathroom, probably best to move on, right? There's reasons a person might seek the isolation of the upper floor of the library, and not all of them were as innocent as studying. At the same time, however, I imagined somebody unconscious and slumped against the door, their weight providing the force closing the door, and I couldn't risk having had the chance to help somebody and ignoring them. I pushed past my trepidation and shoved the door a third time, harder than ever, and it swung freely, slamming against the wall behind it with a noise louder than I'd imagine that floor of the library heard most nights, or weeks, or months! There was nobody there.

Trying to ignore an increasingly nasty case of the creeps, I entered, rounding the corner into the bathroom. I don't know what they look like now, but back then a Bracken men's room usually had a couple of sinks by the door, then a row of urinals along the righthand wall with a row of stalls opposite. What they usually did not have was a sourceless shadow on the floor in front of one of the urinals, as if there were a person standing under a spotlight to cast it. As I watched, too confused and frightened to react, it slid down the row and under the door of one of the stalls. What broke my frozen state was the voice, high and scratchy, and seeming like it came from that same stall: "mine!"

That did it. I don't know if I screamed, but I do know I lost my nerve and ran, descending the flights of stairs in huge jumps. When I reached the first floor and the seeming safety of the crowd of students that's always found there, I relaxed, got my breath back, and eventually found the self-control to head out into the night and walk home. It was a while before I went back to Bracken alone, and never, alone, back up to the fourth floor.

Awhile later a friend who'd shelved at Bracken told me that sometimes, late at night, people who were alone might hear singing on the fourth floor, in a high, hoarse voice, but no singer could ever be found.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:30 PM on October 16, 2023 [14 favorites]

Because my parents sent me to private schools based in old historic buildings, all of the educational institutions I’ve attended have had ghost stories attached to them.

My junior school was a Jacobean mansion house later extended by a Victorian owner. The latter had a grand wooden staircase and a woman in white was said to haunt the stairs. The school had a mix of boarders and day pupils and when I was about 10 there was a period when panic took hold in the dorms - which were in a very long room that used to be the house’s library - with several classmates claiming to have woken up and seen a figure walking through the wall.

My senior school was a grand public school in the English sense and dated back to the mid-16th century. The boarding houses were mostly grand 18th and 19th century buildings that had been private houses then acquired by the school. During the English Civil War a minor battle had been fought in the town’s high street, and the ghost of a Roundhead trooper was said to haunt the doorway of one of the houses - desperately knocking on the door for sanctuary from pursuing Royalist cavalry, but not being admitted.

Then I went to an Oxbridge college that had its own ghost, an 18th century bursar who’d hanged himself from the bell rope. The room where the Fellows had posh dinners was where the ghost kept being seen, from the knees up - the floor level had been raised since the 18th century. Several of the college’s kitchen staff refused to work in that room.

Needless to say with that kind of education I have been a fan of M.R. James’s ghost stories from a young age!
posted by greycap at 8:38 AM on October 17, 2023 [8 favorites]

M.R. James: academia but make it terrifying
posted by Kitteh at 9:03 AM on October 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

My only spooky encounter was when we had just moved to a new house when I was 6 or so, and my brother and I were in our room trying to sleep, and we kept hearing this eerie sound. I was an nervous, excitable, easily spookable child, but this sound was just outrageous. It would come and go, with eerie shrieking. We kept it quiet for as long as we could - just shivering in our bed and imagining things getting worse -but then we finally really started freaking out and crying.

My dad charged in, and we told him the house was haunted and he listened for a second and then said "it's the windmill across the street. Now shut up and go to sleep".

I've loved the complete darkness since.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:48 AM on October 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

hmpf! I want to believe...but I have never had a legitimate paranormal experience. my house was built in 1920!!! the vibe is so clean and devoid of spook its ridiculous. I have intentionally gone into places/spaces said to be haunted, daring myself to be terrified. of course the ghosts ignore me completely :(
posted by supermedusa at 12:00 PM on October 17, 2023

academia but make it terrifying

Wait, what academia are you thinking of?
posted by zamboni at 12:22 PM on October 17, 2023 [5 favorites]

The room where the Fellows had posh dinners was where the ghost kept being seen, from the knees up - the floor level had been raised since the 18th century.

I love this detail and the concept of ghosts being stuck with the layout the building had when they knew it. I live in a two-flat that was converted into a single family home about 85 years after it was built, which is plenty of time for ghosts of renters of the former second floor unit to be rummaging through our master bath, looking for the kitchen that used to be there.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 12:42 PM on October 17, 2023

supermedusa, our house was built in 1880, and is stubbornly devoid of ghosts. I wouldn't mind a friendly ghost.
posted by maryellenreads at 1:51 PM on October 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

Here is a seven minute video from 20 years ago of me telling a ghost story at my father in law's memorial service.

Spoiler: I didn't actually see a ghost.
posted by bondcliff at 1:59 PM on October 17, 2023 [3 favorites]

Back in the mid-70s I was a high schooler whose wisdom teeth had to go. My dentist set up the extractions with the new oral surgeon renting space one floor down in the same building.

Something seemed off with the surgeon, who omitted several common steps (such as giving me a prescription for post-op antibiotics). Consequently I developed a raging infection. My mother called the surgeon on a Sunday morning; he agreed to meet us at his office. He showed up in running shorts, and with unwashed hands drained the abscess while I screamed.

A week later the surgeon was found dead in the chair he used for surgery, the nitrous oxide mask he’d been habitually abusing still strapped to his face. Seems he’d been doing this for a while…

Jump ahead a few decades. My current dentist is the nephew of the one I’d had back in the day, and his practice now occupies the entire building—including the room where the surgeon died, now used for storage.

When I spot new faces I always ask if they’ve spent time in that room. Enough time has passed that many know nothing of its history—but virtually all have expressed reluctance to go in, describing feelings of being watched and objects inside turning up in odd places. A few have admitted to thinking they heard the door (which is locked) opening and closing, or the sound of someone sighing loudly.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:25 AM on October 18, 2023 [6 favorites]

My Presbyterian second-cousin Jackie is a landlord whose Pittsburgh properties include the house in which her parents, Sam and Helen, lived for many years. Her father was a Jehovah’s Witness and a traumatized WWI survivor.

She has had problems renting that property.

At one point an unmarried couple moved in. The man reported a “scowling old man” whose reflection appeared in the bathroom mirror while he was shaving, and the woman repeatedly heard footsteps on the stairway (access to which required a key). Clearly, Sam disapproved. They moved out.

The next occupants were a gay couple who immediately reported “sounds of someone shuffling around their bed” at night as well as other phenomena which prompted them to also move on.

“My dad always shuffled,” commented Jackie breezily, “and the guy in the mirror fit his description right down to the thick glasses he always wore.”

Jackie always prefaces her stories with “I don’t believe in ghosts, but this is what has happened…”
posted by kinnakeet at 3:40 AM on October 18, 2023 [6 favorites]

The church I grew up attending had an old rectory next door. The church was Episcopalian, so the priest was always referred to as father, just like in the Catholic church. The rectory, itself, was built in the late 1800s and well maintained. When I attended, its inhabitant was Father Wyer. He had replaced his predecessor, Father Boogher, who had died in the mid-1970s, shortly after his retirement.

It was not unusual for Father Wyer to have guests who came to stay in the rectory. It was a big house with plenty space for visitors. It was on one such occasion that a guest was resting in their bed at night, not quite yet asleep but with the lights out, when they heard footsteps approaching their bedroom door. The knob turned. The door slowly opened, then a moment later, closed and the sound of fading footsteps followed. The next morning the guest turned to Father Wyer at the breakfast table and thanked him for checking in on him last night. Father Wyer, in turn told him, he had not looked in on him last night. It was, however most likely, Father Boogher who did so, simply continuing to look after visitors to his rectory.
posted by Atreides at 6:39 AM on October 18, 2023 [5 favorites]

This isn’t technically a ghost story but it still haunts me.

My father’s mother was a tough, quiet, uncomplaining retired nurse who’d worked in Pittsburgh steel mills in the early 1900s. She was the backbone of our small family. I loved and admired her but did not know her well as my family had moved away when I was small.

One night when I was about 15 I had a vivid and intense dream.

Gram and I were standing next to each other looking at our reflections in a large mirror. We were in an otherwise empty tiled room with indirect fluorescent light. Gram wore a blue nightgown and she firmly cautioned me not to look at her directly, but only in the mirror even though I could sense her presence.

She was very sick, she explained, and would die soon. I was not to feel badly, but my grandfather would need a lot of support.

Shaken, I shared this dream with friends at the bus stop the next day but did not tell my parents.

A month later we learned that Gram had been diagnosed with aggressive cancer. She died two months later. Her husband, always full of bluster, fell apart and died less than a year later.

It was only recently that I learned that my first-cousin had virtually the same dream at roughly the same time. It is one of the few dreams about which I can recall very specific details.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:58 AM on October 20, 2023 [9 favorites]

That's incredible, kinnakeet. Thank you for sharing!
posted by Atreides at 6:50 AM on October 20, 2023 [2 favorites]

More a potential poltergeist story than anything else, but here we go:

Maybe twenty years ago I was catsitting for my mom, who lived then in the upper two floors of a sizeable Victorian place. You wouldn’t automatically use the term “mansion” for it, but if someone called it that, you would have to think for a second or two before rejecting the term.

Like any old house, it had its share of quirks and odd creaks and such. I am pretty damn skeptical about any supernatural stuff, so I was never inclined to believe ghosts were there.


One morning during this catsitting stint I was there, and showering when I heard a loud THUMP from seemingly not far away. I was the only one there save for the cats, and while I didn’t get out of the shower at once, I figured one of them had knocked over a lamp or something.

When I got out and dried off, I looked around but could see nothing amiss, so I shrugged and moved on with my day.

An hour or two later I was preparing to leave for the afternoon and was puzzled to see one of my shoes was missing from where I’d left them the night before. A search around the house located it behind the bathroom door, where it would have been if, say, someone had thrown it at the door while I was showering.

The immediate answer that one might submit is that one of the cats dragged it there, but never before or since did those cats show any interest in anyone’s footwear, and these were size 15 sneakers, and thus a significant chunk of the body mass of either of the cats.

To this day I have no explanation of what happened.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:23 AM on October 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

Did your mom ever have any instances of things moving on their own?
posted by Atreides at 10:49 AM on October 23, 2023

My wife and I rented the ground floor of an old house for about a year. We had access to the basement, which was scary in a very non-supernatural way. Either the house was sinking, or the basement floor (dirt) was rising. The mortar around the stones in the foundation walls was blooming white efflorescence (new word to me!) The old, decommissioned coal furnace had metallic tentacles of ducting going every which-way. The house was not well insulated; frost would form on the baseboards in the bedroom in the winter.
I'd had a birthday, and my wife had baked a cake, wrapped a present, and bought one of those mylar balloons. For some reason, I cut the little weight off of the thin ribbon on the balloon, and it floated to the ceiling in the living room, where it remained. Weeks pass. I arrive home from work on a night when my wife worked late. I did my normal evening routine, and was in the process of finishing washing my dinner dishes. I turned (and apparently I have a habit of either closing my eyes briefly or looking down when I turn around) and was startled out of my wits by the balloon, inches in front of my face.
After my heart rate returned to normal, and laughing a little at myself, I moved the balloon back to the living room. I walked out of the living room, and observed the balloon as it slowly followed, neutrally buoyant at head-height, drifting on subtle air currents.
I left it alone until my wife got home. I told her of my little jump scare, and we watched the balloon drift from living room to kitchen to bedroom. When it went to the door of the basement and stopped, I decided that was enough "entertainment" and deflated it. (And put the mylar remains in the trash. And took the trash outside to the curb. And made sure the basement door was locked. Just in case.)
posted by coppertop at 6:02 PM on October 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

My first encounter was in a cemetery. Broad daylight. I love old cemeteries, and I was standing still, copying an epitaph. Just then, a slow, deliberate tug on the hem of my jacket happened. There were no bushes; I wasn't moving; I didn't get snagged on anything. I was in an area of children's graves, for what it's worth. I simply said "Hello!"

I stayed in a lake house known to be haunted. It was very hot; in the middle of the night I was sleeping topless next to my partner when an icy cold feeling when straight down my back. The next night we clearly heard someone coming up the stairs and KNOCK at the bedroom door. But the BEST part: We were relaxing in the afternoon on the screen porch, with a clear view of the inside of the house. We heard someone coming down the stairs, BUT NO ONE WAS ON THEM.

At the first anniversary of my former husband's death, I was alone in my bedroom, crying because even though we were divorced, I had really loved him and I missed him so much. My table light flickered, and I honestly FELT someone come into my room. It's so hard to explain, but I had a complete change in emotions: I felt calm, and love, and that feelling of peace and love stayed with me for three days.

One more, if you're interested: We have a ghost named Earl where I work. Earl was a former coworker who had to retire due to a bad heart. He used to come and visit us now and again. After he passed, we used to see "something" in work clothes at times pass our work room door - but not go back (the room only had one exit). One day, I was alone in the room when I looked up to see someone in a blue windbreaker and tan pants, as if they'd just poked their head in and waved - I saw them go back behind the door and their arm come down. I rushed out because I didn't want to be rude to whoever had waved to me - but no one was there. And the motion lights in that room did not go off until I stepped in front of them. And Earl always wore a blue windbreaker and tan pants in the summer.
posted by annieb at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

Did your mom ever have any instances of things moving on their own?

None that she's ever mentioned.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:06 PM on October 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

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