Biotáille Cruinniú

I like to think I'm a pretty open minded guy, I believe in God and spirits, I'm certain of extraterrestrial life, and I'm unwilling to dismiss outright anything anyone believes with absolute conviction.  I believe they believe and reality is perception, so, yeah.  Now, having turned 33 this year, I've lived a little while and I've seen things that would fall in the paranormal category.  On today's Sunday Morning they were talking to Chip Coffey and he said something to the effect of paranormal means you don't know or you can't explain what happened, but you know something happened.  I've had a number of those.  Being the season for ghost stories, I'll share my experiences here.

I know I've got a pretty damned powerful memory, I can remember pretty far back and I can remember instances with intense clarity, even mundane things.  My earliest memory, of which there are two right around the same time and within the same house, I know I'm laying in a crib, I can see the bars.  The direction I'm facing, laying on my stomach, I can see a window.  It's either late or early, the light is dim and silvery outside, this bush has a pretty wicked shape to it, but as I'm looking at it, two glowing red eyes seem to open, and it takes the shape of a monster, maybe like a pterodactyl, and I slowly turn my head the other way to not see the monster outside my window.  Looking back on that memory, and the second one where I'm being held by my mother and we're watching fireworks outside, I realize, it was just a bush, and a car across the street, perhaps in their driveway, stepped on the breaks, lighting up the demon's eyes.  That's hindsight.  It doesn't change the fact that one of my earliest memories is of being scared of a monster staring me down.

Growing up, I remember a lot of things, but being scared of ghosts and monsters came when I moved into the house that I mostly grew up in, my Dad still lives in that house, though whatever plagued me doesn't seem to bother him.  But of course I was a kid.  The first few nights we stayed there, sleeping on the couch before I had bedroom furniture, I nightmared of a man or thing staring at me through the two windows on the top of the front door, it wanted in, it wanted to get me, it was battering the door and I was scared stiff.  Like any kid, once I finally shook off the dream I ran to my parents room.

The nightmares in that house were always intense like that, usually of something outside desperately trying to get to me.  I had many night terrors, inability to move despite feeling wide awake, sometimes it would even feel like someone was sitting or lying in the bed with me.  Once I even felt the bed depress under someone's weight, with no one there.

But those aren't ghosts.  The ghosts, or phantoms I like to label them as, came once I was established in my room.  They came into my room, regularly, out of my peripheral vision, I saw them daily, always outside of directly looking at them.  Shadow people, male in shape, very tall, always coming in through my bedroom door.  One of them was so vivid that I didn't realize I was seeing a phantom and believed my Dad had stepped into the room so I began to talk to him.  My Dad, ten feet away in his own bedroom, finally did come walking in asking what I was talking about.  I told him, I was talking to him, I thought he had just stepped in.  Needless to say it was spooky for the both of us.

Standing in the kitchen one night, just talking to each other, I don't remember the conversation itself just that we were talking, a toy car of mine jumped up off the carving table.  Problem?  No batteries.  And this wasn't a "it was sitting near the edge and fell to the floor," it drove six inches and launched itself three feet across the room, right in front of me, and my Dad saw it just take off from a standstill.  Again, we're both a little freaked, but laugh it off.

In that house, besides phantoms, there was the thing in the kitchen.  I never saw it, but I heard it.  The first time was when I had two friends over for a slumber party on my 7th or 8th birthday.  I thought my Mom or Dad had gotten up and was making coffee or breakfast, at first, but the cabinets kept opening and shutting, over and over.  I laid there petrified as I realized there was no other sound, like of feet or bodily movement, just the cabinet swinging open and shutting with a clunk.  I know I was awake because I looked at my friends, each sleeping on the floor, dead asleep.  That wasn't the only time I heard it, either, there were plenty of mornings the cabinets opened and shut and I finally asked my Dad if he was doing it or heard it, to find that no, he had no idea.  Recently staying the night there I was actually scared I would hear that, but fortunately, it seems the restless cabinet monster had finally found what it was looking for.

My first full frontal encounter with a ghost came around Thanksgiving, in a little house in Sweetwater, Texas the family had gathered at.  My Dad and I slept on a hideaway bed in the living room.  One night, I woke up I don't know when in the evening but it was dark inside and out, just ambient light from outside, street lights or the moon, and much to my surprise, someone was sitting next to me, about at my midsection, between the edge of the bed and the TV, enough room for one person's width.  Waking up and seeing this person staring at me was jarring enough, but I thought I recognized the face, at first, I looked directly at her, a person I thought was my Aunt, but as I looked directly in this thing's face staring at me barely two feet from my own face, I realized it had no eyes, just black smokey pits.  Slamming my eyes shut, terrified, I tried to will myself back to sleep, this was just a nightmare, I tried to make small movements to back myself up against my Dad, maybe I could annoy him awake to chase of whatever it was.  I laid there with my eyes squeezed shut for a long while, relaxation only coming after nothing happened for so long.  But I was still afraid to open my eyes, even when the morning light came.  I asked my Aunt about it, had she come in the room to maybe check on me, did she sleepwalk, please just tell me it was her and I was just confused in the darkness.  But no, and then everyone started sharing crazy scary encounters of their own, hardly making me feel safe, but at least not alone in my experience.

Other than a general apprehension in the dark, the no-eyed ghost was the worst thing I saw for a long time, and I'm willing to concede that most of what I've explained here could all very well be explained away.  But that's not all of my experiences.  One in particular is more recent, and happened over a period of months, during all matter of hours, and I have corroborating witnesses.

Near 21st & Garnett here in Tulsa are the Dove Park Townhomes.  I had been living in a single bedroom for the last six months and the drummer in my band was looking to move out of the house she was in and wanted to know if I'd be cool with rooming with her.  We both worked for the same place, we were in a band together, it'd work out great, we could car pool, help each other with bills, awesome.  It was completely platonic, and she actually stayed there rarely, opting to stay the night with her boyfriend most of the time, so basically I had a whole big place to myself and she used one of the rooms as storage.  She paid her half of everything on time and we were good.

But it wasn't good, not all the time.  The very first night in the place, and I was alone that night, too, she hadn't moved her bed over yet, I heard strange sounds, from across the street in a little strip shopping center, and then helicopters and sirens and it was a commotion for a long while making it difficult to sleep.  Someone had been murdered at a night club, shot dead in their car, not two blocks from our apartments.  It was a great start to our lease.  Outward appearances made it seem like it was a decent neighborhood, yes, there was the aforementioned stripmall, but all around was decent neighborhood so I was shocked and apprehensive about living in a place like that.

Through that first week, we started having plumbing problems, I had a private little water-closet just off the main bath which was between our two bedrooms upstairs.  It always stank, like sewage, and one time the toilet acted like it was backed up and my own efforts with a plunger weren't releasing whatever the stinking blockage was.  I called the complex managers and they'd send a plumber, I went to work.  That evening, there was a work order receipt, they'd fixed the problem.  I went upstairs, still a slight odor, but the toilet seemed to be working.  The next morning, going through my routine, the exact same thing, raw sewage smell, toilet backs up, my efforts fail.  But when I went downstairs the ceiling was leaking, dripping water all over my roommate's couch.  Furious, I called both the apartment people and my roommate and I just wanted out.  Shootings, bad plumbing, ruining furniture, this was an exercise in frustration.  But my roommate convinced me just to be patient, we couldn't really afford anywhere else or to back out anyway. I mostly quit using that toilet anymore, just to be on the safe side.  These events just sort of set the table.

In watching a million ghost shows and haunting specials and perusing YouTube surveillance footage of ghosts caught on film, a few things always stick out to me, especially regarding the really inexplicable hauntings.  Cold spots, sounds from above like foot steps or balls rolling, and a prevalent stinking smell.  I had the stinking smell in my bathroom, which at first I attributed to poor plumbing, considering they couldn't fix the problem.  But on many days and nights, being alone in the house, watching TV or playing a game, either in the living room, or on my PC which was set up in the kitchen, I could hear what sounded like a game of billiards going on upstairs, sounding like it was coming directly from my roommate's room.  I went up often to check on things thinking something had fallen down, but nothing was ever out of place.  On occasion I would hear our neighbors or their kids through the walls, so I figured the kids were rough housing upstairs and I was hearing reverberation downstairs.  I began to dismiss it, it was a symptom of living next to a family with kids.

One evening, getting home after dark from work, I stepped into the house, set down my bag and was about to go into the kitchen when a knock came at the door.  I opened it up and it was our neighbors, husband and wife, looking concerned.  They asked if everything was "all right?"

"Uh, yeah, I just got home."

The looks on their faces put me off guard, they were startled.  "It sounded like there was a fight, a pretty bad one, we just wanted to make sure everything was okay."

Again I told them that I had just got home and my roommate wasn't in.  They were genuinely concerned, in this day and age of turning a blind eye, they came over together, ready to confront a domestic dispute, and I was all alone in a house that had been empty just moments before when they heard...something.  All three of us looked up the dark staircase just behind the front door, it was surreal, like out of a movie.  I leaned back and looked at my back kitchen door to make sure it hadn't been kicked in, maybe there were burglars upstairs.  I looked back at them, thanked them for letting me know and I would check on it.  The man said if there was a problem to let him know.

I shut the door and scoured the first floor, nothing was out of place, and I had unlocked the front door when I had come in.  I finally worked up the courage to go upstairs, terrified of finding a living person ready to jump me, remotely scared of something paranormal, thanks to strange noises and smells in the house.  I turned on every light like a kid scared of the dark, reaching in quietly to flip the switch before I bodily entered the room.  But no one was there, nothing was out of place, I searched closets, under the beds, not a damn thing out of order.  Whatever was happening in the house, was happening even when we were away, and our neighbors could hear it, too.

In the midst of all this, my roommate and her boyfriend had their own experiences well, mostly with the sounds, telling me about hearing footsteps where no one was.  This relieved me greatly, I'm not crazy, other people can hear the sounds, the neighbors aren't the ones making them, they're hearing them, too!  But for about four or five months, that was it, scary sounds.

My best friend bought a house and asked if I'd want to move in, it'd be like a bachelor pad, three of us in a house together doing guy stuff 24/7.  I still had a month on the lease so I didn't feel like I could take him up on the offer.  So he offered that I just pay my portion of the utilities and he'd give me the rent off for the first month, because he'd still be making out better if I was only helping with the utilities.  Sounded too good to pass up.  I shut everything off except electricity and started to move out (my roommate was cool with it, she'd move out early, too, and in with her boyfriend).

I slowly moved junk over in my car, my computer being one of the last things I moved.  I checked e-mail and bills before preparing to power it down and taking everything apart.  Upstairs, I could hear footsteps and heavy movement.  Like furniture moving.  This was different than the odd little billiards sound, it definitely sounded like a body and things moving.  I assumed it was my roommate's boyfriend, he had been in and out helping her move, so I paid it no mind and didn't think it was our "ghost" by any means.  Satisfied enough to turn off my computer and the monitor blinked out.  How it was set up, you could see the living room reflected in the monitor's glass.  A lamp was on in there, and standing behind me, between the back of my chair and the lamp, creating a darkened silhouette, was a man.  I thought it was Josh, come down to say "hi," or maybe to try and spook me.

So I said "Hi, Josh!" before turning around, only when I turned around there was nothing.  No one, nobody, and no body.  The house was empty, and now very quiet.  I ran upstairs, no lights on, and nothing else gone from the last time I had been upstairs.  It had finally shown itself, and it was right behind me.  Just writing this, recalling it, sets my skin to crawling.  I immediately called my friend and asked him to come over right then, because I still had things to move to my car.  After relating the tale, he refused, he didn't want to see a ghost!  The coward.  I kid, I was terrified and desperately wanted out, I wasn't exactly courageous in facing the unknown.  He told me just to go ahead and stay the night at his house starting that evening, to just get my stuff in broad day light.

I did, and once that last month of our lease was up, I did a walkthrough with the manager, the smell still lingered in the upstairs bathroom, but nothing made a sound or showed up while we were there.  Once we stepped back outside, I told him everything that had happened, in case, he or the company needed to be made aware of that kind of thing.  He didn't shrug me off, instead he told me of his own hauntings at a lake house he stayed in as a kid.

A lot of people experience crazy things, and we worry we are crazy experiencing them, but we're not alone.  I'm not embarrassed of my ghost stories, I'll share them with people gladly, and most people I've shared them with, have had stories of their own.

So, in the spirit of Halloween, I share my paranormal life with you, crazy as it may be.  So please, feel free to share back!

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