The following stories were shared with me by a reader named Cathee, about some creepy experiences she’s had. Aside from light editing, I’ve kept this post in her words. If you’ve got a spooky story to share, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Between 2004 and 2009, I was working at a child development center at a local community college in Kansas. I was a sub, so I worked in all the rooms with kids between the ages of one and five. A lot of times I worked in the toddler room (babies who were walking to two-year-olds). This age group is so fun and cute.
One day, I was working in the toddler room and sitting on a mat on the floor in one of the centers. I was by myself on the floor, knowing a few littles would be toddling over soon. I glanced at a lone car on the yellow part of the mat where a child recently vacated. All of a sudden, the small car moved about ten inches! Like I said, I was the only one in the center; there was no movement, breeze, or anything that would cause the car to roll across the mat. This is a fairly new building, and I’ve never heard of any out-of-the-ordinary activities happening. It didn’t creep me out; I thought it was pretty intriguing. You never know who may be lurking around.
This one is a little bit more on the creepy side.
In 2011, I went to my 30th class reunion at Notre Dame de Sion. Part of it was at the school. It had changed so much in these last decades. Additions had been built, walls torn out, rooms enlarged, you name it. As I was walking through the front door, I about freaked out. Nothing at all looked familiar, and I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Although there was a part of the building that still looked like it did back in the day, I had to walk around by myself and process everything.
One thing that had not changed one bit was the Grande Salle (a big room we used for assemblies, plays, etc.). There were no theatre chairs. We had (and still have) these orange-ish plastic chairs we’d set up and stack again.
Anyway, on my journey to familiarize myself with my past, I walk into the Grande Salle. Had I been transported into the late seventies/early eighties, I would never have known it. It was the same everything.
So, as I was looking and strolling around, I happened to go up on the stage, walk around to the back of the stage, and then down the stage steps again to the floor. There were three or four rocking chairs on the stage. As I turned back around to face the stage again, I noticed one of the rocking chairs was slowly moving. I hadn’t touched or bumped into any of the chairs, and I came back down from behind the curtain.
This school was built in the 1960s (although it was in another part of town until then). Obviously, there have been many an alumni student who died throughout the years, including a girl from my class named Sue, who passed in the mid-nineties at the age of 31. She was always fun and outgoing and friendly, and was on that stage many times. My first thought was that it would be just like her to haunt her classmates here at our old school. So…was it Sue or another alum? I guess we’ll never really know.
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015
I’m thrilled to be joining ten other authors for the Northwest Author Festival, to be held Saturday, November 7, from 2-5pm at Klindt’s Booksellers in The Dalles, Oregon. This will be my second year to attend, and I love visiting this charming bookstore and chatting with readers. If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hello.
The scenic town of The Dalles is located along the banks of the Columbia River, and as Oregon’s oldest bookstore, Klindt’s Booksellers is a gem in the community. They’ve been selling books, stationery, journals, and office supplies since 1870, and the original floors, cabinets, and bookshelves remain intact. They even have their own ghost, as well as the ashes of three cremated people. The ashes of beloved former owners, Philip and Linda Klindt, are there, in addition to those of a customer who had stated in her will that she wanted to be at the bookstore (not a shabby place to spend the afterlife). While it’s unclear if the former owners or their loyal customer haunt the shop, it is rumored that a former employee does.
Ingwert C. Nickelsen opened the store over 140 years ago, and then, in 1928, he sold the bookstore to the Weigelt family. Brothers Gus and Paul Weigelt, along with their spinster sister Edna, owned and operated Weigelt’s Bookstore & Stationers for the next fifty years.
Edna Weigelt was an important part of the bookstore’s history. When Philip and Linda Klindt bought the bookstore from the Weigelt brothers in 1981, Edna agreed to stay on for one year to help the new owners figure out how to run the business. However, her love for the store and the community turned one year into twenty. Edna worked at the bookstore until she passed away at the age of 91.
According to the store’s manager, many of the staff suspect Edna still hangs around the bookstore. She used to put down the toilet seat and stand on it so she could reach the high shelf above the toilet. She was petite, with notoriously small feet. Sometimes staff members find the toilet seat down, with a tiny, dusty footprint on it!
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015
If ghosts exist, how do they spend their time? Are they mindless apparitions, reliving the last moments of their lives, or self-aware, watching us live ours? I think they may watch us.
Last week I posted about seeing a shadowy figure in Old Main. That wasn’t the only unsettling experience I had while working in that building. There seemed to be a presence in the bathroom, which makes the idea of being watched all the more unnerving.
The ladies restroom on the ground floor of Old Main was small–it only had two stalls. The one furthest from the door was larger, designed to be accessible for people with disabilities. On the surface, there was nothing spooky about the room. There was a tall window set in the exterior wall, where the larger stall was. The window was frosted for privacy but still provided plenty of light. There was nothing visibly creepy about the restroom–the walls were painted a pristine white, so there were no dark and gloomy corners where something could hide.
However (and there’s always a however, isn’t there?), whenever I used the smaller stall, I always got the sense that the larger stall was occupied–that I wasn’t alone in the restroom, even though I could clearly see that no one was using the other stall. Still, the feeling of someone being there was so tangible, I’d find myself peering down, looking for feet in the other stall. It was an odd feeling, but one I kept to myself out of fear of appearing paranoid.
Then, one day, a co-worker came into my office and said, offhand, “You know, it’s the weirdest thing…” and went on to describe exactly what I’d experienced. We decided, given that our experiences corroborated with each other, and considering other ghostly rumors we’d heard about the building, that there could indeed be a nosy bathroom ghost, à la Moaning Myrtle. You would think the idea of being watched while doing our business would have caused us to use the upstairs restroom instead, but it didn’t. Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015
Academia is the last place I’d expect to encounter the supernatural. While working at the University of Arizona, a school dedicated to scientific inquiry, I had a number of experiences I can’t explain. Before I became a writer, I was a researcher there, and I worked in Old Main, the oldest building on campus. It was a beautiful place to work, with tall windows and a veranda that wrapped around the entire building. On one side was a lovely garden with a fountain. I worked on the first floor, which boasted gorgeous tin ceilings. The building had character, and I felt privileged to work there.
One Saturday I came in to catch up on a research project. The long hallways were dark. I turned on a few lights and checked out the place, locking the doors for safety, since I was there alone. I didn’t want to be vulnerable to having someone walk in off the street while I was working by myself. Certain that I was safe, I opened my office door and dropped my bag next to my desk. My desk faced the window, and normally, I loved looking out at the garden outside. That day, however, I felt uneasy about having my back to my office door. Even though I’d made sure the building was secure, I didn’t want to make it easy for someone to sneak up on me. As a woman working in a large city, I’d learned it was better to be safe than sorry. As an extra safety measure, I shut and locked my office door, and then fired up my computer and got to work.
Without the kind of interruptions that can occur during a regular workday, I was making good progress on my project. The quiet made it easy to focus. Then, without warning, I had the odd feeling that I wasn’t alone. I turned my head to glance at my office door, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone standing there.
Startled, I sucked in my breath. How had someone gotten into my office? I was sure I’d locked the door. How long had they been standing there, silently watching me? I swiveled in my chair toward the figure, but whoever I’d seen had vanished. I studied my door. It was still closed. I opened it and scanned the hallway. There was no one there.
Later, I told a co-worker about my experience, and she relayed a story the janitor had shared with her. Once the janitor was working alone in our building, when he heard knocking coming from inside the supply closet. I’d met the man—he didn’t seem like the kind of person who would be easily startled. This time, however, he was shaken up by the noise because he knew he was the only person around. It was late at night, and all the outer doors to the building were locked. No one could have gotten in and slipped into the closet. Hesitant to open the door, the janitor called out. “Hello?” No one answered, but the knocking continued. Finally, more angry than scared, he said, “Well? Are you coming out or not?” The knocking stopped. The janitor opened the closet door to find it empty—no one inside playing a joke, and nothing that could have made the knocking noise. I don’t know if he ever heard the noise again or experienced anything else that was strange, but he kept working there. So did I.
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015
The house I live in now is lovely. It’s not my dream home (that would be a house with a wide front porch and a view of a lake), but it has beautiful features, like a coved ceiling in the living room and a gorgeous tree out back that explodes with white flowers each spring. The neighborhood is pleasant, and my family is happy here. I feel content living in our house, which we’ve rented for almost five years. More than that, I feel safe living here.
That’s a contrast to our old house. It looked normal enough—it was built in the 90s in a middle class neighborhood, and had a pretty front porch with brick pillars, a welcome respite from the sun. We bought it as a foreclosure, and quickly got to work renovating it, installing new appliances and cabinets in the kitchen, and countertops in the bathrooms. By the time we were done fixing it up, I was familiar with every inch of the place, having painted the entire house inside and out. I even taught myself how to tile.
I never had the same sense of peace in that house as I do in our current house, and I didn’t realize how edgy I felt until I moved. My sense of unease started when we first looked at the house with my in-laws. They had brought their dog with them. The poodle went everywhere—she was smart and house-trained, so there was little fear of her messing up the place. Still, when she followed us into the bedroom that was to become mine and my husband’s, she acted strange. She padded over to the wall where our headboard would eventually rest, and squatted down as though she were going to urinate on the white carpet. It was completely out of character, but there was nothing visibly unsettling about the house. It looked like a regular house.
A number of strange things happened in that house. I’d see shadows out of the corner of my eye, or get a sense of someone watching me. A year after moving in, I gave birth to twin boys. That was a tough time. Although I was thrilled to have my sons, I felt constantly overwhelmed and sleep-deprived. It was easy to blame the things that happened on a tired mind, particularly since my husband never experienced anything odd. That was better than the alternative, that what I was experiencing was real, or worse, that I was having a psychotic break.
Now that we live in a peaceful house, where I’ve never experienced anything remotely supernatural, I do believe that those things were real, and I wasn’t experiencing some kind of post-partem insanity. I may be eccentric and overly fond of ghost stories, but I’m sound of mind.
After the boys were born, we were drowning in baby gear. Some of it was electronic, with flashing lights and cute sounds designed to keep infants entertained. Sometimes those toys would go off by themselves. My husband blamed it on static electricity, or a button that got pressed and stuck.
One night, when he couldn’t sleep, my husband decided to go grocery shopping at a store that was open 24 hours. (When you have young children, you do odd things like that. It’s easier than dragging kids to a store.) Meanwhile, I was having a nightmare.
The dream was so vivid, I thought I was awake. I sat up in bed, and looked over at our closet. The door was open, which was weird, because I always insisted on sleeping with it closed. My room was dark, but I could make out the white louvered closet door, and the darker interior of the closet. There was someone—something—standing in my closet, a shadowy form even darker than its surroundings. Frozen in fear, I watched it for a few seconds, and I could feel it watching me. Then, it took a step toward the bed.
I jerked awake, breathing hard, my heart thudding in my chest. Immediately I looked at the closet door. It was shut tight. But my husband was missing from his place in the bed, and that’s when I realized he wasn’t home. It was just me and the boys.
I sat there in the dark, trying to calm myself, shaking off the nightmare. Then, out in the living room, one of the baby toys went off by itself, playing its happy little song in the middle of the night, in our otherwise silent house.
I stared into the hallway toward the living room and then looked back at the closet. I decided I didn’t want to sit there by myself in the dark, and I didn’t want my children to be vulnerable to whatever was paying us a visit.
I turned on some lights and checked out the house. There was no one in the living room. No one had broken in and tripped over the toy, setting it off. I went through the rest of the house and found nothing.
My kids were safe in their room, sleeping peacefully. I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep again, and certainly not alone. I grabbed some blankets and my pillow and made a bed on the floor of the boys’ room. Having other human beings near me helped, and somehow I fell back to sleep, this time with no dreams.
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015