This week a friend shared a story with me. She’s lived in a number of houses—some that are peaceful, where nothing supernatural happens, and others that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. You can guess which type of house she lives in now.
Several nights ago, she woke to the sound of crying. It was kind of a sniffling cry, and sounded like a young girl. She opened her eyes to see a dark figure standing at the foot of her bed. Thinking it was her daughter, she sat up and asked, “Are you okay, sweetie?”
There was no answer.
She reached over to the nightstand to find her glasses. She put them on and looked at the foot of the bed. There was no one there.
Puzzled, she got out of bed and went to her daughter’s room. She opened the door and said, “What’s going on? Are you okay?”
Groggy, her daughter answered, “Nothing’s going on. I’m trying to sleep.”
“You weren’t just standing by my bed, crying?”
“No,” the daughter answered.
“What’s weird,” my friend told me later, “is earlier that evening, I could have sworn someone was standing in the doorway, but when I turned to look, there wasn’t anyone there.”
I asked her to keep me posted—I want to know if the crying ghost comes back.
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2016
I’ve shared my experiences working in Old Main at the University of Arizona. I also had odd experiences working in the Nugent Building next door, which was built in 1937. When my department was moving our offices, I had to visit the storage room in the basement. The fluorescent lights were dim, making the room seem darker than it should have been. I got a strong feeling, like I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t welcome. Unnerved, I grabbed what I needed in a hurry and got out of there.
Later, after carrying a box of supplies to my office on the second floor, I headed downstairs and found myself alone on the first floor. Everyone else had left for the day. I walked down a darkened hallway, lit only by the glow of an exit sign. I could hear my heels clicking on the tile floor. Then I heard a second set of footsteps, like someone was following me. I stopped and looked behind me, but didn’t see anyone.
Sometimes I would work late, and I’d be the only person on the second floor. More than once, I caught a dark shadow out of the corner of my eye, like someone was standing there, watching me. When I would turn my head, there wouldn’t be anyone there, though I could see the faintest afterimage—a fleeting glimpse of a dark figure. I didn’t tell anyone what I was experiencing, but after that, I always kept the lights on when I was there alone.
Then I heard a story from some co-workers whose offices were located in the basement. They told me they had heard strange noises and the electrical equipment—copiers and fax machines—would often malfunction. One woman swore she’d taken a photo and could see the faint image of a person—one that could not be seen with the naked eye.
After a tragedy on campus involving the death of a student, our supervisors decided to have the building blessed. The student had been Native American, and even though she hadn’t died in the building, her loss had a huge impact on the close-knit community. The cleansing ceremony was meant to help everyone heal.
What is weird is that after the smudging ceremony, my co-workers said the strange incidents in the basement stopped, like whatever had been down there was finally gone.
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015
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
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