“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”
It was a dark and stormy night. Ok, not really, but that is how stereotypical scary stories like to start in movies and stuff, right? Anywho, in the spirit of Halloween, let me tell you about my first significant ghostly experience.
It was a trip we made every summer since we were little kids. Those years had passed and we were now in our early 20’s, heading into our final college years. Myself and three buddies packed up and took off to Lake Winnipesaukee for a long weekend. Normally we would spend the days on the lake, swimming, boating, tubing, hitting up the epic sand bar and then at night we would retire to a house off the lake in a different part of town. This off-lake house was an old house. Straight out of a Hollywood horror movie. The driveway entrance has a rundown creaky old rot iron gate, flanked by crumbling stone walls. The driveway is cracked, uneven, worn down and in desperate need of rejuvenation. Each side is covered with an overgrowth of grass, plants and trees. The growth is so thick that if you tried running away in terror, you would most definitely be slowed by it, or worse, not make it. Muahahaha.
The house itself, for its age, looks somewhat unassuming. There are no gargoyles or shutters hanging on by one nail. There is nothing strewn about the front lawn and no screen doors that do not shut and that slam against the house at just a whisper of wind. This should not downplay the fact that while it does not have these features that would make for a horror movie paradise. It does show its age quite nicely and being set so far back from the road in the trees and vines, the unassuming nature it has gives it plenty of “take your breath away” moments; especially if you hear a strange noise.
Once we arrive, the timeline is always the same. We unpack, throw our stuff into rooms and crack open some refreshments. Then we break out some yard games (can jam and cornhole are favorites) and then start cooking up a nice dinner. The theme of these weekends is always just to catch up with each other, play some games, have fun and relax. Oh and visit the old, random graveyard further up the driveway. Did I not mention that before? My bad.
From where we park the car, the driveway turns to dirt and gravel and continues up a small incline, around a bend and deeper into the woods. Eventually it comes to another house pretty far off the beaten path. Halfway between our house and this other house is a small patch of land off a stone’s throw to the right, with about 10 gravestones. There is no entrance, no sign and no markings as to what this is, or who it belongs to. Each gravestone at one point had markings, but time and nature have worn them so badly that it can hardly be made out that anything was ever engraved on them. If we are lucky, we might be able to make out a year, but other than that, the mystery is deep.
Being young, excitable men eager to prove our manliness (apparently to each other) it became a tradition to make a trek up to the graveyard - in the middle of the night naturally. Who could be the bravest? Bravery, of course, went right out the window as soon as we got deeper into the shadowy woods and this usually ended with us huddled together, inching our way through the pitch black night, throwing on the flashlight and aiming it at every little sound we heard. Men, right?!
Making it to the gravestones in the middle of the night, pitch black and quiet as can be, was always a highlight of the weekend. Sometimes we would take pictures to see if we could spot any ghosts or orbs once we investigated them later. The main point of this was that it fostered a sense of camaraderie and trust. We never expected anything would actually come of it.
This next part of the story is where you might want to put the young ones to bed. We don’t need nightmares keeping them (and you) up!
Are they gone?
Ok, we shall continue.
Now, I can’t speak for my friends who were there with me. I can only speak for myself and tell you what I witnessed and what I saw. We have never openly talked about this before and if you ask them, they might deny it altogether. The bottom line is, some events occurred that night that forever made me a firm believer in spirits, the afterlife, and the paranormal.
After successfully making it back to the house from our trek to the unmarked graveyard, we lined up another round of late night drinks and sat down to play some games in the kitchen. This is where the first event happened:
EVENT #1 – The Tennis Ball: After a few rounds of cards, we found ourselves deep in discussion. Looking back, I am not sure what the topic was, but I can only imagine it was philosophy or economics, definitely not girls, parties and college. Earlier outside we had been throwing a tennis ball around while we waited for some food to cook. That tennis ball now rested safe and sound on the counter next to the table. It had been there for hours at this point. No one had touched it, nothing was placed near it. Out of nowhere, mid conversation, that tennis ball flew from the counter into the next room. Now, you may be saying, ok, well something just made it roll off the counter and bounce into the next room. To which I say, NAY! This ball looked as if someone had picked it up and threw it straight through the doorway and into the living room. Naturally, we all looked at each other, but hey, one little unexplainable thing wasn’t worth speaking of. Maybe it was the wind? Maybe someone stomped on the floor and the vibrations moved the ball? Again, the way this tennis ball flew off the counter would not be caused by any of these things, but we let it be. Being that we were all still a little flustered from visiting the graveyard (men!), we decided to move onto the screened in porch. Before we did that though, we walked into the living room to grab the tennis ball and found some old records there. This is where the second event happened.
EVENT #2 – The Paper Bag: While I was flipping through these old records, mostly big band and jazz stuff from the 40’s and 50’s, I heard a soft rustling coming from the kitchen. Knowing that my friends were now on the porch and no one was left in the kitchen, I found this odd. I put down the records and wandered back into the kitchen, expecting to find an open window or door with a breeze, or worse, a mouse. Nothing. Then, as I was checking the windows and doors to make sure they were closed and there was no draft, I heard it again. Rustle. Rustle. Rustle. This time my eyes shot to the paper grocery bag on the floor. It still had some snacks in it that we had not unpacked, but the top half of the bag was empty, and now, it was moving. I watched as the bag crinkled at the top. I watched as it looked like someone was pushing the top of the paper bag so that it folded into itself. Only there was no one there.
I could hear my friends laughing on the porch, so I quickly went to join them. I asked if anyone else had heard anything unusual, but no one had. Naturally, I was poked fun of. “Maybe it’s the ghosts from the graveyard!” they said. “Are you scared? Maybe we aren’t alone”. At this point, I chalked it up to my mind just playing tricks on me. It couldn’t have been really what I saw or heard. Nah. It was just the eventfulness of the night toying with me. Two abnormal events in and I was still skeptical. I have to say there was a thought creeping into my mind that maybe something paranormal was happening. We decided to head off to bed, so we quickly cleaned up, locked up the doors and went upstairs. This is where the final two events happened.
EVENT #3 – The Lamp: We had been making this trip with the same group of guys since middle school or even before. Being fans of nostalgia and memories, we liked to keep things as close to the same every year as we could. This meant making the same food we had always made, going to the same mini golf course and naturally, all sleeping together in the same room (men?). Two twin beds, a cot and a mattress on the floor that we pulled in from another room made it simple for all of us to (cozily) spend the night together. As we turned off the light, our conversation turned to the previous years we had spent there together reminiscing about how every year we walked up to the graveyard in the middle of the night. We laughed at the fact that we were probably just as brave in middle school as we were now, some 10 years or so later. As we began to talk about the fact that maybe, just maybe this place (and the surrounding area) were haunted, the lamp on the side table between the beds lit up. Only this was no normal light. Green and red started to shoot like flames from the top of the light bulb and through the top of the lampshade. From red to green, back to red then blue. The light was not blinding, but not dull either. It seemed like it went on for a while, but in reality it was probably only about 15 seconds or so. Then, it was dark again. There was no damage to the lightbulb or the lampshade. No burns marks, nothing broken. Nothing. It was as if nothing at all had happened. Then the next event happened.
EVENT #4 – The Door: I quickly remarked “did anyone else see that?!” and only received grumblings from my friends. “I’m not sure I believe what I saw”and “that didn’t really happen, I think we are all just tired”. Then I made a decision. I had watched a lot of ghost hunter shows on tv. Whenever they are in a situation that they think is haunted, they attempt to speak with the spirit. I decided to test my luck and to try to speak with whatever it was that I thought was there. “If you are with us, give us a sign” I said. No answer. “We are friendly and do not want to make you uncomfortable at all, please let us know you are still with us”. Again no answer. As I continued, my friends (most likely thinking I was crazy) began to drift off to sleep. I tried a few more times, again with no response. Disappointed, I decided that it was probably time to give up these thoughts of hauntings and ghosts and get to sleep myself. As I pulled the blanket over myself, a feeling came over me. A feeling that I should try one last time to make contact one last time. I spoke. “If you are scared to give us a sign it is ok. We are all going to sleep now and you can as well. We will be gone tomorrow. Thank you for letting us stay with you”. As I was closing my eyes, I heard a loud SLAM from the back door. Again, all of the doors and wondows had been closed and locked and we had double checked all of them before we went upstairs. The sound I heard was definitively a door being slammed shut, there was no mistaking it.
All of this may sounds unbelievable. All of this might sound crazy. You might be thinking to yourself that there is a logical explanation for each event I described. Part of me thought so too until I saw that lamp explode in colors and then heard the door slam after I said goodnight out loud to the night air. My belief is that night, when we made out annual trip to the graveyard, we brought something back with us. That something spent the next few hours with us, being playful at first, then trying to make itself known to us. The thing is, I never felt scared. All of these happenings were odd and abnormal, but I never felt like we were in any danger. In fact, it was quite opposite. We all felt calm and relaxed, maybe moreso than usual. Part of me wishes I had tried to make contact with the spirit sooner and that it had communicated directly with me. Somewhere inside me, I know that whatever (or whoever) it was that was with us that night, just wanted to spend time with some “friends”. I hope we gave whoever it was a little fun and companionship. I may sound crazy for this story, but I know what I saw and I know what I felt. I was a believer before (albeit a skeptical one, which is why my first thought it to always rationalize what happens), but now I absolutely believe in these kind of things. The afterlife, the paranormal, spirits, ghosts. When I said goodnight to the ghost that night and then heard the door slam a few seconds later, I know that it was the spirit letting me know it had gone. I think it was also his or her way of saying thank you. I have not experienced any other major occurrences since this one, so I do not believe I am a conductor of spirits or prone to paranormal activity. This makes it all the more real for me. On a normal weekend, on a normal night, one that we had every year, I had these otherworldly experiences. I can’t say it profoundly changed my life, but it clearly left a mark. I can only hope that we may have left a mark on the spirit as well.