Happy Halloween! You didn’t think we’d let you off with just the one post of winners from this year’s spooky story contest, did you? Read these reader-submitted bonus stories... if you dare.
They’re Everywhere by Colonel Mustard’s Last Stand
I should preface this by saying that I have never seen a ghost or had any weird experiences, but my mom, who must be more sensitive than I am, has them constantly. She’s had multiple family members appear to her after they died (as has my grandma), she’s had ghosts appear and react to her presence simply because she entered an old house. It’s just something that she’s used to and it’s never been something that upsets her or that she talks about that much.
So, anyway, a few years ago, when I was living in the UK, my parents came to visit me during the summer. Since my dad’s family is from Scotland, we decided that would be fun to go visit and spent a week driving around to various places before ending up in Edinburgh, where none of us had ever been before. We checked into our hotel, which wasn’t in the fanciest part of town, but was quite near the University, which my dad wanted to see because his grandfather had studied at the divinity school there. We went out for a wander, and asked the man at the desk if there was somewhere nearby he recommended eating after we were done walking around. He gave us a name of a road and off we went.
On the way back, we passed a road that I thought was the one he had mentioned to us, so we turned down and started to walk. We fairly quickly realized that this wasn’t the right place, because there was a tall wall to our right and some fairly nondescript buildings to our left, none of which were restaurants. Right when I was about to turn to my mom and say I thought we had made a wrong turn, she suddenly gasped and grabbed on tightly to my arm. I turned to look at her and she was white as a sheet and swatting at something invisible in front of her face. I asked her what on earth was wrong, and she said to me in a horrified voice, “Oh my god, they’re everywhere. I can see stacks of plague victims piled on top of each other on carts sitting next to this wall. There are some that aren’t quite dead yet, and they are reaching out to me and begging me to help them. They’re swarming around me and grabbing at me.”
I, as usual, felt exactly nothing, but seeing how upset she was by the whole thing, we turned around and hightailed it out of there.
What I find particularly sad about the whole thing is that she is a nurse practitioner, and I sometimes wonder if they didn’t somehow recognize that she probably could have helped them. As if this isn’t weird enough on its own, I was thinking about it a few months later and went to google maps in an effort to figure out where we were and see if there might be any historical validity to her experience.
As it turns out, the tall wall to our right that she had seen the bodies piled against is on Heriot Place, and encloses the campus of the George Heriot School (aka the inspiration for Hogwarts), but also Greyfriars Kirkyard, which is said to be one of the most haunted places in Scotland. If you google it, the internet will tell you a lot about the Mackenzie Poltergeist, but the thing that stopped me in my tracks is a fact that a lot of articles about the Kirkyard just mention in passing: that the graveyard is higher than the level of the ground around it because of the plague pit that exists there.
She Was Mad That I Was Still Living by Flannelwench
Growing up, I had a diehard best friend—we were inseparable to the point where we were pen pals but lived in the same town, had code names and secret languages, took every class together fifth-12th grade, visited each other all through college (1.5 hours away from each other), etc. Pretty sure our moms assumed we were lesbians until we started dating guys. They were right that we were obsessed with each other; girls are weird, but we did have some soulmate-level friendship going on.
Then after we graduated college, my friend was hit by a drunk driver and killed immediately. The details of it all were gruesome, as you can imagine, and the man who hit her was a very rich, politically connected man and largely let off the hook. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. For months after her death I had terrible dreams where either she or I was killed, often at the hands of the other. We never, ever fought in real life, but in my dreams we would have terrible fights where we would scream, become violent, and they would usually end with either me dying or her disappearing suddenly.
One night, about six months after her passing, I was home sleeping in my childhood bedroom and had one of those terrible dreams. She disappeared in my dream and I woke up with a start—to find her right. next. to. me. in my bed, about four inches from my face. Her eyes were dark and deep; they looked endless, and her mouth was opened wide in a screechy laughter that reverberated through my head, and her body was stretched out next to mine. I threw my covers off me and sat up, not bearing the thought of looking back over to my right where she was, but unwilling to run away and leave her.
Finally, after about 15 (maybe? hard to remember) minutes, I felt the presence leave and I laid back down, and remained awake for the remainder of the night.
I think she was mad that I was still living and she wasn’t, or that we existed on different planes. On a positive note, ever since that night, I have only had really kind, silly dreams with her—consistent with our friendship.
Hamburger by DebbieV
A few years ago, my then-three-year-old had a fever which I was treating with baby Tylenol. I gave him his dose before bed, got distracted and walked into his room to see him holding the medicine bottle in one hand and the dropper in the other saying “I give myself a medicine!!”
So anyway, we go to the ER four hours later a blood test confirms he didn’t, actually, ingest any medicine. Phew. So we head home in the middle of the night exhausted but fine. But it was while he was there, a nurse gave him a stuffed bear.
My son named his bear Hamburger and started sleeping with him in his bed.
Being an imaginative preschooler, my son pretended to talk to Hamburger a lot and Hamburger would “tell him things.”
One day he walked into the dining room and demanded crayons and paper because Hamburger “told him he had to draw a picture.”
This is the picture Hamburger made him draw:
It’s a bunch of dead people in a graveyard with headstones above them. Hamburger told him to draw them red. They have x’s in their eyes. They are all smiling.
Anyway, it’s been years and I’m not sure where Hamburger is now. The toy box maybe. I’m going to keep him there.
(My kid just walked by and I asked him if he remembers drawing it and he’s like “Yeah. Those are dead people.”)
Stephen by randilyn
One summer my college roommate and I got obsessed playing with a Ouija board she brought from home. I had never had one because my mom was very, very superstitious. One time (in the ‘80s) I wore my (huge) hair with two barrettes in front. It cast a shadow that made them look vaguely like devil’s horns and she literally freaked. Anyway...
I made up for lost time, asking the board everything from what kind of drink I should have, what takeout. I even took out the fall semester class list and asked Oui (nickname. We were close, man). Usually the answers were easily attributed to our state of mind and cravings. But every once in awhile we’d get some shitty answers. Or rather I would. “Does my boyfriend love me?” NO. “Is he cheating on me” YES. “Will I ever get married?” “Never.” “Will I have children” “DEAD” so on and so forth. Of course I accused my roomie of working out some passive-aggressive overflow. Which she denied. So we decided to get to the bottom of it.
“Are you a relative?” “YES.” “Of Astrid’s” “NO” “On my mom’s side or dad’s side” “NO” (huh???) “Are you evil?” “VERY” “Can you make things happen?” “ALREADY HAVE.” After a couple of “conversations” went pretty much the same way, we stowed the board and didn’t give it a second thought. But we did ask one final question: “What is your name” “STEPHEN.”
Flash forward about three years. I’m in a car with my mom, one of my little sisters and her friend, right around Halloween time. Somehow the conversation turns to Ouija boards. My sister is trying to challenge my mother on the silly ban. Normally I would be on my sister’s side regardless of the scenario but I remembered how spooked I was so I decided to share the story. When I get to the final part, the identity of the entity, my mother gasps and pulls to the side of the road. It took at least a full minute before she calmed enough to talk.
Stephen was the name of my biological father’s father. According to my mother he absolutely hated her, had discouraged the marriage, disinherited my father when she got pregnant, challenged her on paternity. And died in the same hospital I was born in... three hours before my birth. His last words to my father: “Now you’ll have to live with your mistakes forever.”
They divorced when I was 18 months old and I never knew any of the history.
A Little Girl That Looked Like Me by Graceless but Gracious
When I was about 12, I went snooping through a closet and found photos of a little girl that looked like me, but seemed to have been taken a good 10 years earlier. I took the box to my mom, who told me that we would talk about it later, and to go outside to play. When I brought the pictures up later, she denied I had ever brought her a box, told me to stop making up stories and go to bed. I was confused and very hurt, but something told me to leave the issue alone.
About a year later, I was visiting my mom’s oldest sister when I heard someone calling my name from upstairs in the house. I assumed it was my cousin. I got upstairs and came face to face with the little girl that looked like me. I felt stuck. Like I couldn’t move my feet or open my mouth; but I also felt... sort of warm. Almost cozy. Loved.
Suddenly she let out a scream and took my mom and dad’s wedding picture off the wall, and smashed it on the railing. Then she just vanished, and I started to cry. The only way to describe what I felt was incredible loss.
My aunt found me crying, and demanded to know what was going on. I told her the whole thing, the pictures, the girl on the landing... And she went shock white.
I begged her to tell me what was wrong, and she started cussing about my mom. I finally wore her down and she went and found a photo album. Turns out that my mom was married previously and had a daughter named Megan. Megan was 11 when she fell down the cellar steps... At my aunt’s—which had been my mom’s house originally. She was taken off life support a week after the fall.
My mom couldn’t cope; she left her husband, they sold the house to my aunt and uncle, she moved across the country, remarried and had me and my siblings. I tried several times to talk to her about Megan, but she freaked every time.
I had a sister. Have, I guess. She’s probably still hanging around auntie’s, waiting for my mom to deal with her death.
Warnings and Nightmares by Sai
My mom tells us not to talk about it, but there is something sensitive about our family. We feel things, and then we bite our tongues to prevent others from thinking we are nuts.
My stepfather was an abusive drunk. He was the kind of man who threw my mother into a wall and broke her shoulder. He picked me up off the ground by my hair on Christmas Eve once, just because I didn’t give him the right beer.
My therapist says that because of the abuse I suffered as a kid, I have an internal alarm that goes off when there’s something in the air that isn’t right. I can pick up on the smallest signs of displeasure because I know if I don’t, it will cost me dearly. But I think there is something more to it.
I also have insomnia, and like many insomniac, I have extremely vivid dreams. And I suffer from sleep paralysis.
There are two dreams I really remember clearly, one is from when i was a kid and another is more recent.
When was a kid, when my stepfather moved in, I had a creepily accurate radar of knowing when he would be ready to go off the rails. I had this dream that I was locked inside a dollhouse and when the lights would go off, all of the dolls would come to life. I couldn’t see them, but I could feel them and hear them. The longer I had the nightmare, the further in the dream would go. It was a constant in my life, one that always coincided with a drunken rage outburst.
The last time I had the nightmare was when I was 15. The dream ended, and I saw it complete. The dolls finally grabbed me, and the lights turned on and I could see that they weren’t trying to harm me, not anymore. I woke up with such a gratefulness I remember crying and telling my sister it was almost over. Just one more outburst.
That night my stepfather threw a frying pan full of taco meat at my head because it wasn’t spicy enough. My mother snapped and threw him out of the house and he was gone. I never saw him again. I have never had the doll dream again, either.
There was one time recently where I had a dream that scared the shit out of me and probably stopped me from being murdered.
I was on a Tinder date with this tall, dark and handsome guy on my birthday about two years ago. We went out, drank a little (I had one coconut rum cola so I know I wasn’t drunk) and then we went and made out in a park before deciding to go to a hotel near his house. I don’t remember why, because it is so much cheaper just to go to someone’s house than rent a hotel, but I figured he had roommates or something. There weren’t any red flags, but I felt a little off. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just... I didn’t know what it was. He was handsome and funny and I was just getting off a bad situation.
After we had fun, I fell asleep. I never fall asleep after sex. It just isn’t something I do. But I was out for a very short period of time, but it was long enough for me to have a dream. I guess it is because I can get into R.E.M. Very quickly due to the insomnia, but either way...
I am asleep and out of nowhere the vocalist of my favorite band pops into the room. They had a concert planned the next day, and so I was going. It wasn’t weird that I was having a dream about him. But he looked at me so sadly and said “he is going to kill you, so I will never get to wish you happy birthday. We have cupcakes. Wake up, wake up now. Get up.”
I woke up and the room was empty. I was cold and shaking and it was only three in the morning. I got dressed quickly and ran out of the hotel room. I knew the guy was going to come back because his expensive leather jacket was still on the doorknob to the bathroom. He told me the night before that he loved that jacket.
I went down to the small convenience store and made myself stand there’s and watch to see if he would come back. He did, with a black duffel bag. Maybe there was clothes in there, I dunno. But everything in me screamed to not go anywhere the FUCK near him.
I had to wait until the trains started to catch a train home, so I took a taxi about five miles away and just sat in a Denny’s until I stopped shaking. I blocked him on Tinder and reported him, then didn’t use Tinder for another two years.
When I got to the concert later that night, the roadie handed me a cupcake. I didn’t say anything. I mean, what the fuck do you say to that?
The Hand in the Fire by bisexualbecauseofmeth (a late submission, but too terrifying to leave out)
Back in high school my friends and I would sometimes go driving/hiking on this dirt road in my town called Gold Camp. It has the same typical ghost stories of some kids died in a tunnel and so on and so forth. If anything it gave us something to do at night that was mostly harmless.
One night right before Thanksgiving, we drive up there around two or three in the morning and this car comes racing down the road, something you’re not supposed to do because there’s a very steep drop off and the road is narrow. We all comment how dangerous that was, but continue driving. Right before the first tunnel is a pull off for a hiking trail and we notice a huge bonfire. We immediately pull over and call the cops because our city, Colorado Springs, had just dealt with a major fire the summer before.
We report the fire and the cops tell us to wait there until they get there to make sure we did not start it. So we agree and sit around the fire talking about how nice it was when my friend notices something that looks like a hand in the fire and we all begin to freak out and get uncomfortable. We call the cops back and say we feel uneasy and are leaving, but give the police our contact information.
The next day I don’t wake up till around one pm because we were out so late (and also because I was just a sophomore in high school), but I wake up to about 10 missed calls from my friends. I call them back and they say the police called them because they ended up finding a body of an elderly woman in that fire and we were being called in for questioning and to give a description of the car we saw.
Eventually find the driver and he fully confesses: He had broken into the home of the elderly women, beaten her to death, and then raped her.
Where Have You Been? by Boozer_with_Booze
One of my great aunts owned a small farm in Wisconsin. Its was about 40-50 min outside of town and on weekends I’d sometimes go with my mom, brother, grandma, cousins, and whoever felt like going that weekend.
Well, one time its just me with my mom, my aunt and my great aunt. While the three of them sat on the porch, I started wondering on the farm like I usually did; playing with the farm cats, chasing chickens, talking to the cows, etc. When I walk behind the house there is this girl standing on the far side of the yard. I call out to her and walk over. Ten-year-old suburban me, living on a block with tons of kids, doesn’t consider the fact that the nearest neighbor is miles away and that her just being there is sort of weird.
She asks “Where have you been?”
Not ‘who are you?’ or ‘hi!’. I think she means something else and I tell her that I don’t live here, that this is my aunt’s house. She asks me who my aunt is and we kind of talk a little bit. I say ‘kind of’ because she’s very awkward and just stands there in total silence before she answers or asks a question. I get more uncomfortable being there, but I’m not scared, I just think its because this girl is kinda weird and I’d rather be playing by myself. After another moment of silence she asks:
“Where have you been?”
This time I tell her that I’ve been with my mom and aunt all day. She suddenly glares at me. It was like I insulted her. We stand there for a moment and I try think of not mean excuse to leave, but then she says she wants to show me something.
She turns and runs towards the barn. At first, I don’t follow. She stops half way and tells me to “Come on!” and starts running again. I start running after her. She runs down the side of the barn and turns the corner to go behind it. I follow and turn the corner after her and....nothing. There is no one there. There are just a couple small trees and an empty field. I would like to again emphasize that I was RIGHT behind her. Like maybe a couple seconds behind her at most. I stop confused and yell out for her. Nothing.
I figure she must have kept going so I run quickly along the back of the barn and turn the next corner, only to find my mom who looks like she’s been crying. My mom grabs me and, totally furious, demands to know where I’ve been and why I didn’t respond to her calling for me. She and my aunts have been looking everywhere and were about to call the cops. Apparently I’d been missing for well over an hour.
At this point I’m totally confused. I tell her I hadn’t left the yard and was just behind the house. Mom insists I wasn’t behind the house because they’ve been looking ‘all over hell’ trying to find me.
I honestly don’t know what to make of this whole episode to this day so I just categorize it under “Something that happen.” I know kids sometimes loose track of time, but even looking back now there is no way I was gone for more then 30 minutes at most. Plus, three other people insist they tore the place apart for the better part of an hour trying to find me. I didn’t hear or see them. I also to this day don’t know who that girl was or where she went. She wasn’t behind the barn, couldn’t have gotten into the barn and couldn’t have run my past my mother with out her seeing. My aunt said there were no girls that age that lived any where nearby and at the time they all thought I made it up to get out of trouble.
Dad by BarnBurner
Way back, when I was a wee one, we used to live in a house that was haunted. Virtually every night, you could hear the sounds of someone walking up and down the hallway. Family photos would always wind up askew, if not fall off the wall entirely. The door to the master bedroom would occasionally slam shut (and lock) on it’s own. One morning we woke up to find handprints going all the way up the wall to the ceiling, and this was on a 12-14' tall wall (vaulted ceiling.) My sister woke up one night to find her bedroom light on and her clock radio blaring full blast. For me, the scariest moment would have to have been waking up to the sound of heavy breathing in my room (I was 9 at the time), only we didn’t have pets and as soon as I noticed it, I stopped breathing so it sure as hell wasn’t me. We did eventually move, and our former neighbours told us that it supposedly got a lot worse after we left.
The thing of it is, the house didn’t start out that way. My dad built the house, and he was hugely proud of it, but he had a lot of anger issues, and was quite abusive. As he was in the hospital, dying, he would regularly scream at my mom that she should be the one to die, and he should be the one to live. Everything that happened in that house only started after he passed away. I’m convinced that it was him, too angry to leave, doing his best to scare/intimidate us, taking out his rage in the only way he could.
Underneath the Floorboards by Christine (submitted via email)
In the summer of 2006, I subletted a house in the east end of Toronto. The houses in this area were about a century old, and many had since been turned into duplexes. I was in college at the time and most of my friends went home for the summer. I became close friends with my neighbor (we’ll call her Donna to protect her identity) and we quickly started a daily ritual of coffee on my front porch in the morning. Donna rented the basement and first floor of the house across the street from mine.
One morning she came by and seemed extra tired. Donna owned two eerily identical tuxedo cats and that night they both woke up around 3am and started to meow. The meowing was so loud and constant that it woke her up. She looked around her first floor bedroom and found them both in the corner staring up at the ceiling while scratching the walls. She thought it was weird but assumed the cats probably heard a mouse in the walls, something not uncommon for these old houses.
Unfortunately the cats began doing this nightly. Every morning for the next few weeks she would tell me about her sleepless nights with her twin cats. At one point she locked them out of the bedroom, only to wake up and find them back in the same spot. Every night they managed to open the door and get in.
One morning she came by and seemed really shaken. I asked her what happened and she told me she had a really weird and realistic dream that night. In her dream she woke up and saw a woman standing at the end of the bed. The woman’s clothes weren’t modern, something from at least 60 years ago. The woman was trying to talk to Donna, but when she opened her mouth all that came out was white noise. Donna tells the woman that she doesn’t understand. The woman then points to herself and rocks her arms back and forth. She licks her index finger and moves her finger from right to left. Donna still doesn’t know what she means and asks her again, but then she wakes up.
She had that dream several times that summer, and each time the woman made the same hand movements right before Donna woke up. It became a major talking point for us for months. We were endlessly trying to figure out what the dream meant.
Flash forward to the summer of 2007 and Donna and I are now roommates in a different part of the city. One morning I’m having my coffee, reading the news online, and I come across an article: “Renovator Uncovers Mummified Infant.” I click on the article and it says a man who was renovating a house in the east end of Toronto found a mummified infant wrapped in a newspaper from 1925. The child was hidden below the floor boards on the second story of this house. When I scroll down I see a picture of Donna’s old house.
I yell down the hall at Donna to come see this. She looks at the article and her face goes white. We didn’t have to say anything to each other, we both knew. This was Donna’s house, the baby was found in the floor boards right above Donna’s bedroom and the woman was telling her “my baby is wrapped in newspaper.”
Till next year.