Weekly Yuputka: The Halfway House

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

yuputkaHere’s a great story about a haunted house with some interesting history. This story was one of the winners of Jezebel‘s 2014 scary story contest. The house is pictured above. Enter at your own risk!


The Judge’s Chambers, from user MissAnnThropist

My fiancé and I met in the Washington DC area and after being together for about a year, we moved from the city to the nearby suburb of Rockville, MD.

It was a strange-feeling house even if you’re not particularly woo-woo or believe in vibes. It had a tendency to just attract crazy. One of the upstairs tenants was a painfully-shy and awkward man who worked at the library and looked like the caricature idea of a serial killer. He had been living there since before my MIL owned the building and sometimes when he was drinking heavily late at night (which was most nights), he would pace back and forth loudly and yell. He was unwell to say the least.

More than once, a mentally ill homeless person showed up at the front door of the building, insisting that they either lived there or wanted to rent an apartment. The historic district of Rockville was a “nice” part of town in which you almost never saw people living on the street, so it was even stranger.

A lot of creepy shit happened in the building and a number of things in our apartment in particular.

My fiance’s cigarettes were inexplicably hidden from him a number of times, once on top of the fridge.

The radio in our kitchen would frequently get turned on or off, despite having a manual dial that had to be cranked to the side and clicked on order to power it on or off.

A random smiley face that looked like it’d been drawn by a finger showed up once on the medicine cabinet mirror when we were taking a shower.

Fiance woke up in the middle of the night once and asked me why there was a Confederate soldier walking through our bedroom.

A couple of times, the smell of sulfur would come from the non-functioning fireplace in our bedroom. Twice, the smell of sickly sweet perfume that I can only describe as “Eau de Grandma” flooded our bedroom for reasons I can’t fathom. You couldn’t smell it in the hallway outside of our door or anywhere else in the apartment.

While at home along a few times, I heard a distinctive and animalian growling coming from one of the corners of the ceiling in the living room, but saw nothing. My dogs would lose their shit and bark at the area of the noise until they began shaking and curling up with me.

One morning, we woke up and walked into the kitchen to find a drinking glass sitting in the center of the floor. The glass had previously been sitting IN the sink, so it was a bit puzzling. It was sitting upright and as we moved closer to it, we found that it looked as if something had taken a BITE of out of it and then neatly placed the shards INSIDE of the glass. There was not a speck or splinter of glass anywhere on the floor around it. The other side of the glass had 3 long scratches in it. I didn’t want to touch it and didn’t want my fiance to touch it either, so I picked it up with a plastic bag around my hand like it was a pile of dog crap and took it to the outdoor trashcans.

A couple of days later, a branch from a large tree over the carport (where the trashcans were) fell onto the carport and almost nailed one of the building residents.

If we burned candles in our bedroom, for some reason they would burn so high and hot that it made the room unbearable to be in, even if there was no heat on and it was cool outside. This is in a VERY large bedroom with a 14 foot ceiling.

I’ve been prone to issues with depression and anxiety since my childhood years and even though I loved that beautiful building, living in it was NOT good for me. Even when we weren’t stressed about weird stuff happening there, we fought a lot more when living there, we got sick a lot more, and had just plain bad luck. My fiance had to go back on medication for depression for the first time since before we’d moved in.

We learned at some point that the house had once functioned as a halfway house for psychiatric patients transitioning out of a huge sanitarium that had been open nearby from 1910 to 2001. The sanitarium was called Chestnut Lodge.

About 3 months before we moved into that house, the abandoned Chestnut Lodge building burned down and collapsed. A developer ended up buying the land and building very expensive housing on it, calling the development Chestnut Lodge after the facility. Apparently the sanitarium was an inspiration for “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”.

We didn’t find out until we were moving out a couple of years later that the scary upstairs neighbor originally moved in as one of the last halfway house patients.

My MIL sold the house awhile back, but it took over a year on the market to finally get bought out.

A Repository of Paranormal Knowledge: Ghost Lights

This series explores the paranormal basics: key terms, categories, theories, and schools of thought. This will prepare you to be an intellectual ghostbuster. 

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What is a Ghost Light?

Ghost Light: a mysterious ball (or irregular shape) of light with no natural explanation that often appears at night in remote locations. Ghost lights usually come in yellow or white, but can be red, blue, or orange.

According to the Ghost Research Society (via Rosemary Ellen Guiley), ghost lights have 5 characteristics:

  1. they appear in remote areas
  2. they are elusive and can be seen from different angles and distances
  3. they react to noise or light by receding or disappearing
  4. they are accompanied by hummings, buzzings, or outbreaks of gaseous material
  5. they are associated with folklore surrounding a haunting because of an accident or tragedy (for example the light represents the lantern used by a ghost searching for his decapitated head)

(The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, page 138)

Ghost Lights in Folklore

There are several examples of ghost lights in folklore.

Aarnivalkea (Finish folklore): a light that appears over the location of buried faerie gold.

Aleya (West Bengal & Bangladesh): A ghost light that appears over marshes that causes fishermen to lose their bearings, sometimes leading to drownings.

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Onibi (source)

Hitodama (Japan): “Hitodama are the visible souls of humans which have detached from their host bodies. They appear as red, orange, or blue-white orbs, and the float about slowly not too far from the ground […] On warm summer nights, these strange glowing orbs can be seen floating around graveyards, funeral parlors, or the houses where people have recently died. Most often they are only seen just before or just after the moment of death, when the soul leaves the body to return to the ether” (Yokai.com).

Onibi (Japan): “One of the more dangerous types of hi no tama yokai, onibi is a beautiful but deadly phenomenon. Its name means ‘demon fire,’ and it certainly earns that moniker. It look likes a small ball of flame, usually blue or blue-white (red and yellow onibi are less common), and often appears in small groups of twenty to thirty orbs. The orbs can range in size from three to thirty centimeters, and usually float around at eye-level. They appear most often during the spring and summer months, and particularly on rainy days. They appear more frequently in places that are surrounded by nature” (Yokai.com).

Will-o’-the-wisp (English and European folklore): “or ignis fatuus (/ˌɪɡns ˈfæəs/; Medieval Latin: ‘foolish fire’) is an atmospheric ghost light seen by travellers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travellers from the safe paths. The phenomenon is known by a variety of names, including jack-o’-lantern, friar’s lantern, hinkypunk, and hobby lantern […]” (Wikipedia).

So many other interesting folklore examples of ghost lights from all over the world can be found here.

Famous Ghost Light Locations

Click here for famous ghost lights seen all over the world.

Explanations for Ghost Lights

  • See above
  • Piezoelectricity
  • Man-made fire or lights
  • Fires
  • Ball Lightning
  • Natural Gases
  • Meteors
  • “optical phenomena of light emitted through electrical activity” (Wikipedia)
  • UFOs
  • Pranks

What About That Other Ghost Light?

These ghost lights are not to be confused with the ghost lights in theatre. Ghost Light can also refer to the single illuminated light left onstage in a theatre after everyone has gone home. There are two reasons for this light. The first reason is more practical: to provide light in a dark theatre so no one falls into the orchestra pit. The second reason is more paranormal. It is believed that every threatre has a ghost. The ghost light keeps the ghost from being mischievous when everyone is away.

You can learn more here: “The Story Behind the Ritual that Still Haunts Broadway,” Atlas Obscura. 

 

Weekly Yuputka: She Never Left Our House

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

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In this story, the spirit of a young girl with a tragic past tries to communicate with the living. What happened to her and will she ever leave that house?

This story is an entry from Jezebel’s annual scary story contest. Readers share their true scary stories.


She Never Left Our House, from user mindthemittelschmerz

A few years later we left our little cabin in the woods to move to a new house a bit closer to town. I had my very own room and spent a lot of time in it playing alone and reading in it.

Every now and then, I would hear what sounded like footsteps or banging coming from below my floorboards. I guessed it was just normal house sounds, maybe pipes, and I got used to it. After a few months of pretty non-stop banging – which no one else could hear – things started to escalate. Heavy furniture started falling down on its own. A solid oak dresser simply toppled over as I was sitting on my bed, across the room, reading.

A few days later, I was playing with my Teddy Ruxpin doll when it suddenly drained of batteries. I asked my father to put new ones in, only to find that they ran down again almost immediately. We assumed the toy was broken and forgot about it.

From the day we had arrived in the house, I had known I wasn’t alone in that room. I had grown up in isolation and know what that felt like – this was different. I started responding to the knocking sounds, “Stop it! I’m trying to read.”

My mother was moderately concerned, but assumed I was just playing with an imaginary friend. A few months later, I had started to experience odd dreams in which I relived very commonplace memories in the house. For example, I remembered in vivid detail walking between the laundry room and my mother’s art studio, sliding my little body between the framing. I knew for certain that the framing had been up for some time before they got around to sheet rocking.I asked my mother over breakfast one morning when it was that we’d finished the basement. She looked at me, puzzled, and responded that the basement had in fact always been finished.

The banging sounds got louder, nothing battery powered would last more than a few minutes in my room and things were constantly moving around. Small items – diaries, stuffed animals, keep sakes, would rearrange themselves on a near daily basis. I felt that whatever I was sharing my room with was angry, scared – like the puppy we had adopted years ago. I started speaking to ‘it’ more, and at this point started to feel strongly that whatever it was I living with, was female. The more I spoke out loud, the less things moved about. I felt a kind of longing, like I had knocked on a door and was waiting to be let in.

One night I woke from sleep inexplicably. I decided to get up to have a drink of water, and walked across the hall into the bathroom. Now, I should mention that this house had been built in the 1970s and there were many small mirrors, gold flecked, throughout. The bathroom, however, had an entire wall of mirrors that you looked into as you sat to pee. Bleary eyed I shuffled into the bathroom and sat down. Suddenly my skin turned to gooseflesh and I felt as though cold water had been poured down the back of my neck. I stood up, panicked, only to line my reflection up with a figure standing to face me. A figure that wasn’t mine.

I tilted my head to the right and to the left. Our reflection did the same. It was me, but it wasn’t me. She had shorter hair and slighter features. She wore blue pajamas where I wore a long sleeping shirt. We regarded each and I lifted my hand slowly to wave. She smiled and faded out. I waited for an hour, sat on the bathroom floor, waiting for her to reappear. Finally, I crept back to bed but couldn’t sleep.

The next morning I was riding along in the car with my mother and asked, “Do you know who lived in this house, before we did?” My mother answered nonchalantly, “The woman who lived here before us was a reporter.”

I asked, “Did she have a daughter?”

My mother tensed, “Why would you ask that?”

I didn’t answer.

“She didn’t,” my mother went on, “but she was convicted of a crime that involved a little girl.” My mother trailed off.

She knew that I was a strange child, and I suspect at this moment she realized that in fact my imaginary friend might be something entirely different.

“What did they do to her?” I asked cautiously. “Well,” my mother began, “the woman who lived here helped her boyfriend to abduct this little girl, and she was never found.”

I sat quietly for a moment and then, as my mother reports it, said very slowly, “She never left our house.” I watched my mother’s knuckles turn white on the steering wheel. I thought I was in trouble.

You see, when my parents looked at our new home they had wondered about the low price. The house had been foreclosed when its previous occupant had been sent to jail. A few families had come to look at it, but in a small and very religious community, people were hesitant to move in to a house associated with so much darkness. We were poor, and my parents had two children living on top of one another in a cabin with no central heating – they didn’t have the luxury of worrying about the stigma of living in a house with a complicated history.

A few months later we moved into a condo on the other side of town. My parents never explained the move to us, as children, but I always suspected that it was because my mother was afraid of my relationship with the girl in my bedroom. In the few months we lived in the house I had never been able to look in the crawl space, a dark, meter high area that ran the length of the house. It had clay, dirt floors and a small light you had to crawl to on all fours. The day we moved our things away, I went down to the basement to say my good byes. She had been kept there, I was sure of it. How else would I have had her memories of the basement unfinished? As I turned to walk up the stairs, the lightbulb in the crawlspace flickered on, swinging. Just for a second. She was reaching out one more time, telling me where she was, asking me to free her, too.

Indiana Cemeteries: Fink Cemetery

img_2082It’s been awhile since I’ve visited a cemetery, and I forgot how much I enjoy quietly moving from memorial to memorial. I visited Fink Cemetery in Lafayette. The weather was perfect and the area was lively with the sounds of a nearby church’s Fall Fest. I saw a tractor pulling a covered wagon on the walk over.

A friend had recommended the site, because of its interesting history:

Fink Cemetery has mass graves from the cholera epidemic.

Under the minimal light of the moon, people were dumping cholera victims into mass graves.  While there was no markings for the mass graves, I walked around the south and east sides where they are located. I wondered how many people were buried in piles, what their names were, and the holes left in their family histories. It is upsetting to think how epidemics not only wipe out populations, but individuality. They are no longer people with stories in these mass graves, but a representation of sickness.

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When I’m walking around, I usually have my Find A Grave app pulled up on my iPhone. I love when memorials are accompanied with images and/or a eulogy of the deceased. I came across one grave that had an unique story.

According to a user on Find a Grave, James (Jim)  Jones (Dec. 9 1852 – Dec 16 1917) was an interesting character. As it appears on the site:

Jim Jones 09 Dec 1852 and his sister Mary Frances Jones.

Jim’s mother Miranda Johnson (1833) died on ” MAR 18th 1859 ” soon after Jim & Mary were born.
His father William Marion Jones was killed on AUG 14th 1859, while trying to stop a runaway horses.

Jim and Mary Frances were then to be raised by their fathers brother Thomas Bybee Jones, Tipton County Court of Common Pleas, October 17, 1859 Page: 348.

Jim was a Trapper while married to Mary Cooper Jones.
Jim Jones was frequently in a tavern talking with the famous James Whitcomb Riley in Indianapolis, IN.
This was most likely between 1883 and 1893. Jims daughter Clara would go to the bar and say Jim Jones, Mary Jones says it’s time to come home.

While I could not verify this data, I like to imagine it is real. Although, I am not trying to create some Indiana lore here, so just take it with a grain of salt.

Cheers, Jim.

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Possibly Jim?

 

A Repository of Paranormal Knowledge: Types of Hauntings

This series explores the paranormal basics: key terms, categories, theories, and schools of thought. This will prepare you to be an intellectual ghostbuster. 

A photo by Richard Loader. unsplash.com/photos/qsEJGX4VqYU

The terminology surrounding paranormal activity  is complex, vague, and contested. For example, the word spirit means different things from culture to culture. And, it can mean something different to a religious leader, folklorist, or a parapsychologist (and so on). The definitions I am working with, then, are very limited: westernized and influenced by parapsychology. I hope in future posts to pull apart the word “ghost” in various cultural contexts. I guess I have to buy more ghost books (oh darn).

The following is a brief overview of ghost and spirit key terms and concepts. What is not covered is scheduled for a future A Repository for Paranormal Knowledge post.


Spirit: “discarnate being, essence or supernatural force of nature” (Rosemary Ellen Guiley).

Ghost: spirit of a dead person or animal that appears to the living.

Apparition: “It is characterized by the apparent perception of either a living being or an inanimate object without there being any material stimulus for such a perception. The person experiencing the apparition is awake, excluding dream visions from consideration” (Wikipedia).

Four Types of Hauntings

Residual Haunting: Sometimes called a “place memory” or “echo ghost,” these hauntings are a playback of past events. The location experienced intense emotion, causing energy to embed itself in the environment. This energy has no consciousness and is just repeating past behaviors. For example, a female ghost that repeatedly stares from a bedroom window.

Intelligent Haunting: These hauntings involve ghosts with a conscious awareness of the present world. They can interact with humans (if they want) and sometimes even through communication. Sometimes these ghosts can be negative, because that was their personality when alive (does not make them a demon). These ghosts may have unfinished business, have a desire to stay near loved ones, or possibly are unaware they have passed on (and need help doing so).

Poltergeist Haunting: Translated from German as “noisy ghost,” these are mischievous spirits or energy. Apparitions are not part of this phenomenon, but they make their presence known with loud noises, moving objects, or physical interactions. These energies have been attributed to ghosts, demons, or witches. In more modern times, poltergeists are associated with an “unconscious type of psychokinesis” (Rosemary Ellen Guiley). Poltergeist activity is usually centered around one person (known as the epicenter), who is experiencing high levels of stress or emotional angst (most often adolescent girls are the target). These experiences can suddenly come and go.

Demonic Haunting: In these dangerous situations, a demon (inhuman supernatural being) hopes to break down a person’s free will so to possess their body. An exorcism is required to rid of the demon.

Some Notable Types of Paranormal Activity

Crisis Apparition: an apparition of someone recently deceased, who visits someone they have a close connection with (often with the purpose to say good bye).

Doppelganger: an apparition of a living person, which could be a death omen or an out-of-body projection.

Shadow Person: a dark mass in the shape of a humanoid figure that is perceived as paranormal by the viewer. Meth addicts have commonly reported seeing these people (b/c of sleep deprivation), along with those suffering from sleep paralysis. A famous paranormal example is The Hat Man.

Next in the Repository of Paranormal Knowledge series are 2 more interesting types of paranormal activity: artificial ghosts and ghost lights. 

These terms will be added to the Glossary page. 

Weekly Yuputka: The Yellow Ribbon

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. b339ede4580ca4f2b727cf285a0b018bI was obsessed with Alvin Schwartz’s In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories when I was a child. I checked it out from the school library as often as I could, and I always turned to the short story, “The Green Ribbon.” The stories in this book are inspired by folklore, and with folklore comes different versions of a story. I have heard versions with a yellow ribbon. I had mentioned this story on Facebook yesterday and Kira Butler said she heard versions with a black or blue ribbon. Whatever color ribbon you prefer, the frightening twist at the end always stays the same.

Today, I’m sharing a version with a yellow ribbon as retold by S.E. Schlosser, author of Spooky Wisconsin. Enjoy!


Jane wore a yellow ribbon around her neck everyday. And I mean everyday, rain or shine, whether it matched her outfit or not. It annoyed her best friend Johnny after awhile. He was her next door neighbor and had known Jane since she was three. When he was young, he had barely noticed the yellow ribbon, but now they were in high school together, it bothered him.

“Why do you wear that yellow ribbon around your neck, Jane?” he’d ask her every day. But she wouldn’t tell him.

Still, in spite of this aggravation, Johnny thought she was cute. He asked her to the soda shoppe for an ice cream sundae. Then he asked her to watch him play in the football game. Then he started seeing her home. And come the spring, he asked her to the dance. Jane always said yes when he asked her out. And she always wore a yellow dress to match the ribbon around her neck.

It finally occurred to Johnny that he and Jane were going steady, and he still didn’t know why she wore the yellow ribbon around her neck. So he asked her about it yet again, and yet again she did not tell him. “Maybe someday I’ll tell you about it,” she’d reply. Someday! That answer annoyed Johnny, but he shrugged it off, because Jane was so cute and fun to be with.

Well, time flew past, as it has a habit of doing, and one day Johnny proposed to Jane and was accepted. They planned a big wedding, and Jane hinted that she might tell him about the yellow ribbon around her neck on their wedding day. But somehow, what with the preparations and his beautiful bride, and the lovely reception, Johnny never got around to asking Jane about it. And when he did remember, she got a bit teary-eyed, and said: “We are so happy together, what difference does it make?” And Johnny decided she was right.

Johnny and Jane raised a family of four, with the usual ups and downs, laughter and tears. When their golden anniversary rolled around, Johnny once again asked Jane about the yellow ribbon around her neck. It was the first time he’d brought it up since the week after their wedding. Whenever their children asked him about it, he’d always hushed them, and somehow none of the kids had dared ask their mother. Jane gave Johnny as sad look and said: “Johnny, you’ve waited this long. You can wait awhile longer.”

And Johnny agreed. It was not until Jane was on her death bed a year later that Johnny, seeing his last chance slip away, asked Jane one final time about the yellow ribbon she wore around her neck. She shook her head a bit at his persistence, and then said with a sad smile: “Okay Johnny, you can go ahead and untie it.”

With shaking hands, Johnny fumbled for the knot and untied the yellow ribbon around his wife’s neck.

And Jane’s head fell off.

Weekly Yuputka: 5 Favorites

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

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I wanted to thank all my readers, old and new, for joining me in my pursuit of the paranormal. I thought I’d pause and return to my favorite Weekly Yuputka entries for any new readers that may have missed them. Plus, I always love reading these true scary stories (over and over) again. Enjoy!

The Scarecrow Wife 

Hitchhikers go home with a disturbed man.

The Truculent Truck 

A girl and her family are visited by a phantom truck.

Look at Me

A girl gets a creepy visit during homework.

The Next Cabin Over

A family helps a mysterious barefoot woman.

The Internet Video 

A scary online video brings evil into an apartment.

A Repository of Paranormal Knowledge: Street Light Interference

This series explores the paranormal basics: key terms, classifications, theories, and schools of thought. This will prepare you to be an intellectual ghostbuster. 
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Street Light Interference phenomenon is the claimed ability that individuals can turn off street lamps (or security lights) by walking underneath them. The term was first coined by paranormal author, Hilary Evans.

A reader at About.com describes their experience with this phenomenon:

Around five years ago, I have noticed that at times while I am driving down the road at night a street light will go out as I am passing below it. It happens frequently and seems to be happening more.

It has been giving me the creeps. If it happened only once or on very rare occasions, I don’t think I would have given it a thought. However, it happens about once or twice a week. Could it be some electronic thing or could it be something less explainable?

Aaron Sorkin also claims to have this ability, as written in the Hollywood Reporter:

The super-scribe was taking part in THR‘s annual Writers Roundtable at Siren Studios in West Hollywood when the lights suddenly went out, surprising everyone except the Oscar-winning writer of Steve Jobs, who revealed he has the power to burn out streetlamps simply by walking past them.

“I thought this was a crazy coincidence — that I happened to be walking past street­lamps at the very moment that the bulb is done,” he said at the Nov. 2 taping. “There’s a name for this. It’s a real thing.” It’s called “Street Light Interference,” and there are scads of websites devoted to the subject of this strange electromagnetic phenomenon (though, admittedly, scant scientific evidence to prove it actually exists). “I would tell people about it from time to time,” Sorkin continued, “that there’s this strange thing that happens …” Sadly for Sorkin, the power doesn’t work in reverse. “I can’t make lights go on,” he said.

Evans explains that experiences such as these are “not consistent with our current knowledge of how people interact with the physical world.” People who cause the phenomenon, as named by Evans, are called “SLIders.”

Explanations for Street Light Interference

  • static electricity
  • psychic or psychokinetic ability
  • coincidence or wishful thinking

And, according to an io9 article:

There is one thing that might cause certain people to claim SLIder status – living in a place that doesn’t regularly replace its sodium vapor lamp bulbs. This leads to a phenomenon called cycling.

Sodium vapor lamps work pretty simply. They’re a glass tube filled with a gas, and sprinkled with sodium and sometimes with a few other materials like mercury. Electrical current passes through the gas, which heats up and vaporizes the other materials. The gas ionizes, and some of the electrons knock into the sodium, heating it up so it it glows. Sodium is an element that reacts readily with many different materials, and it can grab hold of the aluminum oxide that is used in the material for the lamp. This extra oxygen forms more gas inside the tube, and the pressure builds up, especially as the lamp gets hotter. As the pressure gets higher, more voltage is required to keep the electrical current going, and eventually the streetlight kicks out. When it cools down sufficiently, the gas condenses and the voltage is sufficient once more. The streetlight turns on, only to turn off again when it heats too much. So if you live in an area where the lamps bulbs are not kept fresh, you are more likely to be a SLIder.

Resources

 

Weekly Yuputka: “That’s not really a little girl…”

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

photo-1467103789230-f91a5ff8048aHalloween is getting closer each day, and I keep returning to Jezebel’s annual scary story contest. It’s a one of my favorite Halloween traditions, and returning to these stories can make any day feel like Halloween.

One user in 2012 shared a story about a ghost girl. The thing is, she may not be a sweet girl or a girl at all.

Enjoy!


Untitled, from user LadySparrow

I lived in a house from hell for 4 years, from age 11 to 16 There was constantly something happening. Doors flying open and shut, voices, footsteps. Nothing ever stayed where you put it. I was alone there a lot because both my parents worked and I was constantly terrified.

One of the most gut-level disturbing things though was the little girl in my bathroom. Every time I walked past my bathroom door (which was constantly since it was right outside my bedroom) I saw a little girl with blond curled hair and a rose-colored dress. She just stood there, staring, looking like a photograph from 1905. I started keeping the door closed so I could walk by without seeing her, but she was always there when I opened it. Once I stepped in past her, I couldn’t see her anymore but I could feel her there. She scared me, but I felt really sorry for her because she was trapped there, just like me, but probably forever.

As the years went by and things in the house continued to get worse, she started seeming… darker. I started feeling like she wasn’t really a little girl. I knew there was something ugly in the house and I felt like it was presenting this sympathetic image to me. Then I started thinking I was completely losing my mind.

One day, when I was 14, I had a friend from out of town come stay with me for a week. I hadn’t told her anything whatsoever about the house because I didn’t think she would come if I did. Right after she got there we were sitting in my room and she left to go to the bathroom. About a minute later she walked back in with a puzzled look on her face and said, “So, there’s a little girl in your bathroom”. “Um, I, yeah she hangs out in there. Blond hair?” “Curls? Pink dress? Yeah. You know that’s not really a little girl, don’t you?”

I almost threw up. I was so relieved and terrified and excited and ready to run out of the house screaming. She wouldn’t use my bathroom the rest of the week and I started using it as little as possible without pissing off my parents (who did not want to believe).

Eventually we moved out and I could not have been happier. I distanced myself from it mentally as much as I could. Then, when I was 18, I took another friend on a road trip to pack up a few things I’d left in the house (my parents hadn’t managed to sell it, and wouldn’t for 5 more years). The minute we got on the property, my friend seemed uncomfortable. I could tell something was wrong, but he insisted he was OK, so we got to work. After a while he asked to use the bathroom and I directed him to mine. Not 20 seconds after he left, he came running back in, gasping for breath, and and slammed the bedroom door behind him. He started babbling about a little blond girl who isn’t really a little girl. All of a sudden he went dead still, looked me in the eye, and very solemnly said, “She’s not happy. With you. You left, and you weren’t supposed to.”

We threw whatever we could grab in 2 trips in my car and got the fuck out at top speed.

Weekly Yuputka: Messages from M

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

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I love a spooky Ouija board story. It’s scary to imagine that a piece of wood or cardboard can bring spirits into our world. In this story, some high schoolers accidently bring a malevolent spirit named “M” out of the board.  Today’s story is from Jezebel’s annual scary story contest. 

Like this? You might be interested in these entries:


Love, M, from user melodramallama

When I was in high school, one of my friends was very into playing with Ouija boards. She was living with her grandparents because of her family situation and I was living on my own because of mine. I really liked going over to her house, because I was very lonely a lot of the time, and her grandmother always had a full pantry. My friend and I used to hang out in her room for hours, smoking and trying to contact dead celebrities. And the Ouija board worked— the planchette moved, we had conversations with whoever (although never Marilyn Monroe as we both secretly hoped would happen).

We did talk to someone whose name started with M— actually M was the only name they ever gave. The planchette would start to move in a really fast, aggressive triangle when M showed up, and M was bad news. M’s defining feature was that s/he did not like me. At all. M would always spell out terrible things about me, about how and when I would die, that kind of thing. I know, the Ouija is subconscious (or not-so-subconscious) movement, right? But it seemed very… purposeful and real, somehow. Even if we invited other people over to play, M would show up. It was creepy. Eventually we moved on to some other pastime, and I stopped thinking about it.

A few months into our senior year, my friend and I had a falling out and stopped speaking. I didn’t have a lot of other friends at the time. Hard to believe that a manic-depressive poetry nerd with a Ouija enemy wasn’t very popular, but it’s true. After school I used to go back to my little apartment where I lived alone and listen to music and read and try to get the one channel I could get on my ancient TV.

I was bored. I wanted someone to talk to. Guess where this is going. I started to play Ouija by myself, using a Ouija board that I’d drawn. And it worked. Or I made it work. Or whatever. Eventually M showed up again with triangles and nasty words and messages of doom, and even though I was pretty sure M was some kind of creation of my self-hating subconscious, I decided not to play anymore. Things started to get a bit weird. First it was dishes clattering in the kitchen. Not constant, just occasionally. The first few times I went to check it out, but I didn’t see anything. After a while, I stopped getting up to look, but the noises kept happening. I started to get uncomfortable in the apartment. Have you ever had a bad feeling about a place? Like serious bad vibes? I felt that way in my apartment, particularly in the bathroom. But I figured I was just being silly, lonely, over-imaginative.

One night, I was doing some drawing in my sketchbook. I did some paintings too, because I was painting some props for a play I was on the crew for at school, and I was waiting for them to dry. I went to bed with everything laid out on the living room floor. The next morning when I woke up, I went out into the living room, I didn’t have my glasses on, so everything was kind of blurry. I saw my paintings and the finished props and thought “oh good, those are dry” and I was about to go get dressed when I noticed something else on the floor.

It looked like another painting. I went closer. It was a page torn out of my sketchbook, and turned over so the image was on the back. It was a message. It looked like it had been written by a finger dipped in paint, in red paint. and it just said DIE in big red letters. In the bottom right hand corner was an M. And the paper… the paper was scorched. Burnt around the edges, with big brown singes in the middle of the page. That was the worst part. Because for a second I thought “well, maybe I was sleepwalking and legibly wrote a message to myself on this piece of paper and cleaned everything up when I was done”. But the scorching made it REAL.

I stood there, feeling like someone had dropped a cold stone down into my stomach for quite a while, holding this horrible thing. And my choices were really that I had done it and couldn’t remember, that someone else had broken in and done this very specific thing and left without me hearing, or that no one had done it. All of the choices were too unsettling. And I decided to get out of the apartment. But I brought the paper with me, because I wanted to tell someone about it and I knew no one would believe me without the proof. I went to school, but didn’t go to class. I told a couple of friends about this and they agreed that the message should be destroyed, so we took it out in the field behind school and burned it. And I hung out at a coffee shop as long as I could after school so I wouldn’t have to go home, but of course eventually I had to.

There was something that looked like purple lipstick on the wall next to the door to my apartment. When I got closer, I could see it was an M. I left the apartment a couple of weeks later. I haven’t heard from M since. But 20 years later, thinking about playing ouija still makes me very, very nervous.