Weekly Yuputka: The Christmas Diner

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


I think everyone had a rough 2016, so I thought it was OK to post a Christmas ghost story early. It’s a happy one. 😉

This was shared by a reader during the 2013 Jezebel scary story contest.

Untitled, from user Skylario1

This happened to a family friend of mine. I like this story a lot, because although it does involve ghosts, it makes me fear them less.

This story takes place some time ago. The family friend was one of the little girls in the story, now a grown woman with kids of her own.

My friend was a little girl when her father died unexpectedly due to illness. Her mother was a waitress, and now a widow with two young girls. It was getting close to Christmas, and the mother knew she was not going to be able to buy presents this year for her girls. The family had suffered so much recently, and it broke the mother’s heart to know Christmas was going to be especially lonely. The mother decided to head out of town with her kids to spend the holidays with relatives.

Children in long car rides can get very cranky. The girls complained that they were hungry and tired of being in the car, so the mother decided to pull over at a diner. She only had enough money to buy food for her kids. When the waitress came over to take their order, she insisted on bringing the mother coffee and a dinner “on the house”. “You look so tired, ma’am, some coffee and a hot meal will do you some good. It’s on the house”, the waitress explained with a warm smile. As they were getting ready to leave, an older man approached the family. From under his arm he handed a wrapped package to each girl, saying only “Merry Christmas”. The girls tore into the packages as soon as they were in the car again, each girl had a beautiful porcelain doll. The mother was astonished at the kindness of the people here. She decided when they drove back through this town on their return trip, they would pay this diner another visit. She wrote down the exact address and location of the diner, and the family hit the road again.

After the holidays, the family attempted to return to the diner. All that was there was a vacant lot. Confused, and thinking she must have written down the wrong address, the mother pulled into the gas station around the corner and asked the attendant about the diner. The attendant shook his head and said “That place burned down years ago”, the mother turned to leave, very confused. “You know, though”, the attendant spoke hesitantly “you are not the first person to come to my gas station, insisting you had been there since it burned down”.

My friend says this really happened to her family as a child. I have even seen the doll she received from the man (she has kept it all of these years).

Weekly Yuputka: My Halloween Tradition

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

I have my Halloween traditions. The Headless Horseman Festival. Fireball and warm apple cider. Anthologies on Gothic literature. Pumpkin bread pudding. Jezebel’s Annual Spooky Story Contest. 

Every Halloween, readers share their scary stories, and I scroll through them for hours. These stories can be paranormal or not. I actually find the stories about real people are the scariest.

While you cannot fact-check anonymous users, everyone promises their stories are 100% real. And frankly. it’s more fun to just believe that.

This year’s contest started and has already reached 3, 513 comments. They will announce winners soon in a post (I’ll link to it when they do here it is!). They will provide the winner’s stories for those who rather not scroll through all the 3,500+ comments.

Here’s one of my favorites from this year’s contest. I wonder if it will be a winner?

Untitled, from user Pee Before You Go

This happened to a friend of a friend earlier this summer (as told by my friend). I’ll call her friend Jane. Jane is a nurse who works a specific shift at a local hospital and keeps a really consistent schedule. She gets up at 5am, takes a shower, and then heads off to work. Jane lives in a bungalow a block away from Green Lake in Seattle. For those of you unfamiliar, Green Lake is a really popular place for running, outdoor and park activities, dining, etc and is super busy during the summer.

It’s common for people to be out late at night during the summer, so Jane didn’t think anything was amiss when she heard noises outside her house at midnight. She woke up again around 3am, but this time the noises were louder, like something was hitting or tapping her house. She turned on all the lights and walked around her place, but didn’t see anything and went back to bed. She felt uneasy and didn’t sleep well the rest of the night, and woke up a just before her alarm went off at 5am.

As she sat up in bed, she looked through her open bedroom door to see a man on all fours, army crawling down the hall towards her bedroom. As my friend tells it, Jane screams, and as she goes to grab her phone to call 911, the man calmly stands, looks at her, and says, “don’t worry, I’m leaving.” The man turned around and walked toward the front door. She shut her bedroom door and called the police.

After the police arrived, she discovered the man had removed all of her window screens and presumably entered her home around the time she woke up at 3am. The police did not believe he intended to rob her, since he didn’t take any of her valuables. The only things he did take were her car keys and her house keys that were in her purse by the front door.

My friend’s husband is a cop and believes the only reason this guy was so calm is because he has likely done this before. He also thinks he had probably been watching her for some time and knew her schedule well enough to attack her when she was most defenseless (naked, in the shower). Whether he took her keys as a mindfuck or because he intended to come back is beyond me, but it’s so creepy.

Weekly Yuputka: The One-Handed Ghost

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


Today’s scary story comes from the Paranormal Story Archives on About.com (June 1999). I used to read these for hours when I was younger (and will probably do so this weekend).

Enjoy your scare!

The One-Handed Ghost, from Terri

When I was 12 years old, my sister and her husband and their two-year-old (my niece) moved into a house on the next block. The family who vacated the house had moved because their teenage daughter had a friend who was missing, and the strain was too much for the girl. I was spending the night on a weekend, and I was downstairs with my sister and niece doing laundry. As we went up the stairs to the main floor, I turned to help my niece up the stairs. She had been playing around the basement and talking to herself (or so I thought!). As I turned to grasp her hand, she said, “C’mon lady, c’mon.” I was amazed to see a girl of about 16 or 17 standing at the base of the stairs dressed in a white dress with her arms outstretched. She was missing her right hand. On numerous occasions, I was to see this ghost. It was nothing to wake up and find her sitting on the bed or looking into your face. I would follow her down the hall into the living room or into my niece’s room. Several months passed, and the missing girl was found. She had been mutilated and cut into many pieces by a machete. Her right hand was missing when they found her. It seems that she was supposed to go to her girlfriend’s house after work on the night she disappeared. She never got there. She was abducted and murdered. Her best friend kept seeing her in the house, and her family thought she was nuts. Hence the reason they moved and my sister rented the house. I have heard that the girl still haunts the house, and it never stays occupied long. My sister lived there longer than anyone else, she is psychic, and she said that she never felt threatened by the girl. To this day, it still gives me the cold chills and nightmares.

Weekly Yuputka: The Photographs

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


A short and sweet spooky story from Jezebel’s 2013 scary story contest. Maybe rethink your next camping trip?

Photographic Memories, from user AnnieBannanas

I grew up in New Mexico and was always very into the outdoors, hiking, camping, rock climbing, etc. One summer when I was 19 I went on a 4 day/3 night camping trip near my parents’ house on my own. Might sound weird but I had been to this area many times and it was quite safe. Anyway I brought my camera and took lots of pictures. When I came back and developed my film, there were 3 extra pictures that I didn’t take… of me… sleeping. One each night.

None of my stuff was missing or stolen and nothing happened, but it freaked the hell out of me.

Weekly Yuputka: The Girl on the Dirt Road

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


During Jezebel’s 2012 Scary Story Contest, a user shared her haunting experience of being lost at night in the rural South as a young girl. She stumbled across an old shack and met a little girl that helped her find her way home. Who was this young hero and what was her story?

Untitled, from user NotScared

Alright, I have one that’s kinda freaky, but in a good way, I guess. For me, at least. So when I was a kid, we moved into this house that was literally in the middle of nowhere. There were maybe five houses one the street, generously spread over about twoish miles. Cows regularly wandered into our yard from a farm on the other end of our five acre property. We were the last house on the street. Other then the farm on one side, the street out front, we were surrounded by undeveloped woods. Being a curious child, I would often wander into the wooded area, playing various games, pretending I was an Elvish Ranger or a Lady Knight. Once, while pretending to be an intrepid explorer lost on an alien planet, I managed to wander farther into the wooded area then usual. I wasn’t worried, it was only a little ways back that aways to my house….wasn’t it? Nope. So, I walked and walked and walked, trying to find something that looked like civilation. Eventually, I did. It should be noted that this was just about the time the sun was officially down and I was freaking out. The house I found was a little more then an old shack, but when I knocked on the door, a black girl a bit older then me answered the door. She was dressed in a ragged blue dress and barefoot, which was something that didn’t strike me as odd then, because it’s the South. I spent most of my child hood without shoes. I told her I was sorry to bother her, but I was lost and I was scared and I just wanted to go home. It should be pointed out that I started crying, at this point. The girl smiled, told me it was alright and yelled back into the house that “This girl got herself lost, mama, I’m gonna take her to the road and show her the way.”

She took me by the hand and lead me out to the dirt road that I would swear wasn’t there before. We walked down this dirt road for what seemed like for ever.

“You scared?” She asked me.

“Yeah.” I said, sniffing and shivering. It was cold out, but she didn’t seem to care.

“Don’t be. You’ll get home. Just stay on the road.”

Eventually, we came to the end of the dirt road and we to the asphalt. The girl told to walk that way down the road and I’d be home in no time. I begged her to go with me, but she said she couldn’t go off the dirt road.

So I walked by myself down the road. When I looked back, I couldn’t see her anymore. It was well and truly dark by now, and absolutely freezing. After about five minutes of walking, A cop car came up behind me. The officer who came up behind me said that they had been looking for me all day, was I alright?

Turns out, I had some how wandered nearly five miles from my house, managing to completely miss the various houses and churches whose back yards I was literally walking through. When I told my parents about the little girl who had shown me back to the road, they wanted to go out to the house and thank the family and the little girl for their help, but we couldn’t find the dirt road. Eventually I decided that it must be the overgrown path and dragged my parents down it. We found the shack, but it was empty.

Eventually my parents decided that I must have been mistaken and to give up the search. But I was sure that this was the place. Years later, when I was in middle school, I was helping out at the library, reordering the old newspaper articles, I found one from the fifties. Nothing big, just a tiny obituary of a girl named Maggy. She was killed by a hit and run driver on the road I was walking on when I was found by the police, just as she was walking off the dirt road to her house.

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.

Weekly Yuputka: She Never Left Our House

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


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.

Weekly Yuputka: 5 Favorites

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


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.

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.


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. 


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.