A Spooky Mystery for You to Solve!

This is the real ghost story that I promised earlier this week. I apologize for the lack of my usual  writing flair. The three-day migraine that I’m in the midst of seems to have stripped me of all creativity!

The following creepy occurrence kept me out of our basement for pretty much the rest of my teenaged years. What do you think it might have been?

Picture via trueghosttales.com

This mist is very similar to what I saw! What could it be?

As a teenager, I had an obsessive love-hate relationship with all things otherworldly. On one hand, I adored talking about and reading tales of poltergeist, demons, and monsters; but on the other hand, they scared the living crap out of me and forced me to sleep with the lights on whilst I pathetically begged my mother, in much the style of a three year-old, to sleep with me. By the time I’d turned 15, I’d read every ghost story that my small town’s library had to offer, and I’d listened in awe to every creepy story that my friends had to tell, but despite my burning interest, I had no personal ghost stories of my own to share. With my easy spookability, I’d certainly imagined ghoulish hands reaching from beneath my bed to snatch any limb or appendage that accidentally exited my covers during the night. I’d additionally witnessed demonic profiles and ghostly pictures haunting the shadows on my walls as I’d attempted to fall asleep. However, these spooks were merely figments of my very active imagination, and it wasn’t until January 1, 1980 that I had my first, and thankfully only, supernatural experience.

I remember the exact date because it was the last day of my winter break from school, and like most 15 year-olds, I’d put off doing any homework until the last possible moment. I’d gathered my books and headed downstairs to my usual study spot, our basement rec room. I’d just spread my school stuff out on half of the ping-pong table and settled into a chair swiped from the card table when I felt a swift, icy breeze sweep across my back and neck. Adrenaline shot through me and the hair on my arms instantly rose. I scanned the room for the source. The basement was completely underground making a wind of any temperature impossible. Our house was still decorated for the holidays, and I watched in terror as the wind that touched my neck ruffled the Christmas cards arranged atop a bookshelf on the opposite wall. From the shelf my eyes were instantly drawn to the slightly swaying branches of the Christmas tree situated in the corner directly beneath my bedroom. A cold, horror filled me as a foggy mist began surrounding the tree. The mist weaved and moved through the branches, and condensed around the nativity scene arranged on the tree’s skirt. My mother had long ago painted the figures for this crèche in a ceramics class, and my father had crafted the wooden stable that housed Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Atop the stable’s entrance was an angel. I stared in disbelief as the ethereal fog thickened around it. I tried to call out to my mother, but no words would escape my lips as I watched the tiny cherub shake and rock from side-to-side. I remained frozen, feeling an overwhelming sense of evil, as its quaking and quivering continued. Finally, the angel dropped from the nail that it had once securely held it and hit the carpeted floor. It was then that I was released from my stiffness; then that I could scream and run breathlessly up the stairs to the security of my family.

At first, my parents naturally blamed my experience on my overactive imagination and my above average desire to put off schoolwork, but I think my mom eventually began to believe my tale after several sleepless weeks of being called to my room in the middle of the night. My friends thought my encounter was awesome and all had their theories about what I had seen. Was it a ghost? A demon? What do you think?

Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? Tell me about it.

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Forest Fires, Phantoms, and Fender Benders, Oh, My!

Our rental by the sea!

Yesterday was our final day in beautiful Nag’s Head, North Carolina. All day Saturday, as I basked in the sun and ate a mermaid’s share of seafood, you could hear me whimpering, “I don’t wanna go home.” This phrase was accompanied by my saddest of pouty faces. Apparently, my occasional grumblings angered the vacation gods, because our Sunday was thick with woe, and this ever-so-long account proves it. Sit back; grab a beverage or a snack, and read my wretched tale. I find reading it with a pirate’s voice during some parts greatly enhances the story.

Our troubles started with a wind shift. Sometime, after midnight the winds began a SSW journey causing the smoke from an ongoing forest fire in Pain’s Bay to drift our way. At first it was tolerable, but sometime around 3:00 a.m. the entire third floor of the house, where hubby and I were sleeping, became hazy with the acrid smell. Never one to let anything disturb our slumber, the spouse and I drowsily descended the stairs to the second level where we crashed in the unoccupied children’s room. I had just settled into a top bunk, (for the first time since 4H camp 30 years ago), and was about to begin my second journey to Slumber land when I was jolted awake by an ear-splitting composition. “Who would be listening to Cradle of Filth at 4:00 a.m.?” I asked my sleeping husband. He snored in response. He was out cold, leaving me forced to investigate the unwelcomed cacophony alone. The small window in our room yielded only murky darkness and no partying college students, so I moved into the open hallway. The music sounded like it was coming from the first floor game room. The doors to our kids’ rooms were closed and the space beneath them was dark. Knowing that they all like their sleep WAY too much to be up at four in the morning listening to music, a creepy feeling swept over me as I slowly descended the stairs to the first level. Any sane person sleuthing down the steps might expect to catch rogue teenagers, who had jumped our fence and jimmied the door, playing pool or foosball and drinking the last of our beer, but in my smoke induced, sleep deprived brain, I fully expected to be faced with the ghosts of pirates or worse. “I’m coming down there!” I yelled with a shaky voice. “Leave while you can. I’ve got a gun,” I added. I quickly reminded myself that ghosts would not fear my imaginary gun. “I’ve got holy water, and I know spells, too,” I said hoping that a line from Harry Potter would be enough to ward away the evil that awaited me. I descended the last step that placed me in the dark game room. There, in the corner I met my foe. A monster was hissing, roaring and glaring at me with its large, green, glowing eye! Alright, it wasn’t exactly a monster, it was the stereo, and its green, lighted display proved it was on. Only slightly relieved, I pulled the plug, not wanting to fumble for the off button, but the music DIDN’T STOP! In a dark, dark basement, an unplugged stereo that refuses to silence its music can mean only one thing; GHOSTS!! This is when I full-on lost it and screamed bloody murder. Actually, I screamed “Help!” which is not always the best thing to scream in a houseful of sleeping people. Terrified, my groggy family rushed to my aid. My oldest daughter found the off button. My youngest showed me where the battery back-up was, and my eldest’s boyfriend said he must have accidentally turned on the alarm feature when he was figuring out how to turn on the stereo early Saturday evening.

I was pretty sure this dude was waiting for me! (photo via: http://hercxena.wikia.com/wiki/File:Green-eyed_monster_close_up.jpg)

After a hearty laugh at my foolishness and a few reassuring hugs, I ascended the stairs for my third attempt at sleep, but the sandman would not find me. The smoke was intolerable and we decided to abandon our home by the sea a few hours early. Covering our mouths and noses we carried the rest of our belongings to our car and drove caravan style to the realtor’s office to drop off the keys. This is when the vacation gods decided to get one last lick in. As we pulled out of the realtor’s parking lot, my youngest daughter’s boyfriend somehow managed to rear end my oldest daughter’s car. Thankfully, the hit wasn’t hard enough for her airbag to deploy, but it was hard enough for my daughter’s neck to feel jerked out of whack. A quick (and, yes, I really do mean quick—props to Outer Banks Hospital’s emergency department) trip to the emergency room revealed a slightly sprained neck, but no serious damage. After many rest stops, some complaining and a wrong turn or two, we arrived home around 8:00 last night no worse for the wear.

Today when I look back on our “wretched” Sunday, I have to smile, because despite the smoke, the “spirits,” the fender bender and the lack of sleep, it really wasn’t the worst possible day that a family could share together. Perhaps the vacation gods were gently reminding me to not spend the last day of a nearly perfect vacation complaining!