Three very loud SCREAMS


I’m still not feeling right this morning, even though it’s sunny outside and nothing feels weird in the house today… but last night, I saw SOMETHING in my room at 3:44am.

I went to bed pretty late, around 2am or so. I had been watching Chelsea Lately, just unwinding from being out seeing Where the Wild Things Are with T & K. I took two Tylenol PMs because my damn back is still killing me, and fell asleep with the heating pad under me. (I love that thing, because it automatically shuts off after 20 minutes or so, so it’s kind of OK to sleep with it.)

The TV went off with the sleep timer, sometime after I was asleep. Simon was on the bed, too.

And then, I startled awake kind of suddenly. I felt disoriented as hell, because the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was a very large, dark figure standing next to my bed. It was shaped like someone wearing a black cloak or something! I remember thinking that it was someone in the house, playing a joke on me, trying to startle me. Like my sister, sneaking in to trick me into screaming like an idiot.

But that thought was fleeting, and I had it while I was screaming loudly and scrambling in the dark to get out of my bed and turn the light on at the same time. I also was thinking it could be an intruder. Someone who quietly snuck in, somehow got past Hurley…

I know for a fact that I actually screamed. Three times.

I’m not a screamer, really. I’m a gasper; I’m a jump-and-yell-“AGH!” kind of person. Screaming, like people in a horror movie, is definitely not my normal M.O.

My window was open. I wonder if anyone heard my screaming! I hope it didn’t disturb my neighbors; if it did, they probably heard it, thought they were dreaming because they didn’t hear it again, and went back to sleep.

I got the light on and no one was there. All I saw were my black curtains, pulled shut like usual. I don’t know where Simon was, but Hurley was standing at attention, looking at me with a slightly-concerned look on his face as he blinked in the light.

My first thought was of intense relief, because I thought I really must have just been looking at my curtains, themselves, and in a dream-state, thought they were forming the shape of a person. I felt embarrassed and worried about that business with screaming with an open window, but when no one came to knock on my door or anything to check on me, I relaxed. I went to the bathroom, got a drink, and settled down again with the TV back on the sleep timer, with some stupid Dane Cook standup special (I don’t like Dane Cook anymore, blah) so I wouldn’t be staring obsessively at the dark curtains as I fell asleep.

Nothing else happened, and I woke up this morning still sore as hell– seriously, WTF is wrong with my damn back?!– and feeling thoughtful about what happened last night.

I really would like to think that ghosts exist. The idea of it is so awesomely spooky and tantalizing. Hell, I even saw something unexplained with my own two eyes about 13 years ago. (The ‘moving gray spot’ along the water line at the Spy House.) Ever since I saw that, I believed that YES, there are things we just can’t explain sometimes. And I do think it’s completely possible that spirits can linger in places. I also think that it wouldn’t take just death to make a spirit stay somewhere; I happen to think that anything powerful that happens to a person can kind of imprint itself on the surroundings where they occurred. Kind of like the concept that a place can have ‘memories.’ Not to sound like some hippie or something, but humans and animals definitely give off energy. I think that we can have experiences happen to us that makes our energy amp itself up and it could, possibly, go out into an environment… since you can’t destroy energy, it seems possible it could stay someplace.

And, I also believe that the human mind has self-defense mechanisms in place that cause us to “see” things that aren’t really happening. I once wrote a play about near-death experiences, and did a lot of research into the phenomenon. I read accounts from people who’d had NDEs; I read books written by breathless believers in “the other side”; and I read scientific explanatory books that talked about endorphins and studies that were done after taking a look at a personal’s vitals after they experienced a NDE. My conclusion, drawn from all of these different sources, ended up being this: At a moment of extreme pain, our brains pump out chemicals, endorphins, etc, to help us deal with what our sensory network is almost overloaded with. Some doctors think that the “bright lights” people see when they “die” is actually organic. I sound like an asshole, because I don’t have my sources and books in front of me as I write this, so I am just BLAH BLAH HERE’S WHAT I THINK I REMEMBER about this, so bear with me. I believe that this was determined because of cases where people who had been in very bad accidents and didn’t have a NDE have reported that their vision can go all wonky at the height of the pain; they also have a moment where the brain sends out chemicals to ease the sensation of pain– I think that, in other words, this happens when a person goes into shock. It’s called shock to an outside observer, but for the person experiencing it, it’s a change in sensation and perception.

So, some scientists have taken this and applied it to what a NDE might actually be. At the moment of death–painful or not– it’s probably the brain firing off chemicals, synapses firing for a few last times, creating perceptions that aren’t actually happening. It might be something that’s just a fundamental part of the human design: our bodies are equipped in this way so that we can process and handle the moment of death. While everything else is shutting down, our brains put on a little “light show” for lack of a better phrase. And we slip away at peace.

And that is personally, what I think, happens.

And I think the mechanisms that would make this possible may not always stay quiet for whatever reason, during the rest of our lives. I think that little glitches can happen at random from time to time, and we might see, hear, smell or feel things that aren’t there. It doesn’t mean we’re having a stroke or something! No, what I mean is, think about those times when for no reason at all, a part of your body will just involuntarily get a little twitch, or shudder. For me, it’s when I am yawning, and I’ll get this big shudder-reaction all of the sudden, like I am really cold. Or when your muscles glitch out in your eyelid for a little while and you get that eye twitch thing. I think the electrical impulses in our bodies just fire off at random sometimes, even in the healthiest of people. It’s normal.

So, why can’t those glitches happen in our brains, and affect how we experience things?

Most people, when they “see” or experience a ghost, only see or experience it for a very short moment. It’s hardly ever described as a prolonged thing, with conversations and tons of details to take in. Our culture has taught us, from a very early age, that when these things happen, it could be something paranormal. Before we ever find out what ghosts, monsters under the bed, or goblins are, we likely just experience whatever it is we see or feel that’s out of the ordinary with a little sense of confusion. But once we are a couple of years old, and we have somehow taken in what the “scary unexplained” things are often called and described as, we’re programmed in for the rest of our lives to jump to that paranormal conclusion.

So, in a long-winded way, that’s what I think ghosts are. They exist. Because our brains and common cultural language allow them to.

HOWEVER… that’s not meant to discredit everything entirely; chalk everything that happens up to a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation.

Because the reality is, we just don’t know everything, and we probably are not ABLE to ever know everything. I do think there are other ways that living energy can work that we just don’t have the tools or capacity to ever understand. I do think that because each living thing has its own unique experience, we can never know what another person’s perception really feels like… so who’s to say that existence for one person feels the same as it does for the person next to them? I have always described this to myself as, “what I see as the color green might not be exactly the same color green that another person sees.”

To take two pop culture references and mush them together: “The Truth is Out There; but We Can’t Handle the Truth.”


So… that all being said…what did I see last night?

Why did it make me scream in a way I really never scream? Why was my reaction so visceral and powerful?

Who knows?

Either way, in the light of day, I realize that my curtains could not have formed the shape I saw, because I remember that the light coming through the curtains behind the figure was what enabled me to define the shape of the figure. I saw the curtains, and I saw the shape.

At the same time, I have no scary vibes in this house. No weird energy. I think we lived in a “haunted” house that had a lot of residual energy/memories when we were living in Belford, but that is the only place I’ve lived that felt that way. This house feels very peaceful and safe, in general. I don’t think there is an angry residual memory here.

What an interesting night for me to think about, really! I’m enjoying this. I’m going to have fun letting myself believe I saw a spirit. Whether it was there, or in my mind, is subjective. At least I saw something!



5 responses »

  1. The wife part of the couple that owned our house before we did passed away in the house. An aneurysm or something. It was known that she was ill and WAS dying. All of the neighbors who knew her kept insisting that they “saw” her now and then. Mostly in the living room, where the couch she had been lying on had been. They can say this because they were the ones who volunteered to come in and help fix up the house before it was put on the market and we bought it. Sometimes it really creeped me out, particularly when I would catch sight of some “darkness” in my peripheral vision. But every time I would look directly at the area, which happened to be right in front of the front entry window, I would realize I was seeing the metal framework OF the window, itself, or a car/person passing by on the street.

    DH always insisted he sensed the same thing, and believed it was her.
    I didn’t really care if it was or not. If it was, she wasn’t doing anything harmful. Sometimes, on a whim, I would just kind of mentally have it out with her that this was my home now, and not hers, and if she was mad that we cut down the holly bushes she’d planted outside her daughter’s bedroom window because she was worried about intruders coming in, well… her daughter wasn’t here anymore, either and we had two really big dogs, so we were fine.

    Later on, I would tell her to cut out whatever shenanigans she was pulling that kept the house from selling when we needed it to.

    See, I like to SAY I don’t believe in crap like that, because, really, I’ve had way too many personal experiences with such for my liking and the very act of remembering them or telling them to other people, I feel, opens up some kind of access for it to all start happening again. Some really creepy shit went down when my uncle, the preacher, was found out to have had an affair, and during his subsequent heart attack. And I truly believe my experiences were not just “night terrors” or “sleep paralysis”. But I hate to go into detail, and have it all start happening again. Even my sister won’t sleep in the room that used to be mine, after hearing what I’ve said, and will STILL have encounters with a dark, winged thing “chasing” her down the hallway if she gets up to go to the bathroom in the night.

    It doesn’t help that her illegal immigrant Mexican ex husband told her all about Day of the Dead and that his grandmother came to visit him and tuck him in each night. He actually told her not to worry, that what she was hearing was Abuelita’s ankles popping as she walked about their bedroom.

    Plus, my grandma always believed in angels, which I do, but she would give us books people had compiled of their experiences, and while they were positive, like someone nobody else saw warning a person not to go into the bank right at that moment, and, thus, that person escaped a robbery and hostage situation that took place. That just feels really disturbing to me, even though it’s not evil. Grandma also “heard” and told all of us that that falling sensation you sometimes encounter as you are drifting off to sleep was sinister and that if you didn’t jerk awake, you died.

    My dad used to tell two tales he heard from coworkers, about one waking up to find a white cat sitting at the foot of their bed- when they didn’t have a cat at all. Or the toothpaste tube just flying across the bathroom, unassisted.

    DH and I lived, for a long time, in some apartments that were a house that had been converted. First it was built and belonged to Steve Martin (one of my neighbors when we lived elsewhere actually worked with the crew that put in the pool at that place, and met the guy!), then it was inhabited by the Satanic band, Ministry. Lots of people that lived in the area during that time have eerie stories to tell about that place. We never had any experiences there, and I can’t say I really believe much of what I’ve heard, because it was also very clear that everybody was high on numerous substances at the time- guitar picks suddenly launching themselves upward, to stick in the ceiling, and such.

    The girls I used to work with at the resort health club in that same area often reported encountering the form of a Native American woman in the lounge area. I never did, but it was mentioned on several occasions.

    I don’t know what you did/didn’t see, but I believe you that it wasn’t just some common, normal thing. At the same time, I don’t want anything to “know” that I believe, so I keep saying I don’t. No aliens, no ghosts… demons I have to acknowledge, because I can’t deny the presences that used to scare me awake at night. Being raised in the church I know that there are spiritual battles going on around us all the time.

    That’s why I’ll keep saying “there’s no such thing” and opting to avoid scary or creepy movies. I don’t want to open any doorways.

  2. On a lighter note, the only time I ever woke up screaming, I had been dreaming that some poor, pitiful, shy, scared donkey lived down the hall, under my parents bed, and that every time it would venture out, I would tease it mercilessly, until it fled back to it’s hiding place. That is, until it lunged at me and bit me, at which point I woke up screaming and rolled right out of bed, getting stuck between the bed and the wall. Boy was I embarrassed when my dad woke up from all the commotion and came in to check on me. Funny how those screams attempted in sleep are, in reality, not at all as loud as they are in your sleeping head, coming out, instead, as lamb like bleats you can’t believe your parents even heard…

  3. Last night, probably due to this topic of conversation, or maybe the wine plus the 8 ibuprofen I had taken between 4 and 9:30pm, or the raging headache that wouldn’t go away, I dreamt (as in the past) that something was sitting on my chest. I “woke up” (because I really can’t tell if I woke up, or only dreamt that I did), only instead of keeping my eyes closed and praying until it went away, as I did in years past, I opened my eyes-

    It (whatever “it” was, because, though my eyes were open, I saw nothing, except for the indentation of whatever that it made amidst the bedclothes, in the area where I felt it resting heavily on my chest) hissed, and then was gone.

    This is rather typical of what I used to experience, as a teen. Sensing, in sleep, that something heavy and sinister was sitting on my body, creeping closer and closer, intent on doing me harm. This time, it was all in a dream, whereas I used to wake up and know that I was awake and experiencing it. It felt not unlike when the cats were allowed to roam about the house at night, and would, at some point, hop up on the bed, walk the length of my body and curl up on my chest. Thing is, the cats all sleep in their crates at night, and have for years.

    That dream reminded me of one I had the night before my sister called to announce her marital issues (and also said she felt the family was coming under attack). I dreamt we “found” a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. In our apartment. Not that Leo had morphed back into a puppy, but that suddenly there was a puppy, when we hadn’t acquired one. DH was enamored with it. I was suspicious. No way in hell would we acquire another animal, in this present living condition. I went over to investigate, because the whole thing just screamed “wrong” to me. Sure enough, puppy resented the closer inspection, suddenly turned black in color, with red eyes, and tried to flee. I grabbed it by the hind leg- something I would NEVER do to a “real” animal. It turned around to bite me.

    That’s when I ordered it to leave.

    That, too, was a dream, whereas in the past such things were not merely dreamt about in sleep.

    However, now when such things happen, it usually IS on a night where I’ve had a glass of wine or other libation. When I was a teenager, I had no such thing to “blame” these experiences on.

  4. I don’t even know where to start in commenting back on all of this, LOL! 🙂 That’s a lot of ‘experiences’! The dead grandmother walking around the bedroom, popping her ankles, made me crack up though. What kind of ghost grandma is that?! LAME! 🙂

    But on the other hand, a “dark winged thing” chasing her down the hall is pretty terrifying. I’d only venture out with a baseball bat… and then I’d be swinging and knocking holes in the walls. Either way, it’s a losing situation.

    The past owner of this house was apparently not a very nice guy. I don’t know if a family was in here or not, but my neighbor told me that the man who lived here was kind of unfriendly and a little nasty to people. He was always starting projects and never finishing them, and I think he had a huge trailer he parked in the backyard. In fact, the whole yard had crap all over it… I know this from looking at the satellite photo of my house on Google. You know how those photos are never up to date… But I guess that explains why he built the huge metal RV gate that can’t even be moved properly because of how badly it’s hung. Anyway, this guy didn’t die, he just lost the house to the bank. So if any residual badness lingers here from him, it’s just memories of him having a pissy attitude. I’ll tell him to quit acting like a jerk and ignore him.

    The little donkey down the hallway is kind of a cute one! Even if it did bite you. You were teasing it, so what did ya expect?!

    I don’t know about the evil RR puppy in your apt. though… eeek. That sounds kind of unpleasant. Looks like you opened the doorway just by reading my post and commenting on it! Uh-oh. Although, wine does seem like a more plausible explanation, so let’s stick with that one.

  5. Wow. That would have freaked me out! I wake up all the time thinking that I see something and nothing is there. I totally believe in ghosts and paranormal activity. I have had a few experiences myself and have even dreamt things about family memebers and myself that have come true. It’s slightly creepy and cool all at the same time.

    I don’t know if I would have been able to fall back to sleep after your dark figure experience. My brain doesn’t like it when I get scared and i start imaging all sorts of things!

    P.S. The Adventures of Photo Pixie are up on my blog! 🙂

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