My eyes popped open as the familiar scary sound entered my consciousness. Footsteps were creeping toward my bedroom. I quickly and quietly jumped out of the bed and tiptoed over to my bedroom door, and with trembling legs and pounding heart, listened. The footsteps were getting closer. It’ll be like the last time, I yelled to myself, trying to remain calm. You’ll see. Just open the door! I swallowed a deep breath and counted. One. Two. Three. No one was there.
There’s nothing more unnerving than being alone in your home and seeing a dark shadowy figure whip past your peripheral vision. The moment fills you with a spine-tingling apprehensiveness; a feeling that causes you to move cautiously from room to room, searching for something you’ll never find.
The first time I was alone in my four-story townhome and heard footsteps on the floor above me—when I knew for a fact no one was home—left me paranoiac, to say the least. I was in my family room located on the first floor, watching TV and folding laundry, when I heard it. As the stairs above me creaked, I could feel the saliva leaving my mouth. I jumped off the couch and strained to listen. There was definitely someone walking on the floor above me. Suddenly panicked, I eyed the phone on the other side of the room, and made a mad dash over to it to call the police. But at that exact moment, the phone rang, and because of its impeccable timing, I was afraid to pick it up. By the second ring, I got up my nerve to answer it, and as I did, the channel on the TV changed. My house had become a hotbed of chaotic activity. And what added to it? When I answered the phone, no one was there.
Anyone I talk to says the same thing. The very thought of a ghost conjures images of hazy, milky entities roaming castle hallways and big, old Victorian homes. These seemingly-real forms have been spotted by doorways, or standing by windows, or floating down a dimly lit staircase. Many people claim to have had face-to-face encounters with these ghosts, and because of it, paranormal movies and TV shows have become increasingly popular over the last few years.
I’d always believed that when a person died, they simply vanished into nothingness. The light of their consciousness slowly dimmed until it completely fizzled out. I hadn’t given thought as to whether they could come back to the physical world to visit. But I found out they did visit. They lingered the earthly plane, transparent and bloodless in their plight, searching for something they needed or left behind. In my case, it was me.
Throughout history, people have spoken of things which aren’t of this world. Epic tales get acted-out over roaring campfires, all in an effort to stir the imagination of the listener. We all love a good scare now and then, don’t we? It’s edgy. It’s a thrill. It’s like a high-adrenaline rush; where escaping the clutches of danger is the reward. A good scare is fun, providing of course, that we come out of it unscathed. And when we do come out of it, we laugh and high-five each other. But deep down, our laugh is a cover-up for the truth of what could have happened.
Just like a thrill-ride, we laugh coming out of a bone-chilling paranormal movie, or the county fair’s haunted house. We had escaped the clutches of the pretended monsters. We may walk away wondering. We may speculate the what ifs. We may let the experience roll over in our minds. But the minute our heads hit the pillow, those what ifs come alive in the playground of our imaginations, giving reality to that which we deemed impossible. The truth is if you walk into a house not expecting it to be haunted, and something hauntingly frightening happens, you won’t walk away laughing. In fact, the chilling experience will have you running for your life.