For myself, It has always been a slippery slope between belief and disbelief; on the fence or off. When I was around ten years old, I decided one night while staring up at my ceiling fan, lying in bed, that I didn’t believe in God anymore. By the time I made the decision, I was recovering from my mother’s death, following a freak boating accident that devastated me in ways that I may still be unaware of. It was one of the hardest things I ever experienced, as a six-year-old child, no less. I always wanted to see her again in my dreams, but I never have.
As a young boy, my childish fears of the dark were no more alarming than those of other children. Perhaps, it’s not necessarily the dark that we are afraid of, as much as what’s inside the darkness; the primal fear of being stalked by what cannot be seen. When closed into a pitch black room, we feel for the light switch, and maybe that reaction is not only for fear of tripping.
It’s difficult to reconcile the two, being a disbeliever in an almighty, whilst also holding the belief that there is something else going on. So, in my own words, I would like to explain to the best of my ability what I have experienced and the feelings that followed.
To the best of my knowledge, I have never encountered a “friendly ghost,” or entity that made me feel safe or comfortable. The very first encounter that I ever had, was when I was still a child, maybe eight-years-old. I was asleep in my bed, and in the blackness of sleep, I saw a red face that resembled a mask. There were black holes where its eyes should have been, and two black holes for nostrils. Its mouth was agape and unmoving, portraying an infinite blackness within itself.
Fearful of what I saw, I was startled awake, and I opened my eyes. It was still there, staring down at me. My body froze in terror, unable to move while it hovered above me in the blackness of the bedroom. The face eventually faded and vanished after about thirty seconds. It could have been nothing more than a wild imagination, but that’s what all parents tell their children.
Years faded from memory, and I grew into an adult. I joined the Air Force and ended up in Germany, of all places. I lived in a dormitory there, and that is where I experienced the brunt of what a real haunting was. The dorm rooms each had rolladen window blinds which had the ability to cause pitch darkness, even during the brightest points of the day, because of the 24-hour work cycle and various shifts. The rooms could be so dark that you could not see your hand in front of your face even after allowing your eyes the time to adjust.
I was working the day shift at the time. After 12 long hours on the job, I showered and crawled into bed and stared blankly toward the ceiling. The room was completely dark, with the exception of small, dim lights from electronics. Hovering above my bed, I saw something strange. It was moving almost like a cloud, swirling like smoke in a burning house. The strangest part, I thought, was that it was darker than the room and darker than anything I had ever seen. I became a little unnerved, but I figured that it was my eyes playing tricks, and I decided to roll onto my side and ignore the smoke-like figure above me.
As I rolled over, a streak of red darted across the room, along with the cloud, frightening me into a petrified state, lying on my back, wide-eyed and breathless for a short time. Then my blanket folded across my chest without ever touching it. It was one of the strangest feelings of my life, being touched by this thing, somehow. I leaped from my bunk and turned on every light in my room. From that night forward, I never slept in that room again without some sort of light on to accompany me.
I told my friend, Charles, and his fiancee, Amy about what happened. She claimed that it was a demon. I rolled my eyes at the notion, but Amy conferred with her grandmother on the topic, and demons were the general consensus that they arrived to. I tried to remain reasonable, hoping that it was a strange trick of the eyes or my imagination.
Airmen frequently moved in and out of the dormitories, and normally as parting gifts we passed down to our friends and neighbors the things that we didn’t want to bring with us to wherever we were being stationed next. My friend, Charles and his newlywed wife, were moving off-base and offered me a Quija board. I thought little of it, and considered it to be a nice piece to hang on the wall of my bedroom. I had no intentions of ever using it, and I never did. The eyeglass piece was missing, so, I figured there wouldn’t be any “ghostly” communication going on, and I accepted the gift.
Placing the board on the wooden runner in my bedroom, I parted with it and gave it little more thought. It had been a sweltering German summer with no end in sight. The dorms were aged, having been lived in for generations, and had no air conditioning to speak of. My schedule had changed, and I was working the night shift, and my normal sleeping hours were during high noon. Sweating was a fact of life, and being the hottest summer on European record, proved to be the deaths of over 13,000 people due to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Shortly after having the Quija board in my possession, within a matter of days, I proceeded to have the most horrifying nightmare I have ever experienced. To this day, I still believe it to have been a spiritual attack.
The nightmare proceeded as follows: I was myself, staring at myself in the third-person. The person I stared at looked like me but acted nothing like me. He was a murderer, an arsonist, a rapist. Myself, in the first-person, was compelled to stop him. I looked down at my hand and a butcher knife appeared. I walked up to myself and began stabbing. Once my doppelganger laid dead in a pool of his own blood, I stared down at my own chest and noticed that it was covered in deep, gushing knife wounds. In my dream, I fell over and I died, and then. . . the dream repeated itself, except that this time, I had no self-control, and the dream commenced. After 5 or 6 repetitions, I awoke and sat up in bed, freezing and in shock. I’m not sure if I remember correctly, but I believe that when I opened my eyes, I saw my own breath on that hot summer day in Germany.
I ran to the bathroom and cranked the shower on as high as I could get it. I dove beneath the stream of water, but no amount of heat could stop my jaw from chattering. I shivered in my own skin beneath the scalding hot water. Every part of my body that was not beneath the water felt like ice, and I continuously rotated my body trying to cover myself in warmth.
It took nearly half an hour before I was able to warm my body enough to exit the shower. Immediately following the incident, I ran to my friend Charles’ room and told him that I was going to burn the Quija board, believing that it was the cause of my nightmare. He had not moved from the dorms yet with his wife and shrugged with nonchalance in regards to the idea of roasting a harmless cardboard game. I later found out that it is ill-advised, burning Quija boards.
I grabbed my zippo lighter fluid and carried the board down to the fire pit. Laying it horizontally along the grills I doused it with fluid and set it ablaze. All of the fluid burned off, leaving the board unscathed. I tried starting the fire multiple times without success, and my friend’s wife grew wary that there was something supernatural afoot.
I jammed the “board game” between the grills, then only sprayed the bottom portion of the board with fluid. After nearly a minute, the board finally began to ignite. To this day, I have never seen anything burn with such intensity. It began spouting fire in cones, and X’s, frightening all of us, nearly sending Amy running in the opposite direction, staggering as she moved away from the tendrilous fire.
Afterward, I felt relieved by what I had done and hoped that the worst of it all was behind me, but instead, the haunting appeared to escalate. It eventually turned into a daily occurrence that something out of the ordinary would happen inside my room. Things would be moved from places where I had left them. Objects would fall over and roll off of my shelves without being touched. One afternoon, I arrived home from work to find that every single drawer, cabinet, and nightstand was wide open, and pulled out as far as they would allow.
Over the course of time, I spoke at length with my friends about what I was experiencing, many of whom were skeptical of what I was telling them, but they were at least kind enough to play along. They knew that I was afraid of something, which elevated my credibility with them. I eventually had my day in court, and I was able to show my closest friends some proof.
One afternoon I sat at my computer, browsing the internet. I leaned back in my chair and spun around. Staring at my walls, I noticed something; handprints. . . everywhere. They were all over the walls, and all over the ceiling. Upon further examination, I ruled out several things. First of all, they were not mine. Second of all, they likely belonged to a girl or woman by their size, which was over an inch shorter than my own fingers. Third of all, they were in places where the human hand would not be able to reach, without the hand being violently broken and jammed into the space where a wall and ceiling conjoin, or where two walls meet. I grabbed a wet paper towel and tried wiping them from the walls and they would not come off. When I showed the handprints to my friends, after all the other things I had mentioned in the past, I had their full and undivided attention.
After a while, I became accustomed to the haunting and accepted it as a normal part of my enlisted military life. I can remember several occasions where I simply barked out at nothing in my room, telling whatever it was to shut up, or quiet down, or to stop moving my s***. I remember speaking out into existence, saying something along the lines of, “I don’t care what you do. Knock things over, throw stuff. . . I don’t care, but I don’t want to see you,” because I thought I saw an apparition of a woman standing in my room from the corner of my eye.
Several of my friends asked why I didn’t ask to change dorm rooms, to which I replied, “And what am I going to do? Tell our first sergeant that my room is haunted? Yeah, that’s a great idea, if I want to be sent off for a psychological exam, instead.”
Time moved forward and my time at Ramstein Airbase came to a close. I remember thinking to myself on my flight across the Atlantic, whether or not this dark energy would or could follow me, or even attach itself to me somehow. I later discovered that something did find me, whatever it was.
I was a heavy smoker for many years of my life, and one night, in particular, I woke up from a deep sleep. It wasn’t common for me to wake up and smoke a cigarette, but on this particular night, I walked out into the living room and lit one up in the pitch dark. For whatever reason, I did not feel like turning on any lights. I felt very strange. The flame from my lighter cast a dull light across the room, and then an old familiar feeling occurred, and the hair on my neck and arms stood on end. I was overcome with a feeling of dread and felt that something was in the room with me, staring at me. I froze with the cigarette burning between my lips, shifting my eyes around in the darkness, searching for something that I really didn’t want to find. The cable box in the living room began acting peculiar. I heard a clicking sound and the cable box turned off, then on, then off, then on again; resetting itself each time to the default numbers of 88. I snuffed my smoke out in the ashtray and hurried away to the bedroom. My heart seemed to be exploding out of my chest with anxiety, but it eventually quelled itself, and I was able to sleep.
Hauntings were considerably less common for me than they were when I lived in Germany, though they did nonetheless still happen from time to time. The last haunting that I experienced, and probably one of the most memorable, occurred about eight years ago. I was asleep in bed with my back facing the edge of it. It was morning and daylight outside. I heard a rasping voice, almost like a loud whisper, say, “Mike.” My eyes opened immediately, and I was fully awake at that point. Then I heard my name again, “Mike,” and I flipped over to see who was speaking to me, and to my surprise, no one was standing there calling me. Whatever it was, it knew my name and it apparently knew me. . .
Since those days gone by, I have found the love of my life, and I married her. She’s much like myself, with her own haunting stories to tell. For the both of us and for our son’s sake, we hope that the worst of these experiences are behind us.
What does it all actually mean? I believe that there are many religions that try to interpret and find reasoning for our existence, but I doubt that anyone truly knows or understands what is happening. The universe is so vast and expansive that we may never truly know or understand the other side until after we’re dead and gone.
On a side note, if you have a Quija board in your home, I suggest you get that thing out of it.