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Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Elegant Ghost Tale from Author Stant Litore

The Dead in Venice: Guest Ghost Story Post by Stant Litore
This is indeed a true story, and I have never forgotten it, though I also never thought I'd write about it.
I was raised in a house inhabited by the unquiet and unrestful dead. Footfalls on the stairs in the empty hours, and a revenant that would shake the bed at 3:53 am each morning without fail. The house had been built in 1903 and it was in every way unsound: black mold thick as cobwebs in the attic, rotting wood porch, and all the memories of some family that had lived there before and no longer did. My father kept a shotgun by the front door, and we had the county’s largest, loudest dogs outside to watch over both house and livestock.
But that was just the character of the house; it wasn’t chilling, it just was. Waking up at 3:53 you could get used to, and you or your brother, whoever woke first, could always chuck a pillow at the offending spirit. One time I sat up and rubbed my eyes and, because I was a little older then, I told the spirit quite soberly that I was sorry but I couldn’t help it.
It got a little quieter after that.
None of that was scary – certainly not fearful like being stalked by a cougar in the woods, which happened to me once. That was fearful – you knew there was a good chance you might be eaten, and you couldn’t see a thing through the ferns.
But this was our house, and these were its dead, and none of them particularly malignant, just full of sorrow and loneliness and insomnia. Other people’s dead are scarier.
It was the cold, windy December of 2002 and I was in Venice traveling with other students. What you have to understand about Venice is that for all its gondolas and its moonlit night-time beauty, it has more dead than most places in the world and many of them died in nasty and unmentionable ways, and a good many of them linger there now without name or memory. The people they might wish to communicate with are gone, and the things they might want to communicate about are gone, and they’re all that’s left.
I don’t know why this night was as scary as it was, but I’ll tell it the best I know how. We had just come back from visiting the Jewish Quarter with its somber monument of apology (in four languages) to the innocent sent away to die in WWII. Why we went there by night in December I have no idea. We were coming back and waiting for a vaporetto by the canal, there in the back of Venice, the part you don’t see in movies. The houses were ancient and drowning and water-logged and looked as miserable as people sitting naked in a swamp. There were broken windows and rooms that maybe hadn’t been lit in years. It would have been just mournful, but seeing what we’d already seen that night, those lonely windows just seemed to whisper: Terrible things happened here, terrible things, we saw them, but we won’t tell you about them, we’ll just sit here and look at you.
One of the girls in our group shrieked. We all looked up, but she and I were the only ones that saw it. The others said afterward they saw nothing or maybe just a sort of white blur. One of the other students said they actually thought they saw a doll in a white dress.
I know Allison had nightmares about it for weeks. I can’t say that I did, but it sat with me and has ever since, and I think of it sometimes and when I do I go get a sweater or an afghan and pull it around my shoulders like an old woman with a shawl.
What I saw that night I will write here with reluctance. It wasn’t like the dead in my father’s crumbling old house. It wasn’t like the dead I’ve seen or think I’ve seen since. I saw a young girl who couldn’t have been more than fourteen, dressed in white and slamming her palms on the glass and screaming without sound. I will never forget her eyes. I won’t forget the way she was there – extremely, visibly there. And then the way she wasn’t. And the way she was back again a moment later, not because she’d moved or been pulled away but because one moment she existed at that window, and the next she didn’t, and the moment after that she was there again screaming as though there had been no interruption or pause. Like flicking a light switch on and off. And I will never forget the looming shadow behind her, and the way my heart pounded in my chest at the sight of it.
If I ever feel the kind of terror I saw in that girl’s eyes, I don’t think I’ll survive it. I think it would leave me a mindless, shaking animal without thought or speech. And afterward, I might not even remember how to scream.
By the time the late-night vaporetto chugged up to our drenched station with a noise of bubbles and old motors, the light switch had flicked off for a while and the girl hadn’t come back. Allison was crying softly and one of the other girls was holding her and trying to calm her down. I was just watched the window, and I kept my eyes on it until the waterboat took us around a bend in that little back-of-Venice canal.
That’s the only real ghost story I have to tell, because most ghosts are just lonely and restless, not unlike some people are even before they die. But that one wasn’t just lonely and restless, and I hope before God that whatever man or thing hurt her in whatever century she lived in felt the remorse of it for the rest of his existence. 
Stant Litore writes about the restless dead, and the first volume in his series The Zombie Bible is now available at Amazon ( and Smashwords ( It’s called Death Has Come Up into Our Windows and tells the story of a prophet imprisoned in a well in a dying city; each day, his gaolers toss one of the ravenous dead in after him. You should read it; the book will leave a mark on you. Stant lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters, and stays out of certain parts of the mountains during the dark of the moon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

True Horror Tale from Author M.R. Mathias

OK folks, my offering here isn't a supernatural thing, but its freaky, and most importantly: It Is True!
  Summer, early 80's-- Fossil Creek, Texas, just outside the Summerfields Housing Edition.
  My buddy and I were fishing in a creek that pooled into a pond-sized swell. The place was barren then: open fields full of mesquite trees and scrub brush, with just a gravel road through it all. We were hoofing it. Neither of us were old enough to drive, but we were getting close. We were notorious for getting caught fishing in private ponds. This place wasn't private, though. It was raw undeveloped North Texas land, with a creek running through it. 
 The gravel road bridged the creek poorly. It was like they laid down a corregated tube about three feet around and just poured concrete haphazzardly over it until it was level with the gravel on each side. The water built up on one side of the road and spewed out of the tube on the other. A friend of ours once jumped in and was sucked through and blown out the other side. He came out all cut up. He almost bled to death, and ended up getting over seventy-five stitches. It was a great place to catch catfish though, and that was exactly what me and Paul were doing. We caught a bunch right where the tube usually sucked under the road. It wasn't blowing out the other side this day, though-- there was something plugging the flow down to a trickle. Paul was studying the faucet-like run of water coming out the pipe and grew excited when he said he saw the water run pink for moment... then I caught another catfish on the other side and he helped me get it in.
  We cleaned our catch at home and were suprised by how full the fish's bellies were. We were going to have a fish fry on Saturday, but luckily that Friday evening the news told us a grim tale that answered the question of why there were so many fat fish that day. A woman was found, bound in wire-- or with wire marks, I don't remember-- but the water pressure finaly built up enough that her half-eaten (by the catfish) body was finaly forced out the other side. Developers found her. I'm glad they did before we ate those fish! Yukkkk! It's weird knowing that while we were up on the road having a blast, she was crammed in that tube dead and alone.
  That's my creepy tale...  Happy Halloween.   
Michael Robb Mathias is a bestselling fantasy and horror author: 

(That poor woman! Gah.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Gentle Ghost from Fantasy Author Yvonne Hertzberger


My mother-in-law loved Christmas. It was a special family time for her and for us. So when she knew she was dying of cancer she gave us a gift. She stayed alive in hospital, even enjoyed the choir that sang carols in the halls. Not quite conscious but you could tell she heard them. She loved music, had been a wonderful singer and played piano.

But New Years Day was Mom’s birthday, so she gave herself a gift as well and slipped away peacefully at 2:30 a.m. - her 59th.

At 5:30 a.m. my spouse, father-in-law and I sat in our living room reminiscing about Mom; her laugh, what a sweet, gentle, creative woman she was, always the consummate hostess, always gracious and accepting of difference. She was also a deeply spiritual woman.

A lull occurred in the flow of conversation and we kept silent for a few moments, each in our own thoughts, sad, but also relieved that Mom’s suffering had ended.

I looked up over my left shoulder to see Mom, head and shoulders only, looking as well as I had ever known her, dressed in a filmy green fabric in the shade of green she loved. She smiled at me, gave her characteristic giggle that had endeared her to me and spun in a graceful pirouette that would have made a ballerina jealous. Then she gave me another smile and faded from view.

I was the only one who experienced this. The others had no idea what had just happened. But we had a special bond and her visitation was a great comfort to me. She let me know that all was well with her and I need not worry about her any more. I took it as her gift to me for being the only one in the family who would listen when she wanted to give up fighting, the only one who would hear that she was dying That gift gave me certitude that there is, indeed, an afterlife.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guest Halloween Ghost Post! Author Ashley Paternostro

In the summer of 2010, my husband and I were on an antique buying binge, finishing our home with our eclectic style of industrial repurposed goods.  
My ghost story begins like this...
Tucked in the corner of an antique store in Sandwich Illinois was a beautiful early 1930‘s soft metal icebox. Its tin outer shell had the perfect patina-- a scuffed, aged silver, the most amazing heavy latches and thick worn hinges. It was priced for a bargain-- we had to have it! My husband and I shoved it in the back of our car with dreams of rewiring it into an up-cycled wine cellar.  
When we brought it home, I immediately hired an artist to paint 'WINE CELLAR' on the front. I scrubbed the wire shelves and touched up the places the silver finish had worn thin. I called for estimates on rewiring, and with each day I grew attached to the end vision.  I loved it, and I could picture it in our house. It was perfect.
A few days later, while I was home folding laundry, I heard a tinkling-- like glass being clinked softly--in the kitchen. I was home alone and knew it was impossible, but still I followed the sound. As I rounded the corner into the kitchen, the sound stopped and the room was 'just so': nothing had been touched.  I had gone back to the grind of laundry, when I heard the noise again... only now it was louder. I hurried downstairs, worried that one of my dogs was doing something he shouldn’t be.
In the kitchen, we had wine glasses hung upside down from shelves, seven feet off the ground. It was against the back wall where the bar would be eventually-- where the revamped ice box wine fridge would be. To this day, what I saw still confounds me. 
All of the glassware was gone from the rack-- scattered about the room, unbroken. Some glasses were right side up in chairs, others were across the room on the hardwood floor; some were under the table, and another in a napkin bin.  
It was impossible that they would fallen from that height and not broken into a million pieces upon impact. If by some fate they had fallen on their own, it was improbable that they would have landed as they did-- standing right side up across the room.  

I knew. I felt it-- and how I don’t know-- but I knew... it was somehow connected to the ice box, which was from the prohibition era. I didn’t have to think about it: the knowing of that washed over as I stood there looking at my glasses, and the rack-- which was still hung perfectly. In that instant, my love for the ice box had been replaced with a wary feeling of being unsettled. My husband didn’t believe me, though he saw the glasses. I refused to touch them. He didn’t want to get rid of the ice box, but respected my wishes when I said: “That is not coming into my house”.
I listed the ice box for sale, offering it for a little more than we paid. A woman came to get it: she was so excited-- she shared my same vision. We lifted it into her car and wished her well. A short while later, she called to inform me that she had been driving home on the highway with it when all four tires of her SUV blew out.  
I can’t say for certain what happened that day, but I can say something happened. I’ve always believed in ghosts and the paranormal... but maybe I didn’t believe hard enough. I can say: I do now.  

Visit Ashley's blog at

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Guest Ghost Post! Author Julie Ann Dawson

Now you have to understand that my mother’s side of the family has a history of paranormal encounters.  There is the story about my Aunt Ella Mae seeing the Grim Reaper just before Uncle Sam died.  There is the story about a phantom dog that used to patrol the yard at my grandmother’s house. There is the story about the lights that use to dance over my crib when I was a baby.  But I can’t really validate the truth behind any of those, so we’ll leave them for another time.
But I can tell you about the haunted house we lived in on Atlantic Street in Bridgeton, NJ.  I was around six at the time when we moved into a two story Victorian.  Almost immediately, my mother started to notice something was off about the place.  Windows and doors would swing open and close on their own.  Items would move from one place to the other.  At first, none of us believed her.  I don’t know if my dad ever did.  But then I started to notice the weird stuff going on, too.  The lights would go on and off.  The TV would come on by itself.  Your general creepiness.
After a couple of months of this, whatever it was started to get angry I suppose because we just all sort of shrugged and went on with our lives.  That is when we started to notice the cold air coming from beneath the door that led to the attic.  Now we rented the house, and the landlord padlocked the attic because he said he was using it for storage.  And when my parents asked about it he would just say it was probably a draft and he would take care of it. But this wasn’t a draft.  This was a discernable difference in temperature between the area immediately in front of the door and the rest of the house.
But my parents didn’t press the matter.  And I guess that made something angry.
One night we were all downstairs watching TV while my mom went upstairs to take a bath.  After a few minutes, we heard her yelling at us to “Stop that whistling!” as if someone was upstairs messing with her.  Then my mom screamed, and my dad rushed upstairs.
My mom had jumped out of the tub, and had scratches down her arm as if something with three claws raked her.  I remember seeing these scratches clear as day; something like a cat would do only the claw marks were further apart. 
Suffice it to say, we moved out shortly thereafter.  The landlord didn’t even fuss with my parents about breaking the lease, from what I understand.  When I was a teenager, we moved into a different house on the same street and I would have to walk pass that house going to school.  It seemed like there was a new family moving in every few months.  I always wondered if it was because of whatever was in the attic. 

Julie Ann Dawson is an author, editor, publisher, RPG designer, and advocate for writers who may occasionally require the services of someone with access to Force Lightning (and in case it was not obvious, a bit of a geek).  Her work has appeared in a variety of print and digital media, including such diverse publications as the New Jersey Review of Literature, Lucidity, Black Bough, Poetry Magazine, Gareth Blackmore’s Unusual Tales, Demonground, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and others.  In 2002 she started her own publishing company, Bards and Sages. The company has gone from having two titles to over one hundred titles between their print and digital products. He most recent novel is the paranormal thriller A Game of Blood.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guest Ghost Post: Author Kathleen S. Allen

            When I was younger, we moved into the house-- a rental-- painted the living room walls burnt orange, and unpacked. On the third night in the house, my sister and I were watching TV in the family room when all of a sudden the room got cold. Very cold. It was the middle of July and although the windows were open to catch any late night breezes, the air usually remained humid, hot and sticky with no breeze. Several nights later, I was lying in bed when a THUMP came from my closet. Thinking my guitar fell over, I pulled open the closet door but the guitar wasn’t there. Nothing had been disturbed. Shrugging, I went back to bed. Late that night, I heard a noise that woke me. Someone was crying. Thinking it might be either my mom or my sister, I tiptoed out of bed to check on them. Both were sound asleep in their respective bedrooms. I must’ve heard a cat meowing outside.
I went back to sleep. In the morning, the closet door hung open. Strange. I know I shut it because my bedroom was small and with the closet door open there wasn’t much room between the bed and the door.
            “Mom!” I yelled down the hall. “My closet door keeps coming open on its own.”
            Mom came into my room to inspect the door. She opened it, she closed it-- she swung it to and fro. “Seems okay to me. Maybe it needs to be leveled or something.”

            Soon, my sister and I were sitting on my bed laughing about something when a THUMP came from the closet.
            Her eyes widened in fear. “What’s that?” she asked.
            “I don’t know-- it keeps banging for some reason.” I got off the bed to open the closet door.
            “No, don’t open it!” she screamed.
            “Why not?” I asked. I opened the door and all was quiet within. I shrugged. “See? Nothing.”
            “It’s a ghost,” she whispered.
            “A ghost? Why do you think that?”
            “It’s knocking to get out; you better leave your closet door open from now on.”
            “Okay, but the ghost is going to be mad if you don’t let it out.”

            That night I wondered about that noise. Just to be on the safe side, I opened the closet door. But I was afraid something might come out of it, so I shut it again. I heard the banging in the night but I held my pillow over my ears to drown it out. Eventually, I got some sleep.
All was quiet the next night, and the following one. On the third night, I began to relax thinking it was the house settling or pipes creaking. I fell asleep, but when I woke up in the middle of the night, I spied a woman in an old-fashioned yellow gown trimmed with lace at the cuffs and collar drift out of the closet toward me. She smiled so I wasn’t afraid. She laid cool hands on my forehead and whispered to me: “Call your mother.”
            “Mom!” I called. The lady smiled nodding her head at me. “Mom!” I called again. The lady drifted back into the closet when my mom came running in.
            “What is it? What’s wrong?”
            My sister, who was right behind her, stared at me. “Is it the ghost?”
            “She’s here-- in there, dressed in yellow.” Mom yanked the closet door open but it was empty. I moaned and mom rushed over to me. She put her hand on my forehead, much like the lady in yellow did. “You’re burning up.” She glanced at my sister. “Go and get the thermometer-- now.”
            As soon as my temperature had been taken, Mom read it aloud. “103 degrees and climbing.” By now I was half in and out of consciousness. I remember mom picking me up, a car ride, and being wheeled into the ER.
            I woke up in the morning feeling better. My sister smiled-- she was sitting by my bed. “You almost died, you know. You had a high fever and an infection of some sort. We’re lucky you saw that ghost.”
            “And you were dehydrated from the fever,” Mom said coming into the room laying a hand on my forehead. “Better. Ready to go home?”
            I was reluctant to sleep in my bedroom. I opened the closet to check inside before I hopped into bed. No yellow lady. Mom came in to kiss me goodnight.
            “Did I really see a lady dressed in yellow?” I asked.
            “It was the fever-- it made you delirious,” Mom said. I nodded.

            Two days later I was looking for something to wear in my closet when I spotted some fabric on the shelf tucked way in back behind a box. I pulled it out and unfolded it.
            “Mom!” I yelled. Both mom and my sister came running. “Look at this; I found it in the closet behind a box.”
            “It’s a yellow gown,” my sister whispered. “With lace at the collar and cuffs.”
            “It’s hers,” I said. “The lady in yellow left it for me so I’d know she was here.”
            “It’s dusty and torn-- it looks old, like an antique,” Mom said. “Put it back where you found it.”
            With reluctance, I folded it and pushed it back on the shelf, and went to bed.
            In the morning, I decided to take the dress to the dry cleaners. Maybe I could wear it for Halloween. But when I opened the closet and rummaged around on the shelf, I couldn’t find it. I got a chair to stand on and moved everything from the shelf. No dress. I searched the floor of the closet. Nothing. The dress was gone, back where it had come from. The ghost lady had her yellow gown once again.

Kathleen S. Allen: YA Author:
Guest blogger every Wednesday on:


Friday, October 14, 2011

Guest Kate Danley: The Ghost of Antietam

It was my junior year in college.  A bunch of kids were heading down to the harbor to tie one on, but I was too young and I was staring down the barrel of a mind-numbingly dull Halloween.  I was that kid that never did anything wrong, because I got caught.  Nothing kills thrill of rebellion quite like NEVER getting away with ANYTHING. 
Enter my buddy, we’ll call him Sam.  He was a total kissass, just like me, and we got along better than… well… two things that get along really well for years and are all unicorns and Twizzlers and then one thing turns into an asshole and then both things end up hating each other but eventually find each other again on Facebook and after “Liking” each other’s posts enough, the two things call a truce and now they tag each other’s pictures and its fine.  
Like that.
          But flashback to Unicorn/Twizzler Land and that fateful Halloween, Sam and I hatch a plan to be badasses.  To be so hardcore, all those loser drunk people are going to be SO JEALOUS  of our AWESOMENESS.
          We were going ghost hunting. 
On Halloween night. 
Full moon and all.
Our college was in Civil War battlefield territory.  Antietam, host of the bloodiest battle of all the battles, was a short 45 minute drive away.
We piled into my Nissan station wagon.  Sam had painted his face to look like a member of KISS or something (what had you painted your face to look like, Sam?). 
We were going to find some ghosts! 
We were going to find them! 
And… look at them…? 
I’m still not quite sure what we were thinking we were going to do.
But we were going!
We arrived at the battlefield and I drove out to this flag pole in the middle of this cornfield.  The field had been recently harvested and there was nothing there but the knee high, dried up stalks.
I pulled over my car.  We hopped out.  The moon was so bright, we could read the plaque, which informed us that this was where the first bullet was shot.
And then we just sort of stood there for a minute, trying to figure out what ghost hunters are supposed to do next.
Evidently, ghost hunters don’t really have to do that much, because suddenly there was a pocket of air that whooshed by us. 
You could hear it blowing the low cornstalks, but nothing was moving. 
And then, as real as your boss yelling at you for screwing up the Outlook calendar, there was the sound of footsteps. 
The walked from the left of us to the right of us. 
They sounded like someone with boots was tromping through a field. 
Sam looked at me and I looked at him and he said to me, “Did you hear that?” and I said, “Yah.”
And then another pocket of wind swept by the front of my car.  And then, there was the sound of something being dragged.
There is a moment of truth in everyone’s life – when all artifice is stripped away and you know the truth.  You see people for who they are and know that you are nothing.  You get a glimpse of infinity. 
That moment with our ghost, standing out there in the cornfield, just two dumb kids (one in greasepaint)… I understood.
And then Sam said, “Maybe we should leave.”
I have never run so fast for a door in my entire life.
As we drove away, we passed by a cemetery.  I turned to Sam and asked, “Want to see if there is anyone hanging out there?”
Without even looking at me, he replied, “No.” 

Kate Danley is twenty year veteran of stage and screen with a B.S. in theatre from Towson University. She was one of four students to be named a Maryland Distinguished Scholar in the Arts in the annual competition.

Her debut novel, The Woodcutter, was honored with the Garcia Award for the Best Fiction Book of the Year, the 1st Place Fantasy Book in the Reader Views Literary Awards, and the winner of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Her plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, and the Washington, DC/Baltimore area. Her screenplay Fairy Blood won 1st Place in the Breckenridge Festival of Film Screenwriting Competition in the Action/Adventure Category and her screenplay American Privateer was a 2nd Round Choice in the Carl Sautter Memorial Screenwriting Competition.

Her short films Dog Days, Sock Zombie, SuperPout, and Sports Scents can be seen in festivals and on the internet. She trained in on-camera puppetry with Mr. Snuffleupagus and recently played the head of a 20-foot dinosaur on an NBC pilot.

She lost on Hollywood Squares.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Guest Ghost Post: Barry Napier

I was born and raised in the southern US, in a community where, despite the massive amounts of loggers and lumber companies, a great deal of forests still stand.  My stepfather owns his own logging business and used to tell us that in the process of clearing land, some loggers would uncover slave graveyards left hidden and forgotten by the tragedies of the Civil War.  Given this, it’s easy to imagine the ghost stories that sometimes spring up in the area.

I’ll give you a perfect example:  There is a house within ten miles of where I grew up that was abandoned in the 1940s.  It’s a historical fact that it was standing during the Civil War.  (If I can sneak a quick plug in here, this house was actually the inspiration behind my new novel, The Bleeding Room).  I have been inside the house on two occasions (although one of those occasions likely shouldn’t count since I was quite inebriated).  On my clear-headed visit, I experienced enough activity to solidly confirm that yes, I do believe in ghosts.  There was clear murmuring and banging coming from the old partially collapsed slave shacks in the rear of the property.  There were unexplainable cold pockets of air that seemed to move, despite the summer night and lack of a breeze.

But even before that, there was that one defining moment that hooked me on the paranormal.  I have discussed it on my blog recently, and offer you the core of it here.  If you’d like to read the entire post, it can be found here. )

When I was fourteen, I had already learned the art of being anti-social.  Saturday nights were spent at home, watching TV.  It was on my 14th year that my parents decided I was old enough to “babysit” my younger brother (he’s 5 years behind me).  One night, sitting in the living room floor and eating some snack or another (probably Wise potato chips because I was addicted to them at this age), I was glued to a movie.  I stood up to go the fridge for a drink and as I did, caught the figure of someone standing on the porch outside.

The following thoughts went through my head in a matter of two seconds:
That’s just your reflection…nope, not my reflection because I’m not wearing a hat and this person is….well maybe it’s Jacob (my brother) standing behind me and its his reflection…ah hell, Jacob is in his room, playing Super Contra…oh crap, what if there is someone trying to break into the house…?
Once this flurry of activity had purged itself from my head, I was amazingly calm.  The figure still stood there, on the other side of the window, on the porch.  It was a man, wearing a sort of bowler hat and a tattered gray suit.  I can’t be certain because of the window, the bad light, and the age of the memory itself, but I think it was an African-American man.  He was just peering into the window.  He was not see-through, as most ghost stories have you believe, but at the same time he was not all there.  It is why I was so convinced at first that it was a reflection; he had that same sort of thin quality to him.  Not once did he actually look directly at me.  He seemed more interested in the house.

In awe, I called for my brother.  And as I did, it was almost like the sound of my voice scared the man on the porch.  He didn’t fade away so much as simply winked out of sight.  There one minute and gone the next.

I would have probably just ignored this eventually, passing it off as the result of my overactive imagination that had been addicted to horror movies from an early age.  But then there were these things to be considered:

When I did tell my brother about it, he seemed to get the chills.  He cut me off before I could finish the description, asking, “did he have on one of those old-time hats like you sometimes see in the movies?”
“Yeah,” I said.

With a scared little smile, my brother told me he had seen this same man a few days ago, standing in the kitchen.  When my brother tried to speak to him, he disappeared.

Weeks later, my mother claims to have heard someone whistling a song while she was getting dressed for work, after my brother and I had caught the bus to school.

At the age of sixteen, I woke one night to the sound of a door opening.  I looked up and for a split second, caught the sight of an old woman at the foot of my bed.  (This one, I will admit, I have never really given 100% authenticity because of my troubles with sleep…this could have easily been some coming-out-sleep phenomenon).

My father has seen chairs on the porch move on their own, including a noticeable rocking of the porch swing.

Just a few months ago, as my brother was taking care of the folks’ pets while they were on vacation, he heard a picture fall from the coffee table.  When he went to pick it up, he found that it had not just fallen, but had somehow made it nearly four feet away from the table.

To this day, whenever I walk up a dark stairway by myself or hear an unexpected noise when I am home alone, my mind goes back to that man staring through the living room window.  I think of walking into one of those cold pockets in the abandoned house and remember how fearfully excited I was. 
Call it a brush with the unknown or just an overactive imagination, but these are the moments that have really got my mind racing: is there something else beyond this life and, if so, are those that are interacting with us just being social or mourning a death they have never fully come to terms with?

Barry has had more than 40 short stories and poems published in online and print publications. He is the author of The Masks of Our Fathers, 13 Broken Nightlights, The Final Study of Cooper M. Reid and A Mouth for Picket Fences, his first poetry collection. He is currently experimenting with a Kindle graphic novel titled Birdwatching from Mars and editing a book of paranormal poetry titled I Know What I Saw. His novel The Bleeding Room has recently been published by Graveside Tales. You can learn more than you care to know about Barry

Monday, October 3, 2011

Guest Post: The Ghost Named Earl by Jeff Bennington

My first guest blog on things that go bump in the night is from the awesome 
Jeff Bennington and his 
Spookify Me- a collection of scary stories.

In the fall of 2010, my wife and I went on a weekend getaway with some friends of ours. We rented a really cool cabin in Nashville, Indiana equipped with hot tub, gas grill and pool table. Nestled in a cozy hillside, the joint had a beautiful wraparound porch and an exquisite view of the southern Indiana countryside. The sun shone through the tree and the air felt crisp and cool.
I was in Heaven. 
We unpacked, started the gas log and settled into our perfect retreat. We had a fun evening planned of shopping, cards and watching horror flicks.
After we settled in, we decided to head into town to walk through the many shops and galleries. The storefronts were lined with pumpkins and hay bales, temping us with hot deals and hot-apple cider. The evening went as planned and we returned to our cabin ready to warm our bones and watch House on Haunted Hill.
Before I knew it, the other three started getting sleepy and we decided to hit the sack.
A couple hours later, around 2:00 a.m., I woke up dripping with sweat. The upper loft had very little airflow. I felt so flipping hot I couldn’t stand it. My wife slept like a baby, but I had to get out of there.
I lumbered down the steps and listened to the creaks and cracks in the rafters caused by the whistling wind. Believe it or not, I enjoyed the sounds coming from the rustic structure. I peered at the leather couch; it looked so cool and inviting. For a moment I imagined sprawling out into its cushiony spread, but I heard a strange noise coming from the kitchen and my skin melted off my face.
I looked around and didn’t see anything unusual. The open concept left nothing to hide. The stairs opened to the living room, dining room and kitchen. Our friend’s bedroom and bath were the only other rooms on the first floor and they too were within eyeshot. After giving the cabin a final inspection from where I stood, I lay down on the couch, snuggled into my bed sheet and closed my eyes.
The noises continued.
I listened carefully, trying to make sense of it all. The squeaks and groans seemed to be coming from every direction. No big deal, I thought. It’s just a cabin. Get over it and fall asleep. 
Then, something curious happened. The creaking floorboards began to move closer to me. One at a time I’d hear what sounded like footsteps rolling across the wood floor, carefully pressing down, trying not to be heard. My heart, as you can imagine hammered in my chest, nearly bursting through my ribcage. I looked through the TV screen to see if there was anyone walking behind me, but I didn’t see anything. Then when this thing, whatever it was, pressed into the floor right next to the couch, I couldn’t take it, I sat up, turned my head toward the open space and heard a voice forcefully whisper, “Hello!”
This wasn’t a quiet, don’t let them hear you whisper. Oh, no! This was a, I’m not presently living in your dimension, so I’m screaming at you type of whisper.
I panicked, jumping straight up like the cat that I was, nearly falling off the couch. 
As I turned I saw a dark silhouette, adding to my near death experience. Seconds later, I realized that the shape beside me was only a floor lamp, but that didn’t make me feel any better. My heart continued pounding like a jackhammer.
For no less than thirty minutes, I felt an electric energy buzzing through my body. I felt as if something hovered over me, almost nose-to-nose, staring at me. I peered through the corner of my eye but couldn’t see anything—nothing physical anyway. But I knew in the deepest part of my soul that something was there. I lay frozen in place, like an icy Neanderthal in the Tibetan icecaps.
My eyes searched for movement, but found nothing. I did see, however, a showy figure moving side to side in the reflection of the microwave door. It was the strangest thing. There were no ceiling fans spinning or curtains waving. Everything stood still—everything except the dancing shadow. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran back up the stairs to my personal boiler room and slid under the covers with my wife.
Still, the energy followed me.
After several minutes of fighting my fears, I finally fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke to the smell of biscuits and gravy and the sound of coffee percolating in the kitchen. My wife and friends, like myself, were shuffling their feet like the undead, trying their best to navigate with squinted, puffy eyes. We eventually sat down to eat.
In a moment of silence, Sarah, my friend’s wife asked if anyone heard anything in the night. I looked at her curiously and asked why. She said, “Because someone was tugging at our doorknob, off and on, for about an hour sometime around three in the morning.” She thought we had mistaken her room for the bathroom, but she was too tired to get out of bed. She also said that at one point in the night she felt like someone was standing beside her, but she was too scared to look.
After she told her story, I shared my experience. I affirmed that I never left the living room until I ran upstairs, and that I never walked toward their bedroom.
We all sort of let our suspicions cool for a while. But then my buddy opened up the guest logbook; the kind where each visitor can leave a message to the cabin owners about their experience. And wouldn’t you know it; the book was filled with story after story about a spirit that inhabited the structure. 
They call him Earl.
Some of the visitors claimed that he was a gentle ghost, mostly curious, and only somewhat troublesome. Others rebuked the owners for not disclosing the fact that malevolent spirits had haunted the cabin. Me? I don’t know what that thing was, but it scared the hell out of me.
The upside to coming face to face with Earl is when I write supernatural thrillers, I can honestly communicate what it feels like to be petrified by something that you can’t explain. I know what it sounds like when a spirit is moving. I know that electrifying sensation when a ghost is standing beside me. I know that there are things out there—things we can’t see. But I also know that where there is darkness, there is also light, and that is all I need to know to keep my sanity.

Bio: Jeff Bennington is the author of Reunion, an Amazon bestselling ghost story and other thrillers. He blogs at The Writing Bomb, writes, and raises his four children with his wife and super mom, Amber. Look for his next supernatural thriller Twisted Vengeance coming November 2011 and his latest release, Spookify Me, a collection of scary stories. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @TweetTheBook.