If you had asked me two years ago if I believed in ghosts, my answer probably would have been a firm, “Mmm…not sure. Maybe?”
That’s right about the time I wrote A Death That Lingers, my book that was inspired by my love of (if not the total belief in) the supernatural world. Since then, you could say I’ve had a little change of heart.
Let’s see…where do I begin? It was a dark and stormy night…not really. But it WAS a little breezy. And it was definitely dark, so we’re kind of setting the tone here. My best friend and her mom invited me to the Oregon coast for a night. I was giddy. On the agenda? A few glasses of wine, a few laughs, a few chick flicks and then off to bed so we could head back early the next morning.
We checked into the vacation rental (a little duplex beach house with a spectacular view) about four p.m, cracked open a bottle of wine and had a nice, early dinner.
Later that night, when the wine was drained and we’d had our fill of Leo and Kate, we decided to hit the hay. Linda, Amy’s mom, was going to be sleeping in the bedroom right off of the living room. Amy and I were going to share a room that was on the other side of the kitchen. From the bed I was in, I could see into the hallway and had just a tiny view of the kitchen (fridge, sink, etc.), but that was it.
It was about midnight when we crawled into bed. Amy immediately began a fitful snore (don’t tell her I said that), and I lay there staring at the ceiling. It was one of those nights when the act of going to bed actually makes you less tired for some reason. After about fifteen sleepless minutes, I heard footsteps coming toward our bedroom from across the house. They were soft, like someone was trying not to make any noise, but heavy enough where the wood floor creaked with every step. My first thought was that Linda must be getting up for some reason. Maybe a drink of water? But that didn’t make much sense, because she had her own bathroom and all her stuff was in there. This was right about the time when I had my first little twinge of “weird”. Still, though, it wasn’t a big twinge. …Yet.
I lay there listening, half expecting her to come into our bedroom. But she didn’t. I halfway sat up, staring at the hallway, wondering what she could be doing out there. I hadn’t heard her turn on the faucet or get into the fridge. And the footsteps had stopped. Was she just standing there? What if she didn’t feel good or something? I began to peel back the covers, ready to go out and see if something was wrong.
At that exact moment, a tall, dark shadow passed in front of the hallway. I froze. If that was her walking around in the dining area, she wasn’t making a sound. Strange, since I knew for a fact that the hardwood floor creaked. It had just a minute ago when she’d come out of her room, right? I sat there, unable to move. I couldn’t even nudge Amy awake because for some reason, I was afraid to make a sound. I watched the hallway with my heart thumping in my throat. That first little twinge of “weird”, had now turned into a full blown, WTF?
Still, I sat there and watched. And again, the shadow passed. This time from the opposite direction. And again, without a sound. Every single hair I had was standing on end. Very slowly, I lay back down, my eyes still bugging from my head, fixed on that spot in the hallway. I tried frantically to come up with a rational explanation. Maybe it was a shadow from someone passing outside the living room window? But I remembered we had shut the blinds before bed. What about an intruder? Possibly, but we had triple checked the doors earlier. Unless someone had a key…
Maybe Linda was walking in her sleep. But without making a sound? How could that be? At any rate, any thought of getting up to check things out had long since tucked tail and run. I lay there in a clammy sweat for the next half hour, afraid to move, practically afraid to breathe. Sometime later, I fell into a restless sleep and stayed that way until dawn. When I woke with the comforting dusky light of morning filling the room, I couldn’t jostle poor Amy awake fast enough. I told her what had happened and watched goose pimples sprout along her arms.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?” she cried.
I didn’t have a good answer for that. I didn’t even know myself.
A few minutes later, Linda appeared in our doorway with jacked up hair and a sleepy smile. “How’d you guys sleep?”
We bombarded her at the same time. Did she wake up last night and come into the kitchen? Did she get up at all??
She looked at us like we’d both lost our marbles. She shook her head and said that she’d gotten up once, but it was to use her own bathroom. And she’d had her bedroom door closed the whole time.
It’s been about eight months since that experience, and no matter how many times I tell it, I still get chills. I’ve thought about it so many times. Tried to come up with a reasonable explanation, but there just isn’t one. And maybe that’s what makes it so cool. That there’s a world out there that’s beyond what we know. Beyond what we see as “reasonable” or comfortable.
I just hope the next time I stumble across it, I don’t have to get up to use the bathroom at the time :-)
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