Since Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I wanted to share a spooky and totally true personal story. If some of you have already read it in a post of yore, my apologies, but it still creeps me out and I haven't shared it at Paranormal Romantics before.
So onto my story...
Why is Halloween one of my favorite holidays? It might be the change in season, the falling leaves and crisp winds whispering of things to come. It could be the perfectly valid opportunity to dress up and scare kids and eat all that leftover candy. Or maybe it’s just the pumpkins, skeletons, and ghosties and goblins on every corner.
Personally, I think it has more to do with my Celtic roots, Samhain, and the thinning veil between the living and spirit worlds. There are just too many spooky stories surrounding Samhain to completely discount the possibility of visiting phantoms, and I have a few family tales, too weird to be explained away. Want to hear one? I thought you might. :)
It was a dark and stormy night. Kidding. It was night, and it was dark, but I don’t remember any storm happening. A quick C.J. history lesson—I grew up in the boonies. Miles from town, boxed in on two sides by endless acres of government-owned forestland, the closest neighbor a run-across-the-field away. On a good day, we got two television channels, and HBO wasn’t one of them. We lived in a double-wide mobile home with an attached garage, and the long driveway led straight into the garage. Any headlights shone right into the living room windows, so when visitors showed up, you knew it.
This particular night was the parental units’ romantic Saturday evening (aka bowling league) and my older sister was at a friend’s house, so it was just me and my younger sister, Cathy. We were hanging in the living room, watching whatever questionable television show our antennae would pick up, Hee-Haw, I think…did I mention this was long, long ago? Headlights reflected in the windows, and as it was about time for mom and dad’s return, we didn’t think much of it. The motor’s rumble echoed from the garage and cut out. The back door leading from garage to house clicked open and shut softly.
But no one came into the living room.
It took a couple minutes for my curiosity to kick in. What was taking mom and dad so long to come into the living room and why was it so quiet? Dad loved to prank us, and even though mom never played along, I suspected foul play. I strolled from the living room to the kitchen, fully prepared to foil his plans.
No one was there.
I peeked through the kitchen window into the garage.
Prickles ran down my arms as I tried to connect the empty garage with what my senses told me only minutes ago. A car had come up the driveway. Someone had come in.
Not willing to turn my back on the kitchen or the garage, I backed into the dining room. The large windows looking out into the night didn’t help the cold racing through my veins. The dining room and living room were connected, and Cathy was lounging in a recliner, still watching television. I said, “Mom and dad aren’t here. You saw the headlights, right? Didn’t you hear the car, the door open and shut?”
Thankfully, her disbelieving expression told me if I was going crazy, then so was she. Clinging to each other, we crept back into the kitchen. Nothing had changed, no car, no parents. We agreed we had to check the house because someone had come in. Someone was in our house with us, and there were three bedrooms and two bathrooms they could be hiding in. No way would we sit around, waiting.
Like so many horror movie victims before us, we armed ourselves with kitchen knives and inched down the hallway. My sister’s room was dark, the door open. Shaking, our knives gripped tight, we flipped on the light.
The room was empty. The closet held the usual clothes and shoes, no ax-wielding ghost clowns. But we had more rooms to go.
The bathroom was easy, nowhere to hide other than the shower. We slid further down the hall, to the room we shared. I made Cathy turn on the light, my knife raised right behind her, ready to slash, stab and gouge.
Nothing hid behind my bookcase or beneath our bunkbed. My heart roared, a stampede in my ears. We looked at each other. Only our parents’ room remained. This was it. The showdown. I could hardly breathe and my fingers ached from holding the knife so tight. Together, we opened the door and hit the light switch.
The bed was made, no red eyes peering from beneath. The bathroom was empty. We both turned to the closed closet door. Final spot. Cathy flung open the door as I yelled and flicked the switch.
Nothing. Nothing in the hanging clothes. Nothing crouched behind shoes boxes. Nothing clinging to the ceiling.
What the hell?
As relieved as I was to not confront some horror that my brain could never erase, it made no sense. We’d both seen the headlights. We’d both heard the car. We’d both acknowledged the door opening and shutting.
My parents came home some time later and didn’t seem to notice the way we huddled together on the couch, every light in the house on. Neither one of us mentioned anything. What could we possibly say?
Now, I can’t blame that weird incident on the thinning of the veil on Samhain, but it was during the autumn season, when life is dying and settling in for winter. Whatever the cause, I have never forgotten it.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE! Do you have any family ghost stories?
C.J Burright is a native Oregonian and refuses to leave. While she has worked for years in a law office, she chooses to avoid writing legal thrillers (for now) and instead invades the world of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or fantasy. She's the author of Wonderfully Wicked and Beautifully Burned in the Dreamcaster Series. Her meager spare time is spent working out, refueling with mochas, gardening, gorging on Assassin’s Creed, martial arts, and rooting on the Seattle Mariners…always with music. And her cat herd.