August 2010

A Young Spirit?

Kyle, IA, USA

   For many years of my life, I had been a skeptic towards all things relating to the paranormal. However, when I was about eleven years old I realized just how real the possibility of wandering spirits could be.

   Currently, I am 18 and preparing to head off to college. I live in the basement of my family’s house, but I used to live upstairs. I first noticed something strange happening when I was lying in bed upstairs one night. I was trying to sleep when I heard voices coming from the hall outside my room. I remember it was about 12:30 a.m. when I heard them. I couldn’t make out any specific words, but I heard them and they were not my parent’s voices. I would also occasionally hear the sounds of footsteps from above me.

This was odd to me, as we did not have an upstairs. There wasn’t even a crawlspace above us. All we have up there is a dead, empty room-like area that has never been inhabited or even has had an access point; just dead, empty space. Anyway, this happened for a week or so before I was so disturbed by the voices I started keeping my door shut at night.

   For a while I enjoyed some peace and quiet, but eventually I experienced something I’ll never forget. I woke up to find my door open at 2:00 a.m. and I was overcome with fear. I heard the voices in the hallway again, only louder than usual. I huddled under my covers, but the voices got louder. The pitch and sound shifted until the voices sounded almost animal-like. I was terrified, so I jumped out of bed as fast as I could, flicked on the lights, and slammed the door shut. I got back in bed but didn’t sleep for about an hour. It was only after an hour’s worth of sleep, however, that I woke up again. I will never forget that it was 3:13 a.m. when I woke up for the second time. My door was still shut but now my lights were off. After a few minutes I heard the sound of what appeared to be footsteps on my shag carpeting. I ducked under the covers and waited until it sounded like the footsteps were right next to my bed. They stopped there, and it was a good twenty minutes before I emerged from under the sheets. I turned the light on and surveyed the room. The door had never opened and there was nobody in the room. It was only when I looked at the carpet that I discovered there were very clear footprints in the shag leading up and stopping at my bed. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep the rest of the night.

   The next experience happened when I was thirteen years old. In our basement, we have a storage room. In the back of the storage room is a large metal door that has only been used once by my family. I was home alone, putting some supplies away in the storage room for my dad while he was out with my mother. Suddenly, something behind the metal door started knocking violently from the other side. Horrified, I ran out of the house and sat in the front driveway waiting for my parents to get home. I didn’t even enter the basement for a week.

   A couple years passed where nothing extravagant happened. The only things that happened that I deem interesting are moments where whatever entity happens to be residing in my house decided to physically reach out to me. It would tap me on the back, grab at my shirt, and shake the couch or chair I happened to be sitting in. Things got moved around with no explanation. I’d practically gotten used to experiencing these strange things so I didn’t think much of them.

   Finally, just last year I saw something I simply cannot explain. I think this is what solidified my belief in spirits or ghosts; whatever you wish to call them. Early in the morning, I was preparing to go to school. At this point in time, I had moved into the basement where I had a bathroom and living room all to myself. This particular morning I had been sitting in my bathroom drinking my coffee and waiting for my shower to heat up. I heard a strange knocking at the door. It wasn’t quiet, but it sounded almost like it was kind of light- handed. I simply called “Who is it?” and when I got no answer I shouted “Mom? Dad?” This got no answer either, so I opened the door. Nobody was out there. I shut the door and stayed in the bathroom until about 7:00 when the sun rose. By the time I was ready, I ran up the stairs. When I reached the landing, I heard footsteps following me up. I turned around and nobody was there. I hadn’t been this scared in a while, so I darted for the door and left the house. When I looked back at the house, I saw a small boy standing at the window. He looked to be about six or seven years old, as far as I could tell, but I couldn’t make out any distinguishing features. In a moment, he disappeared.

   Now, I don’t have a young brother. I have a sister, but she’s only two years younger than me and almost as tall as I am. This may go without saying, but there is nobody in my house who is that short or looks even remotely like a young boy. Who or what I saw, I’m really not sure.

   Since these experiences I haven’t had much more happen. A group of friends came over to my house once and we tried out a Ouija board. We asked if there was anybody in my house, asked for a name, etc. When we asked an age, the board slowly pointed to the number ‘6’. When we continued to question it, it didn’t answer. It simply told us to ‘run’.  So we did, and we left the basement where the board was.

   Other than that, I haven’t had much else happen. Sometimes I feel like there is somebody in my room with me at night, and I can occasionally hear voices. What worries me now is that sometimes it sounds like the voice is saying my name.

The Happenings

Pearl Nestor, AK, USA

   I have told several stories here on this forum and have had many strange experiences that I wanted to elaborate on.

    One time my mother was driving on a side street and I noticed two young girls walking along the side of the road. I mentioned that perhaps she should slow down. Both of them looked to be about sixteen or seventeen years old. One was wearing a pink coat, and one was wearing a yellow one, they both had long hair, one blond, one a darker blond. When we passed them my mother said that there was no one there, I looked and it was as these girls just vanished. I saw them clear as day, my mother never saw them at all. I thought, oh well, it happened again, seeing people who aren't there, at least in this reality. But I would have sworn they were as solid as anybody. But then that's how I have always seen ghosts.

    Another time in my 20's when I was pretty wild, and did some wild living, drinking, partying, etc. I was at a friend’s house. He went on business trips a lot so I used to house sit for him and take care of his dog and plants.

    One night after he came home we had a great party, and this was a good size house and we all had our own rooms to retire to. I know I was a bit tipsy and fell into bed and was just about ready to go to sleep when the bed started shaking so bad I thought I was going to fall out of it. Anchorage is always having some earth quake every other month. So I wasn't all that concerned. I just thought if it got any worse I would put on my shoes and get ready for the big one. So I stayed prone for the longest time waiting to see if it would get any worse, but It didn't so I fell asleep.

   The next morning I commented to my friends what a great earthquake there was last night and how there should be something on the news about it. NO ONE EXPERICED WHAT I DID! Also no reports of earthquakes. After that, I had a bad feeling about the laundry room, which was directly underneath my room. When my friend Bill and I went down to bottom living room, next to the laundry room I had a feeling of something so hateful coming from that room that I couldn't shake. I did house sit for Bill a few times after that, but I could never bring myself to go downstairs by myself alone.

Something hated me there, don't have a clue what it was, but after that I never felt safe, or even when I was alone there, I knew I wasn't.

Man in the Closet

Adrianna, IL, USA

   Let me start off by saying that this experience did not happen to me happened to my sister and my mother.

   First I should give you a little background on a few of the people in the story.  My mother has always believed in the afterlife and has had previous experiences. But none that scared her as much as the one I am about to tell you. My sister was very young at the time that this experience occurred and did not really understand death so to her this experience was not very frightening.

   On the night that this happened, my mom and sister were the only people home and it was late at night so the lights in the house were all off. My mom was on the phone and she asked my sister to go to the living room to get something for her off the table. My sister responded with, "No mommy, the fire is going to get me." At that my mom started to get a little scared and she asked my sister what fire she was talking about. My sister went on to explain that our uncle Bob was standing in the closet with a fireman and he was surrounded by fire.

   As I said earlier my sister was very young and did not understand that uncle Bob had died in a car fire a few weeks prior to this event. I am not sure how the fireman came to be standing in the closet as well but that is a mystery that will never be explained.

   My mom was really freaking out at this point and kept asking my sister what she was talking about because of course my mom did not see anything in the closet. But my sister kept insisting that he was there. Finally my mom got up and turned the light on and my sister stopped saying he was in the closet.

   That was not the only appearance uncle Bob made. A few days later my mom was talking to my aunt (who actually dated uncle Bob at one point) about what had happened and my aunt told her that she thinks Bob visited her as well...uncle Bob used to be a musician and my aunt had a child’s piano on the floor in her living room. One night while my aunt was asleep she heard the piano begin to play...when she walked out into the living room thinking that one of the kids was out of bed the music soon as she walked back to her room the piano began to play once more.

   To this day my sister (who is now 17 years old) will leave the room when I begin to tell the story...even though it did not scare her then it does now.

   I don’t know if uncle Bob visited anyone else but I do believe that because his life ended so soon that he was just making his rounds saying goodbye to everyone he loved.

Horror at Sandhill Park

Liam Mclachan, Devon, UK

   It was the geography of where we lived that drove us to the curious world of ghost hunting. We were always so bored of where we lived that we decided to seek out new thrills. Devon is a county rich in folklore and tales of the supernatural, and so this seemed the perfect course of action for us.

   I should elaborate slightly at this point. My friends and I lived in a quiet, rural country village called Kentisbeare, at the foot of the Blackdown hills. As pretty and picturesque as this place was, it was no place for a group of five eighteen year old men to find themselves. One shop, one pub (from which we were all barred) and miles and miles of beautiful green nothingness. It was little wonder that our thirst for adventure and new experiences (something very novel in this tired corner of England) drove us to dabble in things that should probably remain un-dabbled.

   We had recently decided never to return to a previous spot called Ashclyst Forest. Not for any reasons of the supernatural, oh no. The forest had been visited by us many more times than I care to count and nothing had ever, ever seemed even slightly out of place. Countless stories of murder, betrayal and ancient evil shrouded the woods but this apparently had no effect on the locations spectral relevance. We visited several more spots in the immediate area, old graveyards hidden deep in the Blackdown forest, abandoned cottages and a couple of places supposedly once used to some degree for the black arts. Sacrifices of Animals and even people, witch hunts and occult services etc. all of these proved very disappointing.

   The months of never getting so much as an orb took their toll, and eventually we stopped looking all together. That was until we heard about Sandhill.

   This place was an asylum, a mental institute. At least, it used to be. It now stood abandoned at the mercy of the elements and the youngsters who had torn the place limb from limb (photos and other information can be found on the internet, just type 'Sandhill Park' into any search engine).

   We did a little research before making our way there. I had found out about the place from my brother who had heard about it through his friends in the town closest to Sandhill called Taunton. Apparently it started life as a country retreat for some rich aristocrat, a proud and massive estate. It was then used as a Prisoner of war camp during WW1 and then was turned into an asylum. It was put out of service in the 80's to be used as a museum. The directors of said museum upped sticks and left just one year after their arrival. Several companies have taken over since then but none have stayed there very long at all.

   We set off at about 11 o'clock one evening. We were all a little nervous due to human factors i.e., security and local trouble-makers who often prowled around the estate, but all-in-all we were just excited at the prospect of visiting a place recognized as being actually haunted.

   It took us three hours to find the place. Sandhill Park wasn't recognized on any map we had, so basically it was a case of constantly stopping for directions and this was our first clue that something wasn't right. Many of the people we asked warned us about the place. Some said it was evil and we were suicidal for stepping foot there. That if we were looking for the devil then Sandhill Park was the place to look. Others simply turned around and walked away, appearing friendly and eager to help at first but then becoming rigid at the mention of our destination. We thought this weird, but not so weird we would abandon our adventure.

   We had to ditch the car in a housing estate and walked about a mile up a steep, muddy track through very dense woods to get to the house. This made us all feel very uneasy. For the first time on our long journey, we all fell silent. I had a feeling that I was not the only one who felt as though we were being watched by something up ahead, mainly because one of the guys kept stopping every hundred yards or so and staring into the pitch black nothingness.

   After ten minutes or so, my torch light caught something reflective and I suddenly became aware of a row of very old looking street lanterns stretching up the left side of the path. The reflection was a sign reading "Welcome to Sandhill Park, home of The Blazers" (the Blazers were the people who ran the museum. it was a museum commemorating the fire service). We had arrived.

   As we walked past the sign and caught our first glimpse of the mansion, we all stopped dead. A cold chill ran through me as I saw the towering silhouette of the main building before us. It was a three story monster.

   We walked forward very slowly, all watching our feet step through the undergrowth and across the uneven stone path toward the front entrance, and it was heavily boarded up. Every window was barred; a remnant from its prison days, and CCTV littered the whole building.

   After taking a photo of us all on the front porch between the two looming pillars, we scouted round the house. Graffiti sprawled the whole way round reading unnerving promises like 'YOU ARE BEING WATCHED!' and 'LEAVE WHILE YOU CAN! THIS PLACE IS EVIL!' We should have listened really.

   There are six buildings in the estate, each one more dilapidated than the last. After quickly doing the rounds and checking them all out, we decided the second building (after the main house, to which entry was impossible) would be where we explored for fear that the other four would collapse in on us. The house looked like an old mid-western train station. An annex in the middle with two wings stretching to either side and the whole thing was made of white-washed wood, although to be fair there was very little white left. Years of rain and neglect had turned the whole structure a horrible greenish-brown.
Everyone commented on how creepy it looked and in particular, how odd it was that there was a very old looking bicycle hanging from a first floor window. We tried not to let the universal feeling of unease get the better of us and made our way inside.

   We found ourselves standing in a massive room. It looked like an old hospital ward, pediatrics probably judging by the murals of Mickey Mouse and other cartoons around the walls. This didn't sit right with me, something about the ghosts of children just seem all the more horrific you know? Anyway I digress. We searched around the room, rooting through debris for interesting artifacts and taking a few pictures when we decided to move on. We stepped through the large double doors that took us into a corridor that spanned the entire length of the building. There were about six sets of doors throughout, each one lying wide open and a couple pulled off there hinges. The windows along the length created streams of blue, dusty light at intervals along the hallway. I remember feeling trapped in there. I didn't feel the normal rush of a hyped-up man child tiptoeing round some forest or an old barn house, I felt imprisoned. I was really starting to believe the rumours surrounding this place and I knew that we were not the only souls creeping through the shadows.

   We decided at this point that in order to conduct a thorough search, we would need to split up. Me and my friend took the left wing, and the other three took the right, we would meet up outside in half an hour. As we walked, very slowly down the old corridor, we flashed our torches in every single room we passed. Most were empty apart from a few smashed up cabinets or radiators pulled off the walls. One particular room however caught my attention. This room was still recognizable as a hospital room. My thoughts turned to the previous owner of the shabby, half-burned bed in the middle of the room. I envisioned a person tied and bound in a straitjacket, screaming and wailing for their freedom. Trying to throw themselves off the bed but thwarted by the belts across there chest. I felt sick and had to leave. We turned round and walked out of the room with the intention of continuing up the corridor but something had other plans for us.

   As we left the room, my friend shone his torch down the direction we had come from. The other half of our group had made their way upstairs by now as we could hear them thumping and talking above us. Something was there though. Through the dust kicked up by our own heels and the darkness, we both saw a person walking towards us.

   The figure was nothing more than a hazy silhouette. It was about two doors away (about 50 feet maybe) and walking in a way that scared me the most, other than its sheer size, it stood about seven feet tall and almost touched the ceiling. It didn't really walk in any way we would know of. It jerked and twitched its way down the hallway, flailing its arms and legs, as if it were a grotesque puppet. We both stood, petrified to the spot as we tried to make sense of what was happening. After a few seconds I noticed it wasn't silent any more. It was moving very slowly and was making a jabbering sort of noise. It sounded like the insane babbling of a mentally-anguished man, the sound of this thing was horrific, unearthly by all measures.  As it walked passed a window frame it kicked it out of the way in an all too realistic manner, that's when we decided to run.

   Seeing as how the only exit from the building from where we were was past the puppet man, we took the obvious recourse and ran upstairs, hoping to find the others. We got to the top and didn't stop running until we realized we were lost. We were in a pitch black room that seemed to be infinitely large. Our torch lights didn't span from one side to the other due to a thick haze of dust in the air, and everything was freezing cold. My friend was starting to really panic. He was on the verge of tears and kept begging me to leave. I wanted to more than anything, but I couldn't. We seemed to have come to a dead-end, and on top of that I realized I could no longer hear the other three.

   We walked back the way we came, quietly whispering the names of our lost companions when we heard an awful creaking and snapping noise. It sounded like wood splintering as the house buckled under our feet. It culminated in a huge crash that sent dust billowing down the corridor towards us. We went blind.

   At this point there was no consoling us. We had seen the most terrifying entity of our lives, were lost, and were now certain our friends (including the driver) had been crushed to death. The only option, it seemed, was to make a leap of faith from the first floor window. The drop was only a few meters high but we didn't know that at the time, it was too dark. I smashed the window with my torch, and dived out. My friend did not follow until he had my assurances that it was safe. A dull thud as he hit the ground next to me.

   We walked around the building in search of our friends, noting that the whole estate seemed to be under a thin cloud of dust. Our worst feelings were realized when we reached the right wing.

   The entire roof was lying upside down in front of the building, and the front-facing wall had caved in. with, we thought, our friends still inside. My accomplice started crying and shouting about how we should never have come when we both heard the same thing. A woman was coming from the house. From one of the rooms exposed by the collapsed wall we saw something plummet and land in the rubble with a crash. It looked like a person. I ran over to see who it was only to find a jacket where there should have been a body. My mind was going a million miles an hour. I was terrified for my life and that of my friends but I couldn't leave. Not without them.

   We edged our way back into the large room and into the hallway. The figure from before was gone so we walked through the right wing. We realized that the only damage was really to the roof and the front wall. Unless they were in the attic, they should have been fine. That was when we heard it again. The sickening babble of that thing from before, this time though it was in one of the rooms. We decided to start calling out for them. Why we didn't do that in the first place escapes me but we had to make more noise than the puppet man for our own sanity. After a couple of times shouting their names we heard someone shouting back. The voice told us to come outside. We ran down the corridor, through the large room and out the building to find our three friends sitting on a wall staring back at us. My heart rose and I felt like hugging them all but celebration was short lived.

   Just as we met and started talking and laughing, we all heard the same noise. A fast, rhythmic clicking sound. It was coming from an alley behind the house. Then a bell. Ringing over and over again. I looked up at the first floor and swallowed hard. 'Guys?' I said timidly, 'where did that old bike go?' my question was immediately answered.

   The very same old rusted bike that was hanging from the building was now being pushed by an unseen force round the corner, and up the path towards us. None of us could speak or even move. The bike got within about ten feet when it was thrown violently at us at head-level. It seemed to collide with at least two of the guys but to be honest, we didn't stay to find out. We ran faster than we had ever run before up the courtyard, past the main building and towards the path leading to the car. Shattered glass, heavy undergrowth and uneven stone paths made a quick exit from Sandhill pretty much impossible but we did manage. None of us stopped or spoke a word until we were locked in the car under the street lights of the estate we parked in. a quick head count and we were off. One of the guys had a black eye and another a deep cut in his eyebrow where the bike made contact. We decided it best to blame these injuries on falling over when the house collapsed, telling people what happened would mean re-living it, and none of us wanted that...

   Sooner or later we all got over what happened that night. We didn't really speak much about it; a couple of us tried to piece together what might have happened. What had we seen in the corridor? Who was the woman crying? Was that her jacket? How did half the house collapse?

It turns out that the other three had heard the same noise we heard when they were upstairs and they decided to leave. They ran out the back when they heard the creaking right above them and escaped unscathed. They had tried to find us but didn't want to go back in the building. Good to know the caring was mutual...

Anyway this is the first time I've told anyone the full story. I've run it over with my brother and such but I had to omit the bike part, and the puppet sounds pretty crazy I think we can agree... many, many questions were created that night. Questions that will forever stay unanswered by us guys anyway. Two questions were however answered quite spectacularly. Do ghosts exist? Without a doubt. And will we ever return to Sandhill Park? Not on your life.

What Is In The Closet?

Andi, PA, USA

   This did not happen to me, but happened to my friend. Let’s call her Bree, she claims this happened, and so did her sister.

    Bree says that one night at 1:27 she heard a loud thump, like someone fell, coming from her closet. She just stared at her closet for a couple minutes. When she worked up the nerve, she got up and walked to closet, opened the door and she didn’t see anything out of ordinary except for a really big wrapped up 'present' (she had only little presents in there ready for Christmas). She said she poked it and it moved just the tiniest bit and heard a gasp like someone just come up from the bottom of a 25 foot pool. She got scared and ran to her bed and pulled the covers over her face. Bree soon fell asleep.

   In the morning, Bree found her room a complete mess! Everything was just thrown around. She got really mad and ran to her sister's room (let's call her Kat) and asked why she messed up her room. Kat swore she didn’t do anything.

   A week later at 1:27 at night Bree woke up again to see all her papers and posters all flying around the room (not really flying, more like someone was throwing them all around)and Kat came in, screamed, and ran out of Bree's room.

   Bree says that the day she moved into her house a lady came to her house and asked her parents if it was true that Mr.Gamio was killed. Her parents said they didn’t know who he was and they didn’t know if he was killed. The lady just walked away saying "What a shame."

    Bree says that every second Thursday of the month she hears that gasp and a week later the papers fly.

A Night at the Unmarked Graves

Kevin Lake, WV, USA

   While growing up in Richwood, West Virginia, I had always heard local’s tales of the paranormal. There were a couple of friends of mine who had been visited by a Sasquatch type creature in the Cranberry back country. There was the tale of the nearby Braxton County Green Monster. Ghosts stories too many to count were told in every hollow in the hills. Of course no West Virginia native has gone without hearing a tale or two of the Moth Man. However, I never would have expected that I would have my own run in with any such phenomena.

   The first part of my story, which at the time I didn’t even realize was part of any story at all, goes all the way back to high school. It was the fall of 1991. My high school sweet heart and I were parked on top of Fork Mountain, just outside of Richwood, to, um, “watch a meteorite shower.” Yeah, that is what we were doing.

   We had found a very secluded location on top of the hill, surely not to be disturbed by anyone. We killed the ignition to my father’s truck and started… “watching the night sky.”

   Within minutes, a very eerie feeling came over both of us. I clicked on the head lights, feeling as if something or someone was watching us. There was no one there. I killed the lights and we… “went back to where we had left off.”

     Only a moment later that same feeling returned and I clicked on the lights again. This time as well, there was no one there.

    “Let’s get out of here,” my girlfriend said.

   “Good idea,” I concurred. We headed off of the mountain never to return to that particular spot.

    Two years later, while deer hunting in the same location with my father, he wanted to show me something he had found in the woods several months before. I followed him off of the trail, only a few yards into the woods, and could not believe what I saw. There were at least eight unmarked graves.

    The earth was sunken in where each grave was located. They were about six feet long and two feet wide. There were triangular shaped stones at both the head and feet of the graves. They were facing east to west, proper burial fashion.

   My father, as well as the old man who owned the land, well into his eighties now, if not nineties, had no information on the graves. Who was buried there? How long had they been there? Did anyone know? After years of research, to include talking to many of the local old timers, in their nineties themselves, nothing has turned up.

   All these years later, nearly twenty to be exact, the mystery still haunts me. One night on a recent trip to visit my home town, I decided I would spend the night, camping by the graves. I have always been curious about the paranormal, though, other than that night of parking with my high school sweet heart, I had never had an experience with it.

   On this night, I got to the top of the mountain about two hours before dark. An Airborne Infantryman in the Army National Guard, I had packed my ruck sack with all that I would need and hiked up the hill, about three miles above my parent’s house. And the hill is straight up!

   After reaching the location, I took my time setting up a proper, Army bivouac site. I had taken only a mosquito net instead of a tent (the more you carry, the more it weighs). I had with me as well my Army sleeping bag and enough food and water to last for the night and the next day.

   I carefully cut poles from which to hang my net, using my Leatherman Wave multi-tool. I made sure that everything was perfect, right down to my small camp fire ring constructed of large sand stones. It was such a picture perfect site, having taken more than an hour to construct, that I pulled out my digital camera and began taking pictures.

   While reviewing the pictures of the campsite, I noticed that a couple of them appeared to have orbs in them. Convinced it was nothing more than smoke or ash rising from my small camp fire, I thought nothing of it. I then made my way to the graves, thirty yards above me, and began taking pictures as well. One of these pictures also came out with a perfectly formed orb just above one of the graves. There was no smoke from the fire here. As the rest of the picture revealed, there was no rain or other form of moisture in the air. This made me curious and a bit nervous.

   After heating up and eating a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli just as it was turning dark, I made my way into my mosquito net. I stripped down, got into my sleeping bag and began listening to the sounds of the night. The tree frogs were so loud I wondered if I would ever be able to get to sleep.

   Five minutes later, the tree frogs stopped chirping. My fire that had been burning brightly went out. I had thrown a log on it before retreating to my mosquito net that should have burned for a couple of hours. The fire was gone.

   I then heard what sounded like a dog whining, coming from the graves. As I listened, I thought that it also resembled the sound of a child crying. I quickly grabbed my flashlight, turned in on, and shined it toward the graves. However, the light did nothing more than reflect off of my net, blinding me.

   As I was trying to see past my light’s glare, something, a rock perhaps, came whizzing in my direction from the site of the graves.

   “Screw this!” I said. I began getting dressed. I jumped out of the net and poured the rest of my water on the hot coals where the fire had been and began taking down my net. What took more than an hour to set up was taken down and packed in my sack in only five minutes.

    Just as I zipped the zipper on the small pocket I put my final item in, my camera, another object came flying in my direction from the graves. My fire now burst into brilliant flames. I put my back pack on, stomped out the fire, and began heading off of the mountain, armed only with my flashlight.

    At one point, just a little bit down the trail, it felt as if an overhanging limb caught my back pack. I jerked hard, leaning forward, and almost fell down. I looked back with my light and saw that there was no limb or other obstruction there. The trail was completely clear.

   I made it home at eleven o’clock, to the laughter of my mother who had left the front door unlocked.

   The next day I told my father and several friends about the experience. My father took my nephews hiking up there a couple days later. When they returned, my father told me they had found a séance ring in the woods below where I had camped. It was a flat rock, circled with coins that had obviously been there quite a while. He knew what it was because he had found one years ago on the mountain behind the Cranberry Wilderness Visitor’s center. That particular ring had been lined with candy, feathers AND coins. He had reported it to a local Forest Service employee who explained to him what it was. Evidently, they are common in these old, West Virginia hills from where people go out from time to time and try to communicate with spirits.

   Thinking my father was trying to play a trick on me, I went back up the next day, leaving in time to be out of the woods before dark, and indeed found the ring myself. It was not a trick. It was obvious that the coins had been there for years. They were so weathered that I could only make out the date on one of them, the fifth coin I attempted, a penny dated 1985. To make this tale even creepier, the site of the ring is where it felt as if something had grabbed me from behind.

   I’ve mountain biked and hiked on top of Fork Mountain several times since this most recent event. I’ve listened to the owls at dusk, seen many deer and bear, but I have always made sure to get out of the woods before dark. I have fought terrorists in Iraq, jumped out of planes and been to many places in third world countries were few “white” people go. However, I have never felt fear like I felt that night I attempted to camp by the unmarked graves.