Around the age of twelve I moved into a big house with my family. It was on the edge of our little village, with a large garden. The house had two storeys – more than twice as many rooms as either of our previous homes, and was more than a hundred years old.

Everything about the house was ancient. It was built solidly, but it creaked. The stairs creaked, the doors creaked, the windows creaked. Sitting in the house alone, one could always hear noises.

During the next few years I frequently found myself in the house alone. I could always hear the movement of people who weren’t there. There were always noises that were impossible to identify. None of these, I believe, were ghosts, but they led my imagination astray more than a few times.

My bedroom was on the second floor, next to a bricked-up chimney. There were numerous chimneys around the house – and all but one was bricked-up. I could hear birds and mice in the walls, and the wind moving tiny rocks. The house seemed alive.

From the first night I spent there until the last, I knew I was never entirely alone. Lying in my bed at night, I could hear the distinct and unmistakeable sound of a person breathing above me.

This may sound terrifying, and indeed I almost have goosebumps thinking about it… but at the time I was never really afraid. The unplaceable sounds of the creaking building scared me more than the breathing above me. It just never seemed threatening. I figured out early on that if whoever or whatever was making that noise wanted me to be scared, I would be scared. Instead, I took that sound to be no more alarming than the hum of the refrigerator.



I moved out of my parents’ home at the age of seventeen, and by eighteen I was living in another old building; this time in the middle of a city. I was living with six other students of similar age and interests, and as such we never really slept. We were young men and we drank all night and watched TV all day. I barely went into my bedroom during the two years I lived there.

As drunken students we were hardly responsible, and when the lightbulbs in the windowless hallway – which connected our seven bedrooms, two bathrooms, livingroom and front door, over two storeys – burned out, we never got around to replacing them.

But it wasn’t particularly frightening to walk through the dark corridor and up the stairs in the pitch black. There were always the noises of other people nearby – always someone to shout to if I was attacked in the dark.

The reality was, although we never once locked the front door, it was always far more likely that one of us would trip over a discarded item of clothing and break a leg than be attacked by a ghost or an intruder.


During our first Easter vacation five of the flatmates went home to their parents. We were all broke and they needed to be fed, and to beg for the cash to see out the rest of the year. Oliver and I decided to stay in the house on our own. It was to be an eventful week.

Everything started to go wrong when I went to the library. I was wearing my iPod and listening to the Doors when I returned. The door was unlocked as always and the lights were out. It was early evening and so even when I got into the south-facing livingroom it was dull. Oliver was out somewhere, and the house was empty.

I was listening to “Cars Hiss by my Window” as I crossed the livingroom and put my bag down on the floor. I didn’t even think to turn on the light as I entered. I was just light enough to see – no big deal.

Jim Morrison sang, “A cold girl’ll kill you in a darkened room” at exactly the moment the livingroom door swung shut (it wasn’t on hinges and there was no draught) and I could hear footsteps just behind me, running across the livingroom floor. They were light footsteps – the footsteps of what my imagination immediately told me was a cold girl.

I spun around and of course saw nothing. I stood there for what must have been ten minutes, staring at the wall, waiting for something awful to happen. My heart was racing. After a while I turned on the light, sat in my favourite armchair, and stared at the door.


When Oliver returned a few hours later, I told him what had happened. He laughed and dismissed my experience, but after sitting with me for an hour, playing video games and listening to music, he began to look visible alarmed.

We were alone together in the big, empty house. With two of us in the livingroom, everything was alright. But we both began thinking about going to our rooms or the bathroom. At some stage one of us would need to urinate, or get something from somewhere. We couldn’t stay in the livingroom forever.

At some point I went to the bathroom. I held the livingroom door open to bring a little light to the hallway, but I ran back when I was done, utterly terrified that something was about to kill me. I vowed not to leave the livingroom again until absolutely necessary.


Sitting in the livingroom, we first began talking about ghosts, but soon tried to change the conversation. We quickly gave up all macho bullshit and admitted our fears. We were terrified of what was in the house.

We watched movies and TV and played video games, but with every passing hour we began to note strange noises. The normally silent building was filled with the sounds of life.

Above us – in Oliver’s room – we could hear the unmistakeable sound of footsteps. Someone was walking around his room, moving furniture and books. We looked at each other in horror. We were laughing a little, too, in some weird sense of confusion. It couldn’t be real…

The footsteps tread across the room and we heard his door open and close, but that was it. They never came down the stairs. I knew my bedroom door was open and whoever was up there and probably gone into my room, but we heard no more. There were sounds of movement, but nothing specific. Nothing as definite as what we’d heard directly above us.


At about four in the morning we were getting ridiculous. Sleep seemed impossible and we knew that there were six days ahead of us. I began to fear for my sanity. I couldn’t take the heart-pounding, head-fucking pain of being haunted.

When Oliver suggested that we drive to Tesco and do some shopping, I agreed. Getting out of the house seemed like the only sensible solution. We certainly weren’t about to make any breakthroughs sitting in the livingroom.

The only problem was that of gathering our belongings. I needed my jacket and Oliver needed his car keys, and all that was upstairs.

Together, we walked out of the livingroom and into the pitch-black hallway. We walked slowly upstairs and I turned on my bedroom light, illuminating the hallway. There was nothing in my door, and nothing in Oliver’s room, and so we set about gathering our stuff.

When I turned to walk out I saw a hand extending out from the gap between my not-quite-closed cupboard doors. It wasn’t a person’s hand. The arm was too thin, and the hand too bulbous. It looked cartoony. It reminded me of a clown.

I ran quickly into Oliver’s room and chose not to tell him about the hand. I decided that I’d finally gone crazy and had begun hallucinating. There couldn’t possibly be a clown in my cupboard.


We exited the house and left the door unlocked in typical fashion (I don’t think either of us actually had a set of keys), then got into Oliver’s car. Our street was tiny. There was room for only one vehicle, yet it was not a one-way road. On either side there were tall tenement buildings – relics of the city’s harsh industrial past.

We drove slowly down the road, joking about the house. We used humour to cover our fear, but at the same time we both agreed that it felt good to get out. Maybe we’d find something at Tesco to talk about and return with no memory of whatever was scaring us.

However, as we drove slowly forward, we both noticed something lying in the middle of the street. A small, spherical object was sitting under a streetlight. The set-up was too perfect. It had to be a prank. Something was lying in the yellow light, looking like a severed head from a horror movie.

We drove closer and closer, laughing because we both thought it couldn’t possibly be a head. The key was to each make it seem like we thought it wasn’t, so that when we found out it was something innocent, the other guy would look stupid.

Unfortunately, when we got as close as we could to the object without crushing it under the wheels, we could see clearly that it was a head-shaped, head-sized object, covered in hair. It was a human head. Severed at the neck.

We reversed at speed up the road, back to the house. We reasoned that if there was a killer on the street, it might have gotten into the unlocked house in our brief absence. The head was a warning. Something was playing with us.

We decided to go to Tesco because in the house lay certain death.

Amazingly, the trip to Tesco did us a lot of good. We both forgot about the severed head and the haunted house, and we drove back the wrong way – the way that we quickly realised was blocked by a severed head.

We stopped the car in front of the head and stared at it. We didn’t know what to do. It was still there, and the killer was probably on the street or in our house, and we were doomed.

“Go kick it,” Oliver said.

“Fuck off,” I told him.

Somehow, I ended up kicking the head. I just kept telling myself that it couldn’t possibly be a severed human head. There had to be a logical explanation. So I got out of the car and walked over, looking at it all the way, trying to reach that point where it ceased to be what it appeared, and became something normal.

It didn’t. I kicked the head and it flew and landed in the gutter, the dead eyes staring back at me; a manic grin on the face.

It was manikin head. A very convincing manikin head, with convincing hair and facial features, but a manikin head nonetheless.

I laughed and shouted back to Oliver, “It’s a manikin head!” and he immediately replied, “Who cut off a manikin head and left it on the road?”

I wondered about that… Severed manikin heads are rarely a good omen.

In spite of the glaring headlights, I could see beyond the car to a red phone box. There was a man in the phone box, staring at me. I got in the car and we drove quickly up the street as we watched the man stand eerily in the rear-view mirror.


When daylight broke everything went back to normal. The fear vanished and we went outside to find the head. It was gone, of course. Someone had probably been playing a weird joke. No doubt it was that crazy bastard in the phone box.

In the middle of the afternoon, we both retired to our rooms to sleep. I kept my cupboard doors open, terrified of not knowing what was there. I was confident that the ghost or clown or maniac would be a foe I could dispose of, but I hated not knowing.

I went to sleep pretty easily, with the light of the afternoon streaming in my window. I pulled my thick duvet over my head to keep the light out.

A few hours later, in the dark of evening, I was awoken by the distinct, unmistakable sensation of a hand on my face. My eyes shot open but I could see nothing. Still the hand was there, invisible. I was staring at the inside of my duvet, feeling the pulse beneath the skin of the fingers as it pressed hard down on my face.

Then it was gone.

I continued staring at the inside of my duvet, scared by what I’d seen, but more than anything just relieved to have slept. I searched my mind for a rational explanation, or at least the hint of something to make this go away.

Then my duvet began to move.

Slowly, very slowly, the whole thing was pulled from the end of my bed – down over my face and chest and hips and legs. The whole duvet was slowly dragged away from me, and I couldn’t bring myself to grab it and pull back.

I was too afraid to close my eyes. I couldn’t not see what was there.

What was there was a white figure – the silhouette of a girl. She was probably an adult, but I couldn’t make out her features. She wasn’t transparent, but she wasn’t entirely whole, either.

I stared at her for probably half a minute, as my hand fumbled blindly towards my desk lamp. When I switched on the light, she disappeared in the time it took my eyes to adjust.


When I moved to Korea I spent my first year and a half in too much of a drunken stupor to see anything, much less a semi-transparent being. But after a while I sobered up and one night I found myself at my girlfriend’s house, all alone. She was at work and it was dark outside.

I was standing in the kitchen when I heard something in the bedroom. I assumed it was one of our two cats, but when I looked down I saw they were both by my feet. I wondered what the sound was, but I couldn’t describe it. It was something, but nothing I could place.

I went into the other room and was overcome by the feeling of unwelcome. Something in the room was horribly wrong, but I didn’t know what.

I went back to the kitchen to finish making dinner, but my head was in the wrong place. I had the fear. I tried to distract myself, but I couldn’t get comfortable.

I went back through to the bedroom and sat watching TV with my dinner, finally able to get the sound out of my head. The cats were begging silently for food, and the house was quiet.

All of sudden, there was a ridiculous crash. I jumped up and ran through to the kitchen, ready to fight. It was a sound too big even for a ghost, I decided. There had to be an intruder…

I found an ancient Chinese painting lying on the floor by the front door. I’d found it on the street months before and rescued it. I had no idea what the characters meant, but the painting was about five feet high and two feet long, encased in glass and wood. It weighed enough that two people were needed to carry it.

The painting had sat for those months at one end of the kitchen. I found it by the front door – almost ten feet away, upside-down by completely in tact. Something had picked it up and thrown it across the room without breaking the glass.

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DAVID WILLS is the managing editor of Beatdom Magazine, and the author of The Dog Farm and Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult'. You can learn more about him on his website.

226 responses to “Ghost Stories”

  1. Irene Zion says:


    I think you have to ask her what her story is and how you can help.

  2. Irene Zion says:

    I understand that, David.
    But it’s been years and years and she has been trying to talk to you.
    She hasn’t hurt you, only frightened you, but that was to get your attention.
    See what she wants.
    She won’t hurt you now for responding, if she hasn’t hurt you for not responding.
    She’s been following you for her own reasons.
    Find out what they are.
    Thaw out.
    You can do it.

    • I don’t think that it’s one person. I think that there are a number of things… and also, in spite of all the evidence that seems to have mounted up, I’m not entirely convinced that there are such things as actual ghosts. I mean, I saw what I saw… but at the same time I’m sure that these are people without bodies trying to get in contact. I don’t know what they are.

      Also, I think that the three difference locations contain three different “ghosts.” The one at my parents house was definitely peaceful, the one at my student flat was certainly not, and the one in Korea… I don’t know. I think that might have been connected to the painting. Now the painting’s gone, there’s no problem.

  3. Irene Zion says:

    You don’t have to understand it. You know something is happening. You need to respond to it in order to find out what’s going on.
    Maybe it’s the same entity, but when you didn’t respond at your old house, it got angry in your new house.
    Perhaps now it is just making noise to get your attention again.
    How much longer can it last trying to get through to you?
    How can it hurt?
    Think it through.
    Ask her what she wants.

  4. Anon says:

    Oh, MAN, I want to reply to this but I’m in the midst of my weekend domesticity. I’ll try to chime in later. I would normally agree with Irene but dead people are like folks on the internet – sometimes they get all stalkery and aren’t as nice as they at first seem. Be careful in your interactions.

    Jeez. Exorcisms last night, Sixth Sense today. And it’s not even October.

    • That’s a quote right there: “dead people are like folks on the internet – sometimes they get all stalkery and aren’t as nice as they at first seem.” Brilliant.

      • Anon says:

        Thank you – glad you enjoyed it (:. Here’s my story:

        I grew up in what had once been an upscale section of a major metro area in New England. By the time my family moved in, of course, it was a slum and war zone but my apartment building had been built in the early 1930s and our unit even included what had been the “servant’s suite”. Swanky. I later found out that the longest resident in our place had been a connected bookie who used our place as his “office” – I even found about seven separate phone jacks in the back room closet, some of which led down into the apartment beneath us, which he also allegedly rented. Word from the building old-timers was that he hated kids and died in the apartment (no word on cause of said death).

        We moved in when I was five and I was always irrationally terrified of “the back room”. As I got older, it may have been my imagination but I often saw shadows moving in there, doors would swing open and closed minutely when I approached, the whole place was utterly oppressive. Sometimes I’d put down small things like keys, tools, et cetera, turn around for a second and find them gone. They’d turn up in another room. Sucked to be me since I was a “latchkey kid” before we got the cool job title and was usually alone from 3:30 until my dad got home from work around 7:00. Being me, I made it until about age eleven or twelve before I used the free time to move all of my dad’s stuff out of “his study” and move my bedroom in. Direct challenge is usually my m.o. and it was weird and creepy but… I seemed to have made peace. I get the impression that, even in death, chutzpah is appreciated by some people.

        I lived there until my early twenties and then married and moved almost two thousand miles away. Our second night in our new place, I woke to sensation of having someone in the (locked) bedroom. I snaked my hand to a weapon, then bolted up to accost the “intruder”. And there was somebody there. For, like, a second and a half. I blinked and found myself leveling sights at nothing. Empty corner. Bupkus. Next morning, my new bride tells me about the weird-assed dream she had, about someone being in the room. We compared notes. Mostly matched – thin, white male, about 150lbs, 5′ 7″ or so, uncannily similar facial features to me, formal attire (I went with “tux”, she said “suit”) and really, really pissed.

        Never had another incident but it left an impression. Perhaps I disappointed my “friend” by leaving. So, um, don’t accidentally start a relationship there, David. (:

        • Good lord, that’s chilling… I always pictured them as being particularly attached to one place and having little regard for the living. I never thought you could start a relationship… and as for ghosts with grudges, well that’s enough to ensure I never sleep again!

          I wonder how ghosts travel.

        • Anon says:

          Spirit Airlines, of course. Business class, usually. All those empty seats you see when boarding? Not really so empty….

        • They won’t be doing much travelling, then, with all that ash over Europe.

        • Anon says:

          Well, maybe not flying but they could always book a cruise. And there’s even more of a travel incentive, now, with the eruption. I mean, dead or not, most guys would consider a European cruise a small price to pay for a hot piece of Icelandic ash (ba-da-BUMP!).

          Sorry. It’s been a long day.

        • Ho ho ho. Very smooth. I’m stealing that one and I won’t have to credit it because it came to me anonymously…

          I always thought ghost ships and ghost trains were pretty spooky, but ghost planes never really struck me as a possibility before. But now there’s all that pristine, unused, plane-free black sky to consider, maybe there’s room for a ghost plane.

        • Anon says:

          I am, apparently, the most prolific writer, poet and political pundit in history. I can afford to let a few freebies go. Um… so far, I think Matt took one or two, Erika Rae might be heading to a half-dozen and I gave Will a scene for the alternative history of The Passion of Christ (who actually turned out to be Peter – long story, faked death).

          Hey – maybe I’m a spook! Imagine that. There are always tales of voices over the radio waves, images in televisions. What if I am non-corporeal and have simply found a way to imprint my thoughts onto these little magnetic disks…? Meh. Never mind. I wouldn’t be this tired all the damned time if that was the case.

        • That gives me an idea for a short story or a crappy movie starring some overly pretty, barely talented Hollywood tramp…

          “The Internet Personality That Never Was”

          It’s about an online profile that is manned by no one, except you don’t realise that until the end… And given the predictable “headfucks” in most modern “clever” horror flicks, it would of course turn out that the protagonist doesn’t exist, either. She thinks she does, but really she’s just a spambot – a pretty face with generic thoughts that posts phising links and tries to make guys buy unnecessary products…

          Oh yeah, I’m going to get famous with this idea.

        • The name of the movie/short story is now “Trick or Tweet.” I’d like to take credit for that, but one of my editors (Wayne Mullins) came up with it.

        • Erika Rae says:

          @Anon – I’ve never awakened to a human-like form. Once I woke up to handwriting all over the ceiling. It was glowy pink and blue. I woke husband up and he saw it, too. Then it faded. It happened two nights in a row.

          How boring is that? I don’t see ghosts, I see *fonts*.


        • Erika Rae says:

          Hey – maybe it was Fate trying to tell me I should become a ghost writer!!!

        • Anon says:

          “Ghost writer”. Erika Rae, that was the most horrific comment I’ve read yet. HAHAHA.

          “I see dead non-proportional fonts! They don’t know they’re obsolete!”

        • Haha, creepy but funny. A ghost writer indeed.

  5. Brian Eckert says:

    My mother is a firm believer in all things paranormal. I grew up in a house she swore was haunted. In fact, she went so far as to stick me in the “most possessed room” because she’d had too many disturbing incidences to remain sleeping there. I never saw or sensed anything.

    I’m also not entirely convinced of the existence of ghost, spirits, etc, although I’ve heard some hair-raising stories that I don’t necessarily want to just dismiss. I think like most things, if one is looking for something, they are more apt to see it. But then there are those like yourself, a skeptic, who has had brushes with the other side.

    Ghosts? Restless spirits? The idea does intrigue me, and being open-minded I allow a place in my mind to consider their existence. Good luck with the communication. Maybe your latest ghost was simply a drunk ajusshi who wanted to destroy the painting because it was from dirty China. If ghosts reach back into the realm of the living because they had unfulfilled lives, then I wouldn’t be surprised to find a lot of ghosts in Korea.

    • Jesus, that’s pretty brutal to put someone in the “most possessed room” although I guess it all comes down to whether or not someone is actually sensitive to that kind of stuff.

      I cut a hundred word introduction from this piece that contained my musings on whether or not I believe in ghosts… It really confused matters because the stories are all about ghosts, but my own beliefs are a little sketchy. I don’t really believe in ghosts, but I’ve certainly seen things that make them seem real.

      As for your drunk adjussi comment… I have a friend who just left Korea. He lived in a big tower building with about a thousand apartments inside. There were maybe fifty foreigners living there and they were all haunted by anti-foreigner ghosts. Every single one of them walked into their bathroom at some point to find the sink filled with blood. Then moments later it would disappear. Apparently it happened to them all only once.

  6. Lorna says:

    The most hauntingly thing that has ever happened to me (not to someone else) was that I heard a distint man’s voice say “Hello” one day when I was home alone. It was loud enough to startle me, yet there was no one there. I believe spirits do get trapped in some sort of plain that we can not see. I am not certain why I believe this. I just do. I too have lived in a home that was over 100 years old. I often dream about that home. I’m not sure it was haunted, but it had a soul. I also have had that sense of danger in other homes I have lived in. The painting though being thrown across the room. That is both scary and intriging at the same time. Thanks for sharing David.

    • Eek, that’s creepy. I think I’d crap my pants if a ghost spoke to me…

      I’m not sure about the existence of ghosts, but certainly old houses with many previous residents tend to give off weird vibes. I wonder if people just leave an inexplicable mark on a building when they die. Maybe they leave some sort of audible, visible echo.

  7. Zara Potts says:

    Wow. You are like a ghost magnet or something…
    In my old house we had a ghost. It used to shake the bed at night, when visitors came to stay. It didn’t feel particularly threatening though – just annoying.
    I think you are obviously susceptible to paranormal activity, David. Maybe you should be a ghost hunter.

    • Spooky. I’ve had a few encounters but if bed-shaking was involved on a regular basis, I’d probably move house. The incident with the unpleasant ghost at my student residence only lasted a while. If it happened again and again I would have probably moved out.

      And I get scared way too easily, so ghost-hunter would be a bad job. I’d probably make an ass of myself.

  8. Simon Smithson says:

    Holy mother of… did your heart stop in your chest when you saw what you believed was a human head in the street?

    Eerie, man. It would appear you’re a little bit of a magnet for the spirit world. Keep your wits about you, you know?

  9. Wow. Now I’m all freaked out.

    You’ve been through all that you have and you still don’t know if you believe there are ghosts – that’s, that’s, that’s – just adorable.

    When we were on our honeymoon in France, we stayed at this chateau that belonged to Nostradamus’ brother (he was obsessed with past – ba da dump). I couldn’t sleep at all there. I was convinced we were not alone in our room. Every night I lay awake but with my eyes tightly shut for fear of what I would see. I passed the insomnia with Greg’s comic books when I got the courage to open my eyes. Nothing bad happened, I just knew we weren’t alone in that room. I was even self conscious getting dressed.

    I don’t think it was wedding related because I was fine everywhere else we stayed – we were gone for quite some time. I think if something had, I may have had to be taken out in a straight jacket. I think ghosts know this on some level and leave me alone.

    I’m really glad it wasn’t a real severed head. I like how you guys temporarily forgot about it anyway when you went to the Tesco.

    • I think the not-believing thing is just my way of not dealing very well with being afraid. Like if I pretend it’s not real, it can’t get me…

      But what’s really is freaky is that I wrote this last night and immediately got comments from Irene Zion, telling me to speak to the ghost. I asked “how?” and shortly after a card flew off my girlfriend’s dresser. I flipped out and spent most of the night watching TV.

      Castles are scary. In fact, all buildings with that much history harbour some spooky stuff, so I’d be scared out of my mind if I had to spend the night in one.

      And yes, it’s weird how bright lights and easy listening music put you at ease. No one can be afraid in a supermarket. That’s the genius of retail. In fact, I believe Tesco’s new marketing campaing includes the phrase “So mundane you’ll forget you just saw a severed head.”

      • You’ve actually reminded me of a story I missed out.

        I was in Vietnam last year with my girlfriend. We stayed in a little apartment on an island, and the second I walked in, I felt something weird and looked at a cupboard in the corner of the room.

        Every night for six nights I woke up chilled to the bone (and it was about a hundred degrees in there) and I sensed something from the cupboard. I couldn’t see or hear anything, but it scared me beyond words.

        One day I went out hiking and through my staggering stupidity I hiked many miles in more than a hundred degree heat… without water. I went all day without even thinking about it.

        Needless to say, when I came back I began hallucinating severely. Or at least that’s what I hope it was. There was a girl crawling out of the cupboard and crying and I was freaked out. I started screaming and ran down to the beach. I woke up a few hours later and went back, but I couldn’t bring myself to go into the room. I spent the night on the deck chairs.

        Lesson: Don’t hallucinate in a haunted room. It can cause near nervous breakdowns.

        Also: It makes me wonder how many spooky incidents I’ve covered up in my mind.

        • Erika Rae says:

          GOOD GOD, David.

          First off, I read this yesterday and have spent the last 24 hours being FREAKED OUT. And then this. A girl crying, crawling out of the cupboard. I am so confused. And bewildered. And, oh yes, (did I mention?) freaked out.

          Wait – what card flew off the dresser yesterday? Just curious.

          Seriously. Spent the night with the duvet cover gripped tightly in my hands.

          My mom says she’s seen “people” before. Weird stories.

        • Angela Tung says:

          holy shit! the phone rang as i was reading this and scared the living crap out of me.

          david, not only do you have many excellent ghost stories, you TELL an excellent ghost story. i love that restrained, spare style that creates a creepy atmosphere even without ghosts (the mannequin head, the creepy dude in the phone box).

          i’ve never had anything happen to me, aside from a spooky Ouija board, and would probably die of fright if anything did.

          like erika, i will probably have trouble sleeping tonight.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          This has actually been creeping me out more and more over the last two days. The duvet thing, David? Holy mother of shit. That’s terrifying!

        • As awful as it sounds, I’m actually glad that I’m not the only person spooked by all this. I wrote these stories the other night after years of repressing them… and ever since I’ve been scared stupid. Sorry for ruining your sleep, but I’m kind of glad that I’m not the only one going into work after spending all night terrified.

      • That. is. genius. I think you should present that to them at their next marketing meeting.

        It’s true, I’m never afraid when I’m deciding on heath and beauty aides.
        Or when I read magazines about the famous – whenever I fly I have to read trashy mags
        so I don’t remember when I am.

        I don’t even know what to say about your new story you just added – I’m pretending
        it’s not there so that I can go back to bed. Yikes.

        • typos galore – sorry – tired and i’m actually half asleep because I can’t sleep.
          health and beauty aides and where i am , not when i am. good night!

        • Yes, I’m regretting this whole damn post… I spent most of last night awake and today I’ve been a virtual zombie. (Fortunately zombies considered “cool” in Korea, so there’s nothing wrong with being zombified.)

          I can listen to other people talk about ghosts, but the moment I dig up my own stories and think about them I know I’ve lost a few nights’ sleep. Sorry if I’ve also robbed you of your rest.

        • oh no – no apologies necessary – my son woke me up.
          It’s funny having kids, because i spend so much time assuaging their fears of the dark
          when I’m a total scaredy cat myself.

          You should make a run to the Tesco!

        • Haha, good idea. Tesco actually invested in Korea pretty heavily, but it’s a very protectionist market and they aren’t doing well. If I want to go to Tesco (which is called “Homeplus” here) it would involve a 30 min cab ride or an hour on the subway.

          And I always assumed that assuaging the fears of others would help remove your own tendency to be spooked. I guess it’s all about acting, though.

    • Yikes!! Anything Nostradamus related has to have the voice of Orson Welles nearby!

      • Haha, Orson Welles… That would be an alarming voice to hear at night.

        • Anon says:

          Hearkening back to my “haunted apartment”, I remember scaring the shit out of myself as a teen. I was living alone in it by then and had just watched some documentary or another on demonic possession and devil worship. Turned out all the lights, went into the bathroom and heard this deep, warbly baritone from the livingroom. Blood ran cold for a sec, checked it out – nothing. Went into another room, heard it again. Heart pounding a little now (understandable given my creep factor with the place anyway) – still nothing. Turned in – louder and longer still. Agggh!!

          So I sat in the livingroom with the lights off and waited. Then I promptly about shit myself when Satan’s own voice came from the turned-off TV. Except it wasn’t Satan, it was some trucker using his CB just outside my building. This was in the days of pre-cable and the aerial was picking up part of the signal, which was strong enough to come over the speakers. TV was off but still had juice. I’m sure “my ghost” was highly amused at my discomfort.

        • Haha. Sorry, I shouldn’t have laughed. That would have scared me stupid. But it is a little funny. How often does our mind play these tricks on us. We all too often jump to the worst conclusions.

  10. Simon Smithson says:

    A friend’s mother tells the story of a Ouija board that spelled out ‘evilevilevilevilevil’ – and continued to do so when everyone’s hands were removed.

    Ideas of spiritual attachment, psychic vampirism, renegade tulpas or egregores are all pretty common-place in certain circles. I was fascinated by the occult when I was younger. I don’t know what my beliefs are now, except for the fact that I seem to have gravitated more towards faith and away from organisation.

    Google ‘The Dybbuk Box’ for a good story about an entity attached to an object, rather than a place. It has all the hallmarks of a cool ghost story in the internet age.

  11. Matt says:

    Nice little bit of creepiness there, David. Sounds almost as though you’re living in one of those odd Japanese horror films that are forever being Americanized by Hollywood.

    So….despite being someone who very much enjoys ghost stories, despite having lived in New Orleans for years and currently living less than five miles from what is supposedly the most haunted place in America, I have NEVER had a run-in with anything remotely like a ghost encounter. Not once.

    Maybe it’s because I keep running into plenty of scary corporeal stuff in the dark…

    • Thanks Matt.

      Maybe your mind isn’t as fragile as mine. Maybe you just didn’t watch enough horror films at a young age to have your brain thoroughly crippled, liable to lapsse into hallucination at any moment.

      My girlfriend is very interested in haunted places. She went around an abandoned prison once – somewhere on the East Coast, I believe. Places like that make me wonder. How much do you see because of what you expect?

      Too many questions…

  12. Simone says:

    I think it’s going to take a little while for the goosebumps to leave my skin. This was damn creepy. Well written, David.

    I had a similar experince to yours with the ‘girl’. I was staying over at a friend’s house on a Sunday night. Shortly after the Sunday night movie ended (Silence of the Lambs), we decided to go to bed. The room I slept in was completely dark, so dark in fact that you couldn’t see your own hand in front of your face. I was in a deep sleep when all of a sudden I felt a weight on my chest. My eyes flung open as I gasped for breath. I saw a silohette of a very tall man standing beside the bed. He stood there for about another minute or so, it seemed like a lifetime, I struggled to breathe all the time that he was there. I think my friend’s cat must have scared him off, as Thomas (the 3 legged cat) jumped on the bed the man disappeared.

    • Oh man, I love Silence of the Lambs. That’s one of my favourite films.

      That’s awesome that the cat saved you. I freaked out pretty badly last night after writing this. A card flew off a dressed (with no breeze in the room) and I was comforted only by the presence of my big fat cat.

      I wonder what it is about the dark. Does it just play with our minds? Why do we never see ghosts in the daytime?

      • Simone says:

        Silence of the Lambs, oh yes, a sure favourite. And one of the only films which I think has lived up to the book.

        I think that it’s fear of the unknown that’s under the cloak of darkness that actually scares us, not the darkness itself.

        Then again it’s also Hollywood that has instilled some of that fear. I remember watching ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ (I forget which one). In one scene the main character, Tina is in the bath and falls asleep. Freddy’s knived hand comes out from under the water and quckly disappears again when Tina opens her eyes. The scene contiunues, but I won’t go into detail. I didn’t bath for a week, I was so scared that Freddy was coming to get me via the plug hole in the bath. *shivers*

        • Yes, the film was excellent, and whilst I own four copies of the book (I’m an idiot and hoarder) I’ve never actually read it. I read Hannibal and I didn’t like it, but now I wonder whether that was my ignorant 14 yr old self being incapable of appreciating it, or maybe it was just as shit as I remember.

          I found the first “Nightmare” film pretty damn scary, but the rest were just silly. I believe they’re remaking the first one but trying to remove all the jokes and make it pure horror. I’ll give it a watch, but I think people only really remember Freddy as a weirdo. It fit his character as a killer who preys on children.

          That stupid film “What Lies Beneath” stopped me from taking a bath for years (I still showered – I’m not that gross). To be honest, I never recovered. I’ve seen a few more films that involve baths and I get spooked. Same with mirrors.

          The scariest film I’ve ever seen, though, is “Shutter.” It’s a South East Asian movie (I forget which country, maybe Thailand) and I was on edge for days after watching it. Then my girlfriend (who loves horror) bought a game with same concept. I couldn’t play it.

        • Simone says:

          You’re missing out on some great reading there, David. I think I was 15 or 16 when I first read “Silence of the Lambs” and loved it. Loved the films too.

          “What lies Beneath” made me leave skid marks in my underwear. And again, like you, refrained from bathing for a while afterwards.

          I’ve not seen “Shutter”, nor heard of it for that matter. If what you say is anything to go by then you can count me out on watching it.

        • It is a good film, and if you ever feel like scaring yourself, you should watch it. They made a Hollywood version (surprise, surprise) with Joshua Jackson.

          Korea has some spooky horror films (Korean cinema is great, unlike Korean TV, music, literature etc) and one of the best is called “A Tale of Two Sisters.” It’s a total headfuck. There are dozens of other films just like it, but that’s the best.

          There’s something scary about Asian ghosts. I hope that doesn’t sound like a borderline racist remark, but in Asian cinema their ghosts are way scarier… Ever see the ring? I can’t even look at the girl from that movie.

        • Simone says:

          I’ll keep that in mind the next time I have the urge to shit myself (not literally, of course, that would just be gross).

          The girl from the ring totally scares me.

        • Yeah, even the stupid parody of it in one of the Scary Movie movies scared me.

        • sandy says:

          I heard that movie was scary, then it came on one night, I refused to watch it. i was in the kitchen, my boyfriend said he will watch it, its just a movie! What could possibly happen?!! UNTIL he started watching it, now I’d come into the lounge to watch it and disappear again when the scary parts are coming, and I’d watch him from the kitchen and see how he jumped, and swore, one scene scared him so much he came to the kitchen to calm down.. LOL ~ SO that is quite a scary movie… i FREAKED out when i saw the end..

        • Yeah, it’s brutal. Makes me wonder about the painting Simon linked to below…. Scary stuff. I hate the idea of that sort of possession.

        • Matt says:

          Koreans make some deeply, deeply strange but very enjoyable films. The Host was one of my favorite films of 2006.

          I would go so far as to say that The Silence of the Lambs is one of those rare cases of the movie being superior to the book. I honestly wasn’t impressed by the novel at all. Or the earlier film adaptation of it, Manhunter, which starred Brian Cox as Lecter.

          I’ve only been scared by a movie once. I was 12 or 13 when Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula was released on home video. I made the mistake of watching it late one night when I was home alone – and of course, it was in the middle of winter and the back yard was full of dead leaves. The movie was creeping me out to begin with, and every time a possum or neighborhood cat went crunching through the dead foliage out back I nearly jumped out of my seat.

        • I thought Manhunter was based on Red Dragon – the book he wrote before Silence of the Lambs

          The Host was ok, but Korea is better at making real headfuck cinema. This country has the highest suicide rate in the world…

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Seriously, the bad guy from Old Boy must be the Korea’s answer to Will Smith.

        • They were trying to make a Hollywood version with Will Smith as the main character. Yeah… Worst idea ever. Cinema fans breathed a collective sign of relief when that project was scrapped. Could you seriously imagine Will Smith taking on a hallway full of bad guys with a claw hammer?

        • Simon Smithson says:



          That’s impossible

          That can’t be true.

          There is so much wrong with that idea.

          Aw, hell naw!

          It should be Adrien Brody. Because Adrien Brody should be in everything.

        • It’s true… or rather, it was true. Google “Oldboy Will Smith.” There’s a funny Photoshop’d image of Will Smith with a hammer.

          Oh, and Steven Spielberg was meant to direct it.

        • Simon Smithson says:


          Why not just make Michael Cera the bad guy and have done with it?

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          I went through a J-Horror, which was really an Asian Horror phase. Always watched the Asian originals. The Hollywood remakes were jokes. Sadako from the climax scene of The Ring is an image that will be etched in my mind forever. *shivers*.

          I wrote about it here:


          As I mentioned in that piece, I think much of the reason Asian Horror is so much better is that it doesn’t try to be as neat and linear, and story-arcy, because the real things that terrify us never are.

        • I think the originals are scarier for a number of reasons. Perhaps the strangest is that when you don’t understand the language, you try so much harder to follow along and you get more attached to the story. It’s like that stupid fake game that people link to. You try really hard to follow the game, and then a scary face pops up. If you weren’t concentrating so hard, it wouldn’t be that scary.

  13. Simon Smithson says:


    Check out the section on folklore – a friend of mine tells a particularly unpleasant story of something… nasty… that follows her around and occasionally pops up to pin her down to the floor for a while. According to my friend, this happened once with an ex-boyfriend, who attempted to pick her back up and couldn’t, and subsequently freaked out with the realisation that something was actively pushing her to the floor.


    It’s not my story, so I can’t verify it.

    Oh, but I love this. It’s the Cursed eBay Painting.


    • I’m familiar with Sleep Paralysis. My old roommate had it, but not during the time we lived together. It happened just after his mother died. He said he was awake and Freddy Krueger (yeah, another “Nightmare” reference) was torturing him. Apparently he could feel everything, but there were no scars or marks when he finally moved.

      I could think of few things worse than that.

      Goddamnittohell, Simon! I clicked the link you gave me by accident. I wasn’t ready to view it and I just about crapped myself. That’s a spooky picture. And the Wikipedia page about it doesn’t really help me. I tried to read the backstory but my eyes were drawn to the stupid picture at the top. It makes me very uncomfortable…

      I used to be scared of dolls as a kid. I saw an episode of the X-Files that scared me, where a killed doll got put in a microwave. I remember being unable to be alone around dolls.

      • Simone says:

        I’ve got chills running down my spine from that painting. Who is the artist? Do you know? i think he/she may have had some goblins lurking around the synapses in his/her brain. CREEPY

        One of the links via the ‘sleep paralysis’ page mentions Incubi, whereby “An incubus (from the Latin, incubo, or nightmare; plural incubi) is a demon in male form supposed to lie upon sleepers, especially women, in order to have sexual intercourse with them, according to a number of mythological and legendary traditions. Its female counterpart is the succubus.

        Whilst in high school a friend of mine came to school and confided in me that a “ghost” had raped her the night before. I hadn’t heard of anything of the sort before she’d told me about her encounter so I had a bit of trouble believing her. But truth be told she had enough worry and fear in her face and voice to warrant me believing that “something” had happened to her. I didn’t mention that I didn’t believe her about the “ghost” part.

        • I’m not going back to the Wikipedia page… I think my computer might become haunted if that damn picture appears again on the screen. But it said that the painter (I think it was a man) painted it in 1970, based upon a photograph of himself. He painted a sequel after the painting became famous, which had the same characters forty years on.

          That’s horrible about the ghost rape. I guess it makes sense, though. If your mind can tell you that you’re seeing/hearing ghosts, then why not that they’re harming you. (Of course, that’s the skeptical approach… Assuming that they are manifestations of our minds.)

          I think I find it more comforting to imagine that ghosts don’t exist. That way it’s only our minds playing tricks on us. I’ve read enough about the horrors of the human mind to know that hallucinations can begin and last for years. Perhaps they happen to all of us, all the time. Perhaps that’s all ghosts are.

          That at least alleviates my fear that perhaps we could all become ghosts. At worst I think I could deal with 100 yrs of seeing ghosts, but I couldn’t cope with eternity.

        • Cheryl says:

          I’ve had a few episodes of sleep paralysis – thankfully the non-raping kind. It is very disturbing Nonetheless. English folklore called it The Old Hag – she sat on your chest and sent you nightmares. The few sleep paralysis episodes I have had were associated with nightmares. I would wake with a start, and be fully awake and conscious and be literally unable to move, speak and barely even breathe. It only lasts a few minutes.

        • I’m now living in fear that this will happen to me… It sounds awful. Nightmares should never extend into waking life.

    • Ronlyn Domingue says:

      Simon–cripes, man–where do you find this stuff?!! I read David’s comment about the painting, which really should have been enough of a warning for me, but nooooo, I decided to click the link. Ack!!! I still feel contaminated. Something is NOT RIGHT about that thing. David, my physiological response was to hurl, but I managed not to.

    • Angela Tung says:

      dammit, simon, why’d you have to post that painting?!? why’d i click on it?! and i’ve even seen it before but it still creeps me out.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Sorry, everyone…

        But it makes for such a good talking point! That thing is horrible. If any painting was going to be cursed, it would be that monstrosity. And the stories are so creepy too – people seeing the doll force the boy to leave the painting and stuff like that. Ghoulish.

        • It does make a good story. Just the sort of thing to rob an entire online literary community of their sanity…

        • Simone says:

          Just read the Wikipedia page about that painting, and I must say it’s quite interesting. Still creepy though.

          Checked out the sequel to the painting, called “Resistance at the Threshold” which has the same characters, although some 40 years later. It’s not as creepy as the first painting, but still there’s something there I can’t quite put my finger on.

          How did you hear about the painting, Simon?

        • The boy in the painting… is Simon!

        • Simon Smithson says:

          The hands resist me!

          Nah, my head’s not that oblong.

          A friend told me about it – how he heard, I don’t know. But he showed it to me and I said ‘Whoa… now that thing looks fucking haunted.’

        • If the world was populated by people decent enough not to deliberately scare the piss out of each other… well… I guess that would be a lame world. “Fabulously Boring,” as Zara might say.

  14. 24 hrs at the top of the front page!!! I’m such a lucky boy.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I haven’t been so lucky of late.

      Zara will remember that there was a mannequin head lying across the street from Ben Loory’s place when she was in L.A. last September. Simon would remember, too, as would Ben and Matt, who were also on hand, but Zara photographed it — an excellent shot, in fact.

      But that was in daylight, so it was clear it was a mannequin head. If I thought I’d seen a severed human head, I don’t think a trip to the store, or a trip anywhere else, could lead me to forget. Then again, I have an especial horror at the idea of decapitation, having been traumatized by an execution scene I saw in a movie as a child.

      However, I’ve always welcomed paranormal experiences, except I’ve never really been privy to any. Once I heard a voice speak to me late at night, but I may have dreamed it, even though I swear I was awake. I don’t know to whom the voice belonged. It sounded like a young man, and it said, “Oh, get over it,” as I was ruminating over an obsessive thought that had disturbed me for some time. Honestly, I thought it was the voice of God. Whatever it was, it doesn’t make for much of a story, I’m afraid.

      This is the second time I remember you posting something of a haunted sort (the other piece being, of course, “The Murder House”). I like this side of you. I’ll certainly be eager to read more.

      • Thanks as always, Duke. Your kind words mean a lot. I’m a shallow robot that operates on compliments.

        Manikins kind of alarm me a little… I’m not sure why. I think it’s connected to the doll thing. I’ve never liked dolls. Anything that resembles a human but isn’t a human kind of gets to me… Like it seems undead or something.

        That’s creepy about the voice. I’m always scared of hearing voices, because I’ve always feared for my sanity. Someone said that worrying about going insane prevents you from going insane, but I’ve also heard the opposite.

        Yes, the “Murder House” story is very special to me. It was one of those “coming of age” periods in life, coupled with startling – almost unbelievable – coincidences. I wrote a book that was never published and that story comprised a part of it.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          The book may yet be published. Never say never.

          If you’re freaked out by anything that resembles a human but isn’t a human, the future may hold a lot of freakouts in store, seeing that we, as a species, already seem embarked in that direction. Apparently a great many people don’t feel as you do — or I do, for that matter. I don’t get why everything has to go techno. I hate it, but it’s adapt or die, I guess. Any time I raise any criticism, I’m immediately shot down.

          As to the voice, it didn’t spook me at all. Whether it was dreamed or real, it was speaking sense, and the tone of the voice — the grain, as it were — was in no way threatening.

          Yours as a fellow robot that operates on compliments —


        • I used to write a lot of books and try to get them published. Now I look back and realise how shitty they were. I mean, it was great practice, but now I’m focusing on writing a book and spending more time making it perfect. It’s actually embarrassing to look back and see how sloppy my stuff was… Too much Kerouac! Now I read tighter prose and write tighter prose.

          Yes, I don’t look forward to robots and whatnot. That Will Smith film made me uncomfortable, although I’m sure they’d quickly become normal and it wouldn’t bother me.

          As for voices, I always hear stuff but I’m pretty sure it’s someone far away, whose words caught the wind.

          Having said that, I’ve been training one of my cats to speak. She’ll freak me out one day when she turns and says, “David, listen… I’m fucking starving over here. Get me some tuna.”

        • Simon Smithson says:

          David – Google Tobermory.

        • Maybe when I get a good book published and then get millions of fans, I’ll let someone publish my crappy stuff and say it was just the ramblings of a young man.

        • Tobermory? The place in Scotland or in Canada? Or the whiskey?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Anything with Will Smith makes me uncomfortable. I cannot bear the guy.

        • Tobermory? Why is Simon always saying “google this” and “google that”? He’s leading us to our demise down a dark Internet alley that’s going to be haunted with murderous ghosts!

        • Yeah, I’m not a big Will Smith fan, either.

          And I still don’t know what Tobermory is… Simon didn’t follow up with his mysterious comments!

          Unless Simon is the “Internet Profile that Never Was” – the ghost that haunts the internet.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Tobermory was a womble.

        • Haha, a womble?

          Did you ever watch that show, “Bottom”? There was a funny episode when they were in the “wilderness” (a few metres from a bus stop) and try to catch “wombles” (which were really hedgehogs).

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Damn. I didn’t realise there were so many Tobermorys. And I’d forgotten about the womble.

          It’s a short story by Saki, about a man who teaches his cat to talk, and the trouble thereafter.

          Hang on, maybe there’s a link:


        • Simon, when we Scots travel we don’t both creating new names… We just spread the old ones. Perth is a good example. Tobermory isn’t so well known.

          The short story is interesting… I like these lines. They demonstrate precisely why we shouldn’t teach such sassy animals to talk:

          “Cats have nine lives, you know,” said Sir Wilfred heartily.

          “Possibly,” answered Tobermory; “but only one liver.”

      • Zara Potts says:

        That was weird, that mannequin head wasn’t it?
        I love the photo I got of it – so totally out of place and silly.

        • I’d like to see the photo.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Hold on….

        • Zara Potts says:

          Actually I’m not sure how to post a photo in the comments? Help?

        • If it’s online anywhere else, you could post a link. Or e-mail it or Facebook it or something.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I was just going to suggest the same thing. Though it would be nice to know how to post photos in WordPress comments — a skill I lack.

        • Yeah, I’m not sure about that either.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I just posted it to my Facebook wall….MUCH easier!

        • Excellent, I’ll take a look.

        • Zara Potts says:

          It’s very odd. It was a very odd sight. Oh, and thanks Duke for the compliment on my picture taking skills!!!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I speak the truth.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I’m glad you like it –
          given your known dislike of

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Um. Do you know any fans of decapitation?

          Unfortunately, I’m sure some exist.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Not personally, no.
          But I understand Robespierre was partial to it.

        • Haha, the decapitation fans of this world are thankfully in the minority.

          I’m sure there’s a joke here… but I’m too tired to think of it.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Wait. That was a haiku above, was it, Z?

          Monsieur Robespierre
          adored Madame Guillotine,
          and she tete-a-tete.

          Get it? Tit for tat? Oh, never mind.

        • Anon says:

          Sorry – tuning in late from work. Fans of decapitation? I know the samurai were partial to it as was Henry VIII. I mean, it is the second-quickest “off switch”.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          In fact, David, I once stumbled upon a Yahoo group dedicated to decapitation scenes in movies. Freaked me out.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Duke – dId you just make that haiku up?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Monsieur Robespierre
          should have stuck to his knitting
          and not lost his head.

        • Duke, are you serious? I mean, I’m not entirely surprised… the internet has been uniting freaks since it creation. I can’t believe that’s a group, though. Weird.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, to be fair, Anon, only two of Henry’s six wives got the axe — and the first of the two, Anne Boleyn, got a sword, in fact, which apparently did the job much more efficiently. On the whole, Henry was probably par for the course in terms of rulers of his time sending people to the block. His daughter, “Bloody” Mary Tudor, was fond of having renegade Protestants burned at the stake as she sought to restore England to Catholicism. However, I’ve read that even her reputation isn’t as deserved as popular opinion has it.

        • Also, tete-a-tete is the kind of humour I like.

        • History creeps me out… The things they did to each other that we like to pretend no longer happens… When they caught Guy Fawkes they smashed his balls in against a giant bell. That’s worse than decapitation or burning, in my book at least.

        • Anon says:

          Duke, I still stand by the fact that the man was a fan. I mean, I’m a fan of many things that I don’t engage in all the time and there are some things you just don’t do more than once unless you enjoy it. (:

        • Zara Potts says:

          I’ve always thought being hung, drawn and quartered was the worst thing imaginable. But then I don’t have balls, so maybe that would be worse.

        • I find it amusing that we’re talking about people being “fans” of decapitation. Normally you hear these people being described as “obsessives” or being “involved” with such nastiness.

        • Anon says:

          David, quite right. I’m wryly amused by what is described as “inhumane” by the general public these days. “The bullying epidemic” doesn’t quite measure up to, say, “The Pear of Anguish” in my book. Of course, I’m an insensitive lout, so….

        • Actually, Zara, the hung, drawn and quartered thing does involve genital destruction… That’s just too much to mention. They cut your junk off and burn it while you’re still conscious. That’s before the dislocate each of your joints…

        • Anon says:

          Z, I suppose it depends on your pain threshold. Different people “shut off” at different degrees and lengthy physical “discomfort” doesn’t register after a certain point. But a short, sharp whack to the ‘nads? Yeah. I actually watched the surgeon perform my vasectomy and still say the worst part was when they gave me the local before the procedure!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          ‘Twas Madame LaFarge
          who knit scarves for headless necks
          due to Madame G.

        • Anon – Thanks to the Bush administration torture is now legal, too.

        • Joe Daly says:

          It’s funny, because as I was drinking my coffee and enjoying a tasty vegan vanilla scone, I thought to myself, “It’s already 8 a.m. and not a peep about genital destruction.” Then I got here. Phew- I thought something was horribly amiss.

          Now I’m going to go think of fluffy bunnies for awhile until the visions go away.

        • Haha, sorry to ruin your morning. But think of it this way – your day is probably only going to get less disturbing from now on. I mean, how many people get a full blast of humanity’s darkest facts with breakfast? Unless someone talks to you about genocide at lunch, you’re sorted for the day.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I wonder whether
          Madame LeFarge left her seat
          to stain her ‘kerchief?

        • Anon says:

          David, it’s always been legal. You just have to use the right terms when discussing it. That’s how they work – all of them, not just “Dubya”. Shooting, stabbing, burning, sleep deprivation, suffocation, mutilation – all of it. It just gets more efficient and is discussed in more sanitary terms, when mentioned at all.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Wait. Didn’t Guy Hawkes elude the worst by swinging himself, or having himself swung, during the hanging bit so as to break his neck and kill him fast? Or am I thinking of someone else?

          Per Henry, Anon, it was really unnecessary to behead both Anne Boleyn and her cousin, his fifth wife, Katherine Howard. The first almost certainly did not commit adultery, and it’s even dubious in the second case, since Katherine would not admit to having taken any lovers after she married Henry, even to her confessor on the eve of execution. She definitely wasn’t a virgin prior to marriage, however, as she confirmed (too late to save her pretty head), and she seems to have fallen in love with a man afterward and rather flagrantly flirted with him. But that they slept together can’t be corroborated.

          Also, Z. will remember that Henry’s other daughter, Elizabeth, had those involved in the Babbington affair executed in so gruesome a way that there was something of a public outcry. Only Mary Stuart was spared the worst, and even she required three whacks with the axe before her suffering was done.

        • Anon – I suppose you’re right. It really does get hidden from the public nowadays. When you really think about it, it makes you want to puke.

        • I think he had his balls smashed first, Duke, so he may have avoided the full array of torture that was on offer, but he was certainly punished for his actions. I think they tried the slow choke and he managed to snap his neck… whereas I believe his cohorts all got the full blast. Maybe. It’s been a long time since history class.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh poor Mary Stuart. And her little lapdogs.
          I think it was she, wasn’t it, who wore the wig? So when the executioner held up her severed head by the hair, the actual head dropped to the floor and rolled away…

        • Anon says:

          Joe, sorry to have ruined the scone but I must selfishly say that this has put me in a fine mood to face a slew of Monday morning meetings.

        • Ooh, that’s a nasty visual. A bald severed head rolling away, whilst an executioner holds the bloody wig.


          And with that thought… I bid you all goodnight. It’s getting late here.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Very nasty. And yes, I bid you all goodnight too. 3.30am here and I must be up in two hours for work. Damn insomnia.

        • Matt says:

          A couple of years ago there was a “History of Torture” exhibit here at the Museum of Man, which had any number of torture and execution devices from throughout the ages. It was creepy as all hell, and the captions accompanying each didn’t help; they described in frank detail how each implement was used. According to the staff a woman feinted the first day it was open.

          One of the centerpieces was a recreation (using some of the actual wood, or so we were told) of guilliotine used in the French Revolution.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          She wasn’t bald; she was just vain to the end, concealing her gray hair with a wig, which did indeed come loose in the executioner’s hand. And, yes, her lapdog had sneaked onto the scaffold while hidden in his (her?) mistress’s skirt.

          Ah, this is too gory a thread. I’ll have to answer your haiku later, Z. One more mention of this kind of thing is going to taint my dreams for sure.

          Good night to you, David.

        • Matt – The Discovery Channel showed a short series last year about torture devices. It was digusting, to say the least. The part about hanging was the worst – apparently the head often popped right off the body.

        • I don’t remember my dreams last night but I have bags under my eyes for probably the first time… I think I was traumatised by talk of decapitation and genital destruction.

          Not good bedtime banter.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh my god. I had chronic insomnia last night. I blame you all.

        • Given that this was a deliberately spooky story, I’ll take that as a compliment.

          Next time I’ll try writing the most mind-numbingly boring story I can think of, and then invite you all to share yours, and see how long we can each last without falling asleep.

          On the subject of such things, I was once told that reading or hearing the word “YAWN” makes a person actually yawn. A teach at my high school experimented by writing it on the blackboard and we all yawned.

          Perhaps I’ll just write the word “yawn” two thousand times.

          I’m inventing a new genre of literature: “Shit Lit.” It’s literature for people with sleeping disorders. Stories so painfully boring that no one can stand to read them without dropping off for a few hours.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Great idea! I have some fabulously boring stories that I can share.

        • “Fabulously Boring” would make a great title for an autobiography.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I call dibs…

        • That’s alright, mine is going to be called Triumph of the Wills… Oh, wait… Shit.

        • Zara Potts says:


        • Nothing like a good Nazi joke.

  15. I enjoyed every little vignette in this article, David. I especially was freaked out by the clown arm and the entity upstairs. Serious creep factor there. Did any of those ghosts get explained? Or do they all remain mysteries?

    I will work on Ghost Stories 2 for later this week in the same format as your article, and link to it…

    • Thanks, Nick. The only one that was explained was the one that I removed and add somewhere in the comments – the one from Vietnam. I figured hallucinations don’t really count. Even if there might have been a ghost there… It was also the freshest in my memory and I was struggling to write it without freaking out.

      The clown arm was probably from lack of sleep – an act of my imagination. I’ve always been scared of clowns. (I’m scared of everything, I now realise.)

      I look forward to hearing your ghost stories.

  16. Joe Daly says:

    Wow. What a gripping read. I don’t have a profound sense about the paranormal one way or the other, which was great for this piece, as it allowed me to read it with an open mind. My mind is still open, although I don’t doubt any of the things that happened to you. This is an amazing, and chilling story.

    For some reason, this line here really got me:
    “I knew my bedroom door was open and whoever was up there and probably gone into my room, but we heard no more.”

    It evoked the ol’ fear of, “we traced the call. It’s coming from inside the house!”

    Well done.

  17. Becky says:

    I didn’t get through all the comments, but re: Irene’s…

    I suspect that I have my own personal haunting. A woman who has been described almost identically by multiple people and seen in different places where I have been around. I saw her once, when I was younger, maybe 12 or so years old.

    She used to harass my boyfriends, even “pressing” one of them in his sleep as you describe. Stories of pressing ghosts are very common in Hawaii, and my husband and I joke that she is one of his ancestors who traveled here all the way from the islands to scare off my other boyfriends and make sure I ended up with him.

    She has never bothered him, but everyone else who has seen her described a thin woman with dark hair in a high-collared, mostly blue dress.

    I love ghost stories. Hate horror movies, though. Go figure.

    • Eek, that’s creepy. The idea of a person being haunted like that is so much worse for me than an object. It’s like you could never escape.


      But seriously, that’s freaky.

      • Becky says:

        It’s not really a problem for me–like I said, I’ve only ever seen her/it once, if that’s what’s going on. She only ever seemed to bother other people.

        And nobody has had any encounters for years; since I was in my very early 20s. Have you heard the theory that poltergeists aren’t actually ghosts, but psychic manifestations? Usually of the over-active brains of teenagers? I’ve considered that, too. Maybe it’s not an independent entity at all, but something I was creating with my adolescent surplus of psychic energy. Sort of a form of involuntary telekinesis/telepathy.

        I consider this, for some reason, much creepier (though also much more hokey-sounding) than the idea that I was being followed around.

        At least a separate entity could be thought of as protective or something.

        • Yes, absolutely I’ve considered that as a possibility. I mean, we already know what happens (or what can happen) when the human brain goes strange… People can have hallucinations that last years. So why not have a brief one? Or a recurring one? A moment of uncertainty…

          I find ghosts scarier, though, because if they do exist there is then the possibility of becoming one, and that would be intolerable.

        • My acupuncturist is a firm believer in the damaging power of
          unblocked energy – be it blocked sexual energy, blocked grief, creative – there’s alot
          of kinds of blocked energy flow. It can manifest in all sorts of ways.
          Your piece has me thinking about this in your exchange up above here.
          Maybe when energy of some sort is blocked in our bodies – it can be a magnet
          for this kind of outward manifestation.

          Or there are just ghosts that like to fuck with us.

          No seriously. Have you had acupuncture, ever? I always feel pretty great after.

        • So you’re saying I need some kind of exorcist masseuse?

        • And no – never had acupuncture. I used to have ridiculously bad migraines as a kid and I was going to get it, but never did. And then I came to Korea and my boss tried to make me get it for alcoholism, but I didn’t.

          Someday… Next time I’m ill.

        • Becky says:

          Steph, I once had a psychic tell me–I feel like I’ve mentioned this before–that I was powerfully psychic and that I should pray to some voodoo god to hone my powers. I don’t know about all of that, really, and all my attempts to see the future–particularly as it pertains to the lottery–have failed, so I have serious doubts.

          But I know for sure that experience with the psychic was terrifying. He had an evil eye and only told me the god’s name once and I couldn’t forget it for ten years. The only time I ever said it aloud, I had a full-blown panic attack.

          I was not a practicing Christian at the time, but I took up praying again, briefly, because the whole situation was so uneasy-making. BAD muthafuckin’ vibes.

          So vibes/energies/whateverhaveyous definitely exist. If I do have any psychic energies, and that panic attack is what it feels like to engage them, I am absolutely in favor of blocking them, even if it gets a couple of boyfriends choked a bit.

          That may have been the most scared I’ve been in my life.

        • Wow, remind me never to piss you off… It’s wise to stay on the right side of people with extreme psychic powers, even if they’re not sure how to use them.

        • Holy wowzers, sorry there Becky – that sounds awful.
          And yeah, I certainly understand not wanting to go to certain places – like
          I can’t watch certain movies anymore (nor write their names even here)
          because I feel like it opens doors that get my fear wheel turning.

          That said, I guess what I meant was – there are some physical pathways that can be blocked
          and a good emotional release (y’know, like a good cry – feeling grief over something that hasn’t been grieved) or sexual (brothers and sisters – you know what I’m talking about) can get a harmonious flow going in the body – which can be beneficial for your spirit, mind – etc.

          But, what you’re talking about Becky – is something different, I think. I’m sorry you experienced that.

  18. Ben Loory says:

    this is great stuff, david wills! you should write a book of ghost stories. they always really freak me out when you do them. this is not a talent to be taken lightly.

    • Thanks man, this was ironically the least confident I’ve ever been about a TNB post. With the exception removing a final few hundred words, this is a first draft effort. Only checked for spelling.

      I’d take your advice and go for a career in ghost stories, but I’ve not really slept since writing this. I’m a big sissy.

      • Ben Loory says:

        that’s what it’s all about, david wills! driving yourself crazy for art!!! do it!!!!!

        • Ben Loory says:

          okay, i feel bad. i was just kidding! don’t drive yourself crazy. at all.

        • I sometimes spend upwards of 12 hrs a day writing… It cost me the use of my legs once or twice… So I’m used to suffering stupidly for “art”.

        • Ben Loory says:

          jeez, man… you’re lucky you didn’t get deep vein thrombosis and end up with a pulmonary embolism!

          one time i was at a meeting in college and i sat indian style for two hours and then leapt to my feet and found that both my legs were asleep… that was scary! not as scary as ghosts pressing on me, though… good thing i sleep during the daytime…

        • Weird… I just read Paul Auster’s Oracle Night – where one of the characters is a writer who gets that.

          Try living in Korea where you always have to sit Indian-style. I walk like John Wayne half the time.

          When I edited the first issue of Beatdom I work 9 hrs a day at a supermarket and 8 hrs a day sitting with the magazine. I blacked out in the shower and get my little toe stuck in the drain. Snap. Broke it almost right off.

          I didn’t have money for a taxi or bus, so I couldn’t go to hospital for two days. When I did the doctor called me a “monkey” and gave me something vaguely hallucinogenic.

        • Ben Loory says:

          oh man, there goes paul auster, stealing my shit AGAIN!

          your life is fucked up, david wills! if i were you i’d wrap myself in quilts and hide in my cellar.

        • Yeah, because nothing scary ever happens in a cellar!

  19. Yeah, David. You gotta watch out for those cold girls. They’ll get you every time. Every. Time.

  20. Uche Ogbuji says:

    I’ve never had anything as close to a real manifestation as you have, and I only half believe in ghosts, but I have been in places and situations where the mind-fuck-freeze terror has taken over, and at the time it was impossible to believe it was just my imagination. I don’t know what I’d do if I ever faced a physical manifestation such as that girl phantom. Ooh! I’d rather not find out, thanks.

    • I hope you don’t, Uche. I think that we can all look back and say something was our imagination or a trick of the light. But at the time it’s so hard to be rational. The dark plays tricks on our minds.

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        Fuck that, mate! The breathing? The pale clown hand? Maybe. But a hand over your face, another pulling down your duvet, and then a semi-solid girl staring at you like “what! what!”? I doubt I’d be able to file that away neatly as “imagination”. Eek!

        BTW I’ve had sleep paralysis episodes, and it’s quite terrifying, especially emerging from a nightmare, but I’ve never believed it to be anything other than sleep paralysis. Usually once I could force myself to full wakefulness, I’d just get some water, read a bit so I don’t fall right back into the same nightmare (hate it when that happens!) and all is well. But then again I am *never* one to say that just because I have not experienced something that no one else could have experienced it.

        • I couldn’t deal with sleep paralysis. I’ve woken from nightmares before and the world is a weird place. Shadows come to life, clothes look like people… As long as I’m able to move and think I can deal with it.

          But yes, it’s important to remain open. Even if you’re full of doubt.

  21. Greg Olear says:

    You must have a lot of water in your chart, and probably Pisces Rising, or else Neptune prominently placed. You have to have a lot of water to be able to see ghosts. (And the little girl was, and is, a ghost, and a powerful one at that.)

    These sort of stories remind me of “Honeymoon Suite” by Suzanne Vega:


    • I just convinced Greg that we had a ghost cat visit us last night.
      I felt something at the foot of the bed and then jump off and heard little paw steps.
      And my hands were really cold last night – aren’t you supposed to be cold when there are ghosts?
      I was a little freaked but not too badly – I don’t mind ghost cats.

      • Greg Olear says:

        Ghost Cat is a good name for a band.

        • That’s spooky about the ghost cat… but then again, I can’t imagine a ghost cat being too scary. Even after reading Simon’s talking cat story, I can’t see myself being as alarmed by a cat as I would by, say, a ghost dog or a ghost hamster. Even a ghost goldfish would be scarier. I imagine a ghost cat only really posing a threat to my cupboards full of delicious food.

        • Yeah, little ghost paws don’t have the same chilling effect as ghost hands.
          I’m sure we’ve had plenty of ghost kitty paranormal activity, now that I think about it.
          We’ve lost four kitties in the last five years. I think I’d actually feel offended if one of them didn’t want to haunt us a little bit. Bob! Joni! Stella! Steve! Go to the light! There’s peace and tuna in the light!

          Ghost goldfish. I wonder how that would work? Would a glass of water start bubbling?
          Was it a trick of the light or did I just see a white goldfish in the plastic castle?

        • Aw, poor cats.

          Ghost goldfish would of course use their blank stare to intimidate you. They’d just bob back and forth, staring and gaping, whilst their evil minds make you think bad thoughts.

          And, of course, the castle at the bottom of their levitating tank is haunted.

  22. Cheryl says:

    Ooh, David. This post gave me chills! Ghost girl – yikes! Clown hand – double yikes! Cupboard girl – EEK!

    My only experience was at our condo when we lived in Chicago. The interior had been gut-rehabbed, but the building itself had been built in the 20’s and that neighborhood had seen its fair share of drama.

    We never felt really scared or in danger, but it was a little creepy. Most of the activity seemed to be located in my daughter’s room. She was just 18 mos. old then, but almost every night when we put her to bed, she would stare at the same corner of her room, and sometimes she would point and say “man” or “boy”; sometimes she would mention “the dark man”. She didn’t seem to be frightened but she would be restless and fussy in her room sometimes. Hard to tell if that was because of anything in particular or because of her age. I cringe looking back and thinking, “Yes, we gave our infant daughter the haunted room.” But with 800 square feet there are only so many places for a crib. Also, these experiences evolved over time, and were so easily rationalized as the mind playing tricks. And finally, (in my imaginary argument I am having with myself to make myself feel better) we never felt anything malicious.

    We had a futon in her room, and one night she woke up and I went in there and laid on the futon and just talked and sang to her to settle her down. As she drifted back to sleep, I was laying there with my eyes closed trying to figure out if she was asleep enough for me to get up and go back to our room without waking her. I very distinctly hear a whisper, from the doorway of her room. A man whispered, “Where are you?”, in kind of a hoarse whisper, like he wanted to be heard but not be too loud. I assumed it was my husband, looking for me, and that he had poked his head in Jet’s room to see if I was there. Without opening my eyes, I answered, “I’ll be right there.” Then opened my eyes and there was no one there. I went back into our room and Dustin was fast asleep, where I had left him. I got a little agitated then, and shook him awake to ask if he had just been in the hallway and asked where I was. He had not. it freaked me out that the words had been so distinct, and that I answered. I did not sleep well that night.

    Later, a woman who claimed to be clairvoyant (a Brazilian nanny we had hired from a babysitting service for night out) told us that there was a presence in the house and that she had seen a shadow of a man go from Jet’s room to the front door. Aside from making us very skeptical of the babysitting service’s referrals, it also made us wonder about some of the other stuff we experienced. We never felt unsafe and nothing felt anything as direct as that whisper.

    Not long after that, we moved, but not because of the ghost, or whatever it was. It was a planned move out of state.

    Come to find out, our building had once been apartments and we heard it on good authority that there had been several drug rings operating out if it for a good many years. My guess is that some shit went down in that building on more than one occasion.

    • Oh my fucking god, that’s sent shivers down my spine like I haven’t felt since the events I described in this posts… There’s something truly awful about the unknown. When another person sees something, it can be worse than when you see it. Your description of the child looking at the corner: terrifying beyond words.

      The closest I’ve come to that is my stupid cats. Sometimes they’ll stare at something and I used to get freaked out because I’d think “Can animals see ghosts we can’t?”

      Now I realise that they just hear better than me and they probably hear the wind rustling a piece of paper that they think means food or play. I hope.

      The voice… that’s spooky, too. I would find it easier, though, personally, to explain away a voice than the thing with the kid.

      • Cheryl says:

        Well, the thing about kids, especially at 18 months, is that they don’t speak really well. They don’t enunciate at all, really, and sometimes its hard to understand what they are saying, much less to connect what they say today with the thing they said yesterday. Unless it’s simple like “cat” or “apple.” It’s spookier looking back at her behavior than it was at the time. Kids stare sometimes; and they point at nothing and babble. They are already little imagination machines, so it was hard to put it all together until after the whisper thing. After that, my husband I started to notice and ask each other, “Does she always stare at that corner when you are here too?” And “Did she just say ‘dark man?” I am sure some parents out there claim to be in such intuitive touch with their children that they can interpret every little babble or facial expression. I am not one of those parents.

        Actually, of all of it, the clairvoyant Brazilian nanny’s declaration that there was a presence in our house was the creepiest of all, for a host of reasons. Some of them not even ghost-related.

        • Seems scary to me… and I know about the child speech thing. I teach English as a second language to children who can’t even speak one language. It can be really tough to determine exactly what they’re trying to say.

  23. Simon Smithson says:

    Oh! Oh! And then there’s Shadow People.


    The article has been edited, unfortunately. It doesn’t include the more paranormal aspects.

    • It seems – according to that Wikipedia page – that the whole modern belief in shadow people has been propagated by the Discovery Channel. Good for them.

      I’ve never been able to watch shows about ghosts or ghostly happenings. People try to make me watch Ghost Hunters and such things, but they scare the piss out of me, even when I’m sneering at the stupidity of the crude footage and unconvincing evidence.

  24. […] You can read the post here. […]

  25. kristen says:

    My god I loved this! Uncanny.

    Aaaaand, I’m now compelled to troll Hulu after work tonight for a horror movie fix.

    Love this stuff.

  26. Have you seen, “Audition”?
    Another freaky Japanese film that, I guess, is considered horror,
    though I thought it was just horrific.

  27. jmblaine says:

    I’ve done psych evals for a lot of years now
    & heard a lot of ghost stories
    whispers in the night
    command in nature
    i saw men like
    trees walking
    I am convinced
    absolutely real.

    I love a ghost story.

  28. Slade Ham says:

    My apologies for just now getting around to commenting. I’m so intrigued by this, as i am by anyone that has had encounters like this. I would love to believe, but can’t seem to. In ghosts, I mean.

    I used to bartend in a comedy club that the staff swore was haunted. So much so, that I remember one waitress running out of the bathroom screaming, swearing that she saw a little girl sitting cross legged on the counter and staring at her blankly.

    There are probably close to twenty other anecdotes from my year in that building with those waitresses.

    I ended up buying the club and staying there for almost six years total. I spent many, many nights there alone in the dark, closing up and counting money. I never saw or witnessed anything. That obviously doesn’t negate their ability to exist, but perhaps just proves that I am not one they will show themselves to.

    I’m kind of let down. Still, chilling piece. It read like a ghost story.

    • Little girl ghosts are scary, and no one needs to be haunted whilst using the toilet. That’s a big ghostly faux pas.

      It reminds me of a bar I went to in California. It was right out in the middle of nowhere, and its history was weird. The place was as old as any building in the area, and had been a brothel, a bar, a brothel, a hostel, a brothel, a rugby club, a brothel and another bar.

      They’d built the bar (which it was when I went) without tearing down the walls of the old brothel. They’d just built the new walls around it.

      Anyway, I went with a friend and the bartender told us the place was haunted. He had apparently had whole kegs flying about the previous night and he couldn’t take working alone. Every manager had quit in fear and he was thinking of doing the same.

      We ended up helping the guy close up shop, getting free drinks in exchange of keeping him company.

  29. Carl D'Agostino says:

    I’m 60. The Doors eh ? Take it from me pal. You are a cool five star young fellow. Get some Led Zep, Grand Funk and Beatles and you can be 60 just like me!

  30. […] I want the Halloween I grew up hearing about – the one with the paper bats and the fake cobwebs, the skeleton cut-outs and the candy and the cut-out phantoms hanging from the ceiling, with the costumes and the ghost stories and the Halloween specials on TV⁴, with the unquiet dead climbing out of crypts to scour the earth, looking for David Wills. […]

  31. […] me, unseen spirits were everywhere: behind the sofa, hiding in corners, perching in rafters, standing at the foot of my bed. Some were good, some were evil. I could feel them watching me. When they went past me, they made […]

  32. Dana says:

    Good lord. I read this last night after reading Erika Rae’s piece (but was able to avoid all links in this article and the comments) and was thoroughly creeped out. Well done David! I hope your ghostly stalker has a gentle nature.

  33. trouty says:


    […]David S. Wills | Ghost Stores | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

  34. ScaryDayz says:

    One night, me and my friends went out for a movie. After that, i went home and took a shower. I dried off and went to bed. I couldn’t sleep because i kept hearing noises, so I stayed up pretty late. I finally got tired so i went to sleep. I turned on the AC and pulled the covers up. EXACTLY one minute later, something grabbed my foot. I froze and waited about five minutes for something else to happen. When nothing did, I got up to tell my parents. They found nothing. I never thought that my house was haunted- it was only owned by one family before up for 2 years, and other than that new. But my parents say that when i was about 6 i claimed to see a headless man walk through the hallway and into the study…

  35. ScaryDayz says:

    Scared the poop out of me i couldnt move

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