Monday, October 19, 2015

Ghosts and Hauntings by Stuart R. West


Well, it's Halloween again, the spookiest time of the year. So put the cat to bed, stick the kids outside and grab a nice cup of hot chocolate. Let's chat about ghosts.

Do I believe in ghosts? Not really. But it blows my mind how many grounded sensible people do. Not too long ago, friends of my wife's parents (the names have been changed as per their request) relayed a tale with such conviction it's hard to dismiss out of hand...

Some years back, "Bob" and "Iris" bought a three-story house in Denver, Colorado, so old it had a water closet on the third floor. At first, things were fine. But it wouldn't be much of a ghost tale if things remained that way, of course.

One day, Bob had been tasked with watching their toddler son. With the son safely asleep in his crib on the second floor, Bob tended to business on the first level. Footsteps trampled over his head. He barreled up the stairs. The baby was fine, still asleep. No one else in the house. But the footsteps continued on the third floor. After a thorough check-through, Bob was satisfied there was no one on the third floor. (He sorta accidentally blew a hole in the attic roof with a shotgun, but this part of the story wasn't quite clear. Make of that what you will!)

When Bob's brother and family visited, they also heard footsteps in the night. And they hadn't been told anything about the prior occurrence.
As in all poltergeist-related hauntings, things started small (missing items, a bottle of spice vanishing while Bob's back was turned, the water closet flushing in the middle of the night) before escalating. Hanging pictures were relocated to walls in different rooms. Once Iris searched her closet for a pair of shoes and only found one. When she turned away, she heard a solid clunk. The missing shoe now sat next to its partner.

Most troubling was the day they heard a loud scrape on the second floor. The young boys' bunk-beds had been moved to the center of the room. And the sheets had been carefully cut, an "L" shape meticulously trimmed through both of them. This occurrence kept happening, no doubt pleasing the Denver sheet manufacturing industry.

Fed up, Iris read somewhere to rid a house of a poltergeist, you had to confront it. Up she went to the second floor landing. Shaking her fists, she screamed, "Stop it! Stop it right now!" Silence. Suddenly a bucket worth's of water dumped down on her. No sign of water marks, stains, drips on the walls, the ceiling. Nothing.

First thing she did when she came downstairs is tell her husband, "We're leaving."
Brr. Now, I don't know about you, but that's a pretty spooky tale. At first I admit to being skeptical. But the narrator told it with such sincerity, I had to give it consideration. And his wife backed him up, filling in missing details.

Another friend of mine told me he once had a childhood ghostly encounter in a graveyard. But he won't talk about it. Says I'm not ready.

Honestly, I'm torn if I'd like to experience a spectral visitation. On the one hand, it excites me, gets my writer instincts pumping. But I also know I'd end up shrieking. Watching a 240 pound man shriek is probably not high on everyone's to-do list. Very unbecoming.

The irony is I'm drawn to writing about things spooky and spectral. I suppose I'm living vicariously.

In my book, Ghosts of Gannaway, there're many hauntings, curses, ghosts. Perfect for Halloween reading. But, honestly, with all of the supernatural shenanigans going on in the tale, there's nothing truly scarier than  mankind's capacity for evil and malice. Come for the ghosts, stay for the human characters.

I'm interested, folks...have you had any ghostly encounters you'd like to share?

Ghosts of Gannaway available now in paperback.

And the ebook is available at a limited sale price of .99! Perfect Halloween reading!