Shadow Figures on the Wall: NHIE Day 7

Day 7…Ever seen a Shadow Figure?

Sometimes, the most haunted places are exactly the kinds of places you would expect. Abandoned buildings, graves, hospitals. Other times, they’re supermarkets.

The spring right out of college, I started working at the local branch of a famous chain of grocery/clothing stores. My job title was “apparel merchandiser,” which is just a fancy way of saying I keep the clothing section looking tidy and I clean out the fitting rooms. Oftentimes, I worked the closing shift, which ended at 10:30pm.

I liked the closing shift for the most part. It had the most customers, which wasn’t fun since we were already understaffed, but my coworkers were nice, the end of the day tasks were easy, and the last half hour, there were no customers. It was just checking and securing everything and locking up.

One night, as I was walking through the racks of clothing, I looked up at the back wall and saw two shadows run across the wall impossibly fast and disappear into the next aisle. I thought we had missed some customers and that there were a couple of teenagers goofing around at the back of the store.

I walked all the way to the back wall and then began walking down the aisle I had seen them run into. Then the next and the next. There was no sign of them. I shrugged it off, trick of the eyes, and went to do my nightly check of the fitting rooms to make sure no one was still there before we locked up and set the alarm.

As I checked the men’s side, I heard the clink of hangers on the other side of the wall on the women’s, as though someone was still trying on clothes. I quickly finished the men’s side and went into the women’s, but to my confusion, I checked every stall and there was no one there.

I’ve tried to figure out where that hanger sound came from, thinking that maybe it was carrying from somewhere else, but the sticking point is that checking the apparel section was my job and mine alone. There wasn’t anyone else messing with hangers or running along the back wall. Everyone else was in their own department far from me, doing their own checks.

If you can believe it, two unexplained manifestations in one night wasn’t the odd part. The really odd thing is that they happened almost every night.

It became a routine when closing up. I’d walk towards the back and see two shadow people running along the back wall, always impossibly fast, always to the right into the toy aisle. I’d check the back wall, check the toy aisle just to make sure they weren’t customers, and then go to the fitting rooms, where I would hear people still trying on clothes.

It became so normal to me that it was weird when it didn’t happen. When the fitting rooms were silent or when I didn’t see the shadows on the wall. Every night, the shadow people seemed to do the same routine at around the same time. So, if we happened to be closing up a little earlier or later, I’d miss them. But then, the next night that we were on time, most of the time I’d see them.

Those weren’t even the only paranormal things that happened in that store! That place was super charged for some reason or another and I haven’t the slightest idea why. The store is closed down now, unfortunately, so I can’t visit and snoop around. But I feel like, even today, at 10:23 PM every night, those shadow figures still run along that back wall.

A/N: Thank you all for making this week of paranormal stories so much fun! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Click here to read yesterday’s post, or here to read all the week’s prompts.


Haunted Church NHIE Day 6

Day 6…Ever been in a haunted house for real?

It wasn’t a house, but it is a place I grew up in. Since before I was born, my parents have been church musicians. My dad played the piano and directed the choir, and my mom played the organ and led Sunday school. My first job was as a teacher’s aid in the nursery at that church.

Because of this, I spent a lot of time at this church when it was empty and quiet, and when a place is empty and quiet, things you didn’t notice before start to surface.

The odd thing (or not odd thing) about that church is that while I believe it was pretty haunted, there weren’t a lot of physical sounds and manifestations, but there were tons of “dark places.” Corners and specific locations in the building that felt stained with a specific feeling and impression, places that the eye is always drawn to for some reason.

My sister did experience one or two physical manifestations like knocking in the closet and such, but for me, all I got were feelings. The odd thing about those feelings, though, is that when I explained them to my sisters or heard them explain the places they were drawn to and what they felt there, it all matched up.

One of these dark places was the bench in the hallway by the restrooms. As I put out feelers to feel exactly where and what that dark place was, I was drawn to the very end of the bench and got the feeling of a little boy, very bored and mischievous, sitting there waiting, swinging his legs back and forth. He always felt seconds away from disobeying whoever had told him to sit there and running off to play. When I told my sisters about the little boy, they confirmed that they had felt the same thing there.

Another place was in the sanctuary near the back. My sister said she felt like an old man was sitting there waiting for church to begin. I had felt much of the same thing.

The strangest one that we all corroborated on, though, was in the Sunday school room. The corner by the closet and the rolling TV always felt dark, even when all the lights are on. I got an uncomfortable feeling from that place specifically and I felt uncomfortable looking at it for too long, even though I was always drawn there.

As I focused in on the feeling and location, it began to take shape, and not the shape I would have ever thought. It was large. So large that it reached the ceiling and had to hunch over. It felt cramped, like the space was too small for it, and it kept its arms close to its body in order to fit. It didn’t feel malicious, in fact it felt pretty benign. It just wanted to watch and to keep out of the way.

I told my sisters this and they were shocked because they had felt something big in that corner as well. One of them felt it as a pillar of dark smoke that reached all the way to the ceiling. The weirdest thing is that that closet is the same one my sister heard scratching and shuffling. When she had heard it, she had thought one of the kids was hiding in the closet and rummaging around in the Sunday school supplies, but when she checked, no one was there.

While I called these places of interest “dark places,” they only felt dark in an opaque sort of way, not an evil sort of way. I don’t think I’ve come into contact with very many entities that I actually felt threatened by. Most are just curious or minding their own business. The ones at the church were certainly in that category, if they weren’t just residual all together.

A/N: We’re almost done with this little series. It’s been so fun and has gone by so fast. I’ve saved the best for last. That’s right, tomorrow we’re talking about shadow figures.

Click here to read yesterday’s post, or here to read all the week’s prompts.

Did You Say Something? NHIE Day 5

Day 5…Ever heard your name called when no one was there?

When I was a kid, I heard my name being called all the time. It was one of those things in childhood where they happened and I just accepted them as the way things were. Sometimes you hear your name being called. Sometimes it sounds like people you know. It happens.

It wasn’t until I got older and looked back that I realized that this wasn’t something that was being talked about by other kids, it wasn’t something that was being put into after school cartoons. Just because I heard my name called every couple weeks doesn’t mean that anyone else did.

Now, there may be a scientific explanation for hearing your name being called. It might be something like that phenomena where, if you’re in a place that’s too quiet, your brain will manufacture false sounds. It could very well be like that.  But the way it always happened was so varied and specific that it was weird.

The first time I remember my name being called was summertime. I was nine or ten years old, playing in the back yard by myself. I don’t remember what I was doing. Maybe climbing on the swing set (my group of friends wholeheartedly believed that everything can and should be climbed), when I heard my cousin shouting my name from the front yard.

I can still picture it. It had a direction. It came from the far right corner of the front yard, under the apple trees. I thought, “Oh, I didn’t know he was over.”

He was more like our brother than our cousin. He came over to wait for the school bus almost every morning way earlier than I wanted to get up, and then hung out after school until his mom was off of work. We spent almost every day together, especially during the summer, so it didn’t surprise me to hear that he was over.

I walked to the front yard, expecting to see him, but when I turned the corner, there was no one there. I was very confused because I had heard him so clearly, so I searched the yard, thinking that he had walked off, but I couldn’t find any trace of him. I even asked my parents if he was over and they confirmed he wasn’t.

I don’t remember many of the other instances in detail, but I know they happened often enough that I had come up with an explanation for them: whenever I heard my name called and no one was there, I believed it was God just reminding me that he was there.

As I got older, those instances got less and less frequent until one time just a few years ago when I was walking past a forest that is definitely full of something or other in the spiritual sense. I had my earbuds in, listening to music, and suddenly I heard an urgent whisper, kind of loud but still whispery, right in my left ear, “Emily!”

It startled me and I quickly took my earbuds out and looked around. But there was no one there.

That’s not the first thing that has happened in and around that forest, but that’s a story for another time. I just think it couldn’t have been a coincidence that it was there that I heard my name being called.

I don’t know what causes this kind of audio hallucination, or if it truly is paranormal, or why they sometimes mimic the voices of people I know. If it’s paranormal, I don’t think it’s anything to be afraid of, just so long as the voices don’t lead me anywhere dangerous.

I think they’re probably just trying to get my attention for some reason: either because they have something to tell me, or they’re just seeing if they can. Or maybe it really is just my brain manufacturing false sounds. Who knows.

A/N: While I can only recall a few specific stories of hearing my name called, I do know that I heard it all throughout my childhood and off and on through adulthood. It’s one of those things that seem so normal when you’re young and then you look back and think “What?” Tomorrow’s all about haunted houses. Stay tuned!

Click here to read yesterday’s post, or here to read all the week’s prompts.

The Witching Hour: NHIE Day 4

Day 4…Ever had any experiences at 3am, the Witching Hour?

If you ask a ghost hunter, or anyone who regularly investigates haunted locations, what time of the day or night has the most paranormal phenomena, they will probably all say the same thing: 3 A.M. The Witching Hour.

Maybe it’s the significance of the heavy symbol of three, or maybe it’s just because it’s as middle of the night as you can get and dead quiet. For whatever reason, more weird stuff happens at 3 A.M. than at any other time of the night.

For me, when paranormal stuff happens in the dead of night, I don’t think to look at the clock, so I don’t actually know if it is strictly 3 A.M., but I would bet it’s close. One instance in particular comes to mind, and I wasn’t the only one who experienced it. 

It was the middle of the night and I was asleep in my room. Suddenly, I heard something loud and electric tearing through the silence of the living room.

Confused, I lay there for a little bit, trying to figure out what that sound was, but then I realized it was TV static. Everyone had gone to bed hours before. My first thought was that my dad had gotten up early to watch an old movie as he sometimes did on Saturday mornings. But this was way too early for that.

The loud static continued. No one was turning it off, or switching the channel to make it stop, or even lowering the volume. It was just buzzing away, so loud I could almost feel it.

Reluctantly, I turned on my bedside lamp and put a sweatshirt on. I wasn’t excited about investigating the living room in the middle of the night. I wouldn’t classify my family’s home as haunted, but sometimes, if I stay up too late and it’s 3 A.M. and I have to go into the hallway that leads to the living room, I’m very careful not to look into the darkness too long. I feel like, if I look too long,  I’ll see something there, particularly whatever something it was that hung out by the front door, making the whole entryway feel weird and dark.

As I walked into the pitch black living room and made for the nearest lamp, I felt like I was walking into a trap. This was exactly what got people killed in horror movies. In the dark, I could see that the TV wasn’t on. I switched on the lamp and approached it, thoroughly spooked and confused.

From the other hallway emerged my sister. She had heard the noise from the other side of the house, and like me had gotten up to turn it off. We checked the DVD player, the speakers, everything we could think of, but they were all off. Finally, we came to the stereo box that led directly to the large speakers on the sides of the TV, which we didn’t use for anything except the CD and record player.

It had one of those hard-to-push buttons that sticks far out the front, then gets pushed flat. That button had been pushed all the way in. The stereo had been turned on, it had been turned to the record player, and the volume had been set loud.

My sister and I didn’t know what to do except turn the stereo off, go back to bed, and try not to think about it. To this day, I don’t know how that could have happened. It had been manually turned on and switched to the record player, as if someone was trying to listen to music.

A/N: This isn’t the only thing that has happened at 3am in our house, it’s just the main one that happened to me, personally. Tomorrow, we’re talking about the phenomenon of hearing your name called when no one is there. Get ready!

Click here to read yesterday’s post, or here to read all the week’s prompts.

The Aardvark: NHIE Paranormal Edition Day 2

Welcome back for day two of the week-long series: Never Have I Ever: Paranormal Edition, where I tell about things I’ve experienced that I think were paranormal. There is going to be one of these every day until next Friday, so sit back, grab a drink, and let’s get to it!

Day 2…Ever woken up in the middle of the night and seen something in your room?

When I sleep, I see a lot of things that aren’t there. It’s sort of like sleep-walking or sleep-paralysis except I have all my motor skills. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a notion in my head that is strong and right and logical and urgent.

One time, I went out to the living room, to my dad watching TV, and informed him that I needed “a scream canister for my radio.” Another time, more recently, I woke up in the middle of the night, carefully took the pillow cases off of both my pillows, dropped them onto the floor and went back to sleep. At the time, these ludicrous things are the most normal things to do. But when I wake up, I remember doing them and thinking they were important, but I don’t remember why.

However, more often than those sleep-delusions, I see things at night in those dark, quiet hours between 2 and 5 AM. Just a week ago, I woke up and saw something floating above my head, slowly descending, and I knew I had to get out of the way or I’d get hit, so I jumped out of bed and turned on the bedside lamp.

There was nothing there, of course. There never is. But that’s why I’m suspicious of what I saw that night five years ago.

It was the middlest of the middle of the night. Sometimes I sleep well and other times I wake up every hour or so, look around the room, and go back to sleep. This night was one of those nights. I woke up to a room lit just a little by the moon. Nothing out of the ordinary.

I glanced at my dresser on the far wall and saw what looked like a dog-sized aardvark huddled right in front, snooping in something with its long vaguely rodent-like snout. It was like a cross between an aardvark, an echidna, and an armadillo, except on all fours, it stood almost as tall as the dresser.

It was so clear. What I remember the most is its legs being longer than an animal like that should have had. It seemed super passive, but it still made me jolt because it was unlike anything I had ever seen in my room half asleep. It had a wrong feel to it, anachronistic and very old.

It reminded me a lot of those weird animal illustrations in medieval texts that seem to represent everything from a lion to a wolf to a bear. It had a strong and uncomfortable aura. The closest I can get to describing the feeling it gave off is like old yellow couch cushion foam in the basement, or that mix of dark oranges and browns particular to the 1970s.

A moment after I saw it, I sat up and turned on the light. It disappeared immediately. This one was probably one of my sleep-hallucinations. But it was the weirdest and most vivid one yet.

A/N: Hope you enjoyed that little spooky story. Whether or not it was paranormal, it certainly spooked me enough that I still think about it. Tomorrow we’re talking about ghost hunting, so stay tuned!

Click here to read yesterday’s post, or here to read all the week’s prompts.

Never Have I Ever: Paranormal Edition

Hi all! This month, there is a Friday the 13th and I thought it would be the perfect time to host a little ghost story challenge. I’ve put together some paranormal “Never Have I Ever” prompts for you guys and I, myself, will be posting an anecdote every day starting a week from Friday.

If you’d like to join in, please do! 🙂 And if you use these prompts to write or draw something, please send me a link so I can check it out.

If you haven’t had each (or any of these) happen to you, that’s ok (better than ok, that’s good!). I haven’t experienced all of this either. Feel free to just talk about it in general, or tell a story you’ve heard. No hard-and-fast rules for this challenge.

Never Have I Ever:

  1. ..seen a ghost and thought it was a real person.
  2. …woken up in the middle of the night and seen something in my room.
  3. …gone ghost hunting.
  4. …had any experiences at 3am, the Witching Hour.
  5. …heard my name called when no one was there.
  6. …been in a haunted house for real.
  7. …seen a Shadow Figure.

Have fun! I’ll circle back with you in two weeks.

Attacked by Ghost Spiders

I spent Tuesday night waking up in a panic every half hour, thinking I was being attacked by bugs. Spiders on my pillow, on my blanket, on my floor, on my face, everywhere. I must have turned on the light and brushed off my sheets and checked my floor a dozen times.

The odd thing is, bugs don’t bother me. I actually wanted to be an entomologist at one point. The whole experience was probably a combination of stress plus knowledge of the spider I found in the bathroom that I decided to leave alone.

However, I can’t help wondering if there was a spiritual cause. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve woken up and felt like I was being attacked (ex. the time my sister’s spiritual guardian kept visiting me at night to make sure I wasn’t a threat). If it was spiritual, it probably wasn’t something very strong. Just a curious spirit passing through.

Was it stress and spider dreams or a wandering spirit? Probably a little of both.

Devoted but not Loyal

I’m starting to get burnt out on church again.

I’ve been going to church every week for the past two months: compared to my previous record of once or twice a month. It was great for a while, but the last few weeks I’ve just felt stagnant. And I don’t know if it’s a stagnancy I need to wade through or one I need to change.

When it comes to Christianity, I’m devoted, but I’m not loyal. I believe that, if God/the Universe/the Life Stream is everything–is the beginning, middle, and end of all that exists–no religion, and definitely no church, owns him. Therefore, if a method of connecting to him isn’t working, there’s no shame in leaving and trying something else.

Before I returned to church, my Sundays were spent quietly with coffee and toast, listening to a sermon or other spiritual teaching while playing video games. On mornings when the weather was nice, or when God had something particularly pressing to speak with me about, I would go on a walk or go to the woods to meditate.

I miss those mornings. But at the same time, when I had those mornings, I missed meeting with other Christians and the spiritual stability that church brings.

I need to find a balance.

For now, I think I will continue going to the church I found in Tokyo because I do have good friends there. I’m only here for four more weeks and I want to make the most of the time I have left.


Chakras and How to Clear Them

Last night, I reopened my chakras.

Usually, I only do chakra meditation if I feel one or two in particular are clogged and need to be cleaned out. It was the first time that I had sat down and used a string of meditations to open each of them in turn. It felt good. Like, really good. I feel like I had a full-body scrub and a spiritual getaway all in one.

Chakras represent energy concentrations in your body and, like organs, they are commonly given main functions. For your convenience, here are the locations and simplified functions of each:

  • Root Chakra: Base of the spine. Deals with security, food, and the other basic animal instincts. Blocked by fear and being out of touch with your environment.
  • Sacral Chakra: In pelvic region, below navel. Deals with pleasure and sexuality. Blocked by shame.
  • Solar Plexus Chakra: In stomach. Deals with dignity, pride, and confidence. Blocked by poor self image.
  • Heart Chakra: In chest. Deals with love and emotions. Blocked by hate.
  • Throat Chakra: In throat. Deals with truth and self expression. Blocked by lies and inability to express yourself.
  • Third-Eye Chakra: In center of forehead. Deals with insight, clairvoyance, and decision-making. Blocked by confusion.
  • Crown Chakra: On top of the head. Deals with spirituality, enlightenment, and oneness with everything. Blocked by attachment and preoccupation with earthly things.

To open your chakras, all you need to do is clear out what is keeping them from flowing freely. Admittedly, that is easier said than done. For example, dealing with the hate you have for someone, or dealing with shame or insecurity. It’s difficult, and it’s an ongoing process.

A good way to do this is through meditation. Chakra meditation is simple in structure. Choose a chakra to focus on. Think of what it means and what blocks it. Examine yourself in this light and work at trying to open it. Start scooping away the gunk clogging it up. Eventually, you will get a clean, relaxed feeling, a feeling of new understanding and freedom. That’s the sign that that chakra has been opened.

There are all kinds of meditation positions, chants, and visualizations to aid chakra opening. Personally, I’ve found this one to be the most helpful as a meditation guide. For general chakra information, as well as signs of blocked chakras, I like to watch Chakraboosters on Youtube.

As a general tip, you should not open your crown chakra if your root chakra is blocked. That can make your imbalance between physical and spiritual even greater. Always start with the root and work your way up.

Happy chakra-ing!


Meditation Corner

Some of the best advice I’ve heard about getting better at prayer and meditation was from a speaker at a conference I went to in high school. He advised us to create a “sanctuary in our room.” In other words, create a nook you can go to that is only used for prayer or meditation. In that way, you will be better able to focus and hopefully spend less time playing “tie down the monkeys” with your stray thoughts.

There used to be this tree a short walk from my house that bordered a wheat field. It had long, drooping branches and in the summer, its thick leafy branches touched the top of the wheat, creating a secret little spot in the shade. I went there to meditate as often as I could manage.

When I couldn’t manage, I took all the pictures off of one of the walls in my room and set a chair there, facing the corner.

These days, I find sitting on the floor in the dark, or with a candle or incense, more effective than the chair in the corner. But I still prefer to meditate outside when possible, if I can find somewhere I won’t be disturbed.