A True Ghost Story
By Jeff Bennington
In the fall of 2010, my wife and I went on a weekend getaway with some friends of ours. We rented a really cool cabin in Nashville, Indiana equipped with hot tub, gas grill and pool table! Nestled in a cozy hillside, the joint had a beautiful wraparound porch and an exquisite view of the southern Indiana countryside. The sun shone through the trees, the air felt crisp and cool and I just knew I was in Heaven.
We unpacked, started the gas log and settled into our perfect retreat. We had a fun evening planned of cards and watching horror flicks, but decided to head into the tiny town on Nashville to walk through the many shops and galleries. Before we returned, we planned to stop by the ice cream shop and order one of those humongous sugar cones of hand-dipped ice cream. The evening went as planned and we returned to our cabin ready to warm our bones and watch House on Haunted Hill; a perfect movie for snuggling.
Before I knew it, the other three began to fall asleep and we decided to hit the sack.
A couple hours later, around 2:00 a.m., I woke up dripping with sweat. The upper loft apparently had very little airflow. I felt so flipping hot I couldn’t stand it. My wife slept like a baby. I had to get out of there!
I lumbered down the steps and listened to every creak and crack in the rafters. The wind had decided to begin whistling, and I knew I was in for a royal treat. When I stepped down from the stairway, I peered at the leather couch. It looked so cool and inviting. I imagined sprawling out into its cushiony spread. But then I heard a noise, and quite naturally, I turned my head and at the same time my skin melted off my face.
I didn’t see anything unusual. The open concept left nothing to hide. The stairs opened to the living room, dining room and kitchen. Our friend’s bedroom and bath were the only other rooms, and they were attached to the kitchen. After giving the cabin a final inspection from where I stood, I lay down on the couch, snuggled into my bed sheet and closed my eyes…but the noises continued.
I tried listening, listening really close, but the little squeaks and groans seemed to be coming from every direction. No big deal, I thought. It’s just a cabin. Get over it and just fall asleep. And then, something curious happened. The creaking floorboards began to move closer to me. One at a time I’d hear what sounded like a footstep roll softly across the wood floor, pressing gently down, trying not to be heard. My heart, as you can imagine beat madly in my chest, nearly bursting through my ribcage. I looked through the TV screen to see if there was anyone walking, but I didn’t see anything. Then when this thing, whatever it was, pressed into the floor right next to the couch, I couldn’t take it, I sat up, turned my head toward the open space and heard a voice forcefully whisper, “Heeelllloooo!”
This wasn’t a quiet, don’t let them hear you whisper. Oh, no! This was a, I’m not presently living in your dimension, so I’m screaming at you type of whisper. I panicked, jumping straight up like a cat, nearly falling off the couch. It didn’t help that a globe shape lamp stand stood right beside me! I noticed the silhouette of the lamp as soon as I turned around, adding to my near death experience. Seconds later, I realized that the shape beside me was only a floor lamp, but that didn’t make me feel any better. My heart continued pounding like a sprinters feet in the one-hundred-yard dash.
From that moment on, for at least thirty minutes, I felt an electric energy buzzing through my body and felt as if something had hovered over me, almost nose-to-nose, staring at me. I peered through the corner of my eye but couldn’t see anything—nothing physical anyway. But I knew in the deepest part of my soul that something was there. I felt absolutely petrified, frozen in place, like a freshly discovered icy Neanderthal in the Tibetan icecaps.
My eyes searched for movement, but found nothing. I did see, however, a showy figure moving side to side in the reflection of the microwave door. It was the strangest thing. There were no ceiling fans spinning or curtains waving. Everything stood still…everything except the dancing shadow. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran back up the stairs to my personal boiler room and slid under the covers with my wife. Still, I never felt alone.
After several minutes of fighting my fears, I finally fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke to the smell of biscuits and gravy and the sound of coffee percolating in the kitchen. My wife and friends, like myself, were shuffling our feet like the undead, trying our best to navigate with squinted, puffy eyes. We eventually sat down to eat.
In a moment of silence, Sarah, my friend’s wife asked if anyone heard anything in the night. I looked at her curiously and asked why. She said, “Because someone was tugging at our doorknob, off and on, for about an hour sometime around four in the morning.” She thought we had mistaken her room for the bathroom, but she was too tired to get out of bed. I then proceed to tell everyone of my experience, and I affirmed to her, and the other two, that I never left the living room until I ran upstairs, and I never walked toward their bedroom.
We all sort of let our suspicions cool for a while. But then my buddy opened up the guest logbook; the kind that each visitor can leave a message to the cabin owners about their experience. And wouldn’t you know it; the book was filled with story after story about a spirit that inhabited the structure.
Some of the visitors claimed that he was a gentle ghost, mostly curious, and only somewhat troublesome. Others rebuked the owners for not disclosing the fact that malevolent spirits had haunted the cabin. Me? I don’t know what that thing was, but it scared the hell out of me.
The upside of that experience is, when I write supernatural thrillers, I can honestly communicate what it feels like to be petrified by something that you can’t explain. I know what it sounds like when it’s moving toward me. I know that electrifying sensation when a ghost is standing beside me. Also, I know that there are things out there…things we can’t see. But I also know that where there is darkness, there is also light, and that is all I need to know to keep my sanity.
Author of REUNION and the blog, The Writing Bomb
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Twenty years later, Tanner and his fellow classmates reluctantly agree to hold a reunion to lay the past to rest. Although they suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they come back to their hometown and reunite in the defunct school building. Old flames are rekindled, fears are ignited, and their lives are about to explode in a whirlwind of memories, haunted by the spirit of David Ray.
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