Before going out last night, I read Jezebel’s timely compilation of seriously creepy ghost stories. Though I wasn’t a fan of all, three of them definitely gave me the chills, and I think the scariest story on the list is also the shortest. This girl went camping solo in New Mexico and took tons of photos, and when she developed the film later on, she found three pictures she hadn’t taken: snapshots of her sleeping — each night she was camping. Perhaps the most peculiar and terrifying part was the fact that none of her belongings were missing. Whoever snapped the photos wasn’t a thief. Just a mega creep — or something more sinister.
Anyway, her story freaked me out, as it’s just too insane to make up. It got me thinking about my own bizarre encounters, and even though Halloween is over, it’s never too late to share spooky stories. Here are some of my own. It’s worth noting that all of them took place in summer 2006 — the summer my dad passed away, but not all of them happened at my house. Read on and let me know what you think:
1. The faucet
Crystal, Nikita, and me circa 2007
When my friends and I were in high school, we discovered an old tape recording we’d put together as pre-teens. We’d pretended to host a radio show, which an insane person (portrayed hilariously by Nikita) hijacked by yelling loud and obnoxious things into the recording device. It was a funny thing to find so many years after making it, but my dad found our recordings seriously annoying, idiotic, and disruptive.
“I never want you to play that again,” he told me in high school. “If I ever catch you listening to it, I’m tossing it. It’s the most annoying, inane thing I’ve ever heard and has no place in our house.”
I didn’t throw away the tape recorder but respected my dad’s wishes. A month after he passed away, I had Nikita, her then-boyfriend Matson, Crystal, and Danny over. We got to talking about my father, prompting me to mention the voice recorder.
“Guys, remember how much my dad hated that stupid thing?” I said. “Well now that he’s gone, we can finally listen to it again.”
At that moment, we heard something in the kitchen. I looked at the others. Crystal’s eyes had widened — she’d heard it too.
“What the hell is that sound?” I asked.
“It’s coming from the sink,” Crystal said, leading me over to it.
When we reached the kitchen, we found the faucet running full blast. No one had turned it on. My mom was asleep. Who could have possibly touched it?
At that, we were all freaked out. Even Crystal, a noted skeptic, had no explanation. Our only conclusion was that my dad still hated the recording and wouldn’t have it play in his home even in death. The pipes could have very well been broken, and we took that into account as well. Either way, it never happened in my house again — but I also threw away the tape recorder that night, too afraid of the harm it could cause.
2. The mysterious voicemail songs
Me at 17
The night before my 18th birthday, I was bored and alone in the house. My mom was out with some neighbors and my then-boyfriend was in military boot camp. It occurred to me that I was about to celebrate my first birthday without my dad, and that really hurt to process. My mom and I decided to maintain his phone service for a while, but because I was bummed out that evening, I decided to turn on his cell phone to look at his photos, read the texts he’d sent me, and listen to his recordings.
Moments after I’d powered on the flip phone, it alerted me that my dad had two new voicemails. He’d been dead for more than two months at that point, so there was no reason for anyone to leave him a message — let alone two.
Nevertheless, I listened, and what I heard was incredibly disturbing.
Both voicemails were songs — the first was a Spanish song and the second was a 1920s song. At the end of the first song, a little girl spoke into the phone and said, “lo siento,” which I later learned meant “sorry.” The second song sounded like it belonged in “Mad Men” or something, but no one came on the line to speak at the end.
Needless to say, I was petrified — so much so that I actually stormed out of the house with my dog, too afraid to even be in there until my mom returned. First off, there were not one but two songs on my deceased dad’s voicemail — and the songs couldn’t have been more different from each other. What are the odds of two unrelated people leaving songs on his message machine? I assumed there had to be a connection, but couldn’t find one. All I knew was that I was terrified. Had I conjured up something evil in missing a late family member?
Luckily, my mom arrived home an hour later and I told her everything. She listened to the messages herself, but I made her delete them immediately afterward. I wanted nothing to do with the weirdness of those calls. We’d been comforted by my dad’s presence up until that point, but our freakout was inevitable, and if anything, this probably happened so we could wipe our hands clean of the situation and move on from our loss once and for all.
We kept tabs on his phone in the weeks following the voicemail incident. We received only one more message on his phone — but there was no sound at all. Finally, we threw in the towel and canceled his phone plan. Most of the weird stuff went away after that.
3. The mysterious “hi”
A couple weeks after my dad’s memorial service, my boyfriend and I had a picnic on the beach. We ate sandwiches, glanced at the water, and talked about our day. After that, we hung out in my car in the Cabrillo College parking lot to chat some more before his summer school class started. I said goodbye to Kevin around 4 and then headed home. Thinking my mom was in the house, I yelled “hi!” as soon as I got inside. I heard someone shout back “hi” from upstairs. I almost went up the stairs to give my mom a proper greeting, but decided to watch TV in the living room instead.
Ten minutes later, I heard the front door open. In walked my mom and our dog Roxy.
“How long have you guys been out?” I asked her.
“About an hour,” she replied. “She needed a long walk.”
“So that wasn’t you who said ‘hi’ to me when I got home?” I asked.
4. The old Tahoe house
Before my boyfriend went off to basic training, he invited me to his parents’ vacation home in Lake Tahoe. Once again, all of this took place in the months following my dad’s death, so I was 17 and just about to go to college.
It was a weird time for me and Kevin, the guy I was dating. We’d recently gotten back together after some time apart and knew we had to break up again before heading to our respective schools. I’d be attending the University of Arizona and he’d be working tirelessly at USAFA. It was tough knowing the world was pulling us in opposite directions, but we made the most of our last summer as a couple.
That said, I still had some weird experiences at his Tahoe home, which was 100 years old and had been in the family for decades. Though on the verge of falling apart, it was cute and charming, and because we were young at the time, I slept upstairs while he stayed outside. Kevin was an outdoorsy Eagle Scout, so spending the night on the porch was a treat for him. I was pretty isolated on the second floor.
We were there for three nights, and I kid you not: I got absolutely no sleep during our stay (except when I dozed off during movie time, because when else was I going to rest?). The first night, I thought I simply wasn’t tired or comfortable in the house. The second night, I kept getting up from my bed to turn the light switch on and off. I also decided to lay on the floor for a while. There was no reason for this behavior and I had no desire to do these things, but something compelled me to move through the second floor at night. I truly felt like someone was dictating my actions, keeping me awake to order me around.
During the final night at the house, Kevin and I were watching a movie downstairs when the front door opened by itself. Knowing I was easily spooked out, Kevin joked that a ghost was spying on us.
#Nerds in the wilderness
“Not cool, dude,” I said. “You know I haven’t been sleeping well.”
“Really though, if you saw a ghost here, would you tell me?” he asked. “Because I hope you would.”
“Is there a ghost?” I said.
“I don’t know. Is there?”
Kevin thought he was being funny, but I hadn’t mentioned any of the light switch stuff to him yet. That night, I didn’t sleep at all. In fact, I tip toed outside at 2 a.m. to sit with Kevin, mainly because I didn’t want to be alone. He talked to me for a half hour before I returned to the house, where I got no sleep. When the sky lightened at 5:30 a.m., I headed downstairs to work on a puzzle. Kevin was up within an hour, and when he asked if I’d gotten any rest, I lied.
When I returned home later that day, I slept for 12 hours straight. Hey, a teenage girl can’t go three nights without rest. She just can’t.