A few years ago, I’m sitting in my kitchen at the computer, writing. It’s not that late, but we live in the hills away from city lights, so it’s dark. The rest of my family, even the dog, is on the other side of the house. As fate has it, I’m writing a ghost story. Yes, I’m impressionable. My wife would even call me gullible. And I’ll be the first to admit that my mind is already full of ghouls and spirits, but I stand by what happened next…
I’m typing away with my back to the room when I feel something rush behind me. Low to the ground and about the shape of a medium-sized dog. I wait for our poodle to thrust her head into my lap. But she doesn’t, and when I turn around to look for her, nothing’s there. “Okay, that’s weird.” I think. So weird, in fact, I get up to see if Ellie has shot right through the den. Nope. Empty. Not even the moon shines into the darkened room.
I throw myself back into the story. My son’s asleep in his bedroom and my wife is watching TV in ours. The moments I have to write in this house are so rare that I don’t want to waste a second. Then, ten or fifteen minutes later I became aware that someone is standing at the entrance to the kitchen watching me. I’m so into my work, the presence filters into my consciousness slowly. I turn expecting my wife. She’s wonderfully supportive of my writing and often stands right there at the edge of the kitchen waiting for a good time to interrupt.
It’s not her. It’s a man-shaped shadow with long limbs and a thick torso. No features, but he’s wearing a wide brim hat. He stands casually, back on his heels, as if he’s content just to observe me. I freeze and adrenalin washes through my body. There’s a fricken ghost in my kitchen!
If I were writing this as fiction, at this point, I would have the ghost do something that kick starts a plot— shout out a warning, chase me into the next room, drop a keepsake on the counter to drag me into a mystery. But this story is true. He just stares back at me until he quietly fades away. Stupidly like every bad horror movie, I rush into the dining room. I look out the picture window. No explanation there. No one’s walking outside, no car lights throwing shadows into the house. My wife, also, is no help. “Your imagination is too good. You’re writing a ghost story. What’d you expect?” She loves me, but she doesn’t go in for ghosts and all that stuff. I let her get back to CSI and her TV crush, Marg Helgenberger.
The shadow man never comes back. Still, I’m freaked out enough to take a few days off from writing alone at night. A while later, almost the same time I stop thinking about my ghost man, my son and I take the dog for a walk. We’re puffing up a steep hill when my son, who’s around seven at the time, slides his hand in mine and says, “The shadow man doesn’t come to my room anymore.”
My son had seen him too. He was watching all of us…