Since Halloween is this week, let’s talk about incidents from the past that scared you silly, either real or a figment of your imagination. It could be a coat rack that you mistook for a shadowy man in your room or if you believe in the supernatural, it could be a situation where you truly believed something happened like a haunting or something similar. Either way, let’s try to scare the living crap out of each other with this week’s ATH!
ALFREDO: when I was five years old, I remember lying in bed, reading a book before bed time. My mom entered the room to say good night to me, and I started screaming and crying hysterically. Something had gone wrong. Very wrong. Her face was a ghastly white, the skin distorted and lumpy. She was covered in cold cream, and I thought she had turned into a zombie. She ran over to hug me, and I started screaming even more. I couldn’t get the words out, but she figured out it must’ve had to do with her appearance. She disappeared into the bathroom and came back out without the cold cream. She hugged me, and it took me a few seconds to work up the courage to look up and see that she really was still my mom, and not one of the walking undead.
ROGER: I got very sick about 5 months ago – an unbreakable 101 degree fever for 10+ days, dark blotches on my skin, incredible fatigue, trouble breathing, super sore throat, balance off, blurry vision, etc. Obviously something was wrong. So, I finally decided to go see a specialist after I was convinced it wasn’t some sort of summer flu. For an entire week we did a battery of tests ranging from countless blood draws to MRI’s to ultrasounds. On Friday, day 5 of my tests, I decided to ask the doctor what he thought was wrong with me. But before I let him answer, I said that I had been doing some exhaustive research on the internet and that my combined symptoms indicated 2 likely possibilities – cancer or autoimmune disease. When I asked him if he felt the same, he did the appropriate doctor thing and said, “let’s just wait for the results to come in on Monday and then we’ll talk.” But I just wouldn’t let it go. I kept pressing and pressing him until he told me, very cautiously, that many of my symptoms do possibly line up with a person having cancer and/or autoimmune disease BUT it could also be nothing. Again, he was very diplomatic and medically professional and said we should not jump to any conclusions until the lab results came back on Monday…3 days away. I never had a more nail-biting 72 hours. My entire weekend was spent in an existential haze of reflection, fearing that in a matter of hours, I could receive news that would, at the very least, send me into the “serious wing” of the hospital where I would have to confront, navigate, and hopefully survive through some pretty bad shit. I have never been so afraid in my life. I would have greatly preferred trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. I never knew true helpless fear until this experience – when the hands of father time wasn’t some sort of intellectual, intangible concept but a very real lifeline of time I could see slipping away from my mortal grasp. Thank goodness all the tests came back negative that Monday. They still can’t explain what it was. But I did hear a news story on NPR a few weeks after my health scare detailing a freak illness with symptoms identical to cancer and/or autoimmune disease (but not actually being those diseases) that was quietly circling the globe. The interesting thing? It was found only in people of Asian descent. Scary…
IRIS: First off, glad it was nothing, Rog. I was scared just reading about it. The scariest moment for me was finding out that George W had been re-elected for another 4 more years. But if we are talking about something supernatural, I had a possessed record player when I was growing up, I think. It was a combo record player and radio (remember those?). At first, I would hear strange C.B. radio -like cut-ins of a man’s voice over the airwaves. It startled me, but I didn’t think too much about it at first. I thought it really was radio interference. It was pretty odd when it came in not only over the radio, but also while playing records. Usually it was short, incomprehensible and full of static. There were times when I played a record and the voice would come over it, and it would scare me, so I would shut off the record player and leave the room. My sister was in my room once when this happened, to confirm I wasn’t just going crazy. Still, I assumed it was radio interference. When we moved houses (120 miles away), the strange interference followed. While playing a record, I made out a loud “HooooWeeeee!” and then static-filled chatter. Sounded like the same guy, though I’m not absolutely sure. Still assuming radio interference. But what scared the bejesus out of me was when the record player/radio was completely turned off one morning, and all of a sudden, square dancing music came on, fairly loud. I bolted out of my room and ran to my mother and told her about it, but she did not believe me at all, and of course, the music was gone by then. I checked to make sure I hadn’t left the radio on by mistake, but it was completely off. Since my mom didn’t believe me, I swore I would catch it some time with witnesses, but it never happened again after the climactic square dancing. If it was a ghost, it was a happy country ghost, I think.
QUENTIN: I was going to college at Berkeley and decided to catch a matinee of The Running Man on a weekday afternoon. I purchased a ticket and went into the dark theater. I heard a few whispers and I made a joke, “Do you guys see any empty seats?” I heard a couple people giggled. I sat down in an aisle and waited. I suddenly noticed the auditorium was unusually dark. There was dead silence. It didn’t feel right. It was so dark that I couldn’t find my backpack and umbrella. I got up and groped for the exit. As I got out of the auditorium, an employee said, “This screen is closed.” “This isn’t the one for The Running Man?” “Yes, but this screen is closed during weekend,” he pointed to the auditorium across. “Hey, can you do me a favor? I left my bag and umbrella in there and it was so dark I couldn’t find them.” The employee turned on the house lights in the auditorium and it was completely empty. I swore I heard whispers and laughters when I first got in…
PHILIP: I’ve already blogged about most of my supernatural experiences so don’t want to retread old stories. But also glad to hear that Roger is well and looking forward to reading everyone else’s scary encounters.
DAVID: I saw “Menace 2 Society” by myself and when the Korean store owner got blown away by a gunshot to the head the crowd roared with mad rejoice. I coward in my seat with my jacket over my head throughout the film…shaking.
DHH: The scariest ghost stories I can remember didn’t happen to me personally, but were told to me when I was a kid by my Ama, or maternal grandmother, who was the family historian. As an adult, I ended up incorporating some of her tales into my play GOLDEN CHILD, which is currently being revived in NYC. One story not part of that play happened when my Ama was a young woman in Manila during WWII, and their family compound was requisitioned by occupying Japanese soldiers. Her extended family split up, my Ama and Ankong (grandfather), as well as their children (my Mom and her siblings) moved into a house that was reputed to be haunted — by the spirit of an apparently rather clumsy ghost, who had fallen into a latrine one night and perished there. The locals believed that, if a family moved into that house, one of its members would die before they could leave. My grandfather’s mother was something of a DIY Christian exorcist, so she prayed to cast out the demon, but their family often saw strange figures moving about. Still, by the time the war ended and they could move back into their family compound, no one in my Ama’s family had been lost. So it seems they succeeded in beating the curse.
BEVERLY: When I was younger (6-7 years old), I was babysat by this old grandmother who lived with her 6 grandchildren aged 11 and up. The grandmother used to let the grandchildren ‘play’ with me. Their idea of playing with me was locking all the doors in the hallway and putting me at the very end with one of the kids holding me down so I couldn’t run away. And then they’d turn off all the lights and one by one they would approach me slowly like a zombie until I was screaming hysterically, and then that person would ‘disappear’ behind one of the locked doors. Then there would be a lull. Then another ‘zombie’ would jump out of another door and slow-motion walk towards me. Lull. Another zombie. Lull. Suffice it to say, as an adult, I HATE HATE HATE hallways.
ANDERSON: When I was a kid, I went to my family to visit my uncle and aunt on Maui (we lived on Oahu). There was a family party. I eventually went to sleep and I was sleeping on my uncle and aunt’s bed. I woke up and could hear the adults playing cards, hooting and hollering (as most Vietnamese would do) and then at the corner of my eye, I saw a pit bull in the dark, but more importantly, in the room! It was barking at me and I was really scared, but the adults didn’t hear the barks. I tried to call for help, but there was no noise. I then woke up from a cold sweat! I was having a nightmare…. Until I found out the next day that my uncle and aunt had a pitbull that recently died and they had just buried their pet in the backyard!!
So, was the dead dog haunting me in my dreams? Or was I awake and my mind thought it was a dream? But if I was awake, then why did the adults not hear what I heard?