Of course I wanted to write a spooky Halloween blog for today. It’s my favorite holiday! Not only does Halloween mean it’s one week until my birthday, but who doesn’t love a good scare, right?
My friend, and fellow writer, Ben wrote an awesome–and true!–scary story on his blog today. (Read it here!) So I just had to keep up.
What I’ve always wanted was an epic, creepy story to happen to me on Halloween. Just like all those characters in my favorite Halloween stories; the greats like The Haunted Mask by R.L. Stine. Or “My Little Brother Is A Monster” by my idol Bruce Coville. Or classic films such as Ernest Scared Stupid.
But no such luck. I’ve had some great Halloween parties–candy, pop, scary movies, lots of pizza–but never anything truly terrifying. One year, I slept on the couch just to entice the spirits to show themselves. I awoke in the middle of the night and saw a glowing orb flickering outside the window. I raced to see what it was. This was my Christmas; let Santa Claus come and go as he pleased–this was the magic I wanted to capture!
Alas, it was just a frantic moth caught in a spiderweb. Sigh.
But this morning was different. This morning I woke to a loud knock on my door. So loud that I was immediately stirred from sleep. I rose from my bed and yelled “What?” as I swung open the door. I assumed it was one of my roommates but the only thing I found in the hallway was a black, empty nothing.
I flicked on lights and explored rooms. I went downstairs and startled Tiffany, doing her hair in the bathroom.
“Someone just knocked on my door.”
“Oh. Well……Happy Halloween, I guess.”
I was close. Hot on the heels of a paranormal event. I was Dan Akroyd in that famous Ghostbusters scene: “Get her!”
I couldn’t quite get back to sleep. I wanted to chase that supernatural thrill. So I went for my usual morning walk a little early. I wanted to catch the last wisps of night, so I bundled up and set out for my usual circuit around the park.
The neighborhood was cold and gray, save for a few pumpkins and gaudy decoration. The garbage bins lined the street like a tombstones. I entered the park and found it devoid of people for the first time since I’d moved nearby.
Might’ve been ominous, might’ve been that it was 7:30 a.m. on the last day of October.
Everything was covered in an icy haze. The greens of summer were definitely gone, replaced by browns and yellows and trace veins of red. Along the tiny lake, a misty fog had gathered, clinging to the atmosphere above the water.
I couldn’t help but remember my old buddy Jon, best pals since second grade. He once told me about ‘reverse fog.’ Fog that moved against the wind, specifically on Halloween or the day after. He said it was the spirits returning to their graves.
That brought a smile to my face. Jon and I had been trading scares and ghost stories for as long as I could remember. Whether it be on paper as a story or as a gorilla mask slapped against a car window, it was just our thing.
In fact, Jon and ghosts became so synonymous for me that when it came time to write my Ghost Hunting story for my college newspaper, I knew exactly who to take with me.
At the time, getting to spend the night in the English building–the famously haunted Riverview Hall at SCSU–seemed obvious. Nothing was going to stand in my way of getting the story of my dreams. In hindsight, with all the special permissions I needed to get, I’m surprised I got the story. I even managed to lock down an interview with the reclusive former professor that kicked off the whole ‘haunted Riverview’ mythology.
But Jon was my poster boy for Ghost Hunting. He knew the tricks of the trade and I followed him into battle. We had compasses and thermometers, strings and wax, cameras and recording devices–everything a proper Ghost Hunter needed (on a college student budget, of course). Along with my good friend and photographer, Kell, we set up shop in the old building and waited for results.
Which we got.
From whispering, scratchy voices to temperature drops to a newspaper that folded itself, I got the story I was looking for. And Jon gained notoriety as “SCSU’s Resident Ghost Hunter.” Since then, he’s been contacted for interviews and was even the star of a documentary that recreated the Riverview stakeout with a bigger team, more sophisticated tech, and a psychic!
As I stared out across the little lake this morning, I reminisced about Halloweens past. About great parties and great friends. About cupcakes with little, edible skeleton hands coming out of them and that conversation with Tiffany’s landlord the year I dressed up as an mo kid for the costume party:
“What are you supposed to be?”
“That’s awesome! Who’s emo?”
Maybe it’s not all about the biggest scare. Phantom knocks and creaking knobs aside, I’ve had some great Halloweens. From the night I spent as Marty McFly from Back to the Future to last year spent in with my dad watching scary movies.
But then again, I still have tonight.
After I fulfill my dream of seeing Ghostbusters on the big screen, of course!
Happy Halloween! All that Frankenberry better be on sale tomorrow!