By Audrianna Imka
The existence of paranormal beings has been an extremely controversial and highly debated topic for centuries. Many people claim that they have seen things which can be explained by nothing other than the existence of spirits. These encounters can range from figures standing in the dark to phone calls from deceased loved ones, and a large population find these tales fascinating, including myself. A few weeks ago, I came up with the idea to create a compilation of scary encounters told by members of the Hathaway Brown Upper School in the spirit of Halloween. I sent out an email to the students and faculty of the high school, and although I did not receive a vast number of responses, the stories which I did receive are mind-blowing. Whether these stories are true or not cannot be proven, but I have decided to give the authors the benefit of the doubt. Side note: Other than some minor grammatical and spelling edits, I did not change the words of those who submitted stories. However, I did invent the title names.
Ms. Hermann – A Message in the Clouds:
In March of my freshman year of high school, my cousin died very suddenly and tragically. Spring Break was the next week, so we went to Florida, where we always used to have large extended family vacations, and a place my cousin and his sister, CJ, particularly loved. One night at dusk, my mom and I decided to take a walk on the beach to watch the sunset and just have some alone time. We talked about bringing cameras, then decided against it (before cell phones had cameras). We were walking along the beach, and suddenly my mom stopped and said, “Khaki, what do those clouds say?” I looked up, and clearly written in clouds were the words “CJ mom happy”. It wasn’t even a question of “Do those clouds look like words?” It was so matter of fact, and we were so calm. It seemed so normal at the time to see words in the clouds; but looking back at it, I wonder how I didn’t freak out! There were no clouds in the sky otherwise. I later drew a picture to show my aunt, his mother, but the picture went missing… I still look back at that night and it brings me odd comfort.
Mr. Ciuni – Misses:
When my family and I moved to Cleveland from Chicago (to work at HB!) we rented a drafty old half of a duplex down an old tree-lined block of Cleveland Heights. The house was cold and pretty unwelcoming in a lot of ways. We knew we needed a place to stay, as my new job was about to begin, and perhaps this particular place was available for good reason. As we settled in, my, at-the-time, 2-year old son took a very specific interest in this one room on the side of the first floor. It was not a particularly functional room, it had old windows and the wind would seep in between the gaps, sometimes whistling, sometimes whining. The place was a bit bigger than we needed, but it was cheap, so this room never really received any attention. We certainly didn’t have enough furniture to fill it with, and other parts of the place were far more hospitable and worthy of hanging out in. Over time, my 2 year old would spend an inordinate amount of time in this room. He’d slowly and laboriously drag his toys and other such items into this empty room, sitting there contentedly with these items in that pleasant and simple way a toddler can amuse himself for seemingly hours on end. At this age he wasn’t overly verbal yet, but we would often point up into the air while playing, fixing his gaze upon one spot where the wall met the ceiling. He’d yammer at me and my wife, “Misses! Misses! Misses!” We were pretty sure that’s what he was saying. My wife would patiently ask him what he meant, trying to get him to use more words to explain what he kept pointing at, hoping he would articulate why he was so attracted to this one lonely room in this lonely old home. Eventually my wife was able to coax out of him that, “Misses is in this room”, “I’m playing with Misses, this is her room.” Of course we couldn’t understand, nor could we see anything in that room. but he could. This went on for months, pretty much the whole time we lived there. Later we learned that the original owner of the house had passed away, years ago, while living there. Our landlady, a woman of 80+ years was her daughter and told us so. I can’t certainly say I’ve ever seen a ghost, but I’d say the careful and innocent eyes of a young child are just the ones to see one.
Audrey Beyer, 12th Grade – The Figure in the Window:
I was babysitting mid-summer last year (2017) and it was around 8:15, so it was fairly dark outside. I had just put the kids to bed and walked out to the living room. I looked out the window to see a man in a ski mask looking right back at me. I originally freaked out and ran around the house locking all the doors. I then sat back down on the couch (refusing to look back out the window) and watched TV for a while. I thought that it was a figment of my imagination, as they had decorative curtains, so it was hard to be sure that the figure I saw was truly real. Every so often I would look back to see if the figure was still there. It was. By the end of the night, I had convinced myself that it had been the way in which I was looking at the curtain that had caused the figure to appear. The next time I was there, I desperately searched to see if I could find the figure. I couldn’t, and that’s when I realized that the figure had really been someone staring at me all night
Jordyn Sutton, 12th Grade – Ghosts in the Stalls:
I get to school very early, and I have for the past 4 years. One morning in early October of my Senior year, I went into the upstairs bathroom by the Student Center because my contact had fallen out while driving. The lights were off, but I turned them on considering it was 6:30 in the morning. As I walked into where all stalls are and immediately noticed that one of the bathroom stalls was locked, and I could hear a toilet flushing. I thought, “oh maybe someone just likes it dark in here since it’s early in the morning.” (You do you bud!). After I put my contact in, I turned around and all the stall doors were wide open at a very creepy angle that was definitely natural. I bolted out of the bathroom and didn’t look back.
Jordyn Sutton, 12th Grade – The Disappearing Jogger: Last weekend I was driving back from my friends house in Hudson, which is about an hour away from me. As I was circling the back roads of Hudson, I noticed a runner on the right side of the road. I thought this was strange, because not only was it 11:30 at night on a Saturday, but it was raining outside. I slowed down and shifted to the side, as everyone does for runners. As soon as my headlights came within 10 feet of the “runner”, the person disappeared into thin air. I slowed down in disbelief, as I thought maybe I hit them, but as I got out of my car to check, nobody was there.
Mr. Hatcher – Visit From a Japanese Ghost:
I taught in Japan in the mid to late 90s. While there, I lived in a dormitory-style apartment. My room had a sliding glass door that opened out to a shared balcony– there were about five other rooms in a row. As is customary in Japan, I slept on a futon on the floor. I typically slept with my head near the door and the sliding door partially open since it was summer and very hot. One night, around 2:00 as I was sleeping, I was awakened to a sound outside. I became aware of what sounded like footsteps on the balcony. The footfalls were soft and slow, as if someone were trying not to be heard. They seemed to be coming from the far end of the balcony. My heart starting beating faster as the steps got closer and closer to my room. My brilliant plan was to pretend to be asleep. The sound of someone’s feet on the balcony got closer and closer to my room until they stopped, right outside the open door, about three feet from my head! My heart was racing a mile-a-minute at this point. I decided to jump up and leap at this ne’er-do-well on the balcony. I yelled and jumped up, ready to fight. No one was there. I stepped out on the balcony, looking in all directions. No one. I went back into my room, closed and locked the door and after a while, tried to get back to sleep, but couldn’t. I told my students about my encounter the next day and they all agreed that I had a visit from a Japanese ghost.