Ghost Selfies

By: Kelly Wilton

My friend, knowing I was currently in a horror class sent me an article the other day that struck a nerve with me. The article talks about a girl who was taking a “selfie” in the passenger seat as her mom was driving her on the highway. When looking back at the pictures she took of herself, she found one that showed a clear figure of a boy in the back—even though there was no one else in the car. The mom even had paranormal researchers look into it and they found that there was someone killed in a car accident right where they were driving on the highway. They think maybe it was the person’s ghost that appeared in the picture. To look at the picture and the full article click here.

The reason that I was affected after reading this story has to do with something that happened to me when I was a junior in high school. This was around the time selfies were becoming a common thing and I remember being in a situation eerily similar to the one in the article. I was in the passenger seat and my mom was driving. We were heading to pick up my little brother from baseball practice. I had decided to take out my phone and take some selfies, since I had just cut my hair and wanted to have a picture of how short it was now. It was mid-afternoon and pouring down rain and since we were driving down a dirt road, I remember bouncing up and down and getting annoyed that my pictures would turn out blurry. As I tried and tried to focus the camera, while also getting good lighting, I was about to snap the photo when I saw something that made my heart jump. I remember screaming “oh my gosh,” and whipping my head behind me. I screamed “mom, there’s someone in the car, there’s someone in the car” and naturally, my mom got freaked out and turned into the nearest driveway. My mom looked back in the car and even opened the trunk to appease me and there was obviously nothing in the car. She asked me what I saw and I explained that there was a man that appeared on my phone screen, directly next to my head. He was not anyone that I recognized, but it was not just a shadow—it was a very clear face that appeared on the screen. To this day, my mom thinks it was just my mind playing tricks on me and while that could certainly be the case, I believe it was a paranormal encounter. My biggest regret was being too startled at the moment it happened to push the button on my phone to take the picture.

Now after having read the article above, I am more and more curious about the incident. I actually did some research to see if I could find records of fatal car accidents that happened on the road we were driving on. I did not have any luck, but there was a big house fire nearby about 20 years ago that killed a man and his wife. Who knows, maybe the ghost of that man was the one appearing in the car that day….

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The Eskimo in My Bedroom

20161120_224321By: Sydney Angel

When I was younger, until around the age of fourteen, my twin brother and older sister spent a majority of their time brainstorming cruel and creative ways to prank and terrify me. Scaring me when I was younger was not that difficult to do however, as I still slept with two nightlights in my room and insisted on my parents checking every crevasse of my bedroom before I was content, and felt safe enough to call it a night and go to sleep. While my siblings found a new way to horrify me and ensure I slept with my lights on at least three times a week, there was one particular prank they did not plan and it still frightens me to this day.

My parents had gone to Alaska on a vacation and brought me back a traditional, porcelain Eskimo doll. I was never the type to play with dolls, so I made them put it on its stand on the top shelf of my room, directly across from my bed. I hated the way the doll stared at me, so I protested having it in my room, until I realized my parents were disappointed that I hated my gift so much. So I kept it in my room, but moved it closer to my bed so I would not have to keep staring at it every night before going to sleep, and turned it so it faced the wall.

My siblings knew how much I hated having the doll in my room, so one night while I was asleep, they came in to my room and put all of our dolls from the toy box in the basement across my shelf and lined them up around my bed so they were facing me. To top it off, they removed the stuffed animal I slept with every night and replaced it with the Eskimo doll. Halfway through the night I sprawled out on my twin bed, making the Eskimo fall to the ground. When it fell, its right leg broke off and landed right next to it.

When I woke up the next morning I screamed and was terrified of the dozens of eyes staring back at me and watching me. I was initially scared that the Eskimo had somehow moved from its place on the shelf and had dived down onto the ground, but my parents forced my siblings to explain what they had done.

I refused to step foot into my room while all of the dolls were in it, so my parents had my siblings move them out and put the doll back on the shelf, with the right leg next to it, so my mom could glue it on later. My siblings had moved the doll back to its original position, facing across from my bed on the shelf and I had trouble going to bed that night, because the Eskimo’s constant gaze felt unsettling.

The next morning my mom came to glue the dolls leg back on, but both legs were intact, with the doll standing on its own without its stand, and its right arm now placed beside it. My mom thought I had simply gotten the two limbs confused, but my siblings saw the doll as well and saw the leg broken off the doll.

To this day my parents insist on keeping the doll in the room – I think my whole family enjoys scaring me – with its arm lying next to the stand. Every so often I wake up and the doll is rotated just a little bit away from my bed and sometimes its arm appears further away on the shelf, or on the opposite side of the doll than where I left it.

My First Halloween

unnamedBy: Nikola Jaksic

For the sake of this story, I think it is important to preface it by stating that I am a first generation immigrant from Serbia, where Halloween means nothing. My parents and I moved to the United States when I was 2 years old, in 1998. The first Halloween that I remember was when I was four, when I was so shocked and horrified that everyone in the town had seemingly been replaced by horrible monsters. I clung to my father the entire night, and probably cried through most of it. Even the promise of free candy could not quell my fear, and my parents, who had no idea what Halloween was, were of little comfort. Next year was different though, and I was fully prepared. For my birthday in September, I got a Superman costume which I wore almost every day I could. In it, I was invincible, so naturally it would be the thing to protect me from the scary Halloween. I donned my costume, and we went trick or treating for the first time. I cannot really remember who went with us that year, I had only just started kindergarten and knew barely any English but, trick or treat was well within my command.

We set out through some of the neighborhoods around Rochester Hills, where you can still find the kinds of Victorian bedrocks to older towns in Southeastern Michigan. In Northville, years later, this tradition would continue for me. Anyway, we set off into the night, with our parents trailing behind some way, preoccupied with how cute my newborn baby brother looked as a chubby bumblebee. We walked past princesses and knights, fellow members of the Justice League, and of course tweens and teens who delighted in scaring us with their pumping blood masks. We ambled from house to house, until we came to a place on one of the streets where two houses pushed up against each other, leaving a meandering dirt driveway in the middle of them. Seeing an opportunity for more candy, and little else, we went in. The next bit of this story resides in that part of your memory that exists in fog, you can see something and you know its there, but it forever remains shrouded in some mystery, never as clear as you want it.

As I approached, some trees peeked up next to us, and between them every once in a while we would see a garden gnome. As I got closer to the house though, they seemed more like the kids we had seen, and when we got to the circular driveway there was a stone princess in the yard. I had to have arrived and receive our candy, because I remember being sufficiently sated, and thought nothing more of it. Even as I walked back though, the shadows seemed longer, and some of the shadows in the woods seemed like ones I had seen in the street earlier. I remember little else, and the rest of the Halloween was just like any other.

Nevertheless, when remembering this some years later, neither my brother nor anyone else remembered it happening. And since then, around every Halloween, I dream that I am that little Superman again. I have never seen anything new or remembered anything else, but over the years this recurrent dream has persisted, reminding me of my first Halloween.

The Snowman

By: Charlie DeJonge

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Unfortunately I have had more experiences in the past twenty years with disturbing figures and places than I would have liked, but it allows me to share my stories with you. The story you will read, still haunts me to this day. When I return home, I often find it difficult to go, or even look at where the event happened. I wish I could go back to that winter night and force myself to stay inside watching South Park and just tune out the noises, but I can’t and the only reason I am reminding myself of it is for a few extra credit points to boost my GPA.

When I was about fifteen years old, my parents had gone out for dinner with friends and left me alone. As a freshman in high school, I enjoyed the freedom that came with a night to myself. I planned on sitting on my couch all night and watching South Park reruns until they came back. A bit of a layout of my house, my family room and kitchen are one big room and look out over my backyard. The entire west wall has floor-to-ceiling windowpanes and the couch has its back to the windows.

As the fifth episode of South Park came on and I moved to the kitchen for food, a loud thud broke Cartman’s voice and made me drop my Pringles. I looked at the windows but didn’t see anything. Then another thud. I walked back to the couch cautiously and all of a sudden, a big snowball hit the window in front of me that threw me onto the ground. Very funny, must be the neighbors. I opened one of the doors and yelled out to them but didn’t get any answer. I turned on the porch lights but couldn’t see anyone. Then the thud came again at the same spot and another snowball fell. Where were they?

I locked the doors (because I wasn’t going to let anyone in and because I’m not playing the role of a cliché horror victim) and went to my parents room to turn on the spotlight that would hopefully reveal my neighbors hiding in bushes. I should’ve just gone back to South Park. I turned on the light and there he was. Gotcha. I went back downstairs and with the light still on yelled over to my neighbor. But again, no answer. So with the light still on and the other doors locked, I threw on my coat and boots and trekked across the snow to talk to my neighbor. At least I thought it would be. I was about ten feet away from the man when I noticed something was off. Not only was he wearing jeans and a t-shirt in the winter but he just had a distant gaze to his face. The more I say this the more I can see him. His dark eyes just looked past me to my house and to the window I assumed he was hitting. His hands, dangled lifelessly by his side and he swayed ever so slightly. I backed away without taking my eyes off him. I called my parents and they came home as soon as I told them what was happening.

My dad had gone out to look for the man but didn’t find anything except for my tracks. They saw the marks to the window and said it must have been the neighbors. But I know what I saw. I know that some man was watching me that night. That something was wrong with him and that I still can picture him in that corner when I go home.

I wish for none of you to ever experience anything like this. It is something that has stayed with me for years now and continues to frighten me. I am not sure where he went, what he wanted or who he was, but I know that I never wish to see him again.

From the Internet to the Woods of Wisconsin: The Rise of Slenderman

By: Emily Weinstein

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Since his birth on the Internet in 2009, the faceless, tuxedo-wearing bogeyman known as Slenderman has since grown from a creepy online fairy-tale to terrifying real-life horror story. Originally created by Eric Knudsen on the Internet forum called Something Awful, Slenderman seeks to attract the attention and fright of the younger generation of his readers. He then uses their attention and fear to gain control over them and force them to do his dirty work. However, this mind control is actually much more intricate. Many of his victims suffer from actually physical symptoms including coughing, confusion, and memory loss. Examples of the effects that Slenderman has on his victims can be seen in many of the Marble Hornets videos that we watched for and discussed in class. For example, in entry #20, Tim suffers from heavy and uncontrollable coughing. Additionally, Jay experiences significant memory loss, including losing all memory of the previous seven months. However, after doing some research, I confirmed that the Marble Hornets videos are indeed works of fiction. I was able to locate the IMDB page for Marble Hornets along with the names of the actors who played characters such as Jay, Alex, and Tim. Although this story was fabricated, a real-life incident connected to the mythical and creepy Slenderman did in fact occur in 2014, and this incident along with evidence from the Marble Hornets video are now being combined to create an HBO documentary in January 2017 titled, Beware the Slenderman.

First released at the DOC NYC festival on November 12th, Beware the Slenderman takes a deeper look into the terrifying real-life incident that occurred in Wisconsin in 2014, in which two 12-year-old girls brutally stabbed one of their friends in order to show their devotion to Slenderman. Specifically, this new documentary seeks to question to safety of today’s Internet as well as our younger generation’s unrestricted access to it. How safe are today’s children if they are so easily able to access information on the Internet that convinces them to commit horrendous crimes such as murder? According to research, this was not a spur-of-the- moment attack, but instead one that had been methodically planned out for months. So what drove these two young girls to want to commit such a strategic murder solely to please a mythical creature that they had read about online? This is the big question at hand, and the court charged with handling this sensitive case has struggled to determine the next step. Since the attempted murder was so strategic, should the girls be tried as adults? Or was this crime just derived from the imagination of children? It really is quite difficult to decide. In addition to looking at the Wisconsin case, the documentary will also examine the recent fascination with Slenderman as well as how this newly-created fantasy has turned into a horrifying reality.

The new Slenderman documentary will be released on HBO on January 23rd, 2017, and I can definitely say that I am very interested to see from what point of view it chooses to evaluate the case. Here is a link to the newest trailer.

Always Trust a Kid

By: Bradley Scharf

Back as a child in elementary school when homework was non-existent, I used to hang out with my friend Austin after school everyday. We would usually spend most of our time outside. From reasons we always ended up at his house. Austin’s mom worked part-time, so his brother Matthew watched us for some of the days during the week. Matthew was in High School at this point in time. He honestly didn’t care what we did as long as we didn’t bother him. Most of the time we played basketball and road bikes in the driveway out front.

Austin lived in a pretty quiet neighborhood, where there wasn’t too much cut through traffic. I remember the day like it was yesterday. We were riding bikes in the driveway and an old beat up minivan stopped in front of the house across the street. We didn’t think twice about it at first. After about ten minutes the car drove away. About a half an hour later the same car drove by the house again, but this time very slowly and it again continued to pass Austin’s driveway. Now we were getting a little suspicious.

van

Austin’s house was situated up on a big hill. We walked all the way up to side of his house and caught a glimpse of the minivan stopped at the corner of the street. We started freaking out and ran screaming to Matthew. Matthew had told us that we were just being babies and assured us that nothing was wrong. We decided to stop playing outside. About an hour later while we were watching television in Austin’s room, we saw the minivan pull up in front of the house again. The back window was halfway down and we could see a man taking pictures. This time we had proof that there was something sketchy going on and we ran to get Matthew and show him, but before he came back to see it, the car was gone. We were so freaked out by this; Austin called his Mom crying hysterically and told her what had happened. Matthew said to her that he didn’t see anything. She still came home right away to make sure everything was okay. We never saw the minivan again.

The next day, Austin’s Mom had a day off from work. Austin and I were in school until three o’clock. Usually we took the bus home together to his house, but instead my Mom picked us up from school that day. My Mom worked full-time so it was extremely unusual for my Mom to pick us up. We were taken back to my house and were told that an incident had occurred but that everyone was all right.

Around noon that day, Austin’s Mom answered the front door of their house after the bell rang. A man in a suit with a construction hat saying National Grid on it, holding a clipboard had been standing at the door. National Grid is the gas company for Long Island. He said he had to read the meter to make sure everything was up to date and that she wasn’t being overcharged. Austin’s Mom brought the man down to the basement to show him the gas meter. The gas meter was in the boiler room. As she opened the door to the boiler room, the man pushed her in to the room and somehow was able to lock the door using a chair, wedging it under the doorknob. The man then ran upstairs and stole all her jewelry and bags. Austin’s Mom tried to break down the door, but she couldn’t because it was an extra thick door for fireproof safety. Luckily the alarm system panel was located in the boiler room and she was able to set off the alarm and have the police come. When the police came, they had to break down the front door and before they could find her locked in the boiler room.

A Waking Nightmare

By: Emily Zuo

An emergency siren was blaring. As the horrifying, shrill scream resonating in my head grew louder, I tried to sit up – to wake up – but I couldn’t escape. My body seemed to be pinned to the bed, and my panicked efforts resulted only in strangled, sporadic jerks. My eyes, which seemed to be drifting open and closed, saw the sunlight on my bedroom ceiling, but it didn’t register. In that moment, I knew nothing of Saturday morning – only a visceral terror as I was continuously dragged back.

It sounds like something out of a horror story or nightmare, but actually, it was my first experience with sleep paralysis, though I had no idea at the time. Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which a person is unable to move or speak when waking up (or, less commonly, while falling asleep). This happens because your brain “shuts off” your muscles during REM sleep to prevent you from acting out dreams, and sometimes, you become conscious while your muscles are still in this state. This usually lasts a few seconds to several minutes, during which people often experience auditory or visual hallucinations, feel like they’re being suffocated, or sense a menacing presence. Needless to say, the entire experience is often disturbing and terrifying.

Throughout history, these episodes have been thought to be caused by demons and other supernatural figures. The phenomenon has been the basis of folklore in numerous cultures, spawning a malevolent creature generically known as “the night hag” who sits on a sleeping person’s chest to immobilize them. Additionally, ideas of alien abduction, near death experiences, and shadow people may have originated from incidences of sleep paralysis. Regardless of if you believe in the scientific or the supernatural, experiencing sleep paralysis is often like experiencing horror in real life; you have an awareness that you lack when just having a nightmare, while still being unable to do anything about your situation. It is a uniquely horrifying event that is different for everyone who experiences it.

I have had sleep paralysis several times since then. Luckily, I’ve never felt the suffocation or pressure on the chest I’ve seen so many people describe, but I have hallucinated intruders in my room and a shadowy presence lurking next to my bed – all, of course, while not being able to move. In fact, one episode happened just last month. I was taking a nap in the lounge chair in my room, during which the sun had gone down completely, and I suddenly woke up in utter darkness to the feeling that I wasn’t alone. I then heard whispering right next to my ear. Weirdly, a small, semi-logical part of my brain immediately thought that people had broken into my house. However, upon feeling that familiar paralysis, part of me recognized the episode for what it was. I convinced myself to stay as calm, attempted to wiggle my fingers (which is supposed to help wake up the muscles), and waited it out.

Fortunately, I can say that my first sleep paralysis experience was definitely my worst, since I didn’t know what was happening (and panicking definitely makes it worse). Nowadays, I can gain a semblance of logic and wait for the awful feelings to go away. But there are many other people out there who experience sleep paralysis in much more severe ways than I have. Here is a trailer for a 2015 documentary about sleep paralysis, with the horrifying input of several real victims: