In the spirit of Halloween, we asked our staff to tell us their scary – or not so scary – tales of the season. Here’s what they said:
Hahaha, nope. I'm a pretty literal person where that stuff isn't really a thing for me. The random bumps in the night are "just the building settling." I looove wandering graveyards. Nothing spooky has happened yet ... knock on wood. [Editor’s Note: Shannon is probably the most practical person in our office … but those last three words say a lot ...]
I used to be a member of a paranormal investigations team, “Southeastern Paranormal Investigations.” S.E.P.I. for short.
We did investigations in a host of cemeteries across Marion County. We also investigated peoples homes, businesses and some abandoned locations (with the owners’ permission).
During my 8+ years doing paranormal investigations, I saw and encountered items flying off the walls, apparitions floating past, photos that were difficult to explain, and sounds that just didn’t make sense.
One time, we were investigating a church at a parishioner’s request, The church was a small, ground-floor only building, with a rough stone fence around it. It was located near a set of unused railroad tracks.
During some of our outdoor images, it looked like someone was walking, room to room and peeking through the windows at us. Every time tried take a photo, a light would turn on or off. At first, we thought someone was inside, but a member of the church went inside and verified nobody was there.
While walking around the railroad tracks nearby, we were doing audio recording. On one of the recordings, we would get spikes in the audio. In one section of the tracks, it sounded like a loud crackling sound. Digital photography of the area showed red and yellow flames across the ground.
We learned later that the previous building and surrounding trees had burned down in a fire some 70 years prior. There were no other explanations to why we heard and saw what we found.
I grew up in a medium sized city on Long Island. The house we lived in was up on a hill. so it overlooked part of the city. When I was about 8 or 9 we went to a carnival that was just across the highway from my house, at the bottom of the hill. After the carnival, we went home and I was just looking out of the window watching the Ferris wheel, and just kind of marveling at how the carnival lights and colors looked from our vantage point on top of the hill.
All of a sudden in the skyline behind the carnival, I saw what I at first thought was a shooting star. After falling for a few seconds, the “shooting star” stopped and hovered for probably 10 or 15 seconds. After that it shot back up in the same direction that it came down from. It shot up like 5 times faster than when it first came down. If that wasn’t a UFO, then I don’t know what it could have been. The hovering, followed by the speed at which it shot back up, had me convinced.
Before my Florida days, I worked as a reporter at a small newspaper in Ohio. One morning, we received a couple dozen calls from concerned readers about a UFO they had seen the night before.
As it happened, my wife and I had been out that night. We saw it too, on our way home.
The “UFO” that had some folks worried about an alien landing had an image of Snoopy on one side, and the words MetLife on the other.
As for haunted houses, well, I don’t believe in them. BUT our current place has a phantom smoke detector.
It once was part of a fancy alarm system, long since disconnected and replaced. It is not connected to anything but a power supply (it’s hardwired, so we’ve just left it up.). We’ve tested it, and it doesn’t work for its intended purpose.
Every so often, it will randomly squawk for about a second at full volume. This often happens around 2 or 3 a.m., so it’s unnerving to say the least. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason to it. Just keeping us on our toes, I guess.
As a child, I remember sharing the room with my mother and father. I slept in a bunk bed with my sister. One night, I remember being woken by this tapping on the wall right over my mother’s bed. I laid there for a few minutes listening until my mother woke. I remember her waking my father up.
Once he woke up, I remember their conversation as to the tapping. It was between two windows on which the fire escape was located. There should not have been anybody there, especially at that time of the night.
My father got out of bed. The window had curtains and blinds. He slowly moved the curtains aside and lifted a slat to peek through. Next thing I remember was my father jumping backwards with curtains and blind in his hands and shouting. There was a man looking right back at him.
An uncle who was visiting and staying in my room, ran into the room. He saw my father on the floor and asked what happened. After explaining, my father got up, approached the window, and saw the man running upstairs. We lived on the fifth floor and right above us was the roof.
My father and uncle grabbed some weapons and ran out the apartment and up the stairs to meet the man at the roof. A few minutes later, they both came downstairs, terrified. They told my mother that once they open the door, the man who was approaching, turned around and headed back to the fire escape.
Instead of finding his footing and climbing down slowly, this man just jumped.
My father and uncle approached the edge a few seconds later to find … nothing. This guy should have been a few steps down the ladder or on the floor in the basement. There was nothing. The police arrived shortly after, and nothing came of it.
I couldn’t sleep the rest of that night. I don’t think any of us did. The next day we inspected, checked the news, asked the neighbors, and said bye to my uncle (he never visited us after that night). People said they had seen an individual late at night on the edge of the roof, but when anybody checked, there was never anybody to be found. [Editor’s Note: OK, this one is legit creepy.]
Over a decade ago I lived in the heart of the downtown Ocala East Historic District in an old Mediterranean revival styled house built in 1906. This was a large 3-story house with a porte-cochère, cellar with a cistern, original elevator, and Spanish tile roof. It was converted to a multi-family unit at some point in its life, and had multiple patios as well.
Basically, it had all the trappings of an old, creepy, haunted house. Because the owners were slumlords, they didn’t keep up with the maintenance, which helped with the creepy factor.
It was a neat old house. Soon after I moved in to the second-floor studio which faced the street, I learned that it was also on the downtown Ocala walking ghost tour. This is a walking tour where all the houses conveniently next to each other in the historic district and within walking distance of downtown all happened to be haunted. Imagine that.
How convenient for the tours, and participants. The first weekend in my new home is when I saw what seemed to be flash bulbs in my window. This was in fact a group of 20 or so people taking pictures of the house as they listened to whatever ghost story the host was spinning at the time.
I heard these stories often and would almost look forward to the tours after work on a Friday night while I sat out on the second-floor patio enjoying a beer. When I was sitting on this patio I could not be seen from the street, or the walking tour.
I waited for one tour to leave before I got up and went inside for a refill. As I did there was a straggler in the tour who caught a glimpse of me standing up and I quickly ducked back down (I didn’t like to spoil their fun by making this creepy old house look like a regular old apartment with normal people doing normal everyday things). They loudly exclaimed they saw something, a blonde woman, on the patio who vanished as quickly as she had appeared. The group walked back to see if they could catch a glimpse of this ghost woman.
Now, a little back story on me. At the time I had a full head of long blond hair down past my shoulders. I also wore a lot of white tee-shirts as I worked as a painter and as an early 20’s bachelor living off ramen, I was much thinner than I am now.
After that “sighting” the group comes back the following week. Wouldn’t you know, the host has a NEW story that week. One of a bride, who came to a tragic end on her wedding day. She was a beautiful blonde with shoulder-length hair and was the woman of this old house. She loved to take tea on the second-floor patio and has “often” been seen out on the patio in her white wedding dress ….
Needless to say, I WAS THE GHOST. This was not a story they had in rotation that we had heard before on the tour. It was indeed a story that came the week after someone described seeing a ghost with an eerily similar visual description to me! I was the corpse bride of this manor.
P.S. Having lived on that second floor for over five years I can confidently say that the house was NOT haunted. I never saw or heard any of the ghosts described in the stories. The bride ghost story seemed to be a hit though with the tour and stayed in rotation for that house.
[Editor’s Note: That’s our Matt – always a bride, never a bridesmaid.]