Just a heads up; I'll be doing most of the posting for a bit, as Cins is having some real life shenanigans that are giving her a hard time. That, or she's drinking again.
I thought for this post I would share a real life experience of mine. I originally posted this on the somethingawful.com forums, in the winter ghost stories thread. This is all true, no fabrications. It scares me to think about now, but in a distant way, like I'd read a book or saw a movie that frightened me.
I need to preface this story with my mental state at the time this event occurred. To put it bluntly, I was not well, emotionally. I was supremely stressed out, to the point that I was manifesting physical symptoms like back pain, and at one point the muscles in my neck tensed up so badly that I couldn't turn my head. I started to have my first ever bouts with insomnia, and was just in a very bad place. I had no money, only one friend really close to me, my boyfriend was smothering me, and I was so poor I could either pay some of my bills for the month or I could eat.
I was twenty four when this happened to me. I'm almost convinced it was all in my mind, but there's still that little seed of terror that wonders if my fear just gave something a way in. I was living on my own for the first time. By alone I mean exactly that: it was just me and my cat, Remington. No roommates for the first time since I'd moved out, and for the most part I'm very glad that I opted to live alone instead of trying to find another person to live with. Part of this decision was due to the fact that I had no one to move in with me, and I couldn't face the thought of living with another complete stranger. I'm the kind of person who must have a "safe" spot, a place I can unwind in. It has to be my home, and I don't feel safe living with someone I didn't know previously.
I'm not sure what started it; maybe just the fact that I'm naturally paranoid. But I started to become very, very afraid of the crawl space in the ceiling of my bedroom closet. At first it was just general unease; I would have to make sure the closet door was closed completely before I could sleep, something that hadn't bothered me before. I would go into the closet to get dressed/whatever, and instead of doing the task I had set for myself, I would instead find myself staring up at the crawl space panel above my head. I would frequently be shocked to discover that I had wasted as much as twenty minutes a pop doing this, which is unusual for me as I am one of those fidgety people who must be doing something at all times. I can't even just sit and watch television: I'm usually drawing/reading/sewing/etc while I watch the boob tube.
I became fixated on this stupid crawl space. I would think about it when I wasn't home, and it was the first thing I inspected when I returned from being out. I had a recurring fantasy of peering up at the panel and seeing it drop slightly back into place. Then my obsession got worse, and I became convinced that there was a strange, ragged, long-haired man hiding up there, waiting to get me. Not convinced as in I called the cops, but convinced that somehow there was a strange show down that had to happen between us, and no one else was or could be involved. He was real, but I knew he was real only to me, if that makes any sense.
I tried several times to work up my courage and just climb on a chair with a flashlight, shove up the panel and see, finally, once and for all, if there was anything up there. The person I am now, and was trying to become then, would have done it. Would have lost patience, grabbed a baseball bat and a light, and had a peek. But I was so tired, and stressed out, and hopeless feeling that I just had no energy to get worked up. And part of the me was half afraid that if I looked, it would have been like Pandora's box; I would have let him out, and he would finally have been made real. It was a strange feeling, but I was convinced that he was trying to be born into the real world from my mind, but wasn't quite strong enough to leave the crawl space.
Then God smiled on me, and I ended up moving out of my apartment, and in with a friend. She lived with her father, who was planning to move closer to his girlfriend, and she and I would take over his mortgage payments in lieu of rent. Another friend of mine who was moving into town from across the country, was going to take over my lease. I was so relieved; I would be paying substantially less per month, I had another friend nearby, stuff was looking much better!
But the man in the crawl space wasn't done with me yet, apparently. The last night I slept there, something strange happened. It was just a little thing, but the effects were pretty potent for me. Most of my stuff was moved out; all that was really left was me, Remington, my bed, and general trash to clean up. There were plastic grocery bags all over the floor because I liked to use those to wrap my more delicate items in, and I has just gotten done with a box of figurines, a snow globe, things of that ilk, moved that afternoon from in my bedroom.
I had dropped off to sleep quickly, hot and tired from moving. I had been sleeping very hard when I woke up for a moment, something I do a lot of. But that night I had been so deeply asleep I hadn't even moved from the original position I had zonked out in; my joints were a little achy from not moving for so long. I was just starting to drop back off, when I heard the rustle of one of the plastic grocery bag. Coming from inside my closet.
It was like someone snapping their fingers; just like that I was wide awake, and my heart was galloping. I didn't move, and strained to listen and my mind sorted frantically through excuses for that noise to be occuring during the blackest part of the night. Remington, my mind latched onto. It was Remington, no doubt sleeping on one of the bags, as he liked to do. He liked to sleep in the closet, and I had been so busy cleaning and packing that I had totally forgotten to close the closet door before I had gone to bed.
I started to relax, my heart still beating hard, but the adrenaline was starting to fade. Goofy cat, I started to think, and then I felt Remington turn over. He was on the bed with me, sleeping cuddled up against the backs of my knees. Then the bag rustled again.
To this day, I have no idea what caused that. I don't know what happened next, because the next thing I knew, it was morning, and everything was once again normal.
What was it? What or who caused that noise? I don't know. I do know two things though: the only living things in my apartment that night were myself and my cat. An I know that I was not dreaming, though at the time I had badly wished I was. I don't know why I abruptly fell back asleep, either.
I also know that whatever fears I had in the apartment, I left there. After I moved out, I wasn't afraid of the man anymore.