ghosts, Guardians of Erin, Judith Sterling, Phantasmic Friday, residual hauntings, supernatural, The Cauldron Stirred, The Stone Awakened, YA paranormal, YA series
October has arrived! It’s my favorite month for so many reasons: the glory of autumn, the magic of Halloween, my wedding anniversary, etc. I could go on and on but instead, I’m instituting “Phantasmic Friday” for the entire month. Over the next four Fridays, I’ll share brushes with the supernatural I’ve been fortunate to experience. One occurred when I was six years old.
On the night in question, I woke with a start. I lay nestled against a white, life-size teddy bear, so my vision was limited to a patch of faux fur illuminated by the nightlight’s glow. I couldn’t see a change in my world, but I could sense it.
Something was off.
The next instant, I heard confirmation. Slow footsteps clunked down the hall toward my bedroom, crossed the threshold, approached my bed, and halted beside it.
My ears pricked up. Every hair stood on end. Somehow, I knew the presence was an adult male; I also knew it wasn’t my father. I lay still as a board, feigning sleep, hoping the man would go away. Yet he remained poised at the left side of my bed.
Swallowed by a deafening silence—and partly, by my stifling, stuffed bear—I began to sweat. I waited for another movement, another sound, anything to help me gauge my visitor’s intent.
Nearly ten minutes of stress, heat, and uncertainty reigned before action’s inevitable coup. It was my bed and my room. I would confront the man and stake my claim. Will and courage surged within me, and I flung myself up and around to face…
I scanned the room, analyzing storybooks, dolls, and the familiar landscape of furniture. I frowned, for the atmosphere was still thick with something other than Florida’s trademark humidity. Beyond the open door stretched the dim hallway.
“Is anyone there?” I called.
Dead silence. (Pun intended.)
At length, the air thinned. I shrugged and snuggled back under the covers and into the bear. I took a deep breath and expelled it with a smile.
Tired and craving sleep, my eyes closed. Then they shot open. Distinct, measured footfalls tracked out the door and disappeared down the hall.
Now, years later, I understand the event better. In the field of paranormal investigation, there are two types of haunting: intelligent and residual. With an intelligent haunting, the entity is aware of your presence and may try to communicate. A residual haunting is more like a recording—of energy and event—which replays itself again and again, and the entity involved is unaware it has company.
My first ghostly encounter seems to fall under the second category. The unexpected footsteps sounded like hard-soled shoes tramping on wood. Our house, built in the 1940s, did have wooden floors, but they were carpeted at the time of the event. The previous owners of the house were an elderly couple who preferred separate bedrooms, and guess which one used mine: the man. (I knew none of this at the time, though.)
He and I shared the same space in different times and should’ve been oblivious to one another. But could it be, when conditions are just right, two such individuals can perceive one another’s presence?
If linear time is an illusion, as many believe it to be, this type of awareness might occur more often than we suspect. Who knows? I might even have sensed a man who would occupy my bedroom in the future. In any case, I know what I felt and heard, and from that point on, my interest in the supernatural was as fervent as it was fixed.
If you’re as drawn to the paranormal as I (and/or it’s drawn to you!) you might enjoy The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in my Guardians of Erin series. I’m currently writing Book Two, The Stone Awakened. Happy October, everyone!