Country Ghost Tales and a Seance Gone Wrong
Specters in the dark
I grew up in a small community in Botetourt County Virginia. My grandma and great grandmother always had otherworldly tales to tell. There was one about walking to the corner of the road that was about a block from our house. They said if you went there at night you might feel hot breath breathing on you but see no one. There was also a story of someone whose's "ghost" haunted the area and people saw a body with no head, but only after dark. One thing that I kept close to my heart was great-grandma saying was what to do if you encountered a specter. She said to ask it, "What in the Name of the Lord do you want"? She told me that if the apparition were from the Lord it would state it's business, but if it were not it would leave.
My mother once shared with me that when I was about six months old we were living in an older house in the city. She was carrying me up the stairs in the dark, and when she put her hand on the banister she felt the fingers of another hand underneath her. When I was nine months old my parents were living in an apartment building. They were arguing one day and had locked themselves out of the house but I was inside crying. Someone called my grandma and she got a ride from the county and took me back to live with her and great-grandma and my parents allowed it. I never had any problems in the first house we lived in but all of that was about to change.
As a child, I enjoyed reading ghost stories and watching the old black and white movies from the 1950s and 1960s. From the time we moved into a differnt house when I was 10 I began having strange occurrences that I had not previously encountered. I would wake up in the middle of the night and see flashes of light and once what looked like a fireball go by in the hallway outside the bedroom door. I dealt with sleep paralysis and night terrors where I would wake, but be unable to move or speak.
Once I woke up feeling the presence of someone sitting on the bed. It was early morn and still dark outside. I heard my grandma and great-grandma in the kitchen so I opened my eyes and saw a man who resembled Alfred Hitchcock sitting on the side of the bed, I closed my eyes and went back to sleep and never told anyone until later life. As a teenager, these occurrences took on a sinister turn as I would wake up but be unable to move or speak and feel a hand pulling the covers or at times touching my leg. Great granny was sleeping right beside me but never woke up. I became so terrified that I began sleeping with crosses and Bibles underneath my pillow.
The seance in the library
At age 14 I began working in the summer with other local teens at the elementary school that was about a mile away. A new building had been erected that joined the old one but was not yet in use. We had to clean the rooms and get them ready for opening after Labor Day. The library of the school was in the basement at the end of the hall and we used to eat our lunch there. I enjoyed reading the books as I ate. One day, the conversation turned to the rumors that the library was haunted, Allegedly, a number of people said they had felt something touch them while they were there.
Someone said it was probably the ghost of Mr. Redd, a man who lived in our community prior to his death. He also had been a janitor at this school as well as a bus driver. My cousin Melinda suggested we have a seance and bring Mr, Redd back and no one disagreed. There were about eight or nine of us girls working that day. The boys were in a different part of the school. We joined hands and Melinda began calling for Mr. Redd when suddenly we heard a loud crash from the back of the library. There was no one else in this part of the building except us and there was nothing behind us but shelves of dusty books.
A feeling of horror came over me and I joined in with the others who were shouting "Go back, go back in the Name of Jesus." As we were saying this we were simultaneously gathering out things and running out of that basement. We ran out the door and up the stairs into the main school area. We were laughing and out of breath but at the same time troubled. We never looked behind us to find out what had crashed and we don't know if we conjured up the spirit of Mr. Redd, but we never had a seance again. None of us girls ever went back to clean that library and left it to the boys, who laughed at our tale. The next summer thankfully, we were working on the new building where the library was large, light and bright and on the main floor.
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© 2019 Cheryl E Preston