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Honorable Mention





The summer of 76 was not a good one for me. I was living at the Geronimo Hotel, a flea-bag mecca for Tucson's transients. I was working sporadically as a laborer as well as taking some classes at the nearby University of Arizona. The only people residing at the hotel seemed to be retirees who hadn't saved enough,criminals, heroin addicts and people with minimum wage jobs who couldn't afford to live elsewhere.

If you wanted to meet eccentrics of every stripe, you wouldn't be disappointed with the denizens of the Geronimo.

One day, while waiting in the lobby for the rickety elevator, which I hoped would take me to my room on the third floor, a gaunt, shiny eyed young man accosted me.

He extended his hand and smiled. "Hey man , my name is Phil. Can you do me a big favor, and loan me two bucks? I can pay you back in a couple of days." His voice was soft , but had a nervous edge.
I hesitated, about to say no, but something about Phil made me change my mind. Perhaps it was his emaciated appearance which caused me to feel pity, or the luminous intensity of his pale blue eyes.
"Thanks man, I'll pay you back in two days," he said , as he pocketed the bills and headed toward the brilliant sunlight which poured in from the lobby door that opened on busy Euclid Avenue.

I never expected to be paid back, so it was quite a surprise to see Phil two days later hurrying toward me in the lobby with two dollar bills clutched in his skeletal hand.
"Here you go man. Thanks for the bread."

Surprised by his unexpected honesty, we exchanged pleasantries for several minutes. He seemed to be both friendly and intelligent . I invited him to my room.

There the conversation continued and we talked on a number of topics. After a while Phil seemed to become rather bored and seemed somewhat distracted. He then revealed that he was so thin because he practiced fasting.

"Why do you fast, Phil?"
He hesitated and then with a burst of excitement related to me how fasting made him more sensitized to the world of spirits. He also said he shot up cocaine and heroin sometimes for the same reason.

I tried to steer the conversation elsewhere when Phil, seeming to grow agitated, his bony jaw set slightly on edge . blurted out, "Demons, I talk to them and they tell me a lot of stuff. Things that would blow your mind!"

It was then I arose abruptly and told Phil that I had to write a paper for class and that it was nice talking with him, but that I should get started on it. He could probably tell I was creeped out by his strange conversation .

After Phil left , I sat in my wooden chair and looked around at the roach infested room, at the old narrow metal framed bed with its thin, hard mattress, and the ancient writing table scarred with age, where down on their luck tenants wrote letters to a lost love or perhaps scribbled suicide notes.

Several weeks passed, and between my work and studies I had largely put the strange conversation with Phil out of my mind. I was taking a couple of courses during the summer to gradually build enough credits to graduate. Some days I worked in the sweltering heat, doing landscape work: the hot desert sun shining like a little inferno in the clear , merciless sky.

Then , late one night, I was awakened by someone pounding on the door of my room. I got out of bed, slipped on some jeans, and groggily made my way to the door and opened it

There stood Phil, looking wide eyed and frantic, clutching a book in one hand. Strands of long blond hair were plastered on his sweating thin face

."Phil, what's going on," I managed to say, waking up fast.
"Sorry to bother you man. Can you do me a big favor?"

He thrust the book into my hand suddenly. I can't keep this book. I got to get out of here and I got to travel light. I was kicked out of my room. Could you keep this book for a week or two? The book means a lot to me. I'll be back and get it soon after I get settled again."
"OK, Phil, I can keep it for a while for you. No problem."

I was relieved when he left. and I no longer had to look at his skull like face nor gaze into his intense , lost eyes. I heard him making a kind of scuttling sound like a tall insect as he made his way down the decrepit hall.

I was curious enough about the book to examine it to see what it was about. It was a strange book, perhaps privately printed. It was solid black and appeared to be at least a century old. There was no title or author listed on the cover or spine of the book. There was no copyright page nor date or even the name of a publisher. Opening the book at random , I read a few pages .

It spoke of wise ones arising from the earth plane and joining the "dark disciples" to wage a war on behalf of Beelzebub. I didn't want to continue reading the weird book. Reading the stuff sent major chills down my spine . I carried the book to the corner and dropped it on the worn floor

Weeks passed by and Phil never showed up.and the book lay in the corner of my hotel room largely forgotten.

Then, one night , after fighting the heat and the noisy traffic, I managed to fall in to a restless sleep. Suddenly I was wide awake and sat up in bed. I instinctively glanced toward the corner where Phil's black book lay.

Something stood there that had a human form. But it wasn't human, it was like a blue mist only with glaring red eyes. The thing had its eyes locked on me. They emanated pure hatred and malice.
I was shaking as I hurriedly threw on some clothes and rushed out the door . down the fire escape and into the street. My mind was almost frozen with fear. I somehow managed to walk down Euclid Avenue to an all night diner and stayed there , a cold cup of coffee before me , trying to gain control over my fear,until daylight.

Much later that day, I managed to force myself to go back to the room. I walked directly to the corner and picked the book off the floor and carried the thing ,as if were a dead rat, to the dumpster and tossed it in with the trash.

Somehow I managed to get by the next few days without incident. I never looked toward the corner and tried not to think about the disturbing thing I had witnessed that night. The damned book was in the landfill now in its rightful place , keeping the rats and maggots company.

On the fourth day after the appearance, however, while picking up my mail in the hotel lobby I was shaken yet again. The hotel clerk who was a nosy rather unlikable sort, seemed to have something he was itching to say.

"Did you hear about what happened to Phil? he asked, his voice quivering with excitement. "he was shot dead, Thursday night, while trying to burglarize a house on 4th Avenue."

I mumbled something as I left the lobby. Instead of going to my room , I went for a long walk and tried to wrap my mind around the fact that Phil was killed the same night that I had seen that strange being glaring at me from the corner. Was it a malevolent spirit arising from the black book or was it Phil's attempt to somehow reconnect with his book and say a kind of goodbye to this life?

Submitted by R.G. Harris


Do you go trick or treating each year? I never have. To some, Halloween seems like harmless fun, but during my childhood it was no benign 'trick' – let alone 'treat'.

As Halloween loomed back then, I became terrified. I rarely slept a wink during the witching hour, imagining evil and grotesque beings on broomsticks flying outside, bound somehow to work their insidious machinations inside as well. It may sound like ordinary childhood fears – monsters under the bed – but I had good reason to fear the improbable, or indeed, the seemingly impossible.

My home back then was a late Victorian house out in the wilds. Successive owners had removed the original features; a house without a soul somehow. It was a habitually gloomy place even in broad daylight. During the winter months the heating would make the pipes rattle and the floorboards creak, but there were also inexplicable groaning noises and other strange unearthly sounds. Those things would scare any young child: it contained more evil nonetheless.

I hated the stairs. They were enclosed with a door at the bottom. The walls were papered with a largely black city-scape that reflected hardly any light from the small window at the top during daytime. The light-bulb wouldn't always work if you turned it on from the bottom; vice versa if you tried the switch on the landing. It was a horrible feeling, thinking someone, or something, was following behind you – and frequently there was.

I'd dash into my bedroom, dive into the bed, dreading the time that mum would come to tuck me in and kiss goodnight because of the fear of being left alone. It was a shadowy room even in the dusk of summer evenings – the deep red brown and orange curtains giving the spooky impression of changing shapes. As time went by it became not just a twilight visual abomination of sorts that forced my head underneath the blankets, but an actual place of torture.

My first memory in that chamber wasn't connected to my parents but to the entities who visited. I would see forms with no faces, dark outlines, with blind eyes looking over my cot. They would pull my blankets down. I remember feeling so cold because I didn't know how to pull the covers back up. I wasn't scared of them at that point.

As I grew a little older however, the night, the dark, started to terrify me. Unlike during my babyhood, I kept my eyes firmly closed as an older child then, frightened stiff of what I might see.

Once the household was asleep, and largely only then, I would hear a high-pitched whining noise
slowly becoming louder: I knew I couldn't escape. The eerie whaling sound would slowly dissipate and morph into the moaning of the winds through the trees outside, then into babbling voices increasing in volume until deafening: enough to drive you insane. That in itself was gruesome: more was to come.

They didn't go about things quickly, rather slowly tormenting victims. They would paralyse me, silence me, and leave me in that state for many a while. After that, pure silence, and the dread of every single frozen sinew and muscle encompassed me: 'it/they' were coming. Incrementally, haltingly, they would ease my bed-covers down: first off my face (ahhhhhhhhh); over my nose; chin; down the line of my neck (they're...ahhhh help: someone: help!); then chest; towards my stomach (pleeeeeeasse: hellllllp!!); groin (noooooooo!!!); thighs; knees (leave me alooooone!!!!); ankles (Oh God, pleeeeease: nooooooo)!!!!!; toes....(NOOOOOOO!!!!!!)

The touching started; creeping multiple fingers and hands fondled, grabbed me, over and over; sometimes tickling me, again and again until I felt physically sick/retching: out of my mind with fear; passing out eventually: eventually.

They never physically hurt me, but due to their mental torture, by the age of 8. I was so anxious and sleep deprived that I pulled my hair out leaving bald patches; I behaved in other weird ways too. I never told anyone however thinking that adults wouldn't believe me: children were 'to be seen and not heard' back then.

These things continued through teenage years into adulthood following me wherever I lived, but I haven't had such intensified experiences of late. The odd thing happens though. Most notably, one night in the winter of 2011, my friend Elaine – who attends a local church – asked if we could discuss a section of the bible concerning satan the devil to ascertain my thoughts (I'm not religious but I studied the bible). She sat adjacent to me and started reading. On reaching the words 'satan the devil', at the exact same time, a bulb in the brass candelabra hit the ceiling and floated down slowly – still lit – landing with its tip facing outwards between the two of us, as if it had been exactly placed.

I turned to my shocked friend and said: “ now do you believe me?”

The dark doesn't terrify me now; neither Halloween. It's been a long road. I guess you become hardened to it in the end. Ultimately, I think that ignoring these evil ghosts, not showing I'm scared – even when I am – is the answer. Like bullies, in time they get give up if you don't respond.

Those thoughts of further monstrosities on Halloween back then – the witches on their brooms – subjecting me to some other form of ghastly torment was unbearable, but strangely nothing did happen on that night. But, this Halloween, if you hear anything in your bedroom – if you feel an invisible hand over your mouth – lie very still. Most of all, keep your eyes firmly shut and don't bother screaming: though, of course, I hope you'll never have to.Kind Regards

Submitted by Sasson Hann


My mother always told me the story of living in a haunted house when she was a girl. Normally I'm a cynic when it comes to ghost stories, but knowing my mother as I do, I am forced to admit that there may be forces at work in this world that we can't understand.

It was the 1940's in rural Eastern Kentucky. The steep Appalachian hillsides meant that most people lived in the dark, winding valleys below known as hollows. My grandparents owned a house on Wildcat but my grandfather, Jim, who normally taught at the local one room schoolhouse, got a temporary position at another school. Back then, in the mountains, it was normal for teachers to be assigned a new school every few weeks or months.

Since they didn't own a car, and the new job wasn't within mule riding distance, it was decided that they would rent something cheap that was close to the new school until he could secure a position closer to home.

A few days later, my grandmother, Lucy, with her two girls in tow, (my mother, Erlene, seven, and Estelle, twelve) rode the bus to look at a house they had heard about from relatives. It was the last house at the end of a long hollow. The next closest house, which was almost out of sight, belonged to the landlady.

The house had no electric or inside plumbing, which wasn't unusual for the times, but it was roomy and clean and very, very cheap. Its long porch culminated in a little room that couldn't be accessed from the inside. You had to walk the length of the porch and go in by a separate door. On the outside wall of the little room, my grandmother noticed bullet holes. Below that, a big dark red spot.

"What's that?" she asked.
"Its nothing," the landlady said, and she sent her daughter to the house to fetch a bucket of soapy water and a brush. As my grandmother watched, the landlady scrubbed and scrubbed but the spot just got redder. Finally, she had to give up. But my mother's family took the house anyway.

Just after they moved, my grandparents went to town and left the girls home to clean the house. Being normal kids, they got side tracked and started playing around. "Screeeech." Suddenly they heard the screen door open. Their parents must have forgotten something. Heavy footsteps filled the other room. Estelle grabbed a broom and my mother grabbed a rag. Frantically they started cleaning as they waited for their parents to walk into the kitchen. Suddenly the footsteps stopped. When they didn't hear voices either, they went to investigate. Strangely, no one was there. They looked outside. Nothing. The girls began to get scared.When my grandparents got home, the girls told their story, but with children's imaginations being what they are, no one thought much of it. That is, until the noises began.

That night, when they were all in bed, they heard something coming from the attic. It was a big, loud, thud. "Like a falling body," my mother always said. This time the adults heard it, too. And it didn't happen just once. It started happening every night.

Soon, other noises followed. The sound of alarm clocks in the mornings. A deep gonging at supper like the sound of a grandfather clock.

Then one morning, the landlady's husband hollered out at my grandfather as he passed.
"Hey, Jim! I was surprised to see that you got electricity up there."
"What do you mean?" my grandfather asked, knowing there was no electric.
"I mean I looked out last night and saw that little room on the end of the house glowing. I've never seen such a bright light."

After that, my grandfather started asking questions. He soon learned that years before, an old clock peddler had gone door to door up the hollow, but he was never seen coming back out. Rumor had it that he had been murdered and robbed at the last house. The neighbors claimed that nobody had lived in that house for years. At least not for very long.

My grandparents decided that my grandfather would finish out the week, then they would go back home. That night, my grandfather stepped out on the porch to relieve himself before bed. There was a snow on...the crunchy kind that was covered with a layer of crackly ice. Suddenly my grandfather began screaming.
"Lucy, Lucy, bring the lantern, quick!"
My grandmother ran out. "What is it?"
My Grandfather grabbed the lantern and waved it around, searching the snow. His face was white.
"Somebody walked right up in my face," he said. "I could see his outline getting closer and closer but he wouldn't say anything."
Out in the yard, they couldn't believe their eyes. The man had left no footprints. Immediately they went inside and started packing. They left the next morning. No job was worth that.

The landlady, they heard later, was unable to get anyone else to live in the house. Eventually, it was torn down and no other house was built on that spot.

Submitted by Teresa

Honorable Mention


It was earlier this month, in October, that I saw something quite strange and find myself even today wondering what, or even who, it was that I actually saw. Here let me explain:

I’m a self-employed contractor, working mainly in what’s oftentimes in the hot sun in the laborious field of construction. That said I consider myself lucky to have landed this otherwise relatively easy job, with good pay, doing some inside renovation work for a local old folk’s home here in the shadowed, peaceful suburbs of nearby San Antonio, Texas.

I had gone to work eager this one morning with a couple of assigned projects awaiting my attention, one of which was some general dry-wall repair in a bathroom in one of the many numbered rooms located along a narrow and dusty corridor in what is best described as a lonely and isolated section of the building. I say lonely and isolated because other than the lady that hired me, I saw no one while walking to this quiet and dimly-lighted work site.

Additionally, another commitment that waited was to remove and replace a section of old and musty and badly stained carpet in yet another room located also along that same hallway.
The kind of things I’m generally pretty good at doing, nothing complicated, and an excellent means of some easy cash as I‘ve said.

Searching the numbered room signs above each door while walking down the hallway, I soon found myself facing the door to where I was to enter and perform the assigned dry-wall repairs. As I always do upon entering a new work area, I knocked briefly on the door before stepping inside.

The wooden door swung easily inwards and while standing there expecting time to allow my eyes to adjust to any changes in light, and while still holding to the door knob, I noticed it being little different from the dimly-lighted hallway. I observed the room was as I expected to find it, nondescript with little furnishings. Standing there longer I took note of how quiet it truly seemed to be here in this section of building.

Turning my head in the other direction it was unavoidable that my eyes could see the old, white-haired woman lying peacefully asleep on a bed there at the far end of the room, her arms held stiff across her chest. Out of reflex, I suppose it was, I apologized, nearly whispering the same, and without expecting answer backed quickly and quietly out the door to the hallway again where I quietly and carefully closed the door behind me. I decided it best not to disturb the sleeping occupant and in so doing went in search of the other room and carpet project. Finding that room to be located a few doors further down the hallway, I entered having every intention of returning later in the day to tackle the dry-wall.

A good hour into the carpet removal and replacement, the lady that hired me approached and asked how things were progressing? She was surprised seeing that I had moved on so quickly to the carpet and asked if all had gone well on the dry-wall project? I told her that I was going to take care of that next, when I was sure that the old lady there on the bed was awake. I didn’t want to be a disturbance to her.
The lady standing there went silent. Becoming aware of this, I looked up into a questioning face, one that asked for clarification, saying there’s no one living in this part of the building; they were all moved out to other rooms in other hallways months ago in preparation for major construction renovations. This had been deemed necessary for their comfort and safety.

Makes good sense them doing that, I thought to myself, moving the old folks I mean, but who then was that old, white-haired woman I clearly saw there on the bed? She looked asleep -- But as we discussed this matter further, it got me to seriously thinking:
Could it have been something entirely other than that? A woman asleep, I mean. I learned not only was this building an old folk’s home, one badly in need of repairs, years earlier its former purpose had been that of a mortuary for the county.

Hearing that, the short hairs stood up on the back of my neck.
I did return to the dry-wall project later that day but only after peaking first around the open door, a door I left open thank you very much. No old, white-haired lady lying there on the bed at that time, asleep or otherwise. I did what I had to do to earn my cash and then I got the hell out of that room as fast as I could.

I find myself still wondering what it was I saw that October morning, yet I know damn well there was a person lying there on that bed. All things being considered, I do believe in ghosts; now so more than ever.

Submitted by Jerry Bridges

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