We’re going to have a little fun this week in the comments, discussing with fellow Substackers our own real world speculative experiences. Have you seen a UFO, or been visited by aliens? Are you dealing with grandma’s ghost in the attic or a mysterious energy force? Have you seen a cryptid, like Bigfoot, Mothman or The Jersey Devil? Have you ever been tricked by a Brownie, or been the recipient of a curse? We’re looking for the best spectacularly true (or rumored to be true) firsthand speculative experiences.
Remember when sharing and commenting to be respectful. The Lunar Awards is a place to celebrate the strange and otherworldly and have some fun in the process.
I lead a boring life. I have only three spectacularly spooky experiences in my life that come to mind. Come to think of it, 3 is more than nothing. Hmm.
When I was a little girl, I had a Fisher-Price toy piano. The kind that was designed just to be slapped with toddler hands, but only sounded like discordant noise. One day, my mother had a friend over for coffee and I was apparently playing with my toys. They were trying to have a conversation and this toy piano kept banging away, becoming louder and more irritating. My mother yelled upstairs for me to stop the racket, and then looked down and sighed.
I was right beside her and no one else was home.
Her friend never came back to the house.
When I was a teenager, we had to live for a while in a motel. I actually enjoyed it. At one end of the building was an English fish & chips shop where I fell in love with scones & jam. It was in a safe part of town, and I liked the people around us. One day, Mom sent me into the room to get a book she wanted to show someone. There was no one in the room, but as I left, I saw my grandmother sitting on the bed watching me. She caught my attention because my grandmother was bedridden a hundred miles away. But there she was. On my bed.
For some reason I don't understand, I kept walking. Right through the glass door, slicing my face to ribbons. We found out later that was almost the exact time my grandmother died.
More recently, like a few months ago, I was laying in bed reading when out of the corner of my eye, I saw who I thought was my eldest son walk out of his room across the hall from mine, go down the hall and up the stairs. (We live in a basement apartment with the bathroom upstairs.) I clearly heard his footsteps and I remember wondering how his feet withstood the strain of him slamming his feet down the way he did. I can even tell you what color t-shirt he was wearing.
Half an hour later, I wanted to visit the bathroom before I went to sleep, but he still wasn't back. I went into his room to ask his younger brother if his sibling was sick, and looked directly at my Eldest.
I asked him when he got back from the bathroom, and he looked at me like I'd been drinking. He assured me he hadn't left his room in a couple of hours. His brother nodded in agreement.
So who had I seen leave their room?
I used to work until very late and come home on the midnight train, the last one of the night. I lived way out in the suburbs and often by the time I got to my station there wasn't anyone else on the carriage.
So this one time I get to my station and get off the train, I lived on the other side of the tracks so I had to climb a rickety staircase to get to an overpass. This one night I get to the staircase and see a man already climbing the stairs ahead of me.
I didn't see him on the train or getting off it, so he might have been just in the neighbourhood and needed to cross the tracks, but it was past midnight and this guy was in office attire. Kind of like a very stereotypical type of office attire. Dress shirt, tie, dark trousers, and a briefcase.
But he was climbing the stairs in a very unusual way. Like, if you can imagine someone who has never seen a flight of stairs before in their lives, and you asked them to walk up. It was a slow, careful ascent, one step at a time. Left foot, right foot, together, left foot, right foot, together. Like someone who is trying to appear normal and thinks they're getting away with it. Never mind me, I'm just walking up these here stairs, yes I am, tralala.
So I have to overtake this guy on the stairs because there's no way I'm awkwardly waiting for him to figure out this stairs concept. I start to climb with the intent of passing him on the right.
But when I get close to him and he becomes aware of me, he stops. He turns around, like completely around, 180 degrees, faces me. Normal looking guy, normal clean shaven nine to five office guy here on the stairs in the middle of nowhere outside at a midnight train station.
He smiles at me. But I swear... Imagine how cartoon characters smile. Or just a smiley emoji. You know, our mouths don't actually do that. When cartoons smile their mouths make this U shape. In reality our mouths just kind of get wider horizontally and our cheekbones swell. They don't form a capital U on the front of our face.
But his mouth did.
I suppose if you wanted to look human but your only reference was diagrams and cartoons then this is probably what you would wind up doing. He certainly didn't give off any malice, so I nodded with a smile of my own and passed him without incident. I do hope he had safe travels.
I once kissed a girl in high school and afterward, whenever I would mention her name, she would be walking beside me. She wore ragged black fishnet sleeves and spiky accessories and pink hair, so more punk than goth, but she also liked to tell me how Christmas trees were pagan in origin, so I made the only reasonable conclusion that I KISSED A WITCH AND NOW WAS CURSED! Luckily, if I spoke in code, said “she whose name we don’t say,” then she wouldn’t appear. Of course, I once I told my best friend, he thought my fear hilarious and asked her for a bunch of wallet sized school photos and he hid them in my books, so for years later, I would return to a story and her photo would flutter out to the floor! Honestly, I am still nervous pulling books from my high school days off the shelf.
I lived for several years in a haunted house. At the time, my family and I lived in the mountaintop town of Safed, Israel. There are many spooky stories connected with Safed, but here's mine, although it needs a little background.
On January 1, 1837, an earthquake destroyed Safed. 4000 Jews perished in the quake and the chaos that followed. Hundreds were buried deep in the rubble and never had proper burials. (Nearby Arab villages were damaged, but there was no comparable destruction.) It is said that ghosts of these people haunt Safed till this day. I borrowed this to use in my serialized story, Secular Exorcism.
We lived in Safed's Old City, in a house that had been partly built over the earthquake ruins. My family were: my late husband, Yosef, two teenaged daughters, Raizel and Zissa, and a toddler, Racheli. I loved the house. It had the full, folkloric Old City feel.
Soon after we moved in, we began to notice a distinctly creepy feeling in certain parts of the house, at night. Even during the day. Especially in rooms that were built over ruins. Distinctly - as if you were in a room with another person, which you do feel, even if they're silent, or asleep. It was unpleasant. My teenagers came to me and complained that there were presences in their room that didn't let them sleep. They didn't hear noises, or voices. But the feeling of someone watching them was very strong.
One night I in bed I felt something climbing up my arm. It stopped at my ear and chittered like a squirrel. I tried to shake it off, but it wouldn't go away. Neither could I wake up entirely; I was trapped in unnaturally heavy sleep.
What made me take steps was when I started putting my toddler down for a nap on my bed. She pointed to my bed with horror, and said, "Don't you see them?"
"In the middle of your bed. There's a fox, and an owl, and creature that has two fingers and an eye in the middle of his forehead."
Now, we hadn't exposed our little one to horror movies or anything to suggest such things to her mind. I wasn't the first time she'd "seen" an fox and an owl, either. So, although I'd never believed in ghosts, hauntings, or spectres of any kind before, I understood that the house was haunted. It seems that poltergeists and things of that ilk are attracted to homes where people are in stress. With two teenagers going through classic rebellion and, let it be said, teenage hormonal tides and crashes, it seems that my kids woke up the sleepers under the floors. Think what you will.
I spoke to a rabbi, who found nothing of this impossible or ridiculous. He suggested that we hold a housewarming ceremony, in Hebrew a "Chanukat HaBayit." A quorum of ten men say Psalms and specific texts together to bless the house and those who live in it. So I arranged the event in the dining room. It would only take 20 minutes or so. I put some cake and soft drinks on the table, as a thank you to the men who came.
I opened all the doors and windows and sat with a friend in the passage between the dining room and the front door to hear the readings. A few minutes into the readings, she and I felt a whoosh or energy racing from the dining room, past us sitting there, and out the front door.
Did the housewarming ceremony dispel the ghosts? Pretty much. Not everything changed. Certain rooms still felt creepy. But nothing felt threatening again.
I've had other experiences with the - I don't know - paranormal, supernatural, what have you. But this has been long enough. Hope you enjoyed it.
I have had lots of synchronistic experiences, where two events combine meaningfully in my head in a super-creepy fashion, like happening to look at my watch or a clock at precisely 11:11 multiple days in a row.
Most often they're musical, as in "the soundtrack of life" lining up with external events in a way that seems entirely too appropriate. The in-store soundtrack at a bookstore while I'm reading, for instance. My favorite book on this phenomenon was written by (get this) Kirby Surprise. He basically says that since the universe has infinite levels of meaning, the more attention you pay to these kinds of incidents, the more often they seem to happen.
Yes, I've seen many UFOs. The first one I saw was when I was about 9 or 10. A green luminous object about 30 feet in diameter, which had landed about a hundred yards off the highway my parents were driving on at about 2AM. When I lived and worked in China as a university teacher, I saw cylindrical or 'tic-tac' UFOs. I also saw huge orange spherical objects that would drop down out of the ionosphere and would travel under high cirrus clouds - their light would reflect off the cloud. On warm evenings, and when my students had time, they and I would spend an hour or more on the campus sports oval and watch the spectacle. But the best encounter I ever had was when I was coming back from lunch and had to walk part way round the sports oval to get to the teachers' quarters on the other side. It was about 1:30PM, and as I began walking round the oval, I saw a dark smudge out the corner of my eye and turned to see it. There was a dark, silent UFO, shaped like a hockey puck but with a raised centre and bottom, its edge about 3 feet thick, about 30 feet in diameter, heading straight toward me. I froze. The UFO stopped for a few seconds then slowly moved away to land on top of the teachers' quarters (a six-floor building with no access to the roof). It stayed there for about ten minutes. I wished I'd been able to get onto the roof and inspect it. Apparently, one of my colleagues who lived on the top floor, saw it and almost had a heart attack - he wasn't well or happy for some time afterwards. One other person saw the object: an elderly lady who walked past me and panicked at the sight of it near the oval and ran away. I still see the spherical objects occasionally, whenever I can be bothered searching the night sky for signs of them.
I don't have UFO stories, damn it all. I never get to be a cool kid.
But I do have several demonic stories.
The first occurred in 1989 when I moved into an apartment with my buddy. We were waiting for his lease to expire so that we could rent a bigger apartment. I was sleeping on the couch one night when I woke slightly after midnight to low guttural noises. I looked up to see a circle of flames on the wall above me and heard the voice of something dark. I closed my eyes and prayed, "In the name of Christ, be gone." The thing laughed at me, and I repeated the prayer, "In the name of Christ, the son, get thee gone." More laughter and I had to bring out the big guns (so to speak.) "In the name of The Father, Jehovah, the great I AM, and the name of Jesus Christ, the son, and the spirit, get thee back to whence thou camest." The laughter stopped, and the flames went out.
Second story: I was driving down the dirt road leading from the local cemetery one night, and before I knew it, a dark shadow ran out from the cemetery and leaped across the road. I watched in shock as it went through my car, the engine, and the other side. I slammed on the brakes and looked around for footprints. I never saw any at all.
I was sure we had a ghost in our old apartment building. She hung out in the back half of our apartment - I've never been one to think anything like this before but in that apartment, I just felt it. Anyway, my SO used to tease me, thinking I was being silly. THEN one day parked out front of our building, like the kind of parking that you only do if you are visiting the building, so they were inside - was a "paranormal investigators" truck. I took that as vindication. She must have been visiting other apartments too.
My grand-father was still alive, so this must have been in 73 or 74. I hadn’t started school yet. We were visiting my grand-parents. Their house seemed impossibly large to me. When we stayed there overnight, I would always sleep on the couch in the living room.
The front door of the house opened on a hallway that went past the living room, then into the kitchen, and toward the back door.
That morning I woke up early, before anyone else, as I always did back then, and still do now, most days. If I had been at home, I would have turned on the television with no sound, and waited for the others to wake up and start breakfast.
But my grand-mother’s living room wasn’t the sort of place where you’d find a television set. So I waited, lying on the couch, under my covers, looking at the plaster ceiling and the details of the mouldings in the corners. I remember that it was light already, so it must have been summer.
I heard the front door open. I thought maybe my father had gone out to get something from the car. There was a sound of scraping against the linoleum out in the hallway. Then I heard a sound like compressed air being released from a valve.
I sat up and looked over the back of the couch. There was a metal post standing in the hallway. Maybe three feet tall, shaped like a small I-beam. It had a thin metallic cross-arm, about two feet long, two thirds of the way up its length. At the end of the cross-arm, there was a small metal disk, with a red circle in the middle.
The cross-arm rotated so that it pointed to the kitchen and the back door. I heard the compressed air sound as the cross-arm moved. Then the post moved forward, around the metal disk, as if it was anchored in thin air, as if it was pulling itself ahead. When the post moved, it made the scraping sound on the floor.
The object kept going like that, with a short pause, between each step, maybe four or five seconds. It went into the kitchen. I leaned over the side of the couch to keep it in view. The back door opened, and the thing went out into the yard.
Then the sound stopped, and I couldn’t see it anymore. I waited and I watched, but nothing else happened until my father came into the kitchen to make coffee for everyone, like he always did.
I didn’t say anything to anyone at the time. I didn’t ask any questions. I was that kind of a kid. Quiet. Fifty years later, it’s as clear and vivid to me as if it happened yesterday.
I can still hear that compressed air sound, and I still marvel at that impossible motion. Whatever it was, it was real.
When I was a teenager, I'd always get the feeling that I wasn't alone in my room. When I go to bed I'd feel the sheets and blankets being pulled. I'd be too scared to open my eyes, but I would hold on to the sheets. I would strain against an unseen force. It was a battle every other night.
Not long after I turned eighteen, I came home drunk late one night and fell asleep. It was not long until I felt the sheets slowly being pulled from me. I just sat up and said "would you just fuck off!" and fell back asleep.
Never happened again.
This reminds me of a strange happening to me in middle school. I was in geography class, staring blankly at whatever my teacher was droning on about - peninsulas vs not peninsulas - when I started trying to remember the previous week of school. But when I looked back in my mind, there was a complete black wall. Nothing. Curious, I went back and looked at my school planner. There were entries for homework here and there, in sparse detail as I typically did, but I had no memory of completing these assignments. From there, I spiraled. I realized I had no memory of hanging out with friends after school, what I ate for dinner, or any human interactions of any sort.
This jogged loose a very vague memory. A dream, it seemed like. Of floating off my bed. Of bright lights and pain. And waking up the Monday of that week.
I had been abducted, and no one in my life believed me.
We were going home from Dallas. It was about 11 pm. We turned south at Tyler, Texas and as we did we saw cars pulled over to the side of the road with people outside their cars looking up in the sky. We pulled over to take a look as well. High up two objects moved in tandem, one a short distance behind the other in a westward direction. I initially took them to be weather balloons. But they they were moving at a speed beyond what I thought a balloon could do. Then I thought they were satellites. Shortly thereafter, the one behind rapidly covered the distance to the one ahead and seemed to join, or hit it. The one ahead disappeared and the remaining one angled straight up and out of sight at a blistering speed. We all looked around like "What was that?!" (not the exact words). That's my one encounter with whatever it was. : )
Long ago, my then-girlfriend and I were alone in an upper room of a house on a hill. There was only one high narrow window overlooking the woods. The door was shut. We were alone, alone, alone. We spontaneously stopped our conversation because we both felt watched. We said "do you feel that?" to one another. There was no way anyone could see us, but we both--acutely--felt a new presence in the room observing us. We both silently left the room together and never felt it again.
Oooh, yes. I like.
I don't have any, sadly. I would love to see something approximating a UFO (or should that be UAP, now?) I remain deeply sceptical on all things. Show me some hard evidence. 😅
I have a spooky story from my father, but it's a long one. I may come back to post it, but for now I shall happily sit back and check back on this post to read the experiences of others.