I served in Iraq a few back and I was on a night patrol. It was at that point just before dawn. In the desert, that’s the darkest, coldest time of the night. I was exhausted and really ready to call it a night.
We were stopped at the edge of this village taking a break. There were no lights other than our headlights. I walked about a hundred yards out into the desert and the darkness just swallowed me. I was going to switch on my flashlight when I saw a light a distance out from me.
I just watched it and time kind of stopped. It didn’t get closer or farther. It sort of bobbed there like a glowing balloon. I snapped out of the trance when someone shouted at me. We drove over to where I thought I saw the light, but there was nothing out there. No people, no vehicles, no nothing. It left me with creeps for days. Other people have told me similar stories about lights in the desert with no source too or I would think I was nuts!
In 1997, our organization was helping a community-based health NGO to conduct a research on the situation of women in their province. We went to different villages to conduct interviews and focus group discussions for the research. One of the villages we needed to go to was in a municipality north of the provincial capital. It took us about eight hours on a passenger jeepney on rough roads and across rivers to reach the place. We were dead tired by the time we got to the house of our hosts.
I was then with an assistant and a two staff from the health NGO we working with. Hosting us in the village was the family of one of the NGO’s staff. They had a two story house with several rooms on the second floor that are only used when their children and grandchildren are home on vacations. The elderly couple who owns the house have been using the downstairs bedroom since they started having difficulty climbing stairs.
We had an early dinner, thanked our hosts and went to our respective bedrooms – three women in one room and the male staff in another. There was only one bed, which my assistant and I shared while the local staff slept on a mat on the floor.
Tired from the trip, I think fell asleep around 7 pm. Then, sometime during the night I woke up and saw a small child jump from the window to edge of the bed near my feet. Startled, I tried to get up to take a look but I couldn’t move. I tried to speak and scream but no voice was coming out of my mouth. I was confused. I was wondering if I’m dreaming but my mind was fully awake. I kept trying and trying to move my arm and after some time I was able to and I sat up to look around. There was nobody in the room except for the three of us. It was deathly quiet. I looked at my watch and saw that it was a little past midnight. I was having a bad dream, I said to myself and tried to get back to sleep.
As soon as I fell asleep, the dream continued. I saw the child again but I can’t really remember what the dream was about, only that it was a continuation of the previous one. And again, I tried to wake up and move and speak and I couldn’t. Again, I tried and tried to be able to move until I was able to move. My heart was pounding. The room was dark and quiet and I was scared to go back to sleep and find myself in that struggle again, but in no time, I was back asleep and the dream again continued. I couldn’t move again. My mind was fully awake but I was frozen.
It was then that I thought that there might be spirits in the house who are welcoming me or something like that. I told myself that I should do something or I might die in my sleep. Then, I remembered reading somewhere about the Lord’s Prayer being a very powerful banishing spell for evil spirits. I started reciting it in English. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
When I got to the last line of the prayer, my mind went completely blank. I couldn’t remember it. I decided to start over from the top but still I couldn’t remember the last line. I decided then to say it in Filipino. Surely, I thought, I will be able to remember it but again, I couldn’t remember the last line. I decided to recite the prayer in Latin. I learned it when I took up Latin in college. Still, I couldn’t remember the last line.
My mind was racing. Oh my god, they are preventing me from completing the prayer, I said to myself. I was so scared. I started saying the prayer again and trying to move my arms. I knew I just had to keep on trying and that I didn’t want to die in my sleep. So, over and over, I recited the prayer in whatever language I knew until finally I was able to say it.
“… And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”
I recited it three times and as soon as I said Amen for the third time, I was able to open my eyes and move my arms. I looked around and everything was as it was earlier. I didn’t want to go back to sleep. It was about 3 am. Still a couple of hours till we needed to get up but I was thinking that I should just stay awake but after a while, I felt sleepy again and as I was drifting off to sleep I heard my colleague who was next to me in bed moaning.
I shook her shoulder slightly to wake her up. I told her she was moaning and asked her if she was okay. She thanked me for waking her up because she said she was having a bad dream and couldn’t move or speak. I told her to recite the Lord’s Prayer three times and if she doesn’t remember some lines, she should just keep on trying until she is able to complete it.
I got up at around 6 am and sat in bed thinking about what happened. My colleague woke up and we started talking about it. She had the same dream about the child and we concluded that the spirit transferred to her after I drove it away.
We didn’t tell anyone else about the incident until we got back to the capital three days later. We told the daughter of the couple who owned the house about what happened. She said that beside their house is a piece of land planted with bananas. It has always been like that since they were children, and ever since, the people in the village have believed that malevolent spirits live there. In fact, she said when she was a kid and they were playing near that area, she just suddenly collapsed according to her playmates but she said couldn’t remember that it ever happened at all. The room where we stayed had a window facing that area and it did look eerie even during the day.
Hatch Girl of Hohne Submitted by T.M. McLean
Author and friend T. M. McLean sends us this story from Germany. A place possesses a spirit, and the spirit remembers. This spirit of place can dream as we do, and sometimes what we see as a ghost is really a re-occurring nightmare, time worn thin. The events echo, playing out again for us to witness. Like a person, a place can be traumatized. Tim sends us a story about such a place. You’ll just need to read to the end to find out where. Thank you Tim.
We’ve had some great true tales so far this season, and I’ve got many more waiting for me to post. Keep reading. I will be posting a story each day through Halloween.
The place where I work is apparently haunted. At times it even gives me the creeps, although I’m not as jumpy about it as some of the younger members of staff. It’s easy to see why people find the place scary, and there are many good reasons why it might be haunted. The place where I work is a swimming pool on an army base.
The manager’s office at the entrance to the pool complex has a hatch in its ceiling. It’s difficult to reach, but one day, when the manager wasn’t working, someone allegedly climbed up there. I say allegedly only because no one ever admitted doing it, but the cover was moved, leaving the hatch open a little. Ever since that day things have been strange, and sometimes incredibly frightening.
It started off mild at first. Sometimes things would turn up in places they hadn’t been left: a pen that was meant to be in a drawer was discovered on the windowsill, someone’s coffee mug was upside down on the floor in the staff room for no reason, that kind of thing. Just when people started to blame each other for the weirdness, something even weirder happened.
Two of my colleagues were in the staff room talking. About two meters away from them, near the room’s entrance, the kettle switched itself on. Just like that. Completely unexpected and completely impossible. No one was in the complex except the two members of staff in the room, and yet the water was boiling. Needless to say, they were completely freaked out and they babbled about it to anyone who would listen. I’m skeptical even now, but they assure me that it happened.
A giggling girl has also been heard, always when the place is quiet and there is no one around. It isn’t a disturbing sound, not in the slightest. I’ve been told that the laughter sounds completely genuine and joyous. The fear only comes into it when the person who heard it checks to see if anyone’s there, only to find that the main doors are closed and no one has been there for hours. I can only imagine how creepy that must be. This giggling girl, nicknamed Hatch Girl, is now blamed for the movement of stuff as well.
Strange bits of hair have been found around the women’s showers as well. You might think this is nothing strange, given that people are prone to losing some hair while they shower, but this hair is always in the exact same place and is completely raven-black. If it is the same person losing that hair every day then they would be bald by now . . . unless of course Hatch Girl has an endless, ectoplasmic supply.
It’s probably nothing.
Three times a day certain checks need to be performed by the duty lifeguards. It is incredibly important that the chlorine, water temperature and pH levels are checked. This is the most frightening part for most of the staff. Shadowy forms have been seen in the pump room. They loom between the three rooms that make up the pump room, flitting between doorways or dashing up and down the stairs.And, to make it worse, this place is set away from the offices, hidden from the rest of the camp by a thick treeline on one side and the structure of the indoor pool on the other.And it’s loud with the constant drone of the pumping equipment. People really don’t want to go there.
Some nights require people to check well after sunset. The walk to the pump room is completely dark; there are no street lights or any kind of illumination. This is the bit that gives me the creeps. A dull red glow is just visible through the pump room’s window (this comes from a control panel located inside), but to get there you have to walk the length of the 50 meter outdoor pool. You can’t see it, not really, but you hear it. The water sloshes about in the darkness. It’s an eerie sound and it makes you turn up the brightness on your mobile phone, just so you can see something. The wise thing of course would be to take a flashlight, but I’ve never remembered to do that. In the pitch black a little bit of light can be worse than none. By illuminating a small section, you make the rest extra dark and shadows dance and float as you desperately try to hurry along, not so fast that you can’t keep your attention focused, but fast enough so you’re not dawdling. You know—you hope—that there’s nothing there. The sounds you hear are probably just geese flying overhead, the water in the pool, trees rustling in the breeze…
Now and then you glance up to look at the red glow that shines like a beacon of safety against the darkness, but then… then you remember the stories: the kettle, the girl, the strange clumps of dark hair that always turn up in the same spot in the showers… the shadow people in the pump room. It dawns on you: you’re rushing away from the hell outside to reach the place where the shadow people dash around, where Hatch Girl’s shadowy form giggles in the red glow, the place where most of the other staff members don’t want to go during the day. But you’re there at night. It’s at that moment that you spot something skip past the red light, momentarily blocking it, and you want to turn around and run to the car, turn on the engine and get the hell out of there. But you don’t. You do the checks, just like you’re paid to do.
Chances are that it’s all nonsense. After all, any number of natural phenomena or simple imagination could easily explain everything away, right?
What if I told you that the place where I work is called Hohne? Does that mean anything to you? How about if I tell you that it’s an army camp in a little place in northern Germany called Belsen? What if I also told you that the town I live in is called Bergen? Would that change your opinion at all?
Ever heard of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp? I work as a lifeguard in a swimming pool built by the Nazis to train for the Berlin Olympics… not even a mile away from the mass graves of the poor people that met their end at the hands of some of the most extreme cruelty the world has ever known. Do their spirits still wander the area?
The religious among you might hope not. After all, surely no God would force their eternal souls to forever be lost in the place of their torment. Maybe Hatch Girl is one of them…?