My family has a history of strange occurrences, sightings and the paranormal. The women are all what you'd call sensitive. After my grandpa died there were a host of small things that happened to everyone. A ring missing for years miraculously appeared inside a cup in the cabinet while my aunt was moving. A ring of mine reappeared after disappearing in a separate state, nearly three years previous. It was in the bottom of my closet under a slipper. Sometimes we smell cigarette smoke out of the blue, no one in the family smokes, but Grandpa did.
So believe me when I say, I don't freak out over these things easily. Something has to be pretty spooky to get to me.
Some friends and I went down to Athens, OH. Which, if you've not heard of this place, it's near an incredibly haunted abandoned mental hospital and Ohio University. We'd heard a rumor about some train tracks that had a phantom light, and wanted to see for ourselves.
Let me say now, we never made it to the tracks. There were four of us in the car, I was in shotgun lacking a driver's license and a college friend was driving. We were in the national park, and it was pretty clear we'd gotten lost. Dead trees lined the road, adding the creep factor. We could see animals' eyes flashing from the forest and for some reason, in spite of a clear as crystal sky, we could see no stars. Just the huge, full, moon. It was like it was watching us.
Then, strange noises started to interrupt the music on the radio. Noises turned to voices. Grumbling voices. It got incredibly tense in the car and one of the girls in the back seat started mumbling to herself. The driver was clearly spooked and stopped the car.
I swore for a moment I smelled cigarette smoke, and told her to turn the car around and get us out of there pronto. Whatever it was going on there, I had this feeling my grandpa wanted me out of there.
As soon as we cleared the trees, the stars were in the sky again, and my cellphone rang, it was my brother. He'd gotten worried because he hadn't heard from me after I left his place nearly an hour before. He'd tried to call, but couldn't get through before then.
As you can imagine, I haven't been back to Athens since then. I don't know what might have happened if we'd stayed stopped on the side of the road, or if we'd continued, but I do know that Grandpa was warning me.
I've been seeking out paranormal experiences most of my life, and until then, had never really been scared.
But it wouldn't be the last time something raised the hair on the back of my neck. That, however, is another story entirely.
Author of The Night Wars Series and The Grave Watchers