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Halloween with the Agents of Boo-oux

Fear Demon (Actual Size)
Happy Halloween!

This year, the Agents of Doux decided to do something new, and share some of our own personal ghost stories.

Mikey Heinrich starts us out:

More of a friendly ghost story, but 100% true.

About 2004 or thereabouts, Roy and I are asleep in bed at around two in the morning when we're woken up by the sound of piano music.

So we stumble out to the living room sort of half asleep and find piano music blaring quite loudly out of the stereo speakers. Which is odd, as the speakers weren't plugged into the stereo and the stereo wasn't plugged into the outlet. (I'd been rearranging furniture that evening and hadn't gotten stuff hooked back up yet.)

So we stand there listening to it for three or four minutes in a 'Huh, this is a thing that's happening' sort of way, and then the music stops, so we go back to bed.

Fast forward a few years and I get a call from a friend of mine who coordinates bus tours of haunted sites around the cities during the month of October and she's wondering if I'd like to be a tour guide for them, which I did because I'm physiologically incapable of turning down work.

Now, the first year I do the ghost tour, one of the stops is Hamline University, which was founded in 1854, and is four years older than the state of Minnesota. It's also where I went to grad school. That's not strictly relevant here, but it was expensive, so I try to mention it as often as I can.

The Old Main building on Hamline's campus is notorious for phantom piano music haunting people in various locations in the building.

And then it clicked for me.

My Great Aunt Ada graduated from Hamline in 1927 with a degree in Latin. She left me a few things, chiefly her piano. But she also left me a framed picture of her and her graduating class from Hamline, 1927. Standing in front of the Old Main building. Which I had hung up in our hallway the day we heard the phantom piano music.

An Honest Fangirl goes next, with a (shudder) dental tale:

So this isn’t a story that happened to ME personally, but it happened to my parents. First, to set the scene. My parents had recently gotten married and moved into their first house together. The previous owner had been a dentist, and his office was actually a part of the house. You had to go down this metal, spiral staircase to reach the office space, and a lot of the things like chairs and jars and the recliner that you actually lay on during your appointment were still there, just collecting dust. I hated going into that area as a kid. It always creeped me out. Even the light was different. Like it was bluer somehow than the rest of the house.

My parents move into the house and start getting settled in. It was their first night there when in the middle of the night, they heard a massive crash from downstairs. Thinking that it was a burglar, my dad grabbed a baseball bat and went downstairs to see what happened. None of the doors or windows were disturbed. No one had gotten in. But on the floor, was the chest of tools that had been left on the table. It looked like it had fallen, except my dad had left it in the dead center of the table, far from the edge. And the chest weighed close to 20 pounds, so it wasn’t like a breeze could have easily pushed it.

Apparently, the dentist had died in the house a few years ago from old age. I guess he never really left. He wasn’t a malicious ghost or anything like that. The most that would usually happen is that you see shadow figures out of the corner of your eye or feel like you were being watched. But we think that he pushed over the tool chest to let my parents know that he was still around and that this was still his house.

And finally, a very Shirley-Jackson-like childhood anecdote from Josie Kafka:

The summer between my sixth and seventh grade years at school, my parents decided to buy a new house. We looked at a few houses as a family, and I’m sure my father scouted even more on his own time (my mother was too busy looking after us kids to go out on her own), but one day Dad asked me if I wanted to go for a drive.

I’m still not sure why did he that. Although I was only twelve, our relationship was already quite strained. I can’t think of any other time we did something, just the two of us, for years before or after that. But he wanted to go for a drive, so we went for a drive.

Down the major thoroughfare. Into a residential area. Up on narrow street, then another, until we were approaching one of the low-lying mountains common to that part of the Southwest. Finally, up a narrow lane that looked like an unmarked street but was really a driveway. He didn’t want to go for a drive. He wanted to look at a house.

The house was nestled against the side of the mountain. The best way to describe it to say the house had no back, at least no back that was accessible, since it was built into the side of the mountain. From the front, it was a mixture of impressive and bizarre: a strong roofline, no grass in the yard, and 23 steps to the front door.

It was not an open house day, but my father knocked on the door and the current residents let us in. A married couple in the middle of a divorce, they were eager to sell.

Imagine an obtuse angle, with the front door and foyer at the point where the two lines meet. To the left, a long hallway with no windows (built into the side of the mountain, remember). One bedroom, another bedroom, and at the end of the hallway, a master suite. To the right, the common areas: dining room, kitchen, a small room used as an office, and then the family room at the end of that side of the house. As far away from the master bedroom as it could be.

Except the current inhabitants didn’t use it as a family room. It was the wife’s bedroom, fully kitted out with a queen bed and dresser and vanity. The impending divorce was that acrimonious. They had split the house in two.

My father loved the house, and when he asked me what I thought I was honest. “I don’t like it,” I said. “It’s weird. And it was really hot.”

“I like it,” he said. We moved in within the month.

Some things went wrong immediately. The house was hot on that summer day in the Southwest because the air conditioner didn’t work. There were terrible problems with the septic tank, which was impractically located directly under the swimming pool. Roaches were common. And the galley kitchen drove my mother crazy, since her only wish for the new family home was to have a spacious kitchen with an island.

But my father loved the house. My mother’s extended family, a garrulous bunch spread out across the country, had an elaborate Thanksgiving planned out of state. The host family requested that everyone bring home movies to share the highlights of their year. My father interpreted “home movie” as “a movie of your home,” and he went through the house, filming each room with his camcorder, describing what we could see on screen. At the family reunion, he was embarrassed by his mistake, but we knew better than to tease him about it.

Other things went…not wrong, but weird. My brother’s sweet cocker spaniel Katia, and my intrepid linebacker of cat Lovely, refused to go into our bedrooms. My brother would flip out if sent to his room as a punishment. He’d climb the bookcase until it fell, burst into uncontrollable sobbing fits, and have what today I know we should call a panic attack. (After the first few times it happened, my mother just stopped sending him to his room completely.)

Sometimes, the pipes made strange moaning sounds that sounded like someone screaming. The air vent in my room sometimes—but not always, not even often—glowed with a pale green light. Sometimes, my father would refuse to speak to my mother for weeks. Sometimes, my mother’s punishments would leave bruises. Sometimes, my brother would glance quickly behind him, looking for a ghost. Sometimes, Katia the spaniel would try to escape the grassless patio. Sometimes, I could hear a scratching sound in the corner of my bedroom. It sounded like a rat eating something. Eating its way closer to me. Although I was too old for nightmares and foolishness, I’d run down the long hallway towards the family room, where my mother now slept, to ask her to check my bedroom for me.

I was not allowed to turn on the light in the windowless hallway, since its glow would leak into the master suite and wake up my father. It was the most horrifying hallway I’ve ever been in. Have you seen David Lynch’s Lost Highway? Do you remember the hallway Bill Pullman walks down as the movie breaks into its second act? When I saw that film I recognized that hallway. It was the hallway of my childhood home.

And I was running down the hallway, not towards the master suite, because my parents, like the divorcing couple who had sold us the house, now slept separately. No queen bed, vanity, and dresser for my mother, though. That she slept in the family room was a secret, which meant my little brother wasn’t allowed to know. She’d walk me back to my room and patiently check for rats. We never found any rats, and we never talked about the problem during daylight hours.

One morning, I woke up to drying puddle of blood on my pink and white striped bedsheet. The puddle was about the size of a dinner plate. I had not had a bloody nose in my sleep. I hadn’t gotten my period in my sleep. I had not, as a friend suggested that day at school, somehow cut myself on a stray shard of glass in my bed, bled all over the bed, and yet had the cut heal by the time I woke up. It was just a mysterious, still-damp bloodstain. I stripped the bed and threw the sheets in the washer. When my mother asked why, I lied and told her I had gotten my period.

After a few years in that house, we finally left my father. My mom loaded me, my brother, and the cocker spaniel into the station wagon and we moved into a tiny rented bungalow. My mother was ashamed of how small it was, ashamed that it was rented rather than owned, but I loved it completely.

And a few years after that, my father remarried. His new wife convinced him to sell the house. I was in college by that time, and my father and I were barely speaking. But he called me on the phone one day to ask a question:

“Josie, I heard from our realtor. The new family that bought our house had a question. Their teenage daughter sleeps in your old room. She keeps hearing things and is worried the house is haunted. It was bad enough that they contacted the realtor and asked him to contact me. Did you ever notice anything like that?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “There was some weird stuff, like the vent would glow, and the pipes would moan. But tell the girl she should be okay. Nothing really happened.”

This is Billie Doux again. I have to say, I'm really impressed with all three stories. How about you guys? What did you think? Do you have a spooky personal story to share with us?


  1. Lots of fun to read all of your stories. Personally the only scary story I can think of is when I was about eighteen years old, staying over at a friends house. I was inside playing a video game, and my best friend had gone outside the basement access door to have a cigarette. At the same time, she said she saw a series of bright lights shining in the basement, and I saw lights coming from outside. Suffice it to say neither of us slept that night very well.

  2. Great stories! And very weird! Alas, I sold my best true ghost story to "Chicken Soup for the Soul" many years ago, so I don't feel as if I can replicate it here. Mine had a happy ending, or else I could not have sold it where I did, but decades later, it still freaks me out a bit.

  3. Something wonderful happened to me just a couple of years ago. I was at a family dinner with my siblings and we talked a lot about our father. My father died when I was just three years old so I only have fragments of memories of him. But my older siblings have always provided backstories so it feels like I know him anyway.

    We talked about how he liked fishing, was terrible with cars, was a numbers man - he loved statistics (something I have inherited!) and he wasn't much of a music man, but he loved one song - Leroy van Dyke's 'Walk on by' from 1961. Apparently it was the only single he ever bought.

    This might sound crazy, but I have all my life always felt like my father has been with me somehow. And that night with my siblings, all the talk about him made me feel very close to him.

    When I later got home, I put on the radio very low, was preparing myself for the night. I lighted a candle in his honour and sat down quietly for a while, thinking about my father. Then something very strange happened. Very low in the background, the radio started playing Leroy van Dyke's 'Walk on by'!


    Yes, I think my father is still with me:-)

  4. When I moved into my condo I could hear voices in the middle of the night coming from down the hall. I tried to ignore them and convince myself it was just in my imagination, but they persisted night after night.

    One night I got annoyed and decided I was going to confront the voices. As I stood in my living room I could hear soft whispering all around me. I got down on my hands and knees and discovered that my subwoofer was picking-up a talk radio station :P

  5. Great stories, and great comments! Samantha, TJ, very cool. Dr. Johnny Fever, I just laughed like a loon reading yours.

    I do have a couple myself.

    There's a family story about my great-grandparents Charles and Lulu seeing a woman in Quaker clothes appearing during the night at the foot of their bed, telling them that her treasure was buried in the cellar. They eventually dug up the cellar and found... baby clothes and an iron bar. I know, anticlimactic.

    When I was sixteen and living with my aunt Boots and Uncle Dave in Las Vegas, I adopted a kitten and had to make some money to send her east when I went back home to New Jersey if I wanted to keep her. So I got a job cleaning motel rooms. (Yeah, I know. In Las Vegas. Ugh. It was an education.) One day while working, I finished cleaning the bathroom, closed the door, started cleaning the main room, and the doorknob of the bathroom door started turning. Without even thinking about it, I walked over and opened the door, and there was no one in the bathroom. The window was tiny and up high, and there was no way anyone could have come in and gone out again. I closed the bathroom door and stared at it, and a minute later, the doorknob started turning again. I left, quit the job, and never went back.

    But I did earn enough money to send my kitten to New Jersey.

  6. Josie, that's effing terrifying. How did you grow up so well-adjusted?!

    My only ghost story is that my late cat, Missy, haunted me for a bit after she died. I'd had her since I was 9 and I think she just wanted to be sure I was okay. At night, when my parents were asleep in their bed and my dog was snoring next to me, I'd hear the floorboards just outside my door creak and light and muffled footsteps. Precisely the noise the enormous cat made when she was alive. I'd look up and nothing would be there. My mom heard the noises too. We'd never heard them before and we haven't heard them in years. She's moved on, at peace. But she wanted to check in just before she went.

  7. WAIT I LIED I HAVE ONE MORE. (Also animal related and sad, be warned...)

    One day as I was doing a puzzle in the living room while my mom read on the couch next to me, my dog Beau curled up under her legs, I had a TERRIBLE feeling. DREADFUL. I have terrible anxiety in general but never in my life had I felt like THAT. Something was wrong, something was terribly, terribly wrong. Something bad was going to happen. My mom was freaked out and no doubt thought I was going insane. I refused to leave the house for a few days and jumped at the slightest noise. Something AWFUL was going to happen. My dog had a routine vet appointment in the days following and I did pluck up my courage to go to that. He was my baby and there was no way I was going to shirk my responsibility to him. I mentioned to the vet I'd noticed some discoloration on his nose, like a tiny, tiny spot. I assumed it was old age catching up with the little guy (he was 10). She decided to run a test. In a couple days, the test came back; it was cancer. He died six months later.


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