Note from Brynna: Ms. Hartsock has genrously offered a PDF copy of ‘Trials of a Lonely Specter’ to a commenter who shares their own ‘poltergeist’ experience. To be entered in the contest, please be sure to leave your email address (ex. brynna (at) brynnacurry (dot) com) with your comment. A winner will be selected on October 31st.
This Halloween I’ve become fascinated with poltergeists. In German, poltergeist literally means “noisy ghost.” Indeed, poltergeist experiences are often noisy — knockings, and objects moving about as if under their own power. Not surprisingly, the majority of reported poltergeist cases involve adolescent children (the age range is from 12 or 13 to early 20s).
The disturbances often appear as metaphors to the causes of stress. For example, anger towards a certain person may be released by the agent causing items belonging to the target person to break. The rare outbreak of small fires may be associated with a general release of anger, whereas water is more often associated with grief (as in tears not being physically shed). More unusual cases involving guilt have resulted in the agent actually giving him/herself a psychokinetic “self-beating” displayed by the spontaneous manifestation of bruises or other marks of physical punishment.
Other very rare poltergeist cases have involved sightings of apparition-like forms and may even look like a “monster.” As frightening as they may appear, these mental projections are harmless and are simply a reflection of the child’s inner psychological “monsters or demons.” As with the physical activity, they are often a metaphor for the mental and emotional stress the person is experiencing.
–One of the most spectacular poltergeist hauntings took place in Enfield, north London in August 1977. Peggy Hodgson and her four children had just moved into their new home. Strange things began to happen – beds shook, furniture moved by itself and loud knockings were heard.
The activity seemed to be centred around Janet Hodgson, then aged eleven. Her mother of course, thought that Janet was playing pranks. However, things began to get worse and it soon became evident that none of the children, or anybody else for that matter, could be responsible for the strange events that were beginning to unfold.
Toys and ornaments flew through the air, beds levitated, heavy furniture moved, objects became hot to touch. Many people, including police officers, witnessed this bizarre activity. A journalist was hit on the head with a frying pan, wielded by an invisible hand. Janet Hodgson was even flung across her bedroom by some unknown energy. Eventually this poltergeist gradually calmed down and left the poor Hodgson family in peace.
-The most recent case we have heard of is the South Shields poltergeist which looks set to become one of the most famous hauntings ever. This particular poltergeist is in a different league to a relatively harmless stone thrower.
Some truly terrifying events happened to a young family living in an ordinary house in the small town of South Shields. Apart from the usual loud knocks and flying objects, this poltergeist liked to arrange children’s toys in sinister displays of violence. A fluffy rabbit was poised holding a knife to the throat of a toy duck. A teddy bear was hanged by its neck from a shelf.
The young couple received obscene text messages from phones that were not in working order. Other messages were scrawled on a child’s doodle board. One said ‘just go now’; another message introduced their tormentor as ‘Sammy’. The couple were physically attacked, large red scratches appearing on their bodies.
Their three year old son would suddenly disappear, only to be found seconds later locked in a closet, tightly bound in a blanket. Again, this activity died down, without any explanation found.
Do I believe in poltergeists? Most definitely! The power of the mind is an incredible thing. But today, for this wonderfully scary month, I want to leave you with an excerpt from my more light-hearted and fun haunting ‘Trials of a Lonely Specter’. Here, we find a ghost who has trouble believing he’s not really dead.
Trials of a Lonely Specter
October 14, 2011
There’s been an accident. Quinn believes he’s dead, though Liam insists otherwise. But if that is the case, why does Quinn see the two of them as ghosts? And why does Liam play along? Exposed to Mediums and apparitions, Quinn has to make a decision: either accept his fate or risk everything to trust Liam one more time.
Quinn kept his attention on his shoes, afraid to see the truth in Liam’s eyes. “I’m not real, am I? I think I’m a dream of yours.”
Liam was still. Then he lowered his head, and his kiss burned the corner of Quinn’s mouth. “Not at all. Now come inside and let me show you.” He clasped Quinn’s hand, drawing him irresistibly up the steps and through the closed doors. Quinn yelped as his cells squeezed around the atoms making up the wooden barrier.
Liam flashed him a grin. “I forgot how dense you are.”
Quinn decided to let that one go, though his face warmed at Liam’s low laugh.
The foyer of the great house was caked with dust and the tattered lace of ancient cobwebs. Quinn peered at the chandelier far overhead and shivered as an unpleasant tingle ran up his spine. He was reminded of a haunted house in a theme park he’d once visited. He’d felt unsettled there, as well. He could almost see a body swinging…
He reigned in his imagination; it was dangerous in a house like this. The room darkened as Liam walked through an archway on the left, and he hurried to follow him. He would have liked to take some time to examine the furnishing and tapestries of the parlor, but Liam pressed on. Quinn finally caught him at the far end of the room.
“Where’re we going?”
“To find Betterford’s body reposing in the highest room of the tallest tower.”
Quinn gave him a wry look. “Wasn’t that for the ‘Sleeping Beauty’?”
“So I’ve heard,” Liam purred, looking like he was about to eat the canary.
Quinn didn’t like the eager way he swept through the kitchen to the servants’ staircase.
He tramped up the dark stairs in the apparition’s wake. Liam’s aura had shrunk to a mere flicker around his hand, casting eerie shadows on the close walls. Quinn was huffing by the time they reached the third flight, and Liam stopped to let him catch his breath.
He looked up at the fond tone. Liam stood several steps above, curiously watching him. “You’re a ghost, my beloved. You ought to be gliding up these stairs.”
Quinn’s mouth fell open. “I forgot,” he confessed. His eyes dropped, waiting for Liam’s mocking laughter. It never came. Instead, the man descended the stairs until he stood level with him. Quinn held his breath as the luminescent hand touched his cheek lightly.
“You give me hope,” Liam said surprisingly. “Here, let me help you.” He slipped his arm through Quinn’s.
They fairly flew up the steps after that. Quinn laughed with the exhilaration that raced through him. He’d never felt so free. He wanted to burst through the roof and fly straight into the night. Liam beamed, sharing his joy in the sensation of weightlessness and speed.
All too soon they burst into the hallway far above. Their laughter died abruptly at the grimness of the shadowy corridor. Quinn winced when Liam suddenly grabbed his hand. The spirit’s eyes glowed with anticipation.
He leaned close. “Trust me, Quinn.” His voice was shaking and the man cleared his throat. “Whatever you think of me after this, please remember that I want the best for you. For us.”
“I don’t understand.”
Liam shook his head, clearly disappointed by his answer. Tugging on his hand, he led him to a door in the middle of the corridor.
Quinn stared at the closed door, reluctant to open it. “Betterford’s in there?”
Liam made a noncommittal sound. They stood side-by-side looking at the door until a smile lifted the corner of Liam’s mobile mouth. “Are you going to open it, or are we staying out here all night?”