October 26, 2013

Creepy Elevator

I’ve had a hard time coming up with true haunted experience that I haven’t already written about, so I decided to switch the focus to “creepy” occurrences. This one was super recent.

I was in San Francisco recently for a mini-getaway. I stayed at a friend’s apartment in Nob Hill, one of those super cool historic buildings complete with an ancient chain door elevator and stairs that creak with every step you take. The elevator is super finicky, if the gate isn't closed perfectly, it doesn't work.

After walking from the Ferry Building to Fisherman’s Wharf, then the Embarcadero to her apt at the top of an insanely steep hill I was not about to haul up three flights of stairs to her apt, so I opted for the elevator.  The elevator took forever to reach me, making strange creaking noises on the way down to get me.  I hesitantly got in, glancing back at the worn stair case as I stepped forward deciding that I’d take my chances on this ancient metal contraption. I slammed the chain-link gate closed behind me and hit “4”. The elevator slowly but surely began to move, slamming to a stop a few minutes later indicating that we had reached the fourth floor. I stepped off, closed the gate and retreated to my friend’s apartment. It was my last day of vacation and almost time to leave, so I packed up my suitcase and bid my goodbyes to the wonderful city by the bay.

With my suitcase in hand I returned to the elevator to find that it was still on the fourth floor waiting for me. I got on, closed the gate properly and hit “1”. The elevator tried to move; it lurched slightly, and then went still. I checked the super finicky gate; it was definitely closed correctly so I tried again. This time when the elevator tried to move it was accompanied by what sounded like a muffled moan coming from an upper floor and the elevator once again did not budge. I got off, checked the door and decided to give it one more shot; I really didn't want to carry my suitcase down 4 flights of stairs. Again I hit “1”. This time there was zero movement but there was certainly a moan and it was far from muffled. It was practically a scream.
At this point I’m slightly shaken up, I mean, the elevator just screamed at me and it sounded entirely too lifelike. Deciding that someone could be hurt I hesitantly yelled, “Hello”? No answer. I asked if there was anyone in the elevator shaft (stupid, I know) and again no answer. Deciding that this was way too weird for me, I took my suitcase and prepared for carrying it down to the ground floor. As I turned my back to the elevator and began my decent, I swear I heard a crackling laugh coming from the elevator.

When I reached the ground floor and began to roll my suitcase to the front door I heard what sounded like crash in the elevator shaft. I cautiously opened the door to find that the elevator had made it to the ground floor too, only a few minutes too late. Annoyed I took my suitcase and went towards the front door, again I heard a crackling laugh but this time I did not stop.

October 12, 2013

Haunted Story #1, 2013 Edition

Do you ever have those days when you wake up in the morning and ask yourself, “What am I doing with my life? Do I really like the direction my life is going in? Do I see myself living in the same place, with the same job, five years from now?” I had one of those moments this morning when I woke up, the 're-evaluating my life moment'. On one hand, I’m 26 years old and have already earned the work title, “Director”; on the other hand my entire family is on the East Coast, which gets increasingly harder by the day. It doesn't help that I always saw myself raising kids in a historic town in New England, close enough to take a day trip to Fenway. I want my kids to see where Paul Revere took his famous ride, to learn about Salt Box houses and the little mile markers on the side of the Putnam Road, but most importantly; I want them to have a haunted experience in one the many historic cemeteries scattered across New England.

My historic cemetery experience still follows the “dating disaster” theme, although it was more of a bazaar dating experience than a disaster. It also helps segway into my favorite time of year, Halloween, which means (drum-roll please) Haunted Stories!!

This is the first of four haunted stories I plan to write this year, and yes this is 100% true, although the fear may be exaggerated a tiny bit for effect.

The majority of my stories seem to start with, “I was dating this guy”, because some of my best encounters thus far have involved "some guy" I was in love with at the moment. When I was a senior in High School, Trey was that guy. (Names changed, because I can.)

I met Trey late one night at one of my favorite “drunchie” places, a 24 hour diner. For those readers that are from the West Coast and/or have never experienced a real diner, you must pack your bags and fly to the East Coast. This is one thing they do right in the Tri-State area and NO the chains they call Diners in Cali DO NOT COUNT as real diners (I’m talking about you, Ruby’s).  I’m referring to the late night places that allow you to order eggs, a side salad and half a lasagna for $5, 24/7; although my late night snack was always fries with vinegar. My late night snack choice is actually what led to the conversation that would begin my last summer in Connecticut, three months I would never forget.

I strolled into the diner around 1am, after doing something that was less than memorable with my best friend *Astrid. As soon as we were seated I commented on how hot the new waiter was and that I needed to know him. Moments later he was strolling over to our table and taking our order, I was instantly in love with his bright blue eyes, jet black hair, gorgeous smile and most importantly, the glimmer of lust that appeared in his eyes when they met mine. He laughed when I ordered fries with vinegar and told me I have "quirky" taste, then went off to put our order in. To this day I still tell strangers I have a quirky taste in food, not sure why it seems like an important declaration but it does. The next few days consisted of me gushing to Astrid about Trey, “the love of my life”; she was about to slap me.

The following Friday Astrid slept over. We decided to have the ultimate chick night, complete with Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, magazines and enough Smirnoff Apple and Apple Juice to get two recent high school graduates wasted (so, probably a shot each). When 2am rolled around, we were bored with our movie selection and blissfully drunk, so naturally we decided to go to the diner to see if Trey was working. Astrid drove, she swore she was fine...this was before we had learned that driving drunk was never acceptable, we were incredibly lucky that night. When we got to the diner, Trey’s face lit up and he made a bee-line for our table. I twirled my hair and giggled as we chatted about our night and Astrid excused herself to use the rest room. Turns out she was NOT in any shape to drive and I quickly realized I needed to get her home and in bed before my parents work up and discovered that not only had we snuck alcohol into the house, we’d driven drunk for the sake of a crush. Trey was super understanding and cancelled our order; he even comped the toast that had already been brought to the table, with the condition that I leave him my number before heading out and text him when we make it home safely.  I was a giddy mess as I got behind the wheel of her massive car, completely forgetting that I had never driven an SUV.
This was the first time I realized that I turn into a mom when I drink. When we were in the diner, I leapt into parent mode, asking some idiots knew from school to watch my things while I got Astrid out to her car (the fuckers went through my purse and dumped all the contents out-I still hold a grudge). Once in the car I completely sobered up, my only thought was: Get Astrid to Safety. At one point we were stopped at a light and a cop car pulled up next me; I had the balls to smile and wave.  I still can’t believe they didn’t pull me over, I'm pretty sure my actions screamed: “Drunk Teen”.

When we got home Astrid went to bed and I began texting Trey. He was working the overnight shift and didn’t get off work until 6am. Around 3:30am I was still wired from driving and he was bored to tears with zero customers, so he called me. We ended up talking for the next hour and half, getting to know each other. The more we talked, the more I found myself falling for him. He was visiting for the summer from upstate New York, working at the diner because it was owned by some family member who needed summer help. When the summer ended, he was going home and I was moving to California.

Since he worked the late shift he either got to work at 1am or left work at 1am, depending on his schedule. This left very odd hours for socializing. I wasn’t really a bad kid, and we really weren’t doing anything too scandalous, so my parents were fine with him coming over before/after work. I guess they figured that if I was going to get into trouble it might as well be in the safety of my own home.

One night, work was particularly slow and Trey was able to leave an hour early. We were hanging out in my driveway trying to decide what to do when he asked me about the house next door (remember the haunted house from last year? The glass of Orange Juice house? See last years haunted stories.).  I told him a little bit about the house and explained that the town I grew up in, Old Greenwich, had history oozing out the wazoo. The early settlers came over on the Mayflower and a lot of them ended up in Old Greenwich. I told him that a lot of the houses in my neighborhood had little plaques on them designating them as historic landmarks and pointed behind my house proclaiming that one of the oldest cemeteries in the country was only two blocks away. Whoops, wrong thing to say at midnight on a Friday night; naturally he needed to see it.

Best picture I could find.

Once we got there, I refused to go into the cemetery. I sat on the stairs by the entrance playing on my phone as Trey walked around with a flashlight, reading aloud names and the dates etched into each tombstone. He found some dating back to the late 1600’s and read off names that I recognized as ancestors of friends I’d grown up with. He also teased me ruthlessly for being too scared to enter. I got a weird feeling about that cemetery, like we weren’t welcome and were disturbing those who were resting. The more I tried to explain this, the more he made fun of me, so I shut my mouth, turned my back to him and pretended to pout as he continued looking around. As he got further back, he found one crumbling tombstone that was too faint to make out a date on. He told me he was going to crouch down with the flashlight to get a better look.
A few seconds later I hear, “What the -? Fuck, fuck, Oh shit, Fuck” then silence.

I assumed he was once again teasing me and called out his name, telling him to quit fucking around. No response. I had a flashlight on my keychain which I pulled out and directed behind me, off in the direction I’d last heard his voice. Nothing. There was no shadow, no movement, nothing. The tombs were all short, he towered above them, even when we was crouching.

My heart was beating a mile a minute, I was terrified and I felt an overwhelming sense of darkness coming from deep within the cemetery.  You know that feeling you get when you walk into an empty home and the little hairs stand up on the back of your neck? I felt that. The air around me seemed to get thicker and I was suddenly very aware of my breath as it left my body. I felt like I was being watched and whomever, or whatever, was watching me did not want me there.

“Trey?” I called out in a very shaky voice, desperately trying to hold it together. No answer. In fact, it was unnaturally silent. A giant pit formed in my stomach as I came to terms with what I had to do, enter the cemetery that I so desperately did not want anything to do with. The first step through the entryway was the hardest, it took all my courage to take that step and I almost turned back, but I forced myself to continue. Again I called Trey’s name, again no answer. I grasped my flashlight as I continued on the very worn path towards the spot I last saw him, shaking slightly as I went. As I approached the row Trey had been investigating tombstones in a dark hooded figure sprang out in front of me. I screamed bloody murder. Trey laughed. He thought it was the funniest prank anyone had ever pulled.

Trey won, he got me to enter the cemetery. As far as the feeling I got when I was faced with entering, it was still there; in fact, it was stronger. Now that I had calmed down a bit and realized I was actually physically standing in the middle of one of the oldest cemeteries in the country I also realized that the hostile energy was back, stronger than ever. Something did not want us there. Thankfully, Trey felt it this time. He shivered and muttered something about feeling like someone was watching us and suggested we head home. As we walked towards his car, I began to allow myself to relax. My heard stopped pounding and my legs stopped shaking, but I kept my guard up in case he decided to jump at me again. 

As we reached the steps at the entrance of the cemetery something dark flew through the air in front of us and landed hard on the hood of his car, making a “thud” sound against the metal. We stopped in out tracks and shined the flashlights at the car, but there was nothing there. We pointed the lights all around the car, up in the trees, back in the cemetery; there was zero movement. I examined the hood of the car and found nothing out of the ordinary so we chalked it up as the car settling and our minds playing tricks on us; we were visiting one of the oldest cemeteries in the US after all.

In the morning I woke up to a frantic message from Trey. He had driven himself home and parked his car in the garage, where he was able to see the hood of the car clearly under bright lights. There was a dent in the middle of the hood, the kind that appears when someone’s hand pushes down hard on cheap metal. He claimed there were also tiny little cracks in the paint. Too bad the cracks didn't spell out the words, "Get Out". That would have been the ultimate scary story ending.