Great to have you here Anne - over to you!
I love Halloween. It’s about as uncomplicated a holiday as they come. Nothing but fun – no visiting relatives or annoying major-production meals to offset the pleasure of candy. October has lovely weather and costumes are always a good time. And scary is always enjoyable… Within reason.
In my Halloween story, Like Magic, I have a fellow who spends the freakiest Halloween night of his life when he falls under the spell of a lovelorn witch – or does he? He never does figure it out, and I like it that way. I have never been perfectly certain how I feel about the paranormal. My logical side says it’s unlikely, but I’ve been around the block enough times to know nothing is certain, and one should never say never.
I was 19 when I worked at a dining hall in the old east coast university where I took my bachelors degree. The dining hall was old, stone and impressive, covered in ivy and looking stately. It even had a tragic past – in the 1920s, a fire gutted it, killing four students and the housekeeper, who were all said to haunt their various lifetime quarters still. The housekeeper had lived in a bedsit in the basement, beside the maintenance area and right next to the boiler. When the boiler exploded that fateful night, she had not the slightest chance of escape. Yet, it being the 1920s, when they rebuilt and fixed a bronze plaque to the refurbished building commemorating the loss, her name was not included in the memorial.
As a result, many reported that the restless spirit of the woman was not a happy one, and she’d had been known to harass students and employees.
When my supervisor, Nicole, went down to the basement, she was always nervous. She said it felt cold, and she heard noises. Once, a lightbulb exploded when she was halfway down the dark, steep stairs. The forgotten lady, it seems, did not care for Nicole. Eventually, Nicole took to sending Dishwasher Kevin down there at the end of shift to lock up and shut down the lights. I guess no one really much minded if an angry ghost got Dishwasher Kevin.
Anyway, one night I was filling in as headwaiter to a conference banquet while Nicole was off. It never occurred to me to make Dishwasher Kevin go down to turn off the lights and lock up before he left, which I regretted later.
After I had signed everybody out, and was alone doing my lock up, all of the bravado I had once had as an empowered, educated young woman who didn’t believe in ghosts flew out the window as I contemplated going down those steps. A part of me wanted to pretend I had forgotten to lock up down there, but I knew it would be my skin if something happened because I had turned chicken, and I needed the job. Besides, headwaiting paid better than serving, and if I ever wanted the chance to fill in for Nicole again, I had better get my butt down there.
So, I went.
Down the steps, singing a little song to keep from shaking, and to the back door. I locked up, and turned off the lights as I went. Then to the employee locker room, without incident. By that point, I was starting to feel pretty silly about having been afraid, and was thinking Nicole was an idiot. I didn’t feel any chill, and nothing was happening. Pfft! I knew it all along! There’s no such thing as ghosts!
I was so confident, I decided to stop and pee before finishing my rounds and making the trek home. I got in the stall, did my business, and then… dropped the frigging toilet paper! I watched helplessly as it bounced and then rolled out under the door. One of those moments where you stop and sigh, sagging a second or two before you decide what to do about your situation.
Then… In bounced the toilet paper, back in under the door!
Now, this was not a slanted floor. In fact, the drain under the sinks should have made the paper roll completely away from my stall. And there was nothing for that thing to bump into that would make it bounce back to me. Except…
I recall how hard my heart was pounding. I wanted to scream or hide or cry, and the hairs on my arms stood on end. Either the room got cold as ice, or I imagined it did, I don’t know which.
To be on the safe side, I called out, “Thank you!” in the most cheerful voice I could. I received no reply, expected no reply, really wanted no reply. But, if some spirit out there had done me a good turn, it seemed only polite. And prudent, considering the exploded light bulb.
Nothing else happened as I rushed away from the bathroom and ran up those steps to the safety of the dining hall kitchen. Nothing ever happened to me again down in the basement of that dining hall in my subsequent shifts, but I never again felt sure there wasn’t something down there.
There is a type of certainty we enjoy when we are young, when we can “know” what is what. As you age, you lose that luxury as things happen to make you question everything. After that night, I never was certain about the paranormal again. Now, I know enough to know there’s a lot of stuff out there I don’t know, I guess you could say.
So, that’s my ghost story. It isn’t thrilling, or very flattering to me since I was sitting on the can at the time, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget that night.
Happy Halloween, everybody! And, remember – always be polite to the non-living. Except for zombies. Those suckers, you better just shoot in the head.
Anne Holly is a Canadian writer of romance and erotic-romance. Please visit her at her website, or find her on GoodReads, Facebook and Twitter. To check out her holiday books, visit http://annehollyholiday.webs.com/