Katie moved into her fourth floor dorm room the Friday before 2007 classes started at Northwest Missouri State University. This was her sophomore year; she had a job, a spot on the yearbook staff and best yet, no roommate.
She went home to Nebraska for the weekend and came back to find she didn’t have the room to herself after all.
“When I first moved in, it was really damp in the room and it had a different smell to it,” she said. “An old smell.”
A friend, Harrison, noticed the smell, too.
“He said, ‘it’s a fragrance,’” Katie said. “It wasn’t my perfume. I didn’t know if it was something or nothing.”
For the first week in her new room, it was nothing. The second week, she realized something else was there with her.
“I felt a presence in my room,” Katie said. “It’s almost oppressive. The feeling I get I just feel tense all the time. When I feel the presence I start looking over my shoulder a lot. It’s hard to go to sleep.”
Katie see’s things in the corner of her eyes – things that move and vanish when she turns to face them. She sleeps with covers up to her neck.
“I get these images in my mind,” she said. “It’s a guy. It’s a shadow peering over the side of my bed. It’s a loft bed so you’d have to be as tall as the room. It was just dark, but it was definitely a form. I could see eyes, nose, mouth. I just couldn’t see the details.
“I know I would freak out if I saw something, but seeing something in my head is just as bad.”
Katie hears creaking during the night that she can’t explain away as neighbors or sagging floors.
“You know how a laptop sounds when you open and close it?” she asked. “It sounds like someone is messing with my computer but they’re not. Then I just hear random noise. It is in my room. Not next door, not upstairs, not in the hallway.”
Katie flips on her lamp when she hears these noises, but has never seen anything out of the ordinary. And she only feels the presence when she’s alone … but not just when she’s in her room.
A small common room sits between Katie’s room and her floor’s women’s bathroom. She hates going through the common room at night, but sometimes nature forces her.
“The light is usually turned off (in the common room) when I walk through that room to go to the bathroom,” she said. “I always feel like someone’s following me when I leave my room. I still feel the presence in the women’s bathroom. It’s still a very male presence. I don’t know how I know that. I just do.”
Harrison’s girlfriend lives on the fifth floor of the dorm, and when he uses the men’s bathroom – directly above the women’s bathroom Katie uses – he’s never alone.
“The bathroom’s empty except for me and it sounds like someone unzips their pants, but nothing happens, and you hear it zip back up,” he said. “I’ve looked (into the stalls) and no one is in there. I’ve also heard jingling keys in the men’s bathroom. I’m the only one in there.”
Ghosts are usually associated with a violent, or unexpected death. The most recent death on campus was in December 2005 when a male student died of diabetic shock. He died in Katie’s dormitory two floors beneath her room.
Michael, a broadcasting major, lives next to Katie and said he hasn’t heard or experienced anything paranormal. And Evan, a journalism major, lives in the room where the 21-year-old student died. He said his room is quiet, too.
“I picked it because, hey, 214, the Valentine suite,” Evan said. “Then I found someone died there.”
Has he experienced anything in his room?
“No, but if I do I’ll have you on speed dial,” Evan said.
This doesn’t make Katie feel any better. She just wants to be left alone.
“All I know is it’s a guy and I don’t know what he wants,” she said. “I don’t want to piss it off. I don’t want to talk with it. I just want to coexist. I don’t like to talk about what’s going on when I’m in my room. I hate the dark.”
Copyright 2007 by Jason Offutt
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