Friday, July 30, 2010

Terror in the Shopping Mall – Part Two

Author’s note: This is the second of a two-part story of Susan Smith’s experiences managing a haunted store.
Ten boxes sat on the storeroom floor as store manager Susan Smith sorted through them.

Another employee helped a customer at the cash register in front of the store, behind a shut door and out of earshot of Smith. These were the only people in Smith’s store, but that didn’t mean she was alone in the storeroom.

“I stopped to use the restroom, which was also in the storeroom,” she said. ”I heard nothing while I was inside but as soon as I tried to leave, I found that the door wouldn’t open.”

She pushed firmly on the door several times, but it wouldn’t move.

“Finally, I pushed again with full strength and got the door to open part way,” she said.

When Smith squeezed out, she found the shipment boxes stacked against the door.

“I ran out to ask my co-worker if anyone had been in there and she replied that no one had. She had been helping the only customer at the register for awhile and no one else had come into the store.”

Terrified, Smith slowly retreated to the storeroom and quietly said into the empty room, “If anything is in here that has a problem with me, please know that this is my job and I have to be here. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t trap, bully or frighten me ever again.”

Her plea only incited whatever stalked her store.

“From this point on, which was about a year after I had started, it was like a circus in that store,” she said. ”My employees and I also began to feel the toll of this in our personal lives.”

Smith and two employees in their early 20s began to develop benign tumors and all three were sick with a cold virus that wouldn’t go away.

“Of course these symptoms could just be a coincidence but I have never been sick for as long as I was in that store,” Smith said.

Smith’s assistant manager asked if she could bless the store. Smith agreed and the activity stopped for a few weeks.

“When they started up again, it was different,” Smith said. “The voices were louder, the storeroom more menacing than before and two of my employees even reported seeing a man, who we named ‘Harry.’”

Although Smith never saw “Harry,” employees reported seeing a man in a suit browsing through merchandise and when they approached him, he disappeared.

Smith knew it was time to call in an expert. She contacted a local paranormal investigator who worked on high profile cases. The investigator agreed to come by, but she wasn’t what Smith expected.

“From the time she entered the place I was uncomfortable with her and so were my co-workers, both seen and unseen,” Smith said. “I don’t know how else to explain this except that after a year or so of dealing with these ‘presences’ we were all very aware of their mood changes. We could all feel that this woman’s presence was not welcome.”

The investigator said she felt something “dark” in the fitting rooms and storeroom. Smith felt it, too.

“You could literally feel the change in the room,” Smith said. “It was oppressive, kind of like the feeling in the room when a fight is about to start. It was still and vicious. I had never felt it like that before.”

Before the investigator left, she politely asked the entity there to leave.

It didn’t.

Near the end of summer, with everyone in the store preparing for the approaching holiday season, Smith received a personal message.

“One morning I was talking with my assistant manager about the goings-on and she suggested, maybe, that this entity was particularly interested in me,” Smith said. “I looked at her and said, ‘This has nothing to do with me.’”

As the words left her mouth, a 120-pound fixture mounted in the wall flew off its mounts and landed on the floor.

“These things were a pain in the ass to get into the wall, let alone out, and typically required two people and a lot of cussing,” Smith said. “They don’t fall out. We exchanged a look and didn’t have that conversation again.”

Then came the breaking point for Smith. At 7 a.m. one morning in late July, Smith sat at her desk in the storeroom filling out paperwork when she heard the now familiar sound of hangers rustling.

“With a sigh, I got up to check just to make sure no one was in the store,” she said. “Of course, the place was empty.”

But as she returned to her paperwork, she noticed a light in one of the fitting rooms had burned out. As she began to replace the bulb she realized something was in the small room with her.

“I heard the sound of someone sucking in their breath, like an inward gasp,” she said. “This sound was centimeters from my ear. With shaking hands, I replaced the (bulb) and calmly left the fitting room.”

When she stepped out of the room, the door slammed shut behind her with enough force to crack the hinges. Smith ran through the store, past a supply closet where items began raining from shelves onto the floor. She paused only to grab her purse, then bolted out of the store into the nearly empty mall.

“A woman came running from the store next door and asked me what happened,” Smith said. ”She was white-faced. All of the power in her store had just gone out.”

As Smith sat with her back to her store, she saw the woman’s eyes grow large.

“What?” Smith asked her.

“Look,” the woman whispered, pointing behind Smith. Signs firmly affixed atop floor displays in Susan’s store were swaying back and forth.

“I sat in the mall on a bench until my co-worker arrived at 10 a.m.,” she said. ”I told her what happened. We entered the store and examined it for signs of entry. Everything was fine, apart from the broken fitting room door and mess of supplies which had been neatly organized in the closet until that morning.”

Two weeks later Smith quit and never returned to that store.

Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “What Lurks Beyond: The Paranormal in Your Backyard,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Terror in the Shopping Mall – Part One

Author’s note: This is the first of a two-part story of Susan Smith’s experiences managing a haunted store.
The shopping mall in Southern California didn’t look ominous. Built in the late 1970s, it resembled shopping malls scattered throughout the country.

Susan Smith took a job as assistant manager of a retail store there in 2005 and discovered the mall was much different, much darker than what it seemed.

“The incidents around my experience grew worse and more intense over the two years I was in this position,” Smith said. “They started off very innocently and progressively became intelligent, reactionary and ever present.”

Smith worked in the store for six quiet months when store management brought in a new manager and several new employees.

“I began to notice small things, such as hearing the clothing hangers move when the store was empty and the ventilation systems were turned off,” Smith said.

She dismissed these noises as vibrations throughout the building until the noises began to get more distinct.

“I began to hear the sounds of running down the hallway where the dressing rooms were located,” she said. “But found the space to be empty.”

Smith ignored the sounds, not discussing them with coworkers. A month later, the lights started going out.

“The store’s lights (began) burning out two or three times a week,” she said. “I don’t mean one light bulb, I mean at least half of the lights in the ceiling track lighting would burn out on a weekly basis.”

Smith called in the mall’s maintenance people who couldn’t solve the light problem. Neither could electricians or the power company.

“We were not having any surges and no wiring was faulty,” she said. “After nearly eight weeks of this we had the system partially replaced and still had lights burning out.”

Around this time, the manager moved to a different store and Smith was appointed manager, which brought her to the store earlier in the morning.

“I would come into the store around 7 to 7:30 a.m. several days a week to do
administrative tasks,” Smith said. “At this time, the entire mall was closed and usually empty.”

Sitting in the store office, Smith often heard hangers moving and footsteps, but when she investigated the sounds, the air conditioning was off and the store was locked and empty.

“I wasn’t calling this paranormal although I did think it was creepy,” Smith said. “I still had not spoken to any of the staff about it but that soon changed.”

At the monthly staff meeting, everyone confessed to hearing these noises – and more.

“One employee said that she felt as though she was being watched when she was alone,” Smith said. “As the conversation progressed, it began to be very clear to me that something strange was happening in our store.”

As the months unfolded, the hangers, footsteps and burned out lights continued. Then came the voice.

“We all began to hear a very firm voice that was entirely sexless say a few words such as ‘hey,’ ‘excuse me,’ or ‘hi,’” Smith said. “I specifically heard this voice on three occasions after the store had closed and the assistant manager and I were doing paperwork. It was so clear that we both turned at the same time to the source of the voice to see who was there.”

Employees began to notice the store take on different personalities. A “playful” entity with scampering, childlike footsteps would place pens, notebooks and tools in odd places in the front of the store. A cold spot lurked in the back corner, a spot employees and customers alike described as “sad.”

“When I would be working in that area doing stock or merchandising, I would have my eyes well up with tears and not know why,” Smith said. “It could be explained by something natural but I couldn’t figure out what would cause that. Whatever was in that area was miserable, verging on angry.”

Something ripped off signs fixed on the walls so often Smith had the signs removed permanently.

But it was the fitting rooms that bothered employees and customers the most. Fitting room doors would open and shut with no one inside of them, and many people reported feeling someone inside the fitting room with them, watching.

“In the fitting rooms and store room, which were separated by a hallway, the presence was angry. Definitely, positively, completely hateful,” Smith said. ”Customers often said they felt watched and uncomfortable. I had several customers ask me who had been banging on their door while they were in the fitting room and I could only shrug, as no one had been there.”

Next week: The presence gets physical.

Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “What Lurks Beyond: The Paranormal in Your Backyard,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Haunting in Canada

St. John’s, a small, old city in eastern Canada, is known as “The City of Legends,” and like all old places with legends, this region has a long history of hauntings.

Dean Lundrigan’s first exposure to his region’s haunted history was as a child in a place he, until that time, felt safe – his home.

“The house in which I was raised was one that was built on the foundation of what was once a cemetery and it had a history of supposed hauntings,” he said.

At nine years old, Lundrigan shared a bedroom with his older and younger brothers. His younger brother would often crawl into bed with Lundrigan or their older brother because he was afraid to sleep alone.

“On one particular night, I awoke to what appeared to be my little brother standing at the foot of my bed staring at me as I slept,” Lundrigan said. “I immediately asked him, ‘What are you doing standing at the foot of my bed watching me sleep?’”

The figure at the foot of his bed didn’t respond, so Lundrigan called his little brother by name. The figure stood still, quiet.

“Finally I sat up in my bed only to discover that my younger brother was sound asleep in the other bed with my eldest brother,” Lundrigan said.

Terrified, Lundrigan slammed his eyes shut and when he found the courage to open them again, the boy was gone.

“I did not know if (my little brother) was sleep walking and somehow managed to jump back into the bed without me noticing, or if it was the spirit of a young boy who happened to resemble my brother,” Lundrigan said.

But over the years, Lundrigan has become certain what he saw wasn’t his younger brother.

“This is the very first time that I saw an actual apparition in this particular house but all the years leading up to that moment were as horrifying as that moment itself,” he said. “The house itself just had an exceptionally unnatural feeling to it.”

The next day, Lundrigan told his mother of the visitation and received an ominous warning.

“She told me that if you saw the spirit of someone who was still living, it was a symbol of death,” Lundrigan said.

If this was the case, Lundrigan is certain the death omen didn’t involve his still-living brother. But this wasn’t the last time something strange came looking for him.

“During the summers of my childhood I would spend a lot of time at my grandparent’s home which was located about half an hour away from my house,” he said. “On one occasion there when I was about 17, I was walking up the steps to go to the washroom and I felt the presence of something or someone ahead of me which I assumed was my grandmother.”

But when Lundrigan rounded the corner he saw a black shadowy figure leave one room and enter the bathroom.

“It didn’t strike me right away what this figure could have been because I just felt a presence that I assumed was human and I was in shock,” he said.

Lundrigan looked into the bathroom still expecting to see his grandmother, but the bathroom was empty.

“I knew that this figure I saw had to have been real and not a figment of my imagination because it was no ordinary shadow on the wall,” Lundrigan said. “It was in mid air gliding three dimensionally across the hall.”

The next summer, while Lundrigan slept at his grandparent’s house, he awoke to find something on top of him.

“I couldn’t move even though I was trying so desperately,” he said. “It felt as though I was awake but I could not open my eyes no matter how hard I tried. It felt as though some sort of force was holding me down.”

The force released Lundrigan once he regained control over his eyes and fingers.

“I moved my eyes from left to right while my eye lids were still closed and twitched my fingers back and forth,” he said. “I could not work up the courage to move anything but my fingers and eyes. When about five to 10 minutes passed, I jumped up out of bed, turned on the light and grabbed a Holy Bible that was in a desk drawer, all the while my heart was pounding rapidly.”

Lundrigan had to report to work at a local fast food restaurant at 5 a.m. and it wasn’t close to 5 a.m.

“Let’s just say that I was there a tad early because I was too terrified to stay in that house any longer,” he said.

Although Lundrigan hasn’t had a paranormal experience for a few years, he knows it’s inevitable that something else will happen to him because something strange has always followed him.

“My whole life I have always felt the sensation that I have been under some sort of watch,” Lundrigan said. “I have been constantly looking over my shoulder because I’ve felt an eerie sensation.”

Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “What Lurks Beyond: The Paranormal in Your Backyard,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Black-Eyed People in Texas, Nebraska

The early July sun beat on 19-year-old Dallas Adams as he pumped gas into his car at a convenience store in Lucas, Texas.

A man and his son stood at the pump opposite Adams, a woman at her car was behind him. When the gas nozzle clicked Adams placed it back onto the pump and went inside the store. Things were different when he came out.

“There was no line in the gas station,” Adams said. “I bought cigarettes and walked out but when I came out my car was the only one there. I had only been in the gas station for maybe two and a half minutes. As soon as I noticed everyone was gone I felt scared but couldn’t figure out why.”

Then he saw the man standing by his car. As Adams walked by him, he noticed a smell, like the man hadn’t showered in weeks.

“He looked like an average guy but when I looked at him I felt scared like my life was about to end,” Adams said. “I went to my car and looked at him – he was staring at me.”

The man came closer to Adams as he stood at the driver’s side door, walking in long steps.

“I need a ride,” the man said, the force in his voice striking Adams like something physical.

“It scared me to death,” Adams said. “I said, ‘what?’ And he said, ‘give me a ride.”

Then Adams saw what frightened him.

“His eyes were completely black. No whites, no nothing, just black,” Adams said. “When I was talking to this thing I could smell its breath, which was horrible.”

Adams worked up the courage to ask where the Black-Eyed Man wanted to go. The man simply replied, “just give me a ride."

“I said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t,’ then he took a few steps toward me,” Adams said. “His walk was kinda odd, but stopped as this conversation was happening.”

But what terrified Adams was the man’s eyes.

“I couldn’t take my eyes off of his,” Adams said. “It was like they were sucking me in.”

As Adams stood, watching the strange man with the black eyes approach him, something broke whatever held Adams’ gaze. Adams hopped into his car and sped away.

What did Adams’ see?

“This is really troubling me cause I’ve had dreams about this man every night since the day it happened,” Adams said. “

Black-Eyed People have been in the popular culture since two approached journalist Brian Bethel as he sat in his car in 1998. The encounters are usually the same. Black-Eyed People are usually children to young adults who use language and assertiveness that would seem to be beyond their means. But the most common thread is their eyes; black, without iris or whites, and dead like a Hollywood vampire’s.

What these people may be – aliens, demons, practical jokers – is a matter of debate. However, the reports continue. Like this report from Omaha, Neb.

A little girl, about five years old, brown hair in a ponytail ran around the play area at the Westroads Mall, but Debbie Rife knew something was wrong with the child.

“I saw her eyes and just thought something was weird, different, off about her, so every time she ran past my way I tried to figure out what it was,” Rife said. “Then I realized that there was little to no difference in the shading between her pupil and iris. So of course I kept staring, only not trying to be obvious about staring.”

If there was any white to the girl’s eyes, Rife said it wasn’t noticeable.

And the odd little girl kept following Rife’s seven-year-old son.

“I was waiting for something weird, spooky or crazy to happen like a scene from ‘Carrie’, but really nothing happened,” Rife said. “She followed (her son) around for a little bit and kept saying, ‘Hi, hi, hi,’ and something about she wanted to marry (him). He said she was funny, but also creepy.”

Then there was the screaming girl.

“I didn't hear anyone else notice the child,” Rife said. “The only thing I did notice was that another little girl kept going up to her and doing this scream thing. She did that to her a couple of times until her mom came and told her to stop that and then she didn't bother the (Black-Eyed Kid) again.”

Online poster Thaisa, saw a Black-Eyed Person on a train in early May – and the horror haunts her.

“I have seen one of them and now wherever I go I don’t look into people eyes,” Thaisa said. “You can see something strange, sense something different. I did not feel scared until I saw this person’s big, entirely black eyes, no white inside it.”

As Thaisa watched, this man, who fidgeted on the commuter train, moving nervously from seat to seat, locked eyes with her, and his eyes changed to black within seconds.

“I turned my head immediately from fear,” Thaisa said. “I tried to rationalize this event. I thought I might have had a hallucination in the middle of the day.”

She looked at the man again and he still glared at her. Big, entirely black eyes stared into hers, and a fear like sleep paralysis gripped her.

“This person was sitting just opposite me in the train and was observing me for 35 minutes,” Thaisa said. “Clearly it wanted to make contact but I did not respond.”

The man eventually reached his stop and Thaisa felt like she snapped out of a spell.

“When he left the train I felt such a relief,” she said. “I felt like the biggest disaster was behind me. I was shaking for a couple hours after.”

Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt

Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “What Lurks Beyond: The Paranormal in Your Backyard,” is available at Jason’s blog,