Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Followed by the Unknown

Author’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on Mary Vincent of Kingston, Ontario, who’s had more than one encounter with the unknown.

The paranormal seems to follow certain people. Are they blessed, cursed, or just unlucky? Mary Vincent of Kingston, Ontario, is one of these people … one of the unlucky, or one of the cursed.

Mary, at the time 17, was staying with her brother when she realized something in his house wasn’t right.

“I was sleeping in a loft-type bedroom,” she said. “I woke suddenly one night with the immediate knowledge I wasn’t alone.”

Sitting at the side of her bed, staring at her, was a man.

“He just sat very still and the darkness of the room wouldn’t allow me to see his face,” she said. “It seemed as if he had a hat on. I was totally terrified. I tried to move but found I couldn’t. I couldn’t even turn my head away.”

She lie in bed, trying to scream for help, but could only manage a whisper. Then, as quickly as she’d noticed the dark man, he was gone.

“I lay there scared and shaken,” she said.

The next morning, she didn’t talk about her encounter … nor the next day, or the next.

“I did not tell anybody about this for years,” she said. “I didn’t want to hear ‘you were dreaming’ when I knew I wasn’t.”

The dark man with a hat remains a mystery to Mary but she wonders if she somehow invited him into her life.

“As a young mother I started doing the Ouija board with a close friend,” she said. “The more time we spent on it the more depth the messages seemed to have.”

One message was from her friend Milly’s mother, who had recently died.

“She told us some personal stuff that we did not know about money left to an alienated brother,” she said. The entity told Mary’s friend not to fight the will, which, unbeknownst to Mary, Milly and her sister were planning to do.

Was the entity Milly’s mother? According to people well-versed in the Ouija board, no, the entity was demonic. But it was convincing … even down to spelling “mom,” “mum,” like Milly’s British mother would.

Then Mary’s Ouija board experiences escalated. A group at a military camp asked her and Milly to hold a Ouija session at the base.

“I knew some but not all of the people,” Mary said. “We explained to them this was just for fun and we were in no way psychics.”

After what Mary calls “fluff,” the Ouija became alive, the planchette forcing itself across the board.

“It finally spelled out a name I had never heard of,” Mary said. “When I asked if anyone recognized the name, a woman – a German wife of a Canadian soldier – said it was her sister’s name.”

Then Mary stared to feel “terrible.”

“I felt ill, panicky and dark,” she said. “There was no better word than ‘dark’ for my feelings. I told the woman that I wasn’t getting a specific message just a terrible feeling. I felt angry, confused and totally unstable. She told me her sister had committed suicide.”

This frightened Mary.

“I realized that I was getting too close to the spirit side and, in this case, it wasn’t a good feeling,” she said. “I have never sat at the Ouija board since.”

But she couldn’t stay away from the paranormal. Curious about automatic writing, she allowed something unseen to write with her hand.

“I twice tried automatic writing,” she said. “The first time, when the pen started to move I got scared, being alone, and threw the pen.”

But that didn’t stop her from attempting to contact the spirit world again.

“The second time I kept my head averted but let the pen write,” she said. “When I looked at it I saw various words that didn’t mean anything but in the last place it said ‘Mary Elizabeth, it’s Grandma Hogeboom.’”

The handwriting of the last five words wasn’t Mary’s.

“I took the paper to my mother and she pulled out an old card my grandmother had once sent her,” she said. “The handwriting was identical. Absolutely identical. My mother flipped out.”

Did Mary channel her grandmother, or did something evil write with her hand … something that would find its way into her dreams?

Next week: A field of dreams.

Copyright 2007 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 c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or Include your name, address and telephone number. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” is here. Order online at:,, or visit Jason’s Web site at