Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Strange Case of the Toy Monkey on a Stick

Author’s note: The following account of a Texas woman’s fear may not be a paranormal story, but it has disturbed her nonetheless. If anyone knows of the custom described below, or has had an encounter similar to Dana’s, please e-mail me at

Screams of laughter and the rush of the Tilt-A-Whirl and mini-roller coaster filled the usually vacant lot on the outskirts of Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1964.

As seven-year-old Dana Talley’s mother walked her down the midway to the carousel, nothing seemed awry in the early Texas evening.

Until Dana boarded the merry-go-round.

“I was riding on the carousel and a group of 10 to 15 oriental young men, early 20s, student types, were watching me and waving to me and smiling,” Dana said.

Young Dana watched the men as one of them approached her mother. The man asked her mother something, and she nodded.

“They asked if they could take pictures of me,” Dana said. “She agreed.”

Flashbulbs flared with their blue light as Dana went round and round on the carousel. Minutes later, the carousel slowed and Dana stepped off.

“When my ride was over and I was back on the ground near my mother, one of the men came over and handed me a little plastic monkey on a stick and thanked me profusely,” Dana said.

Then the men were gone, blending in with the carnival crowd, and Dana didn’t think about the incident again – until 18 years later in 1982.

“When I was 24 I took my seven-year-old son to a little carnival near our home in San Antonio, Texas,” she said. “It was evening and a group of 10 to 15 oriental young men, student types, were watching him on the carousel.”

As Dana stood by the carnival ride, one of the young men approached her.

“One of them came over and asked me if they could take photos of him,” Dana said, not thinking anything more of it. “I said, ‘yes,’ and they did.”

When the ride slowed and her son leapt off to rejoined her, one of the men stepped up to them, knelt, and handed the boy a little monkey doll attached to a stick. The men turned, and disappeared into the street carnival crowd.

Dana’s childhood experience came rushing back.

“Every once in a while I think about the similarities and wonder is it really a coincidence or is there more to it,” she said. “The men were friendly, overly so. There were no bad vibes. It’s just odd.”

The coincidences are too much for her to think they’re wholly separate incidents.

“Each time at a carnival on the merry-go-round. Each time they asked the mother if they could take some pictures. Each time it was a large group of young men. Each time prolific thank yous and meeting the child and the monkey toy,” she said. “Part of me says it is just coincidence; another part of me says, ‘oh, hell no.’ It is just too bizarre.”

Dana has spent years searching the Internet for similar encounters, but has found nothing. She wonders if she’s alone.

“You know, where my mind goes sometimes is wondering if it was some kind of cult thing where they kept tabs on me all those years,” she said. ”Foolish and highly unlikely I know, but it was just so strange. It has bothered me ever since it happened to me with my son.”

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, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ride of the Phantom Car

The heat of the June night was oppressive as 20-year-old Christian Hackett drove home.

“It was really hot. One of those hot nights when it’s 90 and the sun’s down,” Hackett, of Parkville, Mo., said.

He sat at the stoplight at Riss Lake Drive and Missouri 45 in Parkville just after midnight, preparing to turn right onto the highway, when he saw a car.

“I pulled up at a red light; there was a car in the lane I was going to turn into,” Hackett said. “I let it pass.”

As the car sped by, Hackett noticed a second car in the distance.

“It looked different than a regular car,” Hackett said. “It was low to the ground. It looked old. When cars get older the headlights don’t look bright.”

Hackett judged the distance between the oncoming car and his own to be safe, and pulled out from the stoplight.

“I saw I had space,” he said. “We were the only two cars on the highway. The car I let pass, I couldn’t even see it.”

As he pulled onto the highway, the lights of the old car quickly filled his rearview mirror. It was closing on him.

“I’m driving and the car that I saw started coming up a whole like faster than what it had been before,” he said. “It got closer and closer.”

After about a half-mile, Hackett pulled into the turning lane at the next intersection, the car in the rearview mirror closing on him uncomfortably fast.

“I heard the car as it was coming,” Hackett said. “I had the radio on, but as the car came closer, I could hear it. I could hear the car over the music.”

As the car’s headlights began to fill Hackett’s cab, he tried to catch a glimpse of the vehicle bearing down on him. He couldn’t see the car, just its lights. Now the fear that had been eating at the corners of Hackett’s mind now sat along side him.

“I was slowing down to turn and as I was turning, the car was getting closer and closer and closer,” he said. “It looked like it was going to hit me and right as it would have hit me, it just vanished.”

Hackett had just pulled into the middle of the intersection when the car disappeared.

“I was driving, but I was like, ‘oh, my God.’ I looked back and there was nothing,” he said. “I swear the car was in the rearview the whole time. It was just gone. I looked behind me, in front of me, on the side road, nothing. It was as if the car just vanished into my car.”

When Hackett regained his bearings, he simply continued driving.

“I double checked, I triple checked and there was no car,” Hackett said. “I didn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. At the time I was just thinking, ‘what the hell happened?’ I was just really, really confused and scared. I had no idea what had happened.”

Hackett had traveled that section of M-45 often since his family moved to Parkville in 1990 – nothing like this had ever happened to him.

“I’ve probably driven that road a million times and never seen anything,” Hackett said. “I took that to high school every day. It’s a road I can never avoid. I have to take 45 Highway anywhere I need to go. I was probably on that road the next day at 9 or 10 in the morning.”

Although Hackett didn’t talk about this incident to his family, he knew something unexplainable had happened to him. A friend’s childhood stories confirmed to him something was amiss on that road.

“The intersection where I was taking a left on, on the right my friend lived in a farm house there,” Hackett said. “He said he used to see (ghostly) things.”

Legends of phantom cars – vehicles that appear, drive at high speeds, then disappear – have been reported over the past century from Georgia, to Hawaii, to Germany, to South Africa.

However, according to the Platte County Missouri Historical Society, there is no record of phantom car stories from that stretch of road. This news doesn’t deter Hackett.

“This is my first paranormal experience ever. This is the first thing that ever scared the crap out of me,” Hackett said. “But I don’t care if people think I’m crazy. I know what I saw.”

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, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Little People in the Night

Legends of little people dance at the periphery of societies around the world. Elves, gnomes, goblins, trolls, ebu gogo, makiawisug, menehune – some of these entities are said to help humans, others kidnap, rob and devour.

Modern tales of these little people come from places like Iceland, Hawaii, the Midwest, Sweden, New Zealand and Colombia, South America. These stories have one thing in common – they are all terrifying.

Fabian Hernandez knows. He’s seen the little people.

Hernandez, 30, a veteran of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, and his brother, an aircraft engineer, were born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the 1980s.

“We lived in a small apartment in Brooklyn with our parents,” he said. “I have Native Indian blood from the natives of Colombia, South America, from my mother’s side.”

Due to financial struggles, the family soon moved back to their mother’s home country, Colombia. There, Hernandez saw little people in his room.

Hernandez and his brother were sleeping when a vibration woke Fabian. He wasn’t prepared for what he saw.

“I can recall seeing a group of small men working around my bed, silently,” Hernandez said. “It was like if I was looking at characters (from another) dimension.”

Hernandez lie in bed, staring at the little men.

“These creatures got the most of me and I started to be more curious,” Hernandez said. “I observed them walking around like if they were working in a mine of some kind, like digging or something.”

The little men were three inches tall and bright white.

“They were minding their own business,” Hernandez said. “The following day I told my parents and I just simply got brushed off. At that time I got a little scared and did not know what to do, so I simply forgot it as time past.”

Four years later, the Hernandez family moved back to Brooklyn.

“I was around the age of nine and my brother was just a few years older then me,” Hernandez said. “We lived in a small apartment where we shared the same bed in our parent’s room.”

One night Hernandez went to sleep early because of the flu. When he woke in the early morning, he saw something he’d seen years before, a continent away.

“I slept against the wall and my brother towards the edge,” he said. “I think it was around two or three in the morning when I noticed a white, long bright light, like when window blinds close and the light comes in.”

Something moved in the light.

“I had awaken my brother laying next to me to see what I was seeing,” he said. “This long, bright light transformed, and my brother said ‘look, it’s moving.’ I said, ‘what is that?’”

Both Hernandez and his brother saw little white figures, about three inches tall, moving in that light.

“They were talking amongst each other, moving around rapidly in a (different) dimension sort of way,” Hernandez said.

The light drew across the ceiling and onto the wall next to Hernandez before it disappeared.

Since this incident, Hernandez hasn’t seen the little people, but the thought of them still frightens him.

“I get the chills talking about it, as (does) my brother,” Hernandez said. “This has been something that has been bothering my brother and I for many years, thinking that it was just my mind or eyes playing tricks on me, but I know it wasn’t a child problem, since my older brother had confirmed it.”

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, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Encounter With A Time Traveler?

Jake Kell, a student at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo., pulled his 1999 Chevrolet S-10 next to a Git-N-Go convenience store gas pump in May 2003, stepped out of the pickup and started pumping gas.

A few minutes later, sweat rolling down Kell’s back in the humid late spring Missouri air, the nozzle handle clicked and the tank was filled. It was only 11 a.m.; he knew the day was going to only get more uncomfortable.

He didn’t expect it to get weird.

“I went in to pay for the gas,” Kell said. “The humidity made me weak, so I just wanted to pay for the gas and leave.”

After paying, he stepped from the air-conditioned store onto heat-radiating asphalt and the day quickly got strange.

“As I left the gas station, some large melon-headed man dressed in a business suit yelled, ‘What year is it?’” Kell said.

Kell stopped near his truck and turned to look at the man. The stranger’s stature was imposing.

“The large man was 6’ 7”,” Kell said. “He could have been taller.”

The “melon-headed man” stood in front of the store at a spot Kell would have noticed when he walked out to the parking lot – but he hadn’t. The man wore a dark black suit “with a rough fiber texture,” Kell said. “Along the lines of the things Teddy Roosevelt could wear.”

“What year is it?” the man yelled again.

The man, white, about 35 to 40 years old, wasn’t just tall, he was big, “not too thin, but not fat.”

“He was just a big man who was acting strange,” Kell said. “He was clean-shaven, no mustache or beard. He just looked like an average tall American. If you saw him in a large group of people you’d just think he’s tall.”

But he’d asked an odd question. Kell answered it. “Two-thousand three,” Kell told him.

The man’s face contorted in anger. “What year is it?” he screamed at Kell.

“Again I said ‘2003,’” Kell said. “I was starting to get ticked off.”

The large man screamed again. “What year is it?”

“I said ‘2003’ so he could hear me,” Kell said. “Then he quit asking.” Kell tried to ignore the man as he slid into his truck. “I said to myself, ‘is this guy an alien?’”

But when Kell turned to get another look at the large man, the man was gone. “He disappeared from the front of the gas station,” Kell said.

The only place the man could have gone that quickly was inside the store, but when Kell looked, the man wasn’t there.

“When it happened I thought nothing of it,” Kell said. “It’s only afterward that I happened to listen to Coast to Coast AM with George Noory (the nation’s top late-night radio talk show) where I heard about a time traveler sighting by a truck driver in Texas at a truck stop. Someone kept asking ‘What year is it?’ to the truck driver. The driver was annoyed and left.”

There are documented reports of time slips throughout history, such as RAF pilot Sir Victor Goddard who encountered airplanes in 1935 that didn’t exist until 1939, a 100-year-old Swiss watch found in a Chinese Ming dynasty tomb, and a man named John Titor who purported online to be from 2036 and made some accurate – and not so accurate – claims about the near future of mankind.

Although stories of out-of-place humans are common, what did Kell and the truck driver who called into the radio program experience? Lunatics? Pranksters? Or someone who was lost in time?

“These stories are not so rare as people think,” Kell said. “There are many people who have seen them. But the stories are so bizarre that I don’t think anyone would want to come foreword to tell it. Who would believe you?”

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, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Monday, November 08, 2010

Black-Eyed Woman in Australia

New faces at the disability health care center where Janita works in Melbourne, Australia, aren’t uncommon.

“We have lots of part-time workers and casual workers. Every day of the week there is different people helping us,” she said.

But one day in October 2010 a woman came to work with Janita – a woman who terrified her.

“This day was very busy,” Janita said. “We had a new worker with us. She was a female from Sydney. Petite blonde, long-haired lady, green eyes.”

The new co-worker, Sophie, “seemed nice,” but something about her struck Janita as odd.

“For some reason I didn’t feel comfortable being around her,” Janita said.

During Sophie’s first day on the job, Janita was assisting a disabled child in a wheelchair when she needed help.

“My manager asked me to get Sophie,” Janita said.

Someone had last seen Sophie in the break room, but when Janita walked in, the room was empty.

“She had just disappeared from the lounge room,” she said. “My manager went into the other rooms to find her and I went towards the bathrooms.”

Janita made her way to the back of the building to the bathrooms and found Sophie. She wished she hadn’t.

“I will never forget what I saw,” Janita said. “She was standing in the middle of the bathroom. She turned around and looked at me with huge black eyes.”

There were no irises in Sophie’s eyes and no whites – just black voids that burned themselves into Janita’s memory.

“She was staring at me,” Janita said. “It felt like she had no soul. It felt evil.”

Janita shot out of the bathroom and ran toward a room she knew would have people – the kitchen. Her manager was there.

“My manager just looked at me,” Janita said. “Then Sophie appears from the back room towards the kitchen like nothing happened. Her eyes were back to green.”

But Janita knew what she saw, and she knew the evil she felt radiating from that woman.

“I didn’t want to be around her,” Janita said. “I had to leave work that day. I told my manager I would be taking a couple of days off.”

When Janita returned to work days later, Sophie had returned to Sydney (598 miles) – but Janita couldn’t dismiss her fear.

“I found out that Sophie kept asking my manager about me,” she said. “It was scary. I never want to see her again.”

Sophie also chilled one of Janita’s co-workers, Emma. Emma said she didn’t feel at ease around Sophie either and suspected something sinister about the woman.

“She felt uncomfortable being around her, too,” Janita said. “When I told Emma what I saw she said, ‘I believe you. But keep away, she might be a lizzie.’”

This comment confused Janita.

“I said, ‘what do you mean?’” Janita said. “That’s when Emma said, ‘You know, reptilians. They’re supposed to run the world and have invaded this planet and they can shape-shift into anything. They’re evil.”

Conspiracy theorists, such as author David Icke, claim all the world governments and major financial institutions are secretly controlled by a race of reptilian extraterrestrials that can appear human.

“After she said that to me, I started reading about it,” Janita said. “It has actually scared me and I don’t want to look into people’s eyes anymore. I try and avoid the eyes.”

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, October 30, 2010

Ghosts of the J. Huston Tavern

Author’s note: This is my fourth year and 208th installment of “From the Shadows.” I just wanted to thank you, my friendly readers, for your support.

The two-story brick building has stood in the tiny town of Arrow Rock, Mo., for 176 years. The J. Huston Tavern, once an inn and mercantile for frontier travelers, is now a state historic site and restaurant – and home to visitors who never leave.

Chef Liz Huff, proprietor of the J. Huston Tavern since January 2009, has seen these ghostly visitors often.

“A ton of them,” she said.

Her first encounter was of a woman wearing a white gown Huff saw reflected in the glass of the dining room door. As the woman’s reflection moved across the glass, Huff looked into the dining room; no one was there.

“That scared me because that was the first thing I saw,” Huff said.

Huff and restaurant employees have ghostly experiences in the Tavern up to six times a day. Shadow figures dancing through the air, the sound of shuffling feet, and phantom whistling.

Cody Hedrick, Marshall, Mo., works at the tavern and has heard the whistling.

“At first I brushed it off, but it got louder,” he said. “It freaked me out.”

Coats move on racks, hanging pots bang in the kitchen, and doors swing on their own. But the most visible are the people.

“There’s a couple who likes to sit in the parlor room,” Huff said.

Huff first saw the couple in June 2009 as she walked past the hostess station and wondered why no one had filled their water glasses. As she looked at the couple, they vanished.

“No one was there,” she said. “I just started laughing.”

Although most entities encountered in the Tavern seem to be friendly, the basement isn’t the same story. Employees have developed the “Basement Buddy” system because they don’t like going into that oppressive atmosphere alone.

“It’s not pleasant down there,” Huff said. “It’s scary. There’s a heavy feeling down there like it’s harder to breath.”

A green light occasionally shoots through the basement, and employees have heard someone moving boxes when no one else is there. But one day, the oppressiveness followed Huff upstairs.

“I thought the scary part was just down there and that’s why I don’t mind being (in the tavern) at night myself,” she said.

But in the summer of 2009, Huff was closing the restaurant for the night when she realized she wasn’t alone.

“I felt someone behind me, literally a half-inch away from my body,” Huff said. “I was so scared to look back; I knew something was there but didn’t want to see it. I just kept walking faster. I made it outside and was trembling.”

But she hadn’t locked the cooler. Huff slowly pulled open the door, went back inside, and flipped on every light she could reach. Then she locked the cooler and bolted from the building.

“You know those horror movies where people can’t get the door locked because they’re shaking?” she said. “It was just like that.”

As she stood outside the door trying to put the key into the lock, the sound of someone banging pots together rang from the building. She finally slammed the key in, locked the door and drove to her father’s house. She couldn’t be alone that night.

“I think whatever’s in the basement came upstairs a minute,” she said. “I want him to stay in the basement or go away. I didn’t like it.”

Bunny Thomas, manager of the Tavern from 1976 to 1979 and proprietor from 1981 to 1986 and 1993-2000, has seen both faces of the Tavern – the friendly spirits and the dark ones.

One of her first nights on the job, a “very male, very sexy” voice said “hello there.”

“I looked around and no one was there,” she said. “In the ’70s, it wasn’t unusual to hear your name called.”

Although restaurants have plenty of turnover, Thomas said some of the turnover during her management directly related to the restless spirits.

“We had this kid who cleaned at night,” she said. “He said, ‘Bunny, I can’t do this anymore.’ I said, ‘why?’ He said, ‘I hear tables and chairs scooting across the floor and somebody called my name.’”

Thomas got a taste of the darkness when she lived on the second floor of the tavern during her divorce in the 1980s.

“The very first night I moved in, everybody came down and played cards,” she said. “When everybody left I got undressed and got in bed.”

Things quickly turned terrifying.

“I heard the stairs squeaking and I heard the floor squeaking and the next thing I knew the floor at the foot of my bed was squeaking,” she said. “I sat up in bed and there was nobody there. I put a table over that spot after that.”

The radio next to her bed would move through stations by itself, and a strange smoke occasionally floated through her room – although it wasn’t smoke.

“It was a ghost,” she said. “It was just like people described it being. It was wispy and you could see through it.”

Thomas’ fellow proprietor during the 1980s and 1990s, Clay Marsh, also experienced a few ghostly encounters in the tavern. But after Marsh died from cancer in the mid-2000s, he may have been come one of the tavern ghosts himself.

While Huff was on vacation in November 2009, Hedrick saw a man he didn’t recognize.

“Cody had a box of stuff and was walking upstairs and he walked to the top of the stairs and looked up and saw a man standing in the ballroom,” Huff said. “It was a solid human being.”

The figure wore a late-1700s to early 1800s black jacket, ruffled shirt, knickers and hat. Hedrick looked away and when he turned back the figure was gone.

But Huff had seen that outfit before – on Marsh

“It was exactly like Cody described,” Huff said. “It was the coolest thing. I thought wouldn’t that be neat if it was him.”

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, October 21, 2010

Something evil in the house

Something in the house in Auckland, New Zealand, seemed to glare at little Lydia Brooks as she lie in her room, trying to sleep.

“I grew up in a house with no discernible history as far as I know of,” Brooks said. “But the place just never felt right, never felt like home. I would feel watched all of the time. I was paranoid, for as long as I can remember, that someone was watching me.”

This feeling was so real, so oppressive, Brooks only slept a few hours a night, and always showered in her underwear. The house began to take a toll on her health.

“Scores of doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong,” she said. “I would go pale and pass out. My mother said you could see it happening. I would walk into the room, with my eyes big and glassy, my skin would turn white, and I would collapse.”

Then, in 1995, the feeling of being watched and her illness went away.

“Once I hit about 11 years old, I seemed to be able to turn off whatever part of me was sensitive,” Brooks, now 26, said. “This was a huge relief.”

Her parents, however, began to experience strange things in the house.

“My father doesn’t believe in anything paranormal, but admits to having dreams that have saved his life,” she said. “My mother believes in – I suppose you would call them ghosts. She never liked the house I grew up in.”

One day, Brooks’ mother found her feelings were justified.

“A family friend came over after-hours to polyurethane the floors in the front room,” Brooks said. “He was an older Maori man, very straight and raised Christian.”

The man later called Brooks’ mother to tell her he’d finished the floors, but had left a light on in the house.

“He mentioned then that the house had some strange vibes going on in it, but Mum just dismissed it,” Brooks said.

The next day, Brooks’ mother couldn’t dismiss it anymore.

“She picked me up from school very excited,” Brooks said. “She had arrived at the house after dropping me off in the morning, and not only was the light switch that had been left on in the off position, but the bulb itself was lying unbroken on the other side of the room. There is no way that the bulb could have survived a fall from the high ceilings, let alone ended up where it did.”

When Brooks was 17, her family moved into a new house.

“The change was amazing. The new house felt like home,” she said. “It always seemed sunny, the entire family got along better, I kept my room tidy.”

But they didn’t stay long, moving to a nearby house built after World War II.

“The woman who we bought the house from was pitiful, suffering from emphysema. She lived in the two front rooms, and ended up being moved into a hospice,” Brooks said. “I hated the house from the moment I moved into it. It was very oppressive.”

Being a teenager, Brooks was excited to move into the house a few days before the rest of her family, but the excitement quickly turned to fear. Something was there with her.

“I hated it,” she said. “I had forgotten that watched feeling while I had lived in the previous house.”

Her family felt it too, blaming the “watched” feeling on the house being so large and open.

“But it was more than that,” Brooks said. “I was constantly twitching curtains to make sure they were closed properly, I slept fitfully, and I never felt comfortable being there alone.”

Brooks’ mother would often smell perfume in the kitchen and laundry area – but the scent was nothing they’d brought with them.

“Even after living there for years, this waft of scent would just drift through the rooms,” Brooks said. “It wasn’t a scent any of us used, and it certainly didn’t appear at our last houses.”

Brooks’ cat also knew something strange was in the house.

“I was sitting up in bed one night in 2007, the cat was curled up next to my leg,” Brooks said. “I was just reading and everything was silent, when she suddenly went berserk.”

The cat leaped into the air, jumped backward, and started hissing and spitting. Brooks grabbed her cat, and it began to thrash about, clawing at Brooks to escape.

“Her body was twisting wildly, but the worst thing was her head was straining to stare at a spot in the dead center of my bed,” Brooks said. “She was screaming like I have never heard before or since, and just staring with massive eyes at a spot just by my calf.”

Brooks released the cat and it ran toward the door, continuing to look back at Brooks’ bed, ears pulled back, its hair on end.

“It was hideously frightening,” Brooks said. “As soon as I opened the door for her, she was fine, back to her normal, placid self.”

When Brooks took the cat back into her room, it fought to get away. She put the cat on the bed and it arched its back and took a swipe at the middle of the bed before diving off the bed and running out the door.

Brooks slept on the couch for three days until her cat felt comfortable in her room again.

“I have lived in older, ‘creepier’ houses than that one,” Brooks said, “but I have never since felt that irrational, unexplainable, unshakable fear.”

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,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Man Who Never Feels Cold

The town of Lawson, Mo., sat under thunderclouds on July 26, 1969, when Harold Deal, then 31, worked in a house as an electrical contractor.

Deal’s son Larry, 10, shook at every thunderclap.

“My son begged me, ‘Daddy, let’s go home,’” Deal said. “I did.”

Rain pounded the windshield of Deal’s truck as he drove to his home nearby.

“When I was about a block and a half from the house, I happened to look at my watch,” Deal said. “It was 9:12 in the evening.”

Most of the next six hours were impossible to remember.

Deal pulled his truck into his driveway and parked. He sent Larry to the front door to make sure it was open before grabbing some important papers and stepping out of the truck. Then the night exploded in light.

“Between the third and fourth step I felt like I was (riding) something real fast,” he said. “It felt like my head was being sucked down between my shoulder blades.”

Lightning had struck Deal, knocking him out of his work boots and slamming him to the ground.

“I felt like a pincushion was inside of me,” he said. “And I could not see.”

When Deal’s sight and senses returned it was 4:20 a.m.

For the next month Deal couldn’t walk, and every movement sent stabs of pain throughout his body. To relieve the pain, he underwent back surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kansas City.

“They ended up taking two vertebrae out of my back,” Deal said. “I was about five feet, eight and a quarter inches and I ended up after surgery two and a quarter inches shorter.”

After surgery, the pain was gone, but doctors told him he would never walk again. Deal did walk, but the lightning strike left Deal with a strange ability – he’s impervious to cold.

“The way this lightning has left me, I never get cold,” Deal said. “I’ve been out in seventy-two below zero temperature (in Hell, Michigan). I don’t wear a jacket. I don’t wear long sleeves, I don’t wear long pants.”

Dr. Mary Ann Cooper of the Lightning Injury Research Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said lightning strikes could affect the body this way, but it’s unpredictable.

“Most doctors tell me it’s impossible,” Deal said. “It’s medically impossible.”

But it’s still true.

News photographers have shot Deal sitting in a bathtub of ice and bathing in a snowdrift. He stood in only a pair of shorts for four hours at minus 70 degrees for a television news program in Hell, Michigan. Heat bothers him, but pain, taste and the sensation of cold are gone.

While recovering from lightning strike, Deal has also dealt with emotional trauma. His first wife divorced him a few years after the strike and his friends seemed to disappear. He contemplated suicide in 1991 – but something happened to stop him.

“I was tired of living,” he said. “I was just through with it.”

That’s when Deal said God spoke to him.

“He said, ‘Harold, you feel you have to explain you’re the way you are,’” Deal said. “He said, ‘remember, there’s two types of people out there. There’s gossipers and there’s sincere people. The sincere ones will ask you questions. The gossipers don’t want the truth; they’ve got their mind made up. I don’t know how to explain it. I just felt it.”

After that experience, Deal has not only accepted what happened to him after the lightning strike, he’s used his experience to help others.

“I feel my life today is so much richer so much fuller,” he said. “The Lord has shown me how to appreciate life. I don’t take it for granted anymore.”

This lead Deal to the group Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors International, where he councils people who have also been struck by lightning.

“I call into seven or eight states a week when I hear someone has been struck by lightning or electricity,” he said. “I talk to them to give them psychologically what to expect.”

Deal’s life isn’t really about his life, or his inability to feel cold. It’s about how he can help others.

“It’s not what Harold Deal has done, it’s what the Lord has done through Harold Deal,” he said. “I can’t explain it. All I can do is share it.”

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, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog,

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Missouri Men In Black? – Part Two

Author’s notes: 1) This is the last in a short series on encounters with strange men in Missouri. 2) Witness Lynn Graves has provided me with a picture of one of these strange men, however, since the man is identifiable, I cannot publish the picture.

Lynn Graves saw the first strange man in Jefferson City. Thin, mechanical, and mumbling to the point of buzzing, the man followed Graves through a department store and a bookstore on two separate occasions.

Since those encounters, different men – although with the same robotic, soulless mannerisms – have followed her to work in the Lake of the Ozarks.

“I really think these guys are taking interest in me. These men I believe are non-human people of some sorts,” she said. “I know that they know I'm noticing them and talking about them to certain people.”

About three weeks after she first encountered the odd person with a false male voice, she heard that voice at work – 45 miles away.

“I was working on a day that was kinda busy,” she said. “I heard that same deep low voice that came from the man in Target, but from a different man.”

She looked and saw a fellow employee talking about the hotel with a thin man wearing a beige, button-up shirt and sunglasses. The man shortly left, but he would be back.

“A couple weeks after that I saw him again,” she said. “He asked me about rates. He was very weird the way he spoke and behaved.”

Graves started to tell the man the hotel rates when he interrupted her.

“Oh well,” the man said. “We got some place to stay down the road.”

Then he turned and walked away.

“The way he talked and moved reminded me of the guy in the first ‘Men In Black’ movie,” Graves said. The ‘guy’ in the movie was an alien who behaved robotically. “That’s what these guys would remind you of.”

The movie, “Men in Black” (1997) was loosely based on a character in ufology that resembles the men Graves reports.

When the man walked away, although still in the lobby, two fellow employees approached Graves and asked about the “weird guy.”

“I acted like I didn't suspect anything,” Graves said. “I just agreed that he was very strange.”

The man looked around the hotel’s gift shop before taking a decade-out-of-date cell phone from his pocket and pretended to have a conversation.

“He walked outside around the corner of the building where the parking lot is,” Graves said. “I watched and watched to see what car pulled out, but I didn't see anything.”

Later that night, a hotel guest complained his iPod had been stolen from his locked vehicle, but Graves didn’t think much about it until later.

About a week later, a boat explosion seriously injured a family at a dock near the hotel. Later that day, she saw two of these strange men.

“These guys were a little thinner but also wore sunglasses,” she said. “One of them was dressed like an obvious tourist. I think they try too hard to fit in.”

One of the men – who all appear to be between 45 and 55 – walked through the door and approached the front desk.

“He gave me en evil look out of the corner of his eye, but approached the other woman I worked with and asked her if we had rooms available,” Graves said. “She said, ‘no, we are full.’”

This seemed to be what the man wanted to hear and walked out.

“This guy was like, OK, and just walked off,” Graves said. “My lady friend that I work with made a comment that he was very, very strange.”

Later in the evening, she saw the second man walking back and forth from the hall to the lobby. The man also held an older-model cell phone to his ear, but didn’t speak.

“He looked at me out of the corner of his eye,” Graves said. “That guy gave me such a bad feeling of dread. The feeling I get from them paralyzes me.”

During Labor Day weekend, 2010, another boating accident near the hotel killed a young woman. Soon after, another of Graves’ strange men appeared.

“There were some young guests in the hotel that came up to me concerned about a very suspicious man down on one of the floors that was in shorts, a T-shirt and sunglasses,” Graves said. “Indoors in the evening? Yeah, I'm pretty sure that was one of my guys.”

She called security on the radio and asked them to look for the man. Security couldn’t find him. Days later, one of these men showed up again.

“We had a group of business people in house,” Graves said. “I was standing at the front desk on a computer (when) all the sudden out of nowhere there was a guy standing by the fireplace on a cell phone, but not talking.”

The man wore layers of clothing and did not fit in with the hotel crowd. Graves reached to the desk and grabbed her camera, but when she turned back he had vanished.

“I was gone for no more than six seconds and when I came back he was not anywhere,” she said. “He was not standing by a door or hallway to where he could have escaped my view.”

Minutes later, a cab pulled up to the hotel, the cab driver steps out of the car and “falls flat on his butt.”

“These men I've seen are not guests at the hotel. They seem to only stick around for a short while,” Graves said. “Every time I see one of these guys at the hotel something bad, big or small, happens.”

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,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Missouri Men In Black?

Author’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on strange encounters in Missouri.

The man in the Jefferson City, Mo., Target seemed out of place. As Lynn Graves walked to the checkout line, she saw the man, dressed in an out-of-date business suit and thin-framed sunglasses, quickly approach her.

“I saw him walking in like he was really on a mission,” Graves said. “I was checking out and he comes up right behind me with one item.”

The man stood close enough to Graves to make her uncomfortable and began to mumble, although Graves couldn’t understand what he said. She purchased her items and stepped forward.

“After I paid I was still fumbling with my money while he was paying for his,” she said. “He told the lady, ‘Thank you’ in a very deep voice. It sounded like me when I try to make myself sound like a man. So it was kind of a fake voice.”

Graves’ daughter and a friend were standing a nearby and noticed something odd with the man as well.

“When we got in the car, we waited for him to walk out and he did,” Graves said. “Very straight and with a mission like he did when he walked in.”

The man got into an early 1990s model Crown Victoria and drove away. But the three got a look what the man purchased – adult feminine diapers.

“After we drove off down the road we were talking about how strange that guy was,” Graves said. “I told my daughter and her friend that he reminded me of an MIB.”

Men in Black, first reported in author and UFO researcher Gray Barker’s 1956 book, “They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers.” are reported as thin men, often exhibiting behavior like they don’t fit in with society. They wear sunglasses, old fashioned black suits or out-of-place clothing, and harass people who have UFO encounters. Some MIBs tell abductees they are government agents, others claim to be aliens, and still others just make their presence known.

Graves thought the man might be a MIB because of a dream.

“I had a very realistic dream only a couple weeks earlier about me, my daughter and one of my friends seeing an alien craft that ended up abducting us,” she said.

Like many who claim alien abduction, Graves can’t remember anything past the initial encounter, and woke up some time later feeling disoriented.

“(Graves’ daughter and friend) kinda took me seriously because he was that weird,” Graves said.

Graves might have brushed off the encounter with the strange mumbling man in Target if she hadn’t seen him again.

“I decided to just go to Jefferson City to Barnes and Noble to look for any book that related to this (MIB) subject,” she said

She took her daughter and two male friends on the trip and, during the drive, told them about the similar men she saw while at work at a Lake of the Ozarks hotel (more of this in Part Two).

"I told them about these men after they told me about a strange call they got on their cell phone from a man with a very low voice that asked if they called his phone,” Graves said. “I got a cold chill when they told me this, because I got a call similar to that at work on our work line. And the voice just cut right through you. It was scary.”

Pulling into the Barnes and Noble parking lot, Graves told her passengers she hoped they saw one of those men – not knowing they would.

“We were in the bookstore for a while looking at all different kinds of books,” she said. “After we all went to the new age section and started looking at the books about the government, aliens, and such, the same guy that I saw in Target comes up and starts looking in the same area that we were.”

And the man became intrusive.

“It’s like he kept buzzing around us and getting in our way,” she said. “He was doing that mumbling thing again, and I still couldn't make out words. I turned around to one of my friends and mouthed to him ‘that was one of those guys.’”

The thin, mumbling man never looked at Graves or her companions, but Graves felt he was monitoring them. Graves said the mumbling began to sound like a bee’s buzz as the man looked at books about 2012 prophecies.

“We all walked to the front of the store, I watched him over the shelves,” she said. “My daughter took a picture and a video of him. He was wearing the same sunglasses, and kinda dressed the same.”

The man also carried a cell phone, noticeably older than cell phones used today.

“We saw him walk straight over to the corner of the store and sit with a book across from a lady,” Graves said.

When Graves glanced back, the man was gone.

What did Graves see? A man simply out-of-tune with society, or do MIBs monitor her after an alien encounter that may not have been a dream?

“I want someone out there to know about these men I've been seeing lately,” Graves said. “The first ones I noticed in public, and the rest have been showing up at my job. These men I believe are non-human people of some sorts. The weird thing is I really think these guys are taking an interest in me.”

Next week: Encounters at work.

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, September 23, 2010

Night of the Howler

Lightning flashes filled the bedroom, followed seconds later by booming thunder, rousing 10-year-old Dave Barsalow from sleep. The autumn storm rolling through New York State’s Hudson Valley engulfed the 100-year-old farmhouse, a strong, moaning wind piercing the night.

As Barsalow lie in his bed on the first floor, his parents and sister asleep upstairs, he realized something was outside his window.

“With the wind there came this other sound,” Barsalow said. “It made goosebumps race over my body. It was an ungodly howling. A wailing that didn’t, couldn’t have come from human lips. No animal I knew could wail like that.”

This noise, from what Barsalow later called “the Howler,” came from outside his first-floor bedroom window. His parents and sister slept in bedrooms upstairs.

“I was terrified,” Barsalow said. “I jumped out of bed and raced to my grandmother’s bedroom.”

When Barsalow reached her first-floor room, his grandmother was sitting up in bed. He climbed in next to her and pulled the covers tight.

“What is that, Grandma?” he asked.

Barsalow’s grandmother assured him the noise was just the wind.

“I knew it wasn’t the wind,” he said. “And I knew she knew it wasn’t the wind.”

The wailing came around the house, its scream sounding even closer.

“It had to be right on the front porch, right outside Grandma’s window,” Barsalow said. “Grandma put an arm around me and held me tight. The howling was right outside her window now, just a few feet away from us. I buried my face in her shoulder.”

Eventually the sound moved away, merging with the storm that worked its way down the valley. Barsalow finally dropped into sleep. When he woke, sunlight streaming through the window, his grandmother was already up.

“I climbed out of bed and peeked out the window,” he said. “I saw her outside already with a mop and a bucket, cleaning the porch floor.”

Barsalow ran to the front door and stepped outside.

“From there I could see what my grandma was cleaning,” he said. “There were muddy footprints all over the floor.”

The muddy footprints were small – like those of a toddler.

“They were little, tiny footprints,” Barsalow said. “I got goosebumps again. I asked Grandma what made the footprints. She didn’t answer and she kept cleaning.”

Barsalow’s nine-year-old sister walked from the house and onto the porch. She saw her grandmother erasing the tiny prints.

“She saw the footprints, too,” Barsalow said. “Thirty years later when I was telling my wife this story, my sister was able to confirm seeing those tiny footprints.”

However, Barsalow’s sister didn’t hear the Howler in the storm. Barsalow hasn’t heard that howl since, but two years after the first encounter, he saw the footprints again.

“It was a bright, clear morning after a nor’easter had dropped close to two feet of snow on us,” he said. “I was out walking around the yard, thigh deep in the fresh, cold powder. I noticed something odd. There was a set of footprints in the new fallen snow.”

The footprints surprised Barsalow. They were tiny – like the footprints of a child. There were no other marks in the fresh snow.

“This was the morning after a major winter storm,” he said. “There was little or no chance that anyone would have been out roaming in the snow-filled blackness of the previous night.”

The tracks came across an open field, through Barsalow’s yard and into the woods.

“I got a chill when I got close to the footprints because I realized that they were small, like a toddler’s feet,” he said. “I knew those tracks. They were the same ones that were on the porch on the morning of the visit of the Howler.”

Barsalow followed the tracks down the hill.

“There I stopped dead and my heart jumped into my throat,” he said. “At the bottom of a small rise the tracks seemed to split. The left foot went in one direction and right in another. That scared me just looking at it. The tracks, each foot on its own path, disappeared into the woods.”

Barsalow just stood in the woods dazed, looking at the tiny footprints.

“I tried to puzzle out what I was looking at,” Barsalow said. “I was 12 at the time, not a small child. I could think. And I couldn’t find an explanation for what I was seeing. Soon enough, I ran back to the house and went inside. I never mentioned the tracks to anyone. They scared me too much.”

Although Barsalow hasn’t seen similar footprints since, knowing the Mohegan, Pequot, Mohawk and Iroquois tribes that lived in and around the property all had legends of little people – some of which were tricksters associated with storms – makes some sense to him.

“Both times I encountered those small footprints it was the morning after a major storm. One in winter and one in summer. Coincidence?” he said. “I never did ask my grandmother about the Howler again. I think part of me was afraid to know what it really was outside the window that night.”

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, September 16, 2010

The Flying Thing

The summer afternoon beckoned Wade M. to stop in Del Mar, Calif., on his way home from San Diego to San Marcos. He stopped at the beach and spent the rest of that June day surf fishing.

He got home after dark, around 9 p.m.

“I relaxed, had a beer or two and went to my covered drive to clean my catch,” Wade said. “I completed that task and looked to the north at the rocky mountainside in the near distance.”

He didn’t expect to see what was there.

“Above my neighbor’s homes across the street something was shimmering and moving rapidly side to side in a space of maybe 60’ at 20’ altitude,” Wade said. “I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me from the time earlier in the day when I spent time on the beach in the bright afternoon sun. I was wrong.”

Wade saw two shimmering, nearly transparent parallel lines about three-feet wide in the air moving silently and quickly side to side in the faint glow of a streetlight.

“It was just wings and eyes,” he said. “The wings didn’t flap like a birds, it was more like a dragonfly, but dragonflies don’t grow three-foot wingspans, fly at night, or display what seemed to be some kind of intelligence like this thing did.”

The entity’s side-to-side movements encompassed about 60 feet in what Wade estimated was only a few seconds. When the thing noticed Wade had seen it, it stopped in the air across.

“Whatever it was, it halted its side-to-side movement and seemed to focus on me,” he said.

As Wade stared at the creature, he realized it was aware of him, too. Fear gripped Wade and he felt his hair rise from his scalp to his ankles.

“I was sure it was a real thing, then I noticed the thing had big black eyes,” he said. “It sounds silly but it actually looked like the stack of money with eyes in the Geico insurance commercials that have run on TV recently. But they weren’t friendly eyes at all.”

Then the thing quickly shot across the street toward Wade. He dropped and it swooped over his head.

“The thing was interested in me,” Wade said. “It was staring me down when it was across the street and either attacked or was trying to intimidate me, or who knows what, when it came at me.”

Wade moved from under the covered part of his drive to get a better look at the swooping thing. It was directly above his head.

“I felt great fear,” Wade said. “I said to the thing out loud,’ I see you.’”

It moved again.

“It zipped back into view from the direction it had gone, and was looking directly down at me with the weird unblinking eyes,” he said. “It realized I was looking right at it, and it took off in a flash.”

The next day, Wade asked neighbors about the entity.

“I talked to the lady across the street,” he said. “I told her what happened. She didn’t see anything, but told me of an encounter she had in a grove with something similar.”

A week later, Wade saw it again.

“It may have been at my bedroom window in the night,” Wade said. “But it’s gone. This time for good, I hope.”

Author’s note: Do you know what Wade saw? Let me know at

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,

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Fight for a Man’s Soul

Bob Higgins went for a rebound in a Mormon Church gym when someone cut out his legs and he fell to the court, his head bouncing off the hard wood floor.

“I suffered an extremely hard concussion and lived,” Higgins said.

Higgins, a Catholic, had twisted his ankle playing in that gym before, and after his teammates dismissed his injury, he vowed to God he’d never play there again. But he did – and as Higgins lie on the floor unconscious, he felt his spirit leave his body.

“I was out and floated up through the hoop looking down at myself as my teammates carried me off,” he said.

Higgins said he could see a clear silver strand connecting his spirit self to his physical body as his teammates moved his body onto a stage adjacent to the court. Then they left his body there and resumed the game. His spirit self stood, watching the game until he saw people approaching.

“A group of what I think were angels began walking my way,” he said. “Then out of the group a small man came having been directed by a taller bearded man from a group of robed men.”

This small man reached out to Higgins and carried him up a tunnel of light.

“We arrived at a large glass-like temple with black and gold flakes in the shiny floor, mostly black,” he said. “The purple curtains were very tall all around.”

Higgins’ guide took him up steps to a throne holding a bearded man.

“He had dark black hair and bore scars on his hands and feet and face,” Higgins said. “I am sure it was Jesus. He looked like a biker, not menacing but authoritative and in control.”

This man Higgins believed to be Jesus wore sandals of gold and jewels. He looked at Higgins, then, unsmiling, gave commands to the small man who had brought him there.

“I felt kind of ashamed to be there because I really didn't want to be there,” Higgins said. “I knew he knew all about me, but it went so quickly and I felt like it as a blur and I really had no control of myself at this point. I could think and see, but I didn't breath or feel anything; I was just an it.”

The man on the throne gestured to a person Higgins felt was an angel. The angel took Higgins by the arm and led back to the tunnel. Higgins didn’t like what waited for him back in the gym.

“We descended swiftly and I found myself sitting up still out of my body and I saw around me large men in bright robes; large blonde men with backsides like ‘he men,’” Higgins said. “Very big guys fighting with fierce looking scraggly men trying to reach around savagely at me with long nails; dirty desperate looking men who I could barely make out in the darkness.”

These unkempt men in rags fought with Higgins’ angels, trying to grab Higgins, then one angel touched Higgins and he woke.

“Whoa, I had a headache,” Higgins said. “I had to be carried back to my apartment with a concussion and off work for a week.”

Higgins believes his experience has to do with breaking his promise to God.

“I think I let the devil in,” he said. “I had not kept my vow not to play ball with the Mormons because I had been hurt before playing ball with them and they just left me there. Mormons aren’t bad, it was just a failure on my part to keep my vow.”

Something happened to Higgins after his concussion – something that lets him see future horrors.

“I got warnings of attacks in my sleep about terrorists, through the first Trade Center bombing and the Oklahoma City bombing,” he said.

His most terrifying premonition was on Sept. 10, 2001.

“A spirit tried to wake me the night before 9-11 and told me, ‘Wake up young man, your nation is under attack,’” Higgins said. “I asked in my sleep, ‘Where? Where? By whom?”

The spirit told him Washington, D.C., and New York.

“I was so disturbed to see rubble and smoke as if I was propelled in time to the scene,” Higgins said. “I was choking.”

Higgins kicked in his sleep and woke his wife who asked what was wrong.

“I told her what the spirit said to me and she remembered it later that morning and was astonished,” he said. “I was sorely confused. I thought about it all morning and I couldn't decide what I should do.”

He realized there was nothing he could do.

“I felt bad knowing this and not doing anything to this day,” Higgins said. “Watching in horror as the planes hit the second time then people jumping to their deaths.”

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,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Something in the Basement

Tommie Martin’s family moved into a green house with a big yard in Taylorsville, Utah, when he was five years old.

“My parents were really excited because this was the first house that they actually owned,” Martin, now 20, said. “When we moved in, there were five of us. I was the oldest, my sister was three, and my brother was one. A year later my youngest sister was born.”

The upstairs held the kitchen, living room and his parent’s bedroom. The children slept downstairs in the basement – and none of them liked being there.

“There was something very, very evil about that basement and all of us kids could feel it,” Martin said. “None of us knew what is was that made it feel that way, but we did not like to be downstairs at any time, but especially at night.”

Martin and his siblings felt so uncomfortable in their rooms, they slept upstairs whenever their parents would let them.

“We would sleep in the living room instead of our own rooms,” Martin said. “That is how much we hated it down there.”

It took a few years, but Martin finally discovered why he and his siblings were scared.

“One night, I found myself awaking on the floor of my room,” he said. “I don’t know how I got there, but that was the least of my concerns. As I focused on the room around me I found a dark figure in front of me.”

Martin couldn’t make out the features of this figure; it was simply the black shadow of a man looming in front of him.

“I have never felt such an evil feeling before in my life, or after for that matter,” Martin said. “I was unable to move, to speak, or do anything, but cry in my head for my parents to come save me, which didn’t happen.”

Martin switched his inward cries for his parents into prayers to God, then he blacked out.

“I don’t know what happened after that,” he said. “I just woke up the next morning not even sure that it really happened.”

Martin found in the ever-darkening nights while his family lived there, that this shadow man left its mark on his room.

“The evil feeling the spirit released in my room never went away,” Martin said.

Martin’s family stayed in that house five more years before moving to a house in South Jordan, Utah. After the move, Martin and his sibling’s fear of the dark faded away.

“One thing I always wondered was why I had that experience at that house and nobody else had,” he said. “I shared a room with my little brother, and he never knew anything happened.”

But sometime after Martin turned 18 and started talking with his siblings, he found just how much that house terrified them.

“I talked to my brother and sisters and about that house,” he said. “Even my little sister, who was only three or so when we moved, said that she had not liked being in that basement."

His oldest sister later told him she hated the entire house – especially the downstairs bathroom.

“She was so scared at night to leave her room, that she wet her pants for years instead of using the bathroom,” he said. “She told me that of all the places in the downstairs of that house, that bathroom had always scared her the most.”

Although that house is long gone from Martin’s life, its mark will never leave.

“Looking back, my mind felt clouded, almost like it wasn’t functioning right, for the time that I lived at that house, when I moved, that clouded sensation in my mind went away,” he said. “This was my first encounter with a spirit of some kind, and to be honest, I really wish it hadn’t happened. I hope I never see another spirit for as long as I live, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to happen.”

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,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Black-Eyed Kids in Ohio

Author’s note: This is a story about a man’s encounter with Black-Eyed Kids. “Noetic” is not his name; he asked for anonymity.

Although Noetic saw the teens as he stepped outside the Ohio data center where he worked, he wasn’t ready for what happened.

“It freaked me out,” Noetic said.

Noetic works as the weekend computer engineer from 11:30 p.m. to noon. While he works, he’s in the building alone, but has never felt uncomfortable until the weekend of July 31, 2010.

“Our building is pretty secure,” he said. “I have a camera display of our parking lot, both front and back, as well as the front doors and back which is all displayed on one of my monitors.”

However, he was outside when he saw the teens.

“There is a bar and a small plaza directly to the right of our building, and a small apartment complex across the street,” he said. “So it is not out of character to see someone walking through our lot going to the bar, or crossing the street to get to the apartments.”

But it was 5 a.m. As he stood outside the building and lit a cigarette, the smoke curling into the morning sky, he saw two teens around 14 to 16 years old standing in the parking lot of the plaza; the boys immediately frightened him.

“I had a bit of a unnerving feeling from them because from the moment I walked out from of the building all they appeared to do was stare me down,” he said. “I am sure this is a bit normal, five in the morning and a guy suddenly coming out of a quiet, empty building, perhaps I scared them a bit.”

Noetic stood at the door, smoking his cigarette, birds beginning to sing as the light of dawn grew around him.

“I smoked my cigarette while keeping a eye on them,” Noetic said. “I finished up and went back into the (building).”

Ten minutes later the intercom buzzed.

“I look over to the monitor and it's these two kids,” he said.

Noetic hit the intercom button and asked them what they wanted. One of the boys looked into the camera and beaconed Noetic to come to the front door.

“I hit the talk button and tell them I am busy I don't have time for games, they need to leave the property,” Noetic said. “Instead they just sort of hang on right in front of the door.”

Noetic tries to ignore the boys staring at him from the TV monitor, but he can’t. He goes to the lobby and looked at the boys through the front glass; the type of glass where people in the lobby can see out, but people outside can’t see in.

The boys were dressed like normal teens; shorts, dark hoodies, and tennis shoes.

“The one thing that set these kids apart from other kids, they had deep, completely black eyes,” he said. “This really set me back. I felt like as if they actually were able to see me.”

Noetic pushed open the lobby door, ready to tell the boys to leave or he would call the police. He never got the chance.

“One kid looked at me and said almost instantly, ‘That will not be necessary sir, we simply need to use your phone, can you let us in?’” Noetic said. “I do not let anyone in.”

When Noetic told the black-eyed teens to leave, they didn’t behave like normal teens.

“The one talking to me didn't like that one bit and went on to tell me, ‘No, you’re going to invite us in,’” Noetic said. “By this time, the other kid is just giving me this weird twisted little grin. Something was off. I almost instantly felt this. ‘Threatened’ is the best word I can use.”

The black-eyed teens stood their ground, waiting for Noetic to invite them in.

“I have never been at a loss for words, but at this point I actually was maybe even a bit taken by the kid’s bluntness,” he said.

Noetic again tells the boys he will call the police, pulls his cell phone from his pocket and closes the lobby door. He walks back to his desk and watches them on the monitors.

“The one ended up going to the back door and just stood there staring at the camera in the back while the other, who was talking to me, stared at the camera in the front,” Noetic said.

By this time it’s near 6 a.m. Noetic hit the intercom button and told them the police are on their way.

“He just smiles and tells me, ‘I need to use the phone, let us in,’” Noetic said.

Then the boys moved. They met behind the building and stepped into a blind spot in the security system, a spot from which there is no exit. They had disappeared from Noetic’s monitor.

“If you go in this blind spot, there is nowhere to go. You have to end up back on camera again,” Noetic said. “If they would have jumped the fence, I would have seen them on camera. I saw nothing.”

Noetic didn’t move from that spot until the police arrived. He sent the officers around to the blind spot, but the boys were gone.

“The few things that still stand out in my mind is those freaking eyes, how he talked and carried himself as well as just that weird, weird feeling,” Noetic said. “I best quoted from the movie The Crow, at the time talking to that kid, ‘I felt like a little worm on a big (expletive) hook.’”

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,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Voice in the Night

Donna Letzig walked through her house, a house her family had lived in for 17 years, and checked on her daughters before she retired for the night.

Her daughters, who shared a room, lie in their beds watching television, both ready to drop into sleep. Satisfied her family was safe for the evening, Letzig went to bed herself and cuddled next to her husband preparing for the 30 minutes to a hour it took her to fall into sleep.

But a few minutes after she rested her head on the pillow, Letzig noticed something was wrong.

“I was lying next to my husband on my side with my back to him. Our legs were touching,” she said. “I was still wide awake, but getting comfortable and relaxed. After about 10 minutes I felt a strange sensation by my legs.”

Startled, Letzig tried to pass off the feeling as her husband moving his legs.

“I laid there and as the shock of that started to wear off it happened again,” she said. “This time, I realized (my husband’s) legs are touching me, and they are not moving.”

Letzig felt something like a cat walking on top of the blankets. The Letzigs had a dog, but they didn’t have a cat. And whatever walked on the blankets wasn’t a dog.

“At this point I am terrified,” Letzig said. “I have my eyes squeezed shut as tight as possible. There was no way I wanted to look and see what was touching me. I was frozen in that position.”

Then came the call for help.

“Suddenly the movement stopped and directly in my ear I heard my older daughter’s voice shout, ‘Mom,’” Letzig said.

Despite the movement of something unseen on her bed, at the sound of her daughter’s voice Letzig bolted from bed and ran out of her bedroom door, through the dining room and almost tripped over their dog.

“He never lays in (the dining room),” Letzig said. “He sleeps in a dog bed in our room.”

Avoiding the dog and running down the hall, Letzig reached her daughters’ room. Her youngest daughter was asleep and her oldest daughter lay in bed watching TV, barely awake.

Everything looked fine.

“She (her oldest daughter) looked at me and muttered, ‘what’s up?’” Letzig said. “I said, ‘Did you call me just now?’”

Her oldest daughter looked at her in a sleep-induced haze.

“No,” she said grumpily. “I was almost asleep.”

Letzig went back to her bedroom, but she didn’t fall asleep for quite a while. She was so frightened by her daughter’s disembodied voice she left the bedroom light on.

“The thing that scared me the most was that whatever it was, it mimicked my daughter’s voice so well,” Letzig said. “Why? I have no idea. It wanted me out of bed, that was for certain, but for what reason, I will never know. It also scared my dog, which is another odd thing.”

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,

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Terror of Black-Eyed People

The killer stared down nine-year-old Jordan Williams seconds after he shot his 10th victim. It’s something that’s been burned into the young Williams memory forever.

Cabbie Derrick Bird, who’d terrorized Cumbria, UK, drove by Williams and his mother in the small resort town of Seascale, when Bird pulled alongside 64-year-old cyclist Michael Pike, leveled a hunting rifle out the window of his cab and fired. Bird was less than six feet away from Williams as the shot tore through Pike.

“There was blood everywhere,” Williams told the UK’s Daily Record on June 4, 2010. “It was horrible.”

As the cabbie drove slowly by, staring at Williams, the boy noticed something odd about the man – something unnatural.

“The crazy driver stared me in the eyes, and my mum,” Williams said. “He looked a bit mad. He had his eyes like a hawk staring at something. His eyes were black.”

Dead black.

“We were like that for seven seconds but it felt a lot longer,” Williams said. “I didn’t run. I don’t know why.”

Bird killed two more people before turning the gun on himself.

Stories of Black-Eyed People – whose eyes are voids with no iris, no whites – are always threatening and always terrifying. However, these stories are usually not reported in the mainstream press, unlike this story of the cabbie in the Daily Record.

What are these human-like beings whose eye sockets reflect nothing but darkness? Monsters? Extraterrestrials? Something more sinister? Most people who see them don’t want to find out. Susan from New Orleans is one of these people.

As Susan stepped through the doorway of a grocery store in 2004, a man in his late 20s or early 30s dressed in an old-fashioned black suit stepped past her. She immediately knew something was wrong.

“This all happened in a second’s time,” Susan said. “As my head raised up my eyes made a direct contact with a man coming out of the store going the opposite way. There were no eyes, just deep black holes of space. A total void where sockets and eyes should be.”

The man was not blind. He walked confidently and directly.

“Oh man, did my radar go off,” Susan said. “My inner voice told me to get the hell away so I hurried my steps into the grocery store.”

Inside the store she looked to see if anyone else reacted to the black-eyed man, but everyone seemed normal.

“For many years now I have tried to put this behind me, only discussing this with my husband,” Susan said. “I didn’t want to give much credence to this being because this was the most profound evilness I have ever experienced. It was too terrifying for me to think about.”

That terror has also visited Stephen Dawson of Manchester, UK.

Dawson moved from his mother’s place into his own flat in the mid-1990s. The flat was the bottom floor of a converted house owned by his mother’s boyfriend.

“Which meant no deposit, which was a bonus,” Dawson said. “I have always been very independent and finally having the opportunity to have my own space and freedom kind of went to my head as I settled in for the first night there.”

Dawson sat reading in bed, the doors to the front room closed and the sound of urban traffic playing in the background, when he felt something wrong.

“Without warning, I began sensing someone at the bottom of my bed,” he said. “I gently placed my book down and looked directly in front of me. I could see nothing and the more I looked at the emptiness the more intense the feeling got.”

As Dawson turned back to his book, he realized all he could hear was his heartbeat. No horns, no music from passing cars, nothing.

“I was no more then a couple of sentences into (the book) when the temperature dropped considerably followed by a feeling of dread and almost terror,” Dawson said. “I was frozen with fear for what seemed like hours but in reality was probably only seconds.”

When Dawson dragged his eyes from the book and focused on the end of his bed, he saw the bedroom doors slowly open.

“I don’t mind saying it was squeaky bum time for me, but try as I did I couldn’t help but look,” Dawson said. “The doors continued to slowly open, but instead of seeing my front room all I could see was total darkness.”

Then he saw the girl. A pale girl dressed in black stood at the end of his bed.

“I was transfixed on her face watching as her mouth opened and shut but with no sound coming from it,” Dawson said. “It was then I was drawn upwards to what was by far the most terrifying part of the night.”

He looked into her eyes and saw nothing but darkness.

“It wasn’t an impression of darkness, but was literally darkness,” Dawson said. “No pupils, no whites of the eyes, nothing just a blackness.”

As Dawson looked into that blackness, he felt those dark voids pull him toward sleep.

“It took one hell of an effort to break myself away from it,” he said. “As I did I shut my eyes and kept it that way till I felt (the entity) dissipate and then go.”

When the feeling of oppression left his bedroom and the noise of urban life began seeping back into the night, Dawson opened his eyes and the black-eyed girl was gone.

“I didn’t get any sleep on that first night,” he said. “I stayed there for just over a year and in all that time I never saw the girl again but was aware of the same presence. Years later I went back to show a new tenant around (which) was followed by the return of the same feeling of dread and heaviness of the atmosphere. I decided to bravely wait outside.”

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,

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,