The Grand-Daddy of all Ghost Stories
Before I begin this, I want to let you know that I will be changing some of the facts of the criminal case to protect my identity. I will not, however, be changing anything that occured to ME. Everything I say here is true as I perceived it. Whether or not it is really true or is just my fantastical imaginings, well, you'll have to decide.
In our former town, there is a serial killer on the loose. No one knows how many women he has actually killed, but the number attributed to him is anywhere between 5 and 10. He always takes the same type of woman: Mid-thirties, troubles with drugs, sexually promiscous, dirty blond hair, normal builds, neither scrawny nor fat. One of the woman abducted was taken less than a mile from my house. For some reason, whether it was because she was taken so close to where I lived or for some other reason, I obsessed over her disappearance. Every time I would drive to church, I would pass a stand of pine trees and feel certain her body was going to be discovered in that patch of trees.
Then almost a year to the date of her disappearance, another woman was taken. It was about this time that things got really strange for me. You have to understand, I never sleep. I don't fall asleep easily and I don't stay asleep. So one night, as I was lying in bed, not quite asleep but not quite awake, I was shocked into reality by a sensation on my feet. I can't stand my feet being covered when I sleep, so my toes always poke out from under the covers. This sensation was cold and tingly, almost as if someone with ice cold fingers was grabbing my toes. I bolted straight up in the bed and looked around, not seeing anything, not feeling anything but the cold, prickly sensation left behind on my foot. But I was aware of something, almost an ethereal thought floating around in my head. I felt another voice saying "I always had such nice feet!"
I continued to look around, not quite sure why I had that thought echoing in my head. Had I not been awake? Had I been dreaming? I wasn't sure. But all I could think was, is this Elise, the first missing woman? I had that experience of finding the dead prostitute; was something like that happening again? I got out of bed and went to search the websites online. I went to the site dedicated to finding Elise. There, in the description of her outstanding characteristics, it said, "Tattoo on left foot." I was stunned, but thought, this might just be all a strange dream. I went back to bed and as I was falling asleep, I felt that cold, prickly sensation again and this time I felt the voice say, "Why did he have to take my foot?"
Shortly after this all began, her body was found, along with the other woman's body. Her body was not in the patch of trees where I thought it would be. It was directly across the street! At least, most of her body was found. Her foot was missing.
To be continued....
After the night when I googled all of Elise's information, things began to get more intense. It was as if I had opened a flood gate, she realized she had connected and had a lot she had to say. I dreaded going to bed at night. I would stay up later and later, hoping to exhaust myself past that restless half-sleep state when she appeared. (I say appeared loosely, because I never actually saw her.)
Before her body was discovered, I had repeated images of her walking out of the automatic doors of a store with the killer following close behind her. Every time he would look up into the security cameras and I would have the perfect view of him. I kept seeing him getting into a white pick-up truck and hearing the word "gardener." To this day I have not figured out if she was trying to tell me he was a gardener or if his last name was Gardener. Finally, Hubby couldn't take my restless sleep patterns anymore and I had to tell him what was going on. I was terrified he would think I was crazy. Maybe his religious beliefs would make him run screaming from me. But he listened and asked me questions and just supported me through all of this. I described the man I kept seeing to him and he agreed it sounded like the stereotypical killer. We both thought maybe my mind was just imposing that piece of information.
We thought that, that is, until several days later when the newspaper printed an artist's sketch of the man I kept seeing in my dream. It was the man down to the color of the hat I had seen him wear! I started to hyperventilate as I showed the picture to Hubby. Maybe this wasn't me just being insane after all. It was about this time I contacted my pagan friend, Charlitan. She has been through a lot of weird stuff with me and I knew she wouldn't think I was crazy. She gently suggested I try to contact someone. But I am a pastor's wife, I can't tell the public that a dead woman is talking to me.
So, after the sketch came out, I sent a letter to the family of Elise. I didn't mention what I had been experiencing. I just said I lived in the area and knew there were a lot of 24 hour stores open within walking distance of the location Elise had disappeared. Had anyone checked the security tapes of those stores?
There, I thought, I've done my part. Maybe she'll leave me alone. But then the most horrible images of all started going through my mind. I watched her and the other woman who was taken the next year die...over and over. But here's the confusing thing. I kept seeing Elise's throat slashed with something other than a knife. It was a strange wiry looking thing. I saw the other woman stabbed over and over again. When their bodies were finally found, it was the exact opposite. Elise had been stabbed and the other woman had her throat cut by something other than a knife. I had to get to the bottom of this, so I contacted Charlitan again. This time she told me to try to talk to Elise.
And that's how I found out the killer struck again.
By this time I was getting really creeped out by what was going on. Charlitan suggested I ask specific questions before I went to sleep in hopes of getting more straightforward answers and less gore. So I asked her what she wanted me to do. Eventually I feel like I did get my answer, but something else came up first.
One night, after her body had been found and the media attention went national instead of just local, she said my name. She had never said my name before. In fact, I can't say I had even heard official words before, just images. I wasn't aware she knew who I was. Up until this point in time I thought of us more like two people caught on the same stuck elevator together, strangers caught in a dangerous situation who made bizarre small talk. But as I was falling asleep, she said my name. I'll never forget WHY she said my name. She wanted to make sure she had my attention, because the very next thing I heard was a man's voice saying "Hey Ann, you wanna date?" The image that flashed before my eyes was the worst I had ever seen. I saw a bleached-blond woman in a sterile white tile room having her head smashed into the floor. The peculiar thing about this image was for the first time I could associate a smell with it. My nose stung with the scent of antiseptic lemon cleaner. I couldn't tell if this took place in a restaurant or a hospital, but the woman was most definitely dead.
For the next two days I agonized as I watched the news. Would this have been prevented if I had done something? Was this all just a strange nightmare since no one had disappeared from our area since that image? I went to bed the second night and said, "Elise, why did you show me that? That was cruel." This time I really had been asleep when I heard her say, "It's not here, too much news attention. It's here!" and I saw an interstate sign for a state several hundred miles away. I also saw a restaurant. I instantly woke up and ran for the computer. Still nothing!
The next day, exhausted and confused, I stayed up late, trying to put off the inevitable. I was on the computer and told myself I would look just one more time for this "Ann." This time I found her. Her picture appeared on my computer screen. She had just been reported missing. It seems she was a recovering drug addict who had been working at a restaurant but living in a motel about a mile from the restaurant. She had been a prostitute in the past but was trying to turn a new leaf. Her name was Ann and she had been missing 3 days. To this day no one knows what happened to her and I still don't know what building I saw her in, but I can still smell the lemon scent. It's something I will never forget.
So I asked Elise again, what did she want from me.
What Did Elise Want?
By the time I learned of the newest woman killed, I knew I had to find a way to end this for Elise. I was starting to feel physically and emotionally ill from the lack of sleep and the horrible images. I was still being awoken by ice cold fingers on my toes and something new was happening...it turns out if you open your mind to allow one paranormal being to communicate, you open your mind for any. But I'll get to that later.
So I asked Elise what she wanted me to do. I absolutely refused to go to the police and tell them she was communicating with me. To this day I don't really know if I believe she was or if this was just an incredible string of coincidences. But I knew I had to figure out what she wanted and try to set her free. I went to bed that night and amazingly enough, nothing happened to me. I slept for the first time in weeks. Maybe just my asking was enough.
But the next day another story broke about Elise. Remember how I told you her foot was missing when they found her body? The foot showed up! The foot AND some jewelry that belonged to her which helped to identify the remains. Somehow, when the CSU has cleaned the area, they had missed it. Everyone thought for a while that the killer had put it there to revive interest in the story, but I knew differently. The news media interviewed Elise's family and her brother very specifically said, "It's as if Elise is trying to give us a message that she's all right now. I want to believe that."
I decided right then that this is what Elise wanted me to do, to let them know that she was all right. Then and there I wrote a letter. I wasn't going to write it to the family because I didn't want to add to their pain if I was wrong, and I wasn't going to send it to the police because that would be the end of my Hubby's career. So I wrote a letter to the private citizen who had been heading up the search for Elise's murderer. Everything I have written in my blog was in that letter and I mailed it anonymously. I told her that I felt like Elise's brother was right and it was now up to her to decide what to tell the family.
And just like that, Elise was gone from my life. No more cold fingers on my toes, no more horrible images, no more confusing clues. Nothing...
Well almost nothing. Several weeks later one more terrifying thing would occur that would make me shut down whatever "ability" I had. Someone, or something, went way too far...
The Last Straw
You know, it was kind of exciting to have had the contact with Elise. Scary, but surreal and weird all rolled into one. I obsessed every day that I was crossing some kind of mental health issue line and that my wild imaginings were taking over my life. But I also truly felt like she had come to me because she knew I understood how it felt to be left behind with no answers from a loved one. She probably knew, eventually, that I would come around and be willing to at least try to give the closure that I never got from my brother's death to her loved ones. But I certainly didn't miss our nightly go-rounds.
Charlitan had warned me to be very careful throughout all of this. She told me that once a spirit makes a connection, there are many spirits who want to share that connection and not all of them are friendly. I didn't doubt Charlitan, but I really couldn't conceive that something else would want to hurt me or bother me. Other than the wolf-like thing in Old Man's Caves, I had never felt threatened by anything.
One night I was blissfully sleeping in one of my rare deep sleep phases when I started having a dream. I was being dragged onto a very old boat, made entirely of wood. The man dragging me was terrifying. He had broken and blackened teeth and was wearing a worn and filthy hunting jacket with a battered baseball cap. His hair was raggedly cut and he stank of old cigarettes and beer. He threw me onto the floor of the cabin and told me not to leave the boat. I looked around and the boat was all hand-crafted wood inside. There were brass railings throughout the cabin and a big-ornate mirror on the wall. The thing that I noticed the most was a table in the middle of the room that had hand-made pottery sitting in the middle. There were cups and bowls set as if people were about to sit down to a meal together. The ship looked much too expensive to be owned by the man who had dragged me onto the boat.
I thought the man had left and I tried to escape by running toward the side of the boat. I planned on jumping over the edge and swimming to the old Civil War undergound tunnel that still ran under the downtown area. This was all taking place in a part of town that I was very familiar with, so I knew there would be rattlesnakes and water mocassins in it, but that was a risk I was willing to take to get away. Just as I was about to jump, the man appeared out of nowhere and grabbed me by my hair and started cursing at me.
By this time I was screaming in my sleep and Hubby was trying to shake me awake. I could feel Hubby's presence lying in the bed next to me, but I was struggling to wake myself out of this nightmare. The man was bending me backwards over the railing and trying to force me into the giant pilings of the dock. It was as if part of my spirit had been shoved out of my physical being and I was watching from the sidelines and screaming at the same time.
As I finally woke up, the man was screaming and I heard myself say out loud (in his voice), "I told you not to leave the boat." This act of speaking finally broke the hold of the nightmare and I was fully awake. Hubby asked me if I was okay and then rolled over and went right back to sleep, not even waiting for an answer. At least, that's the impression I had. It turns out he didn't know what to say to me, so he rolled over to be able to mull over what he had heard.
The next night as we went to bed, he turned towards me and said, "You really freaked me out last night."
"You heard that to? I thought you were asleep." I replied.
"Do you know what happened?" He asked.
"I know I said 'I told you not to leave the boat." I answered.
"It's not just what you said, it's how you said it." At this point I started to get that strange tingling sensation that I get when my fight or flight response starts to kick in. What had I missed? "It wasn't your own voice at all," he said, "it was some strange, redneck voice that sounded really guttural and creepy!"
I tried not to faint. Once he said it, I knew what he was talking about. I had felt like something had taken over my body for just a second before I woke up, but I thought it was part of the dream. I didn't know my voice took on the sound of another person! I got right out of bed and emailed Charlitan, who doesn't sleep either. She told me to ban this thing from my house and mentally see myself binding all the doors and windows because something had crossed a line and tried to use me. I did what she said and went back to sleep.
The next morning a tall ship sailed into town. No news media had reported its intended arrival since they were making an unexpected stop. No part of my subconscious could have known this ship was coming to my town. The ship was hand-crafted by its crew down to the brass-railings inside. They made their own dinnerware out of pottery and lived aboard the ship, so they were a little ragged looking. When the news interviewed them from the inside cabin, they panned their camera around the room to show the lovely, ornate mirror sitting on one wall. This was the boat from my dreams.
I have no idea why I had that dream. I do believe something tried to channel through me. But I am not willing to open myself up again to that sort of experience. So you understand why I am a little creeped out by discovering my new house has a spirit. The spirit has taken my husband's memory stick, papers, keys, and is continuing to open and close cabinet doors. But I am not asking for anything back. I am done being psychic....
And I am done with my story. Thanks for listening.