WARNING: Have you ever sat around a campfire listening to someone tell really spooky true ghost stories that make walking through the dark back to your tent afterward a hair-raising experience? The stories you are about to read below are NOTHING like those stories. They are true stories, they are about fear--but they are not scary. Not even a little. Sorry. Just wanted to warn you ahead of time. If you want a sleepless night you might want to try Goosebumps.
The Scariest Thing I Ever Saw in a Haunted Mansion
If you’ve ever been on the haunted mansion ride at Disneyland you know how it usually goes. Your spooky cast member shoves as many people as possible into a tiny room (which is really a humongous an elevator in disguise). You and a hundred people are trapped shoulder to shoulder in this dark cramped space while the spooky narrator explains that there is no way out. The lights go off, everyone gives half-hearted screams while waiting for the lights to come back up. Well a few years ago, on a very busy night at Disneyland, my sister and I went on this ride and got a completely different experience.
It was a busy night and my sister and I ended up crammed in the center of the room as the ride began. There was a small boy, maybe seven or eight-years-old, standing right in front of us. He was playing with this little light up toy his mother had bought him at one of the booths you see all over the park. When the Haunted Mansion ride got to the part where the lights go off—this boy got the brilliant idea to use his toy to light up the darkness. Spinning and flashing, the boy held up his toy for everyone to see. The only problem was, because he was so short, and the room so packed, the only thing people in the back saw was this bizarre spinning THING rising slowly up out of the center of the crowd. As anyone who has been on the Haunted Mansion ride knows, no spinning lights are supposed to come up out of the middle of the floor. None at all.
I had never seen a crowd in true panic before that moment. Half hearted screams, became shrieks of real terror as the crowd scattered to the walls like frightened sheep. There wasn’t really anyplace to go in such a small space. People were pushing, shoving and running each other over in an attempt to get as far away from the middle of the room as possible. I remember one woman grabbing her boyfriend around the neck and climbing up onto his back in an attempt to get away. Only a few of us, who were close enough to the boy to see what was really going on from the beginning, were left standing stunned in the middle of the room. Pushed tight against the walls, the rest of crowd could now that see the cause of their panic was nothing but a little boy and his light up toy. The screams turned to roaring laughter as the little boy’s mother, completely humiliated, grabbed the toy out of her son’s hand. The doors opened and the crowd exited, laughing heartily at themselves all the way down the hall of haunted pictures. It was one spooky ride I will never forget.
Two Completely True Stories of the Haunted Libraries—Sort Of
Many years ago I was stationed alone on the second floor of a children’s library when I had a strange experience. It was ten minutes after closing and a little boy, without parents, wandered slowly up the stairs and started walking toward the back of the building. I told him we were closed and that he’d better go find his parents. The boy completely ignored me and kept walking toward the back of the stacks. I called out to him again, with no response. He stared straight ahead, walking past me as if I didn’t exist and disappeared behind some shelving. There were only two exits from the second floor I stationed myself in a place where he would have to pass me, to get to either of them. I thought I’d give him a minute then go after him. I waited and waited, but he never returned. Thinking he might be up to no good, I went after him; carefully check down each row systematically to make sure I didn’t overlook him as I went past. The boy was no where to be found. And I do mean nowhere. I sat there a moment feeling an eerie chill go down my spine. I remembered the way he had looked right through me, almost as if he couldn’t see me. Then, with determination in my stride, I hurried down the stairs to the circulation desk and found—the same little boy, standing in line waiting to check out books with his parents. They left soon afterward. The end.
You were expecting a ghost perhaps? How about this one.
Many years ago a woman came rushing up to the reference desk in real distress. She was practically in tears as she told me she and her son had just been locked in the art gallery upstairs by a ghost. According to her, the ghost held the door shut while she struggled to open it. With her son’s help they had been able to break free. She was adamant I go up and do something immediately.
This incident would have been extremely disturbing to me if not for one little thing this poor women (bless her heavily beating heart) did not know. Only a week before her experience all the library staff had been warned to always prop the art gallery door open since the locking mechanism was broken and it might cause someone to be locked in accidentally. I myself had been caught in the room temporarily just a couple days before. I’d rattled the knob a few times and luckily it had popped open.
Seeing how truly upset she was, I tried as gently as I could to reassured her that in this particular incidence it had not been a ghost but a broken lock that caused her problem and that I was very sorry she’d been frightened. I’ve never seen anyone look so relieved. Not that I blame her. I’d much rather be locked in a room by a broken lock than a ghost, any day. But the scariest part of this story isn’t that someone believed there was a ghost in the library—but the revelation that I, as a librarian, am responsible for dealing with any evil specters that might be bothering our patrons on library premises. Where was THAT written in the original job description?
Now if you’ll just excuse me a moment, I’ve got to go strap my ghost busting pack on and deal with that pesky poltergeist currently haunting the biography section . . .
The Scariest Thing that Ever Happened to Me
I once bit into a grape and found a still wiggling bug inside—minus its head. I haven't eaten a grape since.
Have any great scary (or not so scary) stories of your own? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.