(Discussion Board Files courtesy of Matt Muller)
Subj: Stephenville Stories
From: email@example.com (obiwan)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brian Bethel)
Subject: A local Tale o' Terror
Hey ho, fellow alt.folklore.ghost-story maniacs! Here's a tale to chill the blood and make you feel just a little less safe there in the dark -- or wherever you get your fright fix.
This is the complete text of an article I wrote for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune (located in bee-you-tiful Stephenville, Texas). The story is one of the most popular legends hereabouts, and is reproduced in full for your reading pleasure.
The article was written to fill a portion of our 250-page "Horizons" special section. The article itself appeared in a portion titled -- appropriately enough -- "Secrets."
THE GHOST OF THE MCDOW HOLE
By BRIAN BETHEL
We're going to take a trip.
Not a long journey, but hopefully an interesting one. We're not
going to any far-off place, really. In fact its right here. Close at
hand. You could even go there yourself. But somehow, this is ... safer.
Turn down the lights. It'll help. Don't strain your eyes, though.
Imagine stars. Cold, twinkling points of light overhead. Eternal.
Imagine how cold they seem, thrust into an ebony sky.
Feel the night air as it caresses your cheek.
Now pan down.
See the campfire? Nice and warm isn't it? A burning shield against
the dark. Our little circle of protection against -- well, whatever's out
Gather 'round. Plenty of room here.
We're going to tell you a ghost story.
Not scared, are you?
The frontier cabin where she met her fate is long gone, but perhaps ... something of Jenny Papworth still remains at the old McDow Ghost Hole about two miles south of Harbin, Texas.
She was a pretty girl, supposedly. No raving beauty to be sure,but the frontier life suited her well, and she was the sum total of Charlie Papworth's world.
She and Charlie, along with her oldest son, Temple, had undertaken the difficult trek from Georgia to what would become Erath County in the 1870s. Charlie had made the journey earlier, and Jenny and her son followed shortly thereafter.
They settled on a stretch of land near Green's Creek, next to a wide meadow and near the McDow watering hole. Their neighbors, the McDows and Keiths, came to help build their cabin, and at least for a time all was calm. Jenny had a another baby, and the four of them lived happily together.
Then Charlie received a letter and had to go away. Both of his parents had died, and he had inherited much of their property, He decided the best thing for Jenny would be to have her stay with one of their two friendly neighbors during the evenings. He f elt she would be safe enough during the day, but he feared the growing outlaw bands to the east.
Charlie thought his plan was foolproof. After all, the railroad was a growing thing, and enough track had been laid to make the journey back to Georgia much easier than their original overland trek.
He'd be back before she even knew it.
Thus, Jenny spent each day at the cabin, then she, the baby and Temple would spend the night at the Keith's or McDow's. This continued for several nights, until one evening -- when she did not show up at either home.
Both families initially thought she had gone to stay with the other. But when morning came Jenny was nowhere to be found.
Nowhere at all.
The families frantically began a search. They went to the cabin and found it apparently deserted. Blood was on the floor. A thorough search found young Temple, weeping incoherently, under the rawhide bed in the room.
The search spread out far and wide. Comanche Indians were accused, but the suspected tribe, which lived near the site of the present-day city of Coleman,Texas, was later found to be friendly. Many of the Indians knew Charlie and Jenny Papworth.
They were upset to hear she had vanished.
So, inevitably, suspicion fell on the man who insisted so strongly that the Comanches were to blame, a man suspected of outlaw dealings himself. Legend names him W. P. Brownlow.
Charlie returned and Brownlow became a certain target. Faced with doom at the end of Papworth's rifle, he began what can only be called a smear campaign. Papworth and Jenny had prospered in the two years they had remained in the territory. How? Brownlow asserted it was because Charlie was a rustler. Surprisingly, some people began to believe him.
The outcome was inevitable. After witnessing the abduction and death of his mother, Temple woke again to see a horde of masked men coming for his father. Along with six other men, he was hanged on a tree near the McDow Hole.
Temple bravely climbed the tree and cut down the men. Six death had already claimed, but Charlie Papworth was miraculously alive. They rode off together, away from the horrors they had known.
But Jenny, Charlie's beloved, remained.
The first to see her were members of the Keith family. A drought had gripped the land, and the McDow was one of the last bastions of good water left in the area.
Three nights Bill Keith and his 13-year-old son attempted to stay in the cabin, and three nights Jenny visited them, each apparition more horrible than the last.
On the first night, someone was at the door. It was Jenny, holding her baby. As Keith and his son looked on in terror, she vanished without a sound.
"A dream," Keith told himself the next morning. He was determined to stay. The next evening Jenny appeared again, gliding through the walls of the cabin. Still, Keith thought it was all only a dream.
And then, on the third night, he knew the visions shared by him
and his son had been no dream.
She was there at the door again, so real he could have reached out and touched her. He asked if it was truly her, if she was really alive and had escaped from whatever fate had held her.
She screamed. The terrible sound reverberated through the twilight, and then Jenny was gone. Only the night remained, cold and unforgiving.
Thereafter, Keith avoided the Papworth cabin at all costs.
After that, Jenny's shade was reported ranging all over the Erath County countryside. She would appear holding her baby on nearby railroad tracks. The engineer would hurriedly throw the brakes, bringing the thundering locomotive to a stop -- usually too late. Yet, when the panic-stricken crew would leap out to examine the tracks, there was never any trace of Jenny or her infant child.
Tales of Jenny's hauntings continued. Many thought she was looking for her killer. Others said she wanted to lead someone to her bones.
Perhaps, though, Jenny got her revenge on her murderer and her husband's would-be killer.
Brownlow had moved far east along the county and lived a secluded existence. Word came that he was sick, that he had a disease no doctor could cure.
On his deathbed, Brownlow is said to have confessed to the murder of Jenny Papworth. She had seen him talking to known cattle rustlers, and he had to kill her.
Just before he confessed, Brownlow supposedly writhed under the influence of a terrible dream, screaming "Don't let her touch me!" and "The blood!" over and over again.
After his confession, Brownlow gave up the ghost himself. Most believe it was also Brownlow who led the masked men who tried to hang Charlie Papworth.
Brownlow wasn't the only casualty of Jenny's wrath, though. A Pennsylvanian coffin-maker had moved into the territory. He was supposedly a talented fiddle player, and his music could be heard easily. Then for several days his fiddle fell silent.
Finally, neighbors came to visit the cabin. They found the coffin-maker on the floor, his face drawn into a rictus of fear and dread.
The coffin-maker was suddenly in need of a coffin himself.
Another time, a group of robbers visited the cabin. They suffered the same fate, their fright-contorted faces the only testament to whatever ghastly events had transpired.
Far and wide, stories of Jenny spread. One legend says Green's Creek changed course and some human bones were found in an old well. Popular opinion holds that these were the mortal remains of Jenny and her baby, but the validity of the story is quest ionable.
Even today, though, stories are still told about the McDow HoleGhost.
In fact, so many stories have been told the legend has even attracted "professionals." Mary Joe Clendenin, a local author, says her father, Joe Fitzgerald, told her the story of Jenny many years ago when she was a young girl. It is from her father's account that many of the"Jenny" stories spring.
Among the many souls who have attempted to lay Jenny's spirit to rest included a traveling medium who came to the area in the 1950s, shesaid.
The medium said he intended to free Jenny's wandering shade. Clendenin said she wasn't certain he did.
"He stopped at our house to ask directions to the McDow Hole," she said. "He claimed he was planning to lay Jenny's spirit to rest. We never saw him after that, so I don't know if he was successful."
Wes Miller of Morgan Mill said he had fished, swam and worked the land around the McDow Hole all of his life, ever since 1927. Often, his mules would become skittish around the watering hole, and he felt a presence around the hole itself.
Once, when he was a young boy, he came there to swim one day. A chill suddenly filled the watering hole. Miller and several of his young companions built a fire, but it scattered and went out quickly.
"What would cause a cold like that and a fire to go out so suddenly?" he asked. "I don't know. I've had a lot of time to think about that incident, though."
Miller said he felt more-or-less accepted by whatever he felt at the watering hole. He said he sensed no real danger there, but he added he would still find it hard to spend the night there alone, even at 77 years of age.
So, the question remains: Is Jenny still around?
Did Clendenin's mysterious spiritualist release her soul?
If those bleached bones really were hers, did she slowly weakenand fade?
Or does some remnant of Jenny Papworth even now remain, lost and fated to haunt the darkness?
Clendenin said she didn't know.
"I certainly believe that she was real," Clendenin said. "I've never been fortunate enough to see a ghost, though. Something of Jenny may still remain, but I can't say."
Miller agreed, saying where Jenny was couldn't be known.
"Of Jenny's ghost, who can say?" he said. "Who knows what sort of place she is in here in our world -- or out of our world?"
A worthy question.
Where is Jenny Papworth?
How long does she have to stay where she is?
And is she alone there in the dark?
A good story, eh? Thought you'd like it.
Getting kind of cold out here, isn't it? The fire's just about
out, I see.
So, poor Jenny Papworth, out there all alone. Breaks your heart,
Before you go to bed tonight, just before you surrender to sleep,
stop for a moment. Remember the stars we conjured up earlier, cold and
icy, our small fire the only protection we have against the shadows.
That fire really is getting dim, isn't it? Pretty soon there'll
only be only coals left.
Some chill coming on, eh?
Anyway, just before you go to sleep, think about poor Jenny. Poor
little lost Jenny and her babe out there alone in the dark. Where is she
She could be close to home.
Well, there goes the fire. Best you were "heading that way."
Thanks for listening. Pleasant dreams.
The rest is silence.
Portions of this article were compiled from Ghost Stories of Texas by Ed
Syers, copyright 1981 Texian Press, and The Ghost of the McDow Hole by
Mary Joe Clendenin, copyright 1979. Special thanks to Ms. Clendenin and
Wes Miller for all of their help.
Hope you enjoyed it. Pleasant dreams. And don't worry -- as far
as we know, Jenny's reach doesn't extend beyond Texas.
At least, we hope it doesn't. ;)
Newsgroups: alt.folklore.ghost-storiesFrom: email@example.com (Brian Bethel)Subject: Ghosts, the universe, and everythingDate: Sun, 17 Jul 1994 02:23:06 GMT Good e'en. all. I've been watching this group for some time (read: lurking), and I guess it's time to introduce myself. I have been collecting ghost lore seriously since I was about 12. I'm 22 now, so I've a decade worth of experiences -- both personal and otherwise -- to share. Here's my favorite, although I use the term in its loosest sense.:) I attended college at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. It's a very good small school with a great journalism program. While I was there I rose to be managing editor of our college newspaper, and thus spent much time slogging about in the Administration/Journalism Building. Not long after the beginning of my sophomore year, I became a copy editor for the newspaper and had to start staying late. It was then I had my first encounter with... her. (Ominous, isn't it? :) ) Don't worry about her name. It's probably best we don't speak it. Don't know how far her range is. Anyhow, I was sitting there typing away on what I'm sure I thought was an important story. It was about 12:45 a.m., and I decided to walk down the hallway to get a Coke. I shuffled down the hall, intent on finding blessed caffeine. I was humming a mantra to its power when I became aware of the distinct sound of a second pair of footsteps behind me. I assumed it was some sort of strange echo pattern. I walked on, although the tune I had been humming was a bit less cheerful. All through my life, I've been something of a psychometrist. I'm one of those folks who suffers "feelings of dread" to find out later there was a murder or something IN THAT VERY ROOM (Tm). And I must tell you, the ol' feeling of dread was kicking in something fierce with each step, and each counterpoint from something behind me -- something I couldn't see. Thinking myself safe at last, I turned a corner to go down the stairs to the Coke machine. I dug into my pockets, shoved 50 hard-to-come-by cents into the red and white monolith, retrieved my beverage, and walked back up the stairs. There is an elevator up at the top of that flight of stairs in the journalism building. It rests there by what is now the housing office, but what was once a classroom. Room 200, to be exact. This will become important later. Anyway, I walked up the stairs, feeling that initial rush of caffeine-laden bliss. My foot hit the topmost stair, and the elevator opened. It is not, as you may imagine, supposed to do this on its own. No, no one was in the elevator, but for some reason I felt a terrible sense of dread. I was the only one in the building, after all. The elevator yawned its maw for a bit, then seemed to give up and slink reluctantly closed. I had been rooted to the spot inexplicably for all that time. I ran back to the journalism room. Something was not right. I could feel it in the air -- sweet and cloying, yet deadly. I typed my story and -- to be blunt -- got the hell out of dodge, not bothering to turn off any lights along the way. The damnable footsteps were back, this time seemingly following me all the way down the stair, stopping at the foyer just before the front door. I remember I slept fitfully. I tried to find out if the elevators were tested at some point in the night: a maintenance cycle, anything. Maintenance said no, but among my fellow writers there seemed to be a few nervous, knowing looks. As the semester wore on, I stayed later. And inevitably, usually around the hour of 1 a.m., the hallway suddenly became a very unpleasant place. I started becoming aware of the footsteps even when I wasn't in the hallway. The elevator would erratically perform its tricks. The feelings of dread magnified. But when I heard the voices for the first time, it was just about all I could stand. A man and a woman, arguing at the end of the hall. In desperation, I asked the old guard about my experiences. And I found I was not alone. There had, indeed, been a murder in the building in the mid-70s. It was chronicled in the old issues of the paper. As the cool days of spring were turning to the heat of summer, a young girl had been stabbed in that building with a pair of scissors by an equally young ROTC cadet. He ran to a priest to confess his crime. He was supposedly a quiet type. Aren't they all? From the front page of that old newspaper, they stared back through the ages. He looked like a typical cadet, and even though the veloxed photograph was faded, I remember she was very beautiful. He was a photographer there. She spurned his attentions. Rage consumed him, and the scissors were there. Waiting. He exchanged his love for hate, and the blood flowed. He drug her to Classroom 200: what was now the housing office. At the end of the hall. By the elevator. I remember it was in October when I finally asked about the past. Suddenly, the festive paper skeletons that hung on the housing office doors became more frightening to me than anyone could ever realize. After comparing notes among us, it was all the same. The same experiences, the same voices -- a man and woman arguing at the end of the hall. All in exacting detail. All the same. After that, I became one of the initiated. No one ever told the new reporter or staffer about her. But without fail: "Hey, guys, I was walking down the hall and ..." The rest was history. We would sit outside late at night talking about her: lost, alone, and dead so young. We would huddle around cigarettes or Cokes like they were campfires shielding us from the night-things, and wonder what she wanted. I was "lucky" enough to see a few physical manifestations after awhile. Fleeting glimpses, but I remembered that face. Burned into my mind, I can still see it. There are really too many stories to relate in one post, but I can guarantee all are true. Several happened to me. If you'd like to hear more, let me know and I'll post each episodically. I'm out of college now, and this is the first I've thought of herein a while. I suppose she's still there. Alone and waiting in the dark. :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::"To see a world in a Grain of Sand :::: firstname.lastname@example.org :::: And Heaven in a Wild Flower, :::: S E E K E R * O F * W I S D O M :::: Hold Infinity in the palm of your :::: S E A R C H E R * O F * T R U T H:::: Hand, and eternity in an hour." ::::S P I N N E R * O F * S T O R I E S:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Newsgroups: alt.folklore.ghost-storiesFrom: email@example.com (Brian Bethel)Subject: Oops!Date: Sun, 24 Jul 1994 00:23:15 GMT Well, I'm back again with more Tales O' Terror. :) For those of you who missed my previous post, "Ghosts, the Universe and Everything," it contains a lot of background detail on this first item. I'd be happy to E-mail you a copy if you want it. To get you up to speed, all you really need to know is that a young girl was killed by a jealous ROTC cadet at the college I attended, Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. The mid-1970s murder occurred in the Journalism Building, where I spent many late hours. The fellow killed her with a pair of scissors, by the way. This is all verified through various news clippings and back issues of the campus paper. For reference, I graduated in December, so these stories are not very old. :) ++++ One of the most annoying things about the "Ram Page Ghost" as we staffers called her was that she seemed to know when we were talking about her. It became sort of taboo to talk about the lady while in the building, especially at night. One particular example of why we chose not to speak ill of the dead sticks out in my mind. This story is from my senior year, during my tenure as Managing Editor. One evening, I was busily writing a column for the Thursday edition when one of our new staffers came in, along with Kay, our Editor. Kay and I discussed layout options for a bit, then she and Rachel -- the new staff writer -- left. I muttered some off handed, rather flippant comment about the ghost, more to try to scare Rachel than anything, and then returned to work. Now, I knew better than to do this. Being a rational fellow who also just happens to believe in ghosts, I know that having a supernatural entity pissed at you is not a good thing. Too late, though. With the exception of one other evening, that evening had to be the most frightening experience I had at the newspaper. I know it was frightening, but the funny thing is I don't remember a lot of it. My good friend Chad -- a very psychically attuned individual -- tells me that I called him in what sounded like a blind panic. He told me later that I kept muttering something about "worrying the lights were going to go out." I vaguely remember that, but the fear has thankfully been blanked out for the most part. Chad drove up to the office -- I remember I was surprised to see him actually come -- and gave me a ring of his to wear in "defense." I think the at least psychological effect of the ring was all that kept me going. What I DO remember -- and will for the rest of my life -- is that this particular evening was the first time I saw her. It was a fleeting glimpse, but it was enough. I typed my column, wrote another story, and left. The hallway was a nightmare. Earlier in the evening I'd heard the ever-popular "voices-at-the-end-of-the-hall," but they were louder than ever. More frightening than that, though, was the total, utter silence in the hallway. My own footfalls did not even echo. The hall was ice-cold, a chill that racked me to the bone. As an aside, an interesting thing we noticed was that the upper hallway-- her hallway -- had numerous "cold spots" and was usually cooler than the lower hall. This does not agree with the laws of Thermodynamics. Warm air supposedly rises, and cool air supposedly falls. The air conditioner in the building was usually turned off to save electricity. The bottom floor and the Ram Page offices themselves were almost stifling in
the summer. But that damned hallway remained ice cold. Entropy reversal is apparently the providence of ghosts. Wonder what Maxwell's Demons would think? The elevator (see previous post) did not do its tricks. This made me even more nervous. I walked down the stairs, glanced for a second at the red glow of the Coke machine and looked from my vantage point over into the foyer. Someone was standing there. A young woman stood lost in shadow. She walked as if toward the front door and was gone. I chose to take the back door out. I went over to Chad's apartment and gave him his ring back. He asked me if I had experienced anything else untoward. I told him about my experiences, and watched a frown cross his face. "Well, I didn't want to tell you, but while I was in the parking lot I though I saw ... something," he said, indicating the "something" was in the foyer area. "I didn't want to worry you, though." Hmmmm. :) ++++FROM THE FILES: As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been collecting ghost lore for about a decade now. Texas' folklore is rich in ghost stories, many of them with frighteningly true phantoms. Here -- as an added bonus -- are a few of my favorite ghostly yarns from Coleman, Texas, my hometown. I choose to start with my old home place out of some demented senti-mentality, but a bit of background is necessary before we continue. Coleman is a small West Texas town of about 5,000 people, 22 churches and more ghostly lore than you'd expect. I've got literally dozens of these stories. And in case you're wondering, I fully believe in the ghosts. I disbelieve the churches. :) Here we go! HELL'S VALLEY Nestled among a copse of mesquite trees, lying at the end of a series of deserted country roads, Hell's Valley sits alone. Usually. It's a peaceful place by day. A fence, unfortunately, separates one from the beauty of the open field (why it's a "valley" no one can say), but the spring and summer flowers take root there and spread the brilliant reds of Indian Blankets and the pale blue of the Bluebonnet for miles. Years ago, the story says, a sharecropper's home rested there. He was a good, hard-working man who had been blessed with beautiful wife and a small child. The story varies on why he went out on a day he knew could bring storms. But the point is, he left. His wife and child waited for him to return, watching the anvil-shaped clouds build in the West Texas sky. Tornadoes are a fact of life in Texas. But the one that ripped through the valley was huge. The sharecropper had not been able to make it back before the storm had overtaken him. Hiding under a swathe of trees to protect himself from the elements, he rode out the blinding rain and wind and returned home. Or at least, he found what was left. His small shack was destroyed, obliterated by a swirling funnel cloud. Bent trees and splintered wood from his home marked its path. He looked for his wife and child for days, they claim. Scouring the woods by day, continuing by lantern-light on into the dusk. Finally, he resolved that they were dead. Maddened by loss, embittered by loneliness, he took his own life. But that was not the end of our sorrowful friend. He walks the night still, they say, lantern in tow, looking for his wife and child. A common ghost story, to be sure. But even a common ghost deserves our sympathies. I did not see anything I can really verify on my late-night trip to Hell's Valley. There was, though, a very distinct, sorrowful feel in the air. Most of my companions were trying to scare the girls we had brought with us, but I stood there looking at the valley, feeling something there just beyond the edge of perception. We decided the ghost was sleeping if not at rest, and turned to leave. I thought that as I turned to leave, I caught a flash of lantern-light out of the corner of my eye, but that could have been anything. Moonlight on a stone, reflections from a nearby pond. Anything. We left Hell's Valley to its own devices. I climbed into the back seat of my friend's car and watched darkness reclaim its own as we left, our tail lights casting the place in a red glow. I am very glad there was not an answering flash from a ghostly lantern from long, long ago. ECHO JAMBOREE Located about eight miles outside of Coleman are two old buildings, all that remain of the Echo Jamboree Opera House in what was once Echo, Texas. Echo was always pretty much a spot in the road, but on Saturdays, rural types from all over would come to play their fiddles, pick their basses and make some of that Good Ol' Country Music (Ick!). I actually attended one of the last few Echo sessions. I was six or seven (I'm 22 now) and had not developed my distaste for country twang. I think Echo actually was the beginning of that hatred. :) Anyway, things change, and many of the old fiddlers died off. The Echo Jamboree closed its doors officially, leaving only silence and dust behind. At least, most of the time, anyway. Because sometimes, long into the night, some say you can still hear the music play. That good ol' country twang strikes up again in the deserted opera house, sweet, low and ethereal. The pickers and the grinners have come home for one last number. Who can blame them? :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::"To see a world in a Grain of Sand :::: firstname.lastname@example.org :::: And Heaven in a Wild Flower, :::: S E E K E R * O F * W I S D O M :::: Hold Infinity in the palm of your :::: S E A R C H E R * O F * T R U T H:::: Hand, and eternity in an hour." ::::S P I N N E R * O F * S T O R I E S:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::From netcom.com!brianbet Thu Oct 6 01:12:58 1994Xref: netcom.com alt.folklore.ghost-stories:7457Newsgroups: alt.folklore.ghost-storiesPath: netcom.com!brianbetFrom: email@example.com (Brian Bethel)Subject: Another Tale o' TerrorMessage <brianbetCx8pqF.Esr@netcom.com Organization: Netcom Online Communications Services (408-241-9760 login: guest)Date: Thu, 6 Oct 1994 07:20:39 GMTLines: 2 Hi guys! Good e'en (or morning, or afternoon or Dead of Night or whatever)! Time for more Tales to Scare the Hell Outta Ya, brought to you by Hostess Twinkies: proof there is a malevolent power in the universe. :) Geez ... I guess the last thing I posted was my TV experience. Long time ago, that -- couple of months, actually. I keep meaning to post more here, but work and other unpleasant prospects prevent me from expounding too greatly on my favorite subject. Well, without further ado, sit back and enter the theater of mind. The curtain's about to go up once more. Warning: this post is LONG. You may want to download it and read it off-line, if you have the capability. Or you may not. :) ++++++++++++ Those of you who've read my posts from the beginning know that I am a journalist. The Journalism Building of Angelo State University, where I went to school until I graduated in December, was haunted by a young girl who had been murdered there in the 1970s. This was all related in my very first post to alt.folklore.ghost-stories. If there's enough interest, I may repost that original story. It is also archived at ftp.netcom.com inObiwan's official a.f.g-s archive. Here's all the information you'll need for background, even if you haven't seen the original post A) About 1976, there was a young girl who was killed in the ASU Journalism Building by an ROTC cadet. The gentlemen used a pair of scissors. As far as we can tell, she spurned his advances and he lost it. Boy, did THIS guy need a Diet Coke or something. B) The young man dragged her to what was then a classroom at the end of the hallway, by an elevator. This room, No. 200, is now the Angelo State University Housing Office. C) Ever since then, creepy things happen at night in the ASU journalism Building. The elevator next to the Housing Office opens and closes on its own. The upper hallway is much colder than the lower. Footsteps are heard reverberating through the hall, voices are heard arguing in the same area, and even shadowy figures are glimpsed from time to time. As may be imagined, this is not fun, especially when you're the managing editor of your college newspaper and your offices are located on that floor and connect directly to that hallway. D) In case you're wondering, all that follows is accurate, as far as I can remember. I describe the atmosphere and events exactly as I remember them. This isn't a fabrication, I saw it and heard it all. ++++++ I had just finished participating in some ungodly trivia contest with two good friends of mine, Chad and Rachel. We had won, and had gone over to Chad's apartment, celebrating our victory by cooking a steaming batch of Mexican food. Sated, we sat down and eventually the discussion turned to the metaphysical Now, Chad had experienced the Journalism Building's ghostly manifestations first hand, largely because we let him use some of our computers to type his psychology papers. Rachel was a reporter for the RamPage -- our campus newspaper. So, we all three spent many a late night there, and had experienced some of its ghostly phenomena ourselves. For some time, I had wanted to do something about her (for some reason I never say or write her name). It felt wrong to not try and help her. I mentioned this fact to Chad and Rachel, and they all agreed that something should perhaps be done. Chad and I wanted to wait, but Rachel's prodding eventually swayed us to make a late night visit to the newspaper offices. We walked to the newspaper, which was on the other side of the campus. We sat outside the building, waiting and gaining strength to go inside. Now, it must be mentioned that I believe quite firmly in strange things. So, I've learned a few things on my own to help me deal with them. Chad and Rachel were no different. We spent the time outside preparing ourselves for whatever was going to happen in our own ways. I cleared myself
as best I could and then set up what I can best describe as a mental wall, a sort of defense against creatures of the night. This was also, by the way, an effective technique to use against professors, themselves unnatural and unearthly entities. I produced the key to the front door of the Journalism Building, and then held the door as my friends as I went inside. There was no one else in the building. It was very late in the evening -- around 1 a.m. That was when most of the haunting activity began, so we'd arrived just in time. We walked into the foyer of the building, a place I had once seen a physical manifestation of our unfortunate spirit (detailed in post no. 2 of this series). For some inexplicable reason, Rachel walked over to the door to the administration offices to the left, instead of proceeding upstairs as Chad and I had anticipated. She stopped, closed her eyes and stood silent for quite some time. She began to cry. I wanted to offer a comforting hand, but she motioned for us to kneel in the corner of foyer where she was standing. Not quite understanding why, Chad and I complied. I cleared my mind, but couldn't focus. There seemed to be some sort of insect buzzing around my head. No, I hadn't watched the Amityville Horror recently. I don't remember what kind of critter it was, but it was distracting as hell. I mentioned it later to both parties, but no one seemed to remember such a thing flitting about overhead. It was quite large, whatever it was. Well, while I was watching whatever it was flit around, Chad suddenly began to sputter and then to choke. My attention immediately focused on him, and I placed my hand on his shoulder. For what seemed like an eternity, Chad refused to breathe. There seemed to be some sort of a darkish haze about him, but I may have been imagining that. Rachel held Chad, and I contemplated dragging him into the main lobby, next to the stairwell, thinking the location might be the problem. We stood him up, and walked him toward the main hall, and as we approached the stairway, he coughed loudly and air once again entered his lungs. Later, we would find out Chad had an interesting premonition during the meditation period outside. We had both recently received crystals as a present from some mutual friends who were moving away, and were carrying them with us. I don't really go for the crystal bit, and neither did Chad, but they were at least interesting to look at and we could scare people with them. "This is a mystic power crystal. Forged by Atlanteans. Really. Just $19.95. Hey, come back!" ;) It should be obvious that I'm deliberately adding this stuff in .The reason is simple -- it makes this easier to write. The events of that night were terrible -- nerve-wracking, soul-crunching stuff. I have to be sarcastic to not go into paroxysms of fear remembering it. Anyway, Chad later mentioned that he felt some strange impulse to put the crystal in his mouth (they were rather small) just before entering the area. Would this have helped? Would the traditionally "purifying" element of quartz have allowed him to breathe in the face of whatever Lurker in the Dark that sought to steal his breath? Who knows? I'm not THAT psychic. :) Anyway, we went upstairs and stood next to the housing office. The hall was dark -- it was Thursday, and the week's newspaper had already hit the shelves. So, we were truly alone -- well, you know what I mean. :) We walked to the center of the hall, kneeled on the floor, and listened. I could literally hear the sound of my own heart beating, the silence was so complete. I heard things that night, far away but distinctive. Footsteps, a shattered sob. But the most terrible were the things I felt. Loss, fear, loneliness, bitter hate and pain all flowed through me as I opened myself to the Hall, feeling the patterns of it, trying to listen to ... I suppose her. I had actually seen her once. That was in a previous post. Somehow, all I was feeling was even more horrible than that. Finally, we'd had enough. A look at any one of us would have shown the same characteristics -- an ashen white face, eyes drawn wide in fear. We decided to quit the place, escaping out into the open night. We did not even voice this decision. We all stood up at the same time, and proceeded to begin making our way down the stairs. I was nervous about having Chad pass through the foyer again, but didn't see much way around it. I had silently decided we couldn't help her, that her obvious bitterness and unearthly state were beyond my grasp of how to help. I even made a silent vow to avoid the subject. Yes, friends and neighbors, I was SCARED. We rounded the stairs, the red light of a Coke machine casting a crimson glow below. Then, suddenly, I noticed something on the stairwell. I couldn't tell what it was at first, but something small and orange was lying on one of the stairs. It hadn't been there when we passed by the first time -- I have a strong habit of watching my feet while mounting stairs, and had walked right through the area where this mysterious bauble now rested. I pointed to the thing, and then cautiously walked over to it. There on the ground was a heart-shaped Valentine's Day candy, seeming as if it had been deliberately placed. I picked it up and showed it to my friends. They gasped. In crimson letters on the surface of the confection was written, "I'm yours." Not by a ghostly hand, mind, but it may as well have been. A later conference revealed we were all pretty much thinking the same thing. A message from her? A semi-threatening plea? A tasty treat with no supernatural overtones? I doubt the last one. I graduated from ASU without ever really facing up to such things again. Someday, I must return and somehow finish the task before me. I hope I can find the strength then. San Angelo is no longer my home, but a very significant portion of me was left there that night, trapped in the cold dark. I feel I won't be whole again until things are set right. Any advice would be appreciated. This is one of those really rare times --believe it or not -- when I truly am at a loss for words. +++++++
Subject: Re: Houston Ghosts
From: Chris Barbles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 10 May 1995 07:44:41 GMT
Try 2207 Briar Park (off Westheimer between Gessner and West Belt. I lived there about 18 years ago when I was 10. A young boy was killed accidentally when another young boy obtained one of his fathers loaded guns and shot him while playing "cowboys and Indians" in his front yard. From our experiences, the ghost was playful. He would ring the front
door bell, then when we got up to answer it he would ring the back door bell. He tried to get my 5 year old brother to play chase with him up the stairs when my brother awoke in the middle of the night on the living room couch. At first we thought he was dreaming, but changed our minds
after the people that lived in the house before us informed us of the ghost a few months after we moved in. My brother also described what he called "funny looking shoes" which were a popular high top street shoe during the 60s (when he was shot). A painter we had hired to paint the house before we moved in told us much later about times when he would be painting and would hear hammering upstairs. Thinking we might have a carpenter working in the empty house with him, he went upstairs to meet him and found no one. Then the hammering would begin downstairs. Several live-in housekeepers who didn't speak much English quit suddenly
and without explanation. However, one told us a "fantasma," which my mother found out later to mean ghost, would go through her room each night. She described it as a small light that would move across her room (which we later discovered was the boy's room). One of the strangest coincidences occurred ten years or so later when my grandmother came to Houston from San Antonio to have an operation. She had a private nurse who quickly got along with my mom. One of the days she was there, they somehow got on the subject of places they had lived in Houston. My mom told her we had lived in Briar Grove Park. The nurse asked what street
and my mom replied, "Briar Park." The nurse began crying and, without knowing our address, said, "You lived in my house, you lived in my house." My mom seemed to know immediately who she was and asked to confirm it. She was the mother of the boy who was shot. We only lived in the house for about a year. Although my only real experience was with the door bell incidents, I endured a lot of stress while living there. When we moved I felt great relief. The house seemed to always be for sale when I lived in Houston. I moved 8 years ago. I don't think anyone lived there for more than 3 years. If it's for sale, get a Realtor to show you it. There are a many other incidents, but it's a long story. Good