In honor of the Halloween holiday, here's a true ghost story that happened to me. Have any of your own? Share them in the comments.
Sleepwalking a Thin Line
by Benjamin Sobieck
Sleepwalking can be an unsettling byproduct of an otherwise peaceful activity. The line between dreaming and reality is thin as your eyelids. But I never knew how thin until a dream stepped into my reality.
The spell of tinkering on the Internet proved too alluring late one sleepless night I was home from college. To keep from disturbing my parents, I turned out the lights and closed my bedroom door completely before firing up the computer. I never drifted off to sleep in this time, not even for a moment.
A couple hours later, I clearly heard the knob on my bedroom door turn and unlatch. The door swung open exactly as if manipulated by a person. It even stopped before the knob hit the wall.
My parents? I looked up. No mom. No dad.
But something was standing there. The shadow of a person - a darker-than-night outline - appeared in front of the door. The apparition did not have discernible features. It looked like a human-shaped black hole. I sensed it was looking at me.
Within a few seconds, it dissipated. The door remained open. Most people would have panicked. I didn't. I recognized this shadow person.
But before I allowed myself to process this, I wanted to be sure one of my parents hadn't opened the door.
I walked out of my room and into the hallway. My dad snored away from inside one of the bedrooms. I went to the living room where my mom dozed. The blankets curled tight around her still body.
I am an only child. We had no indoor pets at the time.
Maybe a sudden draft opened the door? No. I had latched the door completely. It wasn't going to just drift open. Something had to turn the knob to open the door.
I went back to my room, still not frightened. In fact, I felt a sense of closure. I would never see that shadow person again. I can't explain how, but I knew that now.
A bit of history.
For many years prior to this incident, I was a hardcore sleepwalker. For those who haven't experienced sleepwalking, what you do in your dream is what happens in reality. For example, I once had a dream about trying to wake someone up. In reality, I was shaking my parents as they slept.
Most of the time, though, the same dream played out again and again. I'd walk to my bedroom window and look out into the woods. I'd see a small black figure warbling off in the distance. The more I watched, the closer it came. Soon I would make out the shape of a person. A "shadow person," if you will. The darkness that made up this figure stuck out against the backdrop of the night.
The shadow person would come out of the woods and into the lawn. It would then circle the house. Almost like it followed a path. I'd track it from window to window.
Remember, I thought this was a dream. Except I really was walking from window to window.
It progressed to the point where I would turn lights on to try to get a better look at it. That would wake my parents, who would try to get me to "snap out of it." When you sleepwalk, you appear normal. Almost like a high-functioning zombie. But there's a veil of sleep that keeps you from being truly conscious.
Once I came out of that dream and into reality, I'd be confused. I couldn't see the shadow person anymore. I could only see one of my parents saying, "Go to bed, Ben, you've been sleepwalking again."
I'd tell them about the shadow person. They'd say something more reasonable. I yielded to the likely explanation it was all a product of my sleepwalking. But the line between reality and dreaming during a sleepwalk is so thin, I couldn't help but wonder.
On the night I stayed up late on the computer, the situation reversed. My "dream" turned the knob, opened the door and stared at my fully conscious reality.
I still don't know what to make of all this. The past offers a possible clue, albeit a far-fetched one. The previous owner died on the property. Not of old age, but of drowning in a hot tub.
Care to take a guess where that hot tub sat before it was torn down?
Outside. In the yard. Near the woods. A storage shed now stands in its place. I never saw the shadow person at that storage shed, though.
Years later, my wife and I lived in the basement of that house - a product of the bad economy and me needing a kidney transplant. My wife would recall a man's face looking at her through the window late at night, after I'd fallen asleep. Where? From the direction of the storage shed.
Months after we moved out, I received a call from the house's security alarm company. Something had tripped the motion detector in the hallway outside my old room. No one was supposed to be home, which is why I got the call. The police conducted a search and found nothing.
In the dead of night, I drove to the house and investigated for myself. I replayed the memory of that door opening. Something told me there was a connection. I found nothing. No signs of forced entry. Not a single other alarm tripped. Whatever happened took place only in that hallway.
Are these events all a product of imagination and coincidence? I'll never know for sure. Ever since my brother died in the home we lived in many years prior, I've felt connected in some ways to "the other side." Perhaps this deceased owner recognized that and wanted to contact me. I have no idea.
It's tempting to interpret your latter years through the lens of the paranormal if you believe something supernatural happened in your younger years. I may be fooling myself.
Or maybe that doubt is fooling me. Sleepwalking is still a mysterious phenomenon. Perhaps my state of mind let me meet this shadow person on its own plane of existence. One where it's damned to a perpetual walking sleep in those woods. I wonder if this shadow person thinks it was all a dream, too.
But I won't explore it any further.
Ever since that night, I never sleepwalked again.
Benjamin Sobieck is the author of the crime novel Cleansing Eden. His website is CrimeFictionBook.com.