This is another personal experience, and an important one for people who may want to defend themselves against dangerous things. It highlights a few things that I don’t think I’ve stressed enough.

1. I have no fucking clue what all the different kinds of ghosts are, or what they do, and there are things that I find sometimes that simply blow every theory and piece of knowledge I thought was sound out into the wind, and then never have the courtesy to explain themselves. Things that start me from page one all over again in my understanding of ghosts.

2. Ghosts can be very, very dangerous. Especially celebrity ghosts. They’re more conscious, more unpredictable, and much, much more powerful than any other kind of spirit, because they have so much energy to burn. And they’re the ones people seek out. Let this serve as a cautionary tale: There’s some nasty stuff out there.

3. If you do encounter something really dangerous, remember that you are a weapon. The only thing that they have over you, the only tiny edge is fear, and ignorance. If you know how to fight, know how to contain a ghost, it cannot harm you. If you are unwilling, or too afraid to fight back, they can really screw with you.


Ok, so the story. the backstory for this is that I was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a depressing city that never really seemed to recover the fact that they ran out of coal fifty years ago. I was there because it is the home of my grandparents, and formerly my father, as well as the home of my grandmother’s younger sister, Cissy. For the past few years, Cissy had been acting more and more erratic and spacey, and finally the more able bodied members of our family (my grandparents are exremely old and not very mobile) were called down to move her to an Alzheimer’s care facilty, and prepare her house for sale so that she would have enough money to live happily in a safe, clean home for the rest of her years. United Methodist Homes outside of Scranton, PA. They run a very clean, very nice establishment.

Preparing Cissy’s house was boring and hard work, though we did find a few interesting things, such as some authentic Shriner gear, an old police baton, and other things. The house had been the old family home for several generations, and it was an interesting place to be, even though it was covered in dust and smelled of old people.I had found a beautiful shining old style pen, with a nib that looked like it had never been used, though no ink. I was carrying it in my pocket at the time, proud of my successful scavenge.

We went up in the attic, cleaned out the living room, the furniture, et cetera, and amongst all this I stumbled upon a small door leading to the unfinished basement of the house. Which, apparently, for several generations, had been where my ancestors threw things when they didn’t know where to put them. On opening the door in curiosity, I was hit by an incredible wave of irrational fear that swept through me like a physical blow. I slammed shut the door and turned my face away, whimpering. I looked back into the kitchen. No one. My family was apparently up in the attic, and I was alone with the door.

Which struck me as odd, because why the hell should I be afraid of a door? I mean, it was kind of an old, musty, dark basement, but we have one of those in my house. I have been in many basements over the years, and they’ve never held any fear for me. Out of curiosity, I shifted into a different field of vision, letting my eyes unfocus and focus again, searching for tell tale colors and whisps that my mind locks onto and forms visual images out of.

The door was sheathed in total darkness, a shadow stretching across the white wood with black misty gunk. This was before I’d ever seen a wraith, or any such thing, so this color was something I’d never seen in a spirit. Spirits, generally, are a kind of semi-luminescent green color to me, though if I think about it too much it could be yellow, white, gray, or pale blue. It really doesn’t make a difference, because they’re all one color, except this whatever it was, which was black.

It was at this point that I opened the door again, ready for what I was now sure was some kind of attack. The fear hit me, and I tried to focus on the source, the knowledge that it was something alien, a manipulation, separate from me. It worked, somewhat, and I was able to peer down into the basement. Not that I could really see, the blackness extended down, and though the single electric bulb was on, in theory, I saw no sign of it in the foggy obscurity.

I carefully descended, my mind carefully tensed to sense any outside manipulation of my mood. Through a combination of luck and a good solid railing, I made it down, and the fog parted. I saw stone floor, a radiator, piles of junk. Normal basement stuff.

And the man. He was, and still is, the single most detailed, scrupulously maintained image a spirit has ever broadcast to me. His face was twisted in a grimace of rage, and one hand was shoved in the pocket of the pants he wore, the other held out, awkwardly stiff at his right side, fingers twisted and warped, as if broken, around the knife. The entirety of his image was composed of the black shadow-stuff, and it extended out behind him and around the room. The knife glimmered silver, and I’m still not sure if it was a real physical knife or something he’d carried with him into his death, a constant companion and friend in life.

He howled silently, mouth opening impossibly wide, full of scrupulously neat rows of perfect ebony teeth. His cheeks tore away, and he ran. Instinctively, I held up my arm, and my other hand pulled itself free from my pocket, still holding the pen. It left my pocket point down, and the sharp tip sliced across the underside of my raised arm, spilling a little blood on the floor.

The spirit balked, just a moment, and I swung my bleeding arm back and forth, spreading blood between us, a line in the sand. The shadow wreathed him, and he melted away into it, features and extremities stretching and twisting into the mist. he lashed out, through holes in the makeshift defense I’d created. sending me sprawling onto the hard stone floor several times. I made a circuit of the room, now bleeding from hands, from knees, from my arm, leaving drops where I went, creating as clear a circle as I could, infusing it with my will. Finally it was complete, and I was back at the stairs. He was trapped in the basement room, and I felt the irrational fear no longer, though a lot of my fear at this point was entirely me.

I did not try to destroy this spirit. I did not try to break the circle. as far as I know, he’s still down there, or perhaps moved on to bigger and better things. Despite all evidence, I’m convinced that this thing, whatever it was, contributed to my great aunt’s descent into Alzheimer’s oblivion. I hope never to see it again, but still I am curious. So many unanswered questions remain, and I still do not know what it was, or is, I guess. My closest guess would be some kind of celebrity spirit/wraith or nightmare. it had the coloring of a wraith, that tell tale black flowy composition, the emotional manipulation of a nightmare, and the physical power of a celebrity ghost. I don’t understand it at all, and probably never will.

The lesson to take from all this is be aware of your weapons. The blood in your veins is a powerful symbol for you, and all humans. A line, a drop, a stain of blood is more significant than anything else in our society, in our animal instincts. Never think you are without defense. Act calmly, if you can, in the face of unseen or ununderstood danger. And remember how to draw a circle.