Today is All Saints’ Day. That means, of course, that last night was Halloween – also known as Samhain, All Hallows’ Eve, or That Night We Dress Up Like Sluts and Drink Until We Get Finger Banged By Some Guy In A Hulk Hogan Costume – and as yesterday I was consumed with talking about the giant nerd boner I had after hearing about how Disney bought Lucasfilm, I owe you all a ghost story.
This one is actually true, which means it will be not quite as dramatic as something constructed out of the imagination like Paranormal Activity 7: This Time It’s Totally Real or Mitt Romney’s ability to appeal to minorities. No, this is completely and 100% true, and I can say that because it happened to me, though the tale is around 15 years old and some of the details might be a bit hazy at t his point.
Back in my sophomore year of undergrad at SUNY New Paltz, I was the only one living in my dorm room. My freshman year roommate had moved out into the Zeta Beta frat house, and I managed to get on line early enough during advance room sign ups for the coming year to secure a single occupancy room – an absolute luxury – and since my first serious girlfriend had just got in to New Paltz I was looking forward to not having to negotiate some esoteric and occult sock-on-doorknob routine that would have taken an entire platoon of Navajo code-breakers to keep straight. The girl dumped me after a few months for a guy who lived directly across the hall from me, but that’s not important: what is important is that she was heavily into the occult and convinced me to help her make a homemade Ouija board out of a sketch pad, using one of her rings as a planchette.
Most people know that it’s no real mystery how Ouija boards work, at least on a rational level. The ideomotor effect is thought to be the driving force giving the Ouija board’s planchette and its supposedly paranormal mobility: unconscious, imperceptible movements on the part of the users will send it skittering around the board, giving off the impression that it’s receiving messages from the Great Beyond. Of course, those that believe fervently in the paranormal with the same passion of those that are convinced that Jesus left us dinosaur bones in the ground to test our faith will say that the people handling the planchette are being used as conduits for spirits in order to communicate. My aim here isn’t to discuss or debunk that particular claim on either side of the aisle; it’s just background for what actually happened when my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend and I started messing around with our ghetto Ouija board.
I don’t remember what questions we asked, but eventually we ‘made contact’ with some entity that was rude and belligerent. Now I could easily chalk that up to to our rapidly deteriorating relationship at the time if it weren’t for actual physical changes that started happening in my dorm room. No, shit didn’t start flying off shelves and the walls didn’t start bleeding, but I can tell you objectively and truthfully that the ambient temperature in the room began to drop by a significant amount. Being the relatively rational teenager that I was at the time, I checked to make sure the windows were closed – which they were – and that the heat was on – which it was – before slowly beginning to wonder just what in the blue fuck was going on.
It’s noteworthy to mention that the way these residence halls were constructed and maintained was that the heat switched on sometime around October 15 and stayed on, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until about April 15, and it was almost always blisteringly hot. Most students ended up sleeping with their windows open in the early to mid autumn, just because it was stiflingly hot, so the fact that my room had become colder than a meat locker was absolutely bizarre. I noticed it; my soon-to-be-ex noticed it, and a friend of mine from across the hall noticed it as well when we went to get him and prove that we weren’t losing our goddamn minds. There was actually a curtain of cold air that stopped at the threshold of my room, and while I can’t back this up with any empirical data like a photograph of a thermometer reading – I wasn’t thinking rationally at that point – the cold spot persisted for an unknown period of time, as we were freaked out sufficiently enough to just leave the room for a few hours.
When I returned later that evening, the room had returned to its normal ridiculously warm temperature, but the feel of the room, for lack of a better term, had changed permanently. From then on, whenever I brought up what had happened that night, the room would repeat its cold spot trick, and I always felt like I was being watched for the rest of the year, though I don’t know if that was just my paranoia or not. Either way, something weird had happened that night that freaked me out to the point that I not only moved out of the room the following year but clear across campus to a different residence hall altogether.
I can’t explain away what happened in a rational manner. Likewise I can’t prove that it happened short of talking to that friend of mine who I went and got to show it to, and eyewitness accounts aren’t really evidence, so I have since just lumped in the “weird, unexplained shit” category along with all other kinds of paranormal phenomena, like Justin Bieber’s inexplicable popularity. As far as I know, that room is haunted and still is – and I feel bad for anyone else who has since lived there in the intervening years.
So what do you all think? Am I off my gourd or is there a case to be made for strange things that go bump in the night?