This happened to a friend of mine in 2008. We were out back at Union Pool when they used to have the fire pit going (I don’t know if they do that anymore) when she told me the story. We had been talking about some horror movie I had just seen (I don’t know which one), eating some chips and queso, when she said she had just recently seen a ghost. The idea of hearing a real ghost story was very exciting to me, especially one that had happened so recently to her. When I was little I used to believe in ghosts, but I don’t anymore. I want to, but it seems so implausible at this point that we wouldn’t have some kind of evidence that they exist. I usually say that I believe in energy and that the human mind can pick up on wavelengths that are translated by our minds in a way that is beyond our normal sensory input, but I’m not sure I really believe that extends to some sort of psychic residue from past events or human beings that would then be experienced as “ghosts.” I think what is more likely is that the brain takes in a stimulus, gets jumbled up by it, and just hallucinates a ghost. I think because we have a cultural framework for spirits, our brains can be quick to interpret unrecognizable sensory inputs that way. All of this to say that I, unfortunately, did not believe in ghosts when my friend told me her story. That being said, I also don’t think that this is the kind of thing that my friend would make up or lie about. I’m not sure what she experienced or even how she really experienced it. Although I don’t think she was lying, I’m hesitant to believe her. All I know is what she told me, and here it is as best as I can remember it.
My friend had a three bedroom apartment in Greenpoint on Calyer near Franklin. It was a four story walk-up in an older building, the kind with shitty crooked stairs. Her two roommates had been gone all week and neither was supposed to be back until the beginning of the next week, so she was living that kind of freedom where you know you’ll be alone in your apartment, so you can just do whatever you want without that anxiety in the back of your head that someone might come home any second and force you into an interaction. She had been home, watching TV and going on the Internet, and fell asleep around midnight. Because her roommates were gone, she had fallen asleep on the couch.
At some point in the night, she woke up and decided she would rather go sleep in her bed. She got up and made her way toward her bedroom. From the living room to her bedroom, you have to pass by her kitchen, and as she did, she saw a man and stopped cold. In that moment, a little dazed from waking up, she couldn’t understand what was happening. She tried to process who this person could possibly be and then began to worry that it was an intruder. He seemed very large, she said, 6’4” or taller and wearing a long overcoat. Two thoughts went through her head, she told me. One was that the man had been standing perfectly still the whole time, facing a blank wall in the darkened kitchen. The second was that he must obviously know that she was standing behind him because the floors creaked a lot as you walked through.
She told me that every muscle in her body was clenched, ready to run or fight back if this man tried to make any sort of movement for her. He didn’t. Instead he continued to stare at the wall. She said that they stayed like this for what felt like at least five minutes, anticipating a confrontation. At this point, my friend realized that she was going to have to make a move.
She said something like “I don’t want any trouble. I’ve already called the cops. Please just leave.” The man still didn’t turn around.
At this point she realized that she was actually going to have to call the police. The only way to get a door between her and this man was to get to one of the bedrooms or the bathroom. The hallway that led to all of those rooms was on the other side of the kitchen. She took a step toward the hall. The man kept staring at the wall. She took another step. Nothing. No movement at all. She got to the edge of the kitchen while keeping her face toward the man. She took a step back and raced down the hall, locking herself in her room.
She called the police and a short time later a few officers arrived. They had to bust open the door and announced themselves. My friend yelled that she was in her room. The police told her to stay in there while they checked the apartment. They finally came to her door and told her that they couldn’t find anyone. They had checked all the windows and they all appeared to be locked from the inside. The deadbolt had also been locked the whole time. The only explanation they could give was that someone came in through a fire escape window, locking it behind them, found a key, and locked the door on their way out. She filed a report and called a friend to stay the night at their place.
The next day she had to get new locks for the door. That night she was alone again in her apartment. Everything locked, all the lights on. Every time she came around a corner into the kitchen she expected to see the man there again facing the wall, but she didn’t.
I don’t know what happened to my friend that night. I can’t imagine fully hallucinating a figure standing in a room. She says that all the doors and windows were locked before and that there is no way someone could have gotten in without leaving some sort of sign of forced entry, but maybe she forgot to lock her door. She also said that she would have for sure heard that man walking toward the front door and leaving through it. He didn’t. She says he was a ghost. She doesn’t know who he was or why he was staring at the wall, but she is convinced. I don’t know. I don’t believe in ghosts. But I always got a little chill walking through that kitchen.
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