In True Ghost Stories I’ve brought you experiences from my Grandmother’s pub, The Royal Oak (don’t worry, we’ll be going back, there’s a couple of really weird stories still to come!): now I’d like to fill you in on some of my own personal experiences. From the Hotel...
The Hotel was another example of an old building steeped in history, just like the Royal Oak the hotel was built in the 1700s. And like the Royal Oak, it had its fair share of hauntings.
The first story I’d like to share is the first time I actually witnessed a ghost with my own eyes. I’d been working in the pub trade for around ten years and had basically been born into the industry. Even though I’d worked in some really old places, most of which with a story to tell, I’d never actually seen anything for myself. That changed one summer night.
There were some pretty scary non-paranormal stories in the pub trade, (anyone who has ever seen British TV show Crimewatch can confirm that, and holy shit if that isn’t one of the scariest things on television), so whenever I worked in a new place, I followed one simple rule: if my bedroom door had a lock, I used it. (Turns out it wasn’t necessary, but better safe than sorry.)
The windows to my bedroom at the Hotel opened onto a roof. The kind of roof somebody might use if they wanted to gain entry, bypassing the doors. So on this one night, when I was awoken by the rattle of my bedroom door opening behind me, I knew something was off.
When I turned I was relieved to see my dad inside the room, beside the closed door. But he wasn’t looking at me; he was staring in the direction of the windows. It was clear from his posture that he was listening intently to something out there. My dad can sometimes be, well, reactionary, so there was no way I was opening my mouth to speak now, especially after screwing up and not locking the bedroom door.
I was pretty freaked out. He’d never done this before and for a second I thought I could end up on a reconstruction on Crimewatch myself. He just stood there facing the window, looking. And listening. I too turned attention to the window, in an attempt to see the source of what he’d heard. As far as I could make out, there was nothing going on, so I turned back to him. He still wasn’t looking at me. His eyes were fixed, peering through the dark at the windows. It was especially dark as the curtains were drawn, so it was no surprise when he took a few steps towards the window to get a better look, stopping a few feet away.
My eyes were adjusting to the light now and I turned back to the window myself. Still nothing. No signs of movement, no sound. I was still reluctant to say anything. Just because I couldn’t hear it, didn’t mean it wasn’t there, whatever it was. By now, I’m gripped by curiosity. I looked at him, back at the windows, back at him, and then the strangest thing happened...
Right before my eyes, as I was looking at him. The figure I thought was my dad faded into nothing. I slowly sat upright and tried to wrap my head around what was going on. I wasn’t scared, which I found odd. I even thought at this point I might have been dreaming, so I pinched myself. Nothing happened. I tried again, really grabbing and twisting hard. My next thought was Okay, you’re definitely awake. Now what? I sat up for another few minutes trying to explain it. I didn’t fancy the idea of getting out of bed, so I lay back down and after a few minutes, I fell back asleep.
The next morning I woke up, and being the non-morning person that I am, I was groggy. I wasn’t groggy for long as I suddenly remembered what had happened the previous night. Now I’m wide awake with a hazy and more-than-slightly confusing memory of my dad being in my room. Again, not afraid, but curious to find out what he’d been looking for. I quickly got up, dressed, and left my room. Well, I tried to leave, but the door didn’t open.
It was locked.
I hadn’t forgotten. I’d locked the door as I always did. Now I know it wasn’t dad. That was when the fear kicked in. It was also the quickest I’d ever unlocked a door and the first time I’d ever seen a ghost.
It’s difficult to explain to anyone how I can be so sure that it wasn’t a dream and yet I’d bet my life on it. The ghost of a living person is called a Doppelganger (another German word) and is said to often be a harbinger of bad news. I’m happy to report that this took place over a decade ago (maybe two decades – where has the time gone?) and nothing bad happened.
I’m not the first in my family to see a doppelganger. My uncle was sitting watching television with my grandfather at his house one night when nature called. He excused himself and passed my grandfather on his way to the bathroom. He planted his foot on the first step, looked up, only to see my grandfather peering down at him from the landing.
He mumbled to grandad on his way back to his seat. “I’ll wait.”
I’ve also heard a very similar (almost identical) story to my own told on the wonderful Jim Harold’s Campfire podcast, so it does happen. I’m sure there will be some among you who think it was all a dream. Well, that was the first time I saw anything in that room. It wasn’t the last…
Next time in True Ghost Stories, I'll tell you about the second.
Have you ever seen a ghost? Let me know in the comments! As before, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.