Just a little background information before I start. I'm a 24-year-old writer living in northwestern Pennsylvania, near Erie, and I've had paranormal experiences off and on throughout my life.
My first experiences happened in my family's first house, which my family and I lived in until I was a sophomore in high school, when the house burned down early Christmas morning. The police and firemen could never say for sure what started the fire, but they believe it was either electrical, from the lights on our Christmas tree, or from candles that were left burning in wall sconces by the front door.
Anyway, the house was built in the 1850s, and went through several owners before my father's family moved into it. It used to be an apartment building, with one apartment on the top floor and the other on the ground floor.
My parents told me after the house burned down that it also used to be an undertaker's house, and he stored the bodies in the basement. I wonder if that had anything to do with my fear of the basement, or if I was just afraid of the dark as many normal people were when they were young.
Anyway, my room was upstairs and was not really a room - it used to be the top-floor apartment's kitchen. A short hallway from the stairs opened directly (with no door) into my room, and from my room one could access my parents' bedroom, my sisters' bedroom and the bathroom.
Throughout my childhood, I insisted on having the bathroom light kept on and the door open as a sort of night light. I often heard footsteps coming up the stairs (much too loud and regular to be the house "settling" as my parents claimed). It scared me, but I sort of got used to it.
I also had a metal wardrobe whose doors often opened by themselves, and would open again and again after I closed them. It spooked me out, but I never stopped to think about what might have been causing it. Also, the downstairs door that connected our kitchen to the garage opened on its own quite often, but only when I was in the room.
My mom would jokingly say, "Oh, it's just the family ghost." She thought it was kind of cute; she didn't have any notion of belief in real ghosts or other spirits, and her idea of incorporeal beings pretty much only went as far as Casper the Friendly Ghost.
The worst thing that happened in that house happened when I was about in 3rd grade. I was upstairs playing in my room with some toys, while everyone else was downstairs in the living room. My room had one window with plastic venetian blinds. That night, the blinds were down. But as I heard a slight scratching noise coming from the window, I looked up to see the blinds opening by themselves. They slowly opened at a regular pace until they were fully opened. Terrified, I raced downstairs and joined the others. When they asked me what was wrong, I didn't tell them. They still don't know about the blinds.
Up until the fire, I always felt uneasy sleeping at night, and continuously heard the footsteps and dealt with the wardrobe doors. I felt strangely relieved when the house burned down. We tore that house down and had a nice, newer prefabricated home placed on the same lot.
In the new house, I was overjoyed to have my own real room, complete with four walls, a door and a beautiful big window that looked onto the yard. I thought that, maybe, my experience would be better in this house. For the most part, it has been - except for a couple disturbing encounters.
Back in the old house, I experienced what I discovered later is known as "sleep paralysis" a few times. I was awake and could see, but couldn't move or speak. It only happened a handful of times in about 15 years.
During my senior year of high school, the sleep paralysis returned with a vengeance. I woke up and saw the clock: 3:33 a.m. My television was on, as I always left it on at night because the noise helped me stay asleep.
But this time I couldn't move at all. I couldn't even wiggle my fingers or toes or turn my head. I could barely breathe, and I broke out in a cold sweat. I felt an extremely heavy weight on my chest and legs and the most suffocating fear I'd ever felt in my life. I was so scared I started to see stars and felt like I would pass out.
Eventually, after about 20 minutes of struggling, the pressure left me and I could move and breathe again. But the fear stayed with me the rest of the night. I could not fall back asleep until the fear finally abated the next night.
That summer, I left for college - a private Christian school in western Pennsylvania. I thought that, if anywhere, I could escape my paranormal past there. But I turned out to be very, very wrong.
I loved my time in college. They were the best years of my life, and not even a few traumatic experiences would change that. Nevertheless, my spirits seemed to follow me there.
About halfway through the first semester of my sophomore year, the sleep paralysis returned.
My roommate was a stranger to me. I was stuck with him when a friend whom I'd planned on rooming with dropped out, and his spot was filled with a freshman transfer. He slept on the top bunk, I on the bottom bunk.
That night, I felt the most viscerally intense fear I have ever experienced in my life. Nothing before or after that could even remotely compare. I was so terrified my heart was fluttering, my skin was numb and wet with sweat, my thoughts were jumbled and incoherent and I felt like I was going to die. I could not move any muscle in my body, no matter how hard I tried. This time I couldn't even open my eyes, and I felt the familiar weight pressing down on my body.
But this time, my tormentors made themselves known. They spoke to me.
There were three voices: a male voice at my right ear, a female voice at my left ear, and another male voice right in front of my face. I don't remember exactly what they said, but I do remember the male voice on my right saying "hello" to me, in what sounded like a normal voice.
To my surprise, I said hello in return. I wasn't afraid of him. He had a normal voice and I felt like I'd known him for a long time. I had struggled with depression for years, and medicine had not helped. I thought now I might have been tormented by this spirit and his friends, and they might have been the ones who caused the footsteps, the opening doors and the opening window blinds.
But after I told him I didn't want him around anymore, all three started laughing at me and mocking me. They started talking to each other about me: about the failures, bad choices, and mistakes in my life. This made me angry and I struggled harder and they laughed harder.
I managed to force my eyes open and turn my neck to the left, where the female voice was coming from. I didn't see anything, but I forced my hand up and grabbed at where it sounded like her voice was coming from, and I felt her neck. It felt like normal skin, like a normal neck of a slim, young woman.
But they just laughed at me louder and louder. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore, and I told them all to leave in the name of Jesus Christ.
Right then, they all screamed, and as the screaming faded away, I regained control of my body and could breathe again. I lay there, still terrified, but eventually got out of bed and typed up what had happened. I didn't want to forget or wake up later that morning and think it was a dream, because I knew I was awake and it was real. I was shaking hard all over, and my skin was slick with sweat and my eyes were blurry with tears. The clock said 5:00 a.m.
I eventually told my family about the encounter, and they wanted me to be tested for any mental problems, just to make sure. I saw a doctor and was tested for various problems like schizophrenia that might cause hallucinations. But the doctor found nothing and said that there was nothing wrong with me.
The visitations mostly stopped after that. But once when I was home on spring break, I woke up to a very loud crash that came from the living room/kitchen area - the kind of noise that's so loud and abrupt that it jolts you out of even the deepest sleep. I got out of bed and went to investigate, and saw that the kitchen garbage can was on its side in the living room, with all the contents scattered throughout the entire first floor of the house.
This freaked me out, because every night I put the garbage can up on the table so the dog couldn't get it, and it's far too heavy for either the cat or the dog to move at all, much less knock it off the table and drag it into the living room.
Also, when I went to go back to bed, my room was not the way it was when I went to check on the noise. I saw that my nightstand and lamp had been moved. The stand is heavy wood, with two drawers filled with stuff and the heavy lamp on top; way too heavy for any of our animals to move. It had been pulled out from the wall at an angle, and the lamp upon it was turned on and fallen on the floor.
I immediately suspected it had been the work of spirits; after so many experiences in the past, I just couldn't kid myself or deny it. I simply replaced the nightstand and lamp where they should be, read my Bible for a little bit and went back to sleep.
Another time, during that same spring break, my bedroom lamp turned itself on just as I was leaving the room one morning. I went and turned it off, but when I went to leave again, it came on again. (And no, it's not a motion-sensor lamp.)
Later that same day, I was home alone and reading a book in the living room downstairs. I started to hear a pawing noise from upstairs, you know, the noise cats make when they paw at a door. Well, I went upstairs and opened the door into the bedroom from where the noise was coming from. There was nothing there. I just kind of stood there and furrowed my brow, wondering if it was what I thought it was. I closed the door firmly and went back downstairs.
The noise happened again. I tried to ignore it, but it kept going and it was driving me nuts. Not with fear, but annoyance. I was trying to read, thanks! I went back up and opened the door again; again, nothing. I closed the door hard and took my book outside to read because I didn't want to deal with the noise again. I then saw my cat come up and rub against me; and I realized it had been outside the whole time. The noises could not have been the cat.
Those last experiences happened three years ago now, when I was a junior in college. Nothing has happened since, and I hope it doesn't again. But if it does, I know now the power in Jesus' name and I won't be afraid to use it. While those experiences scared me at first, I'm not afraid of the spirits anymore.