Though my story took place when I was eight years of age, I still remember it bright as day. Many people I talk to write it off as "a bad dream" or a hallucination, but I know what I experienced, and I know for certain that I was very much awake. There are a few seemingly minor details I must set up first, as they all accumulate to create the entire context of my story.
In 2004 during the week of Thanksgiving, my family took a vacation to Disney World in Florida. As it was our first large vacation, and we wished to stay for the entire week, we were staying in a rather cheap hotel. The area was made up to look like the French Quarter in New Orleans, and the rooms resembled motel rooms rather than a hotel room. There were five people in the room and two beds right next to each other. My mom and dad slept in the bed closest to the door with my then two year old little sister. My older brother and I shared the far bed, but slept so that my head was at the foot of the bed and his head was opposite, at the top.
On the day of the incident, my mom and little sister had returned to the room for the day, leaving me, my dad, and my brother to ride all the roller coasters we wanted. They were both dead set on riding the Haunted Mansion ride, but being an eight-year-old little girl, I threw a fit. Finally they coerced me into it, and I grudgingly went along.
The very first 'spooky' thing I saw before entering the ride was the statue of the Headless Horseman, riding a black horse with red eyes, dressed in all black, and, of course, entirely without any head to speak of.
We went through the ride and, as could be expected, I was mortified.
That night as I lie in bed I couldn't get any sleep. The room was unbearably hot and humid, I couldn't get comfortable, and I had a slight chest cold which was causing me to cough up phlegm. Apparently, my Father couldn't sleep either, as every time I coughed, he griped at me to 'spit, swallow, or quit it'.
With all this inconveniences combined, I could not sleep in more than short, half hour bursts. At one point, at around 3:30, I woke up with a strange feeling of something being wrong. My head was hanging over the edge of the bed, and I could see a small, round, black object on the floor. I then noticed that it was attached to something furry. Initially I believed it to be one of the stuffed Mickeys we'd bought earlier in the day, but then I realized it was something much larger. I followed the object up what I realized was a large, bony, furry leg, and found myself staring dead into the red, glowing eyes of a big, black horse.
It then dawned on me that it was the same horse, rider and all, as the statue from out side of the Haunted Mansion- in my hotel room. To make matters worse, it then blinked, blew hot breath out of its nose, and clopped its hooves on our floor.
I tried desperately to pull the blanket over my head, but my brother had wrapped himself in it. I then tried to grab the sheet, but my brother was laying on it, and I could only get enough to cover 2/3 of myself. I then lay very still, telling myself I was dreaming, just scared from the ride earlier that day, and that if I fell asleep, it would all go away. I then felt more phlegm come up in my throat, and tried my best not to cough, fearing it might alert the beast and its spectral rider. Finally, it became too uncomfortable, and I had to cough up the mucus. That's when something even more strange happened- my dad once again scolded me, and told me to stop coughing. That was it for me. If my dad was also awake, then I had to be- I was indeed not dreaming.
After ten minutes of being terrified, I fell asleep for another hour. I then woke up and peeked from under the sheet, expecting that the vision would be gone, and that I really was just victim of my own overactive imagination. I looked first to my parents, seeing that they had shifted some in their sleep. I then tried to see if my brother had relinquished some of the sheet he was laying on- alas, no. Then, tentatively, I looked in to where the horse was.
It was still there, shifting on its feet as if anxious to move, rider still sitting up bone straight.
Again I lay still, and eventually fell asleep for around forty minutes. The next time I awoke, I could hear the horse nicker and the husky, strained breaths of the rider. I couldn't bring myself to look up this time.
Finally I fell asleep for another hour and woke up half an hour before everyone else was set to. Sunlight was beginning to come in through the windows, and the sky was that tell-tale blue, giving away that it was early morning. I felt an overwhelming sense of calm, and threw my head up at where I had seen the apparition the night before with no fear. Indeed it was gone. Ironically, my brother had also rolled off the sheet and even loosened some blanket. I was able to sleep peacefully for that last half hour.
The incident did not take place again for the next few nights, and my parents did not believe me when I told them. Both made a very good point- with the room being as small as it was, wouldn't they have seen the Headless Horseman, too?
To me, the story was very real, and I knew very well what I saw. What's more is that when returned some time later at the age of 16, and rode the ride and saw the Horseman, I felt a deep sense of uneasiness. To many it will seem the case of a child and a manifestation of their fear, but to me, it will always be an unexplainable ghost story.