This story along with my other one, 'Prep School Ghost In Rome,' happened 25 years ago when I was living in Europe with my parents while my father was working with N.A.T.O.
Although it was indeed a long time ago, and I was only 16 at the time, I can still remember every single detail as if it happened only yesterday. As I wrote in my other story, I am willing to swear on the souls of all those I love that all which you are about to read is 100% true and was not a figment of the imagination.
This particular incident happened during the first week of our arrival in a place called Latina about 100 kilometers south of Rome. As our villa was not quite yet ready for us, we ended up staying in the Hotel Latina for a week or so and it was here that I experienced something that I would not wish upon anyone, with the exception of a certain person or two.
The hotel itself was not particularly old or steeped in history, in fact the entire town, if I remember correctly, was built at the request of Mussolini while ol' El Duce was still in power. Ah, but I digress so back to the incident at hand.
From what I recall it was the second or third night that my nocturnal visitor paid me the most frightening experience of my life. It was around midnight and as usual I had not yet fallen asleep. I was just lying there in bed, the lights were out and I was thinking about what kinds of new things I was about to experience. Had I known what was about to occur such thoughts would most definitely have not crossed my mind.
At first it just began as some slight noises coming from the bathroom which I naturally thought were of no real concern because we all hear weird things in the night from time to time, do we not? Now I should state that my room, as most places in Europe, had those types of steel shutters that are rolled down the windows every night for security as well as insulation during cold spells I assume. And as was the case of this particular night all the shutters were closed and the room was fully locked and totally secure from any possible intruders. Or so I thought. The room itself, although not luxurious, was very comfortable and large. The layout consisted of the bathroom on the upper left and the entrance to the room itself on the lower right with the bed being centered against the upper wall.
After a few minutes of these curious 'bumps in the night,' I can remember feeling the need to look towards the bathroom and it was then that things began to become somewhat more than extraordinary. Although the lights were out and the shutters were drawn, my eyes had adjusted to the dark more or less due to my usual state of insomnia. About 10 seconds after I centered my gaze in that direction I began to hear the doorknob of the bathroom begin to start to kind of rattle. Needless to say, this was when I became to be somewhat more than concerned. Then it happened. I could hear the doorknob slowly turn and then ever so slowly the door actually opened on its own. Naturally it was at this time that I felt the need to have the maid change the sheets to say the least. If only it had ended there it might not have been such a lasting memory. As I couldn't really explain what had just happened, and was beyond a little freaked out, I chose to turn my head and try to ignore the occurence while closing my eyes as tightly as was possible.
It was then that the real deal started to take place. I don't know how to quite explain it but even with my head on the pillow turned in the opposite direction and my eyes closed so tight they almost hurt, I suddenly felt this, for lack of better words, presence, standing in the doorway to the bathroom. I was literally frozen with fear at this point and little did I know things were only about to begin. After about 30 seconds it was then that this 'presence' started to walk towards the end of my bed. Obviously it is hard to explain but all I can say is that the feeling of this thing was so strong that I could tell when it moved or changed direction just from the intensity it exuded. After it did its slow walk to the center of the foot of my bed, I could feel it just standing there almost as if it were wanting, or better yet, challenging me to open my eyes and bear witness to what it was.
You have to understand that this was my first experience with anything to do with the paranormal and there was not the slightest chance that I was going to work up the courage to look at this thing.
After what seemed to me to be about a minute or so it seemed to almost become impatient with me because at this time it began to slowly slide its way up the bed and come to rest directly at the side of my face that was not buried in the pillow. All I can remember at this point was that I sincerely feared for my life. I can actually remember thinking that this must be how people die in their sleep, this incarnation of evil pays you a nocturnal visit and you die of a heart attack, stroke, whatever, if in fact you were to look at it.
As I said before there was not the slightest chance that I was even going to try and sneak a peek at this thing. It lingered as close to my face as was possible for a full 30 seconds or so and I could actually feel it sneering at me, challenging me again and again to work up the courage to open my eyes even for just an instant. This was certainly not going to happen as for whatever reason I felt I would be safe to a certain degree if only I did not venture to see what it actually was that was emanating this challenge from the other side. I couldn't help but think about the story of the Medusa as well, I have to admit.
After what seemed to be an eternity from hell I could actually feel this thing taunt me with one more opportunity to witness its existence before it slid down the bed and came to a rest at the foot of the bed once again. It is probably best to explain the strength of its intensity to compare it to the strength of a flame if you were to hold it close to your body. You could literally feel the intensity of its presence grow stronger as it approached my face and lessen as it withdrew just like if you were to slowly put a lighter by your face and slowly remove it.
Refusing to end its encounter with me just yet, it once again remained in place for an additional 30 seconds or so. As it did just before it slowly pulled away from the side of my face it seemed to taunt and challenge me for the last possible chance it would offer itself to be seen. It could have offered endless chances for all of eternity because there was no way these baby blues were giving in. In the end it seemed to accept that I was not even close to accepting its challenge, if indeed that's what it was. It gave up the position at the foot of my bed and once again, ever so slowly made its way back to the bathroom and once inside the door closed of its own accord.
Now as you could well imagine I now felt about 100 years older and was no longer inclined to remain frozen in bed with my eyes squeezed tight. I was at this time more than ready to vacate the premises as soon as was humanly possible. It was then that I tried the lights located next to the headboard but they didn't seem to work. As you would be right to think lights should not be necessary to leave the room, I felt the same and quite literally jumped out of bed and when my feet hit the floor every single light in the room came on. I had that door open in about a nanosecond and bolted down the hall to bang on my parents room where they eventually let me in.
After a minimal explanation which basically consisted of "something happened in my room and I don't want to sleep there anymore," my father gave me that, "whatever, because I know you won't tell me look," and he changed rooms with me, leaving me to sleep in the same bed with my mother which I had not done in probably 10 years. The next morning he told me he slept fine and had not the slightest idea as to what could have bothered me. Of course I changed rooms the very next day.
To this day I still think about that night and what it was that I may have seen had I actually had the nerve to accept the challenges that were issued to me from the other side. And to this day I still firmly believe that I made the right choice even though I sometimes regret not having taken the chance.
Who knows, it may be possible that this thing actually followed me to Rome where I ended up attending an international boarding school. The name of the school was Notre Dame International and rumour had it that it may have been built over top of the ancient catacombs of the city. This incident and the other one I wrote, 'Prep School Ghost In Rome' are the only encounters I have ever had with the paranormal and it seems a little weird they both happened within a year of each other and nothing has happened to me since.
Upon further reflection I imagine that would be due to the amount of history in the places. At any rate, if you enjoyed this story I recommend you check out my other one from when I was in Rome. In that one I actually was blessed to see a ghost for a solid 2 minutes or so as opposed to just a fleeting glance or witnessing something out of the corner of your eye. I should have named that one 'Proof Of The Afterlife'. When I look back on both experiences I have to admit that I really don't believe they were connected as the 'presence' was without a doubt something evil whereas the spirit or 'ghost' in Rome seemed to just be someone who wanted to let me know there is something after we die. I think I know who that someone was but I left that part out for personal reasons.
I should note that I feel both of these incidents have really made the rest of my life easier as I now firmly believe that we actually do have a place to go after we have passed on. It makes losing those we love easier and the fear of our own demise less menacing. I once read a quote that I felt was very intriguing, think it was George Washington, he stated that "I do not fear death, I fear dying." Now I understand!