A few years ago, I dragged Jim out to see a presentation being given by Jason Hawes and Steve Gonsalves of Ghost Hunters. Jim's a good sport about it and went along willingly. Little did he know this was to be the first of many such lectures, but more about those at a later date, perhaps.
At any event, Mr. Hawes and Mr. Gonsalves turned out to be very funny and entertaining, even while they were talking about investigating haunted houses and dark entities and frightening personal experiences. They showed film clips - including a spoof on Ghost Hunters as done by South Park - of various unexplained occurrences in their quest to document paranormal activities. They played recordings of EVP's (electronic voice phenomena), some of which were pretty chilling. And they spent a nice amount of time taking questions from the audience. In other words, it was a well-rounded, informative, and entertaining evening.
But there was one thing that Mr. Hawes talked about that stuck in my mind and still pops up from time to time. He said that during his travels all over the country to investigate the other-worldly and help people deal with frightening and possibly even malevolent forces, he ran across something that seemed to affect children from all parts of the U.S. It didn't matter what state or city these children came from, and it wasn't something that he started out looking for. But he said that a number of children that he interviewed, usually regarding the particular problem in their houses, all mentioned a particular ghost. The reason it struck him was that the description of this ghost was always the same. The children described it as male and then they would talk about the clothing he wore. And in instance after instance, in city after city, the descriptions were identical across the board.
And then Mr. Hawes said that at some point, he wanted to look into this particular phenomenon, because what he was hearing -and documenting- seemed to be a particular entity that was literally criss-crossing the country and appearing to different children.
We all pretty much know what a serial killer is. So could there be such a thing as a serial haunter? An entity that chooses its intended "hauntee" (always a child) and then pops in to freak them out? I don't remember Mr. Hawes suggesting that this apparition did more than show up, but I don't think the children felt it to be a comfortable presence. That said, could this thing be targeting a specific type of child? Certainly, one who is sensitive enough to see it, but maybe something else? Again, Mr. Hawes didn't specify. He did say he wanted to keep some details to himself because he was working on this as a long-term project. So maybe there were some common denominators that he never mentioned.
The more I think about this, the more disturbing it gets.
So let's get to something a little closer to home. Some years ago, I was watching an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories. Anyone remember that one? I loved that show! Anyway, the celebrity story being presented that night was told by Carnie Wilson, of Wilson-Phillips fame. Apparently, when Carnie moved into her first apartment, she did not want to sleep alone on her first night in a new place, so she invited her sister, Wendy, to join her. During the middle of the night, Carnie woke up to see a tall, thin man standing in her doorway. She described him as having a long coat, almost like a frock coat, and a tall hat, and he was looking at her. So she did what most of us would do: she pulled the covers over her head. After waiting for a few minutes, she peeped out from under the covers, and there he was, standing beside the bed and bending over to look at her. (I would have had a heart attack on the spot, but Carnie Wilson was young and in good health when this happened.)
She told Wendy about it the next day, telling her sister that she had had a very strange dream and then describing this nocturnal visitor in detail. And Wendy said, "Oh, yeah, he's been following me around for a while." To which Carnie understandably replied, "And you didn't think to TELL me about that???"
The story is pretty creepy. Who wants to wake up in the middle of the night and see an apparition, first in the doorway, and then bending over your bed to look at you? (I think she said she pulled the covers right back over her head and somehow eventually fell asleep again. I applaud her for being able to do that!)
Here's where it gets creepier. My nephew's wife woke up one night to see a tall, thin man in a long coat and a tall hat, standing in the doorway of their bedroom and did exactly what Carnie Wilson did: she pulled the covers over her head. And when she peeked out, there he was, bending over the bed, looking down at her. After admitting she let out a little shriek, she pulled the covers back over herself, and moved closer to her sleeping husband, eventually falling asleep again. (I applaud her as well.)
Now, I had heard my niece-in-law's story at least a year, or year and a half, before I ever saw Carnie Wilson's Celebrity Ghost Story. Our family experience happened in Illinois. Carnie Wilson's happened in California.
Again, an entity who criss-crosses the country and pops in on young women? Could there be such a thing as a serial haunter?
Oh, the story ideas that gives me...