Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Paranormal? Let's get real
by Dakota Banks
The giveaway is over! The winner is JUDY. Please contact me at dakota @ dakota-banks.com to claim your prize of a signed copy of Sacrifice, a bookmark, and a pen.
Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments! - Dakota
I attended ThrillerFest, a great conference in NYC, earlier this month. I kinda have to, because I'm a board member of International Thriller Writers, the group that puts it on (shameless plug for ITW!). At the Awards Banquet, I was at a table of other board members and after a couple of glasses of wine the subject turned to the paranormal. Not the kind I write about, but the real stuff like ghosts, prescience, and remote viewing. The guy two seats over asked me if I was a believer. I was pinned. Even though the table was round, I was backed into a corner. I came up with this lame answer: "I'm not a disbeliever."
Can you imagine? A wimpy double negative in austere company? Fortunately, he was ahead of me in glasses of wine and nodded at my answer. Then he launched into a rambling story of a haunted house in England. He was an enthusiastic believer. Sandwiched between the two of us was an author who said, "There's certainly things we don't have explanations for," proving that wine causes authors to turn into grammar dummies. Still, I wish I'd thought of his answer.
I've hesitated to say what I feel about paranormal events because I didn't want to be tossed into the group wearing aluminum hats so the aliens can't read their thoughts. But this seems like a perfect spot for a chat. Let me set the scene. We're in a snug cabin in the woods, a fresh snowfall outside. it's the middle of the night, and we're sitting around a crackling fire. I'm in a chair near the fireplace, a blanket across my lap and a cup of cocoa in my hand (marshmallows, of course). I'm totally relaxed and ready for anything.
I believe in ghosts and I've seen several. The night my father died, I was forty miles away. I was awakened at night by a soft, familiar voice calling my name. Sitting up, I saw my father in a nearby chair. He didn't have a solid appearance, but it was easy to tell who he was. We talked for a long time, during which he said some things that were new to me. I later found out that my father had died of a heart attack at the time he first appeared to me. When I asked my mother to confirm the things I'd learned, she said they were true and that they were secrets the two of them had kept from us children. This wasn't my first, or my only, direct experience with ghosts. But it was the most meaningful.
Part of my childhood was spent in a remodeled 19th century funeral parlor. There I heard things at night, bumping, rustling of curtains, footsteps traveling across the floor. In the basement of the house, which used to be the embalming room, I saw the same ghost several times, a well-dressed man sitting on the floor in the corner, overcome with grief. When I approached him, he disappeared. I always imagined that he'd accidentally killed someone, and deeply regretted it.
I'm a cat lover and have had quite a few kitties in my life, and they tend to live long lives, 20 years or more. When one of them dies, our bond doesn't go away immediately. I'll get a glimpse of the cat walking down the hallway, lying curled up in her favorite spot, even feel the cat in my lap. What tips the experiences from a grief reaction to paranormal is that I can pet the cat in my lap, feel her fur, hear her purring, and once had an over the top experience: my tears were licked from my cheeks. Some may say that cats don't have spirits, but you can tell I'm not among them.
How about another cup of cocoa? I'm getting one for myself.
I've also experienced times when I knew what was going to happen. It's not a controllable thing, so no lottery winnings for me. I'll be driving home and suddenly see a mental image of a deer crossing the road just ahead, usually accompanied by a stab of nausea. I slow down or stop if the road permits, and when I get to the spot, I see the deer's alert white tail disappearing into the woods.Both the deer and I have made it through safely. Most of the time, I don't have any idea how far into the future I'm seeing, though--it could be years. I haven't said anything scary yet, but these experiences are not all benign. I'll talk about only one event. I was in a bathroom stall at a rest stop on Interstate 70. I was about ready to leave when a spray of blood appeared on the door in front of me, then a couple of bloody hand prints, and a pool of blood formed at my feet.
Clutching that cocoa a bit tightly, aren't you?
I have never written about or revealed any of this before. It was hard to do here, but once I got started the words just poured out of me. I do not wear an aluminum hat. These are my experiences, I swear, and I've left out some.
I invite you to tell me your paranormal stories. I'll listen and I won't doubt you--how could I? Think I'm nuts? That's okay too! Maybe you'll meet me halfway and come to think, as my dinner companion did, that "There's certainly things we don't have explanations for."
I'm having a giveaway of a signed copy of my new release in the Mortal Path series, Sacrifice, along with a bookmark and pen. The book comes out August 31st, so I won't be able to mail the winner a copy until that time. Just leave a comment. The contest runs until midnight July 31st, and I'll mail internationally. The winner will be listed at the top of this post after the deadline, so if you enter, please come back to check if you've won.