Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Paranormal? Let's get real

     
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.

 Join me?

 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.

31 comments:

Jacqueline C. said...

The closest that I've ever come to paranormal phenomena is experiencing déjà vu. Those instances are freaky enough - anything like your experiences would seriously creep me out!

I loved Dark Time and am excited for Sacrifice!

Wen Baragrey said...

Like you, I had a visit from my father after he died. In my case, Dad died very confused and angry. I loved him very much, but there's no doubt I was afraid of him.

It was about two days after Dad died, and my son had gone down for a nap -- so I did too. The midday sun was pouring through my bedroom window, so it didn't take long to doze off.

I hadn't realized I was asleep, but I must have been. All I remember was waking, realizing that Dad was lying in the bed in front of me. He was wearing a hospital gown and wrapped his arms around me, tight. Too tight. It hurt.

I could feel his confusion. Wriggling, I begged him to let go. He tried to say something -- his lips moved, but nothing came out.

Terrified, I broke free and took off out into the living room. My son was awake, standing by his bedrooms safety gate. He cried and pointed to my room, saying "Gangad," which was how he said Grandad.

Then, I woke up in my bed with a start, leaped from my bed and ran out into the living room. Sure enough, there was my son at his safety gate. He looked up at me and pointed at my room. "Gangad," he said.

I picked him up and ran outside into the sunshine, not wanting to spend another minute inside. We were living on a high country station, so there were no neighbors I could run to. All I could do was wait for my husband to come home for lunch.

When he did, I tearfully told him my story, complaining that my back still ached where I'd dreamed my father had held me.

My husband lifted my shirt to see and found two red hand prints surrounded by welts in the middle of my back. Both hands were much larger than mine, and turned in a direction it was impossible for me to reach with my own arms.

The welts lasted most of the day, the red marks for another day after that. The nightmares for years.

? said...

I don't remember how old I was exactly, but maybe two years after my grandfather died, I saw him. I had just gotten home from school and was sitting on the couch watching TV. For some reason I looked up and I saw him walk across my parents' bedroom doorway. He looked just like he had when he was alive. I saw him do the same thing several times.

In college, I was walking down the hall in my dorm. It was the middle of the day. I stopped at the water fountain and when I looked up there was a tall black buff man standing maybe ten feet away. He had no eyes, nose or mouth. He was solid black. He just stood and watched as I walked back to my room. I actually wrote about this experience on my blog (http://seeingdreamingwriting.blogspot.com). It's on the "Ghost Stories" Page.

Like you, I've also had experience with visions and seeing the future. That all started when I went to Ireland for a summer when I was eighteen. It got to the point were I could will visions and see things on command. I can't do it as much anymore.

I've had several other ghost and shadow experiences. Several also involve dreams. I'm not saying I dreamt the experiences. But for example, I saw a figure in the TV before I went to sleep. That night I had the worst nightmare of my life and woke up unsure of reality. I'm convinced that it was more than just a normal dream.

I was having trouble deciding what to write my blog post about today. Your post gave me the inspiration I needed. I'm going to link to this as well.

http://seeingdreamingwriting.blogspot.com

Terri Garey said...

Wonderful post, Dakota! I absolutely believe in ghosts, though I've had nothing happen that was nearly as strong as what you've described, nor do I want to! (The incident with the blood would've scarred me for life!)

My mother came to me several times in dreams after she passed, and I would wake with the physical sensations of having touched and hugged her, knowing she wanted to reassure me that she was fine on the other side. Had some odd experiences in a couple of houses that I later found out were supposedly "haunted", as well.

So pass the aluminum hat, because I'm a believer! :)

A Simple Love of Reading said...

The freakiest paranormal event to happen to me was when I was living at home and I swear that house was haunted. Our house was built on the destroyed path that a tornado left behind. I don't know if maybe someone was killed by that tornado or not, but I believe there was.

My step-father had this horribly squeaking computer chair. One day my sister and I were home alone and watching TV when the chair started to make that awful squeaking noise. BUT IT WOULD ONLY SQUEAK IF YOU WERE SITTING IN IT! We had no pets so there was no way one got up on it. I went down, we had our "office" down in the basement, thinking maybe I was wrong and my step-father had stayed home that day. NOPE. There was no one in the basement, and the chair was sitting on the opposite side of the room from the desk.

Another time I heard stomping coming up the stairs late at night, I went out into the hall to give my sister crap and warn her to quiet down so she didn't get caught, THERE WAS NO ONE THERE! My sister was asleep in bed when I opened her door!

And the last freaky thing that I remember happening in that house, was the dishwasher mysteriously turning on when the house was empty!

Thanks for the awesome contest!

elaing8 said...

Great post. You have had quite the experiences. I cannot say the same. I do believe in ghosts though,I believe out spirit has to go somewhere.
My sister and her SIL have had experiences with ghosts.One was of a cop who murdered his wife,lover and himself and the incident would play out often in the house,sounds and all.
But nothing interesting has happened to me...yet

Carol L. said...

I've had several through the years but by far the most memorable was about three months after my Mom dies unexpectedly. I was still extremely grief stricken and had been clearing out my emails when I was just overwhelmed by a bout of tear and longing for Mom. I place my head in my hands and gave into it. Suddenly I felt my hair stir as if someone had gently rubbed their hand through it. I smiled because my youngest daughter was always very caring and compassionate. I then felt her hands on my shoulders and a warmth had spread over me at that moment and comforted me. I leaned back to lay my head against her and felt nothing, tried to put my hands on hers as they laid on my shoulders, nothing there. I jumped up and looked around. My daughter wasn't there. I went into the bedroom and there was my daughter still sleeping. All I can say was that I knew instantly it had been my Mom.
Carol L.
Lucky4750@aol.com

YzhaBella (aka Kate) said...

Wow Dakota! That's quite a gift you have! I too "am not a disbeliever"

I've not had experiences such as yours. But, there was one instance a few years ago that really affected me.

My gran passed and, of course, we all miss her dearly. One evening, all the family is sitting around the tv and somehow all got started talking about gran. My sister mentioned that she wondered if Gran was up there watching over us...and the lights flickered...once...twice...three times! Now. I don't know if that was just coincidence, but if so, the timing was impeccable!

Thanks for sharing everyone!

Kate aka YzhaBella's BookShelf
mleger0546(at)rogers(dot)com

Shannon B said...

I think I'll borrow your comment and say I'm not a disbeliever. I don't think that I've actually seen a ghost, many times I will get the feeling of my grandpa's presence and think I see the shape of him in a doorway. But it could also be my mind willing me to see him in the doorway.

As for knowing things that were going to happen...this has happened to me many times. First time I remember was in high school. Had a strange dream where I was standing at the sink crying. Happened for real a few days later. Most of the time though I'm not asleep, more like day dreaming. I'll be sitting there minding my own business when some strange thought will pop into my head. And it may be days before it happens, but it almost always does. It's never anything super serious, nothing life or death, but still creeps me out all the same when it happens!

Katie said...

Wow! I am a believer, but I can't say that have had a lot of paranormal experiences.

For years my Granny made beaded Christmas tree ornaments. She loved them and loved Christmas. The first Christmas after she died, I found a bunch of ornaments in strange places. I didn't think anything of it, until a few days later when I mentioned it to my mom and aunts. They too had found ornaments in strange and unexpected places. I guess my Granny just wanted to remind us how much she loved Christmas.

Judy said...

Very interesting post. I would say I am a believer, but nothing has ever happened to me like that. My mother during her lifetime had several episodes that were very eerie. It seems when there was a major crisis in her life she would see a lady dressed in white come to her. The crisis showed itself after the episode with the lady. I say eerie, but she would say it was always very peaceful.

nymfaux said...

Wow--That's so spooky!!! I am definitely not a disbeliever! I've never had any experiences that were so strong, but I've definitely had weird things happen, things I still think about and can't explain. In one of my college dorm rooms I used to have especially weird/random things with my electronics--my alarm clock randomly going off, my tv/vcr turning on/changing channels--taping something all by itself--and also a cupcake that went missing--So I'm not saying there couldn't be other explanations...But I'm definitely open to other possibilities...

p.s. Congrats on your book!!!

Jessica said...

I've never had a ghostly encounter. There may have been a few times when I could've sworn I left something in a room and couldn't find it only to find it a minute later, but nothing concrete. I've thought I've seen things out of the corner of my eye, but I was never totally sure.

I wouldn't mind a real encounter. I've been devouring the supernatural since I was a kid and a real experience would be something. Although of course, I want it to be a friendly experience because by being a fan of the supernatural I know that not all spirits are friendly and not all spirits leave a house.

Melissa said...

I am a believer and you can pass the aluminum hat here. I lived in an area of Virginia where all the houses were built in the 1700's and the houses belonged to sea captains. Our house had a ghost that would ring the bell for dinner every night at 6pm. The house down the road from us had a ghost that if a certain box was moved, it would be moved back overnight to the original place. My parents stayed up one night with the neighbors to watch the box move and it did! Somethings can't be explained by what we currently know so I like to believe that there is a lot more out there. I think it makes life more interesting for those things we can't explain.

Sharon S. said...

I've never had an experience that would make me believe. You hear all these stories and wonder, maybe...but I will have to see first hand something paranormal before I can ask for the hat .

Melissa said...

Yes, I have had several experiences within the realm of what you are talking about. A few I will not talk about here or anywhere public as it is very personal. Let's just say... you aren't alone. :)

Nicole Murphy said...

When i was a teenager, I used to see things that were going to happen a lot, but I shut that side of me away. Slowly, it's starting to come back again.

I've not experienced a ghost (the idea freaks me) but it makes sense to me that they exist.

heatwave16 said...

Well, I definitely don't think you're crazy. I agree 100% with the statement, 'there are just things that we can't explain.' I've never had any close paranormal ghost experiences. My honey can get a sense of things like that, and has had more interaction. I get the deja vu in the sense that I absolutely know I have experience whatever I am going through at that moment once before. Mine usually come to me in dreams, and like you mentioned, who knows when it will take place.

My Nana had an experience that my Pap came to visit her as a small ball of light. They were married for over 50 years...I believe 56, and I don't believe that is a bond that is easy broken.

I have to say that it makes me happy to hear that you have seen your cats. We have 3 pups, and I believe they have spirits and souls. They just have too much personality not too. :)

I rambled on too, but thanks so much for sharing.

Cylver said...

Even though I've never seen a ghost, I believe in them. Once my brother-in-law's parents were visiting him and my sister in their new house. They introduced his parents to their pets, two dogs and a cat. Later on, the father said he'd seen another cat, and asked about it. When he described it, my brother-in-law showed him a picture of their cat who had died over a year before, and his father confirmed that was the cat he saw. Strangest thing of all? They had just moved into the house a few months earlier, long after the cat had died. I guess he was just too curious to stay away!

Ash Wolf said...

We live in an old house that was built by my stepdad's grandfather. Every now and again at night, as I'm lying in bed, I hear what sounds like footsteps coming up the steps, crossing my room and entering the room next to mine. Or feel a prensence standing next to my bed as I pretend to sleep. I have yet to see if something is standing there. Both events eventually fade away.
My mother is the one who has had a real paranormal experience in this house, though most people believe she dreamed it (I'm not one of them). A few days after she and my stepdad were married, she was resting on the couch when she felt a prensence beside her. When she looked up, she saw a man standing over her. He watched her for a time before bending over and leaned his face into my mom's head. He then pulled back and smiled at her before disappearing. My stepdad thinks it's the ghost of his grandfather. When he and his ex-wife use to fight, she would sleep on the couch. He believes that his grandfather was just making sure everything was ok. She hasn't seen him again.

c4casey said...

The only really paranormal experience I've had was a serious case of deja vu. It was so creepy because I knew excatly what everyone else was going to say before they said it. I even knew exactly how many clouds were in the sky before I looked, and how many leaves would fall from a tree when the wind blew (I even knew the wind was going to blow on a fairly windless day!). Yeah, it was scary. Although, I wouldn't mind seeing a ghost or two xD

Sue S. said...

I've never had a ghostly encounter either. There have been times I felt like I felt my mom's presence, but I never saw anything. Who's to say it wasn't real?

Crystal said...

Great post but def spooky! =) I like 'there are just things that we can't explain.' I haven't seen ghost or anything scary like that, thankfully cause I'm a big chicken! But I believe that the possibility is out there.
My husband thinks I'm psychic because he'll just look at me and before he can get the words out I answer him. This happens a lot, LoL. Psychic or just in tune with some people I don't know. =)
But I do get that déjà vu feeling a lot and small things here and there I've said would happen and they have. Like Paranormal or just good instincts sometimes who knows? But it's always fun to speculate on the possibilities.
Happy Friday-Eve Everyone!

Crystal said...

Oh @ nymfaux; Totally unrelated but thought I'd share! Don't know if they'd have these where your at but the Targets here have lots of little Rainbow Brite stuff in their dollar bins. Little post-it notes, magnets, journals, pens, ect. Very cute, I had to pick some up. LoL =)

Sara M said...

I was driving home from work a couple years ago when this boy around 14 ran out in the middle of the road. Right as I swerved to get around him (no big deal, I was only going about 20 mph), it seemed like he flickered a bit (kinda like the spirits in the show Supernatural, but not exactly). When I looked into my rear-view mirror, he was nowhere in sight. He could've run away really quickly, but I just got this feeling it was more like he disappeared. It was definitely a bit freaky.

nymfaux said...

@Crystal--Yea!!!! Thank you--I will totally have to check that out!!!!! :)

GB (formerly JD) said...

I've not had any encounters, per se, just the occasional deja vu like 'I've walked up these stairs before' type of thing when in actuality I haven't.

My mum though is a different matter. When I was around 16 I was about to leave for school when I asked my mum about a tea cup my dad used to drink out of. Mum paled a bit and quietly answered me. I don't know what made me think of it (it just popped into my head), but since he'd died when I was eight, I figured something had triggered the memory of it and left it at that.

It wasn't until I got home that afternoon that mum told me why she was so unsettled by my, seemingly, innocent question.

The day prior to my question, mum was home alone and felt someone enter the room and when she turned, she was still alone. Then she felt someone put their hand on her shoulder. When she turned, again there was no one there.

Also, apparently, she and dad had thrown out that cup before I was even a twinkle in dad's eye.

To this day, mum thinks that dad was trying to tell her, through me, that it was him with her the day before.

There's a part of me that wants to believe it. There's another part that tells me it was simply a coincidence. Either way, I'll hold on to the tin hat, but I'm sure if I should put on quite yet. :)

rachel445 said...

I haven't had any cool supernatural encounters. But there are some really interesting stories out there about people who have. And I definitely think the possibilities are there, cause there are some things logic just can't explain. But who knows, maybe someday in the future I'll have my own paranormal encounter :)

Carrie S. said...

When I was a kid I was at my cousin's house and I went downstairs and could've sworn I heard my uncle in the bathroom or something. I could hear a man in there. But upon closer inspection I saw that the bathroom was empty. The memory is a bit fuzzy on the details, but that was the gist of it!

Midnyte Reader said...

Thank yo for sharing your experiences. I'm a skeptic, or a cynic, I'm not sure which : ) ), but I'm always hoping at some point, I'll change my pov.

nymfaux said...

congrats to the winner!!!