Halloween cat from Poland. User Silar.

Ghost stories

The first thing I learned about ghosts was that they are fake. Ghosts are fairy tales, at least so I was told. Then I went on a school trip and visited the Singraven Estate near Denekamp. The custodian told us a spook inside the manor was upsetting things, but he added that we should not fear it when entering. He seemed dead-serious and did not appear to be an attention-seeker. Still, it is better not to put too much faith in spook stories about venues that depend on tourist income.

As a teenager, I once visited Twickel Castle in Delden, not far from Denekamp. Recently I found out that this castle also features a ghost. It is not advertised. There is only one source on the Internet mentioning it, and if it is true, the laws of physics went out of the window, at least temporarily. The author preferred me to quote her work literally.

Recently I heard a strange tale from the phlegmatic steward of Twickel Castle in Delden. An English restorer who had come to restore some antique cupboards was given permission by her to stay overnight in an attic room of the castle. After he had been there for a few days, she saw that he had put his mattress on the floor.

She asked him why he slept on the floor and not on the bedstead? He answered her unmoved that he had been pushed out of bed for three consecutive nights. To prevent it from happening again, he had decided to sleep on the floor from then on. He had not been bothered since then. The steward asked him if he didn’t find that creepy? His answer was calm and clear: ‘No, I’m from England.’1

That is what the stiff upper lip is all about. There are plenty of ghost tales. Often the accounts appear credible, but it is impossible to verify what happened. On the Internet, you can find lists of ghost tales. One of them is 10 Eerie Real-Life Paranormal Encounters to Creep You Out on Listverse.com.2 The list is fact-checked, which probably means most stories happened. You are about to read two stories from this list.

The first is about Nina De Santo. She was closing up her New Jersey hair salon one Saturday evening in 2001 when she saw Michael, one of her customers, standing outside the shop’s window. He had become a good friend of hers over the years. He had been going through a tough time after his wife left him and he lost custody of his children.

Nina had tried her best to cheer Michael up whenever he came to the salon and had given him a chance to talk. So when she opened the door to him that night, Michael seemed transformed and even happy. He smiled at her and said he could not stay long but just wanted to thank Nina for everything she had done for him. They chatted a bit, and then each went their own way for the evening.

The following day, Nina received a call from one of her employees. She told her that Michael’s body had been found the previous morning, around nine hours before Nina had spoken to him at the salon. He had committed suicide.2

The second story concerns Redditor tooabstract788. He was home alone one night, playing games. His dog started barking at the closet. He got up to see what was upsetting the dog when he heard scratching sounds coming from the inside. As he got closer, the scratching stopped. Then he heard a loud crash followed by the sound of falling items. He ran outside at once and only went back inside when his friend came over. Inside the closet, they found clothes and hangers scattered over the floor.2

In 2014, a couple named the Simpsons asked the regional news channel Fox43 in the United States to visit their haunted house in Hanover, York County. The wife, DeAnna Simpson, spoke of several entities that were severely haunting their home. She and her husband had lived there for seven years. She caught ‘ghosts’ on film while guests had been scratched or even attacked in this house. She had invited priests, paranormal researchers, and the TV show ‘The Dead Files’ crew, who then ‘uncovered evidence’ of ‘grisly deaths’ there.3 When the Fox43 staff came in, their photographer was scratched, apparently by something invisible.

Television series such as Ghost Adventures are suggestive, giving the impression that they are at least partially fake. ‘It hardly ever happens like that,’ an investigator of the paranormal claimed.4 So what to make of this? The events mentioned in these stories are undoubtedly peculiar. There are many similar tales, but mentioning more of them is pointless because this story is not intended as a collection of creepy tales, but to provide a possible explanation for these occurrences. So is this evidence of ghosts? Not necessarily. If we live in a simulation built for entertainment, the simulation can play into our imaginations and fears. Indeed, there may not be more to it than that.

Strange incidents occurred in my house too. In March 2018, my wife woke me up in the middle of the night. She said, ‘The bathroom door is locked, and our son is sleeping in his bed.’ You can only lock the door from the inside. The lock needs some force, so this cannot happen by accident, so my wife feared that a burglar was hiding inside. I took a knife from the kitchen to unlock the door while she was standing behind me, holding a heavy object to smash into the head of the burglar. Only, I never believed there was a burglar. So many unusual things had happened already that strange events like this one did not impress me anymore. And I was right. There was no burglar. My wife was baffled, and I went back to bed.

Latest revision: 24 May 2022

Featured image: Halloween cat from Poland. User Silar (2012). Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

1. Betoverd door: haunted houses. Theracoppens.nl.
2. 10 Eerie Real-Life Paranormal Encounters to Creep You Out. Listverse.com (2022).
3. A haunted Hannover home. Civilwarghosts.com. [link]
4. Why those TV ghost-hunting shows are transparently fake. Scott Craven (2019). The Republic. [link]

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