For some reason, I have no idea why, I'm always thinking about ghost stories in the spring/summer, instead of in the fall. ::shrugging:: It is a mystery. Maybe it's the warm nights, when it's better for going outside. Maybe it's because this morning, on the way to work in the dark, I started imagining zombies jumping out at me from the side of the road. Or squirrels. Which are not like zombies but ...
I like to tell them, too, and this morning, I was thinking about this thing that happened to me one time, when I went to on a fun ghost hunt. (I've changed some of the minor details because I'm certain, were my friends to read this, it would doxx me.)
I love haunted houses. Not the Halloween ones, with their mazes and that guy with the chain saw. I mean, I love those, too, but I also really like to visit the most haunted hotel or the most haunted wood or the most haunted house, etc. It's a little weird and geeky, and I'm sure for those of you who don't believe in ghosts, silly. Still. It's really fun. So, every year, I try to visit at least one famous one and have a good time.
My favorite so far has been the Whaley House. It's located in San Diego, and when I lived in California (alas, I miss it so), this one was only a hop, skip, and a freeway right from where I lived. One day, I took two friends, and we made a day trip out of it, zipping down the freeways in the early morning, and then, desperately trying to find a spot to park in the surrounding neighborhoods of Old Town San Diego. When we arrived at the Whaley House, it was a simple brick house, with a small front porch, just sort of plopped out there. It has a small side yard, with a huge tree, and there are some cemeteries nearby. You can follow a docent around and hear the stories about this guy that got hung for horse theft or that guy that got shot in some duel. Pretty cool, if you aren't living it, right?
It was a warm day, pushing about 85 degrees at 11am and rising, so we made our first stop the graveyards, and our second stop, the actual house. The docent led us into a relatively cool, dark house where thousands of visitors could look at a former way of life. The living room, bedrooms, and kitchen were walled off with some kind of plastic. You could look, but not touch, the old sofa, the lace doilies, the tiny doll that the docent said moved on its own sometimes, changing position when they weren't looking. We pressed our noses to the plastic and admired all the antiques, although one of my friends, our skeptic, chortled rudely throughout these presentations, but the docent just smiled and led us onward. I think she was used to those reactions, really.
Mr. Whaley, the now dead owner, was a prolific businessman. He had a theater, a general store, and a courthouse—all constructed on his property and connected to his house. Imagine court going on in the next room while you ate lunch and fanned yourself and worked on embroidery and some such. People were punished right there near the grounds, too. Mostly it was death by hanging for stealing horses or something. Crazy. Anyway, the tour goes outside as well, because Mr. Whaley's daughter Violet had tried to kill herself by throwing herself to her death in the old well outside. (She did kill herself a few week later with a gun. It's a really depressing tale about the problems of mental illness in a time when they were even less understood than they are now.) Then, everyone is allowed to roam freely for a bit and discuss various things they've seen or go back through the house again and perhaps stand in the upstairs theater, with its tiny stage.
At this point, no one had "experienced any disturbances." (haha That phrase cracks me up.) We split up then, my friends staying outside to argue over where to go to lunch and me going back inside for one more look at everything. I ended my review of the house in the courtroom area. It's pretty spacious and beautiful, although everything is very simple. There is a place for the judge, a small witness box, chairs for a jury, and benches for spectators. I was entirely alone in the room, which is separated from the rest of the house by the tiny general store area. I could hear, faintly, the sounds of people clomping around upstairs, the light breeze outside, and all in all, I was feeling very satisfied with the day.
Suddenly, behind me, someone said in a high, whispery voice, "Hey. Congratulations on the baby." I jumped a little and turned, startled, because I was so deep in thought, expecting to find two people behind me, talking to each other, since as far as I knew, I was not, at that moment, pregnant. The words, "Ha! You startled me!" were out of my mouth and ... it was to an empty room. I spun around, puzzled. I walked back through the little store, really quickly, and looked down the hall of the first floor. No one was there. The front door was closed. The stairs right in front of me were old and creaky, as well as a bit of a climb. No one was walking up them. I went back into the courthouse and looked around in confusion. Nope. No one.
I went outside and found my friends standing in the very back of the yard, talking to the docent. This kind of ruled out a joke on their parts. It was a weird thing to hear, and when we talked later about it, my smug skeptical friend really rubbed it in, about the lack of any weird occurrences. I didn't disagree at the time.The odds of having a baby were only at about 7% for me, and I hadn't even mentioned the process to my friends or even discussed the insemination I'd had a few weeks before. Besides, they couldn't know, as I didn't know, until about a week later, that I was, indeed, pregnant with my first and only child.