Something is happening in this world that seems to hover in the shadows of our sensory perception, but every now and then, for a brief moment, that something comes into range. There are many stories in the media of sensible and credible people experiencing paranormal events and witnessing apparitions. The Internet is awash in “true stories” of the paranormal and plastered with ghostly photographs and videos. Television programming captures empirical evidence of ghosts in the hit show Long Island Medium, where Theresa Caputo has an uncanny ability to channel spirits, and TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) logs ghostly encounters by using instruments designed to capture disembodied voices and movements of the departed. Some footage is astonishing and explainable, but what these shows bring to light is the question: Do you believe in ghosts?
I believe most of us have had some form of engagement with the supernatural (I have), and as frightening as these encounters might seem these events teach us something about ourselves: there’s a lurking monster in our fear of the unknown. The less we understand something and the more it defies natural reason, the more it frightens us. I attempt to expose that formula of fear in my short story entitled “Danny” (to read click here). The story was written to evoke a feeling in the reader, prodding them with something unknown, something defying natural reason, and I channel this through the main character’s young son. At the end of the story, a thrilling tension bursts into a realization of terror regarding that unknown and without any reasonable explanation for this unknown a chilling fear surfaces in one of the characters. If I’ve done my job well as a writer that fear transfers to the reader. I want that chilling feeling to stay with them after the story, and in the future the reader may nervously second glance every closet door in their home—mission accomplished.
This brings me to note that the reader or each of us has a different way of interpreting our experiences with the paranormal. When we struggle to stitch logic around those experiences we find the boundaries of what we define as normal and preternatural, blurred and breeched. It leaves me to wonder about my opening question, “Do you believe in ghosts?” I have a feeling the answer to that question rests solely with the individual perceiving the experience and how they choose to interpret it.
Take a moment to recall a paranormal experience in your life. Remember that feeling of facing something unexplainable and terrifying. Perhaps it was a ghost, a phantom whisper, a knocking poltergeist or a moving shadow at the end of your bed. You’re a reasonable person, you’re educated, you have street smarts, but still you can’t frame this experience in any logical way. I ask you: if you’ve encountered a paranormal event, or when your time comes to behold something so terrifying, do we really have any choice but to trust our senses, and believe?