It’s not what you see…
I lack the teensiest vestige of a sixth sense. Never seen a ghost. Never sensed an unseen presence. I can’t even be hypnotized because my brain tells me that it’s not sensible.
So it’s pretty ironic that my first sale was a ghost story.
But even though I’ve never experienced the paranormal directly, the notion of what might be out there, if only I weren’t the equivalent of a supernatural dead zone, is enough to start the caterpillar-creep of gooseflesh along my spine.
When I was in college, my roommate Brigid’s sister, Shannon, had a ghost. Shannon called him Paul – and if my murky memory serves me, he was supposedly her brother in a previous life, when they’d both lived in France. (I didn’t ask how he got from France to Laramie, Wyoming. The séance express?)
Shannon was pretty matter-of-fact about Paul, but then, he was protective of her. He hated her boyfriend, however. Chuck experienced unexplained shocks from time to time, got freaked out by a rocker moving by itself and by the furnace firing inexplicably.
It was all academic for me until Paul took his act on the road.
We were driving from Laramie to Casper to visit Brigid and Shannon’s family for the weekend. We’d left late, given our usual failure to launch, and the highway was deserted.
I’d been zoning in the back seat, when Shannon said, “Do you see that guy?”
Caterpillars. Start. Creeping.
“The guy in the tuxedo. He shows up every few miles.”
Caterpillars sprinting now. Yeeesh. How many urban legends involve a hitchhiker-who-is-not-what-he-seems? Those stories never end well.
However, we made it to Casper (how appropriate is that name?) without picking up any spectral passengers.
That drive, and the image of the tuxedoed guy-who-wasn’t-there (except to Shannon), returned to me when I sat down to write Northern Light, I guess maybe I picked up a mental hitchhiker that night after all. It just took him a few decades to finally pop out and say “Boo!”
How about you? Any close encounters of the spine-chilling kind? Tell your tale for a chance to win a $10 gift card for your choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo.