Eric Ogden for Reader's Digest
According to a 2012 poll, nearly half—45 percent—of Americans believe in ghosts. Scientists have come up with many reasons for spirit sightings, ranging from the physical (low-frequency sounds, magnetic fields, thermal patterns) to the psychological (suggestibility, fear of mortality). But while ghosts can’t be proved to exist, they cannot be resoundingly debunked, either. We’ve selected five of the Internet’s most vivid firsthand experiences with the paranormal. Read them, and then ask yourself: Do you believe? These famous ghost stories have totally logical explanations.
The Little Hands
Shannon Taggart for Reader's Digest
I’ve never lived in a haunted house, but my mother did as a teen. Other houses on her street had strange things going on too. A few homes away from her lived a man and his family. One night, one of his daughters went to bed with a bad headache. The next day, she was dead—she’d passed away from an aneurysm.
After the funeral, the family went away to get their minds off the tragedy, and the father asked my uncle—my mom’s brother—to check on their pets. My mom and dad (they were dating then) went with my uncle; my mother had heard there was a grand piano and she wanted to play it, and my dad was studying to be a veterinarian.
After entering the house, my uncle and my father headed to the basement to see the animals, and my mother went to the piano on the ground floor. She was playing it when she felt something brush her ankles. She thought a cat must have left the basement and walked past her. She kept playing, and she felt it again. She looked under the piano and saw nothing. When she started again, she felt hands clasp her legs and grab them tightly. She dashed to the basement door, called my uncle and father, and waited for them. When they all walked outside, my uncle could tell my mom was rattled and asked what was wrong.
She told him what had happened, and he turned white. He told her the daughter who died used to play a game with her father. When he’d play the piano, she’d crawl underneath, grab his ankles, and push his feet up and down on the pedals. —Reddit.com contributor PatentedSpaceHook. These are the most haunted places in America, according to paranormal experts.
The Unseen Patient
The ambulance company that I used to work for had a “haunted” ambulance: rig 12. A lot of EMTs had stories about it, but I never put much stock in paranormal stuff. That is, until I had my own experience with rig 12.
My partner and I were working in a rural community at 3 a.m., and it was pitch-dark and completely quiet. We were both dozing; I was in the driver’s seat, and she was in the passenger seat. I woke up to a muffled voice, and I thought my partner was talking. I told her I was trying to sleep and closed my eyes. I distinctly heard a male voice say, “Oh my God, am I dying?” followed by a few seconds of heavy breathing. My partner and I sat up straight and looked back into the patient compartment, where it sounded like the voice had come from.
Things were quiet for a couple seconds; then we heard the click of an oxygen-bottle regulator and a hiss, as if it was leaking. I turned on the lights, and we ran out of the rig. I thought a transient might have climbed in while we were asleep, so we opened the rear doors. No one was there. I checked the oxygen bottles; neither was opened. We didn’t sleep much after that. —Reddit.com contributor Zerbo
The Impish Ghost
My neighbor Diane and I had a playful poltergeist for years, and we called it Billy. I’d come home and find something put in a weird place: milk in a cupboard, toilet paper in the fridge, laundry detergent in the bathtub. Diane once called to ask if Billy had been around, because she couldn’t find a gallon of milk. We finally found it outside on her back steps. And sugar … darn sugar! Every morning, my sugar bowl was empty.
When I had enough, I’d point to Diane’s home and yell, “Go see Diane!” Within five minutes, I’d get a call from her, and she’d say “Thanks a lot,” because he’d gone and pulled shenanigans at her place. This occurred for the entire two years we lived there. No one believed us—not even our husbands. My mother thought someone was stealing from us when we were sleeping or out of the house. My sister believed something was going on but didn’t know what. I still can’t explain any of it. —Reddit.com contributor abbys_alibi. Read about the strangest unsolved mysteries of all time for some serious chills.
The Eerie Attic
Eric Ogden for Reader's Digest
It seems so clichéd to start by saying “I don’t believe in ghosts, but …” However, that’s where I’m coming from. A few years ago, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Melbourne, Australia; it was my first time living on my own. The apartment block had been built in the 1930s. I’d been there for a few months when I came home from work one day and went into the bathroom. I saw something strange: The wooden board covering a hole in the ceiling that led to a small attic space lay broken in two pieces on the ground. I examined the broken pieces. The board was an inch thick, and it would have taken a Bruce Lee to break it. I thought the landlord had sent someone to work on the attic. I was frozen stiff with fear. I thought, Someone is up there for sure.
I e-mailed pictures to the landlord asking if anyone had been there (with an undertone of annoyance, since she hadn’t warned me). Her reply read, “Please call me as soon as you are able to.” I called, and she explained that her last two tenants had said the same thing happened. She promised to replace the board, and she did.
A month later, I woke up one night around 4 a.m. I had so many goose bumps, it felt like someone was rubbing his or her hands on me. Everything was silent, but then I heard this sound coming from above my bed. It was a dragging sound, like someone pulling a sack of potatoes. I was frozen stiff with fear. I thought, Someone is up there for sure. There is no way an animal could make that sound. After five minutes, I managed to work up the courage to turn on the light and walk to the bathroom. I was armed with a cricket bat.
When I looked, I saw that the new board covering the hole was broken in two! I felt sick. The dragging sound had stopped. But I heard something else—whispering. The sound was clear and coming from the attic. It sounded like children’s voices, and I could hear one sentence repeated over and over: “It’s your turn … It’s your turn …”
I switched on every light in the apartment to make things feel normal. It was 5 a.m. and dark outside. I watched TV to try to unwind. Then a fuse blew. My pet budgie, Dexter, whom I kept in the kitchen, usually never made a sound at night, but he started squawking like he was being strangled. I’d never heard him make those sorts of noises—he was screaming. I grabbed my car keys, ran out, sat in my car, and waited there until the sun came up.
When I saw people walking their dogs, this comforted me enough to go back in. The front door was open, but I thought I hadn’t closed it when I’d run out. I went to the kitchen to check on Dexter, and he wasn’t in his cage—I felt sick again. All my windows were closed, so I looked everywhere inside. When I walked to the bathroom, I heard splashing. Dexter was half drowned in the toilet! I took him out, washed him, and dried him. I was so confused. At 8 a.m., I called the landlord and gave her a watered-down version of the night. “Oh, wow, you heard the whispering too!” she said.
I stayed in that apartment for another 18 months. I heard the whispering on a few occasions, and twice the board covering the hole in the ceiling moved. Although I live elsewhere, the landlord recently called. She said that her new tenants had begged to speak with me about some of the stuff that’s been going on there. Forget it—it’s their problem now. —Reddit.com contributor Digsdaws
The Boy With No Eyes
One night when I was ten, I was woken up by my bedroom door opening, followed by someone sitting on my bed. I felt my leg grazed and the bed sink under a person’s weight. Thinking it was my mom, I opened my eyes to see an eyeless boy (he had black empty sockets) about my age sitting at the foot of my bed. He extended his hand, and in it was a little box. I was startled but reached out. He pulled back. I reached again and said, “Give it.” Then I blinked, and when I reopened my eyes, he was gone, but the imprint of someone sitting on my bed was present.
Fast-forward five years. My girlfriend came over to do homework. After she finished, she took a nap while she waited for her parents. When they arrived, I tried waking her up. She opened her eyes suddenly, looking up at a corner where the wall met the ceiling. She pointed there and went back to sleep. I shook her again. She came to full consciousness, and I explained what she’d done. She said, “Up on the wall, I saw a little boy with no eyes. He was there in a Spider-Man pose, staring at me.” I freaked out and told her my story about the same kid.
Fast-forward another five years. I was with the same girlfriend, and we had a two-year-old. We were living in my parents’ house, in my old room. My daughter started waking up at the same time every night, and she’d talk. After a while, I noticed she had almost the same conversation every night. I playfully asked her once whom she was talking to. She said, “It’s a little boy. He’s nice. He’s lost and looking for his mommy.” My daughter’s nightly conversations continued until we got our own place later that year. —Reddit.com contributor kmendo4. Researchers still can’t explain these ancient mysteries.