The following account is from my childhood and took place roughly between 1987 - 1995.
I haven’t shared this story with many people as I am a skeptic and have tried to forget this ever happened. The truth is, for a large part of my childhood, I dreaded bedtime. I was too terrified to go sleep because that’s when it would happen. The noises and scary imagery that pervaded my room. All seemingly coming from a ghost that, one night, would show himself at the foot of my bed.
Most of what I remember for a chunk of my childhood is time spent at school or playing outside. My family (mom, dad, and baby sister) lived in a single wide mobile home manufactured in the late 1970’s out on a 5 acre parcel of land surrounded by the woods. Normally, a young boy would not feel so safe out in the dark woods at night and yet that is exactly where I would have chosen to be over my bedroom. I wasn’t allowed to watch scary movies and seldom read a scary book. I’ll admit, I got scared easy and to this day have maintained a healthy overactive imagination.
“Overactive Imagination.” That’s what my dad would blame my problem on almost nightly. I would lay in my room while my parents watch TV and hope with all my might that I would fall asleep before they shut it off and call it a night. I never did. Once the house was quiet, I’d lay in bed, eyes wide open and staring at the wall. My dimmer switch set to barely being on at all. Eventually, the light reflecting off the various folds or crumples of my He-Man posters would take the forms of scary faces. I would immediately turn my light all the way up. Forcing my eyes shut, I would think of something funny I watched on TV before bed but before long, cutting through the silence was sound of footsteps making their way down the hall. These weren’t loud cartoony footsteps but the familiar noise of gentle walking. A few creaks where they normally would happen, the sound of two soft materials rubbing together on the carpet. Normal soft footsteps coming the hall. Those footsteps sounds would get ever so louder as they approached my doorway until the sound would stop all together. I would freeze in bed for a moment and then shout for my dad.
My dad was great at reminding me how this is all in my head and not real at all. Then he would offer to keep his doorway open just a crack and he’d go back to bed. To this day, I never close my bedroom door off to my children. For nights upon nights this same routine would go on. With my eyes clenched tight, I would hear those footsteps come up to my door and stop. I would see in my head, the figure of an old man perched right in my doorway. Just staring at me from the foot of my bed. One night, the image scared me so badly that quickly opened my eyes and there, standing in my door, was that old man. I held my breath, blinked several times - still there. I shouted for my dad, blinked again, and the figure was gone.
My mom finally decided to put a TV in my room to help distract me and maybe allow me to sleep better. I stayed up until exhaustion set in each night watching Comedy at The Improv or A Night at the Apollo. Comedy was my escape from fear. A couple months later, just before I started the 8th grade, we moved. The first night in our new house, I slept the best I had in all my memory. Eventually, I used to comedy to escape from regular things, like broken hearts, grieving the death of a loved one, etc. And put my sleepless terrified nights behind me for good. When my kids wake up at night with bad dreams, or complaints of scary sounds or thoughts. I reassure them, ghosts aren’t real, knowing full well that they just might be. Then I curl up in bed with them for the night. Just in case.