You know how at the end of most scary movies the good guys are walking away, seemingly safe from the psychopath or zombie or ghost that has been stalking them, and then, BOOM! a bloody hand comes out of nowhere, grabs the good guy, and BAM! they cut to the credits? Well, I’m like that, too. Just when you thought I was going to relax and leave you alone through Halloween, I return with one more final trio of spine-tingling tales- just like that bloody hand reaching into the frame and making you scream like a kindergartener and grab your roommate…
But first, some thoughts. In researching various college ghost stories, I have noticed that the entities in these stories tend to be grouped into three categories: 1) malevolent shadows, 2) oblivious replays of the past, and 3) interactive spirits of the deceased.
The malevolent shadows are by far the most frightening, aggressive, and violent. They are featureless and very angry about something. Other ghost stories tell of them taking on imp-like forms. My theory: these guys never were alive. That’s why they have no facial features, clothing, etc. That’s also why they’re so irate.
Other ghosts seem to be stuck in a kind of space-time loop where they replay events, some mundane and some intense, from the past. They seem to be unaware of the living around them. Two theories: either these apparitions are spirits of the deceased with an insatiable drive to repeat the past (like they could never kick their life habits) or they are just lifeless imprints on the fabric of space-time that play back occasionally at random.
And then some ghosts tend to interact with their living neighbors. They touch, push, talk to, and otherwise scare the jammies off their hauntees. They may have "unfinished business" to tend to; they may not realize they are dead. Regardless, they will continue to walk around, knock on doors, flush toilets, and move furniture. Often, they will implore the living to avenge their murders, bring their killers to justice, etc. Sometimes they just want to hang out. Anyway, just some food for thought as we near that witching hour of witching hours.
Enough babbling from me. You came to get scared, and I’ve got the goods. Rest assured, I’m going out with a bang:
1) Ohio University: Playful Poltergeists, Pentagram Cemeteries, and a Headless Buffalo
For some reason, Ohio just seems to have more than its fair share of haunted colleges. Dubbed "the most haunted college in the country" by some, this Athens university certainly follows suit. It’s old, which means it has a lot of history, which means you can expect a lot of ghostly traffic.
In several different buildings, poltergeists throw objects, lock doors, flush toilets, and- gasp!- unroll rolls of toilet paper. Phantom marbles sounds will be heard from ceilings and the sound of dripping water. Disembodied laughter will sound from the center of an empty room. Some students have reported feeling threatening presences hovering in front of their faces. Others tell of ghosts spooning with them in the middle of the night (oohh-kay… time to find a date, preferably a living one).
Perhaps the most notable haunted site on campus is Wilson Hall, which as amassed a disproportionately large number of hauntings in its short 42-year history. There have been, of course, a number of suicides there. Dark, shadowy figures roam the halls, leaving unfortunate students feeling chilled and frightened. Athens ghost folklorists believe that Wilson Hall’s high frequency of hauntings is due to its location. Apparently, Wilson sits smack dab in the middle of… Athens’ five pentagram cemeteries!!! That’s good enough for me.
Lastly, the university’s West Green sits on, you guessed it, an Indian burial ground. Besides hearing Indian chants at the site, students tell of Stroud, a headless buffalo that still roams the area. It turns out Stroud was killed by some Confederate soldiers near the end of the Civil War. To hide their plunder, the soldiers cut off the buffalo’s head and stuff it full of loot. This has left the buffalo’s restless spirit to wander West Green for eternity. Someone should tell him his head is hanging on the wall of Buffalo Wings and Rings in town.
2) Illinois University: The Gray Ghost, a White Lady, and Creepy Closets
This school has its share of ghostly footsteps, spectral suicide victims, flickering lights, and windows that open and close on their own. But IU also has a few unique stories of its own.
In one such story, a female student was returning to her room in Alpha Phi Omega Hall to get something while everyone else was at a party. She had been drinking but still insists that the following was not imagined as a result of intoxication. As she ascended the staircase, she saw a man standing at the top of the stairs, dressed in gray. Cautiously, the girl squinted to get a better look at the man, realizing suddenly that the man had no face. The student ran out of the house screaming bloody murder, but no one heard her… You’re probably thinking that they found her dead, but you’re wrong. She lived to tell the tale to her sorority sisters, who subsequently thought she had had one too many swigs of Halloween punch. Since then, the Gray Ghost has been sighted widely around campus.
In Crampton Hall, the same building where a student was found hung by an unknown hand in his closet, a male student went to his room to get ready for a night on the town. When he didn’t come back for a long time, his companions went to look for him. They found him naked, hanging upside down in his closet, and too frightened to tell them what had happened. Later, the same student was awakened in the middle of the night by a loud noise and found a man standing over him. The mysterious stranger turned and disappeared into the closet. Perhaps, this was an elaborate hazing performed by frat boys from Narnia.
Or perhaps something more sinister. In the basement classrooms of Rammelkamp Chapel, students have reported seeing an old woman in white. When she sees them looking at her, she quickly vanishes into thin air.
And, now, our final and most terrifying tale of all. Get ready to wet your costume…
3) Cal State University Channel Islands: Home of the Undead Insane
Don’t be fooled by this school’s young age (it opened its doors to students in 2002). This school used to be one of the most crowded, infamous insane asylums in the United States. [Note: many schools are built on the former grounds of asylums, and these schools usually experience hauntings. In fact, Congress should pass a bill forbidding anyone to build on the site of a former asylum- just like with Indian burial grounds.]
Going against all horror movie caveats, the Cal State organization thought it would be a bright idea to use an already haunted sanatorium for their university. Former cells have been converted into classrooms and study halls. Does anyone else here see red flags flying up? Unfortunately, they won’t learn their lesson until it’s too late and the student body has sprouted horns, and the entire campus is swallowed into the tenth level of hell.
Thousands of men, women, and children passed through the halls of this place, ranging from autistics to schizophrenics to violent psychopaths. Brutal, old-school methods were used on inmates, including electroshock therapy and lobotomies. While it was still in operation, Camarillo State Hospital employees reported numerous terrifying supernatural encounters. The place was shut down in the early ’90s. New students are already reporting ghostly occurrences.
One former employee tells of a janitor who, while cleaning a ladies restroom, spotted what was obviously a pair of male legs in one of the stalls. She knocked on the door and told the occupant that he was in the wrong restroom. When she didn’t get a response, the janitor opened the stall door, only to find the stall empty. One of the supervisors saw a man enter the women’s restroom dressed in one of the old patients’ jumpsuits. She followed him to chase him out- he was obviously a confused inmate. When she entered the room, however, no one was there. She called in another female supervisor who had seen the man. They talked for a moment, and then the other woman screamed, her face as white as, well, a ghost. The supervisor spun around to see the man standing right behind her. Then, he vanished before their eyes.
Other creepy stuff: one nurse was sneaking a smoke outside the empty cafeteria when someone grabbed her hard by the shoulders and jerked her back. When the nurse gained her footing, she glanced around the room only to find that the room was empty, the doors locked. Another nurse was grabbed by her hair and yanked back so hard her chair almost fell over. Also, one of the units featured a mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves where Grumpy’s face would transform occasionally into a sinister image. Also, a dirt road that runs behind the buildings is said to be very haunted, with bizarre accidents occurring regularly there.
Nowadays, the spirits are as busy as ever. Children’s voices can still be heard from what used to be the children’s center. Old swing sets swing without any wind or hand to push them. Other students have heard shouts and banging there. Some claim to have seen a black, shadowy figure. An old woman in white has been seen wandering the halls. Another old woman has been spotted outside the bell tower, asking for directions to the chapel.
Shushing voices have been heard in the bathrooms. A man has been seen spinning around in the parking lot until he disappears under one of the streetlights. Students have reported seeing people out of the corner of their eye who vanish when they look directly at them. One female student told of how her boyfriend stole a painting from one of the wards, began acting bizarre, and became possessed by the ghost of a former inmate. When he went nuts and threatened to kill her, she called the cops, and he was eventually admitted to a mental institution.
Many have reported inexplicable nausea and headaches upon setting foot on campus. First-day-of-school jitters or something more sinister at work?
Well, Happy Halloween, everybody! Hope this gave you that cathartic scare, that dose of adrenaline, you’ve been needing. Now go change your underpants, fill yourselves with ridiculous amounts of sugar and transfatty acids, and be merry…