(This story is 100% true and if there is any deviation between this and the real experience it can only be attributed to my inability to portray how stinking scary it really was.)
This happened back when I was a Junior in college. I was living with my parents so I could save money. At that time they owned this slightly charming/ creaky wooden house on Laie point that made noises from time to time. It’s the kind of place that can spook you every once in a while even if you don’t scare easily. The room I was in was like a microphone for noises all over the rest of the house, so if someone was walking upstairs I knew it, but more often than not the noises I could hear were not made by anyone at all. The wood expands and shrinks a little throughout the course of the day because of changes in temperature and it clicks and bumps all the time, especially at night. When the wind blows hard it makes a noise or two as well.
This night was a particularly gusty one and trees outside were wagging around and scratching the walls and windows. I had just barely fallen asleep and it was kind of late when a noise woke me up. Sometimes little noises don’t mean anything, but once in a while they get under your skin and wiggle around. They make you stiffen up and pay close attention to where they’re coming from; this was one of those. At about the time I was telling myself it was nothing and floating back to sleep it came again. This was not one of the usual sounds that the house makes, it was more like someone trying his best to say something through a mouth that couldn’t quite form the words. I didn’t move an inch, but you better believe that my senses were all peaked on that noise. A sturdy gust shot at the house and that same noise swelled up at the same time as though it was seeping in through each little crack in the wood. It sounded just like someone trying as hard as they could to say the words “Help me”, but all they could get out was “ellllp meeee” in a windy old voice that seemed like it was inside and outside the house at the same time.
I was still not quite convinced that the noise was a voice, but I was scared enough that moving even a little was not an option. The other four of my senses had surrendered priority to my ears and they were paying attention like never before. Clearly and unmistakable this time, a voice bled in from the ceiling and walls crying, “Help meeee!” My mind flipped through its files with jittery fingers trying all the possibilities of what might be saying “Help me.” Of course the only file that I could pull up was a dingy manila folder that hadn’t been opened since I was a little kid—the one marked “Ghost” in shaky letters.
As I was trying to figure out how I was going to get myself out of this situation it came again: “Help me!” This time the tormented voice came louder and clearer than before and it seemed to be coming from the darkest, dustiest corner of my closet. Right about this time I remembered a story I had read about a boy who had hung himself in a dorm closet at UH. Supposedly, he still haunted that room. “Help me!” called the voice one more time and I was certain that some poor old guy had hung himself there in that closet of mine before my folks had bought the house and was doomed to hang there for eternity.
In my mind I could clearly see that sallow black-eyed figure trying so hard to squeeze the words “Help me” through his stretched out neck that was cinched up tight in a cracked old leather belt. There without a doubt, dangling among my sweaters and church clothes. He called out again, more desperate than ever, “Helllp Meee!”
This was not a spooky movie, or a particularly good ghost story at a camp out, this was happening! It’s a whole different kind of scary when it’s the real deal, trust me. I was unable to get myself even to run away. I lay there for some time trying to figure out what to do. The only idea that seemed to empower me was that maybe I could help the thing in my closet. I forced myself to sit up, then to stand up. I stepped briskly over to the light switch and flipped it up with a clumsy hand. The light came on just the way it always did and my room looked normal enough, but still there was the closet with its dark brown doors closed. I didn’t really want to know what was in there, but there was no chance of sleeping again that night if I didn’t have a look.
I stood for a moment and looked at the closet doors. I thought that I could hear the plastic hangers inside clicking around a little. With a quick, decisive motion I stepped forward and threw open the door which made more than a little screeching on its way and lo and behold (imagine a drum roll during this part) hanging there on the bar were my clothes and nothing else: jeans, shirts, slacks, a pin-striped suit that hadn’t been worn in years and neck ties, but no corpse hanging from a belt. No blue skin, no fat tongue filling the opened mouth that naturally sucked in vain for just a little more air, just old clothes gathering dust.
Where was my ghost? Had it floated upstairs to play its games with someone else? Had it shrunk back into the shadowy corners of my closet waiting for me to close the door and turn out the light again? At this point I was resolved to action and I didn’t want to lose momentum so I looked through my closet a bit more. All of this earned me a sneeze or two but that’s it. Finally I decided to go and see if my dad was awake and if so ask if he had heard anything.
Making my way up the steps I could hear the television being turned off and someone walking down the hall. I got to the top just in time to see a white figure walking into my folks’ room. The most obvious conclusion under normal circumstances would have been that it was my dad who regularly fell asleep watching TV and eventually woke up and went to bed. I had ghosts on the mind though and was sure that the white being that I had just seen was a specter and not my father. I walked quickly and nervously to my parents’ room and must have startled my dad who was in fact just getting himself to bed after a long snooze on the couch with the boob tube on.
I pulled him out into the hall so as not to wake my mom and asked him if he had heard anything odd. He said “No” without thinking much, because what do you hear when you’re sleeping? I told him that I was certain that I had heard a spooky voice calling for help, and how it kind of sounded like the person couldn’t quite get the words out at first. He thought about it for no more than a second or two and then started laughing. I, just a little indignant, asked him what was so funny. He told me that he had just had a dream that he was a store clerk and some thieves were trying to get in after closing time. Says my dad, he didn’t know what to do so he tried to call for help but in the dream he couldn’t quite get the words out so he kept trying. Finally he did manage to yell it clearly enough, but at that moment the sound of his own voice woke him up. He was sleep talking and because the TV room was directly above my room it kind of sounded like his voice was coming from the closet. The ghost was just him having a bad dream and yelling “Help me,” mixed with a little imagination on my part. We both had a good laugh about it and went to bed. The silliest thing about it is that I was still a bit jumpy and didn’t sleep much that night even though I knew there wasn’t anything scarier in the closet than my dusty, old pin-striped suit.