It is Halloween night!
Tonight, I thought I'd do something a little different and tell you a personal anecdote.
I do not know if it is a ghost story, per se, but I can tell you it is absolutely true...
So, It was the Fall of 2011 and I was a sophomore in college, and a cross-country and track student-athlete who had just transferred universities. I was disallowed by my previous school to compete for the new school, and resultantly was ineligible to compete for my current college for a year.
Consequently, I therefore trained by myself and entered collegiate races unattached, which meant I could compete in regular-season college cross country meets, and appear in the results with my times, but not take medals or awards, and I had to wear an unaffiliated jersey and pay my own way and travel.
I had gotten through half an academic semester at my new university, and it was fall break. Lucky for me, my new university had an entire WEEK for fall break, whereas my former school had only a Friday and a Monday. The College of William and Mary had a cross country meet on the first Saturday morning of my fall break. Therefore, I made arrangements to drive my father's car (I drove one of my parents' older vehicles at the time, but my dad's had cruise control for a longer highway journey) and stay with a friend from high school who was in his third year of studies at W&M, entered the race unattached online, packed up on Friday, and drove to William and Mary, another of my high school buddies who now attended community college in the same area as my college riding alongside me in the passenger's seat.
We arrived there shortly before dusk and met up with my W&M friend, who was in a pub having a drink with a friend. We sat and talked and caught up a bit, laughing, joking, and sharing stories.
Eventually, the conversation took a darker turn. My friend informed me that just the previous day, a young woman on campus, someone he had known but was not close to, had committed suicide. It was a gruesome method she'd used, evidently drowning herself in a nearby pond.
This knowledge lurked in our subconscious minds as after dinner, being the young, silly people we were, we decided (at the behest of my slightly inebriated friend) that it was perfect time to go on a ghost hunt in downtown Williamsburg! It was October, after all, and we were giddy together, us three amigos, after much time apart, and the air, usually swampy and humid, was cool, crisp, and invigorating. We were not afraid, the three of us together, of any notoriously haunted colonial or native spots in the city of Williamsburg!
We approached a dark, boarded up, antique-looking church, one that had served as a place of worship in colonial days. My friend who was the student at W&M told us the legend, that if you went up after dark to the church at certain times and knocked three times on the front door, if you listened, a "ghost" would knock back the same amount of times.
Walking with my two friends, and my other friend's friend (my friend's fellow inebriated student friend) up to the front of the dilapidated church, I began to have misgivings. I was tired from the drive and a long week of midterms and running training. I needed to rest. I did not want to be out late. I certainly did not want to be spooked!
I secretly clasped my golden cross I wore around my neck under my shirt. I told the spirits to stay away under my breath, and not to dare knock back and pursue us when my friend knocked!
My W&M friend touched his knuckles to the decaying wood of the front door thrice.
....Nothing. Relieved, I released the cross and breathed a sigh of relief.
Later, once we had ventured back to my friend's dorm, had caught up, laughed, swapped stories, and watched a rerun of King of the Hill on Adult Swim, I laid in a cot on my friend's floor, ready for lights out. My friends, one of whom had given up his dorm bed to the other, bid me goodnight and flipped off the light. I quickly fell asleep.
In the middle of the night, I awoke in a petrified fright.
I started, waking from a dream where an enormous, black mass, the color of despair itself, swirled about me in a deep, dark cave, engulfing me and clutching me, holding me fast while a great host of dark, phantom figures swirled all about me like a horde of bats. Jumping awake, I found myself back in my friend's dorm room.
But I couldn't move.
Half asleep, half awake, I was paralyzed. I was freezing cold and shook uncontrollably, yet was unable to control my limbs. In the corners of my peripheral vision, a familiar blackness was creeping in. It came from all sides, even dripping down like black mud from the ceiling. Darting my eyes up, I saw a great, wide, menacing and malevolent hooded shape form from the shadows. It grew as it lowered its fell head toward me, coming ever closer.
I could feel, not see, cold, shadowy claws encompassing my body and squeezing me. The thing, whatever it was, had me in its clutches. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I knew this evil being, knew that I had felt it earlier inside that old church. I knew it had followed me back to the dorm at a distance, slinking in the shadows, far down the road behind us, woken and angered by my command, my taunt. It had me now and was going to take me, whatever that meant.
Slowly but surely, the host of evil angels swirled around the hooded, clawed, long-armed figure that bent towards me and squeezed me tighter and tighter, a dark, if imagined by me, smile breaking out across its non-existent face as it knew I was fading in its grasp. Having followed me out of dreamland and here to this dorm room, they were coming for me, ready to feed.
Suddenly, I remembered my gold cross. It was on the bedside table between my cot and my friend's bed.
Struggling, I shook, fighting the dark being's power over me, to break its clutches and grab the cross. The shadow beings had to have seen me, had to have known what I was doing, for I swear they accelerated their approach to me as I slowly, shaking, moved my arm.
The being tried to hold on to me, tried to force my arm back down by my side. I fought with every ounce of mental strength and fortitude of will and soul I had against the vile thing.
Finally, I broke free.
My hand shot up onto the top of the bedside table and snatched up the gold cross on its chain that was normally around my neck during the daytime. I clasped it hard, balling my fist around it, holding onto it for dear life.
As soon as I touched it, the beast departed. I had an odd feeling. Even though I could not see it, hear it, feel it, neither taste nor smell it, I somehow sensed that it and its minions had run screaming when the second I touched the ancient symbol.
I clutched the cross hard in my hand the rest of the night. I was sweating and trembling, and exhausted. It took me a long several minutes to calm down and regain my wits, and eventually my breathing returned to an easy draw.
Finally, calm, confident that my cross would protect me, I shut my eyes again and drifted off into a peaceful, unencumbered, unperturbed sleep the rest of the night.
The next morning I awoke and had quite the successful, fast race. We visited some friends in Richmond, VA and spent the night there Saturday night after that, then drove back home Sunday afternoon.
I put my encounter with whatever that thing was in the back of my brain until much, much later. I have only ever told about this experience to a select few until now. I have never seen it again. Although, there are some cold, dark nights when I am all alone that I wonder if it is just around the corner, or heaven forbid, in the room with me, again. I don't know what we did to anger it on our ghost tour that night, if anything, or if it is a local thing that dwells only there, but I do know that never want to encounter or see it ever again! If I live my entire life and never encounter it again in a similar manner and see it again, it will be too soon.
Friends of T.D. Smith