Thursday, October 31, 2013


Wow, Margaret,
First let me say, welcome to my blog.                        

Second, let me say, you really scared

me with this story. And to think it's real. You make me shudder.

What an eerie tale for Halloween. Tell us about it.

Most people think of houses when they think of something haunted. They think of dark creaky old wooden stairways, or closed, locked rooms that groan and whisper in desolate homes overgrown with weeds and twisted vines. These are the places people usually think of when they talk about a haunted house. I used to think that too, but not any more.

I live in an apartment building and I know my apartment is haunted. A shiver can still run down my spine when I remember the first time I realized this.



Our building, constructed in 1926 is a sturdy four-story walk up. From our dining room windows we look out onto a charming courtyard with trees that were planted when the structure was first built. Today the trees nearly reach the top of the roof, the branches spread out like a canopy, and the roots stretch far beneath the foundation of the apartment house, or so we imagine. When our windows are open in the warm weather we can hear the leaves rustle and chatter in the gentle breezes. No mater what the season, birds and squirrels scamper about in the trees. Who would suspect in this tranquil setting there would be something haunting us?

I believe the haunting comes from the cement, the plaster, the wood, and the paint, and from within the pores of the very brick that makes this building stand so tall; the haunting comes from the blood and the bones of the building itself.

There is a pattern to the haunting. Everything is quiet for a while. The weeks go along, the months, and there is a rhythmic hum in our ordinary lives. Then it happens. Light bulbs burn out all at the same time; faucets leak, appliances break down, and milk sours quickly in the refrigerator. That’s how I know the haunting has come. That’s when I see something -- a momentary blankness, emptiness in the air, and I think I see a shadowy image flit down the hallway like quickly moving smoke. But, then, when I look, whatever I’ve seen is gone. All that remains is a lingering, disquieting smell. A smell that sits on the back of my tongue, an odor that I smell as I exhale. And in the air I taste the moldy leaves rotting under the trees. I sense eyes, too, eyes that look out from behind the layers of paint on the walls, following me, silently waiting, watching.

At night when everyone has gone to bed I sometimes hear footsteps coming down the hallway. The footsteps approach the door to my bedroom, and then stop. Just as suddenly it’s gone and I know now that it retreats back into the walls. I used to excuse this sound as the wood expanding and contracting. But it’s footsteps, one after the other, deliberate, purposeful steps, walking down the hallway.



Other people have thought they’ve seen something, or heard something in their apartments, too. They discount any strange sound or movements as being caused by their neighbors on the other side of the walls. I, too, was once skeptical about the thing that haunts, but something happened, and I no longer deny what I see or hear.

One day after my son left home and moved into an apartment of his own, I was moving furniture, turning his newly empty bedroom into a study for myself. I had taken my son’s bed apart, and then moved his comic book collection and schoolbooks into the closet. I took his rock music posters down from the wall and put up my own choice of art, a plaster head of Nefertiti and a large photo of Billy Holiday. I was hard at work when all of a sudden I thought I saw something, a movement, perhaps a dust fairy floating past my vision. At first I ignored whatever it was, and told myself that nothing was there. However, the image persisted at the corner of my eye. Something stood in the doorway of my son’s room. I slowly turned. And there in the doorway stood the strangest little fellow.

“Where the heck did you come from,” I murmured. Then I closed my eyes. I could not believe what I saw. When I looked again, he was still there. I waited for him to say something or to move. He did neither. He simply stood silently watching me. I looked away again; wondering was he only a piece of lint on my eyeball. I looked back. He was still standing in the doorway.

This thing, this strange little man stood no taller than a yardstick. His dark eyes, deeply set under bushy brows, glistened like candle flames. His face and hands were the texture and color of tree bark and he wore garments of coarse fabric. Gnarled misshapen toes poked out from under the ragged edges of his pants legs. Thick, dark, bristly globs of hair stuck out all about his head and his knobby hands hung at his side.

I remember thinking, “So, this is what you look like. I knew you’d show up some day.” And I wondered if he had been living in my son’s messy room all these years.

As we stood watching each other I felt as if we had spoken before, or maybe we had touched each other somewhere, in the walls, in the clothes closet, under the trees. After a moment I realized that all those night of worry and hearing something coming down the hallway, coming toward me, scaring me, were not so frightening after all. Then as unexpectedly as this strange little man had appeared he was gone again, like a fading echo.

An icy chill crept down my back while I waited for him to return. The skin on my hands was sweaty when I locked my fingers together seeking my own comfort. I sat in a chair by the window and watched the doorway for what seemed hours, but he never returned.




I don’t know what it was that happened that day, but I do know that something definitely stood in that doorway looking at me. Some days I’ve wondered if it had been a dream. I really did see something that day, though, and I’ve asked myself many times, if this little guy was a part of the building or was he a part of me. I don’t know which.

I do believe there is something magical about the building I live in. I think I hear it breathing on some days. I feel it contracting and expanding as I imagine the structure trying to heal itself, make itself whole again when it learns of the pain and sadness in the lives of the people who live inside the rooms. I like to think that the laughter of children playing rains down on the courtyard and comforts the tired old building as the giggles are sucked into the cracks of the brick and mortar walls. And this strange little being, this thing that moves through wood and plaster, a soul with eyes that flickered at me, has anyone else seen him?

I know that the light bulbs will continue to burn out all at the same time and that there will be other strange happenings that no one will be able to explain. And I also know that every once in a while this little fellow will flit down the hallway making another vaporous appearance to a purpose I cannot understand.


                  Very, very creepy Margaret   
To be released in the  spring of 2014 from MuseItUP Publishing
                  by Margaret Mendel                                       
Against the unforgiving landscape of Alaska, Sharon Wolf, a single mother, struggles to reclaim her life from alcohol abuse and regain the custody of her daughter. But first she must overcome dwindling funds and find a place to live before the harsh winter sets in. She gets a job as a fry cook in a backcountry bar, aptly named The Nowhere, and begins to reconstruct her life. Her struggles are further complicated when she is stalked by a murderer who thinks she witnessed him kill an associate of his. In order to get her life back on track and regain custody of her daughter, Sharon must call upon her inner strength and learn to accept help from unexpected sources. Ultimately she learns to trust herself when the murderer kidnaps her daughter and Sharon finds herself in a life and death struggle.
About Margaret
Margaret Mendel lives in New York City and is a past board member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, NYC. She has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence. Many of her short stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies. For more than twenty years she worked in the mental health field, though now she devotes herself to writing full time. She is an avid photographer and not only drags a laptop, but a Nikon D7000 camera wherever she goes. Read more about Margaret on her blog at:

 Or join her on facebook at:
Thank you for scaring us to death this Halloween, Margaret.
Well readers? Do you believe? Tell us about the ghost you met. Ahem, personally, I haven't and really don't care to meet any ghost soon.
Oh we do love comments. How about leaving one for Margaret today.


  1. Margaret, did that really happen? That's a really spooky story, and you told it so well! It sent shivers down my spine! Your apartment looks a beautiful building - but it sure is eerie...!

  2. Yes, Helena, it really did happen. I still don't understand what it was that went on that day, but it is a memory that's quite deeply ingrained in my brain. I'd worry if it happened a lot, but a haunting now and again, well, I'd say keep it light and not to worry. Working it into a story is a pretty good idea. Thanks for the visit!!

  3. Congratualtions on all your new achievements, Marge! Nice way to celebrate the litany of holidays coming down the pike, to many of iour friends and colleagues, a happy new year... Thelma straw

  4. Oops, clearly I need a typing lesson!!! t. straw

  5. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note!!! Always a joy to hear from you!!!

  6. Oh, my. That is a chlling tale. All the more terrifying for being real. Beautifully written. I FBed and Tweeted.

  7. And to think that I've been in that apartment!

  8. Marsha, thank you for the FB and Tweeting. Glad you stopped by for a visit!! You know what they say, "reality is stranger than fiction."

    DebvG, glad you stopped by. Hmmm, you may have been in that apartment. I get the feeling that you know what I was talking about.

  9. Hi, wow, I made it to my own blog and this great haunting story. Would you believe my electricity was out until mid afternoon? What a spooky way to start Halloween. I'm here now, Margaret. And I"m so glad to have you here sharing this chilly story with us.

    1. Ooooohhhhh!!! Was it a haunting!!! A mystery darkness!!! A pesky little spirit messing with you!! Check the milk!! Did it go sour? Thank you so much for hosting me in your blog!! What a great fun thing to do on such a spoooky day.

  10. Margaret, having seen a spirit myself, I totally believe you. And, on a recent ghost tour of New Orleans, our guide told us that NYC has just as many ghosts as NO, it's just that New Yorkers "don't slow down long enough to see them." Your book sounds very exciting!

  11. That is so funny about quickly moving NYers. But the tour guide was right about the many ghosts in this big old city. I wouldn't ever be surprised if the ghosts were a bit zippy themselves. Thanks so much, Heather for stopping by.

  12. Since a kid, I go with the Caspar the Friendly Ghost idea or at least ghosts are non-malevolent. Now vampires....!

  13. Thank you Marva for stopping by and posting a comment. Vampires scare the heck out of me!! Though the ones in the movies are always so danged beautiful while ghosts and witches are the scruffy looking things. I wonder why that is?

  14. A number of years back my older sister was attacked in her car by a guy high on meth (who subsequently died when the police restrained him). We weren't particularly close, partly because of a 15 year age difference and partly because of distance. When I drove down to see her and stayed a few days, we connected like we never had before. The day I got back home, I was unpacking my stuff in the bathroom when someone stroked my head. I about jumped out of my skin. There was no one else in the house. The only thing I can figure was it was my mother patting my head in approval.

  15. Wow!! You gave me the shivers when I read your comment!!! There are mysteries that are unexplainable. Thanks you so much for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment.

  16. Well, Lorrie, the night has settled in, the gremlins are seeking their sweets, and I have had a great time today as a guest blogger on your website. I hope that you have no more electrical outages and that the muse continues to visit you every time you sit down to write. Thanks you for this opportunity, it was a pleasure.

  17. You have two more days for readers to enjoy your spine-tingling story. And believe me, the pleasure is mine and all who drop by.

  18. Enjoyed your story, Margaret. Having lived with a poltergist for five years in the past, I totally believe it. When I first met Harold, I was so scared I almost fell down a long flight of concrete stairs. Instead, I sat down on one of those stairs and we had a talk, one-sided as it was. After that, weird stuff continued to happen but it wasn't scary any more.

    Since you write mystery, have you ever considered that the quirky little guy could have been your muse?

  19. Yes, Maria, I've frequently wondered what role he placed in my life. There had to be more to this fellow than just a visitation that one time. But it does sound like living with a poltergeist for five years would be some strange and interesting ordeal. Thanks for visiting and stopping to comment.

  20. Seems we all have one thing in common, the paranormal. I too live in an apartment and over the years, several tenants have passed away, two being my mom and dad. I've seen a tall man wearing a wide brim hat in our apartment. More like a shadow figure. My husband saw a woman. My niece saw an older woman who we believe is the lady who used to live in the unit we now reside. My dad, before he passed of course, saw a little boy. We've both been touched and have smelled things, flowers and sulfur. Things move, water turns on by itself, doors open, I get that feeling of being watched, see a dark shadow along the floor we think is a cat, blender turned on as well as a music box. And I never made the connection until you said this, but we go through a lot of light bulbs. I mean A LOT!!! We've even had a fixture replaced because we thought it was wiring. That light still blows out regularly. Just last night, I turned the TV off, heard the click and everything. Two seconds later, it popped back on. While my husband snored next to me, I would swear someone else was in the room with us. So I hid under the blanket. LOL

    Your novel sounds very interesting. I love a good suspense. It will definitely be on my "to be read" list.

  21. Thank you Darla for coming by and sharing your apartment suspense experience. It does sound like the spirits in your building are quite active!! It's interesting how odors become a part of this experience. It would be interesting, what with all that other worldly activity, to dig into the history of the building and some of the people who have passed away and see what you come up with. This is so interesting!!

    1. We talk about our goings on quite often. One summer we were talking to other tenants and this one woman said she saw something. A woman in a long white nightgown with frilly sleeves. Turns out that's exactly what Gary saw. She was relieved because she said she's seen her quite a few times and thought she was going crazy. Seems our ghosts like to apartment hop. When we don't see anything, I'm sure others are. And like you, we'll have activity for a couple days to weeks, then not see anything for months.
      As for the guy I see, a couple people I talked to, at different times, said they wondered if it was the maintenance man who used to work here. I asked my friend to describe him and he one said, "He was a nice guy. Tall and thin. And he used to wear this hat all the time." My friend Terry said he was just a kid when he went to school here and knew the guy.Apparently, he had a heart attack on the front steps.
      We believe the woman we see was one of the first tenants. When my niece said she saw someone standing behind a chair watching us, I asked her what she looked like and she described her perfectly.
      The boy had me stumped until I remembered this building used to be an old elementary school. One woman did say a boy died in this building when it was a school but I haven't found any documented proof of that.

      Last month I kept smelling flowers in my bedroom. Now I do burn a lot of candles so at first I thought it was that. After about the 3rd time (in same night), I got up and started smelling everything. Nothing matched. I sat back on bed and it hit me again. I got back up and the smell was gone. then I put my face back where I smelled the flowers and it was kind of confined in one small area.

  22. Wow!! Darla, you certainly have the makings of a great story, if not a set of stories about that building. It could even just the the backdrop to a story. You've got some great material and wonderful setting. Thanks for letting us know more about your hauntings.

  23. Darla, you should contact that reality TV spook show. They may be interested in investigating the apartment. Especially with a few tenants seeing the same ghosts.

    1. I have contacted Steel Town Paranormal and they said since it's an apartment building, they'd need the owner's permission to set up an investigation. I got that but around that time, I was dealing with my mom's health issues and it sort of got put on the back burner. The one woman and one guy who saw something no longer live here. And within the past two months, quite a few tenants have moved out and they've been fixing up the empty units. I've been extra aware since remodeling and such stirs up activity. Hmm, maybe I'll contact them again.

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    world of flowers