For those who may have missed an episode of these strange stories, or missed the entire thing and don’t like having to click on several links to watch it all, I’ve compiled the article in its entirety here so you can read it all the way through in one go if you prefer.
However way you choose to read it, I hope you enjoy it.
This article was originally published in the fall of 2005 for Insidious Reflections’ 4th print magazine. That seems like a really long time ago, so why am I posting this article here, now, after almost fifteen years since it was first published? For starters, I like to think I’ve gotten a wee bit better at this writing thing in all that time. The article needed some cleaning up, and I hope my edits make for a smoother read for your enjoyment.
The main reason you’re reading this now? It was an article that always fascinated me. I’ve always been intrigued by a good ghost story, and this article happens to consist of a few good ones.
You know, I’ve been asked a few times whether I believe these stories. Whether I was being told the full story, the truth. I thought about it and always it didn’t matter so much if I believe them, it maters that I’m convinced the story tellers telling me their stories believed them. I’m still convinced they do.
I didn’t alter anything they told me for the sake of this piece and instead tried to capture what they told me as concisely as they told it to me. Your mileage may vary and your opinions will be yours, but whatever your take of these stories are, I hope they managed to entertain you as thoroughly as they did me on that night around the campfire.
Now sit back, dim the lights and I hope you enjoy a good ghost story.
Oh, and Happy Halloween!
A Twist Of Fate
Ever consider how the simplest ideas and actions can sometimes lead to the most significant of events? Well, one hot afternoon during my town’s summer sidewalk sale, that’s exactly what happened to me. And no, it wasn’t because I got the Speedos I always wanted at half price. It was a hot day in July, and it started out with me wanting to walk down to the local Dairy Queen to grab one of those Blizzards that aren’t supposed to melt all over you, but always do. Since the streets were closed that day to accommodate the gaggle of people, I walked the center of the street, checking out the bustling scene of vendors and people, and the classic cars that lined the curb. Along the way, a Scottish bagpiper blasted out some haunting tunes in front of the downtown Scottish bakery shop. A couple blocks from my beloved blizzard, I saw something which grabbed my curiosity and drew me in.
I stood by a historical stand abuzz with curious folks of young and old. I squeezed through the crowd to get a better look. Checking out the many black and white pictures of my old town that were posted up on the felt boards as well as piled across the tables, I found what my subconscious must have known about. It was an old picture of the Preston Springs Hotel from a time when the entire section of this street was lined with hotels and pubs. Why did this picture draw me in? I had conducted some research on this magnificent building about a week earlier in preparation for an investigative article I wanted to write about the place. The building was allegedly haunted by the spirit of a young girl who had died there several years ago.
Curious for more information, I located the historian responsible for the stand and mentioned I was a curious writer of ghost stories for a new horror magazine. The man I met that day was Ray Ruddy. A historian by hobby and gracious by nature, he was as enthusiastic to educate me on the building as I was to learn from him. Not only did he inform me of the founders and origins of the building but, with my nudging curiosity, he went on to explain that there was in fact a ghost there. At some point during the building’s stint as a natural sulfur spring spa, a young girl suffered a drowning death in one of the sulfur baths. To this day she is the only thing constant about the abandoned place which has failed to be restored despite attempts from would be investors.
We talked a few minutes more about some of the other rumored haunting’s in town as we were continuously interrupted by other people that had their own historical questions. I enquired further about some of the various ghost mysteries in town, but he explained he was only an expert on the historical aspects. If I wanted to know more about the local hauntings and of ghosts in general than I was better off talking to his sisters, Kim and Kathy. Ray explained his sisters were quite sensitive to ghostly encounters and he introduced me to his sister, Kim, who happened to be on hand. Her brother was whisked away by an elderly man who wanted to know the names of some sports figures from one of the pictures, leaving me to chat briefly with Kim until she had to leave for another engagement.
When Ray returned, I thanked him for his time, letting him know that I had to be on my way. Ray in turn, offered me his business card so I could contact him in the future. Then he invited me out to his sister’s where they held weekly campfires behind her riverside home. Ray assured me that both his sisters would be there and would be happy to discuss the many strange encounters they’ve endured. I, of course accepted the invitation before parting ways.
Little did I know, I was about to get much more than I had bargained for.
A Fire Awaits
The sky was already stark black as my girlfriend and I enjoyed the short warm walk to the house on the river. We walked up a driveway, unsure whether we even had the right place, when Ray came out from the side door as if on cue and greeted us with a smile and a handshake. In courteous Ray style, he apologized that the gathering had gotten bigger than he had previously anticipated. Turned out his uncle and aunt from Ireland along with a nephew and a couple of cousins had shown up for the campfire. I was eager to meet them all, I said, and so we followed Ray to the back of the house where everyone was seated around the fire.
With quick introductions all around, Ray led me from the circle to the edge of the back lawn so that I could appreciate the view of the bluffs on the other side of a small island. “Over there, in the woods,” Ray explained, pointing to a thick forest on the other side, “is an old Native burial ground. It isn’t marked and not many know of it, but I do because that’s the kind of stuff I study.” Ray researched the facts after his then five year old boy found a spearhead on top of a mound of dirt from what was presumably part of a native chief’s cache. The spearhead was estimated to be about 10,000 years old. Then Ray explained that a deer resided on the island and could often be seen drinking from the calm river water. He also pointed to a perch on the lawn. On many days, his sister, Kim, would lay out some bird feed and stand back watching as a hawk flew down to feed. It seemed the hawk was a frequent visitor to the home.
Motioning further down the river, Ray pointed to where Kim saw the U.F.O. a couple of years ago. He reminisced how Kim had stood out here looking at the evening sky when she saw a small light flying just below the clouds. She casually chalked it up to a plane, but became curious as the thing seemed to not move at all, but instead just sort of floated there, unblinking so that it couldn’t have been a plane or even a star. For a few hours this light just floated until it cruised across the sky to an area over the river. When it lowered, and a very strange thing began to happen.
Ray stopped talking and looked over at the fire where the rest of the large group sat. I wanted to hear more, but he said it was best if his sister explained it to me. He called to Kim and Kathy as my girlfriend and I looked at each other with quizzical expressions. We both had faith in such things as ghosts but …. a U.F.O.? The sisters, Kathy and Kim, came over and we listened to what they had to say.
Confirming what Ray had just told us, Kim continued the story of how this strange flying thing had floated all the way down until it appeared to be just a few meters above the level of the river. It stayed there for long enough for her to call out to her sister, Kathy, to come witness it with her. The sisters watched as three small, bright orbs came from beneath the flying object and lowered to the river, as if on a mission of exploration. After another half hour or so of this, the orbs returned to where they came from and together the flying objects flew up and out of sight. Kim tried to be logical about the whole scene and call all the local airports to ask if any of them knew about any air crafts that were supposed to be in her area that night. She was told there were none.
After this ice breaker of sorts, I told Kim and Kathy that I understood this isn’t the only unusual experience they’ve had. They told me indeed it wasn’t although the flying thing over the river was the only experience they’ve ever had with a U.F.O. As for the supernatural, their first ghostly encounters happened when they were quite young and living in their birth home of Ireland, which they offered to share with me that night.
Luck Of The Irish
One evening, Ray’s dad, then a young boy, sat in the kitchen of his home in Northern Ireland with his chair leaning against the main door, reading a book by oil light. Heard 2 bangs. Without warning, to large knocks banged against the door. Ray’s young dad bolted from his chair and flung open the door. He saw nobody and heard nothing else. Was it neighbourhood kids playing a prank? An animal? Or something else?
First off, the front gate at the end of the drive was closed, making it unlikely for anyone to have gotten in let alone leave so quickly and somehow manage shut the gate without a sound. Add to that, the entire house is surrounded by gravel. Anyone or anything that moved outside the house would be easy to hear as the gravel would have crunched under foot. Evidentially, logic and reason were of little use in helping to solve the source of the crash at the door. As if that wasn’t strange enough on its own, Ray’s dad recalled looking at the clock when the knocks were heard. He found out the next day the time he looked at the clock matched the time his dad (Ray’s grandfather) had passed away the night of the knocks.
Several years later, about 1982, Ray and his family visited his old family home as his Grandmother was dying. Ray stayed in his old room, his sisters in their old room which also happened to the birthing room where Ray’s dad, his Aunt Rhoda (who passed in 1964) and Grandmother had all been born.
One night during their visit, Kim awoke to a most unusual sight. On the ceiling and covering the walls, a spectral of lights spun throughout, overwhelming Kim’s senses as she struggled to take stock of what was going on. Beside her, Kathy, who also woke up, saw the same swarming lights as Kim. The two girls watched as something began to take shape within the wardrobe along the wall until out stepped the image of their grandmother. And then another form joined their grandmother, only this one faded in and out of focus. The fading form turned out to be the image of their Aunt Rhonda who had died in 1964 and had been quite close to her sister, Ray’s grandmother. The forms said nothing, but the sisters remembered the expressions were that of calmness. The forms faded out with the lights, leaving the two girls shocked and bewildered as to what they had witnessed. The next day arrived with bad news. Their grandmother had passed away during the night. They learned that the same time the image of their grandmother had faded in and out of view, their she had been slipping in and out of consciousness in her sick bed. She died shortly leaving Ray’ sister to wonder if their aunt Rhoda had simply joined her sister in the afterlife as closely as they had been in life?
Paranormal encounters may have begun at the Ruddy family home in Ireland, but they certainly didn’t stop after they moved to Preston, Ontario in Canada. If anything, the strange encounters grew stranger still as they settled into their new home on Biscayne Drive in 1977.
With nothing except quiet voices behind us and the light warm breeze of the night, Ray recalled a chilling occurrence from when his parents owned the house on Biscayne Drive.
Early on in the home, Ray’s sister Kim, walked by her son Michael’s – who later that evening confirmed these details – bedroom when he was four years old. She looked in on him and asked why he was hiding under the covers. Because the blonde girl won’t stop looking for me, he told his mom.
Kim recalled a time in the house from when she was a young girl. She told how she used to get awakened as someone poked her hard in the back and shoulders. Startled from her sleep, she would quickly roll over, half expecting to see her sister, Kathy, standing behind her. When she would roll over, there was no one there at all to account for the rude awakening. The random occurrences frightened young Kim into more than a few nights in the safety of her parent’s bed. Eventually, the unusual awakenings ceased altogether as suddenly as they had first begun.
Ray went on to recall a time when he lived in the house with his girlfriend. His girlfriend would leave her rings on the bathroom before bed. Well, one morning they were gone, and Ray swore he hadn’t touched them. About two months later, the rings reappeared leaving Ray to try an convince his girlfriend he had nothing to do with either instanc
The fire crackled softly behind our small coven of story tellers and listeners while Kathy described something she heard while upstairs in the house. One night, during the time when Ray and his family lived there, Kathy had heard glass breaking from down in the basement. She investigated the source of the noise, but saw no signs of anything being broken, let alone glass.
Ray explained that in later years the basement was built into an apartment with Ray’s room being in the corner of the back, the area where Kathy had heard the glass breaking. A couple of years later when a friend of theirs took over Ray’s former bedroom as her own, she pulled back the covers of her bed.
Broken glass covered the mattress.
The Chilling Door
I asked my new storytelling friends if one of them had experienced more then the other. Ray said his sisters seemed to be much more sensitive to these sorts of things than himself and, thus, had more experiences to tell than he. However, that hardly meant Ray didn’t have a few experiences of his own from when he lived in the house on Biscayne Drive.
Reviewing some history with me, I learned Ray had lived in that house from around 1978 to 1987 with his family. He left it for five years before moving back with his sister, Kim, who bought it from their parents. An apartment was built downstairs in the basement, as previously mentioned, and this is where Ray lived.
About two in the morning one night, Ray was in his bedroom talking on the phone to his girlfriend. While the two were caught up in conversation, the door behind Ray suddenly closed shut after hearing it close shut.
Hearing Ray recall his story, I first assumed a gust of wind from an open window must have blown the door closed or maybe the house sat on an angle which caused the door to drift closed. This was my natural chain of logic and reasoning. Ray was quick t suggest neither logic nor reason had anything to do with this. First of all, there were no windows open because there were no windows in his bedroom at all. Also, the room was laid out with classic shag rug. The rug was so thick that on a good day one would have to struggle to literally pick up the door to close it and only then by means of considerable force and effort.
In Ray’s own words, “This door shut on is own. There was no wind, there was nothing. It was completely black in that room and all I heard was the door shutting. I just heard the door closing. I heard the carpet moving and then the door actually close and the click with the latch closed. It was really, really freaky.”
The chill that went down Ray’s neck when that door slammed shut was justified as far as I was concerned.
Heavy Steps and the Girl Who Cried
Ray brought me back to an evening when he and his uncle Frank were in the family room watching a hockey game on television. The two of them heard what sounded like chairs and tables dragging across the floor upstairs in the kitchen. Then heavy footsteps moved across the floor. Not thinking much of it, it didn’t click in that Ray’s sister Kim and brother-in-law were out of town. Then the two men began to hear a baby crying as they sat there looking at each other. Ray told his uncle to go up and see was home, still not realizing the other occupants were hours away. All they had been thinking about was watching the hockey game.
After confirming nobody was upstairs, Frank reminded Ray that Kim and her husband were out of town. Only then did it register how peculiar the sounds they had heard were. They both agreed they had head the same sounds of moving feet and dragging chairs as well as the cries of a baby girl. They also agreed that the crying sounds seemed to be coming from Ray’s old bedroom from before his parents had sold the house to Kim.
Was there a little girl eternally trapped in the house, trying desperately to communicate with the living inhabitants? Did the little girl that nephew Mike had seen sitting on his bed years ago have anything to do with that bed full of glass or the crying from upstairs the men had heard? If so, then who, or what, was the cause of the dragging chairs and the heavy footsteps above Ray and Frank’s heads when no one else was home?
Kim and Kathy said they also heard footsteps at times coming from both upstairs and downstairs. Kim described the footsteps she heard as somebody walking around in heavy ski boots and suggested maybe the ghosts were a father/daughter thing with the girl possibly being the object of abuse from her father. Could it have been that the father came home drunk with sluggish feet as he pushed chairs out of the way to get to his daughter? Sadly, nobody may ever know.
It wasn’t just the residents of the home the blond girl seemed to reach out to either. Shortly after Kim bought the house, the half brother of Ray’s dad came for a visit from Ireland, bringing with him his wife, Naomi, whom Kim and the family had not yet met and therefore knew nothing about. Naomi, once at the house had to use the washroom after a long drive from the airport. After getting out of the washroom, she then walked into the kitchen and asked who the blond-haired girl standing on the bed looking out the window was (The bedroom which, sat adjacent from the bathroom, used to be Ray’s, then Michael’s).
Of course, not having met Naomi before that night or ever shared any of the house’s paranormal activities with her, Ray and his family were shocked to hear what their new guest claimed she saw. They later learned that Naomi descended from Gypsy blood and possessed a certain ability for sensing spirits, much like Ray’s sisters seemed to have, which made what they told me next even more fascinating.
A Paranormal Pact
With the re-occurrences of the little blond girl in some of the encounters being relayed to me, I questioned the history of the house and asked if there was anything known about any children or any significant events that may have occurred; something that would act as an answer to the many questions concerning the ongoing paranormal events that went on there. One day while Ray was out trimming hedge at his Biscayne property, he finally got a possible answer t one of the mysteries of the house. Ray saw his neighbour, a long-time fixture in the neighbourhood and decided on a whim to as him if he knew of any blonde girls who may have once lived in his house. Turned out, one of the first families to have lived there did in fact include a blond girl who had died at only four years old. If the elderly neighbour knew the cause of the girl’s death, he wasn’t sharing it.
When the time came for Kim to sell the house, she sold it to her best friend. Knowing about the haunted history of the house, Kim’s friend thought it was in her best interest to have the house blessed by a priest before moving in, and as far as Ray and his sisters know, nothing out of the ordinary has happened in the house since.
Even though Kim’s best friend has since moved out, the house still maintains a certain hold on Ray and his sisters because, quite literally, it’s in their blood. The current owners, who once rented it from Kim when she and her husband owned it, was the sister of Kim’s ex-husband.
To follow the general genealogy of the homeowners it would look something like this: First, it was owned by Ray’s parents, then from them to Kim. After Kim the house went to Kim’s best friend and then to Kim’s ex-husband and sister-in-law. It would seem, at least to an outsider like me, the house and Ray’s family may have held an unspoken pact with one another. Certainly, the bond was the strongest with Ray’s family since the only other people who had lived there was a Pakistani couple, staying only two years after purchasing the house from the original owners.
I got the impression Ray and his sisters didn’t often talk of their encounters with everybody, let alone with people they just met. As the fire danced behind us in the small pit, the warm night breeze carried their voices with tones of excitement and mysticism as they stood telling their incredible tales. When Kim and Kathy, in particular, spoke, I got the impression they were just as fascinated by what they had to say as I was to hear it. They took their paranormal experiences in stride as though it were a wondrous gift rather then a hindering curse.
I asked them why they thought their family has had as many strange encounters as it has. All they could do was shrug their shoulders and assume some people just happened to be more sensitive to the spirit world than others. I asked if they thought their sensitivity to such things was rare or if others like them simply chose not to share their experiences out of fear or embarrassment. My new friends were confidant the world is full of people who have strange stories of their own to tell but, out of fear for how others would react, they keep such stories private and locked away in the dark storage of their memory vault.
Deciding that we had secluded ourselves long enough from the rest of the group that sat around the fire pit, (and I was pretty sure I had only heard a small portion of the things they had to tell) we shuffled back to the fire to sit and talk of non-ghost related topics.
As we talked and joked, I considered how sitting around the fire suddenly felt a bit different. For me at least, campfires weren’t so much a place to sit and keep warm, cook a few marshmallows, or ward off some pesky insects. They had evolved into an eerie atmosphere perfect for telling tales of the past and of the supernatural. Within the ring of our peers, as we consumed the heat and security provided to us by nature, the fire has the power to ignite and infuse within us a blazing bond that cannot be easily undone.
It’s with these final words I encourage you, fellow readers and story tellers alike, the next time you’re enjoying a campfire with good friends or family, don’t be afraid to ask if anyone has had an unusual experience or two to share. You may be surprised to learn what stories they have to tell, or perhaps you have a few yourself about unexplained bumps in the night or of long dead children sitting upon your bed who demand more questions than they’ll ever answer.
**A special thank you to Ray and his sisters Kathy and Kim for being such giving story tellers.
An extra special thanks goes out to Ray for providing family pictures of the house in Ireland and for all his time spent on the phone talking with me about ghosts and life.**