Latest posts by Daria Silter (see all)
- Busy, Noisy, Fast-Paced – What’s Your Quality of Life? Vol. 4 - April 20, 2018
- Don’t. Turn. On. The. Lights. Vol. 3 - April 13, 2018
- The Race Issue. Vol. 2 - April 6, 2018
April 13, 2018
Friday the 13th is often thought of as the scariest day of the year, except for the Halloween, perhaps. Some believe it is just an “unlucky” day, others think that it is more prone to “supernatural” happenings (ghosts, evil spirits, bigfoot sightseeings, UFOs, etc.) while others attribute its fear to a very old superstition which stems from the times of Jesus Christ.
I am not embarrassed to admit (for some reason) that I love ‘em good and frightening horror stories, as well as thrillers, mysteries, legends, folk tales, and all the other kind of stories that’ll keep you listening intently to every sound in your bedroom. At night. Naturally.
I am not sure what you believe in, but I have personally had a number of paranormal experiences throughout my life.
Paranormal? What does it even mean? Was it just your imagination? I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation to whatever you’ve witnessed.
Well, let me tell you a recent story and then you decide.
Last November, my husband and I rented a small and secluded wooded house somewhere deep in the luscious woods of Vermont; far away from huge, bustling cities, like New York, where we currently live in. We left on a Friday evening and were planning to spend three nights in that cute cottage, surrounded by wild nature.
The drive took over 4 hours, though we stopped to recharge our human batteries with coffee and donuts at some random gas station, in the middle of nowhere.
When we arrived at the house, it was close to midnight, so we quickly unpacked and sat down on the couch to relax, with a glass of whiskey in hand. I was finishing my first semester in grad school, and it was a pretty rough time. I was tired, and not just tired – exhausted. Drained of all the natural juices that you need to feel alive. School, plus work, plus more work, plus homework – you get the idea.
It was a two-story home, and its full-time owners actually occupied the second floor. A day before our arrival, they actually informed us that they had a sudden death in the family, so they won’t be home during our entire stay. But the key is under the doormat, and everything was ready for us, guests. Fine, I thought. No problem, solitude is even better.
After (more than) a few shots of liquor, the tiredness won over, so we headed to the bedroom and passed out within seconds of hitting the pillows. It was around 2:00 a.m. in the morning.
A few hours later, I woke up with a full bladder in a dire need of a bathroom visit. I got up, passed through the kitchen, found the light-switch and then found the toilet.
See, being in the middle of the woods has its pros and cons. For once, since there are no nearby skyscrapers, opposite buildings, or even lampposts, it is completely dark at night. It is so dark that when you turn off the lights, you can’t even see your own limbs. You can see absolutely nothing. It’s like suddenly you’re in a cosmic void (except you can’t float in the air).
So, when I turned on the bathroom lights in the middle of the night, I didn’t really open my eyes because a swift adjustment from darkness to light can momentarily blind you. Plus, though I was walking, I was still kinda sleeping.
I finished my business, turned off the bathroom’s light and went back to sleep.
Sometime later, a bright light coming from the kitchen suddenly woke me up. It was still dark outside, and since I forgot to close our bedroom’s door, the light from the adjacent kitchen, spilling into our bedroom, was blinding. But because I was very sleepy, tired and probably still drunk – I opened my eyes, look at the lights for a millisecond, and then went right back to whatever dream I was watching.
The next morning, I asked my husband why’d he leave the kitchen lights on in the middle of the night. “Did you go to the bathroom and forgot to switch off the lights?” “No, I didn’t go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I slept until the morning.” Hmm, interesting, I thought. Maybe *I* forgot to turn off the lights? Or, maybe I dreamt it?
I let it go then, but I still kept wondering about this episode. Did I really dream about it? Was it just my imagination? The light was so bright, and so real, that I couldn’t believe it was just a dream.
The day went by quickly and uneventfully. We drove to a local store, bought some groceries to cook a nice homemade lunch. Then we went out into the woods for a hike.
We finished the evening by driving to a nearby town, to one of the few open restaurants… on a Saturday night, at 9 o’clock.
While we were in the cottage, I had this uneasy feeling: it was like someone was watching us the entire time. Since the house had big windows in every room, and several in the living room, I couldn’t quite grasp if that “someone” was observing us from the outside or from inside the house. Maybe they have a hidden camera somewhere? Hmm. Or maybe someone’s lurking from deep inside the woods? Who knows. But the weird sense just wouldn’t let go.
On our drive back to the cottage, I was still wondering and joking about that kitchen light. My husband thought nothing of it, and frankly, neither did I. We arrived at the house around 11 p.m. and then went back to sleep around 1 a.m.
This time I purposely shut our bedroom door before we’ve tucked in for the night. However, there was a large internal window close to the ceiling by the door. It connected the bedroom to the kitchen. Not sure what was its purpose, it was just a giant glass window built in on top of the wall, the sort you’d normally find in some very old buildings (think NYC in the 1800s).
A few hours later, in the middle of the night, I abruptly woke up. It was eerily quiet, it was pitch dark, and there was a bright kitchen light slipping through the adjacent kitchen window and underneath the bedroom’s door. This time I didn’t drift back to sleep. I just laid in bed thinking what the heck is happening. I didn’t hear any footsteps, no noises. There were no sounds. My husband slept peacefully on my right-hand side.
Twenty or thirty minutes passed by. I still laid there thinking: “Thank GOD I didn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom.” I didn’t want to imagine “what” or “who” was on the other side of the wall. Or worse, encounter it face to face. “Maybe, just maybe, my husband went to the bathroom earlier and then forgot to flip the switch?”
And then quietly, making absolutely no sound… someone switched off the light. I starred at the wall while the complete darkness once again filled the entire house. I wanted to panic and wake up my husband, but for some reason, I thought that it could make things “worse.” So, with the help of some self-control (and a prayer), I willed myself back to sleep.
The next morning, when I told my husband what happened, he didn’t feel frightened, at first. It took a while to process this incident. We checked the light switches – they were all manual. This kind:
We ate our breakfast. I still could not shake off that feeling of being watched. And it wasn’t exactly a welcoming feeling. Then suddenly, our dog ran into the kitchen and started violently barking at its corner, for a good few minutes. My husband decided to go around the house to check if anyone was there. No one was.
A few moments later, we swiftly packed our bags and dogs and left that house. We (especially me) couldn’t bear staying there for another creepy nightly experience. While I do love reading an occasional bone-tingling ghost story, I don’t really like to star in one. I am too easily frightened.
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If you are a horror fan – then read this following section. If not, then skip ahead to the weekly readings below.
For my all fellow ghostly thrill-seekers, here are some excellent podcasts that you might enjoy:
- Weird Darkness by Marlar House Productions, featuring Darren Marlar
This podcast’s episodes consist of a number of (super-creepy) short stories, including both fiction and nonfiction, real-life events. “Bolt your doors, lock your windows, and turn off the lights,” says Mr. Marlar, “and come with me to the weird darkness.” In addition to the chilling stories, you will fall in love with Darren’s narration, once he’ll have your nerves wrapped around his finger.
Pro tip: try not to listen to these stories after dark, especially if you’re home alone for the night. If you do, proceed at your own risk.
- Haunted Placed by Parcast Network, featuring Greg
This excellent podcast showcases longer stories and provides us with a chance to get deeper into each one. In fact, each episode is set around only one notoriously haunted place, supplied with numerous legends, first-person accounts, and modern local beliefs. Greg is also a fantastic narrator who brings each story to life. He’s so good that he will actually make you feel like you are right there, at that terrifying place, staring into the eyes… of the evil.
- Real Ghost Stories Online by Real Story Media LLC, featuring Tony & Jenny Brueski
This (eerily) wonderful podcast is produced in a manner of a radio talk-show where guests can “call into the live session.” Each caller shares a personal paranormal story, experience, or a life event that happened to him or her. I believe that the callers actually call in a special number though it doesn’t happen during a live production since this is not a radio show. Regardless, each story is (seemingly) true and hearing the voices of the actual people sharing their experiences is quite spooky by itself.
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Furthermore, last week I discovered that there’s this thing called pre-paid monthly subscription boxes, where one can get several (hand-picked) books and other cool items. Check these out:
This monthly box is lovingly packed by a horror, sci-fi, and thriller-fan family consisting of a husband and wife, and their adorable daughter. Each box includes two new hardcover books, a custom designed art print and a bookmark, a t-shirt, and some other fun items. Subscriptions start at $35 per month (plus, extra $ for shipping).
There are four subscription choices here: Crime & Mystery; Thriller & Espionage; Horror; and ‘Surprise Me’ (a perfect option for those who love all three genres). For only $12.99 per month (plus, an extra $ for shipping) you get two hardcover books and a cool third item (it used to be a DVD, but since no one’s watching those anymore – thanks Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix, it’s now an eBook).
P.S. In case you’re wondering – I subscribed to both! 🤓
What am I reading this week?
- The Stranger In the Woods by Michael Finkel
I just started reading this book last night, and I can’t honestly wait for the evening to lay my hands on this thrilling paperback, so I could finish it asap (hey, it’s Friday, yay; can stay up a bit later). Now, what’s so interesting about this book?
Well, here’s the premise: a 20-year-old man drives to the edge of the woods in 1986. He abandons his car and disappears into thin air.
He lives in the woods for the next 27 (that’s twenty-seven) years and would have lived there for more had he not been discovered burglarizing into the local camps. Hey, the man’s gotta eat something in the Winter. Otherwise, he’d die.
Bottom-line: Mr. Finkel’s writing style will definitely have you laughing your guts out while keeping you on the edge of your seat.
Brr. Gotta go now, finish my copy. I’m only a quarter in.
- Daughter of Pakistan (The New Yorker)
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is a female Pakistani film director, who by the age of 39, already has two Oscars (yep, from the Academy Awards) behind her back. And, we’re not just talking about nominations here. She won the awards (aka “the golden statues”) for two of her documentary films (“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015),” and “Saving Face (2012).”) Now, as the recent polls have shown us, not that many people frankly care about the Oscars anymore, but that shouldn’t deter you from finding out more about this talented, spitfire of a woman.
Here are just a few fun facts about Ms. Obaid-Chinoy: she approached the New York Times’s TV production company ‘out of the blue’ when she was an international student in the U.S. and offered to create a documentary about some local issue in Pakistan. (What’s so remarkable about it? Without any prior film production nor even film-school experience, she landed the job!). She not only filmed the local terrorist group – the Taliban and their supporters (remember who shot Malala Yousafzai?), she even argued and challenged them (as a woman in a strict Islamic country!). As cliché as it might sound – she is definitely the force to be reckoned with.
So, get to know her closer. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about her soon.
- The Ascent – A Saudi prince’s quest to remake the Middle East (The New Yorker)
Oh my God, why would she even recommend reading an article about a Saudi Arabian prince? She couldn’t have possibly picked a more boring topic. Right?
Though I admit, I did have similar thoughts when I was flipping through the pages of the last week’s issue of The New Yorker. Yeah, yeah. We all heard by now that the prince had recently traversed the U.S., meeting with the “Google guys,” Mark Zuckerberg, Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg (the former mayor of NYC), and only God knows how many others. So, what could the magazine possibly tell me that I didn’t already know?
Oh boy, where do I even begin?
Well, let’s keep it brief. This startling and insightful profile can not only change your views on Saudi Arabia, the general Middle East politics (which can be very confusing, I admit; I mean there’s only a handful of Islamic countries in the region, yet for some reason they are constantly fighting each other, flipping sides, changing their rules and rulers, etc.), but also on the general election of the 45th American president. Gosh, you’d think that this is a nonfiction, “real-life” chronicle, yet it reads more like a South American telenovela.
Bottom-line: it’s an easy to follow, undoubtedly entertaining, and deeply-thought-provoking read. I highly recommend it.
- The ISIS Files (The New York Times)
A fascinating look into how ISIS (a homegrown terrorist Islamic organization) managed to not only stay financially solvent but actually prosper during the years of its brutal war with Iraq and Syria. Rukmini Callimachi, a New York Times journalist, had traveled to Iraq on numerous occasions at the time of the conflict.
She eventually stumbled upon an abandoned building which harbored thousands of original notebooks, certificates, receipts, and other official documents that belonged to ISIS. The gang had to flee the area once the military took over and hence had no time to completely destroy the files (aka “the evidence”.)
The reporter had then spent hundreds of hours inspecting and analyzing the files, which hold an invaluable clue about the day-to-day operations of this highly-sophisticated, meticulous and brutal, criminal group.
- As Wrongly Imprisoned Men Went Free, Predators Pounced (The New York Times)
This mind-boggling story is infuriating and immensely sad at the same time. Two wrongly-convicted brothers spend 30 years in prison for a rape and murder they did not commit. Three decades later, they are finally acquitted after the re-testing of the DNA from the crime scene (thanks to the latest technology) confirmed that it belonged to… another man. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come once they are set free.
Pro tip: if you don’t have much time this week and you’re a fan of the crime genre – check out this story (it’s much shorter than a book).
- The Girls Brought Back (The New York Times)
Let’s face it – two hundred is just a number, no matter what it stands for or represents. It’s difficult to comprehend it, regardless how highly developed your imagination might be.
In 2014, more than two hundred teenage female students were kidnapped in Nigeria by a violent pack of terrorists, by the name Boko Haram (which can be roughly translated as “Western education is a sin.”) This moving article not only provides us with an update on the girls’ lives once they were brought back to their families, it also showcases their individual portraits, brilliantly captured by the talented photographer, Adam Ferguson.
And hence, two hundred is not just a number or statistics anymore. It has a face. Many beautiful faces, to be exact.
What am I listening to this week?
- Haunted Places by Parcast Network (Episode 14 (from March 22): “The Bhangarh Fort”)
Though I gave you some fun (read: “deliciously creepy”) podcasts to choose from above – this episode is particularly spine-chilling plus it provides more insight into one of the top stories that we featured last Halloween. According to the locals, this is one of the most haunting places in all of India. Enough said!
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Have you ever experienced anything ‘paranormal’? Spill your stories below.