As a typical Virgo--that is, a "practical" person--I'm naturally skeptical about those matters relating to the supernatural, ghosts, psychic ability, and essentially all unexplainable phenomena. Tell me a ghost story, and I'll come up with a logical explanation as to what really happened.
Therein lies the dilemma, though, because at three distinct times during my life (as a child, young adult, and at middle-age), I've had encounters--rather terrifying ones--with beings that were certainly not human, animal, nor belonging to any other species of which I'm familiar.
However, I consider the question of whether or not these encounters actually involved ghosts to be irrelevant, as their occurrences were all unquestionably real to me.
Ghost #1: Demon
It was summertime in Sunnyvale, California, and I was about 12 or 13 years old. On the cusp of adolescence, I had recently developed a penchant for staying up late: I typically lounged alone on the living room sofa, while my parents slept in their room, and my older brother spent time out with friends.
On one such night, our home's front door (adjacent to the living room) was open, and the screen door was locked. Then seemingly out of nowhere--from outside the home--appeared an indescribably fast-moving, red, small in stature (about 25 cm tall), animated demon, right there in the living room.
I was terrified. So much so, that I was unable to react, other than to just sit there, transfixed, and to stare at this thing as it bounced off each of the room's walls and ceiling: spinning all around in a possessed, out-of-control manner. It menacingly looked back at me, smiling and grimacing at the same time. Although its color was flaming red--its speed, height, and size reminded me of the old animated cartoon, The Tasmanian Devil.
After approximately forty-five seconds of continuous mayhem, this thing stared at me one last time as it then careened back out and through the front screen door, gone forever. At this point I was finally able to utter a response by loudly yelling out for my parents..
I described (to both my mother and father) all that had just transpired; and though they appeared to show concern, I could sense that they didn't believe my sensational story. Dad suggested that it was "probably the neighbor's car headlights," and took a quick stroll outside to search for any clues or evidence. None was found.
Mom, a person much more in-tuned with supernatural phenomena, remained uncharacteristically quiet. Thinking back, she was most likely markedly spooked, and unable to render the expected "motherly" response. The evening ended with my quickly fading off into a restless sleep, right there onto that cursed living room's sofa.
For history's sake, I'll mention that, years after this event, I discovered that Westinghouse Corporations's Marine Division--located only 400 meters to the west of this house--was possibly concurrently involved with experiments involving the potential applications of controlled flame. I suppose it's possible (albeit, highly unlikely) that one of those experiments could have gone awry, and made it's way into my home. A photo of one such experiment--as found in a "History of Sunnyvale" book--conjured up memories of that dreadful, fiery demon.
Further, my hyperactive pre-adolescent mind may have somehow internally interpreted this wild, rampant "flame" as being instead a terrifying, demonic mass.
In the mid-2000's, a couple years before her passing, I asked my mother: "What do you suppose it was?"
"El Diablo," she calmly replied.
Ghost #2: The Hat Man
The Hat Man is real. He and his "associates" visited me while in my 20's: at a time when I was at my most exhausted, most stressed, and most assuredly burnt-out.
It was summertime during the 1990's, around 9:30 PM. After working yet another consecutive 12-hour shift (I was a bonafide workaholic), I wearily made my way home to the small San Jose, California apartment which I then called home. It consisted of the entire upstairs of an old Victorian home, built in the early 20th century. Although a young man, I struggled that night to even make my way up the stairs, due to sheer exhaustion.
Once in my room, I poured a cold soft drink and then virtually collapsed onto my recliner, never even taking a sip of the fizzy, sweet beverage. I quickly nodded off for a brief (maybe 10 minute long) nap; then slowly woke up, propped myself up from the chair, turned off the lights, and dropped heavily down onto my bed--this time fading away into a much deeper slumber.
At precisely 3:33 AM, I awakened. Looking straight ahead (while lying on my back), I realized I was physically paralyzed. My fear of having been afflicted with a serious medical condition quickly transformed into terror when I saw a clearly-defined "shadow man" standing at the foot of my bed, looking down upon me. My instincts demanded that I get up, run away, yell, panic--but I continued to lie there, transfixed and unable to move.
This black mass of a shadow man had no facial features, was silent, tall, thin, and wore an old-fashioned wide-brimmed fedora style hat--along with a formal-looking, solid black trench coat. I strongly felt as if he somehow pitied me, gazing at me as a concerned physician might upon a bedridden patient, prior to his death.
This Hat Man moved closer, just to the right side of my bed. He then glanced back towards the room's window, where at least two other shadow people stood, apparently waiting for this "leader" to join them. It felt as if the Hat Man then signaled to the others that their time with me was coming to an end.
At that moment, I knew I was able to get up: at last, no longer paralyzed--and not particularly scared--but instead desperately curious to find out exactly what these things were. So I sat up and lifted myself out of the bed as the Hat Man calmly walked over to his associates, for what seemed to be a brief meeting. I then flicked on the nearest lamp--and, with the first glimmer of light, they immediately vanished.
The Hat Man came to visit me twice more at that same home, having existed perhaps only as a figment of my exhausted (and sleep-deprived) imagination--or maybe as a ghostly resident of that 90-year old dwelling. Outside of that ancient house, though, I never again had another encounter with The Hat Man.
Ghost #3: Hugged By A Ghost
Eleven months after my mother died (in the mid-2000's), I experienced a ghostly visitation from, who I think, was she.
Living in Las Vegas, Nevada, it was summertime, and I was still mourning her loss. We had grown closest during the final six years of her life; and, although we lived some 300 miles apart (she had moved back to her native Northern Arizona the same year I moved to Nevada, in 2001), we made the time to visit each another at least twice per year.
Waking up in the middle of another hot desert night (at exactly 3:33 AM), my bedroom lamp was still lit as I felt--out of nowhere--two arms and a torso tenderly hugging me from behind, as I lay on my right side.
I wasn't scared, and I was definitely wide awake; but I chose to just lie there for a minute or two--and contemplate a possible "plan of action"--just in case this happening was instead the result of some mentally unstable person who had broken into my home.
Finally, I turned around, quickly, only to find that nobody was there. I immediately checked all possible entrances into the house, but they were all intact and secured. Still though, I wasn't scared, and knew that I had been visited by something not of this earth. Our eyes can play tricks on us (e.g., hallucinations are quite common), but the sensation of human touch is something genuine, and certainly difficult--if not impossible--to replicate.
Going back eleven months prior to this haunting, just a few days before my mother's passing, I asked her (while she lay in her deathbed): "Mom, come visit me from the other side."
She looked deeply into and seemingly through my eyes, and replied: "No, David. I don't want to frighten you."