Back in April, Brent Underwood got a lot of media coverage when he revealed that he was quarantining alone in a haunted California ghost town which he was the owner of -- and no, 'haunted ghost town' is not necessarily redundant. That sounds scary, not just because of the ghosts he was stuck with but also since he was a long walk (he was also snowed in) from the nearest store. Well, it turns out Underwood has plenty of company of the locked-down-with-ghosts kind – The New York Times devoted an entire article to the many people around the world who are stuck at home with ghosts or seeing them for the first time. Is this better or worse that being stuck at home with bored kids, unemployed adult children or annoying spouses and other relatives?
“One night, Mr. Hinds woke up around 3 a.m., thirsty for a glass of water. He said he walked into the kitchen and saw a white man in his 50s, wearing a well-worn, World War II-era military uniform and cap sitting at the table.”
The stories are an interesting collection of ghost encounters, running the gamut from actual brief sightings, like the one above seen by Patrick Hinds at a cottage he was renting in western Massachusetts, to strange noises to lights being mysteriously turned on to objects appearing, disappearing, moving or doing other things inanimate objects can’t do with the help of a person … or poltergeist. Madison Hill, an American living in Florence, Italy, had one such 'moving' encounter.
"A few weeks into quarantine, she woke up to find something on her nightstand that did not belong there. It was a camera lens, one she’d brought from the United States but lost when she moved in. She had long given up on ever finding it. But here it was. Since then, other small objects, including a set of keys, have moved to strange new places inside her apartment.”
Hill had felt an unsettling presence in the flat before the objects started moving. In another tale, Kerry Dunlap in Queens was told by the couple he was subleasing his apartment from that they had seen a ghost. During the quarantine shutdown, he himself saw a woman wearing green scrubs and later felt something sit on his bed and steal the blanket … something that wasn’t there when he turned on the light expecting to see his girlfriend.
“Don’t panic. Take careful notes on what you observe. You may soon find a rational explanation for your fears. What if that strange noise at 2:50 p.m. every weekday is just the UPS truck clattering by?”
That’s good advice for the many people interviewed and others at home wondering if they’re quarantining with ghosts. It comes from John E.L. Tenney, a paranormal researcher, author and former host of the TV show “Ghost Stalkers.” Tenney compares the current stress-filled times caused by the mysterious virus and the long, frustrating lockdown to the period before Y2K in 1999 when many panicked due to the uncertainty of how computer programs using two-digit year fields would handle the change from 99 to 00 (spoiler alert – they handled it) – a time he said his ghost calls increased dramatically (aren't most ghost stories dramatic?). While he feels most of these strange encounters can be explained by anxiety and hyper-sensitivity fine-tuning your eyes, ears and other senses to the sights and sounds of a normal creaking house, he points out that this same state could be revealing something else.
“One could argue that the ghost puttering around in your kitchen is not only there, but that she’s always been there. Maybe you’re what’s changed. Or maybe you’re listening more closely in the greater quiet all around us. Perhaps we’re just now starting to notice that the world is a little bit weirder than we gave it credit for.”
I’ll buy that … just as long as the world doesn’t get any MORE weirder.