was to know about the paranormal. One warm night in New
York City, I found out just how wrong I was. A sign just inches from my face read “YOU WILL BE TERRI-
FIED” in a scrawled typeface. The words were blood red, splattered
in a sloppy fashion across a plank of rotted wood.I looked at the sign not with suspicion or doubt, just weari-ness. It was the third such sign to be thrust in my face since my
friends and I had stepped into the line. It might have seemed more
authentic had “Ghost Town
” not been printed in the bottom
right corner of the faux wood.
“There was always this one closet at my grandparents’ house
that gave me the creeps when I was growing up,” said Jill, rubbing
her gloved hands together both to keep warm and—I assumed—out of nervousness. “It was a linen closet in the bathroom at the
back of the house, and it was really dark inside. Whenever I looked
in there . . . I don’t know. It made me feel cold all over.” Jill had been my roommate at Columbia University for our
sophomore and junior years. For our senior year, I was paying
extra for solo on-campus housing.
Angela, meanwhile, was Jill’s best friend since high school.
She was similarly coifed with long, straight hair, and talked somuch like Jill that I often thought their brains were psychically linked. At Jill’s words, Angela shivered slightly but smiled. “I’ve
got one,” she said, glancing around to make sure none of the other
amusement park patrons in this line were listening too closely.
“When I was like nine or ten, sometimes my great-aunt would
pick me up after school and I’d stay at her house for a couple of
hours until my dad got off work. Her husband was this really
mean old guy who’d done all these awful, evil things to her, buthe died before I was born. She kept this old recliner in the house