Hovering Body

A disembodied man is hovering in my brownstone’s second-floor hallway.

The hallway is narrow and long, with a grimy plaster ceiling and a hardwood floor covered by a lichenous carpet runner. Two wall sconces provide a modicum of light in the hall, but the man’s form floats in the gap between the sconces and is somewhat difficult to see.

I’m mostly certain he’s a man. He floats face-up against the ceiling, straight as a plank. From below I can see the back of his head, which is bald, but none of his distinguishing characteristics. He is nude, as many ghosts are—an essential, lingering self without ornament or clothes.

He’s motionless. He isn’t translucent but his form is an otherworldly pinkish gray, like neon light submerged in dirty slush.

I determined he isn’t a solid body by pushing a broom handle through his torso, and then by climbing onto a step-ladder and reaching my hand through his back. My palm met no resistance until it touched the ceiling. He felt neither warm nor cold. I perceived no electric charge.

He doesn’t make sound, and yet although I can’t directly see his face, I’m convinced (for reasons I can’t explain) that he’s constantly mouthing words. Since I have no way of turning his ethereal body, I’ve resorted to other approaches.

I slid a mirror between his head and the ceiling and tried to view his face obliquely, but all I could see was his right eye. The eye was open. I may have imagined it, but I think his pupil dilated when the mirror slid in front of it and he suddenly found himself staring at his own reflection for the first time since his death.

Viewed through the mirror, his jaw did appear to be moving, but his ghostly mouth was pressed an inch or two into the ceiling and was therefore completely hidden.

I’m going to saw around his head, through the ceiling, and open a viewing portal through which to see his face from the third-floor hallway above. I’ll report back once I find my Sawzall.

Look Beyond,
William Rook

(Read Part 2 and Part 3)

Seven-Year-Old Fetus: The Interview

[Read previous report here]

Hey, it’s Claire. Here are the highlights of my interview with Melissa _________, the woman who’s been pregnant with a male fetus for twenty-six trimesters.

ME: Congratulations, I guess!

HER: Thank you. I feel very blessed.

ME: What’s your son’s name?

HER: Timothy.

ME: Most mothers I’ve known start to feel very “get this baby out of me” by the end of the third trimester. How’re you feeling after seven years of pregnancy?

HER: I worried a lot in the first year, but once I understood he was healthy and safe, I made peace with him staying inside. My hormones reached a wonderful balance. I have a permanent pregnancy glow. I’m not in any discomfort. I think a lot of mothers would love this experience. I’m always with my baby. He doesn’t get sick, he’s never alone. He’s growing up in a perfect environment.

ME: He’s not really growing up, though, is he?

HER: He isn’t physically growing but he’s happy and alive. He’s always growing closer to me.

ME: I want to ask some challenging questions if that’s OK.

HER: Go ahead.

ME: Have you considered a C-section?

HER: God, no! It’d be extremely dangerous for him at his stage of development.

ME: You’ll never get to see him or hold him. You’ll never talk to him.

HER: I talk to him all the time. I’m holding him all the time.

ME: Are you concerned he’s missing out? Totally arrested development? He’ll never ride a bike, or see the ocean, or make out with a prom date. He’ll never have a life of his own.

HER: He’ll never get hooked on drugs or have his heart broken, either. He’ll never have to worry about the news or feel alone.

ME: This takes helicopter parenting to a new level, though. You’ve locked him in the cockpit.

HER: I didn’t ask for this. If I suddenly went into labor, I wouldn’t try to fight that. I’m making the best of a unique situation, which is what every good parent does with every individual child.

ME: Why do you think this is happening to you and Timothy?

HER: I have no idea. Why can some woman get pregnant while others can’t no matter what? Why do some babies have disabilities and others have amazing natural gifts?

ME: But this isn’t like, “Geez, my baby has a harelip.” This is one in a billion. Unprecedented, far as we know. You’ve got to have some theory.

HER: I’ve had lots. Proof that God has a plan. Proof there isn’t any God. Mutation. A leap in evolution. Somebody slipped me an experimental drug. Alien pregnancy. But I don’t believe in most of those crazy ideas. I’m a very normal woman, very grounded. I think theorizing is less important than simply enjoying what I’ve got. We’re happy. We have a good life.

ME: That’s super zen. I don’t personally roll that way, but I appreciate how you’re just like, “I love my permanently unborn baby Tim and I’m awesome at my payroll job.”

HER: Thanks.

ME: May I ask you one more question? It’s a tough one.

HER: OK.

ME: He’s snug as a bug in there. Not really aging. There’s no indication that’ll change. What if this goes on for decades and he finally outlives you?

HER: I guess they’ll cut him out. Maybe that’ll be his time.

— Report filed by Claire Maple

Seven-Year-Old Fetus

Hey, it’s Claire. Here’s a weird one. By “weird” I mean creepy AF and just the kind of thing that makes me dread-love my job.

I met a woman named Melissa who’s been pregnant for seven years. Twenty-six trimesters to be exact. I heard about her from an anonymous tip on The Blackboard and drove out to meet her in an office park where she works payroll.

She’s unmarried and wouldn’t talk about the father except to say he was a full-time fantasy footballer and no love lost on either side. She’s 49% pretty and looks right at the tipping point of “don’t ask about her due date in case she isn’t actually pregnant”. Picture a mousy thirty-year-old woman with a shopping-mall haircut and the beer belly of a middle-age man.

Little backstory here. Her coworkers like her OK and she’s a payroll whiz, no professional complaints whatsoever, but everybody thinks she’s crackers. Not dangerous crackers but sad crackers. Because she announced her pregnancy to everybody twenty-five trimesters ago, and there was an office baby shower and everything, and then no baby. She grew a paunch and then nada.

People assume she miscarried and traumatically fooled herself into believing she’s still pregnant, because she’s been talking about her unborn baby ever since. Not excessively, just casual references like, “I can’t drink alcohol because…,” or, “He kept me up all night with his kicks.”

So yeah, chances were good that she was very sad crackers. Except I felt the kicks. She let me put my hand on her womb and let me tell you, that was one real kick. I felt the little thing’s heel.

And then Melissa tells me her cousin is an obstetrician who gives her regular checkups and even ultrasounds, and there’s a fetus all right. She (the cousin, I talked to her in person) keeps it hush because she’s afraid Melissa’ll get boxed into a lab somewhere and experimented on, etc., and while I’m not a big gov’t-science-conspiracy theorist, I’d err on the side of hush-hush, too.

The fetus doesn’t grow or develop anymore. It just floats around in there, kicking and sucking up nutrients and dreaming whatever bizarro stuff fetuses dream. It’s like her amniotic fluid’s the fountain of youth, and there’s a human fetus bathing in the goo and never aging and man oh man, if she could bottle it she’d be a trillionaire.

I interviewed her. I’ll send you the highlights soon. Just give me a trimester to type it up j/k.

— Report filed by Claire Maple

Super Weird Thing Outside My Bed Tent

Dennis!!

I thought I had a bat in my apartment last night, which was weird and exciting because I thought bats vanished during winter (do they hibernate or what?), but anyway here’s what really happened and it’s totally more exciting than a winter bat.

I’m in my bed tent, and it’s late, and I’m playing Carly Rae on my earbuds and reading Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft for the godzillionth time. And suddenly this thing lands on the outside of the tent and it’s all like, “Fluttery, flappity, look at my wings I’m super awkward.”

I unzip the tent and jump out of bed and it’s GONE. My apartment’s small. My roommate Katey’s room is up the hall and her door is shut (she had that boy over again) so whatever landed on my tent’s got to be in my room, the hallway, the bathroom, or the kitchen. I checked them all with a flashlight. Nothing! No sign of the thing.

So now I’m 101% awake and disappointed and way too distracted to read, so I get back into bed and lay there, staring up at the tent’s ceiling with my earbuds on.

I’ve got holiday lights strung around my room, and they’re glowing through the tent, and it’s crazy magic pretty and you ought to try it. Anyway anyway, I listen to two songs and the thing comes back.

It’s straight above me outside the tent, flippity flappity, and I can see its wings like silhouettes because of the glow. Except they aren’t really wings.

They’re hands!!! Two adult-sized hands pattering on the tent, not violently but nervously? Shakily? I don’t mean anything disrespectful because you know I looooove old people but they were like a mega-old person’s jittery helpless hands.

I say, “Who’s that’s, who’s there?” and I’m kinda freaked because they’re definitely hands, and there’s either a stranger in my room, or it’s Katey or Katey’s boyfriend messing around, and I say, “Knock it off or I’ll hex you soooo bad.” Katie, at least, knows that’s true.

The hands disappear. My earbuds are out and I wait a bit, listening for footsteps or creepy breathing, but I don’t hear a sound and I can’t see any shapes moving in the glow. So I unzip the tent again and jump back out.

There’s nobody there. No one under the bed or in the closet. Katey’s door was still closed up the hall. And there’s absolutely no way it was a bat. I saw the hands’ fingers, clear as a shadow puppet’s shadow.

Phantom hands! Total mystery. They didn’t come back that night but maybe tonight I’ll get lucky. Reeeally hoping it’s Red Maggie, who I told you about a while back. How wild would that be??

xoxo
Amanda

P.S. Give William a hug for me. Extra tight!

Read more by Amanda Cress

I Am Haunted By…

Results from the “I Am Haunted By…” questionnaire have been compiled, dear strangers. Thanks to everyone who answered.

Of the NIGHT VOICES haunting people:

46% were male voices
31% were unknown
23% were female voices

Of the EROTIC FATA MORGANA haunting people:

86% were melancholic
14% were violent

Of the GHOSTS haunting people:

75% were real
25% were delusional

Of the PREOCCUPATION WITH THE DREAMLIKE QUALITY OF LIFE:

56% considered it positive
44% considered it negative

Of the IRREPARABLE MISTAKES:

52% learned from their mistakes
48% did not

By a broad margin, the most common COLOR OF ONE’S CHILDHOOD TRAUMA was red. Other colors included indigo, hunter green, orange, cobalt blue, and, in one case, a spectrum.

We received many answers to the PECULIAR URGES AND EMOTIONS we’re unwilling to admit. Here are some of the answers:

“I want to watch people cry at a funeral.”

“I am afraid everyone will leave me.”

“She is the love of my life. I am not the love of hers.”

“The feeling when you look into the mirror and wonder am I even real”

“Paralyzing nostalgia”

“Animalistic desires to eat, kill, fuck”

“Worthlessness”

“Intrusive thoughts”

“I don’t particularly want to be part of this world, but have so many loved ones that feel the same way I feel, like we’re all here to keep the others from leaving, too.”

“Suicide”

IMPORTANT NOTE: We’re a group who often explores dark and painful subject matter. We’re honored you’ve shared these answers with us. If any of you are in serious need of help, we are not qualified in that regard. But help exists, and we encourage you to seek it from friends, loved ones, or compassionate professionals. Please take care of yourselves. We like you.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255

Common Demons, Common Lights

My Dear Strangers,

We have common demons, common lights.

I have loneliness, bafflement, doubt. Ghosts come and go. Bodies come and go. Days I’m hexed, nights I’m bewitched. I believe in unreasonable things. I’ve found the weirdest depths in other people, and sometimes in myself.

I hear from many of you, sometimes distantly, sometimes closely. Ouija-like. Fingers on a shared planchette.

This week I saw an Equinox sticker on a bumper, next to the sticker of a band that’s spoken to me for years. I received your email and snail mail. I had odd dreams and some of you were in them.

If feel I know you. Do I know you?

I heard from a stranger who wondered: If I’m really so lonely and haunted, why don’t I talk to her more? Can I tell her I have loneliness even in society? That I have work that’s saved me from depression, day after day, and that I’m terrified at times of unbalancing my balance? That I value her contact but, given the clamp of time, I cannot offer more than what I offer already?

I have loved ones. I have the Equinox Society. But what am I in all of this, and what am I to you?

A signal in the dark, maybe found, maybe not. I share art, thoughts, and stories from my friends—William, Claire, Amanda, Hank, and others—in the hope that we (including you, dear strangers) might find something rare and marvelous in common and discover that we’re not such strangers after all.

Yours,

Dennis
Equinox Society Secretary