Haunting Memories – A True Story
by Doug Rinaldi
What you have before you is a true tale of the unexpected and the bewildering, an account that, over the years, I have never truly forgotten . . . my first experience with something well beyond the reach of rational explanation. My incidents have always been in the back of my mind, stewing and churning. I purposely call them my incidents because of the profound and personal affect they had left on me still to this day. While others around me at that time had had a sense of something strange, it seemed as if the mysterious presence only singled me out.
Back in 1997, I had returned home from college. My first job once I had returned was at a bookstore in Connecticut. At the time, my nights consisted of working part-time as the warehouse clerk on the closing shift. One night I was going about my usual routine when I heard one of my female coworkers call out my name for help. The warehouse, shaped like a backwards “L,” made it impossible for me to see her from my vantage point. So I called back to her that I’d be right there and stopped what I was doing, hurrying on over. I rounded the corner, almost tripping to my death on some boxes, expecting her to be right there waiting for me. Not a soul to be found; the warehouse was vacant. Maybe she’s hiding behind a cart, I thought, playing some kind of lame joke.
Now I understand audio matrixing and that it is possible to hear one thing and mistake it for something else, but the fact that I actually answered back reinforces the evidence that I really did hear my name. That’s how certain I was someone called for help. Moreover, it sounded just like my coworker’s voice. After opening the warehouse door to the sales floor, I peeked around.
No one there either.
I ventured out further, finding my coworker across the store on a stepladder with a stack of books in her hand as she restocked a shelf. I asked her if she had come back to the warehouse looking for me. As I figured, she hadn’t. The probability that she could have gotten that far and that involved in her task in the time it took me to cross the back room seemed next to nil. With the facts stacked against me and with what had happened tweaking me out a bit, I went back to my duties until the end of my shift.
Incident number two happened about a week later. Again, standing at my station receiving boxes full of books, I had my back to anyone that would’ve come into the warehouse. Everything was silent and still, save for the sound of ripping cardboard, until I suddenly heard a faint giggle-like sound. I whirled around; nothing there or, so, I initially thought. However, as I turned back to my work, my peripheral vision caught something. I stood transfixed. The figure of a small boy stood in front of some metal shelving against the back wall. His skin was ashen, with a deadpan, almost mournful, expression across his face.
Those details were the only things to register in my startled mind. In that three-second interaction, my skin rippled with crawling gooseflesh. My heartbeat raced. The fight or flight response kicked in; I felt it in the back of my throat. Without haste, I proceeded to exit the warehouse, doing my utmost best to avoid the area where I saw the image of the boy. Not once did I take my eyes off that spot as I stumbled over boxes in my retreat, finally making it to the sales floor. A little bit later, after I had calmed down, I pulled my friend into the warehouse and told her what I saw, despite knowing how crazy I sounded. Of course, I spooked her out in the process. To this day, my memory is still seared with the image of the sad ghostly boy.
The third of these most vivid incidents happened one night some time after that “visit.” I remember being in the humor section helping with closing duties. I was straightening the shelves when I heard my name in a whisper. I turned around to nothing but another bookshelf full of product. At this point, I was honestly kind of enjoying the attention it was giving me. A few minutes had passed. As I continued fixing up the isles, it felt like someone had blown on the back of my neck. Again, crawling skin covered my body in a cold wave. After I spun around, I looked up. Though I saw no one, I noticed no vents or air ducts overhead that could’ve kicked on and spit out some air.
That night before we left I brought it up again to some coworkers. Come to find out, I wasn’t the only one that was having weird experiences. They kept quiet about it for fear of sounding out of their minds but once I brought up my three big incidents, they all agreed something was not right in the building. Though I was happy not to be the only one, I anxiously waited for another one of these occurrences but, alas, it seemed whatever might have been dwelling in my store packed up and shipped out.
Soon after, the location closed up and the store moved to a new location. At first, strange things happened to me there, too. The instances were very subtle, almost dismissive, this time. I brought up my concerns anyway to my friend whom also had strange feelings at the old location and she still agreed that something was still off.
Funny thing is that the old location still remains empty almost as if the land it occupies is sour and unusable. I do find it sad knowing that it’s not possible for me to venture back into that strange yet familiar territory to see if whatever force had so desperately tried to make contact is still there. Waiting.
In closing, as insane as it all sounds—and believe me, I still get those looks from people—those three very unexpected and life-altering situations have stuck with me over these past fourteen years. Even though I now live in another city in another state, the memories of that place and the things I had experienced within its walls still haunt me to this day—and probably will . . . forever.
Doug was born and raised in the bowels of Connecticut. Spending his younger years exploring the woods near home, Doug envisioned otherworldly scenarios that ignited his imagination. Art was life. Throughout adolescence, he created, inventing horrifying tales about devious lunch ladies and world-eating monsters. In 1995, he received his art degree in Computer Animation and Special Effects for stage and screen. However, writing dark fiction was his true calling. At the turn of the millennium, he joyously bid Connecticut a final farewell and relocated to Boston, Massachusetts where he’s been continuing to hone his writing and artistic skills ever since. Find out more at: www.facebook.com/DeviatedTruths