“I grew up in New Jersey, and about 30 minutes away from where I lived there’s a nice park called Peapack. Peapack is a huge estate and there is an abandoned house on the property. The house used to be a convent, and the church donated the land to the area as a park when it ceased to be used. Well, um, apparently there’s a legend that one of the Mother Superior’s of the convent murdered some of the nuns in a pagan ritual after she lost her mind… I didn’t think it was true but I totally believe in ghosts. Anyways, some of us from my high school were visiting a friend who lived there and we decided to walk there. It was a Sunday afternoon and it was pretty gloomy. Anyways, whenever we got near the house, the wind always seemed to pick up a little. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary besides the sprawling abandoned house, but it was hard to convince myself that the wind wasn’t a result of some presence. The air just seemed a little heavier but I think that’s just because we were all trying to convince ourselves we were feeling something.”
This is another textbook story. The story behind this is much more daunting and fanciful than my other collection, but plausible all the same. The land had been a convent, but was no longer one. That means there must have been a reason why it was abandoned, whether or not it was the rampaging murderous nun. But other elements of the story include the gloomy day, the wind, and the “heavy” air.
“I was driving along a road in Essex County, Massachusetts where I’m from. A lot of spooky things happen around here because we live in such a close proximity to Salem and the area has been inhabited for such a long time. I was with my friend and her boyfriend, who is a firefighter in the area. As we were coming around a bend, he yelled, ‘PLEASE SLOW DOWN!’ We were confused because nothing was in our way and we were the only car on the road. He responded by saying, ‘just please go slow, I’ll tell you why when we clear the bend.’ After making it around safely, he went on to tell us that every so often, someone spins out of control and gets badly wounded in wrecks on that turn. After the first responders arrive, every victim emerges from the car asking the same question. ‘Is the child ok?’ or ‘What happened to the kid?’ As is turns out, back in the seventies someone was driving too quickly around that very turn and hit a young child, killing him. Since then, its ghost shows up sporadically, trying to make the trip across the street it was never able to complete.”
This story features some pretty classic elements of the ghost story. Spooky area, untimely death, and dead children. Another aspect of the story that Zan later communicated to me was that the driver who killed the child may have been drunk at the time, which adds an element of liminality to the story. An intoxicated person is not wholly conscious, but certainly not unconscious.