Saturday, October 27, 2007


Halloween is one of the Author's favorite holidays. As kids in rural Indiana, it meant trick-or-treating, pranks, cool candy and stuff at the local store, and juvenile mayhem.

Halloween also coincided with the end of mild fall weather and the beginning of cold weather. Football was over and basketball was starting.

As kids we tromped through leave-strewn streets to load up with candy. When we were real little kids, we went with a babysitter who knew all of the best houses.

As we got older Halloween took on a little more mayhem. We spent one junior high Halloween in the grave yard.. Nothing scary at all. Except our mid-term grades and our prospects for getting girls to sit with us at lunch.

Well, enough reminiscing about Indiana Halloweens. Let's look at the spectres that lurk in the Author's new home.

Below is some excerpts from a colleagues post, Mike Smith's "My Strange New Mexico".


It’s night in the desert, and you and a group of friends are gathered in a half-circle around a fire, the fire’s orange-red flames coughing sparks into the blackness above. Behind the fire, a friend is standing, facing you, telling your group the story of a ghostly orb, and every one of you is tense, poised on the edges of logs and upturned coolers, feeling the night at your backs, feeling that anything at all could be in it—lurking, waiting, watching.

The firelight distorts the storyteller’s face with a ghastly unreality, and with every word he speaks your teeth clench tighter, your skin grows clammier, and your heart beats more and more rapidly.

“...And then,” he says, his voice hushed, “we examined the lens of the digital camera that we photographed the orb with—and it was dusty. ...So it really wasn’t a ghost.”


This, it seems, is the problem with ninety-nine percent of all ghost stories: they just don’t hold up. Almost as soon as you start looking into one, the ghost in question turns out to be something else, something much less exciting. Make two phone calls, and it becomes apparent those dead campers actually didn’t keep a journal of being terrorized by blue lights, and the camp doesn’t actually have it on file. Spend ten minutes in the allegedly haunted cemetery, and you’ll discover that ghostly glowing tombstone is actually reflecting a traffic light. Talk to neighbors of the woman who saw those spirits in her kitchen, and you may find that she also reported seeing leprechauns, as well as happy little kitties wearing pants and pulling wagons.

This is why people hate scientists. This is why to be a “debunker,” in some circles, is considered not much better than being, say, an e-mail spammer, or an IRS agent, or a morning show DJ. And it’s kind of understandable. After all, the truth is great, but people ultimately want stories—and that’s what we have for you here: stories. These are not the extensively researched accounts one might expect from “My Strange New Mexico,” but simply spooky stories, ghost stories for the Halloween season. Put almost any one of them under a microscope, and you’ll most likely find you’re looking at nothing, that they’re little more than folklore. But, tell almost any of these around a desert campfire, make them your own, and swear they’re true, and you just might get the gleeful thrill of making your friends, or your kids, or those Boy Scouts the court ordered you to watch, squirm uncomfortably in their seats, hesitate to walk alone to their tents, or suffer through some of the scariest nightmares of their lives.

All of these stories allegedly took place not far from Albuquerque—in central and northern New Mexico—and if they do turn out to be true, it may well be that none of us are ever truly alone—and that none of us are ever truly safe.

The Locked Room

At the Carrie Tingley Children’s Hospital, in Albuquerque, there is a mysteriously locked room that the hospital’s staff has been ordered never to be opened. The room is not to be cleaned, is not to be used for storage, and is never, under any circumstances, to be used to house patients. The room once held a couple of beds, and over the years numerous patients stayed there, some of whom recovered, and some of whom didn’t. Several years ago, one of the room’s sickly guests began complaining that all was not well there. The walls, he said, kept glowing blue. Depressions would appear on his bed as if someone was sitting there—but no one was. Over the next weeks, other patients began complaining as well, some of them obviously terrified. Doctors and nurses noted that vital equipment would become unplugged, patients would stumble panicked into the hallway saying they’d glimpsed evil spirits, and soon the hospital’s staff reported seeing things as well, until it got where nearly everyone feared that if they continued using the room, someone was going to be killed—if they hadn’t been already. In a hospital, in a place where death can and does occur, doctors don’t usually think to consider ghosts as a reason for it.

Ghosts of a War

It was sometime in the mid-1970s, and two men were driving home along State Highway 14, through the Sandia Mountains. It was late, and the narrow road was empty, and all the windows of the homes they passed were dark. The men talked as they drove, but their conversation ceased immediately—when they saw something unexpected in the trees just off the road. There, on the outskirts of the village of San Antonio, a large group of men were gathered around a fire. Some of the men were feeding or unsaddling horses, and all of them were dressed in the gray uniforms of Confederate Civil War soldiers. The two men slowed down in shock, gaping; one of the soldiers lifted a hand and looked at them, and the car’s driver hit the gas and sped away. Later, the two men told their story to others and were told that, as unlikely as it seemed this far west, a group of Confederate soldiers had camped right there, on their way to the battle of Glorieta Pass. (AUTHOR'S NOTE: He has travailed Route 14 many times but has never seen ghosts of Confederate Solders. Heck, you don't have to look far to see ghosts of the Old Confederacy. Think NASCAR, Baptists, and deep-fried Coke.)


A Gateway to Hell

In the northeastern part of the state there stand a high, wooded plateau known as Urraca Mesa—a place considered by many to be the supernatural capitol of New Mexico. Urraca Mesa may be among the most haunted places in the entire world, as it’s become something of a portal, a gateway to Hell, a door through which every sort of malevolent being imaginable passes freely. Photographs taken there almost inevitably develop with distortions marring every image. Hordes of angry ghosts have gathered to hunt down unwary campers, some of whom have disappeared forever. A shadowy dwarf, devoid of any color but black, has appeared in the tents of sleepy hikers, sitting on their chests. Ghostly horses, ghostly blue lights, ghostly blue lines, the ghosts of missing Boy Scouts, and the ghosts of bears and ravens, have all been spotted here. Even scarier, these apparations seem to be contained on this mesa only by a series of ornately carved “cat totems” placed all around Urraca Mesa by a medicine man—and scariest of all, lately, these protections have been disappearing. If you think New Mexico is haunted now, just wait until some unknowing collecter removes the last protection between you and the doorway to Hell. Just wait until Hell’s every spirit decides to come through—to come through for you.



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