I guess they wouldn’t call things “paranormal” if they could be explained. Within the last ten years, interest in the supernatural has exploded in American culture, and there are now dozens of television series, and seemingly entire channels dedicated to following investigators’ attempts to document evidence of ghosts. You’d think with all of the attention ghosts get, we’d have learned more about them by now. Everyone thinks they’re an expert, with their own opinions about how to communicate with them or lure them out of whatever comfort zone they may occupy in order to interact with us, but what have we really learned?
Today’s account comes from a woman who embraced what she didn’t understand in an effort to learn from it, which is always an admirable trait in my opinion. What caught my eye with this letter compared to some of the other documents in this folder is, though it was addressed to Ron in October, twenty eighteen, around nine or ten months before I came into possession of The Storage Papers, it hadn’t been opened yet. So I opened it. It reads as follows.
I received your contact information from a dear friend of mine, Marjorie, who you apparently assisted a few years ago with the very strange circumstances surrounding the frequent disappearance of her cats every few nights. Though she never really explained what happened to cause her to move out of state, she promised me that she would tell me her story soon. She also told me to reach out to you when I described some of the strange experiences I have been having on a recurring basis here in San Diego.
Please keep in mind, I’m not necessarily seeking help for a problem, as I understand that’s what you specialize in. In fact, I quite welcome the experiences I’m having. But I suppose I’d like to get your opinion since you have a reputation for looking into such things, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable sharing this story with any of my other local friends, my children, or my neighbors, who all worry about me. They’d probably send me to a nursing home for good if they knew what I’ve been seeing. I suppose I should explain what that is exactly and get to the point.
Just about one year ago, my legs began swelling quite a bit, which was quite painful. The doctors told me I was too sedentary in my lifestyle and my diet was poor. They said I needed less sodium and gave me some recommendations for what I should be eating. They also said I was at risk for developing blood clots, so they encouraged me to start walking daily. I needed a physical therapist to help me at first, but after a while, I got up to walking fifteen minutes a day outside, up to thirty, then an hour, and now I’m walking as much as two hours a day. Sometimes I go for multiple walks each day in the hiking trails around my neighborhood when I’m up for a challenge. I’d say without reservation that I may be more fit now than a majority of the youngsters I see walking around here, which is really something… well, to me at least. Forgive me for rambling, but this part is quite necessary.
One of my favorite trails is a longer trail that leads to an old dam that was built in the eighteen hundreds. Of course, there’s no water now, and it’s nothing like the Hoover Dam in size or construction. No, it’s only about twenty-five feet from the top of the dam to the bottom of what used to be a small reservoir, but now is just dry land. At some point, the city placed a hand-rail at the top of the dam for safety, and I like to go out there and just spend some time stopping and listening to nature around me. Very few people walk that trail, and I find it so peaceful there.
A few months ago when I had walked there and taken the opportunity to rest, I was leaning on the rail and looking out into the distance at a beautiful bright-colored bird I hadn’t seen before. My attention was so focused on that bird that I didn’t notice the person standing near me. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, and when I turned to look, there was an elderly woman standing there staring at me. She had to be ten or fifteen years older than me, and the first thought that crossed my mind was how did she get here? You see, she looked a bit hunched over, with a rounded back, and it looked to me like the simple act of standing upright was very difficult for her.
Her body had been facing out over the drop off, the same direction I was facing while watching the bird. But I think the movement that caught my attention was when she turned her head towards me. I wasn’t necessarily startled or anything, but I hadn’t noticed her when I got there, and after standing there in silence for a little while I hadn’t noticed her approach either, let alone any other hikers that I might seldomly run into.
I approached her and said, “Hello, I didn’t see you there.”
She smiled weakly, and then started fidgeting with her hands. She looked at me, and then out toward the drop-off, and then back at me again. She seemed to be hesitating about what she would do next, and she was mumbling something unintelligible. The closer I got, the more attention she paid to me instead of looking out over the railing, and I could see more of her features. She was shorter than me, perhaps five foot two or so, and she had silver hair that was long and wrapped into a bun. I know it was long because it was a large bun! Deep lines cratered her face, and wore confusion and worry across her face more than anything else. I was concerned about her distress as I watched her continue wringing her hands.
I said, “Are you okay? Do you need help?”
She didn’t seem to have the ability to focus on my face, but would look in my general direction. “No, thank you,” she said.
“Have you seen my William?” she asked.
I informed her I hadn’t, and right as I was about to step closer to her and ask more questions to try to help her, she turned her head to look out over the railing and took one swift step forward, and plunged over the side. I recall hearing a large splash a moment later, as if she fell into a lake below.
My senses hadn’t caught up to me just yet, and I looked over the railing before I remembered there wasn’t any water there, though I definitely heard a splash. And then I realized I was leaning on the metal railing with my weight, and it seemed very sturdy. I followed the railing toward where I saw her standing, and its integrity was intact to that point and well beyond. A person would need to go above or below the railing to get past it if they really wanted to, and I just observed the woman walk right through it like it wasn’t even there. That’s when I knew I had witnessed something special.
It took me a few days before I got the courage to go up there again, but when I did, she revealed herself to me yet again. I noticed her standing there before I even approached the dam this time, and I treaded carefully toward her once I reached the top. With my hand on the rail, I walked slowly toward her at the other end of the dam, and she expressed the same mannerisms with an equal blend of anxiety and preoccupation. Looking back, it’s kind of funny because I was approaching her so sneakily, like I was going to scare her off or something. Silly me, thinking I’m going to be the one to scare a ghost!
Again, when I got close to her, she turned her head towards me. She had that same worried expression in her eyes, and her hands were still fidgeting. Again she said, “Have you seen my William?”
My encounter with the woman ended the same way as I attempted to approach her that day, unfortunately. After that, I got a few ideas and began to experiment.
Each day following, I would try a new approach. Some days, I would try to speak to her from a distance, and I noticed I could squeeze in a question or two and most of the time I’d get a response from her. But every encounter resulted in her walking over the edge of the dam, and I wouldn’t have an opportunity to speak with her until the following day, no matter how long I lingered about. Of course, there have been days where other hikers have been around, and she hasn’t revealed herself to me in their presence, so I’m feeling a little bit like the whole ordeal could be happening in my mind.
There’s one more detail that is somewhat confusing to me. I’ve done some reading on hauntings, and know the difference between an intelligent haunt, where a ghost seemingly is aware of their surroundings and answers questions… and a residual haunt, where the ghost may be observed performing some kind of task or activity repetitively, seemingly unaware of their surroundings or any onlookers. My experiences with this woman seem to align somewhere in the middle. As I’ve shared, she will answer questions, and looks in my general direction when speaking, however, she doesn’t seem to remember me between visits. Every single time I initiate a conversation, it’s like the first time she has met me. I have to introduce myself to her before I can further interact, and sometimes she says things the same way she may have previously said them, like it’s her first time telling me. I just don’t know what to make of it.
You must understand that I’ve been interacting with her for months, in this seemingly mundane routine, just for a brief opportunity to interact with her. I previously felt no need to even tell anyone about our encounters. She hadn’t really scared me at all. I thought the whole thing was pretty neat and her behavior had been quite predictable… until two weeks ago. I had been asleep and thought I was dreaming when I heard that splashing sound that happens after she walks over the edge of the dam. It’s not uncommon for me to have dreams about our interactions. I mean, I was basically experiencing this every single day, but this time when I heard the splash and opened my eyes, she was there, standing right next to my bed soaking wet. Her expression has changed into terror, and she appeared to be screaming, though no audible words were coming out of her mouth. And then, she just faded into the darkness. Of course, I thought it might be a dream, but when I got out of bed to walk to the light switch, the carpet next to my bed was soaked through, soggy with lake water and stained muddy.
The people close to me would just call my doctor if I told them about this, but she appears to me nightly now, in my own home. I’ve tried sleeping in different areas in the house, but no matter what room I sleep in, she appears there, and I have the floor damage to prove it.
When I was approaching her on the dam, I gathered some information during my brief daily conversations with her. I was hoping, if you could spare the time, to see what you could find out about her and why she might be showing herself to me in my home in this frightened state now. I am genuinely concerned for her and fear she may be in some kind of danger I am simply unable to perceive. Or, if for no other reason, I was hoping you could take my case to ensure I’m not in any kind of danger, or if you could just make me feel like I’m not crazy in my old age.
It’s not much, but here is a list of a few things I’ve learned throughout my conversations with her at the dam that might help you to validate some factual information about her from when she was alive. Her name is Eugenia Smith. She believes the current year is eighteen fifty-eight. She is looking for her long lost lover, William (I haven’t been able to acquire his last name – she never answers me when I ask). She believes this William to be in his twenties, which is peculiar to me since she appears much older. She believes William is of Spanish descent.
I know this isn’t much to go on, but I could certainly use your help. If you do have the time, I sure would like to know more. Admittedly, I’m scared for her as well as myself now. I’m very much looking forward to your response.
Janet Montgomery Hill
Normally, this is where Ron might have some notes of his own, some commentary or just an opinion. It seems incomplete in a sense because if you’re like me, I want to know what happened after. What else was learned in the course of the investigation? Was the situation resolved? In some ways though, it gives us some insight into how it must feel to be Ron, receiving letters and other documents with limited information, and being asked to fill in the gaps and follow up.
In some ways I could see the appeal and one might say the excitement at an opportunity to look into these kinds of things. But it also makes me wonder more about the specifics of Ron’s timeline. When exactly did he abandon his storage unit and Private Investigator gig to do… whatever it is he’s been doing? Part of me wants to follow up on this letter to see if I could help, but I believe that may be crossing a line. Still, it makes me wonder what the future might have in store for me.
Thank you for listening to The Storage Papers.