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My friend and author, Belinda Miller, shares a creepy experience that recently happened to her and her husband. Hang on, this one will make you ponder the afterworld…
“Flowers of the Mist”
By Belinda Miller
I’m a children’s book author — primarily — not accustomed to writing in the first person, or about spooky stuff — unless you consider gnomes, dragons, farting goblins, or gassy puffballs spooky. But all that stuff is made-up, right? Make believe fairy tales — unless you’re Grimm — but I digress.
And, we all know ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’? I’ll leave that as a rhetorical question, but in my experience, especially in my fiction writing, research has proven that statement to be correct, sooner or later you’ll find an actual event that supports your fictionalized theme. So, how does a children’s book author write about an occurrence that has given her enough pause to put it on paper. After all, I’m in the middle of writing two books already — but because, TRUTH is stranger than fiction.
Manassas, Virginia Pixabay.com
My husband, two black cats, and I live in Manassas, Virginia. That may mean nothing to some of you, but, especially if you are a Southerner, you may recognize the name ‘Manassas,’ as in ‘The Battle of the First Manassas,’ from the start of the Civil War. Historically speaking, it was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, and the gentrified actually watched the beginning of the battle from their buggies and coaches while having lunch. The area has a preserved battlefield like Gettysburg and homes on the battlefield once occupied by local families, some of whom were killed during the war and large monuments to various Southern generals, regiments, and heroes.
We live close, less than a mile, to the major railroad junction where the supply trains brought food and munitions to the Confederate army. The trains were ransacked by the Union soldiers, and the Confederate army was captured, and many starved to death. Our home is virtually at the door of a farmhouse used to care for injured soldiers. The most amazing thing about the area is the vast expanse the Civil War battlefields covered. The immediate surrounding stretch of the war would be at least a twenty-mile radius from our home. And we are but seven or so miles from the actual Battlefield Park.
Over the course of the fifteen years I have lived in Manassas, (my husband living here over fifty years), I have been told “ghost stories.” In fact last week, the Dumfries, Virginia, Weems-Bott Museum was featured on one of the paranormal programs that air on a national television channel. A few years ago, a pre-Civil War jail, the Brenstville Jail, was featured in a popular paranormal show, no longer aired.
Those places are less than 20 miles away and date back to the late 1700’s and civil war era. There have been ghost stories ranging from battlefield soldiers still marching on the fields to cotillion dances being held in the beautiful antebellum homes on Grant Avenue. We live off of Grant Avenue which is the main through road to Old Town Manassas.
Needless to say, we are in the midst of ‘Ghost Central.’
Not to bore you with more details let’s just say, for background purposes, that I am a Reiki Master and participate in energy healing as well as other esoteric sciences. Now that may ‘off’ some of you, but I also believe in God, the angels, saints, and positive energy. Although I was brought up Roman Catholic, over my lifetime, I have had issues with the Church, and although I think that Pope Francis rocks, I am not a practicing Catholic. Still, I pray and thank God every day for all he has given me.
One of the special gifts he has given me, although sometimes I question the ‘gift,’ is the ability to see auras. That is to say, often I see colors around objects, living objects. Over the years, I have learned about the colors and their representation of different emotions, health status, personalities, etc., of people and other living things — such as flowers — and where they might have come from.
Besides having an innate energy, a living object can have residual energies; energies that are picked up and absorbed from their environment or from whom it was that owned them. Such was the case of the flowers; the flowers that my husband picked up from a devout Catholic who volunteers at a local church by cleaning up after church events, such as a wedding or funeral. I don’t really know her, but she has been a friend of my husband over the years and often calls him because she lives alone, when she needs odd jobs done. He always graciously obliges and she sometimes she gives him a small gift to repay him for his work.
The past year, she has called him to give him some of the flowers from some occasion at the church, that have been left behind. I have always welcomed them and relayed my appreciation for the beautiful floral arrangements. Never have I questioned where they have come from, albeit wedding or funeral. They have been lovingly cared for and kept in my dining room on my baker’s rack, high enough to keep away from the cats. As I
As I aforementioned, I am a ‘sensitive.’ When my sweet husband received a phone call from our neighbor to pick up some flowers, he had no reason not to go. I have no idea what he thought when he picked up the arrangement — he’s not a real talker — but when he came to our door, he opened it and didn’t come in.
Over the past almost 20 years that we have been together, Gary has thankfully learned my different facial expressions. As I turned to look at him standing at the door, flowers in hand, I looked at him and said, “Not just no, hell no!”
The flowers as I saw them, were totally white with a floating aura of gray and black. They sat on our deck table for a few days, but I didn’t like them staring at me every time I left the house, so Gary relegated them to his workbench at the far end of the deck. They lived there until they became wilted and were discarded. Then, Gary used the vase to hold some paint sticks that he uses quite often. I was happy that the flowers were gone and Gary had repurposed the vase so well.
That incident happened about a month ago, and nothing was ever said, nor did I think about it again until just last week. Virginia like many parts of the country has experienced weather changes, that is to say, changes that are not common during this part of the year. One of the changes we have experienced this year is excessive wind gusts.
Very often, we hear things on the deck being blown over, although we are never really sure whether it is the wind or things going ‘bump’ in the night. My husband and I have heard inexplicable sounds inside and outside our home for the past fifteen years.
Even the cats have been after ‘things’ and yowling at more ‘invisibles’, as cats are want to do, especially over the past year. We equated their increased weirdness to my old boy approaching his twentieth year, and the little one talking to various critter visitors that she watches from her perch as she sits there late at night — Kitty TV — so, we always check where they are before we start questioning the sounds.
Lately, it’s been more than sounds, it’s been shadows.
We have two sets of full glass doors that open onto our deck. As soon as dusk sets, we pull the shades over the doors so that the inside of our home is not visible from the street, however, since the deck is surrounded by a six-foot wooden fence, the shades are translucent, and we are able to see the deck lights shining through them.
On occasion, my husband and I have seen shadows that are more than a bug, and larger than a breadbox. We have seen them travel from one door to the next; the two patio doors being separated by an approximately eight-foot wall. After hovering for a moment at the front door, as if expecting to be let in, it vanishes. I would say this happens on more than one night a month, and normally after midnight.
We have also had our fair share of in-house occurrences from shadow figures, to a large painting falling off the wall, leaving the gallery hook in place and the wire unbroken, but breaking the frame, the glass, and a large pre-WWII Japanese Hoti plate that sat on top of the piano.
As I said, things that go ‘bump in the night’ are a common occurrence. We quite often blame the cats who look at us with a “what are you, nuts?” cat-look that they are famous for giving us, humans.
Then, there are the creatures in the corner of the living room, again by the large patio door, where Gary sits. He’s been touched and spoken to although he can’t understand the words. And we’ve both seen things move down the hallway, so while we were not entirely surprised by a new occurrence, we were shocked when we saw the apparition materialize.
The increased wind in our region this spring has been held accountable for trees being uprooted and their limbs breaking off. We have had more than one small tornado touchdown and uncommon wind storms. A large deck adjoins our home and makes for a patio that is decorated with potted flowers, herbs, vegetables, umbrellas (3), tables, chairs and various small pieces of decor. Before an impending storm, Gary always secures those items which may become airborne.
On the evening of May 24, 2017, there was one such wind storm that snuck up on us at about 9:30 at night. The shades were already drawn so we could not see anything happening on the deck. Still, we heard noises resembling objects being thrown about because of the wind.
As Gary went outside to survey any damage, or for items that might need to be put away, he noticed nothing. Nothing had been blown around. Being used to the noises on the deck, he came in, shrugged his shoulders, and began humming the theme from the ‘Twilight Zone,’ our go-to song for ‘ghosties’ in the night.
Our deck is surrounded by security cameras which have become helpful in keeping tabs on the various critters that come on the deck in the evening to tease the cats or nibble at our potted vegetables. We have had rabbits, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, bats and visiting neighborhood cats, all having their 15 seconds of fame.
The morning of May 25th, however, when Gary went outside for his walk at about 6:00, he noticed that the big bell pepper plant sporting three good sized peppers, growing in the large terra-cotta pot, had been bent down at dirt level. One of the smaller containers, a large red watering can holding a smaller potted pepper, about one foot in front of it was off its stand. He attributed the damage to a gust that could have occurred during the night, and I assumed it was a critter. We were, we believe, both wrong.
Since there was a disagreement and a rather lengthy conversation on what might have happened on the deck that night; discussing the type of animal that might have bent the pepper plant down at its base, and how a gust of wind could not have affected only those two objects, and not the tall vase on his workbench — the vase originally containing the funeral flowers and replaced by some wobbly old paint sticks.
Why hadn’t that vase blown over?
“To the video cameras!”
Gary has become a master at recording information from the cameras. In the past, we have used them to spot nefarious incidents for the police and of course, critter activity. Since we knew the date and the approximate time range for either the varmint or wind attack, he started the playback.
I was sure it was a rascally raccoon! Too particular for a gust of wind, but no animal was found in the recording. Baffling. What had happened to the peppers and what was going on by the other watering cans under the sink by his workbench? One of them had moved.
At 1:03 a.m. the camera caught the apparition. The watering can had been picked up and dropped, making it skid onto the deck, not by an animal, and certainly not by the wind. From under the sink, a white mist had materialized, a mist that appeared to have form, a human form.
A mist looking as if it was trying to get to the watering can, and following its movement. Was it trying to quench the thirst of her dried up flowers — the flowers of the mist?
The pepper plants? We never figured that out. We cannot see anything on the deck indicating what might have bent the plant over, or moved the other pot. The only visible apparition is what we caught and have memorialized on tape.
It’s been very quiet this past week. We’re spending more time outside now that the solstice approaches. Perhaps, she will come back to visit her flowers or try to water them. I hope she does.
*Virgina is a spooky place! Check out this haunted house that is so scary you have to sign a waiver to go inside! Click HERE if you aren’t too chicken!!
MEET BELINDA MILLER
A native New Yorker, I now make my home, with my husband and two entertaining felines, in Manassas, Virginia. I have had a full life — living in foreign countries and traveling all over the globe. As a child, my mom always called me the gypsy — always ready for a new adventure.
I guess that explains the vast diversity of my life and my great love of people –especially small people — children. After careers in the corporate and academic realm, degrees in literature, the language arts and education, and a bout with a broken back, I wrote and published my very first children’s book in 2013!
Based on the amazing illustrations of Dean Kuhta and the stories he fabricated for his children, while playing amidst a garden gnome, Phillip came alive in Phillip’s Quest, Book 1: Winterfrost.
My second book, a compliment to the Phillip’s Quest series, The Ragwort Chronicles, The Beginning, was published the following year – and was re-released in May 2015. Of all my accomplishments, I am the proudest of my books!
An only child, I was born into a large Italian-American family. My mother was an incredible cook, but a more incredible woman. Like her, I love to cook and watch people eat! Because of her influence, each book contains recipes from the characters, themselves!
Even though I was diagnosed with FSH muscular Dystrophy at age 22, a slowly degenerating disease, it gave me the opportunity to do a lot of living in a very short time. Now, I have time to do what I truly love. Write my books, and foster literacy.
<3 CONNECT WITH BELINDA MILLER <3
website: https://belindamiller.me/ Winterfrost Publishing
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Keep stopping by for the month of October for more scary stories from authors who know how to weave a spooky tale!