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Bloodcurdling, spine-tingling, bone-chilling—and just plain weird paranormal tales (Part I)

Looking for aliens—er, the building blocks of life—inhabiting faraway destinations in our solar system doesn’t inspire fear for many Johnson Space Center team members. But sometimes, strange occurrences right here on our home planet are enough to do the trick.

Get into the spirit (eeeek!) of Halloween by reading some personal tales involving ghosts, paranormal activity or just the plain inexplicable by some of our own JSC team members. Hey, maybe it’ll be the impetus needed to escape this planet in favor of other worlds.

A renter’s nightmare

In 1988, I moved into a rent house in Lewisville, Texas, with my two young daughters, then-husband and a black lab named Reba. We’d actually, unknowingly, “moved into” the paranormal world.

The dog favored Tori and slept at the end of her bed. Before long, late at night, Reba would leap down, cower in the corner, stare at the ceiling and make the guttural growl of a dog ready to attack. Tori began telling me she’d “seen” things—a young girl in a mist would appear and then quickly dissipate. Instead of trying to convince her it was just her imagination, I should have listened.

One work day I went home for lunch, enjoyed a sandwich and was bent over the sink brushing my teeth, when suddenly I knew I wasn’t alone. I bolted upright and turned toward the door, fully expecting to protect myself from an intruder. A thick coldness blasted against me, pushing along my back and pinning me to the vanity. I pressed past it and ran from the house to my car, not telling anyone about the experience.

I never shared with my husband what Tori had told me, which makes what I’m about to reveal all the more believable. A few days after my encounter I was on the couch, my back to the front door, waiting for my husband to get home from a late-night shutdown. He walked in and suddenly screamed. I whirled around. He was staring down the hall, pointing, his face colorless. He shouted that he had seen a girl floating from our room across to Tori’s, and described her exactly as Tori had described the gray girl.

We lived there only one year and moved out. I’d like to say that ended the episodes, but the girls and I continue being hounded by the unexplainable to this day.

Betty Hoy/JA

The ‘graveyard’ shift

It was 1990. I had just been hired as a security guard for the graveyard shift of a sewage treatment plant. On the first night, my supervisor asked if I was afraid of ghosts. Being a man, I said “No,” even though ghosts are my greatest fear.

He proceeded to tell me that a woman had been murdered and her body dumped just outside the gate in 1986. Ever since, her ghost had appeared and frightened off every night guard. No one had made it more than a month.

“No problem,” I said confidently.

Several weeks later, I was walking the perimeter when a cold wind started to blow. The leaves began to rustle, tree limbs creaked and I could feel myself being watched. I slowly turned and shined my flashlight toward the fence. To my horror, there she was—a giant, snow-white ghost with large, glowing fire-green eyes hovering menacingly.I dropped my flashlight, screamed at the top of my lungs and set a new land-speed record running for the main building. Within seconds, I was securely locked inside with several pieces of furniture blocking the door, since ghosts are apparently unable to pass through furniture.

After 10 to 15 minutes, the adrenaline had drained away and intense curiosity replaced fear. I unblocked the door and went back to investigate, picking up my flashlight and going back to the fence. When my light hit the bushes again, there she was—still hovering in the same place. Or should I say ... there he was, still standing in the same place. He was a snow-white bull with green eyes.

Turns out the “ghost” who had scared away people for four years was just a kind-hearted, friendly bull chewing his cud.

Harold "Scott" Stephens/OH2

The Tracks

As a teenager growing up in San Antonio, Texas, we often heard stories about “The Tracks.” The story goes something like this: Many years ago, a school bus got stuck on these train tracks and a train hit the school bus, killing all the children in it. From then on the tracks were haunted by the schoolchildren, who assist drivers “stuck” near the tracks by pushing their car over. There were all kinds of urban-legend-type stories heard in high school, like people putting powder on the back of their car and seeing small hand prints in the powder afterwards.

Well, one Halloween some friends and I visited The Tracks for a scare (mostly to come away disappointed, as most of us thought it was just another silly ghost story). Since it was Halloween and we were admittedly already in a spooked-out mood, what transpired was even creepier.

There is a small decline on each side of the tracks. The train tracks themselves, however, are on an upgrade/hill. When we arrived, we were the only ones there and didn’t know which way to approach the tracks, so we picked a side. (Soon others followed suit behind us). As doubters, we suggested to our driver to park the car at the bottom of the decline so it couldn’t be said that we put the car in neutral a ways off and rolled down the hill with our momentum carrying us over the tracks. A few seconds later we felt our car moving slowly up the hill and over the tracks. When we got to the other side, we started the car again and sped away in terror!

Tony Garza/OM2

The haunted simulator

While supporting the Shuttle Mission Simulator (SMS) here at JSC, I would be in all hours of the day and night between Buildings 5 and 35. I was in the habit of keeping the crew station loop called up so I would be aware of any maintenance people working in the crew station while I was testing new software from the instructor station. One night while in Building 35 on the SMS Guidance Navigation Simulator (GNS), I heard a noise over the loop that sounded like a scraping sound. It resembled someone pushing a metal box over the aluminum flight-deck floor. I went to the crew station, expecting a hardware fella with a toolbox. No one was there—the GNS crew station was silent.

When I heard the noises over the loop, it was always after midnight but before sunrise, and only on GNS. Also, it was only in the days of the DVIS communications loop system. Other people heard the scraping noises as well and went to check the crew station, but they could never figure out how the noises were being made either. I was told it was probably air blowing over some microphones, so I disconnected the headsets and felt for air flowing over similar openings if it was a night that I was hearing the noises. But that didn’t stop it.

Some people thought I was crazy to be the only person in Building 35 during those late hours, but it was a good way to get lots of uninterrupted testing hours in. The phantom noises over the loop weren’t there every night, but when they occurred, they didn’t bother me anymore.

The SMS GNS went to the Wings of Dreams Museum in Florida, so I wonder if the same noises will be occurring there late at night. Kathleen Poe Giusti/DD

The bird in the car

It’s said that everyone has some psychic ability, but I never thought I did until this strange incident. I was driving to work one morning when I started imagining a bird flying around in my car. It seemed very real: I could see the bird fluttering against my windshield and hitting its wings on my rearview mirror in a desperate attempt to get out of my car. I wondered why in the world I would imagine such a thing.

At work, a co-worker asked me to drive her to a naturalization ceremony that afternoon. I agreed, having never been to one. At the courthouse, several dozen people of all ages gathered to answer questions about U.S. history and law as part of their citizen test. I was amazed at the information they knew that I did not. I was humbled that I, a native-born U.S. citizen, didn’t know my country as well as these new citizens. Later the emotional swearing-in ceremony and jubilation of our new citizens brought me to tears, mingled with their tears of joy.

On the way back to work, my newly naturalized co-worker started telling me about a strange experience she had while driving to work that morning. She explained that she had asked me to drive her to the naturalization ceremony because she was still startled by a bird that had flown into her car. She described the bird frantically fluttering around. It was the very same image and experience I had had on my way to work! I don’t know why I telepathically shared her strange bird experience, but I did. Was it because I was going to later share the highly emotional naturalization ceremony? I will never understand, nor forget, this strange experience.

Cindy Price/Boeing, HM4-10


Catherine Ragin Williams
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-3317

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