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Ghosts. Phantasms. Dead people holograms. Whatever you call them, many people believe in them, and not just in theory: 18% of Americans say they've seen a ghost. Someecards put a call out to our readers and our writers' friends for any first-hand stories of supernatural encounters. The responses were so good, it was spooky. Here are 17 readers and writers who told us about the times they actually encountered something from the beyond. Some of them are short and sometimes funny. Others are, fair warning, actually terrifying:

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1. Let's kick this off with our reader Carliz from Puerto Rico, who wrote us a genuinely frightening story.

The first time I ever "saw" a ghost, I was only eight years old. My mom, my brother and I had come home pretty late from grocery shopping and visiting my aunt. I went to a closet in the hall where we kept some of our groceries and started putting away the canned food just like my mother told me. My older brother started teasing me and pushing me inside the closet. I laughed the first couple of times, but then he started pushing me harder. I lost it when he pushed me so hard that I hit my head against the wooden shelf inside the closet, so I shouted at him and followed him to my mom's room, where I thought I saw his shadow run.

I was furious at him and started yelling like crazy. It took me some time to realize it wasn't him. As soon as I saw this big black human shaped shadow, it vanished through the window. I think I stood there for a good minute before I heard my brother screaming in horror to stop messing with him. Finally, I could move my legs and went to the kitchen where he was. I found he was covering his eyes, yelling my name and telling me to stop. My mom came in at that moment, and we both calmed him down, and he asked me "how you did that?" repeatedly. Both my mom and I asked him what he meant. I was already freaking out, but then he said "you flew through the ceiling and you had your faced torn out, how did you do that?"

I explained to them what happened to me, and he said he never pushed me. And, well, I never actually saw him. I assumed it was him, since mom was in the bathroom and we used to play like that... well, not with that much force. Since that happened, doors will open by themselves. My mom used to smoke outside the house past midnight, and she always saw shadows around the house. I was so glad when we moved out of that house.

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2. Jaime Lutz (@jaime_lutz), her cousin, and their late grandfather all teamed up to scare the PJs off a fourth grade slumber party in this amusing tale of kids getting spooked.

When I was 10 years old, I had a slumber party for my birthday. One of the guests was my cousin Colleen who was the same age as me. Somehow, while we were playing Bloody Mary and Stiff as a Board and other spooky slumber party games, Colleen or I brought up that our grandfather had died just a few months before. This was the scariest story of all because WE knew a REAL dead person! As we were talking about this, suddenly a picture of him flew off the wall. Everyone SCREAMED and other kids asked to go home. I don’t believe in ghosts and I think this was probably just my brother or mom walking around and making our house shift slightly or something. But everyone I’ve talked to from that sleepover still remembers it being horrifying years later, and my cousin Colleen really believes it was our grandpa contacting us.

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3. Our reader Jill wrote us two very scary stories. Here's the first, about an unexpected phone call.

My ghost stories are not very long, and don't involve seeing ghosts, but hearing them. My first one was when I was about 10 years old and my grandmother had passed away (1989).

A few days after my grandmother's burial, I was sitting in my living room with my mother and we were watching TV and the phone rang. My mom picked up the phone and said "hello?" And then I saw her tear up, and she said "stop it, you're not my mother." I said "is that grandmom? Let me talk to her," and my mom shook her head no. A few seconds passed, and she again said "stop it," and then hung up the phone.

She looked shaken up, so I said "what was that about?" and my mom said "whoever that was sounded exactly like my mom, and said 'Patty its me, mom' and I said 'you're not my mom' and the person said 'stop it, Patty, its me. Why are you acting like this?' And then i hung up."

I was really mad at my mom, and I started crying because I missed my grandmom and I wanted to talk to her, but my mother still until this day swears that voice was her mother, and no one can try to sound like her that well, and why would someone do that anyway. She didn't want to believe it, because it's impossible, but she knows it was her.

About ten years ago, my mother lost a necklace that belonged to her mother. She looked everywhere for it at the time, and then about a year ago she came home from going out to eat with my dad and her necklace that she had lost was lying in the middle of the kitchen floor, and it wasn't there when she had left. Was it her mother? Who knows.

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4. Kaylyn Lewis possibly met the spirit of a drowned person who is much nicer than Jason Voorhees.

I used to live in my fiancé's dads house, in the basement apartment. The house was right by Lake Ronkonkoma. Every night at 1130, my cat would go INSANE and start running around the apartment. One night, I got up to go to the bathroom, at around 11pm. In the hallway, leading to upstairs, I saw a female figure, long black hair in a white dress. She didn't last very long, but to this day, I'm still convinced it was the Native American Princess that drowned herself in Lake Ronkonkoma.

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5. Emma Wagner has a roommate living rent-free in her Brooklyn apartment, but he seems pretty chill.

In my apartment in Brooklyn, I lived above a family and so I didn't always lock the door to my apartment if I was just running out to get something real quick-- the front door to the house was downstairs. So I would leave without locking my door, and come home to find it locked. This happened for a while. At first, I thought I was just absent minded, but then it was clear that I had not locked the door. So, one night I was up late binging LOST, and I just had this very clear feeling... I didn't see anything, but I just knew that someone was in the room with me and it was a young boy. It freaked me out and I went to bed. The next day, I politely said out loud in my apartment by myself that I appreciated that this was his house, too, and I hoped we could live together, but would he please stop locking my doors. And he did :).

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6. Whoa. Jennifer Peterla has a story for any of you who ever doubted the awesome power of the Ouija board.

I had a friend pass away and the day of his service we would get phone calls from his cell phone, which his mom confirmed was off in the kitchens junk drawer and confirmed by the cell phone company that it hadn't made any outgoing calls. We decided to use a Ouija board and we would talk to him and one day we asked him to call us and he told us a time and everything. A few minutes leading up to the call we sat quietly and waited and he called us the EXACT time he told us on the Ouija board

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7. Remember Jill from before? Here's her second story. It's even more unsettling than the phone call. Like, full-on Freddy Kruger scary.

When I was little, I had nightmares every single night about being in my basement and feeling extremely scared, but I couldn't run. I would run, but I would stay in the same spot, and the room looked like it was lit by a red light bulb. I don't remember anyone else in the dream. My mother said the bathroom was next to my room, and she would hear the toilet flush in the middle of the night all the time and think it was me, but when she would check, I would be sleeping in bed. I had my nightmares every night until we moved a few years later. My mom had one of our neighbors from our old house come over to our new house, and my mom ended up telling her about my nightmares.

The neighbor said, "Maybe that's because before you lived in that house, a man was caught molesting his daughter and he hung himself in that basement."

I had the dream only once every few years since moving out. I grew up and got married and bought a house and had a son. When my son was little, I was in his room with him playing, and he stopped and stared at the rocking chair in the corner of his room and then ran over to me and said "who's that man behind the chair?" And I said, "what man?" My son said, "that man, he told me to get out!" And it scared me so much that we got up and left that room.

Whenever no one is home and its just me, I can hear his toys going off in his toy box and no one was touching them. It did it a lot, even after changing the batteries. And then, I would hears voices in his room, and when I would go in and check, there was no one there. But then I heard it while I was in there. And it was my voice.

I'd given my son one of those story books that you read and record your voice. It only works when you open the book and turn the pages. The book was closed and on a book shelf.

After that, I took all the batteries out of everything in his room. I never told my son about this. My son has not slept in his room ever since the rocking chair incident, and he's almost 8 now. He doesn't remember telling me that, but when he's in his room playing, he insists that I come in the room with him. I still wonder if maybe that ghost from my old house has followed me here.

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8. Katrina Schindlar has another sleepover story, with a much friendly and more heartwarming ghost.

At a sleepover in 2nd grade, I got up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water. When I got into the kitchen I saw my great grandmother standing on the other side of the kitchen table eating a cookie. She was like a blue-ish gray fuzzy vision, dressed in one of her usual shawls, and I could see through to the wall behind her. She waved to me and smiled and I bolted out of the room.

On the way back, I stepped on a Barbie doll's hand (if you have never done this, it hurts like a bitch) and jumped into my sleeping bag. I woke up the next morning not knowing if it had been a weird dream, but I had a scratch on the bottom of my foot from stepping on the Barbie, so I knew it wasn't. I told my grandmother about it, and she asked what kind of cookie. When I said it was an oatmeal raisin she smiled and told me that those were always her favorite.

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9. Our reader Brandon wrote us this shiver-inducing tale about a very aggressive poltergeist.

I didn't see a ghost per se. It was a couple of crazy experiences in the same house, experienced by a couple of us living there and at some parties.

First, my buddy and I were in the living room hanging out, and we heard the cupboards in my kitchen opening and shutting and we heard some one calling "hey! hey!" We walk in and all the cupboards are open.

Later on, same place. We are having a party and we have a girl who was pretty tipsy, so we had her go lay down in the back of the house. We hear yelling and glass break—obviously, we are freaked out, sure someone has tried to take advantage of this passed-out girl. Four of us go back there and she is asleep, tucked in, and there are several broken glasses next to the door. She has no recollection of this.

And lastly, I was in the house alone and I went to take a shower. The bathroom was a Jack-and-Jill style bathroom where the sink and counter were in one space and there was a door separating the toilet and shower from that space.

I finished my shower and went to leave that space, and I am stuck in the room. I can only see out through the tiny crack the door will open, and every single drawer was wide open, blocking the door...

I was stuck in there for 2 hours before someone came home. The main door in to the vanity area was stuck shut it did not have a lock.

We moved out that month, that was the final straw.

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10. Ashley Bez reveals one of the perks of being a waitress trying to make it in comedy in New York: meeting haunted people.

I was waitressing at the Jane Hotel, which is known for being haunted. There was a huge TV shoot in the bar next door (that terrible show Vinyl) and one of my tables was a producer and her assistant. As I was taking their order, one of the wine glasses quickly moved all the way across the table then stopped right as it got to the edge. I gasped, and when I asked if they saw the wine glass move, the older woman said, "oh, don't worry about it, ghosts follow me everywhere." And her assistant confirmed, "yeah, this happens everywhere we go, this is nothing compared to when one locked me in a hotel room."

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11. Anne told us about the time a bunch of goth kids in an Indiana college town accidentally succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

[Editor's note: The Necronomicon is a fictional tome from an H.P. Lovecraft story, described as a history and summoning manual of the Old Ones. But it has roots in many legends about evil/magic books.]

Every town has rumors, right? After high school, I moved to live with my Dad in Indiana. For the first year, I was stupid and hung around the wrong sort of crowd. I don't mean drugs or anything quite that dumb. It was the crowd of semi-goths trying to be cool.

So, the rumor around town was that a student at the local University had gone into the woods near campus (I'm not giving the specific name for obvious reasons), and she had read from the Necronomicon. Now, if you don't know what that book is, Google it. If you don't want to do that, just know that it is some evil stuff. Anyways, the local Wiccan group had apparently gone into the woods to fix the sh*tstorm that the student had summoned, but there was still a remnant of something dark, let's just say.

So, one of my friends had a brilliant idea. Let's take a Ouija board out into those woods and see what happens. Four of us went. I was the only wary one. My Dad had told me for years that no Ouija boards were allowed in his house. This was the first time I was using one, and honestly I could not shake my Dad's words from my mind as we walked through the pitch black night of a 1 a.m. Midwestern summer.

We were looking for the supposed clearing the student had read the book in. There was only one clearing in these woods. And because I have the worst luck ever, we found it. So, my three friends are setting up with the board and the flashlights that did zero good to show anything further than 10 feet in any direction. I was feeling on edge.

When the time came to kneel down and play this horrible "game," I shook my head and whipped my head in every direction as they asked numerous questions, still laughing in their clueless way.

Ten minutes had to have passed, and I was watching as they grew bored. One of them kicked at the board and said something like "whatever is in this place is f'ing worthless." One of my friends still manning the board and straightening it out after it had been kicked said "show us you're here. Prove that you're real."

I was freezing and I was positive it had gotten colder suddenly. The way I'd been feeling on edge was heightened, and I heard cracking off in the darkness, like tree branches being snapped. It had not been there before, and I was backing away from the tree line when a beyond ear-splitting deafening shriek came from one of my friends that had been on the ground at the board.

I whipped around and the board was visibly shaking like there was an earthquake, but the ground under my feet was still. Then the board was still, and the girl who shrieked had fallen back from where she was kneeling before. She was staring up and breathing like her lungs weren't able to hold enough air. I was shouting at her to get up, and so were the other two as we made to haul ass out of the clearing back to our car on the main road. She said she couldn't move, and I was the closest to her, so I stalked closer and grabbed her hand, but as soon as I lifted it I felt something push hard against my shoulder, making me fall back.

I couldn't even scream, I was so terrified. Everyone stared at the spot above our friend on the ground and then at each other. After what was only a few seconds, our friend on the ground slowly curled to sit up, shaking.

"It's letting me up."

No one gave a care enough to ask what "it" was. We ran leaving our lights and board and all behind. We never went back and, to my knowledge, none of us have ever breathed a word of it until now. Moral of story: Don't mess with things you don't understand. There is evil out there and if you give it an open door to present itself, it will.

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12. Michael Equality Piatkowski tells the most Broadway ghost story in the history of ghost stories and Broadway.

When I was a teen and performing off-Broadway as Pinocchio, I saw the ghost of Diana Barrymore in the wings of the 74th St. Theatre (now unfortunately demolished).

Barrymore had once told her ex-husband, the actor Bramwell Fletcher, that she would follow him around after she died. He had been in a show at the Theatre a few weeks before. She was wearing the dresss/costume she wore in the show where they met. I saw a picture of her in that dress and recognized her immediately.

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13. Cara Calistro used to lead tours in Flagstaff, Arizona, and she'd like you to know the whole dang place is haunted.

For a couple of years in high school, I lived in a historic haunted hotel (by choice). I have a ton of stories, but these are some of the best. I had a suite with my cousin—two separate rooms that were divided with a bathroom. One morning, I got into the shower and when I came out, the temperature dropped dramatically and suddenly. I could feel the breath of someone in my ear. A little boy whispered "mommy, mommy" in my ear. Needless to say, I freaked out.

On top of that, next door my aunt owned a salon that used to be an old Post Office. The salon was extremely haunted, and I used to close it down all by myself, which often left me with a sense of panic. I always felt like someone was watching me. The stations were situated across from the cash wrap, and on a few nights, I saw an old man with a striped sweater, khaki pants and a long gray beard just sitting in the chair, watching me close down the register.

At the time, I lived in Flagstaff, Arizona, and we used to do ghost tours during October. It was rumored that all of downtown was haunted, and during one of the ghost tours, a lady actually described the same man. She saw him in her Crystal shop. I never gave the description of the clothing when I was telling the story, but she described it perfectly. Apparently, that man was able to go to other places besides just the salon.

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14. This person wished to remain anonymous. A lot of ghosts do read our site, after all, and this one sounds like a real tough guy.

I was staying at my mom's new home, in town for my brother's wedding about 4 years ago. Her elderly cousin took my mom's room, so she and I bunked up in 2 twin beds in the spare/"my" room. The night after the wedding, we went to bed fairly early from being wiped out from the long previous night's festivities.

At some point in the middle of the night, around 2, I woke up to a figure standing over me. I closed my eyes to make sure I was really awake and that I was fully comprehending what was happening. If I opened them again and it was gone, then I knew it was just trick of light or me half dreaming or something. Well, I opened them again and an aggressive male figure was wearing a grey sweatshirt, hood up, with arms up in a fighting stance, waving his hand towards him to come fight. The hole where a head would be was completely black, except for a pair of white/glowing eyes.

I screamed bloody murder, waking up my mom (who saw nothing) as I tried to explain what had just happened. Her first response was that I was dreaming, but when she came over to my bed to calm me down, she felt the sweat through my shirt and my racing heart, and realized I really believed something was in the room. I dunno for sure what it was, but the next morning I threw away a gag Oujia board we got a couple years prior. I had a theory that it got "disrupted" with the move, and didn't like where we tucked it away in the garage. To this day, I can't sleep well in that room alone or without a night light, haha, which is sad because I'm 25 years old and still afraid of this hoodlum ghost being a punk.

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15. Staff friend Jon Dimakopoulos kindly send us a story of hide and seek and scare the crap out of kids.

It was summer, 3-4 am in the morning, and my little sister and I were playing hide and go seek in our basement. It was real long, but really only had like 3 hiding spots. Out in the backyard, in the boiler room, or out the door and into the laundry room were the main spots, unless you thought hiding behind the couch was good. So, I stop counting and start to look for my sister.

She wasn't in the boiler room, so I decided to check the laundry room. Because I'm scared to go out, I looked through the peek hole and see my sister hiding. Granted, it's a peek hole, so everything is seen through a fisheye-like view, but I see a girl that resembled my sister: blonde hair and giggling. Couldn't make out her face, but I swore it was my sister. I start calling her name and repeatedly said over and over how I found her, so come out. This goes on for another minute before my sister comes from behind, so we both now start freaking out. I was 100% sure on what I saw, and my mom believed me, because she got a baseball bat and we both slowly walked into the laundry room. I was shit scared. We went into the room, turned on the light, and found nobody ... however there was a carpet mat that was flipped over.

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16. Here's a story emailed to us by an anonymous reader with one final testimonial to the Ouija board (although he won't go near them anymore).

When I was about 12, my mom went out of town and left my sister and me alone. One day, my sister's friend brought over an Ouija board that she had bought at a garage sale. My mom was very against Ouija boards, due to an experience she had, but since she wasn't home, it didn't matter!

We began speaking to this "spirit" named Nicole who claimed that she had been murdered. However, as time went on, she became angrier and began threatening us. Weird stuff began happening in our house, like doors opening on their own and strange noises.

At this point, we decided to destroy the board and, for whatever reason, decided to burn the board. We told the spirit this, and it was not happy. It promised we'd regret it if we destroyed the board. We went outside with a lighter, but for the life of us we couldn't get the board to catch fire! After several failed attempts, we poured some rubbing alcohol on the board and were able to get it to burn.

Thinking we had successfully rid our home of the spirit, we went to the store and bought TONS of candy. My sister opened up a candy bar, and set it on the table. One of our cats jumped on the table and began licking it. My sister picked up the cat and went to (gently) toss her off the table when the cat suddenly flew out of her hands and hit the wall and it's head got stuck between the wall and a clock.

It was terrifying and while I'm a skeptic now, I still won't touch an Ouija board.

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17. Finally, Jennifer Loveland of Colorado penned this epic tale about some real-life ghost busting, complete with real ghost-busting terminology. (TAPS is The Atlantic Paranormal Society & a K2 meter measures fluctuations in nearby electromagnetic fields. They are thought to detect ghosts.)

I had Front Range Paranormal group come out to my old town home in Aurora Colorado about 8 years ago. Front Range Paranormal is affiliated with TAPS. I called them out because, for two years, weird objects in my house would move inexplicably.

My daughter, who was about 4 at the time, had plastic food for her play kitchen set, and one day the plastic orange moved across the stone tile floor several feet. One time, a stack of about 6 VHS tapes that were on the top of my entertainment center flew off the shelf and hit the front door which was about 3 feet away.

I had several friends live with me at different times, and they stayed in my basement. They never stayed long, because they said they always felt like someone was watching them. My cousin and her boyfriend stayed with me for a few weeks and they always heard strange scratching noises. When she would try to wake up her boyfriend he wouldn't move. He said the same about her. Not to mention my daughter saying she was playing with her "friend" in her bedroom on pretty much a nightly basis.

Then my own creepy encounter that drew the last straw...I had just laid down in bed and I was home alone this night, and it felt like someone sat on the foot of my bed. I sorta froze, but was brave enough to open my eyes and there wasn't anyone there. Once I closed my eyes again, it felt like the person then moved to lay down next to me. I was slightly freaked out, but I've had several paranormal experiences in my life and knew that this would not hurt me. Eventually, I fell asleep. The next day I was calling TAPS.

A few days before they came out to the house, I had announced verbally that they were coming to talk to these entities, I told them to save their energy and give them a good show. They listened. TAPS got to my house right at 7:30 PM and set up a camera on every floor, K2 meters in hand, base temp readings in every room. Then we went lights out. Things got weird fast. 8:02 PM lights were out and the activity began at 8:03.

This was a group of 4 women that came out, my then-roommate and myself. I had a 3-level town home, so we split up in 2's on each floor and rotated every 15 minutes. I started in the basement with a "hunter" named Stacy, she has been doing this for 25 years.

The K2 started up and went whacko, a shadow person walked around the room and the K2 seemed to respond to our questions. On the main level, I thought I saw my cat run through the kitchen and when I said "Buffy! You scared me!" My roommate who was upstairs yelled down "Buffy is right here with me."

On the upper floor, we saw orbs, swirly lights, and asked lots of questions while holding the voice recorder. These ladies packed up and left at 9:30. Stacy said my house was the most haunted she had seen in 25 years. A couple weeks later, she mailed me a disc with the photos they took and the disc also contained 32 EVP's (electronic voice phenomenon). I was also given a letter that stated my residence was in fact HAUNTED. I called her the next day and asked if they could get someone to come "clean" my house.

Another week later and a guy was there with his sage and walked my home. Never had a problem there again. Now, he was a medium, and he told me the reason things would start at 8pm was because the little girl that was haunting had a bedtime of 8, and she would start putting up a fight about going to bed when she was alive. He told me she had drowned in a bathtub, but not in my home. She attached to me because I was a mom. She was also the one that moved toys because she was trying to play games.

He also told me about the grouchy old man in the basement. He was the one that made you haul ass up the stairs, because it felt like he was almost pushing you outta his space, an "every hair stands up on your neck" feeling. There was an old lady, but I never picked up on her. The guy who laid on my bed was a soldier that had come back from battle and committed suicide, and attached to me because I reminded him of his wife.

He was the one most afraid to move on, because he was also Christian and believed his suicide would condemn him to hell if he passed on. I didn't say so earlier, but I did have a dream about this soldier committing suicide months before all of this happened. I asked the medium if he could see how he had killed himself, his response made me cry. "Well half his head is missing so I assume he blew his brains out."

Again, this was all several years ago, but I still have the disc and everything from that investigation. I currently own my own home, and back in February I was videotaping my youngest daughter, who is 6, and I saw an orb come into my living room and go in front of my camera. I stopped recording and played it back, and lo and behold I caught the orbs on tape. Twice. In June of this year, my neighbors body was found—she passed in October last year. It went unnoticed because she leaves every year to California to avoid Colorado's harsh winters. Everyone assumed she was out of town.

To make this even worse, we own a duplex and she lived in the other half, and we never noticed any smells. The coroner said she was practically mummified, and because we are dry and cold in northern Colorado in the winter and her heat was off, she never really decomposed the way others in warmer, more humid climates do. I do believe I caught my neighbor's spirit trying to get my attention in February, and I felt terrible because I sealed my home with sea salt and the Lord's Prayer the next day. I have many other experiences as well.

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