Halloween is right around the corner. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it’s about the only day of the year one can dress up as something bizarre, run around demanding candy from complete strangers, and not be arrested for it. Indeed, it’s expected!

But it’s always a good day to relate family ghost stories. Now in addition to writing, computers, self-defense, and so on, one of my passions is genealogy. Not only do I want to know where I came from, but I want to preserve the stories handed down.

Ghost stories is one of them. For some reason they don’t seem to make it into family lore. I guess most of us don’t want to admit that maybe a little insanity runs in the family. I prefer to look at it as something unexplained happened, and the stories come on down.

I was born and raised in the San Luis Valley, Colorado, which has a rich history of strange sightings, ghosts, UFOs, and so on. Now I spent a fair amount of my life under those star filled skies, and only once saw something I couldn’t explain (more on that one later). But I know people who have seen things, bizarre things they couldn’t explain.

But here’s stories I’ve collected from my family and people I’ve known.

The first comes from around 1940. I got this one second hand from my father, and it involved my grandmother. She passed away in 1959, so I can’t interview her, but according to this story it was about 7 AM. My father (who was about 10 at the time), his brother, and sister were all walking to the bus stop which was about thirty yards from the house. His mother was out front watching them.

That’s when they heard what he described as a buzzing sound, almost like an electric razor, in the distance, but gradually getting louder. It seemed something was approaching. The sound was coming from the sky, but they didn’t see anything.

However, my grandmother did. She described seeing a round, almost transparent object that appeared to be pulsing, coming in low and from the north.

As the object got closer, it flew so low it hit one of the trees that bordered the road where my dad and his siblings were walking. When it struck the trees, the buzzing sound stopped, and several large branches fell to the ground.

Years after my father had told me the story, I had to investigate the area. It was almost forty years after the incident, and I really didn’t know what I expected to find. Of course I found nothing.

The next story happened to my first cousin. Interestingly enough, there’s a few similarities to the incident related by my grandmother in that it happened in almost the same area, only years after the fact.

My grandmother had long since passed away, and my aunt and her family had moved in with my grandfather. The kids all grew up there, and my cousin Rodger was the youngest. He was about 16 when this happened.

It was about 10 at night, and my grandfather had been out. My aunt was up waiting for him to come in, and Rodger and his father were watching TV. According to my aunt, she was at the sink looking out, and saw what she thought were headlights. The garage was at the back of the property, and the lights pointed in that direction. She assumed my grandfather had made it home.

But he didn’t come in. After a few minutes she told Rodger to go check, suspecting maybe he’d fallen and maybe hurt himself.

Rodger took a flashlight and a pistol because he’d run into dogs and coyotes in the past and felt that he might have the need to defend himself. So he walked out to the garage, only to find it empty. My grandfather was not home. Rodger noticed a light glow coming from behind the barn so he went to investigate, wondering if maybe there were thieves on the property.

Around the corner was the entrance to the hay yard, with hay bales stacked on one side, and a fence on the other. Sitting in the middle was what he described as an oval of light. He could clearly see the wooden fence through it, and his first thought was that it was some kind of reflection. But for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out where the reflection was coming from. Then he realized that this light was approaching him.

He came up with the 38, and emptied the pistol into it. He said the object stopped its approach, and went straight up into the sky, curving around to head north.

According to my aunt and uncle, he came in pale from shock, his hand shaking in fear, and it was minutes before he could talk about it.

Of course being the scientist in the bunch, I had to investigate, but all that was to be seen were footprints, and six bullet holes in the wood fence (I had to admire his grouping).

Interestingly, he rarely talks about it.

Now, two of my stories, one of which I’ve a perfect explanation for.

I was a sophomore in college, and working as an Asst. Astronomer at the college observatory. I had an observing program to run almost every night, but once I was done, I could do most anything I wanted. Since we had a nice large telescope, I probed distant parts of the universe nightly.

I’d ran into one of my high school teachers, and the next thing I knew, I’d invited him over for a night of stargazing. He showed up with his girlfriend, who happened to have graduated with me and taken a course from him way back when (we won’t pursue that one).

Anyway, it was past midnight, and I lined up the telescope on another object when she shouted, “Look at that. Look at that!”

Flying overhead in a “V” formation were four objects. I only had a second or two to view them, but to me, they looked postage stamp in shape and size as if holding one out at arm’s length, a beautiful white color, fast, and absolutely silent.

For years, I had no idea what it was. Then almost twenty years after the fact, I saw the same thing, only now, I knew what I was looking at. I saw the same thing overhead in Saudi Arabia shortly after the air war had kicked off. I realized I was looking at the exhaust pattern of an F-117 stealth fighter. It was identical.

That one was easy to sort out once I had better information. This next one, well, I’m still looking for a logical explanation to it.

The Cease Fire was in effect following the Gulf War and we were camped right outside an abandoned Iraqi airbase. The place had a huge ammo dump that we’d blow up within a few days, and we guarded it closely.

One night, my buddy Greg and I, decided we’d keep watch. All the other MPs were dog tired and since there’d be other teams out, we’d give everyone a break. So we took the Humvee out, checked our weapons, communications, NVGs, and sat watching, chatting and quietly passing the night. We were sitting in a good position to see the whole dump, and just a few dozen meters back from a road that bordered it. We had excellent fields of visibility and fire in all directions if needed. There was no moon, though we had a nice star filled sky. Couldn’t have asked for a more peaceful night.

Along about 1:30 in the morning, we heard someone walking along the roadway. Thinking some local or a soldier hunting for souvenirs we turned on our NVGs and started looking around. Of course the NVGs made the pitch dark Iraqi night as bright as day. I looked in the direction of the sound, but couldn’t see anybody. The footsteps receded. My first thought was, “Crap, somebody slipped past us,” but then I heard them stop, turn, and start back.

I jumped behind the 60 and pointed it in that direction. Greg already had his weapon ready, jumped down from the Humvee, and whispered, “Cover me!” He quickly ran to a position where he could surprise whoever it was walking along the road.

The steps got closer, walked past where Greg crouched, and then kept going for about a 100 meters or so. I heard them stop, turn, and come back, once again passing our position. Problem was, there was no one there making the footsteps. They went down again about hundred meters, turned, and came back, and repeated exactly what they’d done before,

Greg ran back and looked up in bewilderment. “There’s no one there. They went right by me, and there was nothing there.”

He relieved me from the 60, and I went out. I looked up and down the road, and if anyone had been walking along it, I’d have clearly seen them. The footsteps were walking away.  they got about a hundred meters down, and again, they stopped, turned and walked towards me. They got closer, and then walked right past me. I’d made no effort to hide myself, and was standing straight up, my 16 pointed at the sound of the steps. They got closer, were right in front of me, and then walked away.

Had someone actually been there, I wouldn’t have needed the rifle. I could have punched their lights out. But there was nothing there to shoot or punch. Whatever it was totally ignored me, and just kept on walking.

Thoroughly spooked, I went back to the Hummer and got on top with Greg. By this time we were both totally mystified. We didn’t say anything for several minutes as the pattern continued to repeat itself over and over. We must have had the same idea at about the same time because we realized it sounded exactly like someone walking guard duty. After about an hour, the footsteps stopped, and the rest of the night was spent peacefully. When the sun came up, we examined the area and the only footprints we found were our own.

When we were relieved and got back to the tents, Cpl. Mac (who’d run the team the night before our outing) came up and asked if we’d heard anything odd.

I answered, “You mean like someone walking back and forth like they were walking a guard post, only no one was there?”

“Exactly,” he said.

“Of course not,” Greg and I answered.