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Monday, December 12, 2011

Dreaming of Death—A Mysterious Building, An Elevator, and a Prophetic Nightmare

Since I published my novel three months ago, I’ve had my fair share of questions. Since it’s a book with a large paranormal element to it, I’m most often asked if I believe in ghosts or if I’ve ever had an encounter with one.
Although I’ve interviewed people who have seen ghosts, I can’t claim to have ever seen one myself. But I must have some kind of personal paranormal story, right? Something weird? Something that made me suspect that the world isn’t exactly as it seems?
Like most of us, I have a few. I can tell you about the time I performed a Tarot card reading—and was far more accurate than I wanted to be. Or the time I refused to go into a friend’s basement for reasons I couldn’t explain, only to find out much later it had been the scene of a grisly murder.
But I think I’d rather tell you about one of the times that I dreamed of my own death.
I was in the 7th Grade when we visited Blackstone, Va., with my church youth group as part of a large retreat. Though I had often been away from home as part of the Boy Scouts, the trip was exciting for two reasons: 1) there would be indoor plumbing as well as easy access to Mountain Dew, and 2) there would be girls with us.
Here’s the strange part of the story. From the moment I walked into the place where the retreat was held—and I had never stepped foot in there before—I knew exactly what the layout would be. I knew where the stairs were, the rooms were, what the décor would be like, and basically how to find my way around.
It was very odd. When I walked inside, the entire place felt familiar. Like I had not only been there before, but spent significant time exploring every nook and cranny. This wasn’t something I kept to myself. As soon as we walked inside, I told my friends I had—somehow—seen this place before. I had a friend walk ahead of me, with me telling him what he would find around every corner (before I could see it). Everything was exactly where I said it would be. 
It was only then that I remembered the dream. As is often the case with me, I don’t remember my dreams in the morning: something has to trigger the recollection for me. When I was younger, this was really easy—I’m sad to say it’s much harder now.
Walking around the building and giving my friends an advance guided tour triggered the memory of the dream. In the dream, I had been walking around the inside of a strange place. It was big, empty and spooky. I wandered all around until I came to a hallway off to the left. When I turned the corner, I saw a large trash bin on the right side and a white elevator at the end of the hall. I waited there a moment, not sure what to do, but with a growing sense of dread.
In the dream, the elevator suddenly “dinged” open and when it did, a gust of wind swept down the hallway. The trash bin immediately was pulled into the elevator, which was now a giant, gaping hole. I grabbed the corner of the wall, but everything else was being pulled into the elevator—the pictures on the walls, the carpeting on the floor, everything. Finally, after holding fast for what felt like several minutes, I couldn’t hold on any longer. I was sucked into the elevator too—my last thought before plunging into the darkness was that this would kill me.
Back in real life, I stood there on the first floor of the building and recounted the dream to my friends. Some thought I was lying, others thought that perhaps I had visited the building before (I hadn’t). But one friend agreed to go exploring with me. I had to know: was the elevator in here? And what would happen if I found it?
When we got to the second floor, we crept cautiously through the halls. I knew just where to go, just where the elevator would be. Sure enough, we came to a hallway on the left. We rounded the corner. There on the right side of the hall was the trash bin, just as it had been in my dream. At the end of the hall was the white elevator.
The thing that scared me the most wasn’t that everything in my dream existed in the real world. What was most frightening to me was that there was no one else in that hallway, but the elevator call button—the one you press to make the elevator come to you—was lit up. Just as I registered what it was, I heard the “ding” and the elevator door slid open.
I’m not ashamed to admit it: I ran. I ran like hell, with my friend close behind me. Once safely back to the group, we told them everything. Even though a few made fun of me, I noticed everyone studiously avoided the elevator from that time on, convinced it was a dangerous trap. During that retreat, I never set foot in the elevator—nor, for that matter, got anywhere near the hallway.
So what did it all mean? If I had stepped into the elevator, would something have happened? Did I somehow pick up on some terrible history of the place?
If this were a novel, I could tell you. I’d tell you the secret hidden past of the elevator and how a boy 20 years earlier had vanished near that very spot. I’d tell you how many kids who come to that place have the same terrible nightmare, and how a few even hear the voice of a young boy calling to them as they walk near the hallway.
But truthfully, I don’t know the answers. How could I dream of a place where I had never been? And why did I dream about an elevator that, as far as I know, was perfectly normal? Two years later, when my group returned to that retreat, I took a dare and rode the elevator. I’m still here.
But I will tell you this. When the door shut on me and I was alone in the elevator, I was never more afraid in my life. And I’ve honestly never felt the same about any elevator ride since.
So that’s my real-life paranormal story. What about you? Have any insights into my dream? Have you had any dreams that came true? Leave a comment below!


  1. Nothing quite so detailed, or weird for that matter. But once in college I lost my room keys for three days. Looked EVERYWHERE. Moved furniture, took the sheets off the bed, nothing. One afternoon I took a nap. When I awoke my hand was under my pillow... holding my keys with the room key out as if I were unlocking my door.

  2. That is a great story! I'm pretty skeptical, so even when weird things happen, I tend to discount them. But recently I was in NOLA and we were walking in the Garden District. Like you, I saw a house that triggered a dream. I had dreamt that I lived in a house that looked an awful lot like it. I wish I could have gone inside to see if that looked like it too.

  3. To TPP,
    That is pretty strange. I wonder if some part of you DID know where the keys were, or if somehow they were near your bed and you found them in your sleep? Very interesting what the subconscious knows.

  4. To Midnyte,
    Yeah, it's always freaky when I recognize something from a dream. Had it happen to me yesterday when my family and I were in a book store. It was just a flash, but in the dream I had been looking at a particular book when my son walked up to me and started asking me if I was Santa. In real life, my son DID walk up to me, but said nothing. He just grabbed a book off the shelf and started reading it.

  5. One more thing -- I am having a contest for the blog. Just become a "follower" and you could win a $10 giftcard from Amazon. Contest ends on Wednesday evening. If you haven't already, please join!