This is Ghosting, the content series where we delve into all things creepy, spooky and unexplained. Stories from all corners of the world, audio visual evidence, and interviews with people convinced they've been touched from the other side.
I’ve always loved a tall tale or even a yarn of medium height, so I was all for the idea of doing Sydney’s scariest ghost tour.
Stories from my dad’s family made sure to keep my head buzzing with the possible impossible from a young age - think little men running up and down curtains as you woke from your dreams, a child caught in a photograph who hadn’t walked the earth in decades, even a wayward giraffe in the garden.
That said, though I thrilled myself with the possibility a small child was running around my room at night when I was 14, I always knew deep down that ‘ghosts’ were 95 per cent vivid waking dreams, and 5 per cent suspended disbelief.
Fun and fake like a good sitcom.
That is, until I embarked on a ghost tour this past week for a story and things got very, very weird.
Before I launch into my tale of other-worldy coincidence and catastrophe I need to reiterate, I am very practically minded.
Not easily convinced, sometimes contrarily so.
I like to poke and prod and question and often leave an outlandish claim withered and torn like the deflated shell of a popped balloon in the wreckage of a children’s birthday party.
There’s some stuff, however, that just won’t pop, and I found that out the hard way when my three-hour tour of Manly’s former Quarantine station stretched into a one-week nightmare.
Chills up my neck, and hands on my back.
I felt weird even as I left the tour, the creepy sensations I’d experience while wandering the abandoned buildings lingered long after and a few odd things began to raise my suspicions.
Once in the Uber I was struck with nausea, so bad I almost made the driver pull over, scared I was going to vom like it was schoolies 2013, and I’d gotten on the wrong side of cheap vodka.
The next day I woke up as if hungover; head pounding, stomach still lurching, eyes heavy, and bones aching.
I didn’t think too much of it, a sudden-onset cold, probably from trudging around on a chilly Manly night, definitely not a ride-along ghost hanging over my head, right?
Then the cats began.
Three black cats
The next morning I sat down with my laptop to get some work done and noticed a black cat stalking across my driveway.
I laughed, thinking the irony was too much, and even jokingly messaged my friend to report that I was, officially haunted.
Two hours later, I saw a different cat walk across my driveway. Same spot, same creepy vibe, different cat.
I felt a bit weird at that point, and not just because I suddenly had the same nauseous feeling as the night before.
When by the end of the working day I had watched three, different jet black cats use my driveway as a pop-up catwalk (literally) I was officially spooked.
Then the boyfriends started.
Ghosts of love interests past
It was just a few days later that the next lot of ‘threes’ came through and this time, they were human.
Wandering into a watersports work event, I never expected to come face to face with a guy I briefly dated years back and hadn’t seen since. Let’s call him Peter.
Peter and I then had to spend the next few hours making awkward small talk in a speedboat hammering around Sydney Harbour.
Around midday, I was treated to a seaplane ride, and waiting behind the reception desk was none other than the handsome boy I had flirted with for years while I worked in a sports bar.
He also happened to be called Peter, and in this godforsaken seaplane dock, I ran into him, also for the first time in several years.
So there I was. The only two ‘Peters’ I have ever had any kind of romantic dalliance with (albeit the second mostly one-sided) congregated in possibly the most specific location in greater Sydney, perfectly timed to give me the definitive heebie-jeebies.
And it didn’t stop there.
That same afternoon, a Wednesday, at 4:30pm I was driving along a part of the city I rarely frequent, absorbed with relaying my bizarre encounters of the awkward kind to friends, when I looked up at a traffic light to see my ex-boyfriend crossing the road.
Right in front of the car, blissfully unaware that in the blue Subaru I was sat, mind exploding, hands shaking.
Again, it wasn’t a part of the city he would frequent for any reason other than a random social event, and the intersection of our paths, the first time I had seen this guy since we broke up five months ago, was too much for me.
I phoned in the mates and they were unanimous, something was under my skin and wreaking havoc, it was time to call Caz, my Q-station tour guide and only hope for getting this ghostly creature gone.
‘It usually dissipates’
What she said calmed my nerves a little.
“Visitors often feel nauseous at the hospital. Usually, it dissipates after people go past the stone archway on North Head Scenic drive or past old Manly Hospital,” she said, adding a bit of time would most likely rid me of any residual spirit.
I was still uneasy, however. I had left the station behind and crossed a body of water or two in the process and that hadn’t stopped my former love interests and feline friends from popping into my life with the nightmarish unpredictability of a jack-in-the-box.
But as a few days went by I rested a little easier.
I hadn’t received any cursed correspondence, except a jury roll notification.
I hadn’t felt ill and I hadn’t bumped into any old boyfriends or dead relatives or confronted a third trio to round out my ‘threes’.
It was over.
That Saturday I celebrated by going to a Halloween house party. A friend joked I was playing with fire by celebrating the ghoulish night but I had a cute Sporty Spice look and I was ghost free and feeling good.
Or so I thought.
That night I bumped into ‘Jack’ over the beer pong table. A guy who stood me on a date once in my uni days and earnt the very creative nickname of ‘Jack the d*ck’ among my friends.
Jack, as it turned out, used to date my housemate.
Call it fate, coincidence, or a ghost, all I know is every time I think about a certain room on that tour the hair on my arms stands up, and the same chills run down my spine.
I’m not taking any chance, the sage is ready, and I have a priest on speed dial.
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