This Halloween, Beliefnet asked its users to share their best ghost stories and photos and the result is the following collection of stories of otherworldly encounters. From a short piece about a black cat that wouldn’t go away to the tale of a terrifying week in the life of one frightened man, users share their memories in words and images as a special holiday treat–or should we say, trick. You decide.

The Day My Father Came Back

My father died thirteen years ago.

He passed away here in Florida, while the rest of our family lives in Michigan. My brother had come and taken my mother back to Michigan to prepare for the funeral. My father was cremated, and his ashes were resting in my living room until his funeral the following week.

My mother had told me to beware, because he had been "making his rounds" to my other siblings. I had been waiting and waiting, and nothing was happening and I was getting very upset, feeling sorry for myself, thinking he loved them more than me.

Then one night, I was just getting ready for sleep, and I felt somebody watching me, I turned and looked over my shoulder and there was my father, smiling so bright. He was young, like in his 20s. He had a aura around him, glowing. I immediately looked to see if he had both arms, since he had lost his left arm when I was just a baby, but he was behind the doorway and I couldn't see that side of his body. I quickly yelled to my husband, "Look, there's Dad!", but he vanished just as fast.

Mary Smith
Spring Hill, Florida

'Did You See That?'

The first time I saw Bessy was in the middle of the night. Something woke me out of my sleep. I looked over near the French doors leading into our backyard and saw a pale figure in a flowing gown (I know, it sounds so cliché) looking around. I screamed, which of course woke my wife, Kathleen, who asked what was wrong.

"Bessy was here," I told her, "and she was looking for Charlie." Charlie was her husband who had moved near his daughter after Bessy died. I don't know how I knew who it was and why she was there, but I knew. Kathleen walked around the house telling Bessie that Charlie moved out andit was okay to go to the other side.

A few months later I was lying in bed facing Kathleen's empty side of the bed (she was in the bathroom brushing her teeth). I felt Kathleen's side of the bed go down, and saw the depression that would be created by a body lying there--if there was one there. This time I was frozen solid, but managed to summon some kind of grunting noise. Again, Kathleen went around the house begging Bessy to go to the other side so she could get some sleep.

The fourth time, though, was the clincher. Kathleen was washing up the last of the dinner dishes and I was leaning up against the counter talking with her. The kitchen window is right in front of the sink and it was pitch black outside. I had a clear view of our hallway and Kathleen could see the same space in the reflection of the window. We both said, "Did you see that?" at the same time as a reddish light went streaking through our hallway.

John Sokolovic
Syracuse, New York

The Ghost Who Smoked Cigars

The first thing I noticed was a strong smell of cigar smoke and than the feeling of someone being there with me. You could smell the smoke both in the day hours and the evening hours. Some customers even made remarks about the smell.

My husband and I own a photography studio in Springfield, Miss. For the last 17 years the studio was located at one location. It was during this time that I found I was not alone in the studio.

Many nights working by myself to complete my work, "my friend" was with me and provided me with a feeling of peace and calm. Occasionally, I would feel a cool breeze; like a light touch on your arm. When the studio changed locations this spring, I asked "my friend" to go with me but he did not make the move.

Lois Haneghan
Springfield, Missouri

The Week from Hell

It was the week of weird events that convinced us we were living in a haunted house.

First, in June of 2002, my niece, Cheyenne, who was 2, was in her crib in her room and we heard the TV turn on real loud. My sister went into the room to find the baby sleeping and no one else.. She turned the TV off and just as she was walking down the hall it came back on real loud. So she stormed into the bedroom, grabbed Cheyenne, and shut the door. She would not sleep in that room for two days.

The weird events continued. While I was watching TV in the living room, I fell asleep and around 2:30 in the morning I felt my covers tightening as if someone was trying to suffocate me. I shot straight up and looked around but no one was there. So I went to my room and couldn't sleep for most of the night.

Thursday, we were sitting at the living room table having a family meal and we were discussing the weird things. A few minutes later I saw a spirit of a man walking down the hallway and into my aunt's bedroom. I would have probably thought it was from all the conversation except my cousin turned to me and said did you see that? We both described the same man and saw the same thing.

Well, the next Saturday, we were all settling in doing our thing and around 1 AM the front screen door started to bang real loudly and my aunt, whose window is next to it, looked out and said she saw no one and there was no wind. The banging went on for about 3 or 4 minutes and stopped. Since then we have not had any problems and have slept in peace, but for whatever reason that week was disturbing.

Eric Owens
Sacramento, California

The Spirit of George Street

When I used to live on George Street in Alton, Ill., in 1992, I could feel a presence in my apartment.

It used to be one house but it’s divided into three apartments. I lived upstairs in a big attic. When I checked out the programs on TV to decide what I wanted to watch, I saw a big black man with denim overalls and a white T-shirt walking in the hallway. I could tell he was a runaway slave because in Alton there were Underground Railroad slaves who ran away from the South.

When I came home from the hospital with my baby daughter, we were ready to go to sleep. I could see his face looking at my daughter. I immediately felt the urge to protect her from him. I was so scared. I couldn’t sleep very well. I decided I had to move out. I thought I was the only one who saw him, but when my friend stayed overnight she acted funny. I asked her what was wrong, but she said nothing.

One day I talked about the man in my old apartment. She said she’d seen him too. I think it was a slave who didn’t make it to freedom.

Karen Lewis
Novi, Michigan

Some Cats Have Seven Lives

Right after a dear sweet friend of my passed, I was on my way to visit his grave, 3 hours away, and saw a black cat in the median of a four lane highway. It was startling – to get home, the poor thing would have to cross the heavily trafficked roadway.

I had an incredible urge to stop and pick it up, but kept traveling.

On the way home--two hours away from where I had seen the black cat in the median--I saw another one. I knew it was a sign from my loved one that he knew that I had visited his grave.

The following year, I found a small black kitten outside, which I knew on sight I was keeping. It took me a half hour to realize that I found the kitten exactly a year to the day of the first time I visited my friend's grave. He had sent me a gift.

Right around Christmastime that year, I happened to see another black cat in the median. I knew it was Justin telling me "hello" and that he loved me. A few weeks later, I realized I saw the black cat at mile marker 73. He was a football player and that was his jersey number.

About nine months later, I saw another black cat in the same exact place. About two months later, I saw another black cat in the median.

I know these are messages from my loved one. I'm overwhelmed by the benevolence of the divine. We are not alone, nor have our loved ones actually left us.

Amy Zarichnak
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Ghost of Uncle Frank

As a military family, we moved often.

In the late 1950s, my mother, father, my sister and I were walking down a hill in San Francisco when my mother perked up with a big smile. "Frank!" she hollered, and picked up speed to meet her brother she had last seen in Philadelphia several years back.

There was no Frank at the bottom of the hill. Confused, we all went home.

The phone rang shortly after we returned to the house. Sure enough, the news was that Frank had died earlier that day in Philadelphia, about the time my mother saw him gesturing to her from that intersection in San Francisco.

Bill Mayberry
Watkinsville, Georgia

Father's Spirit Knows Best

family of cousins had moved me the day of the occurrence.

I had been in an emotionally and sometimes physically abusive relationship for about 10 years, and afraid to leave for fear of reprisals. Fortunately for me, some of my cousins are nice, big, muscular guys, and we showed up at my former home to remove the minimal number of things I considered mine.

Now, my father has been a silent partner in my life since his death; those things he speaks to me about, he does quietly, and not necessarily with a voice. During the two years preceding the move, he had gained a voice and had grown increasingly insistent about the need for me to get out. But I had only seen him once in the 24 years since his death, and that was in a dream.

One of my cousins, the one who had been, I think, closest to him, called me the next day to say that, though she had not spoken to him during the intervening years, he had appeared at the end of the bed during the early morning hours, told her "thank you," and either faded or disappeared. The incident had clearly left her shaken. Eleven years have passed since that day; my life is back on track, thanks, in part, to luck, the intervention of Christ in my life, and the love of a good man who is also a believer.

My father's voice has gone silent but still speaks to me in difficult moments. I frequently remember the clear evidence that my father is out there somewhere, and still watching.

Bill Bowers

The Haunted House I Called Home

I grew up in a haunted house in Ohio.

I saw the ghosts reach for me when I was just 4 years old. I had a poltergeist incident when I was 12. I had a breather in the bed next to me when I was in high school. And Easter of 1969, I had two women (who had both committed suicide in the house in the 1890s) come to my bedroom and ask me to "Let us Help."

I had all sorts of issues that night as well, from the regular footsteps up the stairs behind my headboard, to the breathing in the bed next to me.

To this day I don't like dark places like basements, crawlspaces, bathrooms, or stairs. But I have also recently learned that I am extra-special because I have entities attached to me.

Fairfax, Virginia

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