A true ghost story ...

Its 1995, my first year as a graduate student. I had taken a short leave of absence during the fall semester, and had to make up some of my classes during the winter break. At the time, I was also the Graduate Assistant - the resident associate of the dorm I was living in at the time. I was there to deal with tenant issues and concerns and work with the housing office on their behalf. The dorm was mostly graduate students and a few faculty members at Hopkins.

It was Jan 18th and I had been sitting in my room all day writing a paper. I was exhausted and around 11 PM, I decided to take a quick nap. I lay down and quickly fell into a deep sleep. Then, around 2 am, I awoke to a knocking at my door. It was a quiet, quick rapping: *knock knock*. Figuring it was some tenant with an emergency, I bounded out of the room towards my door and opened it to find ... nothing.

I figured I probably had slept through most of the knocking and the poor person had finally given up hope of rousing me, so I wandered back into the bedroom and contemplated whether I should continue my 'nap' or get back to working on my paper when I heard *knock knock* ...

Again, I quickly made my way to the door, happy that the person hadn't given up. I opened the door and again ... nothing in the hall. I stepped out into the hall and looked up and down the length of it. I was at least 30 feet from any exit or stairwell and couldn't imagine how someone could knock and then wander off so fast. I hello'd a few times out into the hall, but nobody replied.

Now I was a little bit bothered by this. Was some tenant playing a prank on me? I hoped not. I stood by my open door for a minute, hoping the person would return. Eventually, I gave up and went into the kitchen. Just as I entered the threshold, I jumped when the knock on the door came again, louder this time *knock knock*. I ran to the door and looked out the peephole and saw nobody. Again I looked out in the hall ... even walked over to the stairwell, fists clenched, and found nothing.

Determined to catch the offender, I walked back in my apartment, closed the door, and waited by it, very quietly, even making sure my shadow didn't hit the bottom of the door. I must have waited a good ten minutes, and nothing happened ...

Convinced that the person had given up, I went back into the kitchen and sat down when the knock manifested one more time *knock knock* and then there was a loud *thump* in the bedroom. At my wits end, I called the campus security office and told them someone was harassing me. They sent an officer over, who listened to my story and took a look around the complex, but of course, found noone.

Shaken, I decided I'd better work on my paper, because it was highly unlikely I was going to fall asleep now. Wandering back into my bedroom, I saw what the source of the thump had been. It was my book of poetry by Edgar Allan Poe that had fallen off one of the higher shelves of my bookcase and landed on the floor ... open to The Raven.

The odd coincidence is that Poe was born on January 18, 1809, which was the same day this all happened. Also, he died in Baltimore in 1849, though I seriously doubt it was in my apartment building. Anyways, that is the end of that story ... forevermore.

Although I enjoy building that story up as a ghost story, the scientist in me forces me to point out a couple of more mundane explanations for the events. It was a windy, stormy night and its possible that the gusts could have sucked air from one of my windows or vents, causing the door to get pulled in slightly in the frame. I tested this theory by turning on my window fan later that summer, and indeed it caused the door bounce slightly in the frame, which sounded something like the knocking I heard that night. As for the book, The Raven is my favorite poem, and if the book did coincidentally happen to fall, its likely that page would be the one exposed as the spine is well worn to reading that section.

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