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10 More Consistent Ghost Story Elements

by Ian Zanni
fact checked by Alex Hanton

As mentioned before, ghost stories can have some elements that are alike. Let’s be honest with ourselves, with so many dead spirits roaming the planet, there are bound to be uncanny consistencies. I mean, how many of us have been walking around a public place or watching television and seen our doppelgänger? So why can’t the same be said for ghosts? They are bound to see other, more well-known spirits haunting us living souls, and thought, “I can do that!” And so a clone ghost story is born. Obviously, unoriginal apparitions are the best explanation for for our fireside stories sounding so close together, right? No way us humans spread the fake lore ourselves, that would be preposterous.


Only Reacts to One Gender


So there was this young girl, right? She bites it, probably from getting jilted by her husband. Well, a husband, not necessarily hers. She’s pretty down in the dumps, now she hates men, and she either gets sick and dies or takes the ghosts’ favorite way out, suicide by hanging. Either way, she is dead, but it wouldn’t be a ghost story if she didn’t remain to haunt (pick one of the following: her old residence, her burial site, a favorite location of her and her lover, or the place where she died). You and your friends, naturally, go in search of the spirit. But, you are all guys, and the story says she hates men so she will only react to a girl. Better bring somebody’s girlfriend, fellas, and hope she doesn’t freak out too easily so your ghost hunt doesn’t get flushed down the toilet. Or, maybe a few states or provinces away, a similar spirit will only torment your male friends. Either way, it will be frustrating to prove this is legit.


Abandoned Buildings

Ruins-Of-Detroit Marchand-And-Meffre 18

What is creepier than an abandoned building? Who knows what could be in there? Creaky floors, holes in the walls, feral dogs, a vagrant or two or three. Anything I’m forgetting? Oh, duh, ghosts! Evil entities and sorrowful spirits flock to abandoned locations like it’s a pilgrimage to Mecca. Where else is better? You can lurk in peace, and those pesky kids with their cameras will wander around, looking over their shoulder at every tiny noise you make. They’ll blame it on the floor creaking or building settling at first, but soon you will get your credit where it’s due. Wait until their breathing is at its fastest to pop into one of their pictures, that is the best time to do it!


Blacked-Out or Distorted Photos


Speaking of photos, many haunted locations have the ability to distort your photos or black them out entirely. Many a camera malfunction has probably unnerved an unwitting photographer, but how do you explain when faces are blurred out or certain features get scratched out? Back in the heyday of film cameras, this could easily be explained as a bad exposure. After all, those darkrooms have a tendency to live up to their names. But at some point, it has to be a ghost or demon marking his next victim, right? I would say so. Look for this spooky element in the trailers and posters for the upcoming film Harry Potter and the Woman In Black.


Moving Objects


In this item, we will not be discussing poltergeist activity (visualize plates flying all over the place while the doors and cabinets slam open and shut, and confused parents and an angst teenager watch from the other room). We will be discussing the behind-closed-crypt-doors rearranging of which the dead seem so fond. A prime example is a local legend from my neck of the woods, where a young girl hung herself from a tree in the back of a small cemetery, and has to constantly pick up and move her tombstone in the front to the spot where she died, in the back. A more internationally accessible example is the Chase Vault in Barbados, where coffins are continuously moved and rearranged in the vault. If the people burying the dead got the Feng Shui right the first time, the deceased souls wouldn’t have to do it themselves. That’s like asking somebody to come in for a shift after they retired, so inconsiderate.


Exclusive to the Moon Phases


Well, we went to our local haunted cemetery, snapped photos, recorded unanswered questions asked to thin air, and just all-round wasted our night walking around in the cold, looking for the apparently non-existent ghosts. We went home, put our heads in our hands, and determined there must not, in fact, be ghosts. After one member of our ghost hunting team couldn’t handle the declaration as truth and ran crying from the room, we reread the legend and came to a happy conclusion. Our lack of evidence was due to the fact that we didn’t search during a full moon! If we came back in a few weeks, we were bound to get something. In the meantime, we are going to embark on a road trip to the next state over to catch that hitchhiker that only appears in your backseat during new moons.


Ambiguous or “Lost” Locales


What a great legend! Let me tell you about it. So there was this girl, and she jumped off of a bridge… What was that? You asked what bridge? Well… I’m not sure, EXACTLY, but, okay, I have no idea where this ghost story happened. I Googled it, and it got hits in five states and three other countries. Well, I can tell you about this other legend, we will totally have to check it out… Well, the house it happened in got moved by the original owners to a knew location. Or maybe it was the one that got demolished? Actually, let’s just play Modern Warfare 3 instead.


Summoning the Spirits

Ghosts&Klein Seance Ghostsm

Like a rockstar from his dressing room or a silver screen starlet from her trailer, some spirits only reluctantly make an appearance when they are relentlessly summoned. The biggest celebrity in this summoning spirit game is our favorite, Bloody Mary. Like any good ghoul, Miss Mary has plenty of variations around the world, but she isn’t the only ghost to come when called. Introducing Bloody Mary’s understudy in case she doesn’t show, the Midnight Man. His full ritual can easily be found online, but his rider contract is a little more extensive than Mary’s. It involves candles, blood, and perfect timing. After the Midnight Man enters your place of residence, and stalks you and your friends for 3 and a half hours. Make sure your candle stays lit, and if it blows out you better work quick to surround yourself with the mythical circle of salt, or prepare to face the horrific hallucinations of your worst fears incarnate. Tell us about your favorite spirits to summon and how well it worked out for you, in the comment section!


Unfinished Business

Jo Scream

Let’s not drag this one. It’s high up on the list because of how common it is, but we can smell the cliche from a mile away. “Oh, dammit!” our featured apparition presumably says, “I bit the dust too early, I never got to spin a clay pot with my lover!” Now the poor lost soul has to haunt some place, looking for somebody sensitive enough to paranormal entities to pick up your signal, interpret it, and squash the urge to run away screaming long enough to help you accomplish your task.


Civil War Ghosts


That would be the American Civil War specifically I have no idea how this war differs from the rest of them in creating ghosts to eternally haunt former battlefields, but it just seems to be greatest war for ghosts. How many times have you been flipping through your television channels, and you stumble upon a documentary featuring “ghosts of Gettysburg” or some such nonsense. I have barely heard tales from either World War, The American Revolution, and forget wars from other countries. They get no international love, as far as I have heard. But the American Civil War? Forget it, as far as I’m concerned, every soldier from North and South who died in combat, died of infection, or passed on from dysentery, is still in this Earthly realm, and still hates their counterparts to the north or south.


Perceptible to Children or Animals

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Well, consider this the catch-all explanation for why you don’t get to see and hear the ghosts in your house. You aren’t a five year old, that’s all! Or a dog. Does you toddler point at the “bad man” in the corner? Does your dog start growling at the empty hallway? Cat hiss when the room temperature inexplicably drops a few degrees? Does your children wake you up at night claiming the strange lady is at the foot of her bed again? Many stories the world over, and reports of actual activity, claim that only children and animals can perceive the beings haunting our dwellings (or at least perceive them better). As paranormal studies is not yet a proven science, only straw-grasping and indecisive explanations have cropped up, all of them explaining the children’s and animals’ odd behavior. I hear these odd stories, personally, and remember two things: a lot of animals have heightened senses compared to humans (dogs have better hearing and smell, remember?), and I don’t know about you, but I had quite the active imagination as a kid. So I’ll leave this one up in the air.

fact checked by Alex Hanton