It was mid October and as soon as I saw the Denver airport on our approach, I knew I’d regret accepting this speaking offer, but I was the inventor and had an interest in the resulting product of our Multi-Frequency, Real-Time Waveform Analyzer.
I won’t describe it here because every time I try, my wife shakes her head to signal me not to. I’ll just say that our fiber optic customers love it.
Denver in mid October was just brutal that year with temperatures and wind chill approaching zero.
The first 2 days of speaking had gone well, but the Q&A was exhausting. I staggered back to my dreary street level hotel room, pealed off my clothes, crawled into my sweats each night thinking to go to the exercise room for at least 20 minutes, but once I laid down on the bed, I was done. The second night I even blew off ordering dinner. It has to be the thin air of the mile-high city of Denver, that I was not used to.
I woke up close to midnight with a whopping sore throat. I was sure that I had the Denver wind and sleet and that coughing woman in the red blazer on the front row to thank for my throat. ‘Great. Just great!’
I got up to drink as much water as I could hold and thought, Only one more day and this will be over. I laid back down, thankful that I had fallen asleep so early as now I’d have that much more time to sleep as the winds outside began to pick up, deeply whistling through some part of the building.
I gathered up the comforter and pulled both arms in for warmth. I must have fallen asleep thinking that I was hungry, but was too tired to order anything. I resolved that I would survive fine on the catered egg salad sandwich and iceberg lettuce salad they had given us for lunch. I was still finishing this thought when the sound of screeching brakes from the parking lot woke me up. There was a short exchange of shouting before the windy silence returned.
But after being startled from sleep, I was wide awake and reluctantly grabbed my paperback book from the night stand. It must have worked because I have a memory fragment of fumbling to reach over and turn off the light and dropping the book beside me as sleep finally returned. My headache still pounded. Sleep seemed to be my only sanctuary — if I could only get there.
But within moments, another sound startled me back awake. What was that? I thought, with just enough light from the parking lot sneaking around the curtain edges, I could see the outline of the room furniture. Other than the gusty winds of Denver moaning just outside, silence had returned and I could not recall the sound that woke me.
Why can’t the neighborhood just go to bed and be quiet? I thought.
Instead a new light, a slightly brighter one, pried open my eye lids and again, I was startled to fully awake. Floating across the room was a small flowing drape of light, slowly rotating and moving from near the door towards the end of my bed. It was like a couple feet of weightless semi-transparent chiffon fabric, and it drifted closer to my bed.
My pulse was racing and I was angry at being almost scared. No, I thought, I’m a scientist and not some ghost-story paranoid. But what is that thing?
My mind shuffled through a list of possible causes as the apparition moved even closer. With a sudden inspiration, I removed my reading glasses, and as I did, the entity disappeared. Of course it did. It has to be a function of a car turning into the parking lot slowly, one of the cracks of light from the drapes, the mirror directly across from the end of the bed and my glasses. I needed only to remove one of the factors to kill the effect.
But now, I was wide awake from working so hard at not being afraid of a simple blur of light, but satisfied that I now understood and disabled the specter.
Embarrassed some, I put my glasses on the bedside table and had started to roll over beneath the comforter – when, Damn! The phenomena returned, brighter this time.
Now, I was scared. I was sure I understood this thing, but the parking lot was dark and my glasses weren’t even on. The creepy, waving drape of light paused at the end of the bed and I caught myself not breathing. As it turned slowly, it evolved into something rounder and more familiar. I felt the blood in my chest chill as the waves of light resolved into – an eye – then two eyes — which noticed, and then, narrowed to focus on me.
Without thinking I threw the paperback book at the wisp. It passed right through as if neither existed. The lights further resolved into a woman’s full face whose eyes narrowed as she leaned towards me. She opened her broken-toothed mouth wide and screamed, spraying me with sticky spit before dissipating into nothing leaving me alone, hyperventilating in my darkened room until I fainted.
The next morning I was almost too ill to drag myself out of bed and realized that I had a fever and could barely speak when I called my client to cancel the last day of meeting. When I told her I was too sick to finish, she told me that half the class so far had called in with the same complaint.
It seems that someone brought more than their questions to the meeting room. The only good thing that came with that morning was where I found my book. It was still lying on the nightstand right where I’d left it before the nightmare of that ghostly visitor.