By: Ben Neblock ’11
Christoph Graham ’12 suffered a unique stress in addition to the acquisition of school supplies, the perusal of syllabi, the conforming to a fresh schedule, and all of the usual rigors that accompany the onset of a new trimester, when he was forced to confront potential paranormal activity in his dorm room.
The incidents began during the early Fall, while he was the only resident of the squat two bedroom suite in the East Dorms that he still inhabits. His roommate, Jamal Stewart, was engaged in a celebrated internship in Chicago, and was not expected to return for two months. That meant complete freedom for Christoph, and he soon adopted an easy routine punctuated by solitary cigarette breaks throughout the night.
It was following one of these intermissions that Christoph realized his room may be haunted.
“I returned to the room and noticed that Christoph’s light was on,” he relates. Though premature and unannounced, Christoph was excited at the prospect of his cohabitants return.
“I thought that he could probably use a smoke.”
When a series of knocks were met with silence, Christoph entered the room hesitantly, lest he wake the recent arrival, no doubt exhausted by his voyage. Instead of a slumbering Jamal, he found an empty room.
“All of those rooms have activity sensors, so I assumed that something had triggered it. Then I went to sleep.”
His rest lasted until approximately 3AM, when a band of the same sensorial light appeared under his door. A quick survey of the passage connecting their rooms resulted in the light repeatedly flickering on and off, as if someone was toying with the switch.
He believed that it could be Jamal again, but was hesitant to pursue further investigation.
The next morning revealed that his roommate had, in fact, not returned; the room remained empty for the entirety of the day. At nightfall, Christoph heard the distinct sound of a shower running, accompanied by repeated opening and closing of doors. Being familiar with the neighbor that lives adjacent to his dorm, and wishing to eliminate their nocturnal activity as the cause of the mystery, Christoph roused himself to corroborate that they were uninvolved. As expected, their room was unlit, with no signs of current occupancy. That night he drank whiskey before finding sleep.
Three days passed without sign of Jamal or a return of the odd noise or light, and still Christoph had shared his suspicion with no one. An opportunity for an unbiased opinion presented itself that evening, when a friend inquired about borrowing a cigarette, the pack of which had remained in the room while Christoph dined.
He invited his friend to recover the nicotine himself, a solitary venture without goading or cautionary bias. That friend called five minutes later to relate that he had been overcome by a strange presence while in the room, mentioning more than once that, “Something weird is going on.”
Christoph recalls him asking, “Where are the cigarettes?” in a plaintive whisper, before finally returning without them.
“He seemed really scared.”
The unexplained phenomena continued in the form of flickering lights, running shower, or unmistakable click of a phantom keycard sliding into the door, for close to a week.
“Even as an engineer,” he explains, “I can not figure out how the light went on. The wind, in a closed room? No.”
“Eventually, when I entered the room, it felt really weird and really cold,” he relates. “This was at 8:30 or 9:00 at night. Not even midnight.” By the end of that week, he began to sleep with the lights on.
Once informed of these visitations, his friends on campus exhibited an expected level of cynicism, believing that the noises bore a more earthly basis: coyotes, old pipes in the walls, even burglars. While relating his tale, more than a few passing gentlemen paused to offer a sudden “Boo!” in Christoph’s ear.
Christoph does not blame them, being fully aware of how peculiar the claim could be considered. Even more bizarre is that following that initial week, the enigma ceased entirely.
Determined to construct some manner of resolution, he engaged in some amateur sleuthing.
“I googled it,” he reports. “Thunderbird Ghost, campus ghosts, nothing came up. I was very disappointed.”
Undeterred by the unique nature of the case, Christoph received a coincidental consultation from an alumni who happened to be on campus one evening, and overheard a conversation about the specter. The unidentified alumni assured that while various aspects of campus have undergone renovation throughout the years, the East Dorms retain their initial structure, dating back to the 1940s when they served as barracks for pilots. Surely, with such longevity, uniformed men could have died there.
The alumni shied away from ascribing a malignant nature to the spirit in question, however.
“Some of the best times we have in life happen here,” he told Christoph. “Maybe they are just trying to relive it.”
Christoph is quick to point out that while that is a possible motive, he does not happen to favor it. To attempt to ascribe motives or discern the identity is an impossible, if still worthy, task.
Yet, “If it is a ghost,” he says, “I hope that it is an alumni. And I hope that it can get me a job.”
**please note, names have been changed at the request of the subjects in the article.