The Southland is home to famous ghost stories and murderous, hair-raising tales of terror — from the mysteriously unsolved Black Dahlia case, to the haunted decks of the Queen Mary. In the spirit of this horrific holiday, KCRW asked listeners to share their creepiest and unexplainable true stories.
Catherine Lydon’s strange dream on one late night in 1983 gave way to a shocking reality.
She recounts, “I was in London on a vacation in May of 1983, and visiting friends and seeing the wonderful city. And one night I had a dream about my mother. … My bedroom door opened, and the light came in, and I could see my friend outlined in the light behind her. … I was sound asleep, I sat up straight, and I said, ‘It's okay. I know she's gone. I know she's gone.’
… Back in Los Angeles, my mother had passed away. So she came to say goodbye in that dream; I'm convinced of that. It took the edge off of [my friend] having to tell me that my mother passed away.
… My friend, she was more in shock than I was, in a funny way. … She had received the bad news, knew she had to tell me. And then she goes in to tell me and I'm like, ‘Okay, I know she's gone.’
… Older now, I think what a darn nice thing for mom to do. … Right to the end, she was taking care of me. I look at it that way now. It was an amazing experience. It was spooky. But I prefer now to just think that was a nice thing for mom to do.”
On one spooky night, Brad Hodson realized a phone call was coming from inside a former record company’s building in Hollywood, where he was working late at night on his own.
He recalls, “This one night, the phone rings. I answer and no one's on the line. I looked down at the switchboard, and the red light is flashing next to the button for the machine room. The call is coming from inside the building. So I punch up the machine room on the monitor. No one's there.
Worried someone might have broken in, I grabbed this big steel Maglite we had sitting at the desk and go to check it out. I searched the whole building, all three floors and the underground parking deck. No one is in this building.
… I go back to my desk. About 20 minutes later, the phone rings again. This time it’s from the tiny break room next to the machine room. One room closer to me. So I go through the whole process again. … This continues all night. Every 20 minutes or so, I get a phone call, each one coming from a room closer to me, the calls moving through the building toward my desk, toward me.
… It's about 11:45 p.m. when the final call comes in. This call is from the client phone on the other side of the lobby, a phone I can see about 10 feet away from me. I'm looking at it as it calls me, and no one is there.
… What still creeps me out about this is that the pattern of the calls moving through the building implies to me that there was some kind of intelligence at work behind it. And for some reason, that intelligence only targeted me.”
After an especially brutal meeting with an inauspiciously positioned rock, Tommy Bui has spent decades wondering if an ethereal figure he saw was the result of head trauma or paranormal activity in Pacoima.
He remembers, “I was about 7 years old … My friend and I running around … we were in my backyard. And we were testing the very limits of how far we can swing on a hammock. And then one time, we just went a little bit too far. And we did triple somersaults and then through the air we flew. My friend landed on a cushy patch of grass while my head was wanged on a rock. And I'm just lying on the ground, writhing and disoriented, and I'm sure very sincerely concussed. But then I feel my head being gingerly cradled in my friend's lap.
He starts touching the wound on the side of my head. And he starts singing … this very gentle, soft song. And I, the adrenaline completely dissipates, and I'm no longer in a sense of panic, and just feel comforted — maybe womb-like even. Who the heck was that ethereal being with the angelic set of pipes.
Eventually a couple of days go by, and then I'm talking to him again. I'm like, ‘That was a weird moment we had there. Why of all things [did you] comfort me in that way? Like a WWI nurse or something? I'm just looking deeply in your eyes and falling in love, perhaps?’ But no, he tells me, ‘No, I don't know what you're talking about at all. The moment your head hit the ground, I ran inside to call your mother.’
Maybe it was just a serious head trauma talking, or maybe angels do make the commute from Anaheim, on occasion, to patrol the ragtag streets of Pacoima.”