Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ghost Invasion


 The photo was taken by my sister-in-law, Marti Durkee Garvey, on a visit to NYC in 2008.  She has other fantastic photos at her website.
The photo inspired me to write the following story.

Ghost Invasion

In New York City, people sometimes ignore noises in the night.  The less you know the better off you are, is how the thinking goes.  So, when there was the occasional thump or moan emanating from Apartment 3B in the Stowe Building on the Lower West Side, there was a hesitancy to pick up the phone and call the police. 
Everyone knew the woman who lived there had unusual tendencies.  She never came in or out of her apartment, played chant-like music with irritating repetition and burned incense and candles incessantly – a worry in its own regard.  No one had ever met her.  If fact, they weren’t even sure she was a woman, yet rumors abounded nonetheless.  Some folks said she had a small inheritance.  Others rumored she had a man who ‘kept’ her financially afloat and still others thought she created high end sculptures that sold for outlandish prices at a local gallery.  No theory had ever been confirmed. 
When passing on the street, you could look up and see movement through the panes of her window.  Large objects might be propped against the glass one day and the next there might be nothing at all.
One day, Jay Thomas, a resident of 4B, ran across a story on the internet which discussed a strange phenomenon the police had been investigating.  They had been tracking multiple reports of suspicious ghost-like activity.  People had called about unusual tenants in their buildings who never came in or out of their apartments, yet played chant-like music with irritating repetition and burned incense and candles incessantly.  There were consistent reports of movement through windows, but the most surprising link between the stories was that all of the effected supervisors reported those particular units were unrented.
Jay built a Facebook page dedicated to the phenomenon where folks could link-up and discuss the ghost-like tenants in their buildings.  After ruling out the odd musician, palm reader and recluse, the site had a list of 20 eerily similar ‘tenants’ located throughout the Lower West Side of Manhattan. 
The police contacted Jay after they accessed his page and he became an integral part of the plan they put into place.  While working with them, he and the other residents of the Stowe Building began keeping a more vigilant eye on 3B.   Residents tiptoed past the door, began keeping their lights on at night, gathered in groups to discuss their common problem and let their imaginations run wild with possibilities.
Twitter feeds were created around the city to play off the growing fear and hilarity created by the phenomenon.  Some of the more humorous were:  @ghostsquatter, @nobodyhome and @feelingtransparent. 
On October 31st, the police set their plan into place with a coordinated sting on all the affected apartments. The plan was to bust through the doors and catch the squatters before they had a chance to flee. 
In the New York Times on November 1st, the following headline ran:  Ghosts Gone – Sculpted Reminders Remain. 
It seems that in every single apartment, all 20 that had been affected, the police found exactly the same thing:  a single candle burning in the middle of an empty apartment and a large immoveable human sculpture welded into the front window.  It was made of some unknown material and filled the frame from top to bottom and side to side.  The sculpture was the same in every single apartment.  The police dusted for fingerprints, checked for DNA samples, looked for signs of welding tools or any other sign of human activity.  They came up empty handed.
The sculptures are still there in the 20 unrented apartments.  There is a special bus tour you can take in New York City to visit all the sites.  Jay Thomas owns the company and has become the sole authority on the Ghost Invasion, as that time has come to be known.   
At night, when the moon is full and all is still, you can look up at any one of the windows and see a sculpture looming above.  It doesn’t move, but if you look closely you can see a faint wisp of smoke and hear a low repetitive chant reverberating through the walls of the building.  It’s the only Ghost Invasion ever recorded in New York City or anywhere else in the world. 
Jay Thomas plans to keep it that way.  


  1. LOVE IT!! Great story - I think I believe it since you have photographic evidence :) thanks for the plug :) --- & Of course this is my favorite story of the whole month! xxoo

  2. I'm so glad you like it, Marti. Your photo was great inspiration! xoxo

  3. While reading this, I began to wonder if the story is based on fact because it sounded so real. It also reminded me of a friend's business in Portland ME -- Wicked Walking Tours. He "unearths" the ghosts of Portland for tourists, when he's not singing opera.
    xoxo Judy