Ghost Protocol / by Courtney Mehlhaff

I watch a lot of scary movies. This wouldn't seem like the wisest choice for someone who lives alone, has trouble sleeping, and boasts an overactive, worst-case-scenario imagination. But I'm more afraid of aliens than ghosts, so I'm usually ok.

I didn't think twice about popping in "Ouija" at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, mainly because it looked (and was) terrible, and actually a bit boring. I don't put much stock in that kind of thing, especially since my friends and I dabbled with a ouija board in college. On Halloween. At midnight. And we're all still alive to tell the tale. Although I did find out I have a spirit guide named Tikwu, for whatever that's worth.  So when the movie was over, I watched an old Simpsons episode and went to sleep.

I'm fairly certain my rude upstairs neighbor woke me up with one of his thuds around 4 a.m., which wasn't unusual.  What was different this time was that there seemed to be a ghostly figure standing next to my bed.

I stared for a moment, still groggy. When it became clear that this apparition wasn't going anywhere, I began to sit up . . . and then it went somewhere. It rose into the air, hovering near my wall.

Even in my bleary, myopic state, my mind held two thoughts clearly at the same time. Thought #1: You're having a bit of sleep paralysis. This is what it looks like when others see "shadow people" and it's a natural, albeit weird, phenomenon. Thought #2: I have to turn my light on or I'm going to fucking die!

And right at that moment, my eyes came into focus, and I realized that I was goggling at (and terrified of) the light filtering in through my bedroom window. Not only that, but I'd actually batted at it with my hand.

I've often wondered what I'd do if I experienced any of the horrors in these movies. As it turns out, my response to an imaginary threat like a ghost was emitting the weakest, most pathetic little "ahh --- ahhhhhhh" and pawing at the air like a newborn kitten.

I take a bit of comfort in this, since my real-life response to a legitimate threat like getting mugged was trying to kick the guy in the nuts while apparently screaming loud enough to wake all my neighbors.

You gotta do what you gotta do, people. Even if it's sleeping with the light on for awhile.