By Willow Croft
Vermont: Leaf-peeping, maple syrup, snowy hills that sparkle under star-strewn
skies—it’s a state full of the magic of nature. But is there another sort of magic that is woven
into that gorgeous landscape? As a writer of speculative fiction, I spend a lot of time in
imaginary worlds, but I definitely embrace science and have a healthy skeptical side. So, when I
had some odd incidents happen to me while I was residing in Vermont, I was hard-pressed to
explain them. Because I haven’t been able to come up with a suitable rational
explanation—yet—they remain within the realm of (imaginative) personal experience—stories,
Back in 1998, I was in need of a total change. On a whim, I decided to apply to a college
in Vermont that embraced alternative methods of teaching and appeared to be nontraditional in
other ways. It seemed to offer a much-needed break from my home state of Florida, which I was
finding very restrictive due to its increasingly conservative nature. At this college, I found an
environment that not only embraced creative expression; it channeled that energy into social and
Some claimed the campus was a vortex, and such a concept was a little too “out there”
for my practical side to entertain. So, of course, I had two very strange experiences happen to me
while I was on campus.
Haunted Dorms? Don’t Be Ridiculous!
The first one happened when I was in my dorm room, and I was awakened (or thought I
was) by a pressure at the end of the bed, like someone sitting on the mattress. I looked down at
the end of the bed, and there was an elder man in a tweed coat sitting in one of my desk chairs.
He told me his name was Herschel. I often have very lucid, vivid dreams, so I went along with
the odd experience, and looked around the room. I noticed there were no longer curtains at the
windows, and a woman with dark hair was standing by one of them, looking out into the night.
There was also a young girl sitting in the other desk chair, slouched down and with her head
bowed. I remembered thinking that this definitely had to be a dream, even though I felt like I was
awake, so I did a test—I looked up at the ceiling, and it was lit up by my nightlight that had a red
bulb, and I looked back around the room, and the people were still there. Then more people
started to show up, and, because there wasn’t anywhere else to sit, they started sitting on my bed.
I jumped up, grabbed my blanket, and sat out in the common room until sunup. When the RA
(resident assistant) came out into the common room, he told me that other students had
experiences where they felt like somebody was coming into their room or was in the room with
them. However, nobody else seemed to be able to describe the figures I saw with any sort of
detail, so, again, it remains just that: an interesting story about some unexplained, and purported,
That’s One Persistent Optical Illusion!
The second time was broad daylight, and I had just finished lunch at the cafeteria and was