Transient Billets, a True Ghostly Tale

It’s been more than a decade since I left my post at the newspaper. While there, I kept an ongoing journal in my work computer. When I left my job, I printed a copy of these random ramblings, tucked them into a folder and stuck it in my file cabinet.

Goal for 2013, clean out file cabinet.

Last week, while searching for some old Halloween art, I came across the forgotten folder. Inside, a ghostly tale which I had recently shared from memory with friends. But the one thing about memory, sometimes it becomes cobwebby and we forget the important details. And you know that old saying, the ghosts are in the details.  (Okay. I made that up.)

Anyhow, after reading my printed ramblings, I realized I had left out parts of the story.

So, grab a cup of hot cider, dim the lights, and read this ghostly tale by the glow of your computer screen….

It was November and the weather was gloomy when my sister and I arrived in Germany to visit her daughter serving in the U.S. Army. We stayed at a hotel in Giessen which is about an hour and a half drive from Frankfurt. The hotel was actually a transition house for incoming and outgoing American soldiers and their families. But originally, during W.W. II it had been occupied by German soldiers. There were tunnels beneath the hotel boarded by thick, steel doors.

Before I go on… keep in mind I knew nothing of the building’s history prior to what I’m about to tell you.

Within minutes of checking into our room, I opened the window and door, then began to burn sage to rid the small, cramped room of any negative energy (I had learned about smudging at a Native American retreat.). If some moody/cranky person (the living) previously occupied the room, I didn’t want their negative vibes to spoil our visit.

My original clay smudging bowl.

My sister and niece laughed at my quirkiness. Then my niece returned to her army base across the street while my sister and I decided to catch a cat nap before dinner. Jet lag.

That’s when I had the most peculiar dream, a dream that seemed so vivid and real. I found myself wandering along the long corridor which led to our room. There, sitting on the floor, in the small alcove in front of our door, was a young soldier dressed in a drab, green uniform and wearing military black boots. He had reddish hair and his face was solemn, almost expressionless.

I hesitated then slipped past him, making my way into the room. I shut the door, but wasn’t quick enough. The soldier pushed from the opposite side of the door as I threw all of my weight against the door from the inside. He repeatedly said, Billy. Hungry. Billy. As I struggled to keep him out, I glanced over my shoulder and saw my sister dead asleep on the twin bed. I called out for help, but it was as though she couldn’t hear my pleas. At last, just as I managed to shut the door completely and twisted the old-fahioned lock, I awoke to a sharp rap. It was my niece.

I let her in and shook off the strange dream.

Before leaving for dinner, we stopped at a pay phone in the lobby. I called my husband to let him know where we were staying in case of an emergency. When I asked my sister for the name of the hotel, she darted outside to check a sign post she had seen hidden by overgrown shrubs.

The name of the hotel….Transient Billets.

During our stay we visited places like Nuremburg and Paris. We had a great time. The morning before leaving for home, we packed our suitcases. We were joking around when all of a sudden I noticed the antique doorknob slowly moving back and forth, back and forth.

Click. Click. Click.

“Oh, someone’s here,” I said, thinking it was my niece again.

I flung the door wide ready to greet her. No one. Hmm. I looked down the long hallway and didn’t see anyone. (We were the only guests staying in that part of the building on the second floor). I found it odd since the old, wooden floorboards creaked and groaned whenever we walked across them. So, why didn’t I hear anyone coming or going?

Then, my sister fessed up. She had witnessed the doorknob jiggling back and forth several times during our stay. And each time she opened the door, no one was there.

“Remember my dream,” I reminded her. “The soldier trying to force his way into our room?”

“I don’t believe in those things,” she said as she continued to pack her suitcase.

And I dropped the subject.

Is it possible that when I opened the door and window then cleansed the room with the blessed sage that I shoved the earthbound soldier out of his space? The hungry earthbound spirit whose name I thought was Billy?

A few years later, I learned that billet is another german word for room. Billy… billets? Coincidence? Maybe. And maybe the wandering soldier just wanted to take back what belonged to him…his room.

I suppose in this ghostly encounter, my sister and I were the intruders.

Happy Halloween!

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a ghostly experience you’d like to share?

6 thoughts on “Transient Billets, a True Ghostly Tale

  1. Yvette Carol

    OOhhh, great ghost story, Maria. I, too, have a fondness for the stories that are real. I burn sage too sometimes (just so you know). I have loads of these sorts of tales.
    I’ll tell you & your readers one I know you’ll like…. Mainly because you’re a pet person, right?

    Well, when I was born my parents bought a long-haired, green-eyed persian cat, and called her Sheba. There are photos of me as a baby, with Sheba standing guard on the edge of my baby blanket. And pics of me at 3, with her rubbing against my legs. Sheba and I grew up together.

    My bedroom was at the end of the house, facing out to the front yard. In the front garden, grows a grapefruit tree, and that was Sheba’s spot. She’d lie, curled up asleep, underneath it. And when she wanted to come inside (we didn’t have a cat-door), Sheba would sit at attention beneath the grapefruit tree, looking up at my window patiently, until I’d see her and let her in.

    The years went by, and when I turned 15, my darling companion, Sheba was a very old cat.

    One dark & stormy afternoon, nearing dusk, my boyfriend came over to visit. It was too inclement to go out so we made hot drinks and went to my room. We sat on the bed which was by the window. We looked outside at the storm. I opened the window, to check on Sheba, as the weather was so bad, with her long coat, I assumed she’d need to come in. We looked across, and there she was, in her usual spot, sitting beneath the grapefruit tree, staring up at us with her green eyes.

    I stared out at her and she stared at me.

    Then, she turned around.

    That was when I realized she was a couple of inches above the ground. She floated away into the gathering darkness. I looked at my boyfriend and said, “Did you see that?”

    And he said, “Yes!”

    We were both freaked out, but then assured ourselves we’d imagined it.

    Two days passed with no sight of my cat.

    I’ll never forget walking up the garden path, and stopping in my tracks. There was my father, with Sheba on the end of a shovel, as stiff as a board, with all 4 legs out straight. Dad said, “I just found her body. She’s been dead a couple of days at least.”

    That was when I knew, my cat had come to her spot to say goodbye. And that I (we) had seen her ghost.

    1. Maria Cisneros Toth

      Omigosh, Yvette…. I’m in tears, but at the same time I think it’s so beautiful the way Sheba came back to let you know that she had crossed over. She was saying good-bye to you. What an amazing story! And to think your boyfriend witnessed Sheba’s floating away, too. I bet he’s never forgotten it either.

      I’ve experienced several pets coming back to let me know they were all right. And my sister’s dog, Keno, who I used to babysit when she was out of town carme around till Jack & Sally came to live with us. Even our neighbor’s cat who I called “Orange Cat” came by to let me know he was okay.

      My visits usually come in the dreamstate. There are dreams, you know the regular type of dreams with symbols, and then there are these type of visitation dreams that are so real. I’ve seen one ghost while completely awake, my mother. And like you said, she was floating, no shoulder movement and nothing below the knees. But she was clear as day, though, much younger looking, very pretty.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! We’ll have to exchange more stories. Several of my ‘strange tales’ are based on true incidents. I’ve just padded them with fiction. 🙂

      Hope you and the boys have a fantastic Halloween!

      1. Yvette Carol

        Hi, Maria. I somehow missed your reply. Better late than never. That’s wonderful you’ve had so many experiences like this. I agree re the dreams.

        I had one very amazing, vivid dream once of our second cat, Tigger, while he was still alive, I might add! I flew out my bedroom window and went round to the front steps. There was Tigger, sitting bolt upright, surrounded by a ring of cats who live in the next-door houses. My interpretation of this situation I witnessed was that it was some sort of ‘council’. But, in this case, the other cats were not being kind to Tigger and I sensed he was very unhappy and feeling put-upon. So, I flew low over the top of the group and made a loud HISSSSS!!! sound. Every single cat scarpered, except for ours. Anyway, the next morning, I got up and remembered my vivid dream. When I saw Tigger that day, he stared at me, with a knowing look unlike any he’d used with me before, for a number of minutes, and I knew it had been real and that it was his way of acknowledging my assistance.

        Yes, let’s exchange more stories. You never know what could come of humble beginnings! 🙂

    2. mariacisnerostoth Post author

      Whoa! That is an awesome story, Yvette! I could just visualize you swooping out of your bedroom window, hovering over the council of tough cats and hisssssing at them. LOL! Sort of reminds of the Blackley Boys ganging up on Aiden. I really believe that people with creative/artsy minds have more of these type of dream experiences. Yes, for sure, let’s share some more of these experiences! 🙂

      1. Yvette Carol

        Ditto. Dreaming has been a big part of my experiences in life. I’ve revisited the same houses in my dreams throughout my life, and dreamed of the same people, I’ve had really touching visitations in my dreams from deceased family members, inspirations for stories, and my dreams are always in colour and I remember them. The super-real dreams are the ones I like best. 🙂

    3. mariacisnerostoth Post author

      Yvette~when I gave my dad the collection of poems (written from the stories he told me), I always felt like it was completed. Then just a few days after his passing, I had this dream which inspired the opening of the collection with the same title of the book. Once I wrote it, I knew the collection was completed.

      I also use my dreams in my writing. And funny, I always thought everyone dreamt in living color. Joey says he doesn’t dream, but of course we know he does, he just doesn’t remember them. I can only imagine what it was like for him when we first married and all of a sudden I’m telling him about all of these weird motion picture type dreams. LOL!

      And funny since we’ve been on the topic of realistic dreams…. last night, a friend posted a British movie ‘Paperhouse’ on my FB wall. I watched it today thinking it was going to be a spooky, Halloween type film, but it turned out to be something way better. I posted it on my wall and put your name in it. Hope you get a chance to watch it. 🙂

      Oops. Just burnt the chicken. 🙂


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