How to Tell If You’re Literally or Figuratively Haunted

Science or seance? Inner demon or genuine demon? Supernatural or just super natural?

How to tell if you’re being hauntedIllustration: Ben Coleman

Ghost Busted

It can be so darn difficult these days to know whether you’re looking at a ghost from your past, an actual ghost or a child in a ghost costume. Thankfully this howl-to guide will help you to understand whether you are literally or figuratively being haunted! Read on boo-low.

Scenario: Every time you walk along the pier, you can’t stop thinking of how she broke your heart, leaving you for that Pilates instructor.
Status: Figurative haunting
What to do next: Download some dating apps and make new connections.

Scenario: A translucent figure sits on the edge of your bed in a nightgown, staring at you in silence while an eerie light emanates from its being.
Status: Literal haunting
What to do next: Call a medium.

Scenario: You’re looking through old family photos, when suddenly you notice a pale spectre just out of frame. Its eyes bore into yours as though it sees you in real time.
Status: Just a regular human child—specifically, your aloof younger cousin whose parents were obsessed with zinc sunscreen.
What to do next: Share the photo on social media and tag your cousin. They’ll be sure to ghost you afterwards.

Scenario: The Olympics are on. You’re watching archery. You keep thinking that with enough practice, you could have been there.
Status: Figurative haunting
What to do next: Focus on things you can still achieve at the Olympics, like spectatorship, for example.

Scenario: You hear that song. You know the one: it’s by Sarah McLachlan. Suddenly you’re crying so hard you’re having an out of body experience.
Status: Figurative haunting
What to do next: Carrying around earplugs is better than carrying around painful memories.

Scenario: You hear that song. You know the one: it’s in a minor key. Growing terrified, you’re cold and alone in a decrepit barn with only a weak oil lantern for light … and it’s just been extinguished.
Status: Literal haunting
What to do next: LEAVE. THAT. BARN.

Scenario: In the middle of the night, you are startled awake by an intense pressure on your chest, a pair of evil glowing eyes and the sensation of mind control.
Status: It’s your cat.
What to do next: Feed him food, not your soul.

Scenario: You’re in your living room when suddenly the temperature plummets, and you can see your breath. All the windows are closed, but the curtains are rustling. A creepy singsong voice whispers, “Why won’t you come play with me? It’s so dark here. You’ll like it.” You live alone.
Status: Literal haunting.
What to do next: Move.

Scenario: There is a persistent tapping at your door. It is 8 p.m. on a crisp fall evening on the last day of October. The sound of ghostly little fingers scraping against wood makes your blood run suddenly cold. You don’t dare answer this evil beckoning.
Status: Child in a ghost costume.
What to do next: It’s clearly Halloween night in this scenario. Buy more candy, you cheapskate.

Scenario: Every time you answer the phone, a sinister horn blares. You hear spine-chilling, nautical sounds, and the menacing words, “All aboard. You’ve just won a cruise.”
Status: Unclear.
What to do next: Spend your life changing your phone number. It’s only a matter of time before the captain finds you again.

Next, here’s the real reason you hate scary movies.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada