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I never believed my friend Steve until I experienced it myself. You see, Steve had told me this outrageous story about an entity he refers to as “The Gray Woman” that has been haunting him since he was young. I didn’t believe a word of it. Not because I don’t believe in the paranormal per se, but because the details seemed more like something from a Hollywood horror flick than something you hear about happening in real life. Steve would see this woman in and around the apartment complex that his family owned. He lived with his mom in the manager’s apartment, and at one point my fiancé and I decided to take up residence in a unit at the other end because we wanted to move into town closer to our family and the apartment was notorious for being the cheapest place around and not doing credit checks.
Steve told me about the Gray Woman many times, describing her as a younger woman approximately late teens to early 20s, but with a haggard appearance. Her dark hair hung to where it covered portions of her face at any given time so he could never look at her completely head on. He described her skin as being an ashen color and her clothing a simple drab-colored dress that looked worn out. These features led him to call her the Gray Woman because of her grayscale appearance.
We moved in during the spring. The place was already spooky enough considering the other residents were all creepy in their own ways. There were approximately 10 units total that sat side by side in this one story building. The section of the building that Steve lived in was up closer to the road in a brick portion of the building that housed 6 of the units. The other 4 units were at the end we lived on, a section that had obviously been an add-on later in the building’s history as it was made out of metal siding rather than brick and the apartments were a bit newer. According to the locals, the brick part of the building had been a dentist’s office from early on until sometime in the 1980s, which explained the unorthodox floor plans and the need for an addition to make room for more units. Steve’s family lived in what was once the main lobby. Across from the building lay a small pond and the entire property was backed by sprawling crop fields, as was a common sight in this part of the south and in this small one stoplight town in particular.
My first indication that things were a little off in this place was the stain. Steve’s mom had hired some locals to paint and clean the apartment before we moved in, but I noticed what looked like a spot of mold on the wall of the bathroom in between the toilet and the sink with its old fashioned medicine cabinet. Upon my asking, they sent out the maintenance worker who tested the spot, checked the adjacent neighbor’s wall and even went as far as to cut into the wall because he suspected a leaking pipe had grown mold inside the wall. When he cut the wall open, there was nothing on the other side. They replaced the section of drywall and it held up until the following week when I noticed the stain had reappeared in the same spot.
We decided to ignore the stain after that, chalking it up to some weird occurrence that wasn’t really a major concern. Then, our pets began acting up. One morning we awoke to a loud wailing scream from outside our bedroom. It sounded like a baby, but at this point we hadn’t even had our son yet. At the same time my fiancé ran to the door, our younger cat came bolting into our room, terrified and shaking. Our other cat was nowhere to be found and eventually we did find him beneath the couch but he wouldn’t come out at all. We had no idea where the scream came from, and ascertained that it must have been the cat getting spooked by something, a mouse perhaps. We knew the noise wasn’t another tenant because it had definitely come from our apartment.
Fast forward to a few months later in the fall. I was in the middle of coming inside from hanging the laundry out to dry in the back (we had a communal clothesline as the building had no washer/dryer outlets and the families who could not afford the Laundromat often hand washed their clothes as I was doing on this day) and as I was about to enter the screen door in the back of our apartment that led into our bedroom, I looked into the unit and saw someone staring back at me from the other side of the front screen door. I had the doors open between the back and front doors to allow air to circulate around the stuffy apartment, and this gave me a straight path between the front and back screen doors to look through and see this…whatever it was. It looked like a woman in an ill fitting dress, and she stood at the front door as if she was waiting for me to return and see her. As soon as I did, she turned abruptly and walked towards the front part of the building, passing by the other units on our side. I ran through the house and out the front door, wanting to catch sight of whoever it was that had been peeping in our front door. I saw no one. The neighbor of the next unit, Dawn, had been sitting outside the entire time at her small patio table and hadn’t seen anyone pass by. Because of the location of her seat, they would have had to walk right by her to continue in the direction I saw the woman take. This was my encounter with the Gray Woman.
I told Dawn what I had seen, and she responded with her own equally chilling story of having had a similar experience in one of the other units when she first moved in and had lived in a smaller one bedroom on the other side. She would wake at night to feel like someone was watching her, and had a lot of maintenance issues while living there. Not to mention the crying. She said it was more like screaming, really. Screaming that sounded a lot like a baby.
Like any good true scary story, the real credibility comes with the research. Months after we had moved out of that creepy place, we were hanging out with some friends at a party. Somehow, it was brought up how we had lived in the apartments with Steve. One of my friends, a local to the area, said that she couldn’t believe we had lived in that creepy place, and asked if we had heard the ghost babies.
“Ghost babies?” I asked, both confused and chilled at the same time
She went on to tell me that the building had been a dentist’s office, that much was true. But dentistry wasn’t always their only service that was provided. Apparently, the office also did abortions on the down-low. As I mentioned, this was a one-stoplight town and the nearest hospital was several miles away in a neighboring town. There wasn’t actually a place in the town to have this sort of procedure performed, and the poor families would get their “problems” taken care of along with their annual teeth cleaning.
This explained a lot. According to my friend and the several people I’ve asked since that have supported claims of the paranormal happening at this apartment complex, people have often reported hearing a baby cry late at night and early in the morning when there were no children in the building at all. I should mention at the time we lived there, there were no babies living in the complex then either. The funeral parlor located directly next door has been claimed by some to have been involved in the disposal of the remains, though that claim has never been proven. The Gray Woman, I have guessed, may be a grieving mother to one of these aborted children. Perhaps she even died during the operation. The most terrifying this about all of this is that to this day, the reports continue. I believe Steve now.