"Rob, are you awake?"

I’ve never really been afraid of ghosts. I may freak myself out occasionally with a scary movie or some misplaced sound in the middle of the night, but I’ve always been able to explain it away and really just forget about it within a short amount of time. If anything, I’m probably more of a skeptic when I hear ghost stories from friends and family. That is until I had an experience that was so real and terrifying, that I could not just explain it away.


In the summer of 2009, I lived alone in a two bedroom townhouse. I loved living by myself and I quickly made friends with my neighbors. There was a small courtyard in the middle of several other townhouses with the same floor plan as mine. I became good friends with the couple that lived directly across from my place. He was involved in the shipping business and she was his girlfriend who had recently moved there from Brazil.


I was asleep when my phone rang. It was 4:00 in the morning and I saw that it was my friend from across the courtyard. I answered to my friend saying, in a serious and worried voice, “Rob, I need you to come over here right now!” I didn’t even hesitate. I got out of bed, put on my shoes and ran over to his house.


Our townhouses were exactly the same; the front door opened to a staircase that led to the two bedrooms on the second floor. When I knocked on the door, my friend opened up and said, “I don’t know what’s going on man? She’s been like this for about an hour and I don’t know what to do!” He opened the door a little wider so that I could see the top of the stairs, where his girlfriend was standing. I said, “Hey there is everything alright?” still not really understanding what I was doing there in the middle of the night. She didn’t respond. She just stood there with an expression on her face that I can only describe as empty with a hint of nausea.


I started up the stairs and asked again, “Is everything alright?” She looked at me and asked, “Are you awake?” I laughed a little and said, “Yeah, I’m awake, you’re awake, we’re all awake here.” She didn’t crack a smile. She just looked directly at me and asked, “Rob, are you awake?” There was something about her using my name that just felt odd. I answered again, “Yes, I’m awake. Are you awake?” She did not respond. A few minutes later, she shook her head, looked at me and said again, “Rob, are you awake?”


I didn’t know what to do. I figured she was sleepwalking or not feeling well. I told my buddy that I didn’t know what to do and that maybe he should wait for the morning and if she hasn’t gone to sleep yet, to just take her to the doctor. Then I left and went back across the courtyard to my house.


The next day, he took her to the doctor who said that since she wasn’t a danger to herself or others and that all her vital signs seemed fine, that she would go to sleep when she is tired. Of course, that made sense, but she didn’t sleep for a full four days and the only words she would say to anyone is, “ROB, are you awake?” Why she only used my name and was asking if I was awake, I wasn’t sure, but I figured everything was fine since eventually, she finally went to sleep and, besides a little joking about the whole thing, we didn’t really talk about it much again.


Two weeks later, I was getting home pretty late, so I went straight to my room to get ready to go to sleep. Not long after I laid down on my bed, I heard something downstairs. I thought for a minute that it might be my next door neighbors, but then I realized that they had been on vacation for nearly a week and wouldn’t be back for another few days. I decided to ignore it, blame it on the pipes in the walls or the fridge kicking on downstairs. But then I heard something again except this time it sounded like someone was walking around in my house. With this thought, I was wide awake. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps coming up my stairs toward my bedroom. The footsteps began to increase their speed, to a pace that sounded like someone running up the stairs to tell me the house was on fire and to get out, but I froze and couldn’t move an inch. My hands clinched the sheets at my sides, holding tight like my bed was an unsafe carnival ride in a mall parking lot. The racing footsteps reached the top of the stairs and I looked intensely at the doorway in my room, completely expecting to see whatever intruder was there to murder me. But as I stared at my doorway, I saw nothing. For a brief second, I almost would have preferred to see someone… anyone there besides just open air. And as I stared at the doorway, completely perplexed at what had just happened, I heard the most frightening sound I have ever experienced; I heard the distinct whisper of a male voice in my right ear. As if it couldn’t get worse, the words I heard were in a different language; a language which I later concluded to be Portuguese.


In the days that followed, I met with a doctor to be evaluated for schizophrenia, only to find out that I was healthy and free from any mental illness. To this day, I’m not sure that an “all clear” diagnosis was what I wanted to receive. But in answer to the question, “Rob, are you awake?” I can most definitely and unequivocally answer, “Yes.”