If the best part about scary movies is being scared, the next best part is being able to retreat safely from the frightening (if brief) reality they create.

But what if home sweet home isn't quite the safe haven it seems?

Halloween is just the time of year when local ghost stories tend to seep into conversation and raise the hair on the back of your neck, whether you believe in them or not.

Blacksburg is a sweet, small town, but like any other place, it's not without its own ghost stories.

For the past few years, the Student Alumni Associates showed those looking for ghosts just where they might find them. Typically, guided tours around Virginia Tech's campus and nearby locations in Blacksburg revealed the local stories and hot spots for eerie activity.

Unfortunately, SAA won't be holding their ghost tours this year, so scare junkies will have to find the stories on their own.  

Some are well-known, like the voices and banshee-like screams reportedly heard in the Lyric, while others might come as a surprise.

If most people have come to know the ghosts that haunt the Lyric, they might be unaware that it's likely not the only purportedly haunted theater they've visited.

The Grandin Theatre in Roanoke was built in 1932 as one of the first movie theaters with sound.

The theater's assistant manager, Sean Poff, told The Roanoke Times that a homeless family once lived in the projection booth for a time when the theater was closed at one point in the '50s.

As ghost stories go, two of the family's children died there, and some say that late at night you can hear a baby crying in the stairwell.

Former projectionists have also told Poff stories of strange occurrences when leaving the theater late at night.

Once when about to leave, a projectionist saw a little boy at the top of a staircase. The projectionist, thinking the boy hadn't gone home after a movie, followed the child up the stairs, only to watch the boy walk straight though the closed doors of the nearest screening room.

Employees have also told stories of hearing glasses clinking and people laughing upstairs, but they still don't know who's there or what they seem to be celebrating.

In the spirit of entertainment, a manager of Attitudes has told stories of eerie happenings in the nightclub, like sounds of laughter and voices coming from the empty club after hours.

Also at times, the front desk has asked the manager to turn down the music in the club, even when there's no music playing.

But one of the best stories is that of the "black sisters."

Three sisters, Mary, Caroline and Virginia Wardlaw, were born into a wealthy family in Georgia. They were well-educated and eventually became teachers, becoming highly esteemed and well liked in the community.

Eventually, the sisters became more eccentric and their habits more sinister; they allowed no one into their home and kept the blinds drawn, constantly dressing in black and frequenting cemeteries at night.

When they moved to Christiansburg around the turn of the 20th century, they took over operation of the Montgomery Female College. Under the sisters' care, the school accumulated massive debt and saw vastly deteriorating conditions.

While the black sisters lived in Christiansburg, residents were afraid to answer their doors for fear of finding the three sinister women in black on their doorstep.  

Relatives of the sisters suspiciously turned up dead of supposed suicides, though each death was accompanied by a large insurance policy conveniently left to the sisters.

Caroline convinced Mary's son, John, to leave his wife and teach at their school in Christiansburg. While staying with the sisters, he was nearly killed twice, once when he fell off a train and again when he nearly drowned. Later he was found in his room, soaked in kerosene and writhing in flames on the floor. He died hours later.

Virginia's niece, who was reportedly kept in the sisters' house as a prisoner, was found dead in the upstairs bathroom in a small, half-filled tub. She was crouched on her knees with her head directly under the faucet.

She also appeared emaciated and may have starved to death.

This time, all three sisters were indicted for murder. Before they stood trial, Virginia starved herself to death; Mary pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and Caroline was sent to prison.  

The site of their school once housed the Christiansburg Middle and High Schools, where there were reports of lights going on and off and dark, shadowy figures walking the hallways.

If residents feared the black sisters when they were alive, their ghosts would seem formidable neighbors as well.

Of course, rumors surround any old building, cemetery or site where a heinous act occurred; from these places, fleeting stories emerge, tales whispered yet unconfirmed.

The old performing arts building at Virginia Tech; an adolescent's murder in downtown Blacksburg long ago; a massacre at Draper's Meadow - why wouldn't there be "unrest" to say the least?

"Death is a natural part of life," said Kevin Sutherland, case manager and historian for the New River Valley Paranormal Society. "Some people die in peace, and others do not."

So lying in bed at night, the chills up your spine could be from mere stories; then again, stories and rumors are separated by one thing - stories are supposedly true.