Do You Believe in Ghosts? A Haunting Tale From My Own Childhood

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When it comes to the supernatural, I’m generally a skeptic. I think psychics are charlatans and con artists (although Thomas John makes me wonder sometimes….). I don’t believe anyone can actually see my aura, I don’t deck myself out in magic crystals, and I don’t subscribe to any particular religion. I’m a science girl- Bill Nye is my deity (he is gonna save the world, after all). I believe, for the most part, that science can explain anything if you really put your back into finding the answers.

But….

I have had multiple experiences in my life that I can not really explain, and it bothers me. Things that, while I can’t say I know for a fact are “supernatural”, I have never come up with a sure answer for (and no one else has either). The most die hard skeptics I’ve talked to have scratched their heads on the story I’m about to tell you; they insist we can’t possibly be dealing with “spirits” or “ghosts” in these situations, but they really can’t give me much more than that.

Some situations have been just been small, baffling moments that are strange but not overly concerning. For instance, the weird occurrence I had as a teenager. In high school, some of our classes were held in a building up the street from the school, that housed the administration offices. I had never thought anything  was strange about the place; I usually walked with a few friends, and we were too busy talking, I suppose, to notice anything odd. But on one afternoon I was walking to class late, so I was alone. I was walking up the hallway when I had the unmistakable feeling that someone was walking behind me; I didn’t hear footsteps, just the feeling of being approached. As I started to turn my head to look behind me, I heard a distinct whoosh sound, like when you purse your lips and blow air out of your mouth. A puff of air hit the back of my neck, hard enough to make my hair move. I jumped and whipped around, only to find no one was standing behind me. I was completely alone. So who, or what, in the hell blew air on me? To this day, I have no idea. There were no fans around, no machines of any kind, just an empty hallway. Am I saying it was a ghost? No, not necessarily, but I have no other way to explain it, either. It doesn’t even make sense that it could be a ghost- I mean, ghosts are supposed to be dead. Therefore, they would not breathe, so how would they even blow air, right? And yet, something blew on me, something that I could not see. Later that afternoon, I tell one of my friends about it and she looks at me, all seriously, and says, “Oh yeah, that place is totally haunted! You know it used to be the old hospital, right?” I had forgotten about that, and let’s just say it didn’t make me feel better about the situation. I was very happy when our new high school was built and I never had to enter that building again. I hear that building has now been turned into an apartment complex, and all I can say is good luck with that, future tenants.

So, most of my weird experiences are just odd scenarios like that above; things that, if you really looked into them, might have totally logical explanations. But, I have a spookier tale to tell you, and it involved a series of events of that still haunt me to this day, 30 years later.

My family and I lived in (what appeared to be) a haunted house for six months.

I was 6 years old, a first grader, when we rented this old house in my hometown. It was not a pretty house; it was drab and dated, and had a very old-timey vibe to it. But the rent was affordable for my hardworking, single mother and it was big enough for all of us to have our own bedrooms. So, despite it’s lack of charm, we happily moved in.

We started noticing the odd goings on in that house almost immediately. The first thing I remember us finding strange is the kitchen cabinets- they used to open by themselves. I know that is not uncommon for cabinets to do, but the weird part was when it would happen. They would only open themselves if someone was actually in the kitchen. We would never enter the kitchen to find them already open; they would only do it in front of people. Faulty hinges? Maybe, but why then didn’t they open all the time? They would only do it if there was an audience to see it, and all of them would do it. Was it a draft that would blow through the room? If so, it would mean it was a big enough draft to open doors but not for us to feel it. I remember Mom even testing the draft theory by opening the back door to see if they would blow open, but it didn’t matter. Every door and window in the house could be closed and they would still open themselves…but only if we were physically in the kitchen.

And then, there were the footsteps. The second floor of the house had hardwood floors throughout, and there were distinct sounds of footsteps crossing those floors, day and night. Which is all fine and good if an actual person happened to be on the upper floor, but we only heard them when no one was upstairs. The whole family would be downstairs and they would start up; if you walked up the stairs to investigate, they would stop. Until you came back downstairs, at which point they would begin again. My mom told me a story about having a friend over for coffee one morning while me and my then high school aged sisters were at school. It was only Mom and this other woman in the house, in the dining room enjoying their coffee, when the footsteps start.

“Oh, Sammi- the kids aren’t at school?”, her friend asked.

“Yeah, they are”, Mom replied.

“Well, then, who is upstairs? Someone is up there, I hear them walking,” said the confused woman.

“Oh, no one,” Mom sighed. “We don’t know what the hell that is, but it happens all the time.”

Needless to say, Mom’s friend wasn’t buying it so she marches up the stairs, very sure she is going to catch a kid playing hooky and sneaking around the house. A couple minutes later, she comes thundering down the stairs. Mom said she was visibly pale as she said, “Oh my God, there is no one up there.” Mom chuckled as she told me the coffee date didn’t last much longer after that, and that friend never set foot back in that house for any further visits.

Someone once told me that the “footsteps” were really probably just the old pipes making noise. Ok, maybe- but would old pipes get louder when you tried to drown them out? Because that happened. My mom said one day she was was so annoyed by the footsteps that she went to the bottom of the stairs and yelled loudly, “Could you please just SHUT THE HELL UP? You are driving me crazy!” The steps stopped for a moment but started in again. In a rage, my mom stomped to her record player and cued up a song, cranking the volume full blast. In response, the footsteps got louder. Call me crazy, but I don’t think old, creaky pipes work like that.

I asked Mom once, when we were talking about that day, “Weren’t you scared? Didn’t that freak you out?”

She furrowed her brow and said, “Scared? No, pissed off is what I was! They were such assholes!” They being the ghosts; Mom was fully convinced that they were spirits, and I’m still amused by the fact that she used to call them assholes, right to their faces. (Ok, they didn’t have faces, but you know what I mean).

Other unexplained phenomena that occurred in the house:

  • Sounds of a dog barking and chewing on a bone (no, we did not have a dog….)
  • Sounds of a creaky old rocking chair, rocking back and forth (no, we didn’t have a rocking chair, either)
  • Sounds of someone sawing wood, like with a hand saw (You guessed it, we didn’t own a saw of any kind, nor would any of us ever saw a log for any reason)
  • Light fixtures that swayed on their own
  • An undeniable feeling of not being alone in a room despite the fact you actually were alone (or should have been)

I know there was more that I’m not remembering now, but it was a long time ago- our memories of those days aren’t as clear three decades later. But none of that was as bad as the incident that made us finally move out of the house.

My mom came home from work late one night, after midnight. My sisters and I, all three of us, were asleep in the downstairs bedroom, which was Mom’s room. (At this point, we had all stopped sleeping in our own rooms- we never slept alone anymore). She heard a sound coming from upstairs that sounded like a motor running. She went upstairs to find, in the upstairs bathroom, our vacuum cleaner. It was plugged in and running all by itself, and it must have been running a long time because it had started sparking and smoking by the time Mom found it. It could have caught fire itself, and it could have set fire to the house as well. We did not keep our vacuum upstairs- there was not a stitch of carpet up there- so how on Earth it got up there, we don’t know. Or how it got turned on and left running; my sisters and I were downstairs sleeping. There were no signs that anyone had broken in to our house, the doors were all still locked. And really, if someone did break in, why would anyone ever just turn on a vacuum cleaner and leave, without robbing the house? The house was otherwise undisturbed with nothing missing or out of place. However it happened, this was the straw that broke the camels back.  That last incident was actually pretty serious- we could have died if the house went up in flames- and I remember my mom saying, “Well, it’s safe to say we are not wanted here.” We moved out a short time later.

It has been suggested to me that someone must have been playing an elaborate trick on our family, sneaking in to our house and messing with us. For that to be the case, that would mean a person managed to get in and out of our house, at all hours of the day and night, completely undetected by any of us, for six straight months. I really don’t think that is possible. But if that is true, then hats off to that dickhead, because the amount of time and effort it would have taken to pull that off is Herculean; you can consider us fully Punk’d, Ashton Kutcher style.  Others have maintained that someone in the family was doing it to scare the rest of us. Trust me, that was not the case- my sister’s and I were truly fearful while residing in the house. Our mom worked evenings and, when we were home alone, we often just stayed together in the living room the whole night because no one wanted to be upstairs- ever. We were not out of each other’s sight when the footsteps would be plodding along above our heads. So no, none of us would have been that cruel to terrify the others, and we were all equally freaked out by the end. Even to this day, a look of slight dread crosses my sisters’ faces when we talk about “the house”.

So, dear readers, you tell me- what happened in that house? Because I sure as hell can’t tell you– none of us can. You might think our whole family is just crazy, or got ourselves worked up over nothing, but it wasn’t just us. Other people, friends, and relatives also experienced the same things we did. People would tell us how nuts we were only to witness things themselves,  and they would be just as confused and creeped out as we were. I still think about that house and try to come up something, anything, to logically explain what was going on. Unlike some who look for evidence to prove the supernatural, I look for evidence to disprove it. I don’t want to believe in ghosts. I want it to be impossible. I mean, who wants to think there are spirits floating around, watching us? (Especially at naked times, you know what I mean?) Not me. As much as I want to be a skeptic, that damned haunted house is the main reason I still can’t fully be. I do love hearing people’s theories about the Hell House, so hit me up in the comments and tell me your thoughts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go think happier thoughts so I can stop picturing dead people looking at me in the shower.

Hauntingly Yours,

Sam

 

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