September 13, 2016
I had recently learned a new phrase: “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”
This phrase came streaming into my forethoughts at 1:17AM after a third, unexplainable rattle split the silence of the night. As my heart raced and I tried to take deep breaths and remain calm, I half joked to myself as a part of that calming attempt, “My one stipulation for staying in this house would have been that it wasn’t haunted.”
There was something off about that back room where I was staying my first night in the house I was to look after for the next several months. Perhaps it was the single, bright white light that had a sterile, illuminous glow. Maybe it was the ducks on the wall that looked to be flying for their lives. Perhaps it was the way the cat that I was fostering would sit in the hall before the bedroom as if to collect me and return us both to the safety of the living room. At that moment while the rattling was disturbing my sleep, I wanted those reasons to make more sense than the two deaths that had occurred in this home. None of these reasons had really occurred to me when the opportunity to stay in the house rent free had originally been presented.
“I have a plan formulating,” a dear friend had said as we stepped into her husband Jason’s car. We were on our way to visit Kitty, a sweet, but timid cat whose owner was no longer able to take care of himself in his home. My friends had been charged with the task of taking after the home, but between providing the care for this elderly gentlemen and their own lives, the house was an imposing and titanic task. My friends had been trying to convince me to foster Kitty for weeks, but being that I was a typical Millennial living at home, that prospect was beyond my control. My parents and I already had Bella Tuna Todd and did not need another cat, but my heart broke when my friend, Elizabeth, told me that morning that her contacts who had wanted to adopt Kitty backed out.
Elizabeth wanted me to go to the house that she and her husband were the caregivers of, to fall in love with Kitty, so to have one more go trying to convince my parents. After one evening seeing the house and visiting Kitty, who was wonderful and did not yet know how to play, I received an email from my friend that described her plan: if I was willing, my cat Bella and I could move into the empty house to care for Kitty. I was ecstatic. Even if just temporarily, I would have a place to have on my own.
Several weeks of cleaning the house that had endured decades of neglect later, I was just about ready to move in. Knowing the odd history of the house, my friends asked me to stay there for a few nights to ensure that I would be comfortable prior to uprooting Bella. I knew that two people had passed away there and that the gentleman who had lastly called this place his home abruptly left, but I had my experience with the paranormal, and this didn’t intimidate me. The house had character and it was the house that the neighborhood children avoided, as its facade was run down, the trees overgrown. It didn’t have a washing machine, there was no cable, the second bathroom didn’t work, and the crumbling, faded pink wallpaper from the sixties screamed to be put to rest, but none of that bothered me. My one stipulation was said as a joke; that as long as it wasn’t haunted, I would be fine.
All of this flashed through my mind at 1:15AM when the first rattling shattered my pleasant sleep. The sound had erupted from the bathroom, but I could not for the life of me remember drawer handles inside that would rattle if the house shifted. Before I could fully process the happening, it happened again.
Directly behind me.
There was nothing but a wall behind me and certainly nothing that could rattle.
Feeling sufficiently unnerved, I crawled out of bed to grab my knife from my bag. It was my first night in this house and I didn’t know what to expect, so I ensured that I was prepared, but I was prepared to face the living, not the dead.
While crawling back into bed, staring at the dun colored curtains glowing from the green nightlight in there room, I realized that Kitty had not stepped a paw into the back room, my room. She had stood in the doorway as if beckoning me to come out of there as I prepared for bed. In retrospect, I should have listened. There was something in there that she could see that I could not and it genuinely scared her.
Several other inexplicable sounds disturbed the night, but none so loud as those first three. Rationally, I knew that this was my first night in the house and that there were bound to be sounds that I neither recognized or knew, but the feeling that I was no longer alone began to grow.
Stubborn and determined, I decided to write this off to a first night in a strange environment. I had to go to work in the morning and needed to try to return to the comfort of sleep. It took some time to pass out, but eventually, I forced my fears aside and ignored the meows of Kitty in the hall, which I knew was her begging me to leave that room.
Actual photo of the room.
Stay tuned for next week’s chapter in this, your Halloween read, and my true story nightmare.
Your humble author,