This is an autobiographical post. The names of people and places may be changed.
We decided to write autobiographical posts about the colorful life we have lived. There will be tales of sleeping in a campervan on the beach, of defending a bird’s nest from a snake, and of running away from wolves while sick with bronchitis. There will be tales of diagnosis with PTSD and ADHD and how it changed our lives, of meeting biological family, and of job loss. It’s a tale of overcoming challenges, of finding out who we are, of love, hope, cats, and of a marriage that’s gotten stronger through it all.
Autobiography Post 1
When we both lost our jobs at the same time, we knew we needed to move somewhere cheaper. It had simply been a matter of coincidence that a few weeks before, Dorian’s mother had called asking for a favor. That was the only reason she ever called, holidays included. This time it was to babysit the house of an elderly relative. The husband had died months before, and the wife had to be taken to memory care. Neither of them were friendly people. The house was left empty, and they wanted someone to take care of it in the interim. We knew it would be in the middle of nowhere, not ideal for city folk like us. But, maybe we could get reacquainted with our rural roots? Ultimately, we needed cheaper rent, and they were proposing only $500 a month.
It was a long drive away from the cities and further and further down dark country roads. We didn’t bring much with us. Ourselves, our two cats, what we could fit in the campervan, and some furniture items a moving company took for us.
When we arrived, the state of the house was shocking.
“This is definitely an old person’s house,” I told Dorian.
It was dark, the windows covered with heavy lace curtains. Wallpaper crept around every corner of the home, faded with age. It was a massive house, but it felt cramped and tiny. That was accredited to the ungodly amount of furniture, statues, dolls, crystals, and more that were slotted into every room like some kind of materialistic jigsaw puzzle. Some cabinets looked like they hadn’t been opened in decades.
And there were mirrors. So many mirrors. Mirrors that reflected other mirrors and within them was the reflection of even more mirrors. Mirrors that peeked at each other around corners, that lined halls, and that reflected your image hundreds of times over.
We got settled in.
The Shadow Man
It was only a month into our stay when things started to happen. We didn’t say anything to each other at first. While we have open minds to unexplained things, we also have a healthy critical judgment.
The shadow man was visible outside the house no matter if it was day or night. We would see him crossing the front porch, standing in the driveway, or standing in the backyard. He was in the shape of man, just all shadow. Being skeptical of our own experience, and not wanting to scare each other, we didn’t say anything for a long time. We didn’t realize both of us were seeing the same thing on a regular basis.
Eventually I had to say something. “I don’t want to scare you, but . . . a few times I think I’ve seen . . . well . . .”
“The thing outside,” Dorian completed with confidence.
“I’ve seen it, too. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to scare you.”
I considered for a moment. “Well, I haven’t really felt threatened. I think we’re safe.”
“Yeah, it just . . .” he glanced out the window, “watches.”
It was within this first month that I had a nightmare. I’m an imaginative person, a creator, and my dreams reflect that. Fantasy, magic, monsters, and even scary nightmares. But there’s only been two times in my life that I dreamed about a place I was currently living in being haunted.
This was the second time.
In my dream, the shadow man was standing in the hall. It was a hall in the house that we hated. It was long and dark, and it always felt like someone was standing in it and watching us. Across our stay it would be the spot of many minor occurrences. The sound of footsteps, that feeling of someone behind you, and even a place that scared our two cats. This was its first occurrence of scaring us.
The shadow man stood right where the thermostat was, leaning against the wall. His head was down, and a hat obscured his face. I was frightened. It took me awhile the next day to tell Dorian. I wasn’t sure if it was something I should worry about or not. But the fact that in my nightmare I was certain it was not a person, but a demon, made me feel like some precautionary measures should be taken.
We prayed over the house and burned sage, especially in the area where I’d seen my nightmare “demon”.
The Dining Room Visitor
It was lunch one day, a few months into our stay. We were in the kitchen making lunch. Our tabby cat Danaerys was seated at the threshold of the connecting hall. Suddenly she jumped and spun around, staring down that same long, dark hall. It was as if something had touched her.
We didn’t think too much of it. Dany has a reputation for being easily scared. Not like our tuxedo cat, Gamora, who is fearless. We comforted her and carried on cooking.
Dany moved on and Gamora came and sat down in the same spot. Just a couple minutes afterward she did the exact same thing. She jumped, spun around, went into an arch, and stared down the hall. We got a bit freaked out after that.
That afternoon I sat down at the dining table to do some work. I had moved my laptop there because we would be playing a TTPRG later, and we liked the larger table for dice rolling and miniatures. As I worked, I felt this presence come over me. It was heavy and it was angry. I felt it pressing down. It was like I had sat down in someone’s seat, and they were trying to sit on top of me and force me out. I started to feel very frustrated, the mood coming from nowhere. I knew I had to get up.
I stood and walked off, making it seem like I needed to stretch my legs and take a bathroom break. The effect was immediate. I felt much better. That never happened again in the dining room, but we couldn’t help but notice that three incidents occurred in the same area on the same day. It’s as if there was something angry prowling around, preparing to host a dinner.
Dorian burst into the bedroom just as I left the bathroom, the toilet still flushing and my hands still damp.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, out of breath.
I stared. “What do you mean?”
“You screamed. I thought there was a spider.”
While I do scream at spiders, I hadn’t seen any this time. And this house was known for gigantic, hairy spiders on a weekly basis. “I didn’t scream. I just went to the bathroom.”
“Oh.” He frowned, standing up straight. “Who made that noise, then?”
“I didn’t hear anything . . .”
We stared at each other.
A flush came over Dorian’s face. “No, no. Don’t say that. I heard a scream. I know I did. Right from in here.”
A nervous laugh came over us both. I replied, “I believe you. But I didn’t hear anything.”
Dorian was on edge for a few hours after that, doubting his own sanity. While this was the first time that happened, it wasn’t the last. There were two more times he came into another room where I was, convinced I had shouted for him. But I never heard anything.
The Man at the Front Door
This was the pinnacle of our scary occurrences in this house. There are many smaller things that happened across the seven months we lived there, and this blog isn’t big enough to list them. Strange reflections, sounds, feelings, shadows, etc. But in the middle of our time in the house, this was what altered our thinking from “something might be haunting this place”, to “this place is definitely haunted”.
We were sitting at our work desks playing our TTPRG, not the dining room this time. It was night. From my vantage point I could see the front door. The double doors had glass on them, making it easy to see when someone came up. After a few jump scares from delivery people, we learned the way it looked through the fogged glass when someone stepped up. The cats had lost interest in the door as well, even Danaerys.
As we played, I saw a figure of a man step up to the door. I turned to look. So did Gamora. She was lounging on the sofa and she looked over to watch the man.
“There’s a delivery guy,” I informed my husband.
The man leaned forward and cupped his hands around his eyes, as if trying to see inside. A feeling of dread twisted my stomach. That was not normal behavior. I gawked at the door.
“What’s wrong?” Dorian asked, trying to lean around to see.
The man suddenly vanished. I waited, expecting it to be a trick of the light and being able to watch him walk away, as I had with every person who delivered something to the house. But he didn’t reappear.
I stood up. “There’s someone outside.”
We both hurried to investigate. We looked out the windows. We called “hello” to try and get a response. We hit the panic button on our car to see if it scared anyone out of hiding. At that point, we were convinced someone wanted to rob the house. I realized what we could do to track them. It had snowed a few days ago, and it was still fresh all over the yard, even the front porch. We could track their footprints in the snow.
But when we opened the door to see where they’d gone, there were no footprints.
As we stepped back inside the house and closed the front door, an emotion I never felt came over me. It was a fear. Not a fear of people, or heights, or spiders, or taking shelter during a tornado. This was a deep, primal fear of something that couldn’t be faced.
I stood there, rooted to the spot, not knowing what to do.
“Are you alright?” Dorian asked.
“No. I’m scared. I don’t know what that was.”
We hung up a curtain over the door windows that night.