#1 THE SCARY ROOM
My dad was dating a woman (let's call her Anne) in Rochester, NY. She lived in an old farmhouse. I don't even know where to begin with this place. Let's bullet point it out. 1: The basement looked like the basement in Stir of Echoes. Most of it was cement, except for "the scary room" which was a mound of dirt and sand. Weird and scary things would result if anything happened in that room, like having to run wires through it. Anne placed a chest-high piece of wood in the doorframe to keep her animals from getting in there. It's worth noting that while her cat would go into the basement, her extremely loyal dog could not be made to go down the steps. That's when you know something's wrong. Anyway, Anne kept her cat's food dish on the top step to the basement. One day, she noticed a few pieces of the cat's food laying a couple steps down from the dish. Thinking nothing of it, she let it be. The next day, the food had moved down a step in the exact same pattern. Next day, same thing. Again and again until the food disappeared. Anne tried not to go into the basement as a matter of course, but had to soon thereafter to do laundry. She saw the cat food in the same pattern in the scary room. Blaaaagh. 2: Before my dad lived with her, she had a nightly routine. She would get in bed and read and then would turn on the TV (which was directly across from the bed) and fall asleep. Her dog would lie on the floor by her side. One night, she was reading and her dog jumped up and started barking at the TV Since her dog was generally hyper, she thought nothing of it—didn't even look up. But when the barking persisted, she looked at the TV The TV was off, but there were black and white images on the screen. They kept changing every minute or so—a church, a skull, etc. While she had experienced many scary things in her house, this freaked her out badly. She called my dad, panicking, and asked what to do. He said, "Take pictures!" She did. I've seen them. That TV was most definitely off and there were most definitely images on it. You can bet that when I stayed in their guest room for a Thanksgiving visit, I made sure the TV across from my bed was unplugged (not that it would've made a difference, but it made me feel better!), the lights stayed on, and the blanket was over my head all night. 3: Anne had a ghost travel with her to visit my dad one time. While it wasn't a mean-spirited ghost or anything, I still find that unbelievably creepy....so Paranormal Activity-ish. 4: I asked my dad what the scariest thing was that happened to him while living in that house and he said that one day, he was making a sandwich in the kitchen (which adjoined to the basement stairs, btw) and felt something hit his back and then heard it drop to the floor. It was a penny. "Weird," he thought. He started walking to the living room and something hit has back again. Same. Penny. Not cool, ghost. Not cool.
#2 SOUTH OF THE BORDER SPECTRE
My house was built in 1904. It is a single family home, wood frame setting on a concrete block foundation. I have been living here for about 12 years. Of all the weird things that my siblings and me have seen or heard in this house this one event is my favorite. This happened to my brother. About ten years ago my brother and his best friends had started a garage band playing mostly “Spanish rock,” alternative music but in Spanish. His friends could only get together on Sunday afternoons. They would practice into the early evening, and they would usually call it quits by 8 pm. This was the time I usually showed up and went to bed, cause I worked the graveyard shift. This happened in late fall, so the days were getting shorter, they had just finished a long session when the decision to head to someone else house came about. My brother handed his car keys to his buddy so they could load up the equipment. Everyone had filed out of the basement, but the tricky part was that they needed to walk all the way to the back of the basement, up the back stairs, through the kitchen doorway, down the hall into the living room and out into the front porch. Everyone was outside sitting in my brother’s truck waiting for him. My brother was walking up the back stairs when he remembered that hehad left his pancakes in a to go container sitting on a speaker in the basement.He made the decision to go back. Now the basement is not clean, with full sight lines, there had been partitions made, and the boiler and main heating unit are right smack in the middle. So after my brother walks back, he is about to retrieve his food container, when out of the corner of his eye he sees it. It is a shadowy figure, right at his peripheral vision, this feeling of dread and uneasiness washed over my brother. We had been taught that if you are in the presence of a spirit or ghost and you felt a bad vibe, to say quick prayer or to cuss at it. My brother chose the latter, he basically just told it “hey fuck you, I don’t have time for this shit”.My brother started to walk to the back of the basement and briskly up the stairs, closing doors and turning off lights as he was walking out. The last light switch is on the opposite side of the front door...luckily the door was open and the light from the street lamp was flooding the living room with its amber light. My brother said he felt something at his back, but at no point did he turn around. As he flicked the last switch the living room went dark, as did rest of the house. As he stepped out he pulled on the door closing it behind him, still holding his food container in one hand he jogged down the few porch steps. He walked towards the front gate...our house resides far from the main street, essentially having a large front yard but no rear garage. As he closed the gap between himself and his friend-laden truck he kind of smiled and thought things over in his head, mad at himself for spooking out when there was no reason. He climbed into the drivers side of the truck, putting on his seat belt and getting ready to pull out of the parking spot directly in front of the house, when one of his friends asked “ Hey wait what about your brother, isn’t he coming with us?” My brother answered, “What do you mean? He went to work early tonight, he is already gone, do you see his car anywhere?” The next question they asked “So then who was walking behind you when you were leaving the house?"
#3 CAT-BIN IN THE WOODS
The first time I moved away from home I lived in an old cabin-like house that I rented really cheap. I never had a good nights sleep in there. I always tossed and turned and woke up several times during the night. But it wasn’t until after a few weeks things started to get weird. In the beginning, it was just small things that I didn’t really think too much about, like keys missing and cups and plates not being where (I thought) I had left them earlier. Then I started waking up in the morning to find various drawers opened and things laying around like someone had been in a hurry searching for something. I even came home to a wide open main door and decided to change the locks. But even then, when I was home, with the door locked I could walk passed the hallway and just in the corner of my eye see the door slide open.
At one time I was cat-sitting one of my friend’s cats and it would just sit for hours in the middle of the room and toss its tail from side to side and watching as if it was following something around the room with its eyes. Creeped me out like fuck. If you can only imagine what it felt like to see the cat slowly following something that “floats” randomly around the room and finally stop, right beside you. After a while I just could not bare to live there anymore and finally moved out.
#4 NUN OF THAT
My dad worked at a mental hospital that used to be connected to a nuns home, that was abandoned, by underground passage. He says that one night he was walking down there when he saw a praying nun. He walked by her and said hello. She did not acknowledge him.
My dad does not believe in ghosts, but he says there was a nun down there that night.
#5 SHOULD HAVE PULLED OUT
I will preface this with the fact that unnatural movements freak me out. A lot. My husband and I were laying in bed one night when we heard a noise. Nothing crazy, just a small rustling noise. We argued over who should check it out, decided it was nothing and then tried to go back to sleep. Heard the noise again. What the hell? “You go!” “No, YOU go!” While we were arguing (in whispers because my daughter’s bedroom had an adjoining door) we heard it again near the foot of our bed. I turned on my phone to use as a light and saw my daughter on the floor. She was on all fours, cocked her head, turned her face toward the light at a most disturbing angle, and then FUCKING SKITTERED on all fours back into her room and into her bed. My husband and I were absolutely horrified/terrified/pissing ourselves. She was sleepwalking (crawling) and had no recollection. She did creepy sleepwalky things after that for years. Usually while we were watching scary movies or lying in bed in the dark. Kids are the worst.
#6 DUMB AND DAHMER
I’ve only told this story to my closest friends. I haven’t even confided in my sister (for fear of the obvious shame). Please buckle in because this tale needs to be told in length. I went to college in a Chicago, which has a large gay community. Now, gay men are true champions of leveraging technology to their sexual prowess. Grindr was on the map as the go-to hookup app years before the straights got into a tizzy about Tinder. I normally used Grindr to expedite getting my rocks off, but I was having an off-week and decided to use a platform that’s more to the point: Craigslist. I posted a listing looking for a hookup with a good-looking, slightly-older man, and within a few hours I settled on a fit 30-something. This was a Friday night, and he agreed to pick me up at my apartment building. Then he would take me back to his place and we’d fool around. He picks me up at my nearest intersection. He’s just as attractive as his picture, yes, but something is off personality-wise. I can only describe it as he was a little “off,” but he wasn’t “off” in a slow or stupid way.In fact, it was the total opposite. He was incredibly nice. His voice was kind and light, but there was something too practiced behind it. In retrospect, the more I think about it, the more it feels rehearsed, calculated -like a razor blade hiding in a Popsicle. He asked me a little about myself, but then he didn’t respond when I would ask him the same questions. He’d just smile and laugh it off. What I did manage to get out of him was that he worked in real estate (remember this). He had told me earlier through email that he lived on X and Y street.
I wrote this off as a blip originally because these 2 streets ran parallel, and he essentially told me that he lived in the middle of the road. We were in his car for about 8 minutes when he had already passed these 2 streets by a few blocks. I lived in a popular, walkable area, and at this moment I told myself, “You can get out of the car now and you can run home. You’re still close enough,” but I ignored my gut. I told myself that I was over analyzing this. We get to his place after a 35 minute car ride. We’re out of the city and in a neighborhood. Right away, his house is clean. But again, it’s too clean. Everything was so polished, nothing out of place. There was a Dexter-level of cleanliness to it. We go into the kitchen, which was in the back of the house, and after a minute or two of more awkward conversation, I wrap my hands around him and kiss him. Except he doesn’t “receive the kiss.” My lips make contact with his, but his lips remain flat and at-rest. There is a moment of pause, and he smiles against my kiss. This wasn’t a friendly smile; this was a “knowing” smirk. He tells me this is his first time, and he’s very, very nervous. He excuses himself and RUNS down to the basement. The stairs down are next to the kitchen. They are not a straight staircase; they turn at a right angle halfway down, which prevents me from seeing what’s downstairs. He’s down there for a good 5-10 minutes. I hear stuff rustling around -metal things clanking together. I yell down to get him back up. The sound stops. No reply. It starts again. I run to the bathroom and lock the door. I think about jumping out the window (it’s a ranch). I text a friend. He’s tells me to get out. But I don’t want to offend my host. There’s a knock on the bathroom door and he says to meet him in the bedroom. The kitchen is next to the bathroom. I consider pocketing a kitchen knife. He comes back up and we finally start fooling around. He won’t kiss, and he keeps telling me that this is his first time doing this.The weird thing is that he’s oddly comfortable with my body, and he is actually good at gay stuff. He gets very aggressive at one point. I looked around the room and spotted a blue, glass vase. I tell myself that I can use this as a weapon if need be. He doesn’t finish, but I ask if I may finish on him. He agrees. He freaks out after I do. He gets up, without saying a word and completely naked. He walks back down to the basement.
I put on my underwear and walk to the edge of the stairs. I hear whimpers and whispers. There is no one downstairs except for him, of this I am sure. The clanking metal sounds continue. They’re nothing loud. They sound like a scalpel being placed on a metal surgery tray, or tools bouncing in a toolbox. He’s downstairs for 5, 10, 15 minutes now. I’m fully dressed. I’m giving my friend a play-by-play through text, and he tells me to drop him a pin. I don’t know how to so he walks me through the process. When I finally do send him my location, he calls me: “You have to get out of the house. Now.” Why I ask? “Do you know where you are? You’re out by O’Hare!” My fight or flight completely kicks in, now understanding that I’m stranded in an area that has no access to public transportation, and I don’t have a car. I yell downstairs to see if he’s alright. All sounds stop. No reply. For a moment, I think about grabbing his keys from his jacket, driving his car a few blocks from my place, and leaving it wherever. At this point, I yell down, “I’ll be waiting outside.” I hear what sounds like chains dropping and footsteps coming heavily up the stairs. I run to the door, fumbling with the lock, until I rip it open and get outside. He was naked last time I saw him, so I figure getting dressed will at least slow him down. I freeze for a moment, and then I took off running. I made it 2 blocks away before I broke down crying and called an Uber. This was February in Chicago, and it was maybe 22 degrees outside and snowy. At this point mystery man tries calling me, and I hang up. He texts: “Ha ha where’d you go?” I say that I got a ride and that I’m okay. I block his number. I hid between 2 cars at a used car lot while waiting 30 minutes for an Uber to pick me up. I saw mystery man’s car driving around. 2 Ubers had already cancelled, and I had to call the third Uber to make him promise that he wouldn’t cancel on me because I was in danger. I block out this experience, mostly. There are some nights when I begin to go over all the details in my head. It destroys me and turns my blood cold. And it’s the little, red flags that deeply unnerve me.
#7 WHITE DRESS
I woke up one night having to pee, and I brought my phone to the bathroom. While walking down the hall and texting, I bumped into a girl in a white dress. I didn't look up, said "sorry," and kept going. It occurred to me moments later that I was home alone and not in my bustling high school. The next day, when my boyfriend came to pick me up for the movies, he asked why I'd been staring at him through the upstairs window, and why I'd changed out of my white dress. But I don't even own a white dress.
A few years ago, I was upstairs at my mom's house playing on the computer when I heard the front door open and my mom come in. She yelled, "Amber! I'm home," and seemed to be struggling with some groceries. I ran downstairs to help her... but she wasn't there. Her car wasn't in the driveway, either.
#9 THE GARDENING GHOST
I had a neighbor who was a lovely old man. He would always work in his garden, and I'd walk past his house daily, so we spoke often. One day I saw him and said "hello," but got no response. Not wanting to bother him, I carried on home. A few days later, I saw a removal van and people outside of his home. I was told that the man had gone hiking a week ago, had a heart attack, and died. They'd just recovered his body. He had been dead for a week, but I had seen him just 5 days earlier.
#10 UN-HAPPY MEAL
I was sleeping alone in a room I shared with my six-year-old sister, but she wasn't home. She had a toy McDonald's cash register with a drive-thru radio that'd play a recording if you pressed a button. I was dozing off when I heard, "Welcome to McDonald's, can I take your order?" from inside our closet. I investigated, took it out of the toy box, and turned it off before setting it on a shelf where it wouldn't be disturbed. About 20 minutes later, I'm falling asleep and heard a voice whisper, "I would like Chicken McNuggets, please." You bet I bolted out of there.
#11 (BONUS STORY) "HOLE" LOTTA NOTHING
About five years ago, my husband and I decided that it was finally time to start looking to purchase a house. We had always talked about buying an older, fixer-upper home because we’ve had the idea that they hold more charm and character. Plus we can appreciate a place that has it’s own quirks and we love the thought of turning something run down into something beautiful again. With that being said, I grew up in a pretty rural farming town in Indiana that had more than its fair share of run-down houses. The surrounding areas had started to boom a little bit, with farmland being sold off and turned into new factory locations, along with new subdivisions for the people coming to work for them. I thought it’d be a great place to start on our house hunt. As we were turning off the main road through town and further onto a more secluded country road, we noticed that the very first house on the left was completely abandoned. We pulled into a small patch of the yard where the grass was the shortest (and where a gravel driveway used to be) to further investigate. It was painted a deep green color, which made it almost invisible against the tall grass, sticker-bushes, and weeds that had grown up around it. There was a massive tree in the front yard whose branches and leaves helped to camoflauge this place even further. The house looked as if it were at least 100 years old. It looked like it had sat empty for years. It looked neglected, weather worn, and in need of major love. In that moment, it was perfect. There was nothing but woods across the street and no neighboring houses in sight, so Adam and I thought it probably wouldn’t hurt if we just trespassed a little. I completely justified my reasoning by thinking there weren’t any NO TRESPASSING signs anywhere.
We walked carefully through the brush toward the left side of the house, there was a side entrance into the house through what looked like an added on mud-room. The screen door to the mud room was closed, however there was a wooden door behind it that was half open. This was our “not-really-intrusive-because-we-aren’t-breaking-anything-to-get-in” way in. It was probably in the mid-90s outside that day, so when we entered ( Adam first) we were met with thick, stifling heat. The kind that holds so much humidity that it almost takes your breath away. What we thought was a mud-room was an extended pantry area or canning kitchen—it was tiny with one window, an old rusted sink, a small stove and the walls still held shelves upon shelves of canned (and spoiled) vegetables in jars. I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, this’ll be great, I totally remember how to can, and we can have a garden, and, and..” (Insert all kinds of other giddy thoughts women have while in the throes of house hunting here) It also had the doorway into the main part of the house, and this is where my elation came to an end.
Through the doorway was the the kitchen. What remained of the cabinets and sink were against the wall on the left, but they were either broken or hanging on for dear life or both. The kitchen connected to a wide open living area, with one side having walls streaked with black that led up to a half sunken, gray ceiling. There had been a fire at some point. The windows on that wall were filthy, covered in dust or ash that made the room much darker than it should have been in the middle of the day. My heart sank. I knew we wouldn’t be able to afford a costly repair of a house fire, but I kept that disappointing thought to myself. The open living area had not one stitch of furniture, save for one small wooden rocking horse that a child would have. The floor was littered with magazines, as if someone had a giant stack of them and just threw them up in the air to see where they’d land. Curious as to what the former home owners liked in regards to reading material, I decided to check them out. Almost every single magazine was related to dolls in some way: porcelain doll collecting, barbie dolls, making dolls by hand, clothing for dolls. I felt a little creeped out by it, especially under the surveillance of the rocking horse’s dead, painted-on stare—but I figured that an old lady must’ve lived in the house before, and I created a self-medicating idea that her husband probably died and this was the only hobby she had to pass her time. We decided to check out another room that was connected to the half-burned living area. Through the doorway to the left was a weird combination of a molded, stand-up shower with handicap handles, and assisted toilet next to it divided down the middle by a wall. My husband and I thought we could find out who the previous homeowners were since some of the paperwork on top of the stacks seemed to be old bills. If we wanted to look up property records, at least now we would have a name to go on. I grabbed a stack of papers and began to flip through them, when about half-way through the changed from being old telephone bills to printed out color pictures from the internet. Of porcelain dolls. I put the stack of papers back on the shelf, and picked up a small, red, five-star notebook. I started from the beginning, casually leafing through and seeing daily entries of medications taken, blood pressure and glucose measurements written in a neat hand. About 20 pages in the entries started to change entirely. They became crude drawings of twisted faces, done in red ink. The faces had horns or bloody fangs. Then full on drawings of devils appeared in the pages after. I wanted to believe that a child had picked this up to doodle in, but I felt like this was something much different than that. After the drawings, the notebook became someone’s personal journal—written in what I assumed was an elderly man’s cursive. It told of how he knew he was coming toward the end of his life, and how he remembered being just a young boy when his mother passed away. He described, in detail, how the wake for his mother was held in the front room of his home and how during those nights, he crawled on top of his mother’s body in her coffin to sleep. I could’t believe what I was reading. Even though I had been sweating from the thickness in the air, a sudden rush of goose-bumps came over me. I immediately showed it to Adam, flipping to the pages of devils and snarled faces—and then read, aloud, this stranger’s memories of his mother just to see if it was the same the second time around. After I finished, he said, “Well, this just got a whole lot weirder,” nodding to what he held in his hands. While I was reading the notebook, he had continued rifling through the mountains of papers—one stack not only had more printed pictures of dolls, but now they contained pictures of real women—in torture bondage: ball gags or electrical tape placed over their mouths, jumper cables twisting their nipples, being hog-tied with rope. Sometimes there was more than one woman in the picture. It felt as if a brick had been tossed into my stomach. For some, those images wouldn’t be disturbing, but in the context of our visit- my panic was starting to grow. I was torn between wanting to find out more and getting the fuck out. Adam reassured me that while it was on the creepy side, it wasn’t anything to necessarily lose my shit over since the women didn’t seem to be suffering or bleeding. The burned-out living area was separated from the rest of the house by a staircase.
The staircase had a room directly across from it, and a small hallway on the other side that led to the main room at the front of the house. To the left was the original fire place with a couple tiny vases on the mantle. Smack dab in the middle was a framed picture of an elderly couple, smiling and happy. These certainly weren’t the type of people that would have pictures of women bound and gagged hidden away in their bathrooom. “These people could have been my grandparents,” I thought to myself. To the right was a big bay window, and smack dab in the middle was a yellowed piece of paper with faded black, printed handwriting on it. It was for anyone on the outside of the house to see (before it became overgrown.) Reading it backwards from inside it said, “IF YOU’RE HERE TO TALK ABOUT JESUS, GO AWAY.” “That’s kind of hilarious,” Adam said after reading it for himself. “Yeah, it kind of is,” I half-chuckled, but something in my brain was now starting to nag me even more. Something wasn’t computing correctly for me. Thinking back, my mind was putting together that an elderly couple in this town would more than likely be pretty religious, and by the super small chance that they weren’t—it would have been gossiped about had someone seen that in the window. It was as if the house had held two very different personalities within. I told my husband that I just wanted to go into the one last room down the little hallway and then I would be VERY ready to leave. Going down the small hallway, it became darker and cooler. It was a relief from the oppressive heat that we had been dealing with since first stepping inside. The shade from the giant tree in the front yard had blocked out a lot of the sunlight making it about 20 degrees cooler, but we soon realized that wasn’t the only reason this part of the house’s temperature was much more tolerable. Rounding the corner into the last room, it took a few seconds for our eyes to adjust to the difference in light, but the change of the air was noticeable immediately. It was if we had stepped into a cave; the smell was dank and left a dampness on our skin. Once things came into clear focus, that’s when we saw it. The main reason our senses had shifted so quickly... the large hole in the floor. At first we thought that perhaps the wooden floor was so weak that it had simply caved in on its own, or that the roof had leaked and caused this exact area of floor to rot away but upon getting closer it became obvious this wasn’t the case. The hole was about five feet across and went straight down into the earth, with about a two feet of space between the remaining floor and dirt. This hole was there because it was made to be there. My husband and I looked at each other. My heart was racing so fast that I thought it would burst through my chest. I said aloud to him while pointing, “What the fuck is this?! Why is this here?! I panicked, my breathing becoming more rapid and shallow. Nothing was making sense and yet, the thoughts that had been running in the background of my brain were all coming together like a jigsaw puzzle. Then we saw them. The worn and faded social security cards, a few old and molded-over drivers licenses just thrown around haphazardly, checkbooks, credit cards. As if someone had emptied their purse or wallet in this room and then just disappeared into the hole. I was overcome with terror and dread. I had to get out of this house. My skin felt like static, as if my whole body had been taken over by the sensation of when your foot falls asleep. I had tears forming in my eyes, and my mind just told me to run. Without having to speak, Adam quickly took me by the arm and led us back down the hallway, through the burned out living room and kitchen, out the side canning room and back out into the light of day. We ran back down the mangled and tangled driveway to the car. Remembering back, I get the eerie feeling that we weren’t the only two people in the house that day. Alive or dead.
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