humor · mental health · spooky

Ghostbuster

For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.

Stuart Chase

I have no clue who that is, but he is obviously a smart man. I heard the quote on tv and fell in love with it. It’s one of those quotes that make you feel like, “I’ve always known that, why have I never put it in words,” but then you’re like “oh it’s because I suck at words.”

Halloween is my favorite holiday! I start celebrating September 1st and don’t stop until November. I’m a huge skeptic, but I love to immerse myself anyway. I would like to share a couple ghost stories just for fun. If you love ghost stories you may not find them particularly fancy, but they are true. The one plus for my hometown is it being prime paranormal investigator real-estate.

We have haunted ghost tours and make a big deal out of anything that brings in more tourist money. Haunted antebellum homes, restaurants, and cemeteries are just a few of our attractions. Some are fake. Quick example: one restaurant thriving on the haunted theme uses noise makers in the closets and have stories to tell guests. They do pretty well with tourists. Locals are use to the gimmicks, but still love the food.

While I personally may be a skeptic, I know many places that do just fine in the haunted department without cheating. Growing up there, it’s hard not to take an interest in ghost stories at some point. One of my closer friends grew up in one of the haunted antebellum homes.

The main house has three floors, not counting the attic, basement and cellar, and yes, those are different things. I won’t try to count the number of rooms, but directly above the entrance is a beautiful balcony with staircases. They curve outward to frame the front door between them, giving the master bedroom its own entry. It also has a beautiful brick walkway around it, from which paths spread out over the property. There is a barn, old slave quarters, and various storage buildings. The cellar will need to be its own story later, maybe closer to Halloween. If I can do it justice, it’s a longer one.

As a child, this was my playground. This friend can be Cutty. We met in second grade, and she’s the one that took to cutting her arms up and wearing short sleeves to school. Hence Cutty. I don’t understand why she did it more than once. The football team named a play after her called “Cutter, Cutter.” If she did want attention, it surely wasn’t that kind. If she was capable of keeping a secret, I would have given her advice on how to hide them, but I digress. Later, we can talk about Einstein’s definition of insanity.

Cutty is a believer. She grew up in that house for the first 16 years of our lives, and had several first-hand experiences. I spent many sleepovers trying to prove ghosts don’t exist. That’s really all you need to know, we can get to the actual stories now. I’ll give you her story, and follow with my own investigation of it. We were 12 when this first one happened.

The Nursery

I know my maps aren’t pretty, but they get the information across. The nursery is on the second floor, center of the house.

The nursery is haunted, it has a messed up story, but they won’t let us tell it to tour groups. The family living here before the civil war fixed it up, but no one has used it since. The furniture is exactly the same as the last day it was used.

The father was an army major, but he retired after Indians put an arrow in him… I don’t know where he got shot, apparently somewhere not bad enough to die, but bad enough to retire. Stop interrupting and listen.

When he got home, he learned his son died from scarlet fever. It broke him, he was never the same again. He started spending all his time at home, afraid to leave. Eventually, he started farming, and they had a new baby.

A nanny had to sleep in the nursery back then because they didn’t have baby monitors. Ours has a second bed because the father also slept in there for the first month, but it started causing problems with his wife. The servants were starting to gossip and that’s about as embarrassed as one could get in their own home. Finally, the husband conceded and moved back to his own bed.

One morning, shortly after, the nanny burst in their room, frantic, “The baby dead, he’s dead! He must’ve died in the night, he neva made no sound t’all.”

But the problem was, they didn’t know SIDS was a thing. The mother, still in shock, accused her, “You did it, didn’t you?!”

The nanny denied it, but it didn’t matter. “No! No I loved being with the lil-uns, I would never, never!

The father lost his last grip on reality, he snapped. He stormed out to the slave quarters, snatched up the nanny’s toddler, and killed it right in front of her. Then he beat the nanny to death and tried to sell her husband to an even worse family, but he committed suicide before he was transported.

There was nothing illegal about what he did, not back then, but the whole thing would have been embarrassing. The sheriff was a friend, they had a good old fashioned cover up, and moved on. A few months later, the man and his wife were discovered dead, murdered in their sleep. Many of their records were burned, the theory is, slaves killed them in bed, burned the records of their ownership, and fled to the north.

Sometimes, at night, we can hear a baby crying. Every now and then, if the sound lasts more than a couple minutes, we hear footsteps walking to the crib. Then the crying stops and the footsteps sound like someone pacing the room. Like someone is picking up the baby and walking with it. We keep the doors closed, no one goes in there. It never happens during the day, but I stay away all the time. I’m scared I’ll see something.

** You really can’t believe anything on wiki. I looked up the house, I haven’t seen it in 10 years, I miss it. They have the history completely wrong! I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s probably by design. They claim the same family has owned it since the 1700’s. That’s a laugh, I’ve personally known 3 unrelated owners, and heard the tour speech enough to still have it partially memorized. At the end of Queen of the walk, I told you evil hags closed the restaurant for a visitor center. The reason no one will live in the antebellum homes more than a few years is because of them! They stay up your ass every day of your life making sure you don’t do or say anything they don’t approve of. As far as I can tell, people are genuinely petrified of those Crones. I don’t know why, we’ll revisit this, it actually gets super weird. I could probably write a CreepyPasta series about them, Crone Club. **

As someone who was already a full blown skeptic, I didn’t believe the story. Not the haunting part, the murder part was sadly commonplace. The fact she wouldn’t cross the threshold when I made her show me the room didn’t help convince me. Her parents, did. As a kid, I believed anyone capable of being rich must be smart and sane. I know, I see the ignorance, I promise. But in their case I’m mostly right. Successful lawyer and realtor, no psychotic tendencies, that’s really as good as it gets where I’m from.

I should clarify, her parents didn’t convince me ghosts are real, they convinced me Cutty wasn’t lying. Big difference, same result. I set out to find a logical explanation for the events. Since her parents kept the room locked, we had to acquire a key, and wait for them to fall asleep.

On the big night, her parents went to bed around 10. We waited an hour to make sure they were asleep, then Cutty and I visited the nursery. Well I did, she stayed in the hall. I threw my pillow on the bed next to the crib and sat. “Don’t sit on the bed, are you crazy you’re going to piss them off.” Cutty hissed from the hallway.

“Why? You think they’re protective over the bed they haven’t used in 100 years?” I said, lightly bouncing on the bed for emphasis.

“Come on, I let you see it, let’s just go, you’re right, this is stupid. I was just messing with you, I made the whole thing up and I’m bored now.” Cutty was getting a little frantic.

“Ok, I’m willing to believe you think the ghosts are real, but if they were, science would be all over it. Instead, it’s treated the same way as Santa and the Easter bunny. So I’m sleeping here tonight to see what’s up.” I said, strolling around the room.

“Don’t do that! Don’t touch the crib, what is wrong with you?! You know what? You want to sleep here? Fine, bye.” Cutty threw her hands in the air and walked in the direction of her room.

“Yea, I will! And don’t think you can scare me with some lame noises in 30 minutes either! I’m running after every squeak I hear, fair warning.” I said, too smugly.

“I’m not leaving my room again until the suns up!” Cutty left without looking back.

Growing up in a trailer while your friends live in (essentially) mansions can be hard. I couldn’t help noticing, the nursery was roughly the same size as our living room. Cutty’s closet was bigger than my room and closet put together.

I sat with my back against the wall on the bed next to the crib, opened both doors wide, and the wait began. Because I slept like the dead and had serious anger issues when woken, I would have to stay awake all night if I wanted to investigate properly. I played my gameboy to pass time, but in a world before smart phones, ghost hunting became boring quickly. At least an hour or two passed before the anything happened. It was long enough for my child brain to be completely sucked into the game.

When the door swung closed, it surprised me. I left both doors open intending to make sure I heard Cutty if she tried to sneak up on me. You honestly can’t take 3 steps anywhere in that house without loud floor squeaks. Even immersed in my game, I should have heard her. I also thought she would wait until the middle of the night, trying to catch me asleep. I didn’t hesitate, I leapt from the bed! Fast as I could, I threw myself at the door while listening intently for retreating footsteps. I heard nothing.

The hallway on that side extended both ways. I ran the shortest path for Cutty’s room. I ran quickly as I dared, sure I would run into her any moment, but I made it to her open room door without trouble. When I looked in, Cutty was soundly asleep. I left her undisturbed. I wasn’t sure she was really asleep, but she looked damn convincing. I was sure she would deny it if I played the game of waking her up to accuse her, so I returned to the nursery to think.

I sat in my original position and replayed the events. I honestly didn’t believe I was so immersed in the game I couldn’t hear footsteps, but my unwavering loyalty to logic forced me to concede it possible. Assuming she did sneak into the doorway, reached her arm inside, and pulled the door closed (straight in front of me with the lights on) without making a sound… then how did she get back to her room? I moved fast, and I made noise while moving, but it was late at night. We both feared waking her parents, they expressly forbade this experiment. We were both in hot water if caught, but she obviously feared it more. As an adult it makes even less sense she would risk it, but we’re here so let’s roll with it, kids are stupid after all.

What else could make the door close? AC kicking on? Nope, it stayed off in this part of the house. Likewise, no open windows or anything else to contribute to an air draft. It sat perfectly still up to the point it closed. My 12 year old brain could think of no other answers, but wasn’t ready to call it proof either. I imagined how lame I would sound saying, “Yea it’s haunted alright. I was sitting in bed and the door closed! By itself!” Nope, not happening.

I tried to recreate the event, but I could not make the door shut at all, not to latch. I couldn’t create a draft myself, couldn’t pull it closed from the hall without clearly coming into view from the bed. I couldn’t even crawl down the hallway without noise. I managed to stay up until the sun started to rise, but no more happened.

“I can’t figure out how you made the door close, but I knew nothing was gonna happen.” I said to Cutty over breakfast.

“What happened with the door? I told you I wasn’t going near that room again! Did you expect it to perform for you? It doesn’t happen all the time anyway, I tried to tell you. Besides if you wanted to see a ghost you should have tried the barn.” She sounded like she was losing patience.

“Forget the door, what about the barn, why didn’t you tell me about the barn?” I asked excitedly.

“Because I knew you would want to go out there, and Dad wouldn’t have let us. I didn’t want you driving me crazy all night to sneak out there.” She grumbled.

“Don’t worry I’m sure we’ll find time. What’s the story behind the barn?” Knowing I wouldn’t stop asking, she relented.

*Before you see the map, yes, it has an antique bowling alley. Original pins and balls, different wood on the floor, but obviously it’s just for looks nowadays. Even we were too afraid to use anything and break it. Super cool though. Cutty’s family only used the barn for lawn equipment, it was empty except for what you see on the map. **

The Barn

I had no clue how to draw the loft over the first floor so I did what I did. This may be the worst yet, sorry.

The barn has an actual ghost. I saw her. Daddy sent me to get his rubber boots just before dawn one morning, we were going hunting, but I stayed home after that. When I walked in I saw her. She was wearing one of those colonial bonnets and an apron over a plain dress. She… she was hanging right where the rope swing is. You.. you don’t think it’s the same rope do you? I haven’t been back in there since, and I’m not going back in with you. If you want to go, you know where it is. Just wait for my parents to leave.

No one knows who she was or what her story was, sorry. The people living here during the Civil War woke up one morning and a dead girl was hanging in their barn. They questioned everyone in town, every person who stayed on or near the property, but they couldn’t even find someone who recognized her. They assumed she was another refugee suicide.

The barn’s story is admittedly anti-climatic, but that’s what happens when you tell a story straight up. To avoid more of that, let’s jump ahead a couple years to a different visit.

“I want to camp in the barn tonight, I’m sick of the nursery and I’m never going near that damn cellar again.” I whined to Cutty.

“No! Mom is never going to let you do that, what does it take for you to learn a lesson?” Cutty snapped, patience finally at an end.

“Plenty! Why do you always say that? You never even ask her!” I only realized it was true after I said it.

Our eyes met, and it dawned on us at the same time. We both made a run for the door. I squeezed through first by a small margin. I beat her to her mother by a lot thanks to my expedited trip down the stairs. I never realized how lucky I was not to break something until I repeated the story now. They were very steep and hard. No carpet, just tall, hard wood steps. I bounced all the way to the bottom, shot up and ran onward. I found my target in the kitchen.

“Can we please camp in the barn tonight?” I asked innocently.

“You don’t want to do that dear, there’s no electricity or water, it’s so hot out right now. Plus it’s haunted.” Cutty’s mom sounded amused, which rarely meant a hard no.

“Don’t listen to her, Mom! I’m not sleeping out there so she can’t either.” Cutty caught up to me.

“I don’t mind sleeping out there alone. Not at all! I won’t leave the barn, I swear!” I begged, but knew I had her.

“Oh, I know you won’t. Just use the back door when you come back in, I don’t want you to wake us.” She walked away before Cutty could protest more.

“You suck, I’m not going, and you’re not waking me up in the middle of the night to get in my bed when you regret it. You can sleep in the nursery again for all I care.” Cutty walked back to her room, conversation over.

I followed silently. If I pushed her too far she would cry to her dad and he would overrule the whole thing. I stayed on my best behavior while finding supplies. There was nothing to sit on out there but hay. I commandeered some blankets, a pillow, and lawn chair. I felt pretty smug about the chair, it was the kind that folded from sitting upright to laying back, but also cloth, not those plastic strips that dig into you. I forgot water, but they had the water well pump things.

I mean one of these things. They had a few around the property, and the water tastes different, but in a very good way.

It was just getting proper dark when I settled into the barn. I made a nice spot for myself to the right of the smaller door, facing the rope swing. It occurred to me if I did see a ghost, I probably wouldn’t want to go past it or turn my back on it during a retreat. Not that I would have explained that to anyone else. I filled the first hour just exploring the place. I had seen it 1,000 times. You don’t visit a house with all this stuff without accidentally following a tour or ten, but this was the first time I was alone. Not just alone, but for an extended period of time. When I was convinced I wouldn’t find any earth-shattering antiques, I had some way too dangerous fun on the rope swing. I wasn’t brave enough to touch the bowling equipment, that was practically a death sentence if something happened. I know I can be over-dramatic at times, but this isn’t one of them.

I tired of the rope swing after a bad fall. I tried to do that thing where you flip upside down, but when I started to slide, I gripped tighter with my hands. Rope burns hurt, I let go, still upside down. There was a very thin layer of hay spread beneath the rope that may well have saved my ass, but I wasn’t too high, I don’t think I would have died. The fall scared me straight enough to sit down and stop messing with things. I had a book with me to kill time, that’s what I should have been doing anyway. They told me not to get on the swing because it was old and could fall down, I was lucky enough for one day.

I read long enough to get through a few chapters and begin pacing. If I haven’t mentioned my pacing problem I’d be surprised, but it’s extreme. Annoyingly (for everyone including myself) extreme. It may not help I was reading a Stephen King book, but as I paced, I heard a sudden, loud bang. Against the side of the barn. It was a good jump scare, but I couldn’t tell what caused it. It sounded like someone hit the wall really hard from the outside. I had watched The Green Mile recently and thought of the two girls who are killed in the beginning. As soon as the thought occurred to me it happened again, louder, BANG!

I dropped to the ground, proper scared now, and it happened a third time, bang! It didn’t take me too long to realize this was Cutty’s work. I knee-crawled to the door, thinking if she already saw me I could say I was being sneaky instead of trying to contain my bladder. I opened the door to see a wall of rain. The windows were long boarded up, and without the benefit of a tin roof, I had a hard time recognizing the sound of rain. Either way, it sure wasn’t thunder I heard. I enjoyed playing in the rain, Cutty thought I would stay inside rather than get wet, stupid girl.

It happened again. The bang was my starting gun, I ran around the side just in time to see the 5th bang. It was a shutter. The shutters were still fixed to the side of the barn, they were done to match the ones on the house, but this one was now hanging freely. With each strong gust, the wind slammed it into the wall. I looked over to the house, hoping no one saw my folly. I pulled the shutter the rest of the way down, thinking they would blame the storm. They totally did. I went inside, and began peeling off as many wet layers as I could without being naked.

As I peeled off my shirt, in that split moment it was over my head, obscuring my view, I was in the process of turning to face the loft ladder. I wanted to lay it over the rungs to dry, but I screamed and fell on my ass instead. Through my wet shirt, I saw the blurred image of the hanging woman swinging! She was facing me, her eyes were glowing! I’m lucky I didn’t piss myself, my heart came to a full stop, fell into my stomach, and tried to start beating again, but it couldn’t. Because it was staying in my stomach. My shirt got stuck on the hair clips Cutty put all over my head. I began a flailing around, bumping into the chair, somehow pulling it on top of me, yet still tripping on it at the same time. When I was finally free of the shirt, I spun back to the ghost… which was now just a rope swing blowing in the breeze from the door I forgot to close in my rush.

The large knots tied for hand and foot holds were spaced perfectly to make the vague shape of a woman when seen through a wet shirt. After I was able to breathe again and my heart found its way back home, I got those damn wet clothes off and stared at the rope for a long, long time. When I finished giving myself an ass chewing, I got back to business. I grabbed my shirt, almost completely dry now, and held it out the door until it was good and wet again. I was a little worried at first, but when I remembered to spin while looking, I can see how I made the mistake. I’m not 100% sure what I mistook for eyes. I really did want to know, but at the time I concluded it must have been the way water drops were collected in the shirt. As an adult, I think it’s a safe bet I probably had a concussion from my earlier fall. It explains why the image was so much clearer the first time. I would have never connected the two at that age, and I never shared the fall or hallucination with anyone before this. Now that I know what it was, I can tell you, holy cow I hallucinated that chick! It was creepy AF. I saw that weird bonnet hat, the outlines of the apron, my mind invented exactly what Cutty told me she saw, and Stephen King definitely helped it along. It was a major mindfuck.

It wasn’t nearly as bad as the cellar, but the cellar was a different kind of ‘real’ scary, not ‘spooky ghost’ scary, but it was my last campout in the barn. Not because I had a small scare, but because a rooster tried to kill me. The sun was just coming up when I made my way back to the house. I couldn’t wait for the bathroom any longer, and I hoped to sleep a few hours before Cutty woke up. I already knew I could never tell her, no way she was getting the satisfaction.

I walked into the dim sunlight, rubbing my eyes, when I heard something that almost sounded like someone drawing in the dirt with a stick really fast. As I turned to see what it could be, I saw a bright, colorful rooster charging at me. It made a sound I can only describe as a challenge and kept coming right at me. What the… is… is that rooster trying to fight me?! Why the…

OW! What in the ever loving mother fuck!” I screamed as a rooster dug it’s beak into my leg. I kicked it, but it wasn’t phased at all, he looked angry about it. It was coming for more. I ran full speed. The rooster roared its challenge again, demanding I stand to fight. Fuck that rooster, I ran faster.

“HELP! HELP ME! Someone help me!” I kept screaming as I ran for the house. It was the closest point of safety without a rooster blocking my path. I saw Cutty and her father opening the door as I rounded the corner.

“What’s wrong?” Cutty yelled. Her father looked less concerned and more confused, but when he saw the rooster, he ducked back inside. I assumed to get the gun. They had a rabid rooster and I knew we would need to kill it before it craved more blood. I wondered if he would let me do the honors.

“GO FOR THE TRUCK, DAD WILL BE RIGHT BACK.” Cutty’s voice brought me out of my daydream, she was right, let him kill it, just save me. Her father’s truck was parked out front! It was several feet closer than the house. I changed course ever so slightly. The rabid rooster was gaining on me, I would feel him bite into my ankle any second.

The bite never came. I used every ounce of adrenaline to propel myself into the back of the truck. I leapt from the ground, grabbed the tailgate, and threw myself in. I heard the rooster’s collision the same instance my body hit the truck bed. I was completely out of breath, this was the entire reason I made sure I never went near a track again after 7th grade.

The real kicker is, they tried to tell me the rooster wasn’t rabid, can you believe that?! They said Roosters were territorial and it was my fault for being a stranger in his space! Clearly they were afraid I would sue. Jokes on them because even if I had known that was a thing, I would have been far too lazy to do it.

Well guys, thanks for indulging me. I love any excuse to talk about Halloween. I hope to tell a few more before Halloween’s over, I don’t think it’s possible to run out of these, not for many years at least. It’s been harder to find time for writing this week, but hopefully things even out soon. Until next time, laters.

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