humor · spooky

Calling All Ghosts

This is just a Google image that conveniently matched the name I used. I think someone did great work though!

I think we love horror stories because we can fight monsters and psychos. We can’t fight old age or nature… at least not to the same effectiveness. We can’t run or hide, we’re essentially helpless. Sure, you can eat right, exercise, deny your unhealthy cravings, but time won’t stop. The clock keeps ticking, you keep aging, and before you know it, you’re the one with a bad back and bald patches. At least, that’s where my head is today.

I would like to do another fun Halloween thing. I’m in one of those moods where everything is bleh, best not poke the bear with aggravating memories. We are going to cover a hotel today. Do you remember my first boss, Feeny? Growing up, her parents owned and operated The Haunted Hotel. I know, give me a break, the name isn’t important, but that’s what it’s known for. It was built in 1927, but Feeny wasn’t born until the 50’s. I’ll let you know now, I’ve eaten at the hotel, but never stayed overnight. I can only relay Feeny’s experiences, but she had plenty to share.

Let’s start with the first time she told me about Haunted Hotel, “That’s right, Daddy owned it, and I lived there until I got married. The best part about living in a hotel?” Feeny smirked over her coffee, “You never run out of hot water.” She sighed, remembering.

It did sound really nice. “That’s so cool! Is it really haunted?!” Of course that was going to be my first question. I was almost 17 and a veteran ghost hunter. I use the term loosely, but I was game to sit almost anywhere overnight to see what happened. I still lived in the special, teenage bubble of invincibility, too naive to understand real danger lay with the living.

“Oh, it absolutely is. Never doubt that. No one has ever been hurt, it’s nothing evil. I think they’re just… sad. Maybe lonely.” She shrugged, indifferent. “You’re going to want to hear about them now, aren’t you?”

“Yes please, all of them. In chronological order if possible.” I confirmed, taking her outstretched coffee mug for a refill. A small price, I gladly paid.

“Alright, but just a quick one, we have a busy night ahead. I can tell you about the girl on the phone.” She sipped her coffee before beginning.

The Voice

If nothing else, I feel like these made dialing fun. I want one just for the sound it makes.

I know you aren’t familiar with Party Lines, but growing up, that’s all we had. It just means we had to share a phone line with other people. Hotel rooms didn’t have phones back then. If a guest needed to make a call, they went to the front desk. We had one for our residence, but it was the same line, and shared with others on our street.

Well, we had a ghost who liked to talk through the phones, but customers thought it was my sisters or I; like it was a tourist gimmick. I can promise it wasn’t, we also heard it. Sometimes, she talked a few times a day, other times nothing happened for several weeks. You never knew when it would start up, but it was always when you least suspect it. We tried talking to her a few times, but she never responded. We don’t know her name, but Daddy believed it was the daughter of a construction worker.

The hotel was built in the 20’s, they didn’t have safety codes or a worker’s union. Immigrants were cheap, easy labor, and often taken advantage of. One of the builders was a widower with a young girl, maybe 4-6, but they were homeless. He set up a camp near the river, but the child was too young to be left alone. A foreman took pity on the man and allowed the girl to stay in one of the completed rooms during the man’s shifts.

For weeks, the man fed his daughter, left her in a room with a lunch sack, and worked til dusk. For weeks, he retrieved her sleeping form, and carried her to the camp they called home; usually dreaming of the day he could provide a proper one. Until, one night, she wasn’t in there. At first, he thought she wandered out, maybe searching for an outhouse.

The foreman collected men for a search party, but no one could find her. They searched through the night, and more searched through the next day. She was so young, she couldn’t have wandered too far alone; they concluded she must have been kidnapped, but she was never seen again.

A few years later, the foreman was arrested for kidnapping a little girl. He never confessed taking the first, but people believed he hid her body in the basement, buried beneath the concrete foundation. Her father never left town, always hoping to find his daughter. When he learned of the foreman, he walked into the jailhouse with a shotgun. They say no one tried very hard to stop him until he turned the gun on himself, but he and the foreman died that night.

The first time I heard the voice, I was 10. I answered the phone while Momma cooked. It was my aunt, but the connection sounded fuzzier than normal. Almost like someone crumpled a candy wrapper in the receiver. Aunt’s voice was barely audible, but I distinctly heard “Help me.”

“What’s wrong, what happened?” I tried to ask.

“Help me…” Then the static spiked, and the next thing I heard was “daddy.”

“Daddy’s downstairs, hang on!” By then, Momma heard my panic and came to see what’s wrong. “It’s Aunt, she needs help!” I handed her the phone, ready to fetch Daddy, but she caught my arm to hold me in place.

“Wait first.” She said, putting the phone to her ear. “Hello… Hello?” She hung up, and said, “No ones there, it must have been the ghost.”

Until that day, I thought she was just a story. Less than an hour later, Aunt arrived. She thought I said, “Daddy needs help.” She tried to call back, but the operator said the call wouldn’t go through.

When I was a little older, Daddy would tell me when customers heard her. Some thought it was a trick, but people use to walk in off the street just to use the phone. The one I remember best was an older man, probably in his 50’s. I was 16, and watching the front desk. I did it all the time, but that night just before 9, there he was.

He was bald, incredibly tall, dressed in a black suit, and his ears looked plastic. He didn’t look human, he scared me a great deal. His nose was pointy, almost like a bird beak, and his top lip looked like he had corrective surgery in the past. Paired with his small, dark eyes an nonexistent chin, he appeared almost alien. I wish we had security cameras back then. “He…hello. Would you… like a room?” I could barely get the words out, that’s how deeply he shook me.

“No. I would like to use the telephone.” His voice, like his face, was void of emotion, almost robotic. “Please.” He added after a pause.

“Yessir.” My voice was barely audible as I slid the phone to him, but it didn’t matter. When he saw the phone, I ceased to exist.

He bent down, bringing the tip of his pointed nose just above the receiver. I heard him smell the phone, breathing it in as one would their favorite scent. I didn’t move or speak, I had a terrible feeling I shouldn’t. He kept pausing to turn his ear to the base, like he was listening for something. After smelling every part of the phone, he removed a handkerchief from his breast pocket. With great deference, he picked the receiver up, carefully inspecting every inch.

When satisfied, he placed the receiver on the desk while using the handkerchief to dial. I thought he was pressing buttons at random, he never spoke to the operator, and pressed enough numbers to call China twice. It shouldn’t have worked, but then he picked the receiver up again. Holding it a few inches from his ear, he said, “Hello… yes… no… 38GP … yes.” and with that, hung up. I know I heard… something… on the other end, but it was so distorted, I couldn’t tell if it was words or… something else.

He retrieved a small notepad from his pocket, unclipped the attached pencil, wrote for a moment, and left without another word. When I told Daddy, he asked staff members if they saw the man, but no one else had. We never saw him again, I don’t know if he was a ghost too, or just a man with a screw loose on vacation, but we stopped advertising the phone anomaly. We had incidents, but never fed the flames like before. Besides, we still had the lady in white. I’ll tell you about her next time.

And that, my friends is her story of a phone ghost. I will hopefully get around to the lady in white before Halloween, but the phone ghost is my favorite from that hotel. Aside from the lady in white being terribly cliche, the strange old man genuinely creeped us out. You could hear the truth in Feeny’s words by the chill bumps on her arm as she spoke of him. Plus, I don’t recall another story where a ghost is in the phone, I thought it at least a change of pace. Anyway, Happy Halloween everyone! Hurry up and get your creep on, we only have 24 days left!

humor · mental health · spooky

Down the Rabbit Hole

** Before I begin, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. I’ll keep it short; if I think about it too hard, I may have a panic attack. When I started this blog I didn’t expect to find such an amazing community. Seriously, you guys have been so welcoming, I appreciate you more than I can express. This has been a wonderful experience, and I hope I can continue to grow here. **

Since I put my foot in my mouth and told you guys about Cutty’s cellar, I wanted to do it next. If I put it off, I’ll chicken out or procrastinate until last minute. I’m not a fan of talking about this one, but I stayed with Cutty a few days during our 8th grade spring break. The week before, our history class learned about secret escape tunnels built during the Civil War. Several antebellum homes had them, but now most are caved-in, closed off, or converted to storage.

For the first time, Google images was worthless. I tried to find a picture of another home’s tunnel, but none look close to the real thing. It’s exactly what it sounds like, I promise. They didn’t have time for anything fancy, the walls and ceiling were braced with wooden beams. They kept lanterns and what were essentially bug-out bags at the entrance. If you were being forced to use a tunnel, chances are you didn’t have time to gather supplies first. The other end exited behind a tree-line, or any place out of view.

Cutty’s cellar was caved in 6ft from the entrance. Wherever it came out was lost in history, but the previous owners concreted the steps. Crone Club had a fit, but you can’t un-concrete something, at least not how they wanted. It was deep enough to stay cool year round, and safe enough for Cutty’s mom to store her preserves. That’s all you need for now, let’s get on with it, shall we?

“So… what haunts the escape tunnel?” I asked Cutty.

“Nothing.”

“Oh, don’t be like that, come on. I promise I won’t try to sleep there.”

“Seriously. It’s not haunted. If it is, no one has told me about it.” She shrugged with just enough indifference to make me believe her.

I was disappointed to say the least, but I still wanted to be one of the kids who got to say they’ve been in one. “Let’s go look at it, I just wanna see it. Please?”

“I’ll take you if you swear not to do any ghost crap for the whole week.”

“Deal!” One week wasn’t a bad trade-off. I could always entertain myself with the swimming pool or golf cart.

“Fine, but no changing your mind when you only see jars of fruit, it collapsed before we moved here.” She lead me through the house, to the basement.

Before we progress further, there is one more thing I forgot to mention. It’s weirdly important to me you understand this, thank you for the indulgence.

Shortly before this took place, Dad gave me a camping kit. Among other items, it contained a canteen. I hate camping, there’s no electricity or bathrooms, but I love pretending to camp. It’s best to accept it as one of my quirks and move on, there’s a whole thing unto itself there; but what matters is, I had the canteen. I packed it partly because packing and unpacking are among my favorite activities, but mostly because I had a feeling. Don’t let the packing comment hold you up, it’s not why we’re here either. Nor am I leading you into a rant about premonitions or foresight, this goes straight back to my paranoia issue.

If you don’t suffer from paranoia, you may not understand how many ‘feelings’ we have daily. It’s more than one could feasibly indulge. At the tender age of 13, I was already in the habit of ignoring them. One’s gut can only cry wolf so many times before one hopes a real wolf comes along to devour it.

That’s why, when Gut screamed, “grab the canteen, we’re going on an adventure!” as we left Cutty’s room, I rolled my eyes. Sick of it.

Last time I listened to you, I dove behind a tree to avoid a dangerous spy at school. Everyone saw! How did you think I would explain that?” I admonished.

Ok, back to the basement again. On the far wall, a small, wooden door hid the entrance to the cellar. It didn’t look old enough to be the original, but I imagine it had something less noticeable back then. We opened the door, and I could see the skinny concrete steps descending into darkness. It was deep enough for me to stand upright, but most men would need to hunch. The preserves were next to the entrance, most could be reached without leaving the steps. It was much smaller than I imagined.

Cutty reached in to pull a light cord, and a single, dim bulb lit up. “Here, this is the only light. Look so we can leave. Maybe we can get you a tan this week.”

I was so pleased, I didn’t remind her I can’t tan. I’m the kind of Irish that burns instantly, but returns to pasty white once the skin peels. Honestly, I’m not sure why we’re called white. The color is closer to peach if anything. Sorry, tangent.

I looked at the jarred fruit, dull as promised, and walked the few feet to the cave-in. It wasn’t a wall of earth as I pictured, dirt partially fell in, but the rotten timber blocked most of the path. “Do you have a flashlight?”

“No, you don’t need one. Let’s go.” Cutty was already out of patience. So difficult.

“I just want to see what’s past the cave-in. Come on, there has to be one in here.” I whined.

“No! There’s nothing but more dirt! I showed it to you, now let’s go swimming or something.”

“Fine. You win this round.” But I didn’t tell her she would lose the next. It occurred to me, I never promised not to revisit the cellar.

No one travelled that tunnel for over 100 years! I was consumed by the idea of being the person who discovered the tunnel’s exit. It was about history, not ghosts. If I had a conscience then, it would have been clear. Strangers would learn my name on the tour! I could hear it already, “And thanks to our adopted daughter’s efforts, we can now show you where the tunnel leads.” Cutty’s parents would say, beaming with pride.

If that weren’t delusional enough, I also convinced myself other homeowners would invite me to explore their tunnels. I saw myself being labeled the real-life Lara Croft. Yes, that was definitely worse. You see how the simplest things carried me away? I looked at a cellar for 30 seconds and it only took 30 more to believe it would make me famous. Ok, I’m starting to think I’ve had the god complex longer than I realized.

The rest of the day went slowly as I waited for nightfall, but I was able to locate a flashlight. When midnight came around, I heard the reassuring sound of Cutty’s snores. Quietly, I crawled out of her room, the embodiment of Lara Croft, professional, afraid of nothing. I set about my task with a rare seriousness, calm and confident.

Don’t forget the canteen, you never know when you’ll need it!” Gut reminded.

Screw you, I’m sick of it! Do you remember what happened when you convinced me to do stand up at the talent show?!” Not this time, Satan!

It’s Brain’s fault you can’t say words correctly, I was only trying to help. Besides, this is different. I really think you should take the canteen this time.” It changed my fun butterflies to painful cramps with a side of nausea to prove it’s point.

No way, you aren’t fooling me with that trick. I don’t care what you say, I’m not wasting my time crawling all the way back. You just want me to wake her up!” I accused.

“No… look, I know we’ve had our differences, but this time I’m…

La la la la la la la I can’t hear you, la la la.” That always shuts it up.

After I made it to ground level, I remained at the bottom step, making sure no one woke during my Grinch walk. One of those extra considerations that so often encouraged my false sense of grandeur.

You know, Grinch walk? To sneak.

The fantasy lasted until I was in the basement. Shining the flashlight on the cellar door felt like a hypnotist snapping his fingers to release me from a trance. My bravery evaporated instantly, but not my curiosity. In the end, Curiosity defeated Cowardice and Cramps. I had gone all that way, I didn’t see the harm in taking a quick look. I only wanted to know if I could see past the cave-in… but then I could see past it. A little, at the very top, I could see open space inside. The image reignited my fantasy, and my thoughts spiraled out of control.

Holy shit it’s really open back there. Holy shit ok, be cool, for once in your miserable life, slow down, take a breath, and think first.

Hey, can I say something now? Because I would really like you to go back for more supplies, you have time to think about what you might need.” Gut warned.

“That’s a hard pass, I have to do this now, I only have 4 hours at most.

Isn’t that kind of a long time though? Could we at least talk about this?”

No! 4 hours is nothing! Shut up, already!” Seriously, you cannot trust that thing.

But we could…

La la la la la la la la.”

Alright, can’t waste time. Need to get through that pile without making a stupid mistake. That means getting in and out without loud noises, getting hurt, or breaking anything. Better make sure to close the basement door, that’ll help with sound. Wonder if I can endure closing the cellar door… yes… you damn well will either way because this is serious. We don’t have time for you to be a cry baby about claustrophobia. Don’t take anything from the pile unless it’s definitely safe to move. If anything could break, it would be the glass jars. There aren’t too many… smart! That’s totally what was going to screw us. “Great job, Brain! See, Gut? Why can’t you be more like Brain?”

I carried the jars carefully, one in each hand, to a table on the far side of the basement. I worried I might forget them later if I was excited about making history, but it seemed forgivable under the circumstance. When I closed myself into the cellar it took a few minutes of intense concentration to pretend a vast, open space was behind me, but then I got to work.

Start at the top, you don’t want anything falling on your head.” Brain smartly recommended.

The wood was old and rotten, had I been smart enough to understand what termites were and how many were likely in that pile, the story would probably end here. But I was a moron, so let’s continue.

I worked slow and steady, genuinely terrified, but soon I had a hole big enough. All in all I was pretty proud of the work. I’d barely made a sound with none the wiser and all signs pointed to the hard parts being behind me; only fame and glory lay ahead.

Oh that poor fool, how I shake my head in derision.

I put the flashlight in my back pocket and crawled in, using my hands to lower myself to the ground on the other side. Excitedly, I retrieved the light and looked around, but I stirred too much dirt to see well. The space felt smaller than ever, and the idea of having a panic attack down there gave me a panic attack. I tried to use my shirt as a face mask, but it too, was covered in dirt. I inhaled more, causing me to fall, gagging and thrashing about. When finally able to stand and breathe again, my watch read 1:37AM, but I couldn’t have been on the ground more than 5-10 minutes. I tried to look around again, but the flashlight only showed a wall of dust. I walked forward cautiously, hand held out, wishing I had a walking stick.

You mean like you might have, had you thought about supplies for 5 minutes like I asked?” Gut chimed in.

Refusing to be sucked into mind games, I marched onward. I’m terrible at judging distances, but I would guess the real cave-in was less than 20ft from the first. A right and proper one, no question. The disappointment washed over me with another loud snap of a hypnotist’s fingers. Except this time, it wasn’t in my imagination, it was a real snap. Well, technically it was a crack. As in the crack of an old wood beam breaking. Because that’s what it was.

Shining the light toward the entrance, I looked for the source of sound. For the first time, I noticed part of the ceiling beam was still in place, not just part of the debris. Or it had been until that moment. As I debated whether I should stay put or rush through, it collapsed, effectively closing my hole. I didn’t panic at first, it didn’t seem realistic. There was no part of me that believed getting stuck down there was a possible outcome. I waited until I was confident the pile was settled before further inspection.

I worked at it same as before, from the top. I moved a few small pieces of wood and scooped away dirt, but the newly fallen beam was too heavy to move. I shoved with all my strength, tried breaking pieces off, but it was hopeless. I stayed calm long enough to make the same assessment for the rest of the pile, but panic ensued when I had to accept reality. I was stuck, no matter what I used for leverage, or where, I wasn’t strong enough to move the pieces that mattered. Even if I had managed to make a hole near the bottom, I’m not sure I could have forced myself through. As unreal as being trapped seemed, being crushed by debris seemed very plausible. Another glance at my watch told me it was 2:16, it’s weird the details you remember in a crisis.

I sat against a wall to rest. Body began noticing how sore and tired it was, but Brain was determined to escape without getting caught. Had I been desperate enough to call Cutty, I couldn’t have anyway. Texting didn’t exist, Cutty didn’t own a cellphone, and mine was upstairs because they were useless in 2002.

See, useless. Not even a flashlight. Wait… except for Snake, I miss that game.
OMFG! Do you guys see what I just found in the App Store?! 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 You’re welcome!

Desperation makes normal people do crazy things. So yea, my thoughts started to get away from me again, sue me.

Ok, ok, ok, this is fine, you’re fine. What’s the worst that can happen? They clear the mess in the morning and give you a good lecture? So what? There’s worse things, not like they’re going to eat you. Calm down, take the yelling with dignity and move on. Maybe they’ll think it’s funny! That be great, wouldn’t it? Yea, I bet they’ll think it’s funny. No one got hurt, nothing is broken, they even know what’s back here now. Nothing but aces.

Hey, now that you mention it, how early do you think they’re going to find us? Because we didn’t tell anyone what we were doing, and we closed both doors.” Brain acknowledged

Well, her dad wakes up early. It could be 6 or maybe even sooner if we’re lucky. It’s after 2 now… that’s only 4 hours. That’s cake, it’s nothing. We can hang out in this tiny space for 4 hours. We have light, everything’s fine. We’re going to face the dust cloud and pretend it’s all wide open spaces out there. It’s fine, we’re fine.” I soothed, holding legs to my chest, rocking gently.

Right, but… why would he come down here when he wakes up? Wouldn’t he just… get up and go about his day? I mean, he’s only going to see a closed door if he sees it at all. He’s going to assume you and Cutty are still asleep, just like her mom will. Won’t this depend on what time Cutty wakes? What time was it yesterday? 10-10:30?” Brain corrected.

Fuckballs, you’re right. That’s nearly 8 hours. But… but… we can’t. We can’t do that, we can’t.” The rocking became less gentle.

I can’t help but notice this is the perfect situation for a canteen and candy bar” Gut joined the conversation. A bit too smug if you ask me.

If you say one. More. Word. I will tear my stomach open just to rip you out.” Gut was blessedly silent for the remainder of this story, but for the rest of my life it will use this instance to force obedience. That’s called emotional manipulation, and it’s barbaric.

So… do you want to like… maybe try digging again?” Brain broke the awkward silence.

Might as well.”

Wouldn’t it be funny if this was when we saw a ghost?” Brain whispered.

I hate you so much.”

What if we have to use the bathroom?” Brain asked hesitantly.

Shut up, don’t think I won’t rip you out too.”

I alternated between trying to dig, and rocking on the ground for the first hour, but when the flashlight batteries died, my morale plummeted to a new low. I only had two more panic attacks in the total 6 hours I waited. If someone had presented it to me as a ‘what if’ scenario, I would have guessed a complete system shut down. Noises you hear in the dark, while trapped inside the bowels of a home with that history are… well, they’re fucking terrifying. When your eyes have nothing to see, they create something to see. It’s a thing, super interesting, you should Google it, but it’s also heart attack fuel. If I closed my eyes, I felt like something was reaching out to grab me. The illusion was complete with the dust and bugs crawling on me. Even now, I don’t understand how I only had two panic attacks. Maybe they lasted longer than I thought. Needless to say, it felt longer than 6 hours, but Cutty got up when she realized I was gone.

“Where are you, dumbass?” She called out.

“Dude! Thank goodness! Dude over here come to the back of the cellar!” I leapt with joy, I never knew how literal the phrase was until I experienced it for myself. Simply exhilarating, I hope to feel it again some day.

“What the actual fuck have you done? Do you have any idea how lucky you are my parents went to work without noticing this? Mom’s fruit is going to be ruined, what the hell is wrong with you?” I could hear her replacing the jars as she spoke.

“Alright, I know I’m an asshole, I completely agree with every bad thing you want to say. I swear I will sit quietly and listen to every word, and we can do whatever you want for the rest of the week. I don’t care just please, please, help me get out. I have to pee so bad, you don’t understand, and I’m so thirsty, please get me out.” My heart sank as I said it. If she wasn’t strong enough, and her parents were at work, I was screwed. I explained how I became trapped and forced myself to wait quietly while she tried to dig me out.

“You are such a bitch for this! This stuff is disgusting, I’m getting filthy. Do you understand how screwed we are if we can’t get you out? Do you know what Crone Club would do if they found out? Mom wasn’t even suppose to keep the fruit there!”

“Yes, I know, I assure you the fear within me is bubbling over, much like the urine within my bladder. Please, I’m begging you, tell me you can move that thing. If you can move it just a little I can squeeze through the hole I made.

“Yea, yea. I think I can get it, calm down. You’re lucky I even got out of bed this early.” She griped.

“I know, I’m incredibly lucky because you’re the best person in the entire world, all hail Queen Cutty.”

“I think we can move it now. The bottom was wedged, but if you can push on it from your side I think we can get it.”

“Yes! Yes I can! Just say when, I’m ready!” This time, it moved easily. We pushed the beam away, and I leapt through the opening. I could have kissed Cutty, had I not been required to immediately run for the bathroom. I drank a gallon of water, ate several pop tarts, and told Cutty the whole story. She wasn’t a good sport, but she wasn’t a bad sport either. She didn’t tell her parents so I can’t complain too much.

Well, there you have it. The cellar story. Before I go, I want to say thank you once more. I don’t think I had 150 followers if you combined the life time totals of all my social media accounts. Thank you all, this has been truly incredible.

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.