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Thursday, 18 February 2010

Do you believe in the supernatural? (part 2) - An Attic Experience

Have you ever walked into an old house or building and felt the place had a magical energy about it? It's like an atmosphere or eerie feeling you get the moment you enter the door. Old houses have a history filled with old stories from years and sometimes generations gone by; if their walls could talk, what tales they would tell us...

The Move:

It was November 1999. Hubby and I had decided to relocate from our suburban home to an area closer to the city. Our two oldest children were entering an age where they wanted to socialize with their friends, but living in the boonies and not being on a bus rout made it hard to get from place to place. We found a house for rent in an area inside the city limits not far from where Hubby and I grew up. It was only available for 12 months, but we figured that would give up enough time to find another more permanent residence in the district. The house was a 1920's Dutch-Colonial, original everything, except for the some upgraded electrical, and heating. This house was enchanting, from the wooden floors to the original glass door knobs, it had such a magical energy that I felt the moment I entered the foyer. I recall the day we moved into the house. I wandered around the rooms admiring all the old details, secretly wishing the householder would decide they wanted to sell so we could snatch it up and it would be ours. Hubby and I were so captured by the overall charm, that we did not notice some of the flaws of the house until we were moved in getting adjusted.

Old houses have secrets:

First thing we discovered, after burning some toast, the kitchen window had been painted shut. We decided to check all the windows only to discover every window in the house was either painted or swollen shut. The pipes in the basement would make an awful groaning sound whenever the hot water was turned on. The house was very poorly insulated, very cold and drafty; we spent an obscene amount of money on oil, just to keep our pipes from freezing and our wee ones warm and toasty in the cold winter months.

One night while we were sitting in the living room with some guests, when someone yelled "wasp!". There was a wasp crawling around on the window ledge. Then someone else said "another one!", and gestured to an electrical outlet. We watched one wasp after another crawl out from the electrical outlet, then we saw a few more crawling around on the window ledge. Nothing a little squirt of raid couldn't take care of but still pretty strange to see wasps crawling out of electrical outlets in the winter. The following morning, hubby checked the basement and attic for wasps nests but found nothing. We alerted the landlords and they came over to inspect the areas of the house that might have nests but found nothing either. They had the attic and basement sprayed for insects, just in case they missed something. It didn't stop the wasps. From time to time we would see wasps crawling around the floor or crawling through electrical outlets. Friends and family would joke with us calling the house the "Amityville House".

When we first viewed the house, we were shown a cold-room/root-cellar door located to the rear of the basement. The owners told us they couldn't find the skeleton key to unlock the door, but they would have a locksmith come in and open it if we wanted to use the space for vegetable storage. Hubby and I had zero need for a root-cellar so we told them not to bother. One day in mid December when I went down to the basement to do some laundry, I noticed the root-cellar door was wide open. When hubby got home from work that afternoon, I asked him how he got the cellar door opened? He came down to the basement with me so I could show him what I was talking about, he said he didn't do it. This door had opened by itself on several occasions after that. I asked the kids if they had been down there playing and opened the door, but the oldest two muttered it was way to creepy down there to play. I decided to put a stop to this once and for all so I moved a bunch of the owners stored furniture up against the door, blocking it from being opened again.

Christmas time we had a gathering of family one evening. We were all sitting around chatting and laughing, having a good time when we heard a hysterical yelling coming from upstairs. We ran up to find my brother's girlfriend had been trapped in the bathroom, quite frightened and sobbing. The door handle had somehow jammed and wouldn't turn and trapped her inside the bathroom. We had to remove the old hardware to get her out. Another time my daughter had a friend over and they both got locked into her bedroom closet. The kids started sleeping with a night light on and I would often find them in the morning all gathered into one bedroom. They would occasionally get frightened while playing alone upstairs, exclaiming it was too spooky being in their bedrooms alone and eventually the stopped playing up there.

There were many other things, from creaks to groans of the old house settling; noises that all older houses make, but still no less creepy. Then things started going missing only to be found in the most obvious place days/weeks later; we would make light of it saying it was the Minute Man taking our things. Whenever we went on the hunt for a lost item, we found a lot of things that weren't our.  Things tucked away into little nooks and crannies all over the house: One time my oldest daughter found a mans wedding band tucked away in the far corner of her bedroom cubbyhole. Another time I found set of old skeleton keys way up on top of a shelf ledge in the dining room. We found old children toys, photos, broaches, books, hand written correspondences... all sorts of interesting trinkets that we collected and tossed into a little basket in the kitchen.

The Attic Experience:
The access to the attic was located in the hall on the second floor that divided the bedrooms. It was a dirty, unusable space that was full of the owners old things, which didn't leave much room for us to use -I wouldn't have used the area up there but for the simple fact that the thought of potentially running into wasps or other creepy crawlers, gave me chills. The owners had installed one of those pull down hatches that had a ladder attached that folded down to the floor for easy access. One morning in March after the kids left for school and hubby for work, I went up stairs to make up the beds. I did the girls rooms first, the boys, then crossed the hall into the master to make mine. I was finished in no time at all, looking forward to getting down to the kitchen for a cup of tea and some toast. I walked out of the bedroom, into the hall and "bang!", right into the attic ladder. Stunned from the crack to the head, it took a few seconds for me to clue in. While standing there in the hall stunned, rubbing the knob that erupted on my forehead, looking up into the black abyss of the attic, I was dumbfounded. A cold, dusty, gust of air swished down for the dark hole in the ceiling waking me from my stupor, and I remember rubbing my forehead thinking: "What the #%!#!". I quickly folded up the ladder, pushed closed the spring loaded door and ran down the stairs two at a time -like the devil was nipping at me heals! I gestured for the dog to come and I locked the both of us into the den and called hubby. Breathless, I told him what happened. Hubby asks if I heard any noises and I tell him "no". He tells me to hang up the phone, get out of the house, go to my mothers and call him from there. I do! I grab the dog and rush out of the house like a shot, I drive down to my mothers, all sorts of things going through my head: "did someone break in and hide in the attic?"," how long were they hiding up there?", "a robber, rapist, killer?". I was so shaken, I could hardly talk when I got to my mothers and called hubby back. He told me to hang tight he was on his way out to meet me. When he picked me up, I told him the story again, how I was making the bed, how I never heard a sound and how I bonked my noggin on the ladder. I went back to the house with him. The house still locked up tight, no signs of any break and entry around the windows or other entry doors. Hubby grabbed a golf club from the trunk of the car and we headed inside. Up the stairs we go, round the corner and guess what? Yup, you guessed it! The freaking' attic door is open again, ladder folded all the way down. "What on earth is going on here?" My legs buckle from under me, I had to grab the wall to steady myself. Hubby turns to me with a "Shhhh!" gesture and starts to creep up the ladder, me tugging at his shirt whispering "no, no, no, lets just leave and call the police". Hubby disappears through the hole in the ceiling and I hold my breath... I hear his work boots on the floorboards and him moving some things around and then see his feet appear down the ladder. He reaches the bottom and gestures another "Shhhh!". He scoured the entire second floor, then we head down and do a thorough check of the first floor, then the basement. All clear! Nothing, nada, no-one! Hubby heads back to the attic to check around in there again before heading outside to check the garage, and the old wood shed at the back of the property. It was a total mystery.


From that day on I felt very uncomfortable being in the house alone. The stillness of the house during the day was quite un-nerving and of course, my ears and eyes were on full radar alert to any out of the ordinary noises or sights. Although there weren't anymore attic or root-cellar doors mysteriously opening, there were still some strange noises and odd feelings we encountered. There were a few occasions that hubby had to be out of town for a few days for work. I would try to spend those nights in the house alone, the kids all cuddled into my bed with me, but all I'd need to hear was bang of a pipe or groan from the old house and I was packed and into the car with the kids and dog heading to my mothers for the night. Hubby and I focused on finding a permanent residence for us in the following months and found something not too far. October was a welcome month, we couldn't wait to be out of the old Dutch-Colonial. Ironically, the very house we wished we could buy 12 months ago, we couldn't wait to get out of.  We would drive by the house almost every day and I would find myself thinking back to that attic mystery and all the other goings on we experienced, wondering if there was something extraordinary happening inside that old house or were the things that happened all blown up by our imagination?

The house was going to be occupied by the owner's son after we moved, but it stayed empty for over a year, then there was a "for rent" sign on the lawn. A family moved into the house for about a year then they moved. The house stayed empty for a long time after that until last year we saw a work crew doing renovation in the house. Today there is another "for rent" sign on the lawn. Hope they fixed the attic door...

Related Posts:
Do you believe in the supernatural?
Monday Questions #6


only a movie said...

Really cool!
I lived in a rented house in the U.K. that was built in 1760. Lots of doors opened and closed on their own in that place... I felt that it was sort of benign tho - not spooky.
But your story... sorta spooky, Jack.

Also - my grandparents house in NJ looked just like the front of the photo of your house. Cool

WackyMummy said...

Interesting.... Did you write this? Really strange and unreal. Very scary! But I hear these things happen....

Shadow said...

totally spooky. and yes, i do believe in the supernatural. fortunately the only 'weird' things that have happened to me have been neutral and harmless, they never evoked fear, touch wood...

Gal Friday said...

I do beleive there WAS something supernatural going on in that house. This was a good "chilling" read for me this evening.

Glad you got out of there, too.