A certain reader complained to me recently about my tendency to end a topical discussion with the disclaimer "But that's another story." Said reader demanded, "When do we finally get the other story?" Since I am all about trying to find different topics for my weekly blog, I decided to tell one of those stories and see how it goes. But I need to lead up to it, first.
Accounts of haunted buildings, whether houses, churches, hospitals, schools, restaurants, or hotels, all designate particular rooms and locations within those buildings as particularly disturbed. This actually makes sense, since one can't expect a ghost to be haunting every room in the place all of the time. Also, perhaps ghosts tend to linger around the point of emotional impact that keeps them tethered to the place to begin with.
I can attest to that. The house I grew up in on the north side of Chicago had a strange feeling to it but there was one side of the place in particular that was bothersome, and this was arranged along a vertical plane that cut through the house from the attic floor all the way down to the basement. Just to add to it, that side of the house was closest to the garage, also a strange part of the property and not just because it included a coach house apartment with a bricked-off staircase and upstairs room. That side of the house, the property, was dark.
The house I live in now, in a suburb west of Chicago, is not classically haunted like my childhood home. But it has its quirks. A tarot card reader once said that this house was like a "way station," as she put it. What she meant was that nothing stayed long-term, nor was there a residential spirit. But the house, for whatever reason, invited visitors. Back in the days when we had a dog, there were times he would wake from a nap, turn his attention to the front door, and begin to bark, sometimes in acknowledgment, sometimes with real ferocity, as if something he didn't like or trust waited on the front step. There were times the doorbell rang for no reason. And there have been times that darker things, for want of a better word, have come in and hung around for a while.
One of the quirks of this house is that it is a ranch style built with a long transverse hall that extends from the laundry room through the kitchen, past the bathroom, and ends in our bedroom. Because I am a very short person, I can actually get a decent jog going inside my own house, and have managed various effective workouts throughout the years that include short runs -even sprints- along my hallway. But there was one year that my path was curtailed just past the bathroom. That's because some kind of resident shadow had taken up residence between the bathroom door and the little curve that rounds past our bedroom and ends up in my office. It was not a pleasant thing and even though with every lap I told myself I would complete the circuit by stopping at my office door, every lap I stopped at the bathroom and turned to jog back the way I had come. This darkness only lasted for about a week, and whatever it was that disturbed the house disappeared as abruptly as it had appeared without explanation.
The other end of our house, the laundry room and the entrance to the garage, is actually the part of the house that is most disturbed. Or disturbing. I think I mentioned in a recent post that I had come out of the powder room one night and run into something outside the powder room door. Now, the powder room is connected to the laundry room, and the laundry room is also connected to the garage. Strange things happen in my garage when I am working. One day I heard a particularly loud crash and found that a box I never even knew was in there had fallen to the concrete floor and sadly, smashed three of the five collector plates I had been saving to display in a special place. My daughters had even put dibs on these things, jokingly, to be assigned in my will. But now three of them are gone, one might be repairable, and only one is intact. I don't know what caused the box to fall. I don't even know where that box had been placed: had I known my plates were there, I would have brought them into the house a long time ago. But there it is.
At any event, coming out of the powder room door: it was a weeknight, it was late, and as I turned off the light and stepped into the dark of the laundry room, an even darker shape started forming to my immediate right, just in front of the garage door. I can't say it was going to be human-looking: I didn't stay long enough to find out. I do know that the shadow was swirling around, shaping itself as I glanced at it, and that it was going to be taller than I am (not saying much, but enough to freak me out.) I don't panic and run when this sort of thing happens. No, I panic and walk out at a very controlled pace so that I don't lose it entirely. Something inside me says that out of control panic is what the thing wants, and will give it some kind of power over me. I have no idea why I feel that way, I just do.
I don't know what that shadow was. I don't know if it's still here, or likely to turn up again. I do know that I would rather not run into it again and I hope I don't.
So that's "another story." One of these days, perhaps I will actually tell the poltergeist story. Perhaps. One of these days...