It's that cool and creepy time of year again, and Wendy and I couldn't be happier. With the changing of the seasons and arrival of beautiful fall foliage, October is our favorite month of the year. But for all October has to offer, I'd be remiss if I didn't say we spend the whole month looking forward to Halloween. And I think everyone can agree that Halloween isn't complete without a good ghost story.
Without fail, whenever we are introduced to a group who learns we live in an older home, at least one or two people always ask the inevitable, "So...is your house haunted?" Some people ask it bashfully, others more directly, and some even ask as if they are actually telling us it is surely inhabited by spirits.
When we're asked, our most common answer is, "Well, we don't know, but there have been a few weird happenings and we've experienced some things we simply can't explain." Our response is sometimes met with skepticism, and other times with shock, but most often, whether or not the person asking the question is a believer in ghosts, spooks, haunts, or the paranormal, our response is typically met with intrigue, and the desire to learn more.
Last Halloween season we shared two of the "ghost stories" we have about our home. The first, the legend of the peanut ghost, is rather innocent and innocuous. Today, we just laugh and point out how often we see peanut shells laying around, though most likely it is just trash left behind by squirrels.
The second story, the tale of Mrs. Bryan, is a bit creepier and more difficult to explain. We continue to see things out of the corner of our eyes, and on more than one occasion in the past year I've gone downstairs just to make sure there's nothing in the house, though I could swear I just caught a glimpse of a person.
This Halloween I want to share a third story, which is actually the most difficult to explain and has me creeped out to this day. This story is also the one that makes the least overall sense in my analytical, "there must be an explanation for this," sort of way. No matter what possible justification I can come up with, there's just no logical explanation for how it happened.
This all goes back to a night in 2010. Wendy and I had spent long rainy day inside the house. I had spent much of the day organizing the wreck of a basement (some things never change), moving and organizing some heart pine flooring that was original to our house and getting it situated and neatly stacked on the floor.
As it was getting later, Ollie let us know he was tired and wanted to go to bed. This was the routine we established with him, so when we was tired, we listened to him and got ready for bed.
We tucked Ollie in downstairs in his crate, since that's where he liked to sleep, then turned in ourselves. We were both particularly tired after a fair amount of work that day, and we had more to get done the next day, so we hit the hay and fell into our slumber.
All was quiet until roughly 3:00 o'clock in the morning when I woke up and thought I saw a person standing in the corner of our bedroom. It was one of those instances where you wake up and your eyes start playing tricks on you. I sat up and started staring at the figure in the corner until the figure simply turned into shadows from the door. A bit confused, but sure my mind was playing tricks on me, I went back to sleep.
I slept soundly until about 4:15 when I was oddly awoken again, but this time by something different. I wasn't sure exactly what it was, a noise, a feeling, a person...I just knew I was awake, and it had happened rather gently. We're used to street noise, people walking by the house having loud discussions and occasionally yelling, the creaking of the house, and even fire truck or ambulance sirens, but this wake up was different than all of those, this wake up was quiet and close.
Though I was awake, I made a conscious decision not to shoot up and out of my laying position as I had done earlier. Instead I laid still, trying to figure out what had just woken me up. I'm not sure if it was more curiosity or lethargy, but I didn't feel a sense of urgency. I was laying on my right hand side, looking at the partially closed bedroom door when I began to focus on the illuminated wall switch with my open left eye. The other side of my face, still buried in the pillow, represented the half of me that just wanted to fall back asleep, but my left eyed stayed on the dim light of the wall switch as my brain tried to process what it was that may have woken me up.
After what felt like it could have been minutes, but was more accurately a second or two, the occurrence that had stirred me from my peaceful slumber only a short time earlier, the thing that I was trying to understand, that thing happened again. The sound was a dull but noticeable thud that seemed like it had just come from the foot board area of the bed. Accompanying the thud was movement. In my still groggy state I continued to fixate on the light switch, the only area of light in our otherwise darkened room. As the thud occurred, I could see the light switch begin to move in a slow oscillating fashion.
"What is this?" I thought, laying still and trying to figure things out. "What's going on here, and why is the light switch moving?" As my thoughts did their best to race through my groggy mind, seemingly stuck in a bit of mental quicksand, I began to realize what I was seeing. The light switch wasn't moving at all, rather it was the bed that was shaking, and I was moving as I laid in it. But how was this possible, how was the bed moving?
Again, no more than a second or two later, a third and very noticeable thud occurred at the bottom of our bed. It sounded as if someone was slowly bumping into our bed, but done so with a hand or arm wrapped in fabric to deaden the sound. The noise was enough to wake me from a sound sleep, and the rocking of the bed was enough to creep me out a bit, but it wasn't a hard strike or loud noise by any means.
After this third thud the cobwebs began to clear and my mind was absolutely racing. Initially I was worried someone had rammed their car into the side of our house (don't laugh, it's happened in our neighborhood before) or that the ground was actually shaking beneath the house. Without lifting my head I glanced back at my glass of water on the nightstand. Though my eyes were still a bit fuzzy, I could clearly see the liquid in my glass was not moving, which meant the room was not shaking and only the bed had any motion.
I was nearly frozen in bed, attempting to lay as still as possible, for I wanted to keep hearing and experiencing the thuds until I was able to figure out just what this occurrence was. No sooner, a fourth thud left the bed moving again, but I was no closer to a probable cause. "How was this happening?"
As I laid there waiting for the next sound, Wendy began to stir. I didn't want her to wake up or move, I wanted to figure out what it was that was shaking our bed. Ollie was downstairs and Mel was laying in bed with us, but was far too small and tired to shake the bed in the way we were experiencing. We knew our neighbor was out of town that week, and nobody was staying with us in the house. There seemed to be no logical explanation for why our bed was bothered.
After the fourth thud Wendy finally gathered her thoughts and began to realize that our bed was being bumped by something. A moment later we heard and felt a fifth and final thud. Wendy quickly sat up in bed and said "WHAT WAS THAT?!?!?" I told her I didn't know, but it had happened several times and I had been trying to figure it out. I looked down at Mel, who was laying in the middle of the bed by our knees, and he was absolutely alert. He was looking around, just like us, trying to figure out what was going on. At the same time, Ollie was downstairs sound asleep, no barking or noises in the least bit.
After that fifth bump, the sounds and movement stopped, seemingly as quickly as it started. Wendy and I started to try to come up with what had just happened, but we were at a loss. Was it a car or truck outside, an earthquake, something else? What had been thudding against our bedroom foot board hard enough to wake all three of us up in the middle of the night?
We checked online to see if an earthquake had occurred, I checked twitter to see if anything, such as an explosion, was being reported, and I checked Facebook to see if any local friends had noticed something similar, but nothing was popping up. Later, we even talked to friends and neighbors, none of whom had felt anything similar.
After a few minutes Wendy and I went back to sleep, still with many questions in our mind. When we woke up a few hours later to a sunny Sunday morning, we immediately began talking about "the incident." We again checked for earthquakes (because that's obviously the most logical thing and we needed to keep checking), still nothing registered. Then we started talking about how "Mrs. Bryan," a widow and the original owner of our home in the late 1880s, had had woken me up a few years earlier, and perhaps she was still at it. It may have been a bright and sunny day, but we had just had several days worth of rain. I thought to myself, "You know, I just put all of that heart pine flooring stacked on the floor in the basement, and though it was dry when we put it down, what if water started coming into the basement?"
I mentioned my hypothesis to Wendy and headed down to the basement. During the previous day's rain, water started coming in through the basement walls and floor and pooling in the center near the blocked drain. The water was backing up form the center and crawling towards the stacked up flooring. By the time I got down into the basement, the water had moved back all the way to the flooring and the edge of it was sitting in the water. I quickly moved the wood and stacked it in the better location. Luckily, the water hadn't done any serious damage to the flooring, it just needed to be wiped off, but had I not ventured down to the basement it could have been ruined.
When I got back upstairs I told Wendy what I had found and we kept talking about what we experienced in the middle of the night. We were both somewhat dumbfounded and had no idea what to really think. Wendy's hypothesis is that Mrs. Bryan tried to warn us that the water was approaching the flooring but we chose to ignore her. I have no idea if the potential for waterlogged flooring is responsible for our early morning wake up call that morning, but I have no better possible explanations.
To this day, this is one of those events where I simply can't assign a dismissive and logical cause. Every time I think about it I get completely creeped out and wonder what it could have been that woke us up. One thing is for sure, when I wake up in the middle of the night now, I always lay still for a second to see what it was that startled me awake. I'm forever curious and absolutely hope to someday discover what it was that jarred us awake.
Do you have any thoughts as to what could have awoken us from a sound sleep? Have you ever experienced something going bump in the night in your home? Maybe you've seen something out of the corner of your eye, or have experienced something you can't quite explain? If so, we'd love to hear your stories, and we hope everyone has a very happy Halloween!