Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tales of Yore

For those who grew up with me back in good old Stumblebum, Michigan, it was well known that my parents' house was...interesting. Whereas everybody else lived in average homes filled with everyday, run of the mill goods, mine was more of a museum.

The house itself sat on the remnants of an old landfill, surrounded by swamps and located next door to a cemetery. As if this doesn't ignite the old homefires enough, it's worth noting that my parents were collectors and dealers of antiquities, so the interior of the house was filled with furniture, documents, and other ephemera that could be tied to people of note throughout history. (It was from these items that I can categorically state that Oliver Cromwell suffered from arthritis in his elder years, based on the appearance of his signature.)

While these items were of great interest to myself and the majority of my friends, it certainly curtailed my social abilities as a youth. It's just not practical to stage a large scale party in a home where you're not allowed to touch anything. So my gatherings tended to be resigned to a handful of trusted friends whom I could trust around all the items of yore.

As my parents traveled a good deal in my youth in order to fill up their stocks, I was afforded a great many opportunities to gather up my friends for evenings filled with movies, music and mirth. Without fail, however, at least one person would end up with a severe case of the heebie jeebies after spending an evening at the house.

The house itself was rather dark on the inside, painted in a deep burgundy with only a handful of lamps. Being situated deep in the woods, there was very little natural light that found its way to my home, so even in the middle of day the house seemed dimly lit.

My friends would frequently comment on a heavy feeling in the air, as if a presence was in the room with them, and almost across the board they would describe this presence as possessing an air of malice, a hostile intent that it would bare upon them via a perceived stare. The eyes could never be found, but its gaze could be felt, fixated, causing the hair on the back of our necks to prickle at attention. It was not uncommon to feel cold patches moving freely throughout a room, frequently coupled with a shadow of movement on the fringes of perception.

We did not discuss these things at great length, as we were teenagers and nobody wanted to look like a "baby", but we were keenly aware of a certain unease in the air that would impress itself upon us, threatening to suffocate us with its overbearing negative presence. A darkness that was felt but never fully seen.

Being the type that's rather easily spooked, it's fair to say that I spent the majority of my alone time in that house looking over my shoulder, always feeling the burning embers boring into my soul from the corner, but never able to envision what detested me so.

My room at the time was arranged so that my bed rested across the room from the door, the wall abutted on one side, a table on the other. Across the room sat a chair and stereo where I would wile my hours away with headphones, sometimes arranging myself on the floor for solitaire. Behind that chair sat a desk with a small shelf above it, containing a set of encyclopedias. And finally, next to the door was a bookshelf containing hundreds of various volumes.

One evening I was on the phone with my girlfriend, lazily detailing the day's events before laying down for the evening. As the conversation wore on, I decided to more or less climb into bed, so I switched off my tableside lamp and turned myself towards the wall, darkness overtaking my vision.

No sooner had the light gone off than a tumult of noise began clattering from the area of my bookcase. It was the sound of the shelves being flipped, books falling and banging against one another. But this sound lasted far longer than just the moment it would take for its contents to unsettle. This was a cacaphonous blast of activity, items hurling and colliding for several seconds.

I had heard the term, "Blood running icy in the veins" before that evening, but had never understood its meaning until that very moment. I lay in the dark absolutely paralyzed, too terrified to move or even open my eyes. I choked back tears as I tried to wrap my mind around what that noise possibly could have been.

"What the hell was that?" my girlfriend asked over the phone, and even the simple response of "I'm not sure" seemed to take years to squeak forth from my suddenly parched throat.

I knew that I needed to turn on the light, to assess what on earth had just happened behind me, but I found myself unwilling and incapable of making even the slightest movement. A large part of me feared what I would find if I switched on that light. I envisioned in my head a scene of rolling over and turning the dial on the lamp, only to have the eerily lit visage of some blood starved presence staring back at me, violence swimming in its eyes.

Finally I gathered the resolve and slowly turned myself towards the rest of my room. With fingers shaking I flicked on the light. I was half right on my first assumption. There was, indeed, a snarling vision of evil staring me in the eyes, but it only took a momentary flash for me to realize that it was not entirely real.

Whereas normally the chair sat facing the stereo, it was now turned so that the back faced my bed. The back, I might add was covered by my jacket whose entire back was taken up with a patch of "Killers" by Iron Maiden, an album cover featuring their decaying mascot, Eddie, with a homicidal glint in his eye, a hatchet dripping blood clutched in his hand and a pair of hands hanging futilely onto his belt, clinging as much to Eddie as they were to life itself.

The bookshelf was in completely normal order, not a single book or item was misplaced, but the shelf above my desk had emptied itself of books. Some were scattered on the desk, one had made its way under the desk and against the wall, while two more had stacked themselves by the door to my room. Several CD cases were smashed and various other items were turned, twisted or otherwise manipulated.

The strangest display of the evening was my coin bank. I had one of those over sized Coke bottle banks, about 3 feet tall that you couldn't get so much as a finger into. All of the coins in that bank had arranged themselves around the outer wall into little stacks, as if they had all undergone one massive centrifugal swing and then settled back down.

I never knew what to make of those events at the time, and to this day I have never really been able to fully discern exactly what the hell happened. I am an agnostic by nature, and as such do not have any predisposition towards belief in the supernatural.

Was it a ghost that lived at that house? A presence? A poltergeist? I'll never know the answer to that question. I know that there were things I cannot explain, but that does not mean that they are unexplainable.

Years have passed since that incident and it still gives me a shiver of fear to think of it.

In the years since I moved out of that house, that presence, whatever it was, has gone. The house no longer has that heavy feel of impending danger, and honestly, that's a major relief.

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Bonez said...

Wow, E, this is a great story. I wish it had happened to me. Such an obvious attempt at some entity to communicate with you. Can you imagine the effort it took to do what you describe? Did you ever try to communicate with the entity? Talk to it or even think hard at it? Are you an agnostic or an atheist? Either way, would a "supernatural" experience challenge such a belief? Also, you say the "presence" had left the house. Have you considered that maybe you are too old now to detect it or had changed in your "belief systems" to a point that your psyche isn't capable of perceiving such things? Extremely interesting. Besides the feelings was there anything else that made you consider the entity "evil"? This incident wouldn't necessarily be considered "evil", in my opinion. But it would be a monumental endeavor for the entity to make itself known. More about this and other strange happenings in your life coming soon?

E said...

Whew, that's a lot of questions, lemme see what I can do:

Yes, communication was attempted as a teen, but nothing ever came of it.

I am an agnostic, which essentially means I see nothing to precipitate belief one way or the other, but that I am open to changing my beliefs based on life experience. Do I believe in "ghosts" as a result? No, but I certainly am willing to entertain notions of existence beyond my own plane.

I say that it was "evil" based purely on my experiences and those of my friends. It always gave an air of malice and ill intent. There were other happenings over the years, this is just the one that stuck with me the most. Evil is a strong word. I guess a better term would be "negative". It had a very negative energy.

Do I think that its lack of appearance now has anything to do with a dulled sense? Not at all. If anything, I assumed it was bound to some object in the house. Many items have come and gone. When you're surrounded by provenance and hundreds of items that have been touched by figures of history, it's not hard to imagine that something could have been influenced.