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Campfire Stories


Tell yours. The rules are that it must have happened to you.

When I was 19, I lived in a haunted house.

My grandmother had just passed away. She and my grandfather both died in this house. That really didn’t bother me. I loved them and to me death is final. I took care of them and had no qualms about being in the home. My parents were looking to sell the property, but needed time to go through all the belongings. Meanwhile, they needed a caretaker to tend the home till they could organize the estate sales. I was home from college for a summer and thought living alone would be far better than attempting to reacquire my room from my dad (who had turned it into an office). So I volunteered to stay in the house and look after things, help them organize, etc.

I moved in, and got to it. My parents had been working hard, boxing up items from other rooms and piling them in the master bedroom (where my grandparents died). Because of this, I took the couch in the living room which shared the wall with the headboard of the bed in the master bedroom. The bedroom had a narrow hallway of boxes that led to the master closet and bathroom where I stored my belongings, but other than that the room was inaccessible. The living room, dining room, and kitchen were all kept intact for my use.

From almost the first week, I felt off. The house had always been a great place to be: warm and friendly. Though it still looked entirely the same, it felt completely different, like a stranger’s house. Walking in, I felt like an invader. But I went about my business anyway, thinking I was still grieving or weirded out, though I didn’t feel like I was.

Then things started to happen. The first thing was the light fixture above the dining table that swung constantly. Then, the landline phone, which had always worked just fine, would only produce static, no matter what handset you attached. The wiring was checked and rechecked and no problem could be found. Next, the brand new refrigerator broke down and all my food rotted. The problem was a faulty compressor, which was replaced. The new one also quit. It was again replaced. For weeks I lived out of ice chests and my neighbor’s fridge because the stupid appliance wouldn’t stop failing. Next, the sink, showers, and laundry machines began to spew sewage. The pipes were dragged, some replaced just to rule them out, but the plumber was confused as hell. As it was a small house and the street mainline was completely clear. All the pipes were accessible, as they ran through a basement and could be tracked (not laid in concrete or dirt). I began to wonder what my grandmother had had to do to live there.

She never seemed to have any problems with any of these things. The house was built in the late forties, and was always kept immaculately by my grandparents. If there had been a major problem, there’s no way my fastidious grandma would let them go. She grew up in the depression. For her a home was an investment to be tended.

Then the television began turning itself off arbitrarily. My stereo decided to do as it pleased. My computer monitors shorted out repeatedly. I had the wiring checked. No problems with current or the wiring which had been redone in the 80’s. Then one day I got an invitation to go out with friends. I walked into the master suite to make my way to the closet to fetch my outfit. It was dark. I reached out with my left hand and stroked the wall to locate the light switch, but couldn’t find it. Finally it occurred to me that it might be on the other wall. I reached for the wall, but before I could even touch it, the lamp across the room came on. I thought “Oh I must have bumped the switch,” until I had the sudden realization that that lamp was not connected to the light switch. The light switch controlled the ceiling fixture. I got my clothes and left. I called my dad from my new cell phone (because the damn land line wouldn’t work) and he instructed me to go back into the bedroom and say “Thank you”. He was joking. He didn’t believe me, and as a Christian minister, did not believe his parents would haunt us.

Things got progressively worse. All that time my feeling of the house had been getting darker. Even before the lamp, I had the distinct impression I was being watched by someone who became progressively angrier with me. Soon my friends refused to visit. Some of them tell me it was the TV turning off, some tell me they heard noises, and some just plain won’t discuss it beyond saying it was a terrible place.

There I was, alone in this house, feeling more and more paranoid, as the sensation of being watched worsened. The appliances failed. No fresh water. Rancid food that I couldn’t keep fresh. Lights swinging and flickering. A phone that wouldn’t work. My entertainment being taken from me by a constant mischievous entity that wanted to torture me. I started to feel like I was losing my mind.

Then I remembered an incident that had happened about 7 years prior, because finally I was willing to consider that the house was not right. I had been staying with my grandmother during summer break, because she had a little neighbor girl who was my age. We slept in the upstairs bedroom like a permanent sleepover and were having a great time, until about the third or fourth day. My friend went down to wash her hands in the bathroom, but never came back. I eventually wondered what happened to her, since all of her stuff was still upstairs and she’d said nothing about going home. I went down and couldn’t find her anywhere. I asked my grandmother, who said she’d run out the door a few minutes prior. I walked over to her house, wondering if I’d done something to make her mad. When I knocked she answered the door. She told me she wanted to be my friend, but she didn’t want to stay in the house anymore. She didn’t want to play there or go over. I finally got her to tell me why. She said she’d walked down the stairs to the bathroom, and while washing her hands saw a reflection in the mirror of someone walking across the hall behind her, as if they’d come out of the kitchen and crossed to the master bedroom. She thought it was my grandma, and turned around to ask her if she could have a soda, and realized the figure was a man. Knowing that no men lived in the house (she had only just moved there and my grandfather had been dead for a couple years) she followed him to find out who he was. He walked into the living room. She followed, was about to say “Hello?” when the figure turned and walked right through the fireplace. I stood there, disbelieving, until she said it was an elderly man, and described him. My grandfather was missing two fingers from his hand. So was the man. I got angry, because I was sure she was playing a cruel joke. Sure she’d never met my gramps, but her uncle had, and he lived with her. I told her she was being mean and stormed home. We never really talked again.

Now, sitting in the house, feeling more and more freaked out, I wondered if it could be my gramps or something pretending to be him. At this point I felt so beset I was willing to entertain this as a notion. I told my dad about all the things I’d been feeling and seeing. He got mad at me. So I went to my other neighbor and told him. He was worried that something bad was happening in the house that was affecting my health, and told me that if I wanted to stay with him, I could. But I had had every kind of tradesman there was in that house and no one had found anything. Not to mention my friends were having the same experiences when they came over for only a couple hours. I was insistent on staying and handling the project as I said I would. But my food was at his house, I showered there, I did my laundry there, he came over and looked at every mechanical malfunction I presented (And even as a contractor couldn’t figure out half of it) I might as well have stayed at his place.

The air condition broke. The light bulbs broke as soon as I put them in. Every electrician we called was stymied. The city came out and inspected the main line. Arborist a trimmed trees in case branches were pushing on phone lines in the wind. No dice.

Finally, it was my last night. I couldn’t wait to leave. All my belongings were packed and waiting beside the front door. I laid down on the couch and felt restless. I just couldn’t wait to leave. Without warning, there was a tremendous Impact against the wall above my head. It was so large, the wall shook and the painting (3 feet wide) rattled against the wall. I bolted upright. Then there was a second loud bang from somewhere else in the master bedroom. I grabbed my cell and a knife and backed into the kitchen, so that I could watch the master suite door from the kitchen. The loud noises continued, as if someone was in the room throwing the boxes against the walls and door. No breaking glass, no crashing, just loud single thuds. I called 911 and the operator listened with me. She too heard the banging, and told me that I should make sure I was in a safe place with my back to a wall. The police came to the back door. I let them in. They went through the bedroom and then the whole house, with no success. They led me into the bedroom, and it was exactly as I’d left it. Not a thing was out of place. I stood there, stunned. They checked the windows right in front of me, showing that they were locked. I was so surprised I think they tried to make me feel better by saying “We saw a kitten run out from under the house. Maybe you had a cat in your wall.” I said “Only if they were in every wall.” I sat on the porch until sunrise, wrapped in a blanket.

Finally, I got out of that house, and instantly felt better. I told my parents to sell the place as soon as they could, and went back to school and tried to ignore it. But about a week later my dad called and demanded to know if I’d given the house keys to any of my friends. I was offended; I mean I had gone through hell to take care of that stupid house, and I was being accused of giving out keys? I told him that there was one set and he had it. He said fine and hung up.

A few days later, I got an email from my neighbor. It began with, “I don’t know what you’ll think of this but…” And went from there. First he said that two nights after I left the house, he and his family had been awakened by loud noises like screaming, music, banging, and flashing lights. He got up and walked outside to the end of his driveway. Several other neighbors were gathered in their driveways all looking at my grandma’s house. He went over to them and asked them what was happening. They had no idea but had called the cops. Meanwhile, lights and noises continued to emit from the house. He said it was as if a party was going on and someone was running through the house turning lights on and off. The police arrived. The doors and windows were locked. They could not get inside. They asked my neighbor to call my parents and find out who they had allowed to enter the house. My dad showed up, half asleep. By then the lights and sounds had stopped. Most of the neighbors went back to bed. The cops waited for my dad to unlock the house and checked it. Nothing had moved. It had been largely cleaned. The television had been unplugged and there was no stereo. The cops interrogated my dad and told him to “Have a talk with me.” He refused to believe I had given anyone keys and so hadn’t contacted me. But two days later, it happened again. This time my neighbor told the others not to bother with the police, and instead called my dad first. Dad again drove over at about 4am and checked the house. It was as before. That was when he had finally called me.

But there was more. The day my dad called me, my neighbor had been home during the day for lunch. The mailman came. He walked down and said hello, taking the mail from him by hand. The mailman pointed to the house and said “So who’s there now.”

“No one lives there now. She went back to school.”

This is a small town. I had known that mailman for years. He was a family friend. I’d had trouble getting my mail delivered, and we’d spoken at length. He knew me.

The mailman seemed annoyed. “No, I don’t mean that. I mean who is there right now. Like in the house.”

My neighbor was confused. “You mean living there?”

“No, in the house.” He pointed to the upstairs room which had a picture window.

My neighbor looked and saw nothing. “Well the house is vacant and I think they’re going to put it on the market so there shouldn’t be anyone there.”

The mailman sighed. “Then who is that right there?” He pointed insistently.

Still my neighbor saw nothing. Worried the mailman was nuts, he said “What do you see?”

The mailman became angry. “Look in the window! There is a man in that window.”

Except there was no man that my neighbor could see. He said he immediately got goose bumps, told the mailman he’d take care of it, and went back inside. He called my dad, and my dad snapped at him. He refused to believe anything was wrong, and that it must somehow be either my fault or a burglar who wouldn’t get anything since the house was cleared. My neighbor told him that it want my fault, and to get the house blessed or sell it asap. And hung up. Then he emailed me.

I sat there reading it, playing back the story of the elderly man my friend had seen. My grandfather was a wonderful, gentle, school teacher. No nonsense, ex-navy, but a kind man. But a few years before he died he’d had a stroke. He was unable to talk and behaved in a very childlike way. He had a second stroke that robbed him of the ability to walk, and then passed away in his bed a few days later. No one else had owned the house before my grandparents. They were the first owners, buying the house when it cost a whopping $7,000. It couldn’t be him, but it couldn’t be anyone else either.

I was stumped. My parents sold the house. We never spoke of it again. To this day if I mention it, my dad gets angry with me. But I did get him to admit that he had personally blessed the house before selling it.

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