Have you ever had a dream or a nightmare that was so real that even after you woke up, you had this sense of unease as if you were still dreaming? Have you ever had one of those uneasy dreams reoccur night after night for years on end? I have.
This is going to be a bit of a story, so bear with me. The recounting in this series of articles are 100% true as far as I am aware.
When I was a little girl my family lived in a little house along the bay in an old fishing/logging town. We lived in a section of the area called Empire, which was a bit like the ghetto of an already insignificant place. The entire area’s population was under 6,000. We didn’t have a Wal-Mart or a mall, or even our own hospital. What we did have, was history.
The house I grew up in once belonged to an old sea captain (or so I was once told), and though I don’t know the exact dates of the house, I know that when my mother first moved into it, it was the only house on the block. I remember once when I was little my father tore down a wall to expand a room and discovered the beams were made out of driftwood and old ship-timbers covered in barnacles.
I don’t know if anyone ever died in the house before we moved in, but I can tell you that someone died in it after, and I can assure you that it was haunted.
When I was little I used to share a room with my identical twin sister. We used to go to bed at night pretending we were on a Star Trek ship in our individual quarters, and we would jabber on about nonsense well into the night. Eventually, my sister would fall asleep, and I would be left wide-awake. I had what doctors refer to as 4th degree insomnia. I had trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and going back to sleep once I was awake. Usually this meant I lived off about 2 hours of sleep a night taken in 20-minute bursts until I was well into adulthood.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was a very nervous kid. Our home wasn’t the happiest and I was on practically constant alert to be verbally attacked or hit. I’m an anxious person by nature to this day, but I will still swear to you that as a child, I didn’t sleep because once the lights went out and the house grew quiet, other things besides my sister and I came out to play.
I still remember laying in my bed, covers pulled up over my nose, watching small shadows move about my room like little dark goblins investigating my toys. I know my sister saw them too because she used to refer to them as the Darklings, and later by other names when she started drawing them into comics and writing about them in novels. I also remember waking up one night to see a man walk through our dining room (which my bedroom was adjoined to) and thinking it was my father—only when I asked him the next morning, my father had never gotten up out of bed.
By far my most disturbing memory however, was about the attic. You see, the attic in our house had only one entrance, and that entrance was in my room. It sat not a foot inside the doorway to my room, and it had one of those drop-panels as a door that sunk in between two ceiling beams. The only way to open it was to push the panel up and over out of the way. Attics still give me the creeps because of that house. Every night before bed I would make sure the attic was closed and the panel was in place, and every night I would lay in bed and listen to footsteps and skittering above me and listen to the attic door slowly dragging open. Now, being an irrational kid, I thought a gorilla or aliens lived in my attic. I was a kid after all, but that doesn’t change the fact that I spent every night scared out of my mind as I watched that attic door slide open.
I would wake up each morning to find the attic door slightly open. Sometimes it was only an inch, sometimes it was 6, sometimes the door was nearly entirely removed. My parents told me that wind gusts in the attic had moved it, but I knew better. They hadn’t heard or seen the things I had. Finally, one day, my sister moved into her own room, and my parents let me choose a new color to paint my brand new i-have-to-be-here-alone-OMG room. The trouble was, when they took down the attic panel to paint it as well, they discovered it was covered in three-fingered child-sized handprints. They had to paint over it 3 times before the prints stopped showing up through the paint. A few years later my mother died in that house, and we moved a few months later.
Trouble was, our new house was haunted too.
(Story Time will continue in Part 2)