Our Night of Terror
I am considered by those close to me to be a calm, rational person; not the type to be driven out of my house by a mischievous spook. However, that is exactly what happened one cold winter's night in 1992.
Claire, my future wife, and I had been together for over a year and had been blessed with the birth of our son three months earlier. We had a happy relationship and the baby was the centre of our lives. Money was scarce, though, as both of us were unemployed.
The evening began with the arrival of my best friend, Eddie. He called to see us regularly and often stayed for the night, sleeping in the spare bed that was destined to be our son's when he was older.
Several cuppas had been drunk and small talk engaged in - had we seen such and such a program on the telly, that kind of stuff. Then Eddie began to tell us about a strange thing that had befallen him earlier that day at work.
He had been sitting in the fork-truck, out in the work's yard, taking a short break, when something made him look up. He said that what he saw stunned him completely. Standing in the long grass at the edge of the concrete yard was the form of an elderly lady wearing a long, flowing nightdress. She was smiling directly at Eddie. He recognized her instantly as his grandmother, who had died a few weeks earlier. He said that he could not believe his eyes and actually performed the old cliché of rubbing them with his knuckles. When he looked back, his grandmother had vanished, only swaying, yellow grass remaining.
A spooky tale, we agreed, but conversation soon returned to more mundane topics. The hungry crying of our son, Aiden, interrupted us. I prepared a bottle, while Claire got him ready for his feed. Handing her the warm milk, I sat back down and we all smiled at the contentedly suckling baby.
Even though it was a cold night, the room was quite warm - the gas fire was lit and I was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt.
When he had finished, Claire winded Aiden and placed him into his little rocking chair. Then she rested his empty bottle onto the recently vacated Moses basket. Another bout of proud smiles erupted as he gurgled happily at us. I noticed that his attention was continually drawn to a corner of the room above the chair in which I was sitting, but thought nothing more of it until later.
Suddenly I felt a chill run the entire length of my body, starting from my head and progressing slowly down to my toes.
"Are you all right, Stevie?" asked Eddie. "All the hairs on your legs have just stood on end."
I told him that I had just felt a chill, but assumed that it was merely a draught. He said that it had looked as though my leg hairs had performed a Mexican Wave, as if an invisible hand had run itself down my leg. Eddie decided to go to the toilet at that moment.
As he trudged upstairs, Claire and I jumped as Aiden's bottle-top suddenly shot across the room and came to rest on the carpet near the television. We looked at each other, utterly speechless.
"What's going on?" she wailed.
"Nothing," I replied. "It simply rolled off the crib." I did not really believe my theory, but it was the best that I could come up with at such short notice. I picked up the bottle-top and, fastening it to it’s drained parent, took it into the kitchen, placing it onto the worktop.
As I returned through the hallway, the toilet flushed and Eddie came back downstairs. We told what had happened with the bottle-top and he whistled in amazement.
"Perhaps we have a ghost," I joked. Then my legs began to shake uncontrollably.
"Steve, what's the matter?" asked Eddie, suddenly concerned. He was beginning to wish that he had stayed at home.
"I don't know. My legs won't stop shaking." I managed to stand up and the trembling subsided. Walking around the room made me feel a little better. A terrible feeling of dread began to wash over me and I had the distinct feeling that something bad was going to happen. I did not tell the others of my pessimistic musings.
A noise from the kitchen drew our attention to the living room door. As I was already standing, I decided to go and see what had happened. I entered the kitchen and was immediately followed by Eddie. We saw at once what had made the clattering sound - Aiden's bottle was resting on its side in the middle of the kitchen floor, a good four feet from the worktop. Its cap was perched on the worktop, even though I clearly remember securely fastening it to the bottle. The exposed teat was pointing towards the door, squirting milk onto the tiles.
Eddie and I looked at each other. We could plainly see that the milk in the bottle did not reach the teat - Aiden had been hungry - yet somehow it was gushing onto the kitchen floor.
I picked up the bottle and put it into the sink while Eddie mopped up the spilled milk. We returned to the living room, passing through the hallway at the foot of the stairs.
"Can you hear that?" I asked Eddie. He nodded. "Did you leave the tap running in the bathroom?"
"No, I didn't use the sink," he replied honestly and darted up to the bathroom. The sound of running water ceased and he came back down. "The cold water tap was running at full blast. I've turned it off."
"This is getting too weird," I said. Eddie agreed.
We went back into the living room and sat back down. Aiden was still awake, smiling at the corner of the room above my head.
The room was still warm and Eddie yawned, stretching his arms out to either side of him. He quickly retracted them.
"Good grief!" he exclaimed. "Come and feel this."
Claire and I leapt to our feet and crossed to where he was sitting, in the chair by the fire. He tentatively placed his right arm back into the corner and gazed up at us awestruck.
"Put your hand in here," he instructed and we complied nervously.
"It's freezing!" I proclaimed. "But the rest of the room is warm."
"It must be a draught," suggested Claire.
I pointed out that this was the corner of the room that was farthest from the windows and door. The curtains were drawn and the door was closed. As an experiment, I flicked on my cigarette lighter in the centre of the column of cold air. Its flame burned straight and steady. This was no draught. It was like a solid pillar of Arctic air. Curiously, even though the air was freezing in that corner of the room, no goosepimples appeared on our skin.
We returned to our seats and sat in silence for quite some time. Aiden was still smiling, wide-eyed, at the spot above my chair.
"Ow!" Claire suddenly sat bolt upright, her frame rigid.
"What's up?" I asked, the evening's previous experiences making me fear the worst.
"Something's holding the back of my neck!"
"What, right now?"
"Yes and it hurts." Her hands were gripping the cushions beside her tightly.
Eddie and I jumped up and gingerly felt the air around Claire. It was warm. I ran my hand around her shoulders and over her head without touching her. I felt no resistance at all. I was about to tell her that she was imagining it all, that the weird events of the evening had set her imagination racing, when Eddie pointed to the back of her neck.
As we watched, a thick, red mark appeared on her skin. On the right side of her neck, the mark was very broad, reaching from just below her ear and terminating above the shoulder. On the left side, it was much thinner in appearance; only about an inch across. It looked to me as though an invisible hand was squeezing Claire's neck from behind. The thick, red bruise showing where the fingers were pressing, while the thinner redness was caused by the thumb. If this was the case, then the hand must have been massive.
Suddenly, Aiden started laughing. We whirled around, shocked. Our son was only three months old, yet this was the laugh of an adult. I was absolutely petrified.
"Right, that's it!" I declared. "We're out of here. Come on, Claire, get up."
"I can't. It won't let me," she whispered, tears filling her eyes.
Aiden was still laughing maniacally; his gaze fixed on the corner of the room above my chair. I looked at Eddie and a silent communication passed between us. I grabbed one of Claire's arms, he the other, and we pulled with all our might. She did not budge. We tried again, bracing one leg each against the sofa.
"Stop it, you're hurting my arms!" she yelled.
"Come on, Claire, we're going," I answered and we gave one last heave.
She came up from the sofa and I gathered up Aiden in his blanket, his crazed chortling still surrounding us. We headed out of the front door and crossed the midnight street to my nephew's house. As soon as we left our home behind us, Aiden's laughing stopped and he fell asleep.
My nephew let us in and his girlfriend made each of us a coffee. They listened to our tale, but I could tell that they did not really believe us. They ’did“ admit that we looked frightened and kindly allowed us to spend the rest of the night at their house.
Eddie must have been hit by a wave of heroism because he suddenly decided to go back to the house. I said that I was not going back until the sun came up. Unperturbed, he set off alone.
The next day, we went back, calming sunshine overcoming all our fears of the unknown. Eddie said that nothing had happened, but admitted that he had been frightened, every tiny noise in the house jarring his nerves.
Six months later, we moved to a new home - a calm, happy place and quite different in atmosphere to our previous dwelling.
Had the events of that night really happened? Well, yes, they did occur. But whether or not the house was haunted I could not say. We did not see any actual apparitions, but objects ’did“ move around on their own - usually when nobody was in the room.
Research has led me to believe that the occurrences were caused by a 'poltergeist' or 'noisy spirit'. I believe that the strange events centered upon our baby son. Perhaps a spirit in the house had attached itself to him, his fresh, vibrant life force acting like a magnet to the ever-present spectre. Maybe Aiden caused the incidents himself. Could it be that as a baby he possessed extraordinary telekinetic powers? As he grew older, these powers faded, but that night he demonstrated them with terrifying results. Lastly, could Eddie's story of seeing his dead grandmother have sparked the events, our own buried and usually unused abilities unconsciously resurfacing to wreak havoc on our surroundings?
Who knows what caused the events of that terrible night? Certainly not me, but I do know that I take other peoples' ghost stories much more seriously now.
© 2000 Steve Johnson
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Updated 16th August, 2012