In 1983, I was babysitting for a young family during my junior year in college. They lived in a historical Tulsa neighborhood, in a large Georgian style two and a half story home built in the late 1890's.
One particular night, I put the kids to bed around 9:00. I settled in on the couch, upstairs in the den, with the TV volume low and the dogs sprawled at my feet. The kids' parents typically came home around midnight; however, around 11:00 I heard the kitchen door dead-bolt clank, the door drag over the uneven threshold, followed by them walking across the hard wood floor. The dogs jumped up, tails wagging and headed out of the den to the stairs. I figured the Stroud's made an early night of it, so I turned off the TV and followed the dogs onto the stairway landing.
But the dogs stopped mid-flight; they were looking back at me then down in the direction of the kitchen. This seemed unusual; the dogs usually barrel down the stairs to greet anyone coming in the house. But the dogs and I stood on the stairs for a short while, watching and listening. No one came out of the kitchen and I didn't hear anything else.
I thought this was strange, and it's not just me. The dogs heard it too and reacted as if the Stroud's had come home. So I put it down to the house settling and returned to the couch in the den, the dogs in tow.
The house is very quiet and I wait a moment before I turned the TV back on, because maybe I do hear something. I'm sure I hear hard-soled shoes walk across the wood floor through the dining room now, then across the carpeted foyer and begin to climb the carpeted stairs. I distinctly hear the banister creaking and the stairs groaning from the weight of footsteps. The creaking and groaning increased in volume as the footfalls steadily grew closer to the top of the stairway landing. That's when the dogs stood up again and walked over to the den entrance, which connects with the staircase landing.
Now I'm certain it's got to be one of the parents after all. But I stayed on the couch, and watched the entrance, just knowing I'll see the kids' mom peek around and say they were home. Several seconds pass when the dogs turn around and quietly and calmly lie back down at my feet. This is crazy; it takes a full grown person to control these dogs when someone comes in the house.
I'm curious. So I got off the couch and walked over to the den entrance with the dogs. I looked past the landing, down the stairway and there's nothing! Then I hear what sounds like the thud-thud of bare feet, walking slowly up the second flight of stairs that lead to the attic above. The attic staircase is not carpeted and is located 6 feet from where I'm standing.
It's not the kids. They have been asleep for nearly 2 hours, plus I've got a perfect view of their bedrooms from the hall landing, and it's definitely not their parents. I went back into the den and sat down on the couch, hit the remote ON button and turned the volume up.
Forty-five minutes later, the Stroud's actually do get home. As soon as they unbolted the back kitchen door, before they could open the door over the threshold, the dogs raced down the stairs, jumping, whining and knocking over kitchen chairs. I wasn't far behind. I collected my pay, and headed for my car. I babysat for the Stroud's several other times but never experienced anything like that again.
Thank you for reading.