Thirty odd years ago, I was friends with a man called Hank. That's not his real name, but it will do for the rehashing of a mystery that has plagued me over the years. There are a few things you need to know about him - at six foot six and close to 400 pounds, Hank was a mighty big man, and could be very intimidating. Very few people would care to cross him, but if he considered you a friend, you knew his heart was every bit as big as he was. Inside the mountain of the man was 100% marshmallow.
One night, we were sitting at the local bar, enjoying a beer and he confided to me that he believed his new place was haunted. "How so?" I asked, fully expecting this to be a lead into one of the awful jokes he was known for, but as I looked into his eyes, I knew he wasn't kidding. I saw that hint of -fear, I guess is the word. Fear that whomever you're talking to is going to think you're nuts, imagining things, or just flat out lying.
I watched his wordless struggle with himself for a moment - he'd opened the door, but now wasn't sure if he should walk through it. I laid my hand on his and squeezed. "I'll believe you. Honest." He began with the usual signs of a haunting; doors open and closing on their own, footsteps, things being moved about. Irksome to be sure, but I didn't think this is what was really bothering him. Then he hit me with it. A stranger's voice that spoke directly to him, and said it was going to kill him.
I asked if it had actually done anything to him, and he shook his head no. My opinion on this was then either it couldn't or wasn't strong enough. Either way, it wasn't nice and had to go. It was decided that I'd come check his place out the next day and see if I could maybe find some reason behind it all. Meanwhile, I suggested he stay at his mom's, while we figured things out.
Hank lived in a townhouse, the other half was unoccupied at the time so my elation at thinking that perhaps he was hearing things from next door, was short lived. We walked through the place, with me paying strict attention to how things such as doors, reacted to the vibrations of Hank's movements. Nothing. According to Hank he had heard the voice more than once, in the wee hours of the morning while watching TV. Here too, I paid strict attention looking for air ducts or anything that might carry sound. Again, nothing. The house, itself felt fairly normal to me, except for being a bit staticy. The early twilight hours were uneventful, and I did begin to wonder if perhaps my friend was in need of a medical check up. On the other hand, I do know that malevolent spirits can be very sneaky.
We spent the evening chatting amiably, cracking the world's worst jokes, and watching comedies on TV. Even though we're both horror fans, we did not want that mindset.
Along about midnight amid yawns, we heard a door slam - hard. We walked through, but all the doors were as we left them - except for his closet door. It was gaping wide as we entered, then ever so slowly swung shut. Then his bedroom door slammed shut behind us! I was pretty sure that soon I'd be standing in a puddle of my own making. I fought the urge to jump on Hank's back and bellow "RUN!", and forced myself to say instead, "Stop it, right now. You want my attention? You've got it." Silence.
I pulled the door open, and clinging to Hank's hand, we went back to the living room.
I searched my brain for some logical explanation. No windows were open, the closet door had closed slow enough that it couldn't have created a vacuum effect. No heavy traffic.
About then Hank asked if I wanted a beer - something we had abstained from through the course of the evening. I said I'd better not, but would take a coffee. Even instant was fine. He said ok and followed that with a 'come with me?' like a scared 10 year old. He didn't have to ask twice, I didn't want to be alone right then either. In fact, I made him stand outside the bathroom door while I relieved myself.
I can't be sure of the time, I wasn't looking at a clock, but I think it was about an hour or so later I began feeling quite chilled, when a moment before it was quite comfortable. I had been asking Hank if he'd had the house blessed yet, as I knew a priest that would do it. I guess the spirit didn't like that idea because there was more door slamming. And then we both heard it. A deep southern sounding voice. "I'm going to kill you, Nig***." We both jumped to our feet at the same time. Hank grabbed my arm, clearly with the intention of taking off with me tucked under his arm, if need be. The voice sounded like it was only inches from us, but I saw nothing. Not even a swirling mist.
"Got a problem with blacks do you?" I spat the words with false bravado. The air felt colder.
More door slamming. It sounded as if the kitchen was being torn apart. We didn't stay, but got out of there so fast I barely had time to grab my purse.
The next day, I placed three calls while Hank still slept on my sofa. The first call was to the priest I had mentioned, the second was to my buddy at the local paper's morgue asking them to see if anything at happened at that address, or a death there. My third call was to Enrika, a psychic friend of mine. Hank's problem was out of my league and I knew it. I had hopes that she could direct me to some real help. Unfortunately, she wasn't home.
We were to meet the priest the next day. While I was at work, Hank decided to go back there. Why, I don't know. He was clearly scared of the place. He was found laying at the foot of the stairs, having fallen and broken his neck.
I'll never know for sure, was it just an accident? Or was he pushed? Had my added fear been enough to give this spirit enough strength for that?
My buddy at the paper didn't turn anything up. So, I've still no idea who this bigoted spirit was.