Minnesota nights can be breathtakingly cold and are normally so dark you can't see ten feet in front of you. But when the moon is able to sneak out from behind the winter clouds, its reflection glistens off the snow covered ground and lights pathways deep into the forest. I grew up along a beautiful lake in a country setting. It was serene and a wonderful place to make childhood memories. However, the house that we lived in had its eccentricities. One particular, late winter night proved that our family was not been living in the house.
After a couple hours of evening television our family retired to our separate bedrooms; my brother to his at the end of the hallway, my parents and baby sister to the master and me, the first room off the dining room. It had been a long school day and I was exhausted. As normal I left my bedroom door open just a crack so that my small dog could enter if he wanted to, undetected, and snuggle up for the night. I turned down the bed spread and jumped into my bed falling asleep immediately.
Oddly, I awakened in the middle of the night. I was not in a daze as if just coming out of a dream, rather I was alert immediately. I glanced at the clock on the dresser which was glowing 3:20AM in its digital red numbers. The moonlight was filtering through the night. Then I heard a noise in the basement, below my bedroom. It was a familiar noise but strange at the same time. The basement was not carpeted but had a full apartment which used to house the previous owners' son. The apartment was separated from the downstairs' laundry by a large, solid wood pocket door which was always kept open while we lived in the house. The pocket door had been installed many years before on a sturdy metal track which had a distinct rolling sound as the door was opened or closed. This is the noise I heard.
I wasn't immediately alarmed by the noise in the basement, my mom had been known to wake up early to do laundry before I was old enough to help. So I listened for a moment, closing my eyes and wanting to go back to sleep. It wasn't until I heard the foot steps on the wooden stairs leading from the basement to the kitchen that I knew this was not my mom. My heart started to race. I listened more intently to the heavy, methodical steps being taken by the intruder as they came closer to the landing in the kitchen at the top of the stairs.
The foot steps did not stop at the top of the stairs. They continued across the kitchen linoleum in the same rhythm. The sound was eerie and is still vivid in my memory today, 30 years later. They didn't get any louder as they crossed the linoleum, as I expected they should if the intruder was coming toward my room. All of a sudden they stopped. OH MY GOSH, the intruder was on the carpet! I yanked my bedding over my head expecting the worst. Barely breathing from the fear that I was to be discovered, I laid there stiffly so that I wouldn't move. There was nothing. My door didn't swing open. No more footsteps. No voices. It seemed like a lifetime, but I gradually dozed off.
At the breakfast table the next morning I nonchalantly asked my mom if she had been up wandering around the previous night. To my amazement, she screamed and started crying. She asked what time... I told her... through her tears she said she had heard the exact same thing for the past four nights at the exact same time.
To this day we have no idea what (who) it was but we didn't hear it again after that conversation. I also never understood why our dog didn't bark.
Oh, some years later after we had moved out of the house we discovered that the son of the previous owners had hung himself in the basement. (This has been our only clue.)