Back in the 70's when I was but a wee boy we lived in a Council House situated in the village of Dechmont in west Lothian. I couldn't have been any older than two years old at the time of this experience yet the memory remains as clear today as the night it happened.
My bedroom was at the front of the house, next to my parents' room. It was a tiny "box" room with barely enough space for my cot bed and a chest of drawers. It had a small built-in wardrobe just as you entered the room on the right hand wall, then following that an alcove with a couple of shelves and my drawers underneath those. A small window was situated on the facing wall. I remember vividly my "Action Man" wallpaper and curtains.
One night my dad had taken me up to my bed and tucked me in, leaving the door ajar to allow a wee bit of light to come in from the upstairs hall landing. I fell asleep quickly that night. Some time later I was woken by a hand on my right shoulder (I was lying on my left side, facing away from the door).
As I opened my eyes and turned round, expecting to see one of my parents, I was shocked to find an old woman whom I'd never seen before leaning over the bars of my cot bed looking down on me. I let out a scream and started shouting for my dad. As I done this, the old woman who's face was heavily wrinkled, with her hair pulled tight into a scruffy bun, wearing a typical Granny type apron and her dress with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow, began backing off bringing her hand to her mouth and ushering me to "shhhhhh, shhhhhh" before saying "it's ok...shhhhhhhh." She continued to back off into the far corner of the room, all the time urging me with "shhhhhh". She eventually vanished into the darkest corner of the room moments before my dad, succumbing to my screams, came into my room.
I had him search the room from top to bottom but no one was there, no sign of anyone. He checked the window, it was locked, he checked my wardrobe, it was empty other than my clothes and it was too small for anyone to hide in including me.
The same house always had a strange feeling for me as a child, particularly the cupboard under the stairs. Now apparently when the house was built back in the mid to late 1930's (to house the Medical staff from the nearby Bangour Hospital) the kitchen door was located at the end of the hall from the main door, passing by the staircase on the left hand side. At some point in the 1960's, the Council had redeveloped the house and the kitchen was now only accessible via the living room. Directly opposite the living room door was this cupboard under the stair.
I never felt comfortable leaving the living room unless I was with one of my parents. I always got a feeling of real dread anytime I approached that point of the hall and used to run full pelt out the living room to the stairs and run all the way up them, then rush down them on the return. I never ever saw anything but the feeling was sheer terror and horror.
My Dad used to keep his tools in the cupboard and if he was there I could brave standing beside him, though I'd get the urge to be shut in. Occasionally my older sister would do this. One time, the door stuck shut and I felt as though someone was in there with me. I could feel someone looking at me from within the cupboard, hear their breathing. Eventually I opened the door easily and jumped out (my sister had gone to get my dad to open it), convinced my sister had done something to lock me in, which she swears she never.
Sometime after we left that house one of my aunts told us she'd been talking to a local resident about that area of Dechmont, when she'd asked specifically about the house we had lived in. The woman then told her about a couple who had lived there sometime in the late 40's through until the mid 70's. It seems they couldn't have children though she desperately wanted to, he was unable to oblige. Over the years she became more bitter and resentful to her husband to the point where she would actually lock him in the cupboard under the stairs for days on end, literally only feeding him bread and water before letting him out for a while until she began resenting him again and so locking him up once more.
It seems she was a stereotypical Granny figure and would often be seen with her hair in a bun and constantly wore her apron while doing the house chores. He died sometime around around the late 60's. She lived until a year before we took on the property, apparently dying in the house and being found in the front "box" room, which later became my room.