I lived with my parents while attending college and was anxious to move into my own place after graduation. A friend accompanied me on an initial apartment search in an historic district in town, where I had always wanted to live. This area has brick streets and sidewalks overhung by ancient trees and lined by Italianate and other architectural styles of mostly brick homes from the 19th century.
We looked at several rentals that had potential, none of which quite fit my specifications. The last place, which the rental company almost didn't show us, was a large, old, brick, single-family home on the edge of the district, on a street with many businesses. As we walked in, I noticed my friend's excited expression as we entered the first large room, complete with fireplace and original dark woodwork. All the ceilings in the home were at least 12 feet and many of the home's light fixtures had been converted from gas. The windows were all original and very large. In the large kitchen was a huge, turquoise, deco-style refrigerator that looked like an artifact from the 1940s, but which still worked. The kitchen also included an attached laundry room that was probably added in early 20th century. A working toilet in the corner of the laundry room was the only, quirky item in the room, which also had a door to the small backyard, in addition to the door in the kitchen. The laundry room door was locked with a deadbolt that required a key from both inside and outside.
As we headed upstairs, we noticed that the stairway had two solid wood doors, one from the kitchen and one from the adjacent large room from which we had first entered the house. The odd part was the heavy, slide bolt locks on the inside or stairwell side of each of the doors. It appeared some former owner or tenant wanted to lock off the 2nd floor from the ground floor of the house. Aside from a mental question mark, we didn't give it much thought at the time.
Four bedrooms were found on the second floor, one of which was a nursery attached to the master bedroom. The bathroom, with a claw-foot bathtub, was on the second floor of the laundry room attached to the kitchen. The bathroom was accessed through the back bedroom, which basically made that bedroom a walkway, no longer suitable as a bedroom. The bathroom was as quirky as the laundry room below and oddly large enough to accommodate a spare sofa and coffee table once we had moved in. Talk about a conversation starter! The house had clearly been built before indoor plumbing. A look at the backyard confirmed this, with the home's original outhouse still standing, although the pit below long-since filled in for safety.
To my surprise, the friend who accompanied me wanted to rent the house with me. She said that the home "welcomed" her as we walked in. I had to admit that I also felt the positive atmosphere, but my friend had only tagged along on my apartment-hunting trip as company. I hadn't expected her to want to move. She admitted that she was surprised as well. We agreed, as our tour of the rental house ended, to sign a lease. More than thirty years later, we no longer live in that beautiful old place, but we are still friends and neighbors just a few blocks away.
I stayed a couple of nights in the house on my own before my roommate moved in. I have to admit to some goosebumps, but I left my small, black and white TV on to keep me company and to drown out any bumps in the night. Nothing weird or unwelcome occurred.
While moving in, we discovered a strange door in the floor of the cavernous basement, under the front room of the house. After retrieving a couple of flashlights, we discovered a surprisingly long, arched brick tunnel, apparently leading under the sidewalk and perhaps the street. The back wall appeared to have been hastily bricked in. Although it may have been used as a coal bin at one point, the tunnel appeared to be original to the house. I could find no specific reason for it and no evidence of it in the records of the home.
Within a few months, I met my partner, who also moved in. We all loved the place. I was amazed at my new partner's courage as he watched "The Exorcist" late one night, all alone, in the front parlor of the old house. He had never experienced anything paranormal and would gently poke fun at my stories.
One late night, after living there for about eight months, I was startled awake by the sound of heavy footfalls running down the long wood floored hallway, past my door, past our roommate's door (she had chosen the master bedroom) and down the long wooden stairway. The footfalls were loud and unmistakable.
I shot out of bed and made my way to my roommate's bedroom to find her in a deep sleep. I frantically woke her to ask for help to search the house for an intruder. The three of us divided up the house to make a quick search. I immediately made my way downstairs only to find that the laundry room door to the backyard was wide open. This door's deadbolt required a key to open and none of us had ever opened it. Even more startling was the fact that the bolt was still thrown, as if the door was still locked when it was somehow opened. I felt chills as I noted this.
I first closed and blocked the kitchen door to the laundry room so that the house wasn't still accessible to whoever had run down the stairs and apparently opened the door to exit the house. I frantically searched for the key to the deadbolt so I could lock up the house again. I knew we had a single key somewhere, but had to search through many drawers and cupboards to find it. The doors had all been re-keyed when we moved in, so it couldn't have been a former tenant. I finally found the key and locked the laundry room door to the backyard. No other doors or windows were open or unlocked.
We searched the basement with the weird tunnel and even checked the attic, which was also accessed by a narrow, twisting stairway through a doorway in the back bedroom, the same room that included the door to the bathroom. No intruders were found.
We locked off the second floor from the first, suddenly grateful for the odd, old slide bolts on the two first floor doors to the stairway, and everyone went back to bed. Just as I sat down on the bed, we all again heard the sound of heavy footfalls running the length of the second floor hallway and down the long stairway. My wide-eyed roommate stood in her bedroom doorway as I burst out to search the house again. This time the doors at the bottom of the stairway were both still closed and locked. I immediately checked the laundry room door, which was also still locked and also checked the basement, even though I knew the runner could not have opened and re-locked the stairway door bolts from the other side. It was just so strange and threatening that I didn't want to take any chances. Spooked and alarmed, we all finally returned to bed, with the stairway doors again securely bolted.
This time, just as I again sat down on my bed, I could see a light suddenly come on through the transom above my closed bedroom door. I knew the doors at the bottom of the stairway were still locked and that we had searched the house, so I no longer suspected an intruder, or a living intruder, anyway. With goosebumps covering my arms, I opened the bedroom door to see the light coming from the back bedroom, where the bathroom and attic doors could be found. I walked in to find the converted gas lamp on the wall next to the attic door shining brightly. I reached up and turned it off and returned to bed.
In the days following, I tried several times to turn the that electric light switch partway so that it would come on "by itself" but had no success. I even went so far as to check the wiring, which was fine. The light never spontaneously came on by itself again while we lived there.
We had many minor adventures in the time we lived in that house, but the night runner was the most dramatic and the only one experienced by several people. I would have immediately classified it as a residual event, except for the open laundry room door and the light switching on seemingly by itself, but those two details left me unsure.
Unaccountably, the place continued to feel welcoming, and I have only fond memories of our time there... Aside from the monumental heating bills, due to an old furnace and the drafty, original windows. The records of the place, that I could locate, provided a very mundane history with no clues to the identity of the night runner.