Bedford Park is a southern suburb in Adelaide and ideally close to the university in South Australia. When my younger sister, Cara (names mentioned have been changed) rented this unit (apartment or flat) in 2002 with her flatmate, Bea, both of them had thought it was the ideal location to stay while they furthered their studies. They hadn't expected the other flatmate though (as told in "The Other Flatmate At Bedford Park").
During 2003 or 2004, Rex-T and I made the long drive from Sydney to Adelaide, across the south-western Hay Plains, to visit Cara for a few days. When we arrived at Bedford Park, the sun was setting and I remember thinking that the place looked rather bleak; like a giant block of Lego bricks or a severe hospital building. It wasn't a location I'd have chosen for myself.
I was startled by a dark shape racing across the floor in the foyer downstairs. I told myself it was probably a possum or large rat. Eh, rat? I really hoped it was a possum.
The dingy foyer felt empty, yet somehow not. I didn't know what I was feeling; only that there was something "off". Rex-T, practical and to the point as always, said he didn't like the general layout. My husband felt the place was like an office block that had been summarily converted into cheap student housing, as if it was an afterthought. We had no idea at the time what my mother, Cara and her flatmate, Bea have experienced there. All ghostly activity had quietened down by then, but I remember thinking that her place didn't feel too "comfortable" during our visit.
Since my sister's encounter with the shadow man, she and her flatmate, Bea had learned to co-exist more peacefully with their "other flatmate". Then a few years later, Bea decided to move into the unit upstairs when her sister Debbie came to stay in Adelaide. Their experience was of significance because it had also had an impact on Cara.
The layout of Bea and Debbie's unit was exactly the same as Cara's. The front door opened straight into the living/dining area, with each unit in the building arranged in the approximate shape of a quadrant:
* Left bottom corner - living/dining
* Right bottom corner - master bedroom
* Top right corner - second bedroom and bathroom
* Top left corner - kitchen.
To Bea's dismay, she soon found that the second floor unit was even noisier than the one below. Every afternoon, she and Debbie would hear unexplained knocking sounds and loud footsteps throughout the place. They checked with their neighbours on either side and above, but couldn't find any reason for the activity.
Once, on Bea's day off, she heard this persistent loud banging coming from inside the unit. She decided to do a thorough investigation to discover the source of the sound and inspect everything in the place.
Bea went to the bathroom; the door was properly shut. She glanced over at the umbrella stand in the corner; it was empty. There was nothing in it that could have fallen over.
The banging suddenly stopped. She continued her search. There was no wayward draft coming through from any gap that might cause a door or window to slam. All the windows were closed.
It sounded very much like someone kicking at the door. She looked at the bathroom where the sound was coming from. The bathroom door was shut. She had already checked that there was no person or animal in it.
Then the noise started all over again.
By then, Bea had quite enough. She called on her parents again to have this unit cleansed, and blessed by a pastor as well. As it did before in Cara's unit below, the pastor managed to calm everything down.
But this time, the peace lasted only for a while. The prevalent feeling about the place gradually reverted back to that of uneasiness and unhappiness. Bea and Debbie went about their daily routine, doing their best to ignore the uncanny activity.
Then one day their mother, Ellen, came to visit them. Ellen immediately sensed the "other flatmate" in the unit with them. She felt that the feeling was strongest in the short hallway outside the bathroom that joined the two bedrooms.
The sisters had hung a mirror on the wall in that hallway. When Ellen came out of the bathroom on one occasion, she saw the tall shadow of a man in the mirror. There were no distinguishable features; she could only make out this longish dark mass. As Ellen was only about 5 feet in height, the shadow towered over her by a full head. It seemed to look down at her in a sneering kind of way. It didn't feel at all friendly.
The banging sounds started all over again after Ellen caught sight of the shadow man. Worried for her daughters, she immediately sent for her pastor to return to the unit. All subsided once more until Bea invited my sister, Cara for a sleepover. It was not a good idea.
After setting up a makeshift bed for herself on the sofa in the living room, Cara tossed and turned all that night. She had gotten used to the unobtrusive company of the shadow man in her place downstairs and didn't like the presence she could sense in Bea's unit. It dominated the entire hallway leading from the bedrooms. There was a pervasive, eerie sense of lethargy and general tiredness that spread out throughout the unit.
Cara also felt strangely cold. The season at the time was late spring in Adelaide, giving way into early summer. She had not needed her winter quilt on her bed for a while now, but she was glad she had brought it along. It gave her something to hide under and keep warm.
She closed her eyes and tried to settle. But after lying there for a while, Cara was frightened to feel a heaviness pressing on her chest. She was still wide awake and could move all her limbs. She flailed wildly about, struggling to sit up. Gasping for breath, she couldn't even call out loudly enough for Bea or Debbie to hear her. She prayed fervently in her mind for help.
As suddenly as the sensation appeared, it left her. Cara sat up on the sofa, resigned. Since she wasn't going to get any sleep that night, she turned on her laptop to do some work and stayed on the alert until the rising sun chased the last of the night chills away.
When morning came, Cara told Bea about the incident, informing her that she wouldn't be spending another night there again. She stated, 'Your place is not comfy.'
Some years later, after everyone involved had graduated from university and moved away from Bedford Park, Cara attended an alumni reunion in Singapore. She met up with Bea and while they were reminiscing about Bedford Park, her former flatmate revealed that she had met Ann, the previous tenant before them when Bea had initially inspected the unit. Ann had made a point to ask Bea several times: 'Are you sure you want to stay here? Are you really sure?'
Bea had chosen not to tell my sister any of this at the time. It could be that Bea really had wanted to stay there it was because the rent was cheap and the location was so close to the university. She hadn't wanted to scare Cara off with any hint of weirdness, as she needed her help with the rent.
It was as if destiny had specially planned it, because my sister ended up meeting Ann at the same reunion. She took the opportunity to ask Ann if anything had also happened to her at Bedford Park. But Ann wasn't forthcoming with any details. She was reluctant to talk about her experiences and wouldn't admit that anything strange had ever happened.
In 2015, Cara had a chance meeting with Roger, her former landlord from Bedford Park. She and Bea had gotten along well with him. His wife had even insisted that their rent not be increased for all the seven years they lived there. Roger told her that he wished all his tenants had been reliable like them and began to complain about his current lot of tenants.
The South Korean couple who now stayed in Cara's old unit argued and fought constantly, disturbing the peace of their neighbours. The other tenant in Bea's unit upstairs was an Indian man who seemed extremely sensitive to the spirits. He complained within the first week of moving in that the unit was "noisy" and he could barely get any sleep there. When his wife and young family joined him from India, things became worse for them. He and his wife both said the unit had a "negative" feel and their children felt frightened there.
Cara asked Roger for more details on the feedback the other tenants had given him. The litany of complaints was remarkably similar: they all felt that the units were already occupied by "other flatmates". There were constant banging sounds in the unit on the second floor and the bathroom was especially noisy in the night.
The Indian family only lasted eight months before they packed up and left, refusing to renew their lease. They told Roger that the unit was just too "noisy".
I asked Cara if she ever tried to tell Roger what was really wrong with his property. My sister shook her head. All such efforts were pointless since Roger was a sceptic and a staunch non-believer of all things paranormal. Even when faced with the numerous complaints from his tenants, he refused to accept there was any otherworldly explanation for his problems.
He would never believe about the other flatmate. Or that his problems came from another level of existence.