After the incidents related in "Bedford Park - On Another Level", my younger sister, Cara (names mentioned have been changed) took in Fran as a flatmate at Bedford Park in Adelaide, South Australia. Then Fran graduated from university and started at a new job that was some distance away. She soon found the long commute too tiring and wanted another place that was closer to work.
In 2010, Fran came across a newly-renovated unit (flat or apartment) in Maylands, a suburb also in Adelaide. It was a "clean-skin" and freshly-scrubbed - surely far too new to harbour any dark history.
'Everything's nice and brand-new,' she assured Cara. 'There won't be any trouble.'
'I hope so,' said Cara. 'I've had quite enough of ghosts.'
After seven years of dealing with "other flatmates" at Bedford Park, my sister was tired of negative energies, odd shadows and noisy things that went bang in the night. She was persuaded to trust in Fran's judgement and left all the setting-up details such as signing the rental lease, connection of the phone line, electricity, water and gas to her.
Meanwhile, Cara still had to pack the rest of her belongings, get in the removalist, cancel the utilities and other such matters at Bedford Park. A month of hectic organising later, it was all done and she finally moved into the new unit at Maylands.
The building was long and sprawling, and built somewhat along the lines of a classic drive-in motel. Six units sat side by side each other, each shielded by a security grill, with another six arranged right above it. External fire stairs hugged the side of the building on either side. The covered carports were positioned directly opposite from the unit block.
Cara liked the location of their new place in Maylands, its proximity to the shops and other facilities. Fran had a discerning eye for all the right amenities. The layout of their unit was modern and an open-plan, the kitchen was a streamlined galley-style and the rooms had adequate storage space. My sister was really hopeful that things would be better this time.
But as soon as the dust from the removalist had settled, Cara began to feel something was not-quite-right about the place. The prior renovations, flurry of moving men and furniture reshuffling had obviously disturbed the peace. Someone or something was clearly not happy about it.
My sister wasn't happy either. This couldn't possibly be happening again. Not after all the trouble she'd gone through at Bedford Park.
She did her best to ignore the nagging feelings of negativity for a while, telling herself it was just her imagination. There was nothing wrong with the unit. If she tried hard enough, maybe all the strangeness would just go away?
Shadow, what shadow? There was no wispy shadow slipping away into that corner. Her tired eyes were playing tricks on her.
Nor was there was anything spooky about the three-panelled mirror that faced the bedroom window. It was just a play of light.
There was nothing menacing staring in at her from the window either. It was only her imagination.
But her denial only delayed the inevitable. It was all brought to her attention one night.
Cara had gone to bed as usual when suddenly she woke up gasping for air. She was choking. There was something heavy sitting on her chest and suffocating her.
She struggled to awaken fully and move her arms and legs. But she felt something was deliberately holding her helpless and trapped in a semi-dream state. It was like being held under water and everything moved slowly, and with great difficulty.
The Lord's Prayer came to her mind. Cara began to fervently say the words aloud. As soon as she began reciting, the feeling of being held down by a weight began to lessen. She could move her limbs again.
Taking heart from this, she continued praying for help and protection in the Name of God until she felt free of the oppressive weight. Then finally, she prayed for the unit to be blessed by God's Grace.
Being a trained nurse, she was aware of the various triggers of sleep paralysis. But she did not suffer from any sleep disorder or abnormal sleep cycles. She had not been sleep deprived. Neither had she been under any psychological stress, nor on any medication.
This had been a timely reminder to heed what her senses had been trying to tell her. She got out a sheet and covered the mirror that faced the bedroom window. As a precaution, she hung a rosary blessed by a priest from church at the windowsill.
Next, Cara sat down with her flatmate and questioned her thoroughly about her family history, and if she had brought along her own "shadows". My sister heard that Fran's family, who lived opposite a cemetery, often saw strange things too. Like the wardrobe door in her parents' bedroom that sometimes wouldn't open. Then one day after a mighty yank, Fran's mother found the shocking sight of an old woman twisted up like a pretzel and stuffed into the wardrobe. She hastily shut the door and when she got the courage to open it again later, of course the woman was gone.
Fran had known all along that something wasn't right about the Maylands flat, but hoped that Cara wouldn't be able to sense it. Like Bea, Cara's previous flatmate from Bedford Park, Fran had thought that the strangeness would just go away on its own if no one said anything about it.
Thoroughly exasperated, Cara laid down the law in no uncertain terms. For a gentle-spoken person, my sister could be very firm when she had to be.
After the stern dressing-down, Fran meekly agreed that all future accommodation would have to be personally inspected and approved by Cara before anyone signed on the dotted line. As a matter of fact, Cara would be one choosing their next place.
When the one-year lease on Maylands was up, it wasn't renewed.