My great-aunt, who has lived for years in an 1890s Victorian home, which has been in our family for generations, recently was moved to assisted living. The home, which was featured in my first story posted to this site and is where I was choked by an unforeseen force by an old necklace, is falling apart, contaminated, and will likely be condemned and demolished. Shortly before my great-aunt was moved to assisted living, the plumber called to inspect water drainage issues in the downstairs sink reported the conditions of the home to the town health inspector, and we were able to negotiate with the town for one final visit to the home to remove family heirlooms and personal belongings, after which the house is likely to be condemned.
As I pulled up to the house ready to meet the rest of my family for a final walkthrough of the house, I was filled with sadness. Clearly once a beautiful home and one of the largest on its street, with its gingerbread trim, multiple gables, and large windows framed with old-fashioned drapes, this was the first home my great-grandparents owned after their arrival to the United States, and the one where my grandmother grew up. I hated the thought that it will be demolished. More importantly, I wondered what unforeseen spirits dwell within its walls. Are my ancestors still among us? And what about those of its even earlier owners?
I met my family outside the front of the house, and my grandmother unlocked the front door with a spare key. I stood back, staring up at the house, and saw a curtain on one of the attic windows billowing slightly. Was it a draft, or something else? I grabbed my mother's attention but the second she looked up, it stopped. As she turned away, I noticed in another attic window the shadow of what appeared to be a dark-skinned female figure in a white dress pass by and just disappear into the distance as quickly as she appeared. Knowing the house was completely empty of living people for the first time in 130 years creeped me out.
The yellow wallpaper in the front hallways was chipped. The floors creaked louder than ever. And though there were windows throughout the house, there was an oppressive darkness that no light from outside could penetrate and an inescapable feeling that we were not alone. Who did I just see in the upstairs window?
We split up throughout the house searching for items to keep. I was to search the attic and second floor, my stepdad the basement, and everyone else the first floor. The electrical wiring on the upper two floors has not been modified in years, so I was instructed not to turn on any lights. As such, the upper two floors felt dark and ominous, especially the upstairs hallway. The dark doors on all sides and the wood paneling in that hallway combined with the lack of natural sunlight suffocate you as you pass through the hallway and it feels like you are being stared down by eyes from all corners. In that hallway, now just as before, I felt as if something would jump out at me from behind any one of the doors or from behind any corner. I quickly darted into the nearest room. I entered what was once the upstairs dining room when it was a two-family home, and began going through boxes. I found old photographs of my great-grandparents, cousins, and ancestors from the 1800s.
In one box, I found an old key that seemed to go to one of the locks on an old door. Curious as to what it unlocked, I tried the key in multiple doors upstairs but it just did not fit in any door. I searched every room for it. I entered what was the upstairs kitchen and noticed dishes in the sink that had been left there for 40 years, an out of commission stove and refrigerator, and an iron sitting on an ironing board. It looked like it was still lived in but its owners just...disappeared. I finally found the lock for the key. It locked the door leading to the narrow back staircase, which opened into the downstairs kitchen.
As I put the key in the lock and locked the door, I could hear my mother calling me from what sounded like the front of the house, so I ran back toward the front of the house to find out what she wanted. In the front hallway, I saw the attic door open and could hear boxes being moved around up there. I assumed that my mom and aunt were upstairs searching through boxes, so I called up the stairs. No answer. I called my aunt's name. No answer. Staring up the winding stairs still hearing footsteps and boxes being moved, I instantly started sweating and got scared. I called out to them again "This isn't funny. What do you want?" Leaving the attic door open, I darted up the attic stairs into a hallway that was barely 6 feet to the ceiling, narrow, with white walls and green doorways and trim. At the top of the stairs, the hallway bends rightward, and there are rooms on all sides packed from ceiling to floor with boxes, old bed frames, box springs, and other assorted items.
I had only been in the attic once or twice and honestly forgot what it looked like, and this is where it gets creepy. I could just see into the rooms enough to notice that they were not typical attic rooms, they looked like bedrooms. Clearly another family had lived up there, and the house had once been a three-family home. Right now, however, the place was as abandoned as it could be. Not only was no one up there, but there is no way boxes could have been being moved up there without first moving them into the hallway, as the doorway to every room in the attic was COMPLETELY BLOCKED OFF by stacked boxes. It was difficult to even see into any of the rooms. Suddenly, I could hear rustling of paper bags from the room at the very end of the hall, and the curtain blowing around, but there was absolutely no air conditioning or draft and I could clearly see the window was bolted shut. I suddenly felt as if I was being watched from that back room. I could hear a sound emanating from multiple corners in the attic that sounded like coins being dropped, one by one, against the wooden floor and rolling across the floor, followed by the giggling of small children. At this point I'd had enough. I quickly bolted down the stairs and when I made it to the bottom, smashed right into the closed door... The CLOSED door. The door I knew for a fact I left opened. I reached for the knob and though I used all my might, I just could not open it. The knob turned completely but the door felt as if it was being pushed on from the other side by someone just slightly stronger than me.
Suddenly, I could hear soft footsteps making their way down the attic hall, bumping into one of the old wooden doors off its frame left lying in the upstairs hallway. I could hear the click, click, click of heels as they turned the corner making their way to the top of the stairs. My heart raced and my palms drenched in sweat as I pounded on the door for someone to let me out. I shouted the name of every person I knew to be in the house, until I got someone's attention. The sound of the heels stopped at the top of the stairs, but slowly made their way down. I could see a shadow emerging on the cracked white walls, a silhouette getting larger but without any defined features as the entity crept down the stairs, one slow step at a time. I grabbed that doorknob like my life depended on it and tried breaking it off the door, pushing and shoving until the door finally gave way. I stepped into the hallway, slammed the door shut, and turned to run back downstairs, but as I did, I stepped on what felt like a piece of paper in the upstairs hallway. It was a photograph of the same woman I thought I saw in the attic window and who I heard up in the attic. What was she trying to tell me?
I ran downstairs in a panic, desperately seeking answers. I demanded to know if any of my family members were up in the attic trying to play a prank on me. They all insisted they had been downstairs the entire time, which puzzled me because I know for a fact I heard my mother's voice coming from the attic. Just as I started to assume that it was my imagination, I could hear footsteps coming from the floor immediately above me, pacing around across the upstairs kitchen, directly above where I now stood. Everyone could hear it, and I could see the panic in everyone's faces. My stepdad, who does not believe in the paranormal, whispered to us that someone had likely broken into the house and was hiding upstairs, likely having been living there since my great-aunt was taken to assisted living if not even longer, as she was hearing impaired and never went upstairs. He snuck upstairs on the back staircase, slowly and quietly, with me following behind with pepper spray in hand, ready to confront the "intruder." I was certain we would not see one. When we got to the top of the back staircase, the door, which I knew I shut and locked with the old key, was slightly cracked and slowly opening. Someone was, clearly, inviting us in.
We searched the entire upstairs of the house and then the attic, and I felt somewhat more comfortable with a male relative there. There was no one, and nothing that could have made any of the noises on either floor. We began to leave the attic, my stepdad in front and me behind. As I was about halfway down the stairs, I stumbled forward. I distinctly felt hands on my shoulders and something rub against the back of my neck. Whatever it was did not push me, but I nearly fell down the stairs with fright. I began screaming, pushing my stepdad out of the way and running downstairs to the first floor. There was no way I was going back to that attic under any circumstance. My step dad stayed on the second floor, searching through different rooms. He believed I had imagined the entire thing and there was nothing to be afraid of.
My grandmother was still sweeping downstairs and trying to make the house look somewhat presentable, likely believing she could persuade the town to spare the house.
I showed her the photograph I found outside the attic door, asking if she recognized the face. Surely enough, she recognized her, and her story was truly sad. I came to find out that the woman was my great-grandmother's sister, who had lived in the attic of the house with her three children after her husband passed away. She lived there for a short period of time in the 1940s, out of sight and rarely came downstairs. Because of her darker complexion and the belief that her visible presence in the house would cause people to question my great-grandmother's race, she was told she could live there but told to not come down in the presence of guests. One of her children died in the attic with scarlet fever. My great-grandmother descends from a long line of mixed race people, of both European and African descent, and unfortunately believed that her light skin and ability to "pass" as a white woman made her superior to her sister. Until this day, I never knew of the existence of this relative, but her story deeply saddens me. I have come to wonder if every incident in this house was her way of making herself known, and the injustices that happened to her.
My step dad eventually came downstairs, his face pale and flustered. He demanded to know if I had been playing some sort of practical joke on him. He claims that he would be in one room upstairs, and all of the rooms are connected with multiple doors to each, and he would hear a doorknob turn in another room. When he would look up, he would see a door slowly clicking shut and closing. He would go to that door and open it and look around, and there would be no one in the room, but suddenly the door to that room leading to the one he was just in would shut behind him on its own, rinse and repeat, followed by footsteps in other nearby rooms with an unidentifiable source. He also claimed to hear a female voice calling his name, but could not identify which room it was coming from, because every room he would enter and it would sound like it was coming from somewhere else. We all insisted that we had been downstairs the entire time, and I know we had been. He insisted it was all a big prank and that we were hiding in different rooms trying to conspire against him. We were not. He also said that out of the corner of his eye he would see movement, but when he turned, nothing would be there. He saw it as you would see a person out of the corner of your eye but not really think about it enough to identify their features.
Finally, we had collected all the items we wanted and had loaded up the car, and took one last look at the home. It was truly sad to know that this may have been the last time we got to see it. We all got into our respective cars, and as I drove away I turned back at the house. I cannot be sure of it, but I could swear that from the upstairs attic window in the back, I saw the silhouette of a woman wearing a white dress, hair pinned up, turned sideways staring out into the backyard.
If the house goes down, will she go down with it or will she finally find peace? Or will she find some other way to find us and finally convey her message?
We all discussed our experiences and no one but me believes the house is haunted. Everyone believes I was imagining my experiences in the attic, while my step dad believes we were playing a prank. I know better.