NOTE ON CHRONOLOGY: I refer to everyone in this story as what they are to me now: stepdad, and stepbrother, even though at the time they were family friends. It makes it much easier to tell the story.
My mom and my stepdad married just one year ago, but we have known him for many years, since I was 5. When we met him, he had just moved into our town with his now ex-wife and son, and purchased an old home located in a remote part of town. It was one of the oldest homes in the area, having been built in the 1700s by a sea captain, had been passed down through that family for the next 200 years. When my stepdad purchased it, it had been deserted for many years and was in poor condition. Yet, with significant renovations, it looked good as new.
The house was L-shaped, with the main part of the home being the original two-story construction, and then a separate one-floor addition on the back of the house which contained the living room, kitchen, and back office room and bathroom was added in the 1800s. The first time I visited the house, my stepdad took us on a tour. The newly-remodeled living room and kitchen were beautiful, with new wooden floors and a large fireplace. This part of the home had a distinctly warm ambiance. That atmosphere instantly changed when we entered the oldest part of the home, toward the front. I cannot explain what was different or why I felt anxious, and I cannot point to anything tangibly distinct about that part of the house that justified that feeling. Still, a feeling of anxiousness originated deep inside of me and every hair on my body stood on end, especially in the upstairs hallway and near the staircase which was narrow, claustrophobic, and with a very low ceiling. And the whole front and upstairs of the house just felt... Dark. Even with many windows around, it felt shrouded in darkness. The floors were a very dark wood, and most of the walls were painted either blue or crimson. At the time, I wrote it off as my nerves getting the better of me and having read too many ghost stories in my spare time.
Still, there was something inexplicably creepy about parts of the house. Everywhere I went, I felt that there were entities I could not see staring me down with a menacing gaze. I was afraid to open any doors because of the innate feeling there would be something right behind them waiting to jump out at me. I felt exactly the same way turning corners into other rooms, and I felt as if I was going to be grabbed from behind by something unseen. It was like I just KNEW there was something there, and it was aware of, and anticipating, my presence. Everywhere I went in the front part of the house, I felt I was being followed or chased. If I was in the front part of the house with another person and they left to go into the back of the house, the only area where there was any relief from this sensation, I would run as fast as I could after them. Being left alone in that part of the house felt like I was exposed and in danger.
I visited the home probably once a week as a child, as my stepdad was then a good family friend. My now stepbrother is the same age as me, so we often played around the house and in the backyard. He never seemed to be afraid of the house, and always wanted to venture off into parts of it that I was uncomfortable going into. I remember specifically one time we were playing hide-and-seek, and he must have figured I would not feel comfortable searching upstairs. I searched the entire downstairs hoping to find him, hoping that I would not need to even go upstairs. Finally, I heard a rustling sound from the closet located under the stairs. I opened the door and shouted "Found you!" but to my shock and horror, there was no one there. The closet was almost empty, with the exception of one or two jackets. I knew for a fact I had heard noise coming from there! Too shaken to venture upstairs by myself, I asked my stepdad to come upstairs with me and search for his son. As we were climbing the stairs, I heard a noise from the upstairs hallway, as if someone had bumped into the wall. I ran around the corner expecting to see my stepbrother, but he was not there... All that was there was an old rocking chair, which was slowly rocking back and forth on its own, with the sound of someone humming to themselves. There was no window nor draft and no one sitting in the chair. I suddenly felt short of breath and felt as if there was someone right beside me breathing down my neck. I KNEW there was something there that I could not see. I remember flailing my arms in all directions as if trying to swat whatever it was away, but there was no physical manifestation of this presence and that horrified me. I screamed and ran downstairs, and bumped right into my stepbrother, who came out from hiding under the sofa in the downstairs back room. As I clearly had not been able to find him, he got sick of waiting and ended the game. This was the VERY last time I went upstairs by myself, for many years.
About a year later, due to my antisocial tendencies as a child, my mother insisted I sleep over the house so I could learn to make better friends with my stepbrother. The thought of staying overnight in the house petrified me, especially given that at the time my stepbrother's room was upstairs. The entire night leading up to bedtime, there was no otherworldly activity. They made me a nice dinner, we watched TV and music videos in the back of the house, and I felt content and at peace. This feeling, nice as it was, was short-lived. I begged them to let me sleep on the sofa in the back living room, even though it would have meant I would be alone in that part of the house, but they insisted I sleep upstairs because all the bedrooms were upstairs and it would make it easier to check on us if we needed anything. Also, there were two twin-sized beds in the room, so it made the most sense in terms of sleeping arrangements. I protested and protested, but with no success. I begrudgingly accepted that I would have a night of terror. As I was being put to bed I remember seeing my stepdad's ex wife shut the door to the upstairs bedroom, right at the top of the stairs, and turn out the light.
Surprisingly, I fell asleep quickly, but did not stay asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and immediately noticed the room was much darker than it should have been. Usually, even at night, once your eyes begin to adjust you can see what is around you and sense the light coming in from the moon outside. My eyes just could not adjust and the darkness was overwhelming. I immediately could sense that there was something in the room with me that I could not see, and I could hear deep breathing sounds emanating from the darkness. I turned and looked over to my stepbrother's bed and he was not there, which meant I was ACTUALLY alone and he wasn't the one making the noises. I heard footsteps in the upstairs hallway, and assumed that my stepbrother had gotten up to use the bathroom and would be right back. What felt like an eternity passed, and he did not return to the room. I hid my head under the covers trying to hide from whatever unseen entity was there, but eventually I got so scared that I got out of bed and darted down the stairs at full speed, in the dark, trying to get away from whatever was there. I distinctly could tell I was being followed as I heard thump, thump, thump down the stairs behind me, as if there was someone following closely behind me and breathing right down my neck. I ran through the downstairs hallway, through the old dining room, and was ready to cross into the back of the house and slam the door behind me and turn on all the lights when I ran right into the door. That door was NEVER kept closed, so I was not expecting it to be shut and I could barely see it was there! The sound immediately woke up my stepdad, who turned on all the lights and ran to me in a panic checking to see if I was injured. I was hyperventilating and panicking, shouting that there was someone in the house who was following me and chasing me. I could barely get the words out. He assumed I meant an intruder, and checked every corner of the house top to bottom and found no one. Still, seeing how panicked I was, he allowed me to sleep on the downstairs sofa for the rest of the night.
As I got older, I became less afraid of the house, but I still refused to be alone upstairs and the feeling of there being people or entities surrounding, following, and watching me never subsided. Other times I heard sounds coming from other parts of the house even when no one was there... Music playing that had no source and sounded like it was from a past era, voices calling out my and other people's names, footsteps, and items being banged around and knocked off tables. I never investigated the sounds and whenever I would point them out to another person, they would stop. Everyone was convinced it was all in my head and I was the only person hearing the noises.
They moved out of the house when I was about 12, and the owners that bought it next lived there until 2016. When the house was on the market in 2016, the realtor had an "open house" and anyone could come by and walk through it. I walked through the entire house. It had been remodeled, and the walls were now all painted white, and the windows had been replaced and were now much larger and more modern. Somehow, these modifications made the home feel much less menacing. I could still sense a presence, but it did not feel as menacing. I wandered away from the tour group and stood upstairs in the hallway, held out my arms, and said aloud "If there is anyone here, reveal yourselves to me." Nothing appeared, and I didn't honestly expect it to, but I felt a slight breeze whisk by my face, down the hallway, causing the curtain on one of the windows to rustle, and it was gone as quickly as it came. In the moment, I felt as if whatever presence was there had recognized me from childhood and was affirming to me, finally, that it was not going to harm me. It felt like closure.
After a recent conversation with my stepbrother, he admitted that he felt the same things I did when in the upstairs of the house but that he had tried to pretend to be brave and never made his experiences known, but that eventually the presence felt too strong and menacing that he moved his bedroom to the downstairs back office. My stepdad's ex-wife also moved her room downstairs, both due to the feeling of a sinister presence upstairs and the dissolution of her marriage. My step dad claims he had no experiences in the house, but he said he felt a "chilling" feeling upstairs, where hairs stood on end. He attributes it, though, to social conditioning, and the expectation that a house of that age would have spirits. He is not a believer and refuses to reconsider his stance. It was incredibly validating to hear that I was not the only one experiencing this, because for years everyone had pretended I was, and no one believed me. It turns out that they experienced many of the same things I did, but did not want to tell me at the time because they did not want to scare me.
We still communicate with my step dad's ex wife, she is a good friend to this day. She confided some of her own experiences. One time, she was downstairs late at night and heard the sound of someone, or something, tumbling down the stairs. She ran in a panic assuming my stepbrother had fallen, but when she got to the stairs, there was nothing there. She says this was, by far, the most unnerving experience she had in the house. Another time, after she had moved her bedroom downstairs, she heard footsteps coming into her room from the front hallway and the sound of a marble rolling across the floor. The sounds were right in front of her, but she could not see anything there. In the morning she had searched for anything that could have made the rolling sound on the floor but there was nothing. No marble, pen, pencil, or coin. These experiences stay with her even to this day.
There is legend that about 150 years ago, a woman was murdered by her husband on the staircase, who came from around the corner and pushed her down the stairs in the middle of a heated argument. This story has neither been confirmed nor denied.