~ Haunted ~
Even with the fan running, it was stifling upstairs, especially for the end of October. I stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around me, letting the droplets of water offer what cooling they could. That’s when I heard it. A scratching sound, then a scraping, a loud crunch, and squeals and scrapes of metal on metal, followed by a door slamming. I ran into the large upstairs hallway of the townhouse. All three bedrooms and the one bath opened onto it. One bedroom door was closed. It was the bedroom where I’d put the big window fan because it was so noisy. It wedged into the lower half of the double-hung window perfectly, except for a little space on either side. I opened the door and stared at the open, empty window. The fan was in the middle of the floor, crushed in on either side, the blades bent, as though giant hands had squeezed it like an accordion.
I backed out of the bedroom and ran to the steps, which turned 90 degrees on a landing halfway down. As I reached the landing and turned to go down the long run of steps, I felt pressure hit my back pushing me and down I went, headfirst. As I watched the wall at the bottom coming at me, I knew I was dead. Suddenly, a force was under me, like a pillow of dense air, lifting my body up and over the half-wall railing beside me. I wish I could say it set me gently down, but it didn’t. As soon as I was over the railing, it dropped me like a stone on the other side, knocking the wind out of me.
Somewhere between the second floor landing and my ungraceful deposit on the floor, I lost the towel and my modesty. Dizzy and nauseous, I crawled to the laundry room and got some clothes, dressed, and called my best friend, the owner of the townhouse. It took several tried before I could cough out what had just happened to me. I told her I’d be waiting outside.
As she got out of the car, she said, with more nonchalance than I wanted, “It’s haunted.”
“Haunted,” I squeaked.
I grabbed her hand and dragged her up the stairs to show her the crumpled window fan.
She studied it for a moment. “This is worse than I thought.”
“And the stove? That wasn’t faulty wiring, was it?” I’d had issues with the stove from the beginning. I’d come into the kitchen to find the coils glowing red when all the knobs were in the off position. I finally resorted to cutting off the stove at the circuit breaker to fix the problem.
“Honestly, I don’t know. Could be a wiring issue,” she said with a look that told me she didn’t believe that herself.
She hung around until I felt better, even offering to let me stay at her place. Being out of work and out of funds thanks to an aggressive, abusive boss, I was already taking advantage of her good graces, so I declined her offer and shut my mouth.
I took to sleeping during the day and writing at night. When nothing happened for a month and a new writing assignment began putting money in my pocket, I started to feel comfortable once more, putting the phenomena in the past and convincing myself that nothing out of the normal had occurred at all. Cognitive dissonance at its best.
One morning, after a particularly hard, all-night assignment, I curled up on the couch in the sitting area I’d created in the oversized kitchen and went to sleep. A thud woke me up. “Oh God, no” came out of my mouth as I sat up. I walked through the living room to go upstairs and stopped. I turned and looked at my now empty living room. Every piece of furniture I owned was gone. My eyes immediately went to the front door. It was locked and chained, just as I’d left it.
I fled and ran to the neighbors. After a frantic call to my friend, she arrived shortly after, bringing along the police. We went in together.
They looked at the living room and I told them what was missing.
“I don’t know. I ran out.”
One of the officers checked the back door and found it locked.
“Stay here.” They went upstairs.
“Miss. Can you come up?” an officer called from the landing.
My friend and I joined them in the upstairs hallway. He was looking in one of the rooms.
I looked in. All of my furniture was stacked haphazardly in the middle of the room.
“Miss, this isn’t funny.”
“Officer, I swear to you, it’s not a joke. I didn’t move it.”
“Maybe some friends are playing a practical joke on you.” His eyes landed on my friend.
She held up her hands. “I was at work.”
“Does it look like something I could move?” I asked, looking at the heap in front of me.
The officer walked into the room, among and around the two seven-foot bookcases, love seat, tables, wing-back chairs, and hutch before returning, pushing his hat back and scratching his head. The books, lamps, and nick-knacks were strewn about the room. “Well, lady, I don’t know what’s going on, but, if you want my advice, I’d leave it right where it is. Whoever or whatever moved it apparently wanted it this way.”
I found a new place and moved within a week.
Turns out, I had it pretty mild. I understand the people after me came downstairs one morning to find maggots covering all of the surfaces in the kitchen.
To this day, I have no idea what any of it meant. I can say one thing, when I hear other people tell stories of hauntings, I listen with a very sympathetic ear.