In 2007, I was 17 when my parents bought a house from an older widow lady in a small town in Illinois. The house was built in the 1940’s and had been built by the widow’s husband. It was three stories and very nice considering its age, although the paint choices for every room, including the basement, were pretty awful. My mom and her friend had to scrub down and repaint the living room walls before we moved in as they were coated in nicotine from the widow’s husband smoking for years and years and it was pretty grimy. We lived there for about 5 years, and over the course of that time, a lot of strange things happened.
I don’t really remember the first time we started noticing weird things happening around the house. I do know that it began by smelling cigarette smoke. We would be sitting in the living room watching TV at night (windows closed), and the smell of fresh smoke would suddenly be very overwhelming. It was there one moment, and would be gone the next. My dad was the first to remind us that the old man who had lived there before had smoked.
Every morning, before I left for school, my mom would sit on my bed and we’d talk while I was getting ready. One morning we were doing just that, she on my bed, me in front of my mirror, brushing my hair with my back to her. I was turning to say something and in the hallway outside my door I saw a tall skinny black figure with no legs below the knees. I remember faltering in my words and my mom asking me if I was alright. She said that my face had lost all color and she started asking, ” What’s wrong? What’s wrong?! ” I told her and I started bawling my eyes out like a weirdo because it was so unexpected and startling, to say the least. I don’t recall what happened after that, I think we just sort of brushed it off, although she made me tell my dad later on. I know he was understandably freaked out like the rest of us.
My mom used to babysit a few kids in the house, and I often helped her after school and on my days off. Two of the kids I had known their entire lives and we’d practically raised them. When I was in high school, I loved making short films, and the kids wanted to help me do one, so I cast them as ” ghost kids ”, with my dad as the main character whose house was haunted. We were having fun and it was coming together alright, but I noticed that my camera and other things kept coming up missing in my room. I would lay it down on the TV stand in my bedroom and would find it somewhere else later after frantic searching. After this happened several times, I decided to stop the movie.
Another thing that happened that really scared the heck out of me was when my mom had started babysitting a new kid. His mom was kind of a shifty person and we couldn’t really ever rely on her to arrive when she said she would. One morning in the summer, she said she would bring him around 9 or so. I had the front door open so I could hear when they came, and let them in. A little after 9, as I was walking through the living room, I heard a noise at the front door and as I approached I saw the kid in a bright yellow T-shirt reaching for the door handle with his face turned like he was waiting for his mom. I went over to the door, and I swear THERE WAS NO ONE THERE. I thought I was losing my mind. I opened the door and looked all over but there was no one in sight. Here is the weirdest part: that kid and his mom never showed up, she never called my mom again, and never answered the phone after my mom tried calling her several times. It really scares me because even to this day, I wonder what happened to him.
One night, alone in my room, I felt someone tug on the bottom of my shirt; I was once in the kitchen and heard the back screen door whip open when it was shut. These things, though unnerving, were nothing compared to what would come.
In 2009, my grandma passed away from cancer; my grandpa had the beginning stages of dementia, and was neglecting himself and their pets in his grief. They’d lived in the country and had several cats and two outdoor dogs. When we had to put my grandpa in a nursing home, my dad saved as many of the pets as he could by adopting them out, however, my grandma’s dog Molly came home with us. I swear that dog was one of the sweetest animals to have lived. She had been an outdoor dog her entire life, so my dad kept her under the carport behind our house, and always brought her inside if it was too cold. On those cold days, I would often go down to the basement to visit Molly and hug and pet her in between doing the laundry. I loved listening to her claws click on the cement floor. She was a huge fluffy dog, though we never knew what breed. If I was ever sad, she would always lick my face when I cried. She was an amazing animal. It was the first of February and a huge blizzard was going to blow in. I was downstairs doing laundry and my dad went out to get Molly. I was in the basement and I heard a weird noise. My dad is a goofball and I thought he was fake-crying, which he does shockingly often, but he opened the basement door and called down to me to come upstairs because Molly was dying. He was sitting on his knees beside her on the kitchen floor as she was gasping and twitching. We gathered around her and stroked her fur, telling her what a good girl she was and that we loved her. Molly died right there on the kitchen floor.
My family took Molly’s death very hard; not only had she been a great dog, but she had been my grandma’s dog, too, which made it all the more difficult because it was sort of like losing my grandma all over again. Maybe a week or two after we’d lost Molly, I was down in the basement doing laundry (again), when I heard something that still puzzles me to this day–claws clicking on the cement floor. It sounded just like Molly.
I want to say around 2010, my mom started babysitting a seven week old baby. He had this disease where he was allergic to a myriad of things, including his mother’s breast milk, but at the time no one knew that he was sick and in constant pain, so that kid SCREAMED. It was one of the worst sounds anyone could ever hear, a horrible screeching wail because he hurt and didn’t understand why, and of course couldn’t explain it.
One afternoon, I was babysitting the baby and two older kids by myself. The older ones were sitting in my dad’s big recliner, vegging out watching cartoons. The baby was hungry and was doing his ear-splitting screech. I laid him in his baby doughnut cushion as I hurried off to prepare a bottle of his special formula that he was on at the time. I was running back and forth between fixing the bottle and checking the baby; I’d popped a pacifier in his mouth and ran to the kitchen, however when I peeked around the counter, he’d spit it out down by his feet and, of course, at the time didn’t have the motor skills to bend down and grab it for himself. The older kids were ignoring him entirely and I was becoming frazzled. The way I had to warm up his bottle was by sticking it in a pan of water on the stove for a minute or so, so I couldn’t leave it at that moment. As I was standing there, I smelled cigarette smoke. In the other room, I heard the baby grow silent and begin to make comforted little squeaks as he did when he was given his bottle.
When the bottle was ready, I headed into the living room to find the two older kids in the same place I’d left them, mouths still agape as they watched TV. The baby’s pacifier was in his mouth. I picked him up and began feeding him his bottle. I asked the little girl watching TV who had given the baby his pacifier. She was so engrossed she ignored me. I said her name a little louder and asked if she had done it; she said no. I asked her brother if he had done it…no. My brain short-circuited a bit after that, I think. I was terrified and amazed at the same time. There was no way the baby could have grabbed it for himself, but it was just the four of us in the house, and the two other kids weren’t even paying attention to anything but their show.
When the baby was a little older, we all noticed that he was infatuated with a specific corner on the living room ceiling. He would stare at it for ages and laugh and smile. It was creepy. We tried to lighten the mood by saying that he had an angel in the corner. One day I was holding him, bouncing around and singing to him. His eyes fastened on the corner and his eyes lit up. He started laughing and reached his hand up. I asked him if he could see his angel. Not even lying–that kid freaking turned in my arms, his arm outstretched, and he followed the path of SOMETHING across the ceiling. My stomach dropped as I racked my brain for what the heck he could possibly be seeing. There was no light on the ceiling, nothing.
Not long before we moved out of the weird house, a family we knew had asked my mom to take care of their new baby for a few hours. We brought out the old playpen that was no longer in use, and Mom parked it in the corner most convenient–THE corner. Once again, I found myself in a familiar scenario. I was fixing a bottle for the baby as she was howling and I noticed she had gone silent. I went in to find her gaze fixated on that same corner of the ceiling, a huge grin on her face.
We moved to a normal home not long after, and everything was peaceful after that. I did start working for a nursing home a few years after that, and experienced a lot of freaky stuff there, but those are stories for another time.