The Family Compound

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My aunt and uncle live in what we call “The Compound”, a trio of old colonial homes made up of a farm house, a converted barn, and a converted carriage house. The buildings are old, they were clearly built when Pennsylvania was just founded. Growing up, all the kids and cousins in my family agreed that the place always felt weird. None of us liked being alone in the place, and even thinking about going into the basement was insane to anyone under the age of twelve.

Of course, the property has a history. What we know for sure is that the property was owned by the heiress to the Campbell Soup company, yes the same company that sell you chicken noodle soup. Then it was taken by the Catholic Church, specifically the Jesuits as the region experienced a boom in the building of Catholic schools. For those of you who don’t know, the Jesuits are the hardcore side of the Catholic Church. They were some of the more brutal priests in the Church’s schools, then known for beating students for minor infractions and ensuring loyal adherence to the principles of the church’s teachings. After that, we only know that the compound had been in my uncle’s family since at least the 1970s.

The compound has several stories related to it. A primary one is that of a spectral farmer called “Mr. Green Jeans”. He stays to the outside of the compound near the farmhouse, and that he acted incredibly misogynistic, forcing any women to feel terrified and spiritually wounded. The only thing that seems to have stopped him was a small shrine to the Virgin Mary put out where he was constantly sighted.

Another sighting was of a small child by a second cousin once removed of mine. When she was a little girl, she had an “imaginary friend”, and if you’re a constant consumer of paranormal tales you already know that her friend was probably anything but imaginary. She said her little friend was named “Valkan”, but her parents thought nothing of it until one night her father walked out into his living room to see his daughter sitting on the couch with a little girl in a dress out of the late 19th century. Now this man has seen his fair share of things in life, pain and suffering that don’t make him easy to spook or prone to false stories. The girl had no legs, but somehow still managed to make her dress move as if she were kicking legs that weren’t there. Suddenly, chanting started and robed figures appeared through the far wall of the room. The ghostly child became agitated, grabbed by the robed figures as she pleaded not to be taken. The father tried to grab at the girl, pulling at her hands and failing to save her. Not because he couldn’t grab her, but because he couldn’t fight the strength of the robed figures pulling her back through the wall. As the ghostly child screamed, she vanished into the wall.

My own mother had an experience in this house. When she was younger, she was staying at the house with a friend of hers from college, my uncle’s sister. She was staying over, and warned to not sleep with the lights out in the room she was in. This was in the farmhouse, which had several spare bedrooms at the time. It was a night of partying, which the Compound is still known for, and eventually my mother had to call it a night. Settling into the covers, my mother said that she felt someone settle into the bed next to her and she figured it was just her friend, also tired from the party and too plastered to care that they had to share a bed. Until said friend threw the door open and screamed, “DON’T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS!” As the lights came on, the weight next to my mother vanished.

These are just the stories I can recall with clarity, it’s been years since I heard them all and the family doesn’t like to talk about them for fear of giving the spirits in the Compound attention. What I do also know is that my girl is sensitive, able to pick out negative energy from a place. The first time she went to the Compound when we had first started dating, I decided that I’d give her a cute little tour while everyone else was preoccupied with another party. At first she enjoyed the spooky stories of the place, but when we reached the room in the farmhouse we call the “library”, her mood immediately shifted and she wanted to get out of the house. For the next week, she had nightmares of death involving nine dead children. Freaky enough, but then there was the time that one of the children that grew up in the place played with a Ouija board. Dumb yes, but the board claimed that there were nine spirits that called the Compound their own. Eight ghosts, and one demon.

To this day, the houses are filled with religious iconography, and priests come at least twice a year to bless the place. For the past few years the place has been quiet, but as the years go on and the owners age I wonder to myself what happens if a less devoutly Catholic family decides to make changes to the Compound the spirits, particularly the demon, don’t take a liking to.

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