By Dylan's Fear Files

This is written from the perspective of my grandmother:

The house was so pretty, no more than 10 years old in 1965 when I was 17 and we began renting it. It was over a mile from the main road of the tiny town, a village really, with a yard that backed up against the woods. It was by far the nicest place my dirt-poor family had ever lived. We had been there less than a year when I was doing laundry in the basement. As I turned, a painting I had never noticed before caught my eye. The morbid, straight-mouthed face of the little boy let me know the painting was old. But it was the eyes that chased me up the stairs. Like so many paintings, it’s eyes appeared to follow you wherever you went. Unlike other paintings the sense of presence, even of menace, let me know right away that our time in that house would not be peaceful.

The real trouble started in such a little way that it could be interpreted a thousand ways. The clothes wouldnot stay on the line. You could hang laundry on the calmest, clearest day of spring and within hours it would be scattered all over the yard. You saw the results with your own eyes, you knew the weather could not be responsible, and yet your rational mind simply took it as a mildly strange phenomenon that meant nothing. With a little more foresight, we might have listened to my grandmother’s admonitions that laundry won’t stay on the line in a haunted house and simply moved out then. But of course we would have always wondered if we had simply overreacted.

I can’t remember the first time the sound on the stairs was heard, or who heard it. What I do remember is that day or night, the sound seemed to simply materialize whenever it wanted to. The staircase from the basement was made up of two stairs, a square landing, then more stairs up to the kitchen. In the kitchen was a heavy wood door with a lock and deadbolt. The occurrence… apparition… whatever you choose to call it, was exactly the same every time. It began with heavy footfalls on the stairs. There was a brief pause as the stair climber reached the landing, then its journey up the stairs continued. As it neared the top stair, it seemed to lose its footing and crash down the stairs in a thunderous racket. You could hear the heavy body of that which was not there hit and finally stop moving. Just then, the kitchen door would fly all the way open and the apparition would end.

We took to keeping the door locked all the time, both with the key and the deadbolt. It was a futile gesture. Still the force would climb the stairs, still the tumult of it falling back down the stairs, and finally the doubly locked door flying open as if it hadn’t been shut at all and a wind had blown it open. Early on, my 5 feet tall, rail thin but fearless aunt, resolved to show us all how silly we were being. We all confirmed that the door was locked and dead-bolted. My father and uncle left for the evening leaving the women and children behind. In only a short space of time, the first footfall landed with a thud on the first stair. Knowing what was coming, my mother, brothers, sisters, and I were already terrified. My aunt remained unflappable.

“I’m not scared, I’ll see what it is,” she declared. She walked the short space from the living room to thekitchen as we approached hysterics. My aunt rounded the corner and saw the door, unmistakably locked twice, standing wide open. With a shrill scream she ran from the room as my siblings and I climbed furniture and each other to get as far away from the kitchen as we could!

That was enough, or should have been. How different things could have been if we had just let that be enough and left. But we didn’t. And the events were neither at their end nor at their climax. And my little brother would pay for our stubbornness for the rest of his life.

His habit was to walk into town and do the things teenagers do. He would stay out late and to avoid waking the rest of us, he would sleep in the basement regardless of its history. One night, as he followed his customary pattern, he went to sleep in the basement. By baby brother was fearless. Late in the night, something he couldn’t describe happened. All he could say, when he would talk about it at all, was that something woke him up though nothing appeared out of place. Uneasy, but undeterred, he went back to sleep.

When he was awakened a second time he was engulfed in a blue mist. He tried to move, but couldn’t. He tried to scream, but couldn’t. The mist was cold, but not wet. And it was alive. My brother could feel the mist trying to get inside him. He could not know what it would mean if it got inside him, he only knew it would be the worst, maybe the last thing that ever happened to him. So he stayed awake. He fought to move. He found to scream. He fought to keep the mist outside of him. He may have been fighting for his soul. Time means nothing in such circumstances and whether it was five minutes or hours, he does not know.

My brother was different from then on. He was nervous and frightened. And he simply could not sleep. His only rest came when exhaustion overcame him and he essentially passed out. At night, he was never in the dark. At least one light had to be on. Half a century later, he still relives that night from time to time, staying up all night with the lights on.

One more set of renters moved in, then rapidly moved out. They, too, found more than just a house in the sweet-looking little rental. But the final occupant, however briefly, was the owner. After the last renters moved out, he went in to the house alone and died of what was ruled a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Like so many other things about the house, nobody will ever know what really happened. The house still stands, abandoned and in shambles, but has not had a resident in 55 years.
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