The old house looked fine in the day, sitting far removed from any signs of civilization although the city of Cincinnati, Ohio was just across the river. The long, twisting driveway wound it’s way up a hill that was guarded by bushes and trees that had been planted some two hundred years previously when the first horticulturalist in America carved his home on this high hill in Indiana. At least that what I was told as we made our way to see my Mom’s sister and her husband. I took everything with a grain of salt that had to do with Aunt June for she was something of a character, as were all of my mother’s siblings, but Uncle Kirk seemed a reasonable and practical man and he had never disagreed when Aunt June told the family of doors slamming and windows opening on their own accord. Uncle Kirk was a carpenter and had been hired as caretaker to the three story house and tended 50 plus acres that surrounded the lonesome abode. It was a well built home and upon entering the large foyer with it’s parquet floor, one could tell it had been erected by someone with taste and enough money for every modern convenience that was available back in the day, including a cistern on the third floor that had fed water to the bathroom on the second floor and the kitchen on the first floor. A grand staircase was to the left off the foyer that led to the second story where the original owners had two bedrooms that were separated with 10 foot tall pocket doors, husband and wife having connecting bedrooms was not uncommon in that time. Another large bedroom lay across the hall and the only bathroom completed that floor. A smaller staircase led to the third floor which housed five smaller bedrooms and the cistern. At the back was a narrow and steep staircase that turned and wound down to the kitchen for one of the bedrooms next to the cistern room was for the servants originally and, back then, one did not wish to see the maid or cook in the front of the house. In the foyer and past the three floor to ceiling windows that shone on the pattered floor was a huge door that opened into the grand reception room. Light streamed in and shone the scrollwork on the wooden door jambs. To the left was another large door which was the dining room. A serving nook, which housed the china, cutlery, glasses, pitchers and linens led into the kitchen from the dining room. Back in the reception/living room and straight ahead was another parlor that my aunt and uncle used as a bedroom.
I had heard a few stories prior to my visit, but being a worldly 20-year old, rolled my eyes as I listened to my aunt tell mother as she pointed to the reception/living room door that it refused to stay open and how she had propped it open with a ten pound bag of potatoes so she could haul groceries into the kitchen only to find, on her last trip through, that the door was shut and the potatoes flung across the room. I listened with boredom as she described the owner’s visit the year before when he discussed his plans to turn the acreage into a golf course and making the house the country club. Aunt June went on to relate how the noises started that night.
“Voices, moaning as if in pain throughout the night and the rattling of chains. Kirk can’t hear them but he’s deaf as a post after he takes his hearing aids out. I got used to the noise and told them it was out of my hands, go haunt the owner if they were that upset.” June, a handsome woman who looked much younger than her 65 years, shook her blond hair at the memory but her smile waned when we went into the kitchen. “But, I tell you, I lost patience when I was in here cooking one evening and what looked like blood began trickling down the walls. I shook my spatula at them and told them to knock that shit off! They did. The noise continued for two weeks until the owner returned and told us the financing for the golf course plans fell through. The noises stopped that day.”
We were shown upstairs to the second floor where Mother took the bedroom on the east side. A fireplace on the southern wall was still operational but she wouldn’t need it this last Summer night. A brass bed, brightly bedecked with one of Grandmother’s cheery quilts sat upon an oval braided rug that was at least nine foot in diameter at it’s largest point. June pointed at the carpet. “This is the rug that nearly killed cousin Evie.”. Cousin Evie was an incredibly large and loud woman I tried to avoid since the age of eight when she had cursed at me for being a rude little girl when I had passed on the offer to be allowed to rub her feet so I hid a secret smile that a cheerful rug had almost broken her neck. June continued “Kirk and I were bringing up her suitcase as she lumbered along behind us she yelled out ‘I am not afraid of any old dang ghosts!’. And she wasn’t until she got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and tripped over something. I heard the crash and her crying out and got up here as fast as I could to see what the fuss was about. I flipped on the lights and there she was, laid out like a walrus on ice and under her was that rug, rolled up and lying two feet from the bed. Something had picked her bed up, pulled that rug out and rolled it into a Cousin Evie land mine. Even if we had wanted to do it, can you imagine me and Kirk lifting about 300 pounds and a bed without waking her? Let me tell you, she left here with a sprained ankle and a new belief in ghosts!”
She showed the bathroom which was the size of most modern day bedrooms and pointed to the large window with wide wood trim. It was open. “Don’t bother trying to close. They won’t leave it shut. See these nails?”. She pointed to four nails that were at least five inches long. “Kirk got sick of the draft last winter so he came up here and nailed that window shut with these nails. The next morning we found them laid out on the floor. They are still straight. There ain’t any way someone could have pried them out without bending them.”. They were indeed straight but the heads showed marks of a hammer.
We went outside and walked the grounds, the sun beginning to lower as the stone home looked benevolently over us and other things were discussed, the ghosts forgotten until the sun disappeared over the horizon and house took on an oppressive look. I slipped out after dinner to sneak a cigarette and looked up at the silhouette of the grand home. I almost decided to sleep in mother’s car but shook off the foreboding and decided to go to my room for the night, which was the room designed for the first lady of the house. My aunt, for whatever quirk, had placed the bed against the fireplace which had been boarded up, but it did give the look of a headboard for there was none on this on the bed, which just sat on a frame. I had a view that led into the master bedroom for the pocket doors were open as were the windows to the west for air circulation. I read for a while then switched the lamp off and rolled to my stomach, my preferred way of sleeping. I could sleep upon my sides but never, ever, had been able sleep prone upon my back, so I was confused when I awoke sometime later by a pain in wrists, a tension or twisting had awoken me and I discovered I was flat on my back with arms straight above me and my palms pressed against the plywood that sealed the fireplace off. I did not panic although my first thought was that something or someone was trying to pull me into the chimney. Before I could pull my hands down, I knew something was staring into the window off to left. It was floating there and all I would have to do was turn my eyes and see what was there but I sensed that if I did, life would never be normal again. So I laid there motionless while whatever it was was silently cajoling me to cast an eye it’s way. I could feel it’s glowing red eyes and saw in my mind a creature with a pig’s snout and bloody fangs begging for me to look upon it’s horrible face, but I knew if I did it wanted to climb into my soul. I stared at the ceiling and repeated what Mother had said to Aunt June’s story of Cousin Evie; “Greater is he who is in me than he who in the world.” until, after what felt like several years but what was more like 5 minutes, I felt thing slowly give up the ghost and depart, whereupon my arms relaxed. I did not roll over on my stomach. I sat upright and clutched my pillow until dawn in a protective ball. I was in the kitchen before anyone else the next morning and Mother finally breezed in, smiling and cheerful after a pleasant night passed in blissful unawareness of the entity lurking around the second floor trying to steal her daughter’s soul. I volunteered to drive the three homes and raced down the driveway. I did not care that Mother was oblivious, Aunt June pragmatically accepting, Uncle Kirk stoic and resigned because Cousin Evie and I knew the truth. Something evil dwelt there.
Postscript, after hearing my tale my Dad expressed interest in visiting to see for himself the haunted house high on the horticulturalist’s hill but before he had the opportunity, Uncle Kirk, upon leaving early one morning for a carpentry job, discovered a burning car hidden under some trees halfway up the drive with a young woman inside. She had been kidnapped, taken to the property where her abductor raped, murdered then set her on fire. The papers reported he chose that spot because he had always felt drawn to it. I almost saw the thing that drew him there and was relieved when my aunt and uncle moved out shortly there after. Dad would have to comfort himself with nothing more than second hand tales and the occasional visit from Cousin Evie.
Submitted by Michele Morgan to Weird Darkness and My Haunted Life Too
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