I have read many supposedly true horror/mystery stories over the years and many taking place in old abandoned places, so I decided it was time to share mine. Unlike most “true” stories, I can assure with my entire being that everything and every detail is not only completely true, but the events are still discussed often amongst myself and those friends who also witnessed firsthand the following events, they still haunt us today and maybe someone out there has a better explanation of what we exactly witnessed…
I grew up in a small town in central New Jersey only a few miles from both the bay to the north and the ocean to the east. What most people forget when they think of New Jersey today, is that it’s actually one of the oldest states in America and many cities and towns have very old sections and houses. Even pre-revolutionary homes and buildings are not very uncommon throughout the state. My town had a very old part that was once the town’s center. It was only 2 streets that crossed each other, and almost all of the buildings and homes in this small section are from the early 1800s to around the civil war. Back when this part of town was built, the surrounding area outside of these 2 streets was nothing but farms. However, starting in the 1960s the farms were steadily sold off to developers who built large homes and my town became rather affluent. Over the years some of the old houses and buildings, in particular, the nicer ones and the 2 churches became protected, but others were still in private hands and either became offices or private homes. Except one.
Now, this story happened in 1993 when I was in 7th grade. My friends and I back then always seemed on a constant mission to explore abandoned houses in our area, especially my good friend Jared. We tried to get into any and all of them. Of course, there were the creepy town legends about some of them, but nothing eventful ever really happened before this, other than one time we fell through an old rotted floor all the way into the basement and I cut my hand really bad on the fall down. “A reminder to always be careful when exploring old, rotting and abandoned houses!”
There was one house in particular at the end of the old town center that we had had our eyes on for quite a while. It was actually even the closest one to my house, which at the time was a newer 80’s home only a single street off of the main old town center street. But, because this road was now busy with traffic most of the day and the house was boarded up extremely tight, getting in had been a challenge and we kept putting it off and went in search for more easily accessible abandoned buildings.
A little about this house which also made it stand out…The house was the very last truly old home on the street before newer buildings started, and was noticeably different from the rest of the old 1800s homes that line both sides of the street. The home we found out from neighbors, was built sometime in the mid-1800s, several years before the start of the civil war. This one was also much smaller, and far less ornate; no wrap around porch or large windows, or any kind of ornate woodwork that the rest of the old homes had, this one was very basic and simple. It was also built on top of the only hill on the entire street, and a pretty high hill as well, about 25 or so feet above street level. This hill was also steep; the area in the front for parking a car, or originally a horse and buggy I assume was at the bottom of the hill, and only a small dirt walkway led from this small area to the front of the house.
After some time of this mysterious old house taunting us with its close proximity and strange differences from all the other old houses in the area, the even more exciting prospect to us was of finally being the first to get inside of a long-abandoned home in who knows how long! Past inspections that we had made showed that this house was boarded up tight, but also that the untouched wood in the windows and the doorways had been there untouched for a long time. So finally the decision was made to get into the house once and for all…
As I said before, my friend Jared was the most enthusiastic about exploring abandoned buildings and so the two of us planned to finally go in one night in late fall, on a weekend that he slept over.
Within easy walking distance, there was a small park by my home, as well as a small strip mall with a pizza shop, an antique store, a deli, and a pharmacy, so my parents were used to me and my friends going out for most of the day when they were over and hanging around the shops and the park, eating pizza and just having old fashioned fun, the kind that doesn’t include a computer or gaming screen, and definitely not a cell phone back then.
The plan was simple, to look around the back of the house through the extremely overgrown side, which was more like a strip of woods when there was a break in cars on the road. Once in the back of the house, we would break open the boarded-up back door with a small pry-bar and a hammer we borrowed from my father’s tools, then, using strong flashlights the 2 of us would finally see what was hidden behind those boarded up windows of this old abandoned house…
The plan went off without any major problems, the only issue we had was that the wood covering the back door truly was harder to break open then we expected seeing as how old the wood clearly was. We stopped several times after realizing our efforts were also louder then we thought. But, after about 10+ minutes or so we got in! We wedged the solid wood barrier out just enough for us to get to the door behind it and break the handle off with the hammer, then we slipped in. Inside was expectedly dark due to the windows being boarded up so tightly that only small cracks of light from outside crept in, but armed with big strong flashlights we lit the small rooms up well enough to not feel too scared, though, I will admit that in our other hands we each held the hammer and pry-bar that we used to get inside just as tight as we held on to our flashlights!
The house was definitely old. Back then rooms were much smaller, also, despite being small the house had 2 brick fireplaces, a small one in the kitchen, and another larger one in the living or sitting room. We entered through the back into the kitchen which quickly told us that the house had been lived in and upgraded to a point. The cabinets, and outlets, the old fridge, and stove, as well as the few pieces of furniture left around the house clearly showed that it was most likely abandoned in the ’50s, “we later found out that our guess was correct.”
We made our way around the 1st floor which only had a small kitchen and living room, as well as the only bathroom in the house, and a small back room that looked like it was used as a gardening room due to the many shelves on the walls filled with old planting pots, as well as several gardening tools. This was a little strange to us seeing as how this was not a closed in porch or even had that many windows for growing plants in? We just chalked it up to the last inhabitant’s hobby room. Upstairs was even more basic, at the top of the steps was a small landing with only a door to either the right or the left. Both rooms were the exact same size and square, with no closets, only a large metal bed-frame in the room to the left, and a small metal bed-frame and an old wooden dresser in the room to the right. Upset with how boring the house that we had waited so long to explore was turning out to be, we decided to go back downstairs and take a closer look around… That’s when we came by the 1st strange secret of the house, but unfortunately not nearly the last.
While back in the living room, Jared noticed a very small black metal latch on the dark wood wall, it was a small door latch! Only big enough for a finger to grab and pull on, the hinges were actually almost unseen and countersunk into the dark wood to make this door appear as just part of the wall. It was also short and thin, only about 5 feet tall and about half the width of an average door. We had to give it a few pulls due to this hidden door being closed for so many years and only being able to grab the latch with a single finger, but it finally opened with an unnerving screech and groan. We were surprised to see a thin set of old wooden stairs going down into a pitch dark basement, not a speck of light shown from the small black hole that the steps descended down into. We were not expecting a basement at all seeing as that from the outside the house looked as if it sat right on the ground, it didn’t even look like it was built on an old slab or even stone, nothing, but many old houses that were built by modest families back then built homes with little to no foundation, so this was finally the kind of surprise that we had hoped for. The steps were extremely old and unstable, the middle step and the last step were broken in 2 pieces and the whole thing creaked and shook as we both went down slowly and cautiously. Once down we both looked around with our lights in slight confusion and definitely some fear.
The basement was not large, and was only a little over 6 feet tall at the most in height, so both of us being around 5ft.10in-5ft.11in, the ceiling was only a few inches above our heads. It was the size of the house above for the most part and the floor was dirt, not old concrete, but truly just dirt. Strangely you could see areas where there were still small patches of very old bricks or stones as if someone had deliberately broken up the basement floor in order to reach the raw ground below, but that was only one strange feature about the basement. When we looked at the walls we saw that they to were just dirt, the same dirt as you would see if digging a hole, only now dried. However, we again saw that this was done intentionally as we noticed several small areas that still had the original stone that once lined the walls. Other stones that once made up the walls were neatly stacked, proving that this was intentional and no cave in. But, the few remaining stones were nowhere near enough to cover the walls again if put back, meaning that the rest were completely removed. Then we started to notice that the beginning, “or end” of tunnels were being dug into the exposed dirt walls of the basement, some of them deep enough into the sides to undoubtedly be several feet outside the walls of the house underground. They were all mostly circles in shape, and about 4 feet around, the deepest was longer then I am tall by a couple of feet, so maybe 8 feet deep into the dirt, others were only 1 or 2 feet deep? 1 of the holes was stuffed completely with old newspapers and packed in tight as if rammed by something, we did not tamper with this so the depth into the dirt is unknown. One thing we did know is that this basement was strange, to say the least! But there was still way more.
In one corner there was an old boiler heater, but this had no pipes or hookups of any sort coming out of it, nor going upstairs? In fact, there were no holes, pipes, or connections of any type in the basement ceiling that would indicate anything going upstairs at all? In another corner, it looked as if a large circular hole was being dug, or had been dug into the floor. The circular depression was around 5 feet around and only about 7 or 8 inches deep in the center, it looked like a small crater, deeper in the middle and gradually going up towards the sides. It was at this point we also noticed that there were no piles of dirt anywhere for all of this digging to have taken place, the floor was mostly dirt, aside from some patches of stone or bricks, but it was also flat from the many years when a floor did exist, someone had purposefully removed the dirt and most of the flooring and wall material. Then, to only add to the creepiness of all this was a wood table against one wall, on it were small gardening tools like the ones upstairs, but also several smashed and broken picture frames, however, none of them had a picture in them? Just the broken metal and glass was left behind? Everything on the table was dusty and hadn’t been touched or moved in years, it made no sense, any of it! These picture frames would later make the mystery of this house go from creepy, to absolutely terrifying! “But I’ll soon get to that.”
As we were now confused and also scared of this odd basement, we decided to head back up, that’s when we saw behind the steps for the first time! Behind the steps was the most intact part of the basement wall, however, the wall was now only halfway up from the floor. Above that was a very large dug out rectangle, however, this looked more “ruff,” as if someone was digging this part out frantically! It went into the dirt about 6 feet and was about 3 feet tall and 5-6 feet wide. Again, it was definitely deep enough to be outside the house, and was dug out halfway up the wall? The reaming bricks or stone below this were broken and strewn about, not like the other tunnels into the walls that were cleaned up around them and seemed to be done with care and a lot of time spent to make them. This one though, this one looked like someone was trying to dig this out with little care, and fast! The walls of the tunnel were rough and jagged, and they were uneven. Looking closer into it we could see 2 small old shovels and other tools still left behind, dusty from being frozen in time there.
We quickly went up the steps and were met with a scary sight, the door had a small, rusty old spring attached to it, and had closed on us! Worse yet, there was no latch on this side! Why would there be no latch to open the door from inside the basement? Especially if someone was doing A-LOT of work digging down there? We were not about to get stuck down there, not a chance, so without even speaking we both knew what to do, and we both kicked that door as hard as we could at the same time and it flew open with a crack! In the process, we broke the spring and the outside latch. We exited relieved and looking back we saw that the door was now jammed open and stuck on the floor. We tried to close the door but the force of our kick had misaligned the entire thing, to close it meant we would have to push it hard while it scraped against the wooden floor, we decided to just leave it open.
After the basement, we quickly talked about our next move and decided to have a swift look in all of the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen, just to make sure we don’t miss anything else, then get out! We both started opening cabinets and drawers, inside we found a few small odds and ends like plates, an old sewing kit, a few drinking glasses, some handwritten notes that could not be read as the ink had bled from years of unchecked moisture and temperatures, an old pair of wire-rimmed glasses, nothing cool… And then, in a large corner cabinet under the end of the kitchen counter, we finally found some “cool” stuff. Inside was mostly more old tools, but these tools were more like what we had hoped to find. Jared first pulled out an old hatchet, we knew this was old because of its extremely heavy weight for its small size. I’ve used hatchets before in scouts, my father owns at least 3, and this probably weighed more than all of them combined. Next, he reached deep in and pulled out a hand sickle, the type with a thin, crescent-shaped blade. Then a large metal mallet, almost like a small sledgehammer but more block shaped. After these, he pulled out a few more old tools like a few screwdrivers, yet more small gardening tools and finally he saw it and said, “bro, this is scary man, look at this!” He then pulled out a large, framed, black and white picture of a young boy in a stripped shirt. This was defiantly taken professionally, there was a plain cloth backdrop and the boy was sitting sideways and looking straight at the camera with a big smile, the kind you get for school photos. We both started laughing with a strange sense of both fear and bewilderment! The picture looked eerily similar to the photo of “Georgie” from the original “IT” movie! The one that winks at his brother and is later found by the librarian, to us this photo looked almost like the same damn one from the movie!
We talked a bit over how weird and crazy this all was and how nothing made sense? We were also sure we were the first “kids” or explorers in here since no windows were broken, dust settled and untouched everywhere, no damage other than time and the elements, and that things like these old tools were still in place. But, we were still freaked out and we both felt like we should leave and regain ourselves, not to mention the moldy smell and the dust were starting to get to us by this time. So, we decided it’s best to leave and come back the next day with more of our friends to show them what we had found, and more importantly, get their take on everything.
So with that, we left, I decided to take the sickle as I thought it was cool looking and nothing like what my father had in our garage, but everything else we put back and left alone, all except for one item, the picture. For reasons unknown even to this day, we decided to leave the picture in its frame, placed neatly on the center of the fireplace mantel in the living room. When we left it was still light out but the night was coming soon, so we headed out the same back door we came in, and even used the hammer we had brought to nail the old heavy wood back to the door to cover our tracks and make it look as if no one had been inside. It looked perfect and was now still secure.
The rest of that night was completely uneventful, Jared and I made a few calls to friends to set up meeting them early the next day. We told them the gist of our adventure and everyone was excited to come and see the elusive abandoned house once and for all. We spent the night going over what we saw and letting our imaginations run wild with theories of what was going on in that basement. We played with our newly discovered “weapon,” dangerously slashing it around pretending to be the serial killer who must have lived there? Right? To us, it was the only answer that made any sense. Going to sleep that night we had no idea that everything we dreamed up was nothing compared to what was actually going to transpire the next day…
The next morning Jared and I were met by 4 more of my good friends, Steve, Kenny, Vinnie, and Mikey and we wasted no time. They knew what we were doing so they all brought a flashlight with them, Steve, who was fond of taking photos had his camera on him, and Jared and I grabbed the same tools we had used the day before, the pry-bar and the hammer to open up the back door from the wood covering it again. In all reality, this is less than 24 hours after I and Jared left and re-sealed the house, the house that sat untouched for several DECADES before we entered only hours before.
We walked the short distance in quick time, all of us excited to go in and explore in an even larger group. We did exactly what we Jared and I had done the day before, we simply waited for a nice break in the cars on the road so as to not be seen, ran quickly up the side of the house through the small strip of overgrown weeds and small woods to the back of the house, walked up to the back door, and saw it… The old heavy duty wood that had protected the house’s back door from entry for several decades, the heavy wood that Jared and I had put back just how we found it only hours ago, was now on the ground in the tall, wild weeds growing around the house uncontrollably, in several pieces, the back door to the house fully open and exposed! It looked like someone or something had torn it off the house, then broke it apart for good measure. Jared and I froze in our tracks at the site of this, the others seeing how scared we were, froze as well before someone finally asked, “I thought you said you put the wood back? Why did you guys do this, now anyone can get in?” Jared and I didn’t answer right away because we both knew exactly what we did when we left, and this was not how we left it.
After a pause we both talked at almost the same time, saying almost the same thing, we confirmed over and over that we had not done this to the wood and that we were not playing a trick on them, in fact, we were truly scared to even enter! A few more moments passed that felt like an eternity, our friend Vinnie finally spoke up and said, “well let’s go in and see what else happened,” I could tell that he half believed us and half thought we were full of it, but at the same time that curiosity spread through all of us, Jared and I looked at each other with complete disbelief, we KNEW what had happened the day before and this was now getting very real, very fast!
As we entered the house nothing stood out, we all stuck together as we walked into the kitchen and then the living room, and soon, being a small house everyone was exploring the first 2 floors and talking aloud. Jared and I went back into the kitchen and again looked in the end corner cabinet where we quickly glanced at the tools, everything still seemed to be there where we left it? Just then before we even had a chance to look closer at the tools, Jared looks at me and says, “the picture, we gotta show them the picture bro!” He then quickly stood up and walked into the living room where Kenny was smoking a cigarette he had stolen from his parents when Jared suddenly yells, “what the fu*k did you do Kenny?!” Kenny looked at him confused and simply asked “what?” Jared rushes to the fireplace and on the floor under the mantel is the picture frame, broken into little pieces, and the black and white school picture of the little boy? Gone! Nowhere to be found! Even Jared then realized that Kenny would have had to slam and stomp the heck out of that metal and glass frame to break it up so bad, and also take and hide the picture at the same time while we were in the kitchen only feet away. I also realized this. As my mind raced and Jared was still on the floor, I glanced over to the hidden basement door, the door that we broke the day before after accidentally locking ourselves in the crazy basement because we never noticed the closing spring, nor the fact that there was no handle on the basement side of the door. The door that we also left open because it was offset so bad after being kicked that it was held open by being stuck on the wood floor. The door was now closed tight, and on the floor, very clear and fresh scrape marks of that door being pushed closed! I call to Jared to look at the door, I can see his eyes get almost glassy with tears as I fought the same reaction myself.
I then called everyone into the living room and begin to tell them the full story, leaving no detail out. Our entry into the house, the basement and the weird finds, the now weird connections like the picture frames all being smashed, the strength to dig like we saw in the basement and just now with the wood covering the backdoor, everything. Jared the whole time reassuring everyone that this is no bull and that this is all actually happening RIGHT NOW! Not some other time, or somewhere else, or to someone else, but right now, and that we are all here right now, in it. My friends actually have a rare moment, especially in that young adolescence time of our lives; one of full and utter trust and concern. We have to decide what to do next… Do we leave as fast as we can? Do we get adults involved or even the cops? Do we take a chance and see if whoever did that to the wood, and the frame and the basement door is still in the house in the one place that we haven’t checked, the basement? What do we do? As an adult, I still have a hard time when thinking about the choices we had at that moment. Who would actually believe us, and hell, what was actually even done wrong or against the law besides US breaking into an abandoned house and then someone else doing it? We made the only choice that 6 young kids like we were, who are all scared out of their minds, but at the same time curious and confident in numbers would make. We decided to go into the basement.
We opened the door slowly and started down the steps, remembering to jam it open so as not to risk getting locked in again. We crowded together to both get a good look around and also not to stray from the group. All of us half expecting that some crazed lunatic the size of the Incredible Hulk would jump out any moment and start the chase, we were ready! The light in the basement now from 6 flashlights almost lit the room up as if it had full electricity, it was empty and silent. Jared and I then started pointing out the strange things we saw the day before, we were actually delighted to see everything in greater detail. The basement was even stranger in full light than the day before. More holes in the walls, some of them smaller, only about 2 feet around and at different depths, another large one that we missed, this one was also about 8+ feet deep. Another disturbing find by Mikey, he opens the hatch on the boiler that’s hooked up to nothing and finds old dirty rags and the broken top of a croquet club? I look at the table as I’m showing everybody the eerily similar broken frames like the one now upstairs when I notice under the table in the dirt, the hatchet! I call Jared over and ask if it’s the same one from upstairs, he’s not sure, he says that he thought everything was in the cabinet but that we also didn’t fully check. We spend a few more minutes down in the strange basement and return upstairs where we immediately check the cabinet… It’s the same hatchet. Everything else is there, just the hatchet found its way down into the basement, why?
We decide after a few more minutes mulling about upstairs that it’s time to leave and not press our luck with either getting caught in the house by the cops, or, by someone else that may be much worse. We had one last creepy surprise that day, one last gift from the house I guess. When we got back to my house all of us started finding tick, after tick, after tick on ourselves! I have found a tick on me here or there before after walking through overgrown brush or the woods, but usually not that late in fall, and NEVER in that many numbers, and on everyone. Our best guess is that it had to have been a ticks nest that we all walked threw! We all found at least 8 or 9 ticks on ourselves, and a couple of us had over a dozen. It was literally creepy this time, ticks are vile little creatures and I guess they like the house.
Well, That weekend turned into countless hours and days of us debating and going over what happened in that house before we ever got inside, and what exactly were the last people living there doing in that basement? Even more perplexing and eery; what happened in those few hours that the house was opened for the first time in decades by Jared and I, and the following morning when we returned? If it was just a crazy coincidence and that another group of kids went in that very night, why no sign of them? Why destroy the wood covering the door but not break anything else inside except the frame? Why destroy the frame in the first place and then take the picture? Why close the basement door? Why bring the hatchet down into the basement but not do anything with it? Why not take anything else in the house except the picture? And the burning question that haunted us for even longer… Why did whoever it was that did those things never go back? That’s right, we went back inside the house many dozens of times over the years following those first 2 days; showing new people, drinking and partying, scare nights as we got older, and absolutely nothing has changed, nothing. It’s almost as if whoever or whatever went inside, “or out” that night accomplished whatever it was they wanted to, or at least I hope they did…
Submitted by Justin C.
© 2019, G. Michael Vasey & My Haunted Life Too. All rights reserved.