Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 23:41:12 -0400
Subject: Personal Ghost Experiences.
The Prankster and His Keeper
by Jennifer Ferguson
It was finals week in December of 1996 when I received a phone call from a friend of mine. She was going out of town and needed a house-sitter for the week. I jumped at the chance. I was still living at home and a week of quiet study was just what I needed. She lived nearby, so if I had to go home it would be no problem.
I went to see her a few days before she left to get acquainted with the house and her dog. She lived in an older neighborhood (built in the late 1930's) near the Ohio River- it was quaint and quiet. She showed me around and gave me my instructions for the week - ending with some comment about lighting candles if the ghosts bothered me. I just smiled at that since I didn't believe in any such phenomena. She was kind of weird anyway. A few days later, I returned to the house for my weeks stay.
The first few days in the house were relatively uneventful. In hindsight, I can say that there were a few areas of the house that I did not feel comfortable in and avoided my entire stay. Although, I didn't think much of it at the time.
My boyfriend (at the time) stayed there with me the first few nights and all was quiet in the house. On the third night, however, he informed me that he would not be able to stay the next night. I was relieved, since I had a paper to write and couldn't get anything done with him there. Nothing more was said and the next morning I left for my classes at the university as usual, secure in the knowledge that I would have a long night of research and paper writing ahead of me. Little did I know that that night would be one of the longest I'd ever spent.
I returned to the house at four o'clock and immediately picked up the phone to call home. The phone was dead. I quickly made a check of all the phone connections in the house, thinking the dog may have knocked a phone off the hook. No such luck. I made a mental note to call my friend from my house to see if she forgot to pay her bill. Then I sat down at her computer to write my paper. Hours passed and I soon realized that it was approaching midnight. My paper was nearly completed so I decided to call it a night. I checked the phone again - no dial tone.
I made a pallet in the floor of the den and laid down to go to sleep. The dog soon joined me, curling up close. The fire was dying in the fire place and there was a nice soft glow. It was warm and comforting on that cold winter night in the Ohio valley. I was just about to fall asleep when I heard the basement door open and softly close. I opened my eyes to see if the dog had heard it too. She was a big Chesapeake Bay retriever and I figured that if something was wrong she would make me aware of it very quickly. She was totally asleep. So I resigned myself to hearing "house creaks" and closed my eyes again. A minute or two passed and I heard what sounded distinctly like a man urinating in the bathroom upstairs - then the sound of running water in the bathroom sink (no toilet flush). I was wide awake now, knowing that the sounds I heard were NOT "house creaks" and wondering if my mind could fabricate sounds that were so realistic. You have to understand that I did not believe in such things as ghosts, so these sounds were truly shocking. My mind was swirling. Either someone had broken into the house to take a leak or there was something else much more supernatural going on here. A few moments passed and I heard the "intruder" walking down the upstairs hallway toward the stairs. I glanced at the dog thinking that surely she was hearing this too - but she was sound asleep. I was terrified and tried to talk to myself with a purely rational, scientific ( I'm a biologist) mind. If the dog was still asleep then I must just be hearing things - too much stress in my life, food poisoning, overactive imagination... It took the next event to kill all of these thoughts and rattle my rational mind.
I did not hear anyone come down the stairs, so I tried to go to sleep (although I knew this effort was in vain). A few more minutes passed and suddenly I heard a whisper coming from above my head. It was unintelligible, but it lasted maybe five or six seconds. I was frozen - it took a great deal of effort to open one eye. When I did, I saw that the dog was sitting up and looking in the direction of the whispering. I bolted upright and said " Enough", glancing around wildly and seeing nothing. I quickly turned on the lights, ALL the lights, and made a search of the house. Of course, I found nothing - all of the doors and windows were locked and there was nobody (nobody I could see that is) there but me and the dog. I checked the phone again - dead.
Satisfied that there was nobody else there, I lit a candle and laid back down on the pallet. I guess I thought I was going to get some sleep, I went through the motions anyway. I don't know how much time passed, but I had not fallen asleep yet when I felt a touch on my shoulder. It was neither hard nor soft, but rather a good poke - like someone had taken a finger and poked you in the arm. I was again frozen. I then felt another poke on my hip ( I was laying on my side). I was scared, but I was getting angry at the same time. I was tired and I tend to get cranky. I leapt up and threw on all the lights - again canvassing the house for someone or something. And again I found nothing.
I laid down for the third time in the floor, nearly delirious with exhaustion. I knew I couldn't sleep now, but what else was I going to do? I couldn't call anyone and I couldn't leave because my paper was on the computer (no disk) and due at noon. So I laid there, looking at the glowing embers of the fire. I finally started to drift off when I heard a scraping noise coming from the area of the fireplace. I opened my eyes to see a log near the fireplace moving towards me - scraping on the grate. I jumped up - frustrated and angry, but also curious. It was by now four o'clock in the morning. I flipped on all the lights and decided to perform an experiment with the log ( always the scientist). I wanted to see how much pressure it took to move the log across the grate and make that scraping sound. I discovered that it took a good deal of pressure - in fact, I had to literally stand on the log and scoot it along to make a replicate sound. I was convinced. I left the lights on and turned on the television. I finally fell asleep - sitting up in the illuminated house.
The sight of daylight was welcome. My limited knowledge of ghosts ( or too many horror movies) told me that daylight was safe. I finished my paper and gladly left the house. The phone was still out. I turned my paper in and went home. I immediately relayed my story to my mom and called my friend to report the telephone problem. She said that the phone bill had been paid but that she would call the phone company to come check out the situation the following day. She would be home the day after that. She asked how things were going and I told her that some strange things had happened and I would fill her in when she returned. With that, we hung up. I also called my boyfriend and told him the story - - which he not only didn't believe but thought I had lost my mind. Nevertheless, he agreed to stay the rest of the week there with me.
The next two nights were as uneventful as the first few, no noises or scraping logs. I was still on edge. My whole concept of reality had been turned on its ear. What I thought didn't exist was now a distinct possibility - many things I'd never questioned were now questionable. I was spinning.
The day my friend would return finally came. I got up and went to class that morning and had returned to the house to gather my things. I was finished packing when I sat down at her desk to leave her a note that the phone was still out. As I was writing I caught a glimpse of movement. It seemed to me to be a feather duster going over the desk area. Of course nobody else was there, but I got the impression of someone tidying up with a feather duster. I had continued writing when I felt a touch on the top of my head. It was different from the touch I had felt the other night, this one made the hair on my neck literally stand on end. My face was enveloped in warmth. It was almost soothing. I'd had enough though and I yelled. It abruptly ceased. I finished the note and was just about to leave when the phone rang - the first time in three days. It was the phone company. They told me that they had checked the outside connections and had found nothing wrong - it must be inside the house. No kidding, I thought. I thanked them and hung up. Bewildered, I picked up the phone again and listened for the dial tone. I heard it. I replaced the receiver the mumbled something about the strangeness of it all. Just then a laughter erupted from the kitchen. Not a malicious laughter, nor a chuckle, but a deep, whole-hearted laughter of someone who's played a clever joke and thinks it's very funny. My whole body was chilled. I grabbed my belongings and ran (literally) out of the house. I never looked back.
Later that night, my friend returned home and I called her. I was burning with curiosity, I wanted to know what she knew about this whole matter. I calmly told her the entire story. She was surprised that I knew things that she had never told me. She proceeded to fill me in on the history of her house and its former inhabitants. The former owners were an African-American couple who built the house in the 1930's. They lived there with her brother and his sister. Her brother was a drunk and a prankster. His sister deeply disapproved of the brother. The brother apparently developed a nightly habit of drinking a pint of whiskey in the woods behind the house ( which are still there). He would then come into the house late at night after everyone else was in bed - through the basement door. He would go upstairs to the bathroom but not flush the toilet (for fear of waking the others), then he would return to the basement where he slept.
It is the brother and the sister of the couple that still reside in the house. Neither one of them died there, but spent thirty years of their lives together in that house. He returned after he died and it is my speculation the she returned to keep an eye on him. It was her that tried to reassure me at the desk that morning, during her routine dusting. I am sure of that.
I have a totally different outlook since these events took place. I no longer think that things for which there is no hard evidence, do not exist. I do believe in ghosts and am open to other phenomena for which I have little knowledge of or understanding. Although when my friend called to see if I would house-sit for her again, I was hesitant. I said I would, but that I would not spend the night.