Friday, May 4, 2012

Bumps In The Night

 
Bumps In The Night
Dorraine Fisher Shares Her Ghost Story


By Dorraine Fisher



           You think you know what’s real in this world until something happens to shake up your paradigms.
            Some years ago, I lived in an old Victorian house near our downtown area. I loved the house because it was huge and roomy and had a lot of character. But it was well over a hundred years old; creaky and squeaky and settling like it had a life of its own. And it wouldn’t be long before I found out how true that statement was.  
            One day, as I was watching TV in the living room, I heard strange noises that seemed to come from upstairs. My roommate traveled for her job and was gone a lot, but when she was home, I could often hear her upstairs walking around in the hallway. But on this particular day, she wasn’t home.
            I muted the TV volume to listen more closely, and I heard what sounded like her up there walking around. There was a spot in the floor that squeaked in a particular way any time someone stepped over it. And that’s what it was. I’d heard it so many times from downstairs.
            The dog had noticed it first and stood at the foot of the open stairway barking.  But she didn’t move from that spot. She just stared upward whining.
            “Who is it, Brigitte?” I asked the dog in an urgent tone, trying to get her to go upstairs. She was rarely afraid of anything, but she just stood there whining and wagging her tail nervously like she wanted me to go up first instead.
           “Some guard dog you are,” I said.  “Hello! Cheryl, are you up there? I didn’t hear you come home.”
             I looked out the window at the street to see if her car was there, but the whole street out front was empty. I checked the back driveway to see if she might have parked there, but her car was no where around. She wasn’t home.
              I didn’t really want to go upstairs to investigate, but the noise stopped abruptly anyway and the dog suddenly calmed down. So I watched TV for a while that evening and got ready for bed.
               But as I lay in bed reading my book that night, the dog that was lying on the floor lifted her head and flipped her ears toward the bedroom doorway. I stopped to listen and heard that same squeaking noise again in the hallway in that same spot in the floor.
               “Hello,” I yelled again. “Is anyone there?”
                There was no answer. I convinced myself I was just hearing things or it was the house settling again, and I rolled over and went to sleep.
            In the days that followed, I heard a lot of noises that I attributed to the house settling, but some strange things started to happen.
            There was an old upright piano in the downstairs hallway that had been left with the house when I moved in. And I had arranged groups of family pictures on top of it. But strangely enough, one day I walked in to find one of the larger pictures lying face down on the floor in front of it.  I wouldn't have thought it so strange but I had arranged the pictures in a staggered pattern and this one had been situated partially behind another picture that had oddly not been disturbed.  I was puzzled, but I put the picture gently back into its place and I left for work as usual.
              But later when I returned home,  I was a bit shocked to find the same picture face down on the floor again in the same place, still with no other pictures in front of it having been moved.  I was now starting to feel that something was very strange.  No one else had been in the house, no one else except my traveling roommate had a key, and nothing else had been moved.
            Several more weeks passed.  I heard the strange footsteps periodically and occasionally found something around the house that had been moved.  I tried to think of a way to dismiss it all as being normal, but one event made that impossible.
            One night as I was sleeping, I suddenly awoke to the feeling of something at the end of the bed like someone sitting on the corner near my feet. A little surge of adrenalin rushed over me as I struggled to focus in the dark room, but I saw nothing.  I thought it must have been the dog moving around in the dark and I went back to sleep.
           Then, a very short time later, maybe ten or fifteen minutes, I woke up again to the dog nudging me and whining anxiously.  I tried to open my eyes and look at the clock but it was flashing.  Had the electricity gone off? I scolded the dog for waking me up and sent her back to bed.  And I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.
A while later, my heart skipped a beat when I suddenly heard a pounding on the front door. I didn't want to answer the door alone in the middle of the night, but the dog had already run downstairs to the door and was barking in a more desperate tone than usual. I threw on my robe and ran downstairs.  The pounding on the door continued furiously and I could see a dark silhouette of a figure outside with the street lights glowing behind it. I opened the door to see a fireman in full dress.
“Ma’am you need to get out of the house NOW. There’s smoke coming from your attic window!”  
I sat outside with the dog in the chill of twilight in late October as the firemen diffused a small electrical fire that had started from old, frayed wiring in the attic.     
Luckily they had caught it in time and the damage was minimal, but I couldn’t get the strange nagging feeling out of my head that someone had been sitting at the foot of the bed that night.
 But the strangeness wasn’t over yet.
            After the repairs to the house were done and everything was quiet again, something else happened.  There was an extra room on the main level in the house with bookshelves that I called the reading room, and I had all of my books arranged on its many shelves around the fireplace.
             I was sitting in a chair in that room one afternoon reading my book when something suddenly made me look up.   As I did, my big, thick dictionary suddenly flew from the shelf and dropped onto the hardwood floor several feet away from the shelf.  If it had been a smaller, lighter book I might have thought it had simply fallen. But this was a huge, heavy, collegiate Merriam-Webster version. And it looked like something had just flicked it off the shelf violently and into the middle of the hardwood floor.
              I guess this should have scared me, but I’d had a friend tell me her true ghost stories before many times, I didn’t really believe them before, but now I was really wondering.  It just seemed like something or some-one was trying to be noticed.  And I couldn't really think of another explanation for a book flying off a shelf.
             After giving it some thought, I decided to go to the county courthouse and see if I could find some information about the previous owners of the house.
            I took part of an afternoon off and went to the courthouse and local library and I sifted through old records and newspapers for any information about the previous occupants of the house. 
           When I finally found some information, it was fairly boring---no dramatic murders, suicides, or mysterious deaths, but there had been local fire chief who had owned the house some fifty years before that had died at a fairly young age of pneumonia. Could he be the one haunting my house for some reason?  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any more information on him, but he was the only individual that I found that had died an untimely death in the house.
            Weeks went by again and the strange noises and events slowed down a little. Brigitte had a litter of puppies in the basement and I was up and down the basement stairs frequently checking on them.
             One day I was down there cleaning when I heard a  loud slamming of the front door upstairs on the main level. I wasn’t too disturbed because it was a small town and no one kept their doors locked during the day.  I immediately thought it might be my dad or one of my friends coming in but no one had ever slammed the door so loudly.
            I listened for a moment as heavy footsteps walked across the floor above my head from the front door all the way to the kitchen.  It sounded like heavy boots on the hardwood, and I didn't move for a moment. trying to get a sense of who it might be.  Brigitte, who was always a good watchdog, paid no attention as I listened to the footsteps shuffling around the kitchen. So I believed that if she wasn't disturbed by the visitor, it must be safe.
           I suddenly felt curious enough to investigate and I headed up the stairs.  As I faced the back door, I thought I saw a figure out of the corner of my eye through the door glass, but when I tried to focus, there was nothing there.
            By that time I had convinced myself that this was the spirit of the young fire chief trying to make his presence known, and I was strangely unafraid as long he showed no animosity toward me.
            I pushed the back door open and walked into the kitchen where the noises had come from.  I thought I heard more strange shuffling as I came in, but it abruptly stopped as I closed the door behind me. The room became strangely quiet. 
            “Is there anyone here?” I asked. No one answered, but I kept talking.
            "I know you're here and I know who you are, and I don't have a problem with your being here as long as I never actually see you."
             It was the truth. But I believed that he hadn't really wanted to scare me to death. In the beginning he had subtly moved things around in the house, and perhaps when I failed to believe what was happening, he threw a dictionary off the shelf.
              It had seemed that he just wanted to be noticed.  I hoped what I said would appease him in some way, and I also hoped that, if he was real, he understood that it was important that I never ever actually, physically laid eyes on him.
             Was it a ghost of the fire chief who had died in the house all those years ago? Was there some correlation between his being a fireman and the house catching on fire that night? Had he been trying to warn me in some gentle way?
            After that day, things seem to become quiet in the old house. There were no other noises or activities except for a few strange, small thumps every now and then. It’s almost like he relaxed a bit at me being there. ************
[TCC - Dorraine Fisher is a freelance writer and nature and wildlife enthusiast.]
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2 comments:

  1. very cool story dorraine, i enjoyed this much, i also at this time for 5 yrs now live in an old victorian house thats 200 plus yrs old with the original owners and thier famlies buried right next door in a cemetary that at one time bore thier name, hear alot of strange things from time to time too........great story!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I lived in an old Georgian house for four years until 2011. You never quite got the feeling you were completely alone...

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