We all have memorable childhoods. Some of ours are more memorable than most, either for good or for bad. For me? Bad was a complete understatement.
I grew up in Northern Virginia. It was a small, chilly town with little residence.
I lived in the same tiny house for the first eighteen years of my life. As soon as you walked in, you were in the family room, with the kitchen at your immediate left. At your right, there was a short set of stairs leading to the bedrooms. Let me dwell on that family room for a bit. It had an enormous bay window looking out into the backyard. For as long as I can remember, I have seen shadowy figures go running by that window on a daily basis. Whenever I questioned my parents about this, they always told me it was just trespassing kids. I was only a kid, but I still recognized denial at its best.
I had two older brothers: Brett and Brandon. We got along okay, but brotherly love only went so far with us. One day, my brothers and I had our friend Trey over. We eventually got bored of our game system and decided to play hide and seek. Brett said he would count. Brandon and I went towards the bedroom and each hid under one of the two beds.
We saw Brett moving around in the hallway.
We exchanged amused glances under the beds and fought to hide our laughter. Suddenly we heard a terrified scream, and Brett took off back into the family room, towards it. Brandon and I scrambled out from under the beds and followed him. We headed over to where Brett stood by the basement door, looking down the stairs. We pushed into the doorway beside him to see Trey sprinting up the stairs as though his life depended on it. "Which one of you was it?!" he yelled, looking from one of us to the other. "Why the hell would you do that?"
We looked at each other, confused. We told him that we were all three upstairs, that nobody was in the basement with him. What he told us next sent a chill up my spine. He was hiding in the laundry hamper when someone, or something, started shaking it violently. He tried to open the lid but that thing held it down. Trey left soon after, and we all chose to forget the whole thing. I tried to be like my brothers and act like nothing in the world was wrong, but I was no fool. Something was very wrong. I couldn't even go play in the backyard anymore. Every time I did, I would get this horrific feeling that somebody was staring at me through my parents' room window.
But when I looked; nothing. Nobody was ever there.
I began to have nightmares, always about the same two entities. There was a witch; whenever she appeared, she would always chase me. In one dream, she was chasing me through my house. I ran upstairs and pulled my covers over my head. When she came in after me, she yanked the covers off and reached for me.
That's when I woke up, to find all of my covers laying in the floor. The other entity was a man in a black trench coat, with a large tophat that obscured his face. He didn't chase me or speak to me. He always just stood there. I dreamed about him almost every night.
Soon after those dreams started, I started seeing shadows. From the corner of my eye, fleeing the room as I walked in, or hovering over my bed. They were everywhere I looked. This continued until I got older and moved from home to go to college.
Unfortunately, it followed me to the apartment I rented off campus. The first time was when I was in the shower and heard the front door open and close. Assuming it was my girlfriend coming home from work, I called out to her.
She answered back and told me the scores of the football game. I couldn't hear her well because of the shower, but it was her voice.
But when I turned off the shower and opened the door, the apartment was pitch dark.
No sign of her anywhere. When she came home later, I told her about it and she totally flipped. She wouldn't come back to the apartment after that. A few nights later, every mirror in the place somehow came off the walls and shattered on the floor.
I went home after that, back to the house. Vee, my girlfriend, came to meet my parents briefly.
She didn't stay long and when she left, she whispered, "Sorry I couldn't stay. Your parents' house just creeps me out!" I hadn't told her anything about my childhood yet, and still the old house scared her.
I was happy I wasn't the only one.
The last day I ever spent in that house I spent alone, downstairs playing my Super Nintendo. I was busy playing Contra when I heard my parents' door slam shut and the sound of heavy footsteps making their way down to me. I sat frozen in fear for a minute, then I got the hell out of there.
I couldn't help but chance a glance at the stairs as I passed, to see absolutely nothing.
But I heard the footsteps getting faster and more frantic. I went out the door without shoes and got in my car. I didn't care, just so long as I didn't have to spend another minute in that house.
I went back to campus and stayed there until I got the call. It was my mother, telling me that my father had committed suicide. It had been in the basement, with a gun to the head. Now if there's one thing I'm certain of, it is that my father's life wasn't that bad. It had to be that house. It had to be. Years later, Brett's wife and daughter stayed the night in the house alone while Brett was out of town.
His wife, Chelsea, told me about this the next time she saw me, a look of pure terror on her face.
Chelsea was in the family room watching television when her five year old daughter Reena came to her in tears. "What's wrong, sweetie?" she fretted.
"I don't like this house," sobbed Reena. "There's monsters in this house." Later that night, Chelsea saw this 'monster' for herself.
At the foot of her bed. Part of his head was missing.