While riding the bikepath I've often admired a particular house. It's a fairly large modern-looking home sitting all alone on the hillside overlooking the creek. Twice I was lucky enough to have a nice long talk with someone who lived there. Both conversations were memorable.
Once, when I was resting on the bench near the house, a woman was outside. I said "Hi" and told her about my years of appreciating her home. We got to talking. She lived there with her husband and two kids: a nine year old girl and a seven year old boy. After a little chatting she told me very expressively that the house was haunted.
"We never noticed anything weird 'til lately. The kids have this hole going you see. It's a ways down the hill. One day the shovel banged against the outer wall. Scared the bejesus outta me. I thought one of the kids had thrown it but they each said they weren't around when it happened so the other kid musta done it."
I said, "That sounds more like sibling rivalry than haunting."
She said, "I thought at first, one of them had to have thrown it but I thought about it later and it was so loud it had to have hit the house harder than a child could throw it."
I brought up, "They coulda spun around with the shovel 'til it built up a lot of force and then let it go."
"Okay, maybe but other weird things have been happening. Sometimes, the sunlight coming in a downstairs window will get blocked just for a second like someone walked by the window but there's never anyone there when we look."
"How many people have seen this spooky stuff?"
"The whole family including the dog. Twice when she was on the porch she started barking at thin air. She only barks at strangers, you see, and sometimes, the Roomba. Those times when I ran to the porch to check, there was nobody anywhere around. Nobody visible that is. Also the Roomba wasn't running. Really I think it was three times."
I could feel from the way she was telling it that she was building up to something.
"Then the night before last something really creepy happened. When I was getting ready for bed, I checked my phone and noticed something reflected in the screen." She paused and then got louder and hammier. "Something that made my blood run cold. A horrible face was leering at me from the window." The words "horrible" and "leering" got enunciated to the point of comedy. "When I turned around, it was gone."
She led my eyes to where it happened. The windowsill was easily a dozen feet off the ground.
"I looked out the window right after it happened and there was no ladder and no sign of a person so it musta been a ghost."
It sounded like bog-standard supernatural vagueness—as a matter of fact I just heard about a creepy face in a window scaring a housewife—but I acted surprised when the story was supposed to surprise me and distressed when the story was supposed to distress me.
She went on to say the strange stuff started when the kids started digging up a big rock. She took me around and showed me where they'd excavated a good chunk of earth and she pointed to the dome of large peanut-colored stone peeking out from the floor of the crater.
I remarked it was interesting that this rock was in the exact center of this huge hole as if the kids knew where it was when they started digging. I thought I was implying they buried the thing in the first place but she read me differently.
"Maybe they did feel its presence. After all children are more sensitive to the supernatural than we are."
She thought it was a gravestone. I thought she was overimaginative. She was the type that makes it easy to think that. Really enthusiastic and dramatic and sort of childish.
I didn't want to let the air out of her castle so I kept my skeptical thoughts to myself. When our little ghost discussion wrapped up I wished her good luck against the dark mysterious forces and then I rode off and never saw her again.
Months later when the trees were fiery I was riding down that part of the path and saw a man in the yard. I stopped to shoot the breeze. He was the husband of the woman I'd seen before. A friendly guy. Laughed all the time. I wondered if everything he told me was moonshine.
When I told him I'd often imagined what it'd be like to live in that house, he laughed and said, "You can have it!"
He explained they were just about to put it up for sale 'cause they couldn't stand to live there anymore. He told me about the flying shovel and the scary face in the window.
"Your wife told me about that. It sounded pretty scary."
"Back then it was only beginning to be scary."
"Oh so it's worse now?"
He could read some skepticism in me.
"You don't believe me do you?"
"Do I have to if I want to hear the rest of the story?"
I asked to see the stone that started it all. I figured it'd be dug out by now. What he showed me was underwhelming. The hole was now just a circle of dirt that looked a little different from the dirt around it.
He said, "We think the rock is a sacred monument modern hands weren't meant to touch. I covered it back up to see if the problems would stop. They didn't."
"What did it look like? I only got to see a bit of the top."
"Just a big round rock. I'd say about two feet long and a foot and a half wide. No telling how far down it goes. We never got deep enough to pull it outta the ground and we're certainly not going to now."
He invited me inside for a drink and we chatted for a while. It was neat to finally be inside the house I'd daydreamed about for years but I didn't get to see much other than the kitchen. We never got around to the tour he was talking about.
He told me again about the shovel and the things half-seen in the windows. He ran through a laundry list of happenings involving pounding walls and a booming foreign voice from nowhere. What started out feeling spooky and mysterious got tedious after a while. The basically one-sided conversation went further downhill when he talked about various mundane problems that stacked on their reasons to move out. He seemed like a guy who enjoyed the sound of his own voice. He did finally describe a ghostly incident that I have to agree is creepy enough to put the rest of it to shame.
"We were sitting relaxing on the porch one nightfall when my son said 'There's a man in the tree.' Of course kids his age say all kinds of crap. The other day he told me there's a volcano underneath the public library and he's still convinced they changed the lowercase 'W' since he was in first grade. I didn't think anything of it at first but shortly after he said again 'There's a man in the tree.' He was pointing at that big yellow linden shaped like a fat Christmas tree. I said 'There's no man in the tree' but he kept insisting and he was getting louder and more worried each time he said it. The scary thing was when I saw him."
I said, "You saw the man?" when his pause seemed to be asking for an audience response.
"Yeah, that's right; eventually, I could make out a man in that tree. He was clinging to the trunk up there among the leaves. Once I spotted him it was easy to discern his silhouette. I shouted, 'Who are you?' and he fell to the ground.
"I ran out to him. It seemed like he'd be hurt. I was running to help him and he looked up and stopped me dead in my tracks. He was a bald man with leathery weathered skin and a bushy mustache and beard and these wide pale eyes that looked straight at me with a crazed stare. The horrible sight was gone as soon as I took it in. There was nobody on the ground. Only when I walked up to the tree did the discrepancy of scale hit me. The fallen man musta been bigger than an ordinary man. A lot bigger."
"A giant ghost? A ghost giant?"
"It makes sense though. The tribe that used to live here believed a race of wicked giants once ruled the land."
"I don't know really. I saw it on Facebook."
"Just so we understand each other you are saying your house was built on an Indian burial ground?"
"Yes and no. It depends on whether or not Pre-Columbian giants qualify as Native Americans."
Right then he got a phonecall and had to leave so I took off.
I never heard from that family again but I did notice the house got sold. It's now owned by an old couple with a big friendly dog. We've said some "hello"s and "nice day's" to each other but I never asked about ghosts. It didn't seem like my place. I woulda gone on assuming the haunting story was chaff if it weren't for this next thing.
During that flood last spring, I rerouted my biking to higher ground. One gloomy rainy day I was crossing a bridge when something down in the creek caught my eye. I got off my bike and peered over the railing to make sure I was seeing what my brain had told me I was seeing. It was really there. Big as life and twice as ugly.
A ways downstream from that house sitting on an island in a raging river of mud was what had to be a human skull but couldn't possibly be the size of a human skull. I then remembered what the children found in the yard. If they dug a little further they woulda seen the fleshless face of the man they provoked.
Credited to Floyd Pinkerton (Lee Sherman)