A few years back, some friends of the family asked me to look after their house and water their plants. They would be gone for two months as they toured Europe, I was a poor high school senior at the time so I agreed. And since they lived a few blocks away, it would be easy for me to walk over two times a week.
And a little pocket money never hurt.
Week one went by without a hitch. I would walk a few blocks down the street, collect their mail and water their plants. It was a medium sized house, very nicely decorated and clean, they gave me a me a key and I knew where the alarm system was. Everything was going smoothly, I remember think how easy this job was going to be.
As a kid, I liked wandering around peoples houses and looking around. When I grew up, I did much less of that. I was tempted to do that here, the thought passed my mind frequently. But I knew it would be rude, plus I had an overactive imagination that cause me to get freaked out at innocent things. So I didn’t go to the second floor.
Week two was easy, just like the first week. It had snowed a lot that week, so I went around the house to make sure all the pipes were still intact. I felt like it was an acceptable time to go upstairs to check on the house.
The upstairs portion of the house was just as clean and tidy. Every room had good furniture, the pipes seemed fine. I rushed to go down stairs, my imagination started to visualize someone watching me. I remember hearing the sound of paper falling as I got down to the first floor. The mail I had put on the counter had fallen off, I tried to push the scariest possibility from my head as I put the mail back.
Now, the layout of the house made it so that the basement, bathroom, dining room and living room, all connected to the kitchen. So the room was airy and you can see into the other rooms easily. I figured that some strange crossbreeze made the papers fall off, or I just didn’t stack them correctly.
I didn’t stay in the house that long.
Week three is when I started getting uneasy. I walked into the house and collected their mail, I was about to put it on the counter when I saw the others.
All the envelopes and letters were scattered around the floor. This made my heart sink, I definitely didn’t do this. I just put all the mail into a pile. One that was on the floor, it looked like it had been opened.
I quickly scooped it up and put it with the others, which I placed back in a pile.
I ran around the living room watering the plants, something was off and it made the hair stick up at the back of my neck.
Thats when I heard it.
It was a sound like a small rattling, like when the air pressure changes in a room and disturbs the door. Ever so slightly, ever so quietly, a door was clacking against the lock that held it there.
It may come as no surprise to you, that I’m a bit of a coward. And that sound wasn’t exactly good to hear when you’re already freaked out.
So I slammed the cup back and ran the hell out. Making sure to lock the door behind me.
All the way home, I felt like every time I looked back there would be something behind me. It was a stupid thought, I know.
I told my mom about the weird things at the house. She told me I was scared because I was at the house alone, which was true. I soon dreaded going back to the house, I felt like the stillness was...Fake. I know, that sounds dumb, but... it was a surreal kind of silence.
Maybe I was just used to a loud house, I told myself that was why.
The house was always silent, the only sound for a while were my own footsteps. The mail stayed in its place, the door in the kitchen stopped making that sound. Everything was cool. After watering the plants and taking the cup back, I satisfied my urge to snoop by looking at some pictures they had on their wall. Typical family stuff, I felt weird doing it so I stopped.
Before leaving, I looked at the alarm system. My heart jumped straight into my throat.
The alarm system said that every single window on the second floor was ajar. Every single one.
I obviously had to check it out, it was my job, I was responsible for the house. But I definitely didn’t want to. And I had no way of defending myself, back then I didn’t have a phone yet. And my mom had work.
I slowly walked up the stairs, the house was filled with that false silence. The only sound came from the creaky stairs and my own coat.
I walked still down the hallway. Casting nervous glances into each room, I finally picked a room I thought was considerably less scary than the others. The curtains were white, so they let in the remaining light from the winter evening. I pulled back the curtains to shut the window.
It was already shut.
The same for the other windows, all shut. I even went into the creepy looking rooms to check.
It was getting dark outside, so I left.
I shut the door behind me and turned to lock it.
I heard a squeaking sound, it came from my feet. I looked down quickly, only to see the mail slot slam back down again. Accompanied by the sound of something heavy rattling through the ground.
I had never been so glad to have brought my bike. I speed down the sidewalk, trying to rationalize what had happened.
Air pressure, yeah, that was it. I just shut the door to hard and the mail slot slammed. And the rattling was from the pipes. Yeah, that had to be it.
I didn’t want to think of the alarm.
Only three more weeks. I kept telling myself that, every time I walked down I remembered that.
The atmosphere in the house was unbearable. I kept hearing rattling in the ground, the mail was scattered around the floor when I arrived. I thought about calling the police, but what would I say? There was mail on the ground and a sound from the pipes? Plus I hated calling people on the phone. I continued my task and watered the plants, at least they were doing fine. I checked on the Alarm system befor I left. Everything was clear, nothing out of the ordinary.
I heard the clicking of the door again, it was hitting against its latch. I crept back into the kitchen to find the source of the sound. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating like the room was on fire.
The basement door was rattling quietly, the latch started to slip off.
I ran out of the building and slammed the door behind me.
There was no way I was going back to that house without backup. I volunteered my brother to come with me for the job. Not that he would do any good against what ever was scaring me, but it was nice to have another person there.
Surprisingly, nothing happened. Everything was normal, nothing out of place, no rattling, no creaking. Nothing.
On the way back, my brother made fun of me. Of corse. He said it was my girly imagination that kept getting in the way. I started to believe him.
I returned to the house, starting to believe my brother. What if it was in my imagination?
I unlocked the door and stepped inside.
Nothings going to happen, I kept telling myself. I did my job quickly, so far so good.
I really needed to pee. When I returned the glass, I figured I might as well use the bathroom while I’m here. I didn’t want to walk home on a full bladder. Like I said before, the bathroom was connected to the kitchen.
I locked the door behind me, a habit I got into from having too many little brothers.
It was a very small room, but whatever, I didn’t mind the size.
After I relieved myself and washed my hands, I turned to dry them off. Thats when I noticed the sound.
The sound came from the crack between the floor and the door. I stood still, I even stopped breathing.
It sounded like...Breathing.
Shaky, ragged breaths, I could hear the sound of shuffling with it.
The window was too small for me to go through, and I didn’t have a phone. My mind was in a panic, I couldn't get out.
Two gnarly, dirty fingers reached out from the crack. They started scuttling around, searching blindly for my feet. They almost brushed against my boot, but I raised it in time. They slid under, patting around. I got the impression that whoever was on the other side couldn't see me.
The thought passed my mind to stop on the fingers, but I had no way of escape.
I started to cry and sweat at the same time.
The hand retracted, I heard whatever was on the other side scrape away. It shuffled and clogged down the kitchen, I heard a door creak open. The breathing stopped and the door closed.
I wanted to scream, I would have to run out of the house past the door it left through.
I braced myself and places a hot hand on the doorknob. I held my breath.
I swung open the door and started sprinting out, the sound of something scurrying up the basement stairs fueled my adrenalin. There were two doors the lead out to the outside, the first was open, but mostly made out of glass. I turned around and slammed the door behind me, I didn’t wait to see what was following me. But out of the corner of my eye, I saw a brown mass on the ground.
I slammed open the second door and ran out into the street. I hardly noticed the melted snow in my socks or the biting cold on my bare arms. A car stopped suddenly as I flagged it down, and I pleaded with the man inside to call the police.
When the cops arrived, they couldn't find anything suspicious. Except for a few cuts on the hardwood floor, but they thought I had caused that.
I told them everything, from start to finish. They said they would keep an eye on it, the local police in my area are notorious for being lazy.
They tested me for drugs to make sure, I passed of course.
The one thing they did find was in the basement, it was a bit of shredded up paper. Nothing to suspicious.
I returned home and hardly slept. I left my coat and shoes in the coat closet back at the house.
There was no way I was going back into that house without someone else there. I only went back for my coat and shoes, and after that I was done. The police already notified the family of the disturbance. I was done. My mom was there with me, she was not too keen on the idea of going into the house, but she didn’t exactly believe me either.
I opened the door.
The sound of the door alarm stabbed my ears, It was the loudest, most high pitched sound i’ve heard. I rushed over to turn it off. On it read three simple words.
BASEMENT WINDOW OPEN.
My mom refused to call the police, no matter how much I begged. She insisted on checking in out, she thought it was just like when I told her about the windows from a few weeks. She gave me the phone anyway. I thought the house was scaring her just as much as it scared me.
She opened the door, I didn’t want to leave her, so I watched from over her shoulder.
On the basement steps landing, a single chair stood facing us. I started to phone the police as we crept down slowly. I slipped through to get a better look. The rest of the basement was dark, my mom reached over to flick the light on.
As soon as it was on, she screamed.
In the rush to get out, I saw why.
In the corner of the basement, crouched in the corner was a man. Only, he didn’t look normal.
He was smiling with a mouth that only had a few, rotted teeth. His eyes were open wide and staring straight at her, his mudcaked hand scratching and clawing over themselves like rats hands. Fingernails long and yellow, his clothes were old and brown like his stringy hair. I ran as just as fast as my mom out of there, the police were on their way.
The door to the outside was stuck, the only barrier we had between ourselves and that thing was a sliding glass door. It was apparent that his leg didn’t work, he half limped half crawled at us. He shambled to the door and tried opening it, I held it shut as best as I could.
Our door opened and we fell out. I slammed it shut behind me
The police caught the guy. They told us later that he was an discharged convict arrested for homicide, he had been in jail for 30 years. He had been living homeless for a few years when he found his way into the house I was watching. The police say they found more shedded up letters, shards of glass, and dead animals in the basement that weren't there last time.
I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. I keep hearing my closet door rattle, sometimes I see something out of the corner of my eye in the basement of my house.
Its probably just my imagination.