The Day I Became a Believer in Things I Didn’t Want to Believe In

This story is not about weight loss or any of my usual topics…and there’s certainly not much humor in it, unless you think I’m being so ridiculous it’s laughable. And that’s entirely possible. I didn’t much believe in these things before this happened…I wouldn’t blame you for laughing. But the subject is very real, and very serious, to me even now…11 years later.

I once told HMH that I would never talk about this on my blog. I had a number of reasons, but mainly because I’m afraid of it happening again. I don’t know a lot about these things, but talking about them too much makes them real again in a way that makes me uncomfortable. And afraid.

In 2004, HMH and I had officially outgrown our one bedroom apartment in southern California. Two bedroom apartments were ridiculously priced (as is anything there, really) but we managed to find a two bedroom condo for rent that was very fairly priced. The neighborhood was decent and it was closer to work for me. We decided to go see it.

I remember feeling a bit awkward when I first walked into the place. The current renter was there with her young son and she kept staring at me as we walked around. Not like she was angry or suspicious or anything. Her expression was almost pleading. Once we were out of earshot upstairs, the owner explained to us that the current renter had asked to break her lease and he was trying to do the right thing and let her out of it…if he could find someone else to move in.

Well, the place looked fine to HMH and I. The bedroom was huge compared to our apartment. The second bedroom would make a nice office for us to share. A bathroom upstairs and one downstairs…and a cute little kitchen with a breakfast nook/dining room. The kitchen slider opened to a small courtyard and there was an enclosed garage behind that. Not a bad deal at all for the rent he was charging. It was a no-brainer for us. A little bit of paperwork and we were the new renters of 1200 square feet of shag carpet.

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We’d been in the condo for a few weeks the first time I saw it. I was downstairs in the living room, folding clothes on the couch when something moved. I saw it just out of the corner of my eye…on the left, high in the doorway of the downstairs bathroom. I didn’t know what it was, but something had been there and suddenly wasn’t. Weird.

It kept happening. Always in the same place. This picture shows the spot where it happened. (Pardon the mess, this was taken when we were packing up and moving to Texas…the house was a mess.)

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Although I continued to see it for months, I never said anything to HMH. I love him dearly and he’s a wonderful hubby…but sometimes he finds the WORST things to tease me about – and I didn’t want him to use this to tease me. Or worse: scare me!

I had never been a person who believed for certain that the paranormal existed. Sure, I’d had a few experiences as a child and in my teenage years, but the years have a way of washing those things away. Whatever this was that was happening, I kept thinking there was a logical explanation for it. A car passing by…or a plane overhead…or kids outside. Whenever I would see it, I would start looking around for the source. I made sure the lights weren’t flickering in the bathroom, the kitchen, and the dining room. I ruled out passing cars and planes. I ruled out people walking by. It happened during daylight and night time. There was no pattern to the time of day it happened. I investigated it over a period of months and I could never find any explanation as to what was causing it.

And then one night, when HMH went fishing with his buddies and I was home alone, things really got weird. I’d been home alone many, many times. But nothing like what I’m about to share had ever happened.

I was upstairs in the office at my desk, catching up on email. From my chair, I had a partial view of the upstairs hallway and the top of the stairs. This was 9 years ago, so we didn’t have Kirby and Dyson then. We had Kokopelli, a 40 pound Britney Spaniel with 100 pounds of attitude. When she would come upstairs I could see her out of the corner of my eye. She usually came straight to me to tell me she needed to go out…and if I didn’t get up immediately there was usually a very unpleasant surprise waiting for me.

As I sat at my desk, I saw a shadow on the stairs out of the corner of my eye. I assumed it was the dog. It was low to the ground…and bigger than the shadow I’d been seeing in the bathroom doorway downstairs. But instead of the dog rushing up to me, I got…nothing. No dog.

After about 20 seconds, I got up and went into the upstairs hallway…thinking she was drinking out of the toilet in the master bathroom again. She wasn’t. I went to the bedroom doorway, thinking she’d gone in there. She hadn’t. There was no way she could have passed me either. I stood there for a minute wondering where she’d gone. Although I didn’t see how it was possible, I started going downstairs to see how she got by me so fast. Halfway down the stairs, I stopped in my tracks. She’d been on the couch the whole time: belly up, legs in the air, completely asleep.

She had not been the reason for that shadow. We had three cats at the time: Squeak, Sarah, and Caesar. Squeak & Sarah were sleeping on the love seat downstairs…and Caesar was asleep under the stairs. After I’d taken note of where they all were, a chilling thought occurred to me: what the hell did I see coming up the stairs then?

The hair on the back of my neck was standing up straight and I all but ran down the remaining stairs. HMH wouldn’t be home for several hours, but I decided to sit down there and wait for him. I went to the kitchen and turned on the oven to preheat it, got myself a soda, and plopped on the couch for a while. I had the tv playing an episode of “Friends”, my favorite. That would bring me back to a happy, lighthearted mood. I had all the fur persons with me…I was ok. I forced myself to think of something else. I decided to catch up on my magazine reading for a while…and then I noticed Sarah.

Our gray tabby cat, Sarah, was by far the smartest of the cats. She’s a cat’s cat. She was sitting in the downstairs hallway, staring up at the exact spot where the shadow appeared. She was sitting at ATTENTION. I called her name a couple of times and she didn’t even flick an ear…she just sat there like a little soldier and stared at the highest point in the doorway. Creepy…very creepy.

“Friends” was over. I flipped thru the listings on the DVR and found the pilot for the tv show LOST, which had just aired that week. I’d never seen the show…but it looked great, so I started watching. Probably not the best choice.

About 20 minutes into the show, I noticed the dog looking down the hallway and I thought she was looking thru the sliding glass door in the dining room and could see HMH coming up to the door. But he wasn’t home yet…and I realized she was looking too high for it to be HMH. Then she started looking at “the spot” with a frightened look on her face. She hung her head as if she was in trouble, got down from the love seat, and moved toward the stairs really slow…like she was being scolded. I didn’t see anything out of place, but she sure was afraid of something.

Have you ever seen a dog who was being scolded for doing something naughty? They hang their heads, thump their tail, and have that pitiful, shamed look? That’s exactly what she was doing…and she kept her eye on that spot at the top of the bathroom door frame the whole time.

I started getting creeped out again, but I kept my cool. I called her name and tried to be consoling, telling her to come to me. Normally when she’s scared, hurt, hungry, or…anything…she’d come right to me. She looked at me like she was thinking about it. I know she wanted to. Then she looked back at the spot, hung her head and high tailed it up the stairs. I tried calling her repeatedly, but she refused to come back down. That was the point where I got really scared.

Kokopelli had never done that before. There was something wrong. The vibe in the house had changed. I didn’t feel safe anywhere. Caesar and Squeak still hadn’t reacted to anything, but Sarah and Kokopelli had me on edge. I sat there on the couch until HMH came home, afraid to go to the kitchen because I had to walk thru that spot. I was freezing because the air conditioning was up too high, but I was too frightened by the shadow on the stairs earlier…and the thermostat was up there. I stayed where I was and watched LOST…which only served to scare me MORE. By the time HMH came home, I was a nervous wreck.

He walked in to find the oven still on, every light on in the house, the air conditioning going full blast, and his very freaked out wife curled up on the couch. He could tell right away that something was wrong. I knew I finally had to tell him.

I mentally prepared myself to be laughed at. Any normal person wouldn’t want to have to say what I was going to say. I mean…c’mon! Every time I thought about what I was going to say, it just seemed ridiculous. I was still certain there was a logical explanation for all this that I just hadn’t connected with. I kept telling myself it was nothing.

I honestly wasn’t sure what his reaction would be, but I didn’t expect the one I got. I sat him down in the living room and said, “Honey…have you ever been sitting down here watching tv or something and then you think you see a shadow out of the corner of your eye…right there in the hallway?”

I waited for the laughter to start. And the teasing. But he didn’t. He was very serious. He nodded and said, “You’ve seen it too?”

That’s when I bolted for the effing door. I needed to get out of the house and away from that spot downstairs, so I made him go outside with me so we could talk about it. I felt so uneasy in the living room. He explained he’d thought he saw something a couple of times but he didn’t want to scare me so he hadn’t said anything. We agreed that we didn’t even know if there was anything to this other than completely logical causes…but we agreed that it was pretty creepy. HMH tried to console me by saying that if we did have some kind of presence in our house that it probably didn’t mean to hurt us or it would have
done so…but I didn’t feel any better about it.

Over the course of the next several months, I continued to see the shadow out of the corner of my eye. Most of the time it was in the bathroom doorway downstairs, but I did see it twice upstairs. The first time, I was laying in our bed…ready to go to sleep. I was facing our dresser, which has a big mirror attached to it. I opened my eyes and saw it at the top of our doorway to the bedroom…in the reflection of the mirror.

The second time, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw it over the bed. It was way up high on the ceiling…above the ceiling fan. That was the longest I’ve ever seen it. It hovered up there for about a minute and then it was gone.

The “sightings”…or whatever you want to call them…eventually slowed down. I got pretty good at staying busy from the time I came home to the time I went to bed. I never felt at home there. As soon as I walked in the door, I worked full time at keeping busy and keeping the mood in the house as happy and lighthearted as I could. It worked for me, at least well enough for me to deal with it.

The only time I had any difficulties was when HMH would go fishing…because I was alone and I was afraid to be alone in the house for any length of time since that first night. When he went on fishing trips, I had to take something to make myself fall asleep. At first it was Tylenol PM…and then my doctor prescribed Ambien (now you know where that started, folks). As soon as it got dark when HMH was gone fishing, I would log into an online game I played and I’d talk to my friends via headset until I was ready to go to bed. Then I would take Ambien and head off to sleep. I hated that I had to do that, but it was the only way I could be alone there overnight.

In the following months, Sarah AND Squeak, our black cat, would stare at “the spot” on occasion and without warning. I’m not sure when, but Squeak started doing the same thing upstairs in the office…staring up at the door frame of the closet that’s just over my right shoulder as I sit at my desk. The only explanation I have for that is that Squeak was always near me…and perhaps she noticed it upstairs more than downstairs…but I’ll never know. I will say this, though: the spot where Squeak would stare upstairs was EXACTLY above the spot downstairs. It was like there was a column of “weird space” going right thru the center of the condo.

Months went by without any significant sightings. One night HMH and I were watching tv together and, for some reason, he brought up “the thing”. Reassured by the fact that I hadn’t been scared in a while, I said “Actually, I don’t think there’s anything to it. I think there was a logical explanation for it…and it’s gone now.”

The next week, he and I were watching tv together. All the pets were sleeping…no one was moving around. The controller for our Playstation was resting on the coffee table. HMH didn’t move, I didn’t move…but the controller flew off the table and landed on the carpet between the table and the tv stand.

Kevin didn’t notice. I couldn’t believe he didn’t notice. But he was so wrapped up in what we were watching, he didn’t even see it until I pointed it out.

That night, the weirdest thing happened. To this day, we are still saying there has to be a logical explanation for it…but we have yet to find one. Let me preface this by saying that I am a VERY light sleeper. I wake up for any little thing. However, that night HMH and I both woke up at the same time…in the middle of the night…and realized we were on opposite sides of the bed. I was on his side, he was on mine. It was 3 am.

No, I hadn’t taken Tylenol PM or Ambien. No, he hadn’t come to bed on the wrong side of the bed that night. No, we hadn’t “made whoopee” and ended up on the wrong sides. We went to bed that night like we normally did. We have no explanation as to how it happened…but we both looked at each other in surprise…and we both immediately thought the same thing. He spent about an hour trying to calm me down and convince me that there had to be another explanation. We were both EXTREMELY unsettled, though – I knew he was freaked out by what happened. I remember the look on his face to this day.

Because we knew we were moving to Texas, we stayed in the condo…even though there was this “creepy factor” that I couldn’t shake. To be honest, we really couldn’t afford to move anywhere else.

Another night, while I was sleeping, HMH was up late on the computer and he went downstairs to get a drink. He started to walk to the kitchen when he noticed Sarah in the hallway…staring up at “the spot” again…not moving. He called her name a couple of times and she didn’t respond…and he was so creeped out he went back upstairs without getting his drink. Later that night, he went back downstairs and Sarah was gone. As he approached the spot by the bathroom door he felt something move through him. He said it was cold and creepy…and it felt something like a person. He’s not very good at describing things, but it was hard for me to talk about it anyway.

In August 2005, about a week after we returned from a trip to Texas, I was sitting at my computer catching up on emails before HMH got home. The tv was turned off. No music was playing. I was simply typing on my computer and thinking about what a wonderful time we had in Texas…and how we’d decided to move there. As I was sitting at my desk, I heard a whisper in my right ear…just behind me…that said “Just go.”

It scared the ever loving shit out of me, I swear. Every hair on my body stood straight up and for a minute I wanted to bolt out of my chair and run outside. However, this weird “self preservation” impulse came over me…and I opened my music folder on my pc and starting playing music…LOUD. I picked songs that would lighten my spirit and take my mind off what just happened.

It would come and go. Things would happen and then all was quiet. There wasn’t a pattern. However, June 3, 2005 something really weird happened. Everything was fine…HMH was playing on his computer, I was updating our family website and talking to my friend Brad via the computer, the pets were sleeping. Kokopelli had been sleeping downstairs and she suddenly went completely NUTS. She started barking like there was someone trying to get in the house or something. It definitely got our attention.

Kevin got up and went downstairs to see what was wrong. As he did that, I snapped his picture…intending to show it to my friend as a joke. Once I take a picture with my camera, it briefly shows the picture it took on the display window. And I looked down to see a white cloudy streak right in the doorway. Of course, I immediately thought of “the thing”…and then I immediately told myself it was a reflection off the white walls or something, so I took more pics at the same angle. I was certain I was going to see it again. No…I didn’t.I don’t know what it is…don’t ask me. But it didn’t show up in any other picture I took of the same area…at the same angle.

I do still have the picture, but I’m not going to share it here because HMH is partially dressed and it would be embarrassing to him. Even though it was a weird white blur, it was still the first time it had showed up in any kind of picture.

Yeah…I took an Ambien to go to sleep that night. I was glad we were moving. HMH just hugged me and did his best to remind me that we were leaving soon…it’s all he could do, really.

One last thing…while I was still at my job in California, I told one of my friends some of the things that had happened in the condo. She told me I should talk to one of the girls on her staff…because she was just sharing a similar experience that her son had and she thought it was close to where I live. Later that day, I went to talk to her.

She told me that she had a teenage son who went to a slumber party at a friend’s house that weekend…and that all the parents were called to pick up their kids in the middle of the night because the boys were all scared after seeing some kind of black smoky thing on the ceiling. When I asked her where the party was, I discovered that the party was in my condo complex…on the other side of the complex from us.

We had done tons of research trying to find anything we could on the development where we lived. There was nothing. I don’t know what I was expecting to find, but whatever it was…I didn’t find it.

So…that’s it. We left California with no other incidents, thank God. I’m not saying there’s something paranormal there…in fact, I tried like hell to explain it logically…and to ignore it as well. But the fact remains that I never felt at home there…that HMH and I continued to have very real, very frightening experiences there…and we are both glad to be away from it. And I did wonder after a while whether that pleading look on the last renter’s face was meant to warn me off. Maybe she was staring at me because she wanted to tell me what was going on there. We’ll never know.

And that’s our scary story. Hopefully, you don’t think I’m too crazy for sharing it. Happy Halloween!

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4 thoughts on “The Day I Became a Believer in Things I Didn’t Want to Believe In

  1. Yikes!!! My sister lives in a house where random, odd things happen. She most recently was woken up by someone screaming in her ear “WAKE UP!”

  2. No ma’am you are not crazy! That’s some scary stuff, and you are MUCH braver than I. I would have been under a bridge before I stayed there any longer after what you went through! I have a friend who has had many paranormal experiences in her home since they moved in. Most often she says she sees a man that stands and stares into her aquarium in the hallway. Everytime she tells me stuff they see I get more freaked out! Crreeeeeepy!!!

  3. Read this story this morning and still thinking about it. I like ghost stories, but have zero desire to actually experience anything. I’d be under the bridge with Allison in my cardboard box if this had happened to me!!

  4. I have no problems believing in the paranormal. But I also believe that there are good and bad spirits, just like in life. We shared experiences when we were “kids” that led to the fact that I will never touch another ouija board, as well as that weird lift game we played when the flash photography revealed entities floating around the room, that were more creepy then friendly. I have heard stories of spirits that exist in the shadows of our world, and they never stir up happy feelings.

    Most recently, though, my Mom made herself known to my family, as we attended my dad on his final day in this life. I know she was here waiting for him, and even though she busted a light bulb, and did a few other things that let us know she was there, we felt no fear, because, Heck…it was Mom. So what was there to be afraid of?

    But, based on your critters reactions, I am pretty sure that your haunting was not a happy spirit. I am sure you celebrated big time when you got out of the haunted condo.

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