Excerpt from Ghost Magnet – coming October 15th
A Ghost in My House
I didn’t notice the ghost for several days. I was so caught up with my busy work schedule, it took some time for the reality to sink in, but the truth was undeniable. Something had followed me home from the cemetery.
Several days after our cemetery excursion, I came home from visiting stores in Rhode Island, my mind filled with work issues. One store didn’t have enough pet groomers and was using a cashier to bathe all the groomer’s dogs, which was a company violation. Another store wasn’t offering dog training classes, something I was getting beat up by my supervisors about. It was as though I was expected to wave a magic wand around and make all the issues disappear. All I wanted to do at that point was to change into my sweat pants and t-shirt and plop down on the couch for several hours of thought-free TV and allow my mind to unwind.
My dog Ripley met me at the door with other ideas. She was a mix of so many breeds, it was difficult to determine her parentage, but she looked and acted much like a border collie. With her high energy level and adept motivating skills, she had me well trained. Part of our evening ritual involved a long walk after dinner and she wasn’t letting me get out of it. I held her at bay until I could scarf down a quick bowl of cereal and then grabbed her leash.
Our normal walk took us down a two-lane blacktop road near my house. Traffic was fairly steady, so I kept her on a leash for the duration. She always stuck close to my side, only veering off track when something especially smelly caught her attention and she needed a minute or two to investigate it.
By the time we got home, I had worked up a good sweat and had purged away most of my work stress. I loved the therapeutic benefits of walking. It gave me time to process my thoughts. I didn’t necessarily solve all my problems, but I usually found a way to deal with them by the end of the walk.
As I came through the door, ghosts were the last thing on my mind, but I heard the tone immediately. It was almost as though he was waiting at the threshold for me. I let Ripley off her leash and closed the door behind me, feeling a sense of discomfort wash over me like a cold bucket of water.
For once, I was thankful I didn’t have my 14 year-old son that night. He stayed with me four days out of the week and spent the remainder of the week with his father. Given the circumstances, I was glad he wasn’t there.
How would I explain these things to him?
He wasn’t the kind of kid who was even remotely interested in the paranormal world. If he came into the room while I was watching a creepy show, he would pivot on his heels and walk back out again unless I changed the channel. I wasn’t sure if it scared him or if he just wasn’t interested, but I wasn’t going to let it interfere with our time together.
I took a deep breath to steady myself. I needed to handle this now.
“If someone is here, you are not welcome. You need to leave immediately and go back to where you came from!” I said in a strong voice, knowing it sometimes worked for other people.
The tone didn’t falter. If nothing else, it grew louder. I could almost feel him laughing at me. Unlike the other ghosts that were in my house, this one was strong. If I was able to ignore the others and pretend they weren’t there, he wouldn’t give me that option. I could all but see him.
As I walked down the long hallway to my bedroom, I could hear him right on my heels. I paused when I got to my bedroom, uncertain what to do. Normally, I would shower and then put on comfortable night clothes, but this didn’t seem like a smart decision. Having an invisible intruder beside me in my own home, a place where I should feel safe, made me feel violated.
Could I really just undress and shower knowing that someone was watching me?
“Don’t show any fear,” I reminded myself, not wanting to give this monster any more ammunition to use against me.
I took a deep breath and tried to slough off the anxiety.
I turned on the shower, fully aware that the hitchhiker was still following me. If he had been a living person, I could have called the police to have him arrested, but they couldn’t do anything about a ghost. I’d have to try something different.
I read somewhere that if you ignored them, they sometimes grew bored and went away. Even though he completely creeped me out, I decided to give it a shot. I undressed quickly and took the fastest shower known to man and then put on my night clothes.
I plopped down on the couch and turned on the television. I found that if I cranked the volume up to a high setting, I couldn’t hear his tone. Despite the overwhelming sensation of being watched, I was able to get through the evening. Bedtime was another matter though.
After nearly twenty years of marriage with a partner who preferred to sleep in total darkness, I had grown out of my need for a nightlight. I kept the room as dark as the inside of a tomb, even going as far as hanging light-blocking curtains and blinds over the windows so I didn’t wake with the first blush of dawn. Things were different now though.
As soon as I turned off the light, I could feel him closing in on me. He drifted beside my bed and hovered close to my body. I could see him in my mind’s eye, grinning with rotten teeth, savoring the impact he was having on me.
I could sense his energy beside me as though he was made of skin and bones. He took a deep breath and let it out directly in my face, making my hair move with the current. The smell of rotting flesh filled my nose.
I couldn’t prevent the terror that spiked through me.
I reached out and snapped on the nightstand lamp, fully expecting to see him standing there.
The room was empty.
I let my arm fall back to my side. Why was this happening to me? Hadn’t I been through enough over the course of the past few years with the divorce and the move?
There was no way I could just close my eyes and fall asleep. That would be like sleeping beside a knife-wielding serial killer. What was he capable of? Could he kill me in my sleep?
I retreated to the living room where my two cats were stretched out on the sofa. They gave me slow, sleepy blinks as I turned on the lamp.
“Why are you guys hanging out here?” I asked them, as if expecting a response. I actually already knew the answer. If I was aware of the dead guy in my bedroom, they probably were too. They were just smarter than me and didn’t even try going into the room.
I turned on the television and was a bit horrified to find it already tuned into a paranormal show. I gasped and hurriedly switched it to something a bit less frightening.
As I mindlessly watched an old sitcom, I thought about all the paranormal shows I had watched over the years. Being sensitive to the energy of the dead often left me yearning for more information. Unlike true psychic mediums, I didn’t get the full picture. I only got bits and parts.
I read as many books as I could find and watched the shows as though hoping for a road map. Unfortunately, the information I was getting was only serving to make me more apprehensive. I began to wonder if I was making things worse for myself.
Was it possible that I was igniting some sort of internal beacon when I watched paranormal shows? I had to wonder. I often sensed them drift into the room while I was watching something spooky. There was so much I needed to know.
Somehow, I managed to fall asleep on the couch and woke up several hours later, feeling as though I had slept on bare concrete. Every joint in my body was stiff and sore.
“This is ridiculous.”
I pulled myself off my couch and marched back to my bedroom. I wasn’t going to let some invisible dead guy ruin my day tomorrow because I was too groggy and sore to function.
I climbed into bed and yanked the covers up to my neck, trying desperately to ignore the buzzing sound. Instead of turning the room into its normal dark cave, I left the nightstand lamp on and rolled over onto my side.
Sleep must have found me because the next thing I remember was a thump at my bedroom door. I opened my eyes in time to see a dark shadow person dart across my room and disappear into my closet.
With a shriek, I sprang out of bed and ran into the hallway. I slammed the bedroom door behind me, ready to race out of the house in my night clothes. My heart pounded in my chest as my mind filled with pure panic.
I paused in the hallway and looked back at my bedroom door, expecting to watch it open.
“Oh my God,” I whispered to myself.
What would I do?
Who would I call?
I wanted to jump in my car and drive as far as I could, but where would I go? I didn’t have any friends or family nearby and couldn’t afford a hotel.
My mind raced as I stood there, not knowing what to do.
Was it a ghost, a real intruder or just a dream?
If I called the police and they didn’t find anything, I’d be embarrassed. With my heartbeat thumping in my temples, I edged back to the bedroom door.
If someone was in my bedroom, they had nowhere to go. There wasn’t another doorway and the only windows were blocked by furniture.
I pressed my ear to the door to listen.
It was quiet.
As I was pulling away, something scratched on the inside of the door. I nearly came unglued and let out another shriek, only to hear the scratching followed by my dog’s woeful whine.
“Oh, Ripley…” I had forgotten that she was in the bedroom with me. If someone was in there, she would have been barking and growling. That left two other possibilities. It was either a dream or a ghost.
Ripley whined again, pulling me out of my indecisiveness. Either way, I couldn’t leave her in there alone.
I dug deep and gathered every ounce of courage. I had to be brave. I yanked the door open and flipped on the overhead light.
The room was empty.
My body trembling, I looked in the closet and under the bed, finding nothing. I wasn’t sure what to do, but one thing was certain. I wasn’t sleeping in that room.
I spent the rest of the night on the couch, not even daring to close my eyes for a second. I watched one cheesy sitcom after another until it was time to get ready for work.
I left the house by 9am and visited some of my local Massachusetts stores, not having the energy to venture very far away. By the time I made it back home, my head was spinning with work related issues. As I put my key in the keyhole, I was greeted by the buzzing sound.
I should have been terrified, but anger took the lead instead.
This was the last thing I wanted to deal with after having a day from hell. It was intrusive and disruptive, almost like having a homeless person move in and take over my house.
I’d like to say that I am brave, and maybe I am to some extent, but this was a case where I was pushed to become braver than I felt.
Without even changing out of my work clothes, I stomped into my bedroom and dug through my dresser until I found a stick of sage. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be any more effective than the smudging that Sandy and I did at the cemetery, but I wasn’t putting up with this any longer.
I lit the sage and proceeded to walk around all the rooms in my house, filling it with light and love.
“I fill this space with light and love. I ask for my angels and spirit guides to remove any negative energy that lingers here. This is my house and I take it back!” I said in each of the rooms. By the time I finished, the house felt a bit better.
The ringing sound had faded to a point where I wasn’t certain who was still there. The tone was similar to what I had been hearing before the new ghost made his arrival, so I took some measure of comfort in that.
That night, my cats joined me in the bedroom again, which made me feel immensely better. I did make one change to my nighttime routine though. Instead of sleeping in pitch darkness, I dug out an old nightlight from a box in the closet and plugged it into the wall.
If I was going to live with the possibility of having ghosts in my house, I wasn’t going to do it in the dark.