Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A House Ghost--I Has One

Ok, just so we're clear, I am a skeptic.  A pretty sarcastic skeptic, even.  If something weird can be attributed to something rational, I'm all about the rational, and rather snarkily debunk just about everything.  And while I love the paranormal, I have a hard time with the ghost hunting shows on TV today.  Not only are most of them full of crap BS, but after seeing the video evidence of one ghost hunting team in particular faking stuff, there was no way I was going to put my faith in any of it.

However, despite those horrid shows and my own healthy skepticism, I can honestly attest to the existence of ghosts.  This is primarily due to the fact that I have one, and his name is Frank.

I don't know if Frank is his real name or not--we just definitely get the feeling he's male, and a former roommate named him.  Frank apparently goes in bouts of activity, and lately, he's been acting up.  I also have a ghost kitty, but it's much less active than the Frankster.

Let me start at the beginning.

I moved into the house I currently rent in March of 2004.  The house is a two-story home with a full basement.  The upstairs, though, isn't a true second story--it used to be an attic that was later converted into two rooms.  There are two bedrooms on the main floor.

I wasn't thrilled with the upstairs from the beginning.  Not only were there no vents run up there (so no heat or air conditioning), but it just felt weird.  Kinda heavy, if you know what I mean.  So we set up my bedroom on the main level and used the upstairs primarily for storage.

Full disclosure up front:  I am a pet lover, and have both dogs and cats.  Moving on.

The first night at the house was fine.  Following my mother's wisdom, I had gotten the bedroom set up first thing.  It has always been her opinion that when moving, the bedroom is the room you get set up first, because by the time the end of the day rolls around, you are too damned tired to want to get the bed set up, sheets on, etc.  My mother is a gem of common sense, by the way.

So the bed was already set up, sheets and blankets on, and all I had to do was fall into it and sleep, and I did exactly that.

And I woke up the next morning covered in dry cat food.

I am not lying--under the covers, sheet included, I was covered in dry cat food.  New cat food too, not pre-digested cat food (any cat owner who has ever been puked on during the night knows what I'm talking about here).  I like to imagine my cats are smart, special little cookies, but even I draw the line at their ability to smuggle large amounts of cat food under the covers while I'm sleeping.  I also have to question what could possibly be going on in their furry little heads to even attempt such an endeavor.  I would like to add that my boyfriend at the time saw the whole thing, and also noted that the cat food was limited to my side of the bed--his side was perfectly cat food-free.

I thought it odd, but brushed it off.  Weird, yes, but it's just cat food.  Can't mean too much, can it?

The next year, I decide that I want to move my bedroom upstairs.  Why?  Because I have ADD and having things in the same place in my home all the time drives me nuts.  So, I moved my bedroom upstairs.  That's when things started getting rather strange.

For the first few nights up there, I couldn't sleep.  That heavy feeling persisted, and I kept feeling like I was being watched.  It didn't help that I would feel a cat jump up on the bed, walk across it, and settle next to me, only for me to reach out to pet empty air.  This happened quite often, and at the time, I chalked it up to my cats, even though their fur doesn't feel like empty space.

Then, one night, something yelled at me.  And by "yelled," I mean it flipping yelled.  It had that gradual build-up effect like the effects they use on ghost voices in the movies, swear to the heavens.  It woke me out of a sound sleep, heart racing, and resulted in me frantically shaking my then-boyfriend, babbling my head off about someone being in the room.  He told me I'd heard a car (seriously, a car?) and advised me to go back to sleep.  Needless to say, that didn't happen.

The next few weeks proved to be even more interesting.  Faucets turned themselves on, pictures threw themselves off walls, and random weird noises echoed through the house.  I even woke up from a nap upstairs to see severed, grey and bloody arms and legs in my hamper, of all places.  After blinking a couple times, the gruesome limbs disappeared, but I was still pretty freaked over it.

Through all this, though, logic tried to assert itself.  Faucets need replaced, it said.  You were still dreaming when you saw the body parts in your hamper, it said.  The weird noises are the house settling, it said.

Let me tell you--that was all a load of horseshit.

So, a friend of mine does real-life ghost hunting.  Has all the equipment and everything, and offers to come over, show us how to use the equipment, and we could go ghost hunting in our own home.  Mind you, there were about eight people at the house at the time, five--all guys--were downstairs in the basement.  The girls--myself and two friends--went upstairs to investigate and do EVP (electronic voice phenomena) work.

Now upstairs, there is an actual little attic space above the ceiling, accessible through only a panel that slides out.  There aren't any stairs or a ladder or anything like that to get up there.  One of my friends decides to get on a chair and hold the camera up the opening to take pictures so we can see what's in the attic space.  The pictures revealed chains up there, and we didn't know what they were there for (we later determined they were a normal part of the house's structural support).

So, I say something like, "Let me see if I can see what's up there," because I'm taller than both of the other two with me.  The entire time this is going on, the tape recorder is running.  

When we later listened to the tape, you can hear me say, "Let me see if I can..." and right after, a man's voice clearly says, "I can see them."

Hairs raised up all over the backs of our necks.  Here was proof of the ghost.  There were no men upstairs with us at the time--they were all in the basement.  There are no ducts or vents run upstairs, so there was no way their voices could have carried to the second floor.  In short, we'd caught something completely unexplainable on that tape, and to me it was confirmation that I wasn't fucking insane.

Frank, as my roommate dubbed him, had periods of peace and periods of activity after that.  Footsteps, doors opening and closing, all sorts of fun things.  Though he did stop turning the faucets on after I informed him he had to get a job and pay for the utilities if he intended to run up the bills.  I am not making this up either--it would be years after the fact that the faucets were replaced.  They quite literally stopped turning on by themselves after I'd yelled at my ghost.

Through the intervening years, the ghost kitty has continued to jump up on the bed and settle down to sleep (this has happened even when I evicted all cats from the bedroom, so I do know it wasn't one of my live kitties), and Frank has made noises off and on, mostly the sounds of footsteps and doors opening and closing.  For the most part, though, it's been rather peaceful and quiet.

Until recently, that is, which is what has led to the writing of this post.

A few weeks ago, one of my cats pooped in one of the upstairs rooms instead of hauling her lazy butt downstairs to use one of the litter boxes.  There are clothes in that upstairs closet (downstairs closet space is practically non-existent).  We closed the door off to that room to keep the cat out of the room.  Dave and I both saw her come downstairs several times after that to eat and wander about before heading back upstairs.

Dave then heads off to work, and everything is fine.  He gets home, and runs upstairs to the room to change his clothes.  He opens the door and--surprise!--Tally is in the room, comfortably sleeping on the bed.  Yes, the cat managed to get behind a closed and latched door, which was then closed and latched after she was in the room.

Dave, who has had relatively little experience with Frank, come pounding back down the stairs, white as a sheet, to tell me the cat was impossibly in the room.  I can only imagine Frank was bamboozled by her sweet pouty face and let her in.

And then tonight--so very strange.  I have three dogs, one of which is a German Shepherd.  Now, my German Shepherd makes a huge fuss, barking and growling, if there is anyone walking on the street outside my house.  So, when it's late at night, I always check to make sure no one is outside before I let her out to potty, because she's loud enough to wake the dead (pun intended).

That's what I did this evening--I stuck my head outside to check for people before letting her loose in the yard.  And that's when I noticed the wicker chair on my porch was rocking all by its damn.  There was no one in it, no one had been sitting in it, and there was no one in sight.  Finding this rather odd, I stepped outside, German Shepherd in tow, to check for any wind that could be causing the chair to rock.  As soon as I got out the door, the chair stopped rocking.  And I mean it just stopped--no gradual slowing, just instant desisting of movement.  And there was no wind that could have been moving the chair.

So I let my German Shepherd go, and she starts running back and forth along the porch, looking for something, ears all perked up like there's someone out there.  After a few minutes of this, she then marched over to the wicker chair in question and began investigating it, as if someone had, indeed, been sitting in it.  And even after I let her back in the house, she spent several minutes returning to the door, ears perked, acting like someone was outside.  (The other two dogs were crated at the time).

I checked--there was no one on the porch or in the yard.

So, either some weirdo with superhero abilities managed to, first of all, get on my porch without my dogs throwing unholy fits (a highly unlikely occurrence), then got out of the chair, off the porch, past the fence, and behind the car or house in the 2 seconds it took me to look around (also a highly unlikely scenario)--all without my German Shepherd losing it like she does--or Frank has discovered that the porch is a cool place to hang out.

I'm rather leaning toward Frank at the moment.  It's so implausible as to be sheer fantasy to think that anyone can get anywhere near my front porch without the dogs having conniptions over it.  Most of the time, they start having conniptions long before anyone reaches the porch--the sound of the gate opening is enough to set them off.  Then you have the also implausible scenario of someone bolting off my porch, over the fence, and managing to hide without either me or my German Shepherd ever catching sight of them.  There are no trees in my front yard, for instance; it's not that big; and it's well-lit by the streetlight outside.  In other words, there's no way in hell anyone could have been sitting on my porch without me knowing about it.

And why anyone would sit on my front porch is a question that has no reasonable answer.  It's not like people are forever hanging out on my front porch--it just doesn't happen.  Especially since everyone on my street is terrified of my maniac dogs.

So there you have it, folks--meet my house ghost, Frank, who really, truly, does exist.  And please be nice to Ghost Kitty, who warmly welcomed me with fresh cat food my first night here, and who has taken to sleeping in the bed with me on occasion ever since.

If nothing else, they keep my life interesting.

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