Cooler weather, pumpkin spice, and spooky stories make October my favorite month. I am Heather McCollum, mom of three dramatic kids, wife of one Highlander, kicker of ovarian cancer’s arse, and author of Scottish Historical romance. Since it is close to the spookiest day of the year, I am also proud to say that I lived in a haunted house for five years!
My dad loves “fixer uppers,” which is why he bought an abandoned house when I was starting high school. The grass around the two-story, slate-roofed house stood to my waist. A sloping wrap-around porch had turned gray, and loose boards could swallow your foot. The house had been built in three parts, the oldest erected in 1859, which was used as a hospital for soldiers during the American Civil War.
The first time I stepped into the house, I stood stunned, staring at the profanity painted across the walls. While Dad mowed the foot-tall grass, I was supposed to sweep the floor and wash down the walls so we could paint them. I pushed the broom around in that silent room while the sun set outside. All I could hear was the whir of Dad’s mower as it choked through the grass and the broom bristles scratching the wood floor.
As the sun set, I stilled like a panicked bird. Cold enveloped the room. Goosebumps prickled up all over my arms and I felt…anger. I had the overwhelming feeling that someone or something wanted me to “Get out!” So I got out, running straight off the porch to my dad.
It became apparent that we were not alone in the house. We heard footsteps going up the worn, wooden stairs that led to the hall just outside my room (which was in the oldest part of the house). We heard the unplugged vacuum cleaner rolling on the wood floor at night. Our five dogs stared together at a single corner, tipping their heads in unison and whining.
I had a friend sleep over, and we heard a periodic rattling sound downstairs after my parents had gone to bed. I walked down into the dark dining room. The silence felt heavy, and the moon beams cut through the naked windows. Suddenly all the china plates sitting in the glass hutch began to vibrate in their little stands. Nothing else moved in the room, but all the china quivered. I was literally petrified and couldn’t move until it stopped.
Even though doors would open on their own, there were no more angry feelings. Although, they didn’t approve of one of my boyfriends. One night we had a fight. As he strode to the door of the room, which was standing open about three feet, it slammed in his face. Yikes!
One night as he was leaving, I stood on the front porch waving. He stopped his car, stared at me with huge eyes and then peeled out of the driveway. The next day I called him to find out what was going on.
“Was your dad wearing white and standing behind you?” he asked.
“That’s why I left. The ghost was watching me leave.”
“And you just left me there?”
“They like you!” was his defense. Yeah… We aren’t together now.
The ghosts had grown attached to me. When I was packing to go to college, they were unhappy. I had a music box with a porcelain doll holding a miniature bird cage. For two nights before I left, starting around 2AM, I would wake up to my music box singing and the doll’s coiffed head tipping and tilting on its gears. Every hour on the hour, those pranksters wound up my music box!
The first time I came home from college, the electricity just happened to be off in my room only. When I walked into my totally black room, I felt what I can only call a presence or pressure.
“I’m not used to you anymore. I’m sorry, but you’re scaring me,” I said. “I think you should move on to where you should go.” I threw in a “in the name of Jesus Christ,” and left. When I came back a few minutes later, the pressure was gone. After that Dad said he didn’t really hear anything from our ghosts. Maybe I should hire myself out for exorcisms!
Since then, the house has been updated into a gorgeous estate and horse farm. I will certainly always remember my adventures there. They taught me to consider the unusual and strengthened my conviction that there are magical things in this world.
Have you ever experienced something mysterious before?
Have a wonderfully spooky Autumn!