'What the Hell Is in My House?'

An Essay About Paranormal Themes, My Thoughts, and Experiences


Disclaimer: Trigger Warning for suicide mention, violence, and/or concerning themes. Read at your own risk.

Everyone probably knows something about the paranormal. Whether you believe or not, there's always something "funky" going on somewhere in the world. Be it the mysterious forests of Romania, the mysterious maze of the Winchester Mystery House in California, or your grandma's basement where she keeps all the canned goods (She sends you down there at the worst times, doesn't she?).  

There's always mysterious energies somewhere in the world, and some people seek to find them and learn why the hell they're there.  

Flashback to the 1980s. I wasn't even a thought in my mother's head, let alone a wish made by my grandmother, who lived in the town I currently live in today. I'll omit the town, but we'll say I live in the middle of nowhere, in the Midwest.  

My family isn't really the most "open" family in the world. In the spiritual and paranormal sense, they're pretty closed off, save for my mother watching hours of paranormal shows (Not Ghost Adventures) on the weekends when she didn't have daycare. To say the least, we're "open-ish," but there are set limits that are measured, acknowledged, and respected.

My father is a true skeptic, thinking ghost hunting is a "waste of time," and having a military background under his belt, the validity of the paranormal world to him is a little less than "nope." In other words, ghosts to him are like fairy tales. Just a fun little story with no real meaning to it.  

My mother, though, her side of the family had a rather violent, if not dangerous presence in their childhood home. You see, they had bought the spacious five bedroom house after the previous owner had died. How, you may ask? Suicide.  

The rumor was, that in the sleepy town my mother grew up in, there had been a 'witch' that dabbled in satanic rituals, curses, hexes, you name it.  She lived at the end of the street, with my grandparent's house on the other end.  According to myth, she got in an argument with the former homeowner down the street and cursed him, leading to his death in the attic of the home. By some means, his death turned into something grotesque and horrifying.  

Flash forward to when my grandparents moved in, along with their teenage daughters and my twenty-something mother.  Activity started as soon as they moved in, and escalated when one of my more receptive aunts found out what was going on.  

I'll put the story into a short and sweet format. Whatever was living in the attic moved down with my grandparents and aunts. For the most part, think of The Conjuring, except without the dog dying, give or take some glowing red eyes and still visible scars of the vicious attacks.  

In the end, the experience brought my family closer to God (in more ways than one), turned one aunt into a horror movie junkie, another into an overprotective mother who didn't let her children read Harry Potter, and an epileptic. That's right, after the whole occurrence, one of my aunts was diagnosed with epilepsy, without any prior history in the family whatsoever.  

We're not for certain if seizures are a direct result of the events and the trauma thrust onto my aunt, but that's the idea we've come up with.  While there are awful marks to leave by some parts of the spiritual and supernatural world, there are also good marks to be left. 

I consider myself to be rather open. A heavy empath, a bit clairvoyant (I think), and a near-death survivor. I've had my own experiences, some being in my own childhood home about fifteen minutes from my maternal grandparent's home, others being in other's backyards or my current apartment I'm living in today. 

When I was little, about kindergarten (Which was about twelve or thirteen years ago), I had a dream where I was sitting at my desk during snack time.  I remember exactly what we were having.  Saltines and milk.  (It was a small class and we were just starting the year out, so there were no snacks just yet.)  I vividly remember looking up from my crackers in the dream to see one of my classmates puke right in front of me.  I remember this kid had on a white shirt and jeans, and light up shoes that flashed when you stomped hard enough. His poor little face was bright red because he was crying, and there were bits of saltine on his face and in his lap as he sobbed profusely.  

The day that this dream came true, I was pretty sure my heart dropped right out my ass.  I hadn't thought about it at all, being a kindergartner, why would I? All I had on my mind were cheese crackers, IPTV, and why men couldn't marry men (That's another story I'll get to.  That one's a doozy).  

I watched it all play out like some awful movie that I wasn't supposed to watch. I remember I froze in my seat, just staring at the scene in front of me. Watching this kid be helped from his seat and his spot being cleaned up with a paper towel and a Lysol wipe, I realized then and there that I had dreamed it.  This wasn't a weird deja-vu, but I wouldn't tell my mother what happened.  

Up until now, I've had a few dreams that seemed all too real, one of which where I predicted the death of an elderly woman I knew—right down to what she wore that evening upon her death.  

I was also the one in my family to find my maternal grandfather's sister, my great aunt, dead in her home.  As an awful joke from her, we figured, we always find dead birds around holidays.  The joke was, she hated birds, so she always left them for us to find.  One such incident involved us talking about her, and a robin just dropped dead right between the lawn chairs we were sitting in.  Birds, dead or alive, just pop up for us.  In the words of my brother, it's "Fucking strange." 

In my experience of life, beyond the dead birds and premonitions, I've seen plenty of shadow figures.  Some that have the faint bit of plaid to their being, passing along the hall while rolling silverware, (Hello, old nursing home residents) and others that look like the figures everyone may recall at some point. I.e. The Shadow Figure called 'The Hat Man'.  

I had a friend growing up that was pretty weird.  She had a big family, so when a place opened up in my hometown that could accommodate all of them, they moved right in.  

From her accounts, there were some things that went on. Clocks would reset themselves, their dog, Fudge (Who was hell to chase down when he escaped) would stare at things for a long while and growl, and they'd hear knocks and be tapped occasionally.  Nothing bad, compared to my Grandparent's demon.  

Knowing that their property and home had spiritual energy connected to it, I brushed it off and hung out there from time to time after walking our dogs together.  

One late August night, my friend and a few others were hanging around her house, laying out on the trampoline she had in the yard.  It was a cooler night, I remember. September was coming up, and I guess it was starting to change seasons already.  Being a good kid, I really didn't have a curfew, so at about nine at night, I cut myself off from friend time and decided that I should probably walk home.  

Sitting upright from the trampoline, I looked forward and about five feet away from the trampoline, I saw the outline of a man.  Not just any man, though.  He was tall, about six foot, maybe a bit taller, with what looked like a mafia-style bowler hat on his head.  I, at the time, had no idea what I was looking at, but there was a heavy dread that made my heart race as I nearly scooted myself off the trampoline.  No-one else saw it, but my friend put a hand on my shoulder and tried to figure out why I had gone pale.  Needless to say, I was absolutely shaken.  

Fast forward again to moving into my first apartment, living with a friend of mine in a two bedroom apartment on the third floor.  Rent was cheap, work was good, and I could live comfortably knowing that there wasn't anything funky going on.  

Or, you know, so I thought. I'd hear someone walking in the kitchen in the dead of night, I'd see shadow figures, I'd feel like I was being watched, and on a couple occasions, I heard someone whisper in my ear. Something along the lines of "Hello," or "Hi!" While it startled me, it didn't prepare me for what would happen later.  

In 2014, my paternal grandfather passed away. It was sort of expected. He smoked quite a bit, and what got him, in the end, was complications with breathing. I'm sure smoking a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes a day really didn't help either. Regardless, I always knew him as a jokester. That aspect really hung with him, even to his last days.

It hit all of us pretty hard. My dad, in the days up until he passed, would become anxious and quiet in the hospital room he was in. He'd make wisecracks with his brother, my uncle, but everything still seemed to fall flat.  

When the funeral came around, we made the joke that he made one last prank—all the funeral pamphlets that included his picture and obituary were printed upside down on the inside. In order to read it properly, you had to turn it upside down, making yourself look like an idiot while doing so. It was cute, and we all adopted that as a fact. 

Two weeks after he had been lowered into the ground, strange happenings started popping up.  My aunt K (my dad's youngest sister) started experiencing strange happenings.  Nothing bad, mind you.  She had a lamp that her daughter had in her room, and it had deer on it. Typical 'cowboy style' sort of furnishings. It was a touch lamp, and it only came on if someone touched the metal base. I'm guessing you know what happened next. It would come on and off, and my cousin J said that she'd feel a sort of warm presence. We all assumed it was grandpa saying 'bye' to the baby of the family.

Everyone had their fair share of experiences, but mine were a bit more obscure. One night, I woke up from a dead sleep to someone poking my side. I wasn't too happy about it, being it was late at night and I had work early that morning. I brushed it off, but a couple nights later, it came back. I was just about to fall asleep, and I felt that familiar jab in my side, and I, quite literally, swung my arm around and stared into the inky dark and said, "You'd better f-----g stop, I swear to God," and it stopped from there.  

On multiple occasions in my first apartment, I smelled cigarettes and Old Spice. I couldn't quite put my finger on what brand, as I knew the smells of different brands. My parents smoked quite a bit. It wasn't sharp and acidic like USA Gold (my mother's brand), nor did it have that sort of rich smell like the pig-nosed cigars (my dad's brand, albeit he quit long, long ago).  So, I asked the expert, my grandma. 

She told me that he smoked Lucky Strike, which seemed to be a favorite of war veterans from either the World War II era to about Vietnam. When I told her what I smelled, by the look on her face, I instantly knew 'Holy Shit. Grandpa Fred paid me a visit.' 

Nowadays, the activity around me has changed since I've moved out of my old apartment in my hometown. It's gone from shadow figures and noisy stepping to 'Someone left the washing machine open,' 'Jesus Christ, I remember closing it' between my roommate—my brother—and I.  Otherwise, it's quiet.  

I've personally blessed my own home with anointing oil and a white candle prayer, I still research and watch shows about the paranormal and places I could potentially see.  I've already got a list of places I'd love to go and visit, and maybe disappear in. 

I'm pretty sure up until my death and there on, I'll be interested in the spooky things that go on around me. Until then, I'll be binge-watching Ghost Adventures and wandering around haunted locations.

Stay spooky, guys.

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Shelby Hart
Shelby Hart

Shelby Lynn Hart - 23 - Crazy Cat Woman - 'Pretty Gay' and Living life.  

I'm a self proclaimed freelance writer in the middle of nowhere, and a plus sized cosplayer on top of that.  I like wine and crafts, and a decent home cook as well.

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'What the Hell Is in My House?'
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