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Thursday, March 10, 2005

True Terror

I was working at a newspaper three years ago, doing a series of articles about local haunted houses. This man heard from a friend that I was looking for people to interview. He called me and invited me to his home.

I arrived at this house that was built in the early 1800s. It was a two-story brick building with a long dirt driveway. There were seven trees, filled with so many birds you couldn't see leaves or branches. There was nothing but corn fields on every side of the house. I pulled my car into the driveway and stopped before reaching the house because there was a dead rat in my path.

In the high weeds of his yard there was a big old rusty tiller with huge blades, complete with the mule straps and an old pull cart. I thought, this guy went through a little trouble to add effects, but, whatever.

On the telephone, he sounded like an old man. But when he walked out of his house, I could clearly see this was no old man who wanted to share old fashioned ghost stories.

The man was 35 years old, stood 6'10" and weighed around 350 pounds and he was missing an eye.

Just from the sight of him, my mind raced with the thoughts of, "What the hell are you doing here, in the middle of nowhere, alone, with this gargantuan guy??? And where the hell is his eyeball???" I was creeped out immediately.

He greeted me at my car. I got out and I could barely hear what he was saying because the birds were squawking up a storm. There were hundreds of them.

He was making small talk, "No trouble finding the old homestead, huh?" He jabbered on for a while and then began to talk about his "ghost".

At first mention of the "ghost", all of the birds simultaneously stopped squawking and took off in flight. (I get Goosebumps just thinking about it!) The sound of hundreds of birds squawking changed in seconds to hundreds of wings flapping.

The tale he told was about a ghost who resided in his rented historic home. We went inside. He showed me a trapdoor in his living room floor, used during the underground railroad to convey slaves.

Inside the house was filthy. Dirty blankets and holey sheets covered all of the windows. Projects of renovation started and never completed. He had removed the stairs and closed off the upper level of the home with thick boards because he thought it was the portal.

I frantically took notes as he spoke. "I moved in here five years ago. The first few weeks were quiet but when it started. It came with a vengeance and hasn't stopped since. Each night I hear boom, boom, boom at exactly 3:07 a.m. like clockwork, 3:07, every single night. It sounds like someone is coming down the steps, which is why I shut off the top level. And it did stop for a little while but it always came back, and always at 3:07. I was laying in bed one night and I heard it. I was so sick of it waking me all the time so I got out of bed and told it 'There ain't enough room here for both of us.' Just when I thought I won, it gets quiet again and I got back in bed, covered up and the mother fucker grabbed me."

To show emphasis, he reached for my shoulder, which was dwarfed in his enormous hand. He gave me a death grip, as the ghost had to him. I was much more creeped out about him than his stupid ghost!

That night he was so terrified he went to see his mom. She had just moved into a new apartment, which he had never been to, so he called from his car.

She said, "Call back when you arrive at my building."

She was worried about him and wanted to meet him at the main door. Together they walked up the stairs to her apartment, where on her door, he saw her apartment number 307. (Insert scary music here.)

He went on to talk about the times he had friends over "partying" and they have all seen it. He mentioned various times when things were moved including, a pot taken out of the stove, the lid and seat on the toilet put down, canned foods straightened, doors opened or closed, dirty dishes taken off the table and put in the sink, ect.

He never saw anything move but knew that he had not put things where he'd found them. And he was sure the ghost was a girl because of the toilet seat being put down and the hand that grabbed him felt small.

I recorded the interview on a micro-cassette tape and took notes, all while watching my back. The story was in the paper a couple days later.

A week after it appeared in the newspaper, I was driving into work, listening to the morning news. The guy in my story had been found dead in his house and foul play was suspected.

Stay tuned, part two, the conclusion will be posted tomorrow at noon (CST).