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Found This in a House I was Cleaning
Everything is different after you’ve been inside. You exist solely in one place until you don’t, and newly freed you find yourself faced with a plethora of choice. Every day in the world is filled with decisions, made consciously or unconsciously. It feels unfamiliar and complex on the outside; you’re constantly made aware of your new autonomy, but life becomes novel, joyful even. A second childhood, a rebirth, a transformation, a fresh start whatever you want to call it. I’ve left my demons in the dark and moved on with my life.
I went back home to see my parents right after I got out— I’d lost touch with everyone else anyways. They still live in the family home, we’ve lived there for nearly 20 years now. I’m 28, so it’s the only home I have really solid memories from… my early childhood is a bit of a blur anyways. Remembering how simple and uncomplicated my life used to be helped me get into a good state of mind and remember the way I structured my days before everything happened. My parents were great as usual. I could tell that they were being careful not to say anything to upset me, and normally this would upset me, but after the enormity of losing Sam, the little things have stopped bothering me. Their efforts cheered me up, and in a few weeks I started looking for apartments in a nearby city… it’s a college town, though I won’t say which, and there are several upscale communities and many nice neighborhoods. Ever since the housing crisis, the prices have dipped a lot— many of the houses are vacant or foreclosed, so I was able to purchase a foreclosure property in an older neighborhood. The location is ideal for me; it’s within walking distance of a nice downtown area and a bus stops close to the entrance to my street if I need to go someplace farther. I like to ride my bike to get around instead of driving a car, and am fairly adamant about not owning one; the costs of monthly payments, gas, and insurance would overwhelm me. Plus, I hate the gym, so I rely on my rides to help keep me in shape. Besides the location, it’s a really nice house. It’s a two bedroom bungalow with a spacious sun room in the back. The kitchen is pretty new, and there are hardwood floors everywhere. It’s kind of empty right now, I don’t have much furniture, but I’ll get some soon enough— but it’s just me, so I really don’t need that much.
I should tell you about what happened to Sam, what got me to where I am today. Sam was my husband; we met when we were in college. He proposed to me the very day we graduated and I was elated to be his bride. Sam had this way about him, he was magnetic. I have no idea what drew him to me; normally I’m very shy and private, but Sam took the time to get to know me, to make me feel special. He was the only man I’ve ever loved. His humor and confidence swept me off my feet from the first time I met him. He told me he’d always take care of me, and when we found out we were pregnant he cried with joy. Everything went well for the first six months of pregnancy, but I had a hard fell one night after tripping on an electrical cord. We lost the baby. I told him he shouldn’t have gone in the next day, that he should take time off to deal with his grief, but he insisted on working. He was a structural engineer and said that he had to visit a build site. I was furious at him for leaving me isolated with my grief and guilt. I yelled and cried, cursing at him as if it would make a difference. Maybe it just felt good to be angry instead of sad. This is where my life turned to hell. He never came home. He was talking to some contractors when a hammer came flying out of the building and hit him in the head— a freak accident. I disintegrated. My life had completely flown to pieces in 24 hours. I don’t remember a lot from that time. When I started to get better they told me in therapy that was normal. I spent two years inside a peach-walled hospital, I only remember about nine months of it. Finally I was able to accept what had happened and start to heal.
Living on my own has been nice. I moved in about a week ago and couldn’t be happier. Sam had insurance, so although I’m job hunting, I don’t have to rush into one and can afford to wait for the right opportunity to come along— I just need to keep putting my resume out there. My days have fallen into a pleasant rhythm of cooking, making pottery, sewing projects, searching the classifieds, and of course, keeping up with current events and browsing the internet. I try to keep a regular sleep schedule too; my doctor told me sleep is vital for me to feel good and function well. Unemployment can sometimes be luxurious and I am fortunate that this is my situation. Keeping things simple helps me stabilize my emotions. I like going to bed at night knowing something about what I will do the next day. I used to take risks all the time in high school, but it turns out as I grew older, taking my chances on things became less and less attractive as I watched my similarly reckless peers cave in to hapless fates. They were dropping out of college, becoming addicts, spending time, and some of them even died. I knew I wanted more out of life than that, so I cleaned up and started making good decisions. I still tend to play it safe these days, but there’s always an itch to do something risky or radical.
That’s why two weeks ago, I decided to go out to a bar. It was the first time I had a drink since the accident and I went a little overboard. Before becoming too drunk I met this girl named Natalie Clemmons. There was an empty stool next to me at the bar I was in, and she sat down next to me and just started talking. I was surprised, she talked to me like she already knew me, but I’d never seen her before. She’s younger than me, a student at the university, but we have a lot in common— she works with clay too, and we share similar political views and a taste for scary films. She seemed really eager to get to know me for some reasons, asking me lots of questions about myself, what I did for a living, etc. That’s why I got too drunk— I don’t have easy answers to those types of questions and don’t want to make anything awkward. Mostly I talk around it, but I get really anxious so I compensated by knocking them back much too quickly. I don’t remember much else to be honest, but I’m glad to have made a friend. It happened so fast too…. It’s been a long time since I’ve had something to drink and I have a smaller frame— I miscalculated how much liquor I could handle. I had taken the bus to the bar, but she insisted on driving me back home. Barely able to speak, I wasn’t really in a position to argue.
I realize that up until this point this story hasn’t been scary. It’s sounded like a success story, really. Woman picks herself up after a mess, gets back in touch with herself, buys home and starts new life! That whole deal. Ever since I met Natalie things have been… weird. She left me her number that night, but when I called her in the morning to apologize for needing her help, there was no answer. No answering machine, no cutoff, just ringing. I’ve tried again every day since then and it’s the same thing: my call goes through but rings forever. It’s not like Natalie’s important enough to me that I need to contact her, I’m just mystified. Once I sat it down on the table, walked away and forgot about it. When I found it about five hours later it was still ringing. Strange, but nothing to freak out about.
That’s not the only strange thing that’s happened to me though. A litany of small things began happening. Every night at four I wake up from the same nightmare. In it I’m still pregnant, my belly round and full. I’m sitting in the living room of my house, waiting for someone. I don’t know who it is, I just know that I’m anxious and uncomfortable, nervously on edge in anticipation. All of a sudden, there is a noise at the door. I spring up and open it, but there’s never anything there, just darkness. I always jerk awake at that point, arms wrapped around my belly, frozen and sweaty. Dreams I can handle, but more concerning is the knives. They’re not arranged in pentagrams on the living room floor, or stuck in the wall besides my bed like in a horror movie, they’re simply disappearing. I’m a little scared, but I don’t feel anything negative or bad in my house and am hesitant to assume the paranormal. Still, I don’t know who or what keeps locking the bathroom door from the inside. My head gets fuzzy thinking about all of this. I’ve been really forgetful recently, probably since I’m not sleeping very well anymore.
I’ve read a lot on the internet in the past few days looking for clues about Natalie, about what’s happening to me, anything. I thought it would be good to document the goings on, and so last night I typed up the bulk of this and went to sleep. My dream started like normal, but when I opened the door, Natalie was standing there, holding a knife with a bright green handle. She handed it to me wordlessly and I recognized it as one of my own. She stared at me for a moment, and before I could ask what she was doing she said in a blank voice, “You know what to do”. She pulled the door closed. When I opened it again, she was gone.
I woke up to bright sunlight streaming across my face. It took me a moment to fully regain my consciousness and remember the dream from last night, my head was all fuzzy about what happened after Natalie disappeared. I opened my eyes and gasped. I was lying on my belly, spread out on the floor of the master bathroom. In my hand was the knife Natalie had given me. Terrified, I threw it across the floor and it slid out of sight underneath the chest I kept towels in. My heart pounded in my ears. Was that knife missing before last night? Did Natalie really come to my house? How did she get the knife? Why was I lying in the bathroom? Nothing else seemed amiss, and as my heart rate gradually slowed, I rationalized to myself. I must have been sleepwalking and picked it up. I’d been thinking about Natalie, so that’s probably why she appeared in my dream. There was no other explanation.
I took a deep breath and carefully reached under the dresser for the knife. I cried out, more from surprise than pain, and retracted my hand. A long cut stretched across 3 fingertips. I held it under the sink until the blood stopped. It was shallow so it didn’t take long. Trying a new approach, I slid the chest away from the wall only to find six other knives, each with something dark smeared on the blade. All but the green one, which had my fresh, red blood silvering its edge. That did it for me. I turned around and left the scene. Grabbing some clothes, I got dressed as far away from the bathroom as I could and ran out of the house. I got on my bike and pounded out the miles. The exercise helped me clear my head, think about it more logically. Seeing other people in their cars casual and preoccupied with ordinary things calmed me; the world was not over and I was still in it. A plan began to emerge from my tangled thoughts. When I got home the first thing I would do was clean and put away the knives— I was going to treat this like it was no big deal, hoping it would restore some order to my chaotic mind. With everything looking normal I would call Natalie with unparalleled determination. If her phone was ringing, she was bound to pick it up sometime. Otherwise, I didn’t know what to do.
I washed the knives, ignoring the fact that my once fresh blood looked a lot like what was on the other blades. I placed them gently in their drawer and reached for my phone. Steeling myself for a long, unfruitful wait requiring a subsequent search of the internet for her. I was startled when she answered. Caught off guard, I poured out everything that had been happening to me. She kept interrupting me to ask questions, but when I finally got through my whole story, she advised me to smudge the whole house with sage. I’d read about that as a solution for spiritual ills, and even though I’m not convinced this is paranormal, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. Maybe there really is something going on here. Hopefully I’ll find out a little more tonight when I go to sleep…
Two days later: Maybe it was talking to Natalie, maybe it was the smudge, but I didn’t have the dream; I slept like a baby all night long. I felt so refreshed! I called Natalie to tell her the good news. She was glad her remedy had worked and glad I called— she wanted to see if I wanted to go out that night. I agreed, and after an uneventful day (two of my pots collapsed and I made curry chicken for dinner) we met at a club. It maybe wasn’t that great of an idea. I don’t think I should drink anymore. That night is a blur. I remember meeting people, laughing, feeling elated for the first time in weeks, but I only had a few drinks. I got wild enough to bring someone home, a sweet boy who reminds me of Sam. We didn’t “do anything” but it felt so good to have someone to hold me through the night. I didn’t realize how much I missed physical contact, it felt so satisfying and good to have him warm and soft in my arms. He was only in town for the night which feels unfair, but since there’s no way I’m ready for anyone its probably for the best. I feel… complicated about him. I know that it’s been a long time since Sam passed away, but it almost felt like I was cheating on him. Natalie called me the next morning, prying for details about my visitor. Why hadn’t I realized that when she wasn’t avoiding my calls she was asking question upon question? I told her everything had gone well and then got off the line quickly, claiming some errand or another. She sent me a text asking if I wanted to hang out, but I ignored her. I needed time to think about the previous night.
Time alone has always proved to be beneficial to me. I don’t mind being by myself, alone with my thoughts. My memory of Sam is so clear; I can almost feel him when I think about the way we used to fit into each others arms. Truth be told, now that the light of day is upon me, I feel pretty confused about last night— I need some time to work through it.
Four days later: Sam was here today. I thought he was dead, but he said he couldn’t live with himself after what happened to the baby. He needed to leave, to disappear forever to atone for his sins. I don’t know why he said that; it’s not his fault I tripped. I’m just so glad he’s home. Natalie keeps calling me for some reason, but I don’t need her anymore now that my husband is back. He is so sweet to me, placing gentle kisses on my neck and whispering dear things into my ear. I was right not to fuck the stranger five nights ago, he was a mistake, but the bond Sam and I have is real. He’s out of the house now, but he’ll be back soon, he always comes back no matter what. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I saw this while I was cleaning out the author’s house… once I figured out what was going on I didn’t sleep for a week. I work a few odd jobs, one of which is cleaning out houses. This one house had two deaths occur in it, but life goes on and the house needed to be put on the market. That’s where I come in. I find and save all sorts of crazy shit in people’s houses, but this takes the cake. When I first read this, I didn’t know anything about the previous homeowners; I had assumed the dead couple were the owners. Turns out, he was from out of town. That made my head spin— was it the man in this story? It didn’t take me long to start putting the pieces together. I did a quick search and found out that the house was actually owned by the lady, Alison Natalie *****, a 56 year old woman who lived alone. While searching her house, I found and old newspaper clipping in a box labeled “past”.
When she was 26 years old, her husband, known for being easily angered, got drunk one night and lost control. He beat Alison and their unborn child, which she miscarried that night. He was found dead the next day, out near an abandoned factory due to blood loss from deep cuts in his abdomen. Alison was found not guilty as there was no evidence she did it, but was hospitalized and declared insane after the whole ordeal was over. I’m seriously shaking right now… she was reliving everything that had happened to her thirty years ago every night. The waiting at the door, Sam’s apology, knives in the bathroom. Even Natalie, her middle name, her only friend. She must have projected her own self to fight off whatever was making her life cycle in that way, but in the end she caved to the power of her own mind. They found her dead from starvation, belly empty, clutching the corpse of the man, his intestines spilled like a flower, blooming red and shiny purple across her white sheets.
Thank you, Matthew Eaton, for your story submission!
"The Dead Hour"
by Matthew Eaton
You know I have always loved the paranormal. I used to watch YouTube videos on how to do séances to summon spirits, or how to talk to them through Ouija boards. I loved it all, that is, until we started trying it on our own. I bought a Ouija board online to see if the whole thing was legitimate or not, and I waited and waited until it finally came. I was like a little kid opening a Christmas present. I opened it up and there it was, the board with the pointer. I was so excited! I followed all the instructions exactly, from putting a candle behind me to having more than one person with you - I did it all. We waited until 3am exactly like it said, and did the small prayer at the start to make sure to ward off evil spirits. We began our session, my friends complaining the whole time about how it wouldn’t work, or someone would try to push the pointer during the session.
At that time I felt something brush beside me. It made me have goose bumps and it felt like the temperature dropped. I just ignored it; the window was slightly opened in my room and so I got up and closed it, when I remembered you’re not supposed to leave at any time during the session. After a while of asking dumb questions and not getting a response, I started to ask a question. Just then, all of the candles blew out. I knew I had closed the windows and there were no fans on, so what could have done that? Hands still on the Ouija board, I saw my friends face - she looked uneasy, almost if she had seen something and didn’t want to tell us. The pointer moved, and everyone looked shocked that it had; it began spelling something out. I had my friend write it down, as she was the designated recorder for the whole session. She wrote down what it said and repeated it aloud.
"YOU LEFT US"
There was a loud crash heard downstairs.
We were all positive now that we were contacting a ghost, and I was the first to say something aloud.
At this point we were all standing up - when the unthinkable happened: the Ouija board moved all on its own, aggressively sliding back and forth on the board. My friend was writing down what it said, and she showed us the results – just the words “YOU LEFT US” over and over, over and over. The board started to float; I fell down from the genuine shock, my heart racing. There was a scream like nothing I had ever heard in my life, an ear piercing, blood curdling scream that came from the direction of the board. The board flew in my direction, almost hitting me in the head.
I heard a demonic voice, and it chuckled. I was drenched in sweat from fear, my knees almost wanting to give in. I stood up to go look for my friends in the dark and I heard a scream come from downstairs in the kitchen. One of my friends, standing in front of a body, blood pooled on the floor and crying loudly, the body was my other friends. I yelled and fell to my knees and screamed at the top of my lungs, and then broke down in tears, his throat was slit and there were several knife wounds throughout his whole body. I knew we had to get out now.
I managed to pick myself up and grabbed my friend; I had to force her away from the corpse, still crying. I went to go to the front door and I noticed the door wasn’t there. Gone, the door was gone. I was filled with fear. I ran upstairs to go down the hallway when I noticed my friend wasn’t holding my hand anymore. She was gone and I heard a loud crash from the living room downstairs. I ran as fast as I could downstairs to the living room and saw it. There was a knife floating in the air, chopping into my friend who was on the couch. Blood was now drenching the couch, splattering the walls. She was gurgling, screaming, trying to fight the attacker off, but I was again frozen in fear watching all of this happen; her voice becoming weaker as the attacker continued to stab her over and over, her throat already slit. I could see him now, the apparition. His eyes were hollow, and his face was severely deformed, his head looked like it had been smashed in, and he was wearing a tattered white shirt and torn up brown pants. His hands were soaked in blood, and I screamed at him as loud as I could. He just stared at me with his hollow eyes and walked forward and disappeared, I screamed and fell to my knees.
Both of my friends are dead.
All manner of thoughts filled my head, when I felt something.
It was sticking out of my chest, and then it disappeared; a searing pain went through my body as the wound began to bleed, and then I felt it again, again, until it reached my throat, a fiery hot pain. I grabbed at my throat seeing blood trickling down my hands and all down my shirt to the ground.
I fell flat slowly fading from reality, hearing the cackle over and over, until finally I faded away.
Police Report from March 12, 2012
Today, three bodies were found at the Brair residence, multiple stab wounds covering the bodies along with a slashed throat on everybody, the words you left us were found written in blood on the wall in the living room. The murder weapon was not recovered but appears to be a knife or a blade of some kind. The murderer has not been found.