Copyright 2015 by Lisa Rehfuss
which oneto share with you. These are true stories with witnesses ready to confirm
events as reported.
For 10 years, I worked as a consultant to ad agencies. My work found me in Texas, New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts, to name a few locations. This story takes place at a year long assignment I had in South Carolina.
One particularly beautiful Saturday, I packed a chair, towel, and a beach bag full of suntan lotion, a good book and assorted other sundries into the car. I wore a sleeveless turquoise t-shirt and pair of shorts over my one piece bathing suit. Driving pass the ad agency on my way to the beach, I made a quick decision to make a detour to pick up a folder left on my desk.
The agency was housed in a two-story home on a small residential street. The living room was now the reception area, the sunroom my office. Large windows filled the office I shared with the Production Manager. Fortunately we both enjoyed the sun so kept the blinds up all year long.
As I picked up the folder I took a look outside. A half-acre of healthy grass, a shade darker than traffic light green, bordered a sapphire blue sky. The contrast was stunning, as much as surreal. If I’d seen these colors used in a painting, I’d think the artist too whimsical and brush heavy.
The direct line to my phone rang. Caller I.D. showed my sister Linda calling. I picked up the phone and smiled as she chided me for working yet another Saturday. I told her she was lucky to catch me at my desk and reminded her this was the first Saturday she caught me in the office. At least this assignment afforded me the opportunity to work overtime from home.
Linda took a moment to share a story about our mother when in the middle of her telling a sense of dread overwhelmed me. Sheer panic followed. Where did this dark sensation coursing through my body come from? Why were all my warning sensors engaged? Every muscle in my body sprang alive alerting me to a present danger. I looked through the archway to the office next door to mine– the Media Director’s office – that use to be the dining room. Always hot, the Media Director kept her shades drawn. The room was dark, but I could still see.
Nothing was there.
Then again, something was definitely there.
Pure, unadorned evil invisible to the eye, fully visible to the senses, sat square in the middle of that room. It commanded, “LEAVE” No punctuation mark needed.
Interrupting Linda, I said, “I have to go.”
“What’s going on?” Linda was alarmed. She later told me my voice was so shaky she thought someone had a gun trained on me.
“There’s something evil here and I don’t have time to talk about it. It wants me gone.” Growing up with ghosts she didn’t scoff. To us, ghosts are as common as a cockroach that finds its way into your home. The only difference is you might be able to convince the cockroach to leave.
Still, Linda loves ghost encounters and urged me to describe exactly what I saw and was experiencing.
Above me I heard a crash. It was the unmistakable sound of a metal file cabinet tipping over with each drawer sliding off track. The bottom drawer hit the wooden floor first, with every other drawer following in quick succession at various speeds and intensity.
My friend Charla’s office is above mine. When you walk into her office, there are five file cabinets lined up against the wall on the right hand side.
Another file cabinet tipped over and the obvious sound of its drawers sliding off track was heard.
“I have to go now,” I banged the phone down and hesitated when I heard the third file cabinet fall over.
Which way to go? If I went through the Media Director’s office would I run right into it? If I detoured around through the kitchen, would that scaredy cat move leave me more vulnerable? My instinct is to always face situations straight on. What's more, hadn’t the malevolent presence moved upstairs? Overhead, the fourth file cabinet crashed, its drawers quickly sliding onto the floor.
I bolted through the Media Directors office, out through the reception area and started to cry when I had to stop at the alarm box by the front door to set the code. This left my back vulnerable to the staircase right behind.
I can’t tell you what happened the rest of the weekend. What I can tell you is what happened on Monday morning when I got to work, late. Typically I was the first to arrive, but not Monday. I was the last person through the door.
Immediately, I took the stairs to the 2nd floor and walked into Charla’s office. There, up against the wall were her five file cabinets without a visible scratch or dent. I barely said ‘hello’ to Charla as I stared at the cabinets then examined the wood flooring where there wasn’t one chip or mark.
“Are you okay?” Charla asked.
Out spilled my story.
Charla gasped, “I’m so sorry, Lisa. It never even occurred to me until just this minute that you never got the employee handbook.”
What an odd response.
“Let’s go see Nat.” Nat being the agency president.
We went down to his office and Charla simply said, “Lisa came into work this weekend.”
Nat’s smile faded and face paled. He apologized profusely as he too quickly came to the same conclusion as Charla; I hadn’t been provided an employee manual. He then went on to explain that when they bought the house ten years ago frightening ‘episodes’ (I soon learned this was a popular expression when explaining the unexplainable) immediately started to occur. Since the house was purchased through a bank auction, no one knew its history, so when things got really strange, they ran a background check on the former owners.
The house used to be owned by known devil worshippers.
When a bloody pentagram was found on the concrete floor of what would have been the original garage, it gave everyone pause. The cops were called. Tests were run to determine whether the blood extracted from the floor was animal or human and though animal blood was evident, they couldn’t conclusively discount the existence of human blood.
Holy water was sprinkled, a priest did an exorcism and various other worldly practitioners all tried their hand at freeing the house of the evil entity within. Yet, the creature continued to lurk.
By trial and error they realized that as long as everyone left work by 7pm, and as long as no one came in over the weekend, peace reigned.
It’s the reason strict hours were set, but no one thought to tell the consultant who never received an employee handbook.
About a month later, we held a baby shower for three women in the office who were scheduled to give birth within a week of one another. We purchased car seats and under the guise of a Mexican theme, stuffed 3 piñatas full with baby paraphernalia. It was a fun party. In the middle of cleaning up 6 radios in various locations throughout the agency suddenly turned on. The volume increased on some while several of us watched the dial on the old radio in the kitchen turn, leaving the radio in static mode. Lights flickered. In the back of the house came a steady pounding.
Someone yelled, “It’s 7:05!”
I witnessed 35 women stampede out of the house and cursed myself for being the last one to leave. It meant I had to stop and punch in the alarm code.
Later, I wondered why they bothered to set an alarm at all. Obviously they had the best protector of the house in residence.
For 17 years, my sister Elaine and I shared a bedroom. She's 13 months older than I am, and let me say straight out - we're polar opposites.
She’s a night owl; I’m an early bird.
She’s super intelligent; I’m a daydreamer.
Still, we've always been the best of friends.
One night when we were 7 and 8, we were having a particularly hard time getting to sleep.
With two full time jobs and nine children to shepherd through life, our parents insisted bedtime be strictly adhered to, so we knew better than to make any noise notifying our parents we were still up.
We discovered that the street lamp outside our house illuminated the far wall of our bedroom and came up with a quiet activity. Shadow puppets. Soon dancing bears, cats, and a lion graced our wall. We quietly giggled when Elaine’s lion pounced on my cat, devouring it in the process.
Eventually, Elaine worked on a giraffe with her two hands, while I worked on making two bunnies hop over one other. Elaine’s hands stilled. I looked over at her and witnessed a look of terror on her face.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Wave your hands,” she ordered.
“Wave your hands,” she whispered, rising panic in her voice.
I waved my hands.
Elaine waved her hands and it was then I saw what she did. There was a huge hand making a large shadow puppet spider in the corner. Up and down it went, bouncing at the bottom and then up and down again.
I whispered, “It's Peter.”
Our brother Peter, two years older than me, was a prankster. Just three nights before he hid under our sister Linda’s bed in order to reach up and grab her arm when she reached across to turn off the light on her bedside table. Linda screamed for five minutes.
Surely, Peter must be behind the spider still playing on our wall. We turned on the light and looked everywhere for him - in the closet, under the beds, behind the clothes rack, under the two desks, and even under the dresser, though he would need to be flat-so man to fit under the dresser. Nada. Nothing. No one.
“Maybe we were seeing things,” I offered.
Elaine wasn’t convinced. She knew what she saw and knew I saw the hand too. After looking under, over and through everything again, we finally agreed to get back into bed, turn off the light to see if the spider returned.
The hand even waved to us as soon as the light was turned off and it could once again display it’s creepy, shadowy self.
When our dad came bursting through the door, he immediately turned on the light. We screamed for him to turn it off so he could see the spider shadow puppet. Confused, he hesitated, and then sat on my bed, asking Elaine to come over and join us. We talked over each other telling him what had happened. Could it be Peter? Dad, could it?
He told us Peter was in bed and that what we saw was probably the shadow of a tree branch. “NO! We saw a hand, Dad! A big hand making a spider shadow puppet on our wall!”
He assured and reassured us and even took a tour of the bedroom to reinforce that no one was lurking in our room. Dad then turned off the light and pointed out how one branch, when the wind caught it just right, fell into our play space and surely that is what we saw.
Dad gave us a kiss good-night, tucked us in and told us to get to sleep. We heard his footsteps go down the hallway and then the stairs. As soon as we heard the thump of his shoes on the foyer’s wood floor, we watched the hand slowly reappear.
First the middle finger stretched out.
Then the index finger showed itself.
Each finger slowly came into view.
The spider reemerged.
When all fingers were in full display, the hand started going up and down an imaginary web, bouncing at the bottom like a real spider might do.
Elaine hid under her blanket and I followed her lead.
We never could explain the spider shadow puppet, but over the years, other, some would say more frightening, occurrences with the hand gave us pause. Two things of note. The hand always appeared to both of us - no solitary scare visits! And, when Elaine left for college it stopped it’s nightly visits. Thankfully.
THE HORSE HANDLER
This ghost surprised the hell out of me because unlike other ghosts who typically make their presence known soon after I move into a place, this one waited a year before showing himself.
I was living alone in an apartment in Massachusetts. It was a weeknight so I was in bed by 11:00pm, only to awaken 30 minutes later. I remember looking at the clock and still fuzzy brain and bleary eyed, thought, “what the hell woke me up?”
I knew it had to be something because my body and mind were in sleep mode. It was then I saw the guy at the end of my bed.
Thinking, “Oh, the guy at the end of my bed woke me up”, I put my head back on the pillow when my brain shouted an alarm.
“THERE’S A GUY AT THE END OF MY BED!”
He stood there with a cap low on his head, a furrowed brow, a lipless thin slash of a mouth, and wore a checkered shirt and dirty jeans. His hands were clenched in fists. Fists that he squeezed with each hard thought in his head.
I sleep on my stomach so by the time I twisted around and sat up with a scream at the ready, he was mere inches away. Floating before me was his face, his neck and shoulders being the only other body parts showing. His eyes were dark holes, his mouth in a wide scream with no audio.
A squeak came out of my mouth, but that was it. You can’t imagine how scared I was first thinking an intruder had gotten in my apartment and then finding this grotesque head floating in front of me.
Within seconds the veins in his face appeared, first red, then green and then they changed to blue. The whole time his mouth is contorted in an open wide terror scream. When the veins in his face turned to blue he started to drift away. He was in the middle of the room when I had the thought, “please go out the window, please.” It was summer and the window was cracked open. I knew if he went out the window he was a ‘passing’ ghost. If he didn’t go out the window, he was a ghost who resided in the house. I needed him to go out that window.
His image withered, turning into a wisp of smoke and disappeared, ‘poof’, about a foot from the window.
He lives here.
The next morning on the way to work I ran into my landlady, Linda, who was working in the garden. She and her husband had the apartment across the hall from mine. Their daughter and her two kids lived upstairs on the second floor.
I said, “I have to ask you something.”
Without missing a beat she stood up, concern washed over her face and asked, “Is it that old guy in the cap and plaid shirt again?”
Come to find out, he’d been haunting the house for years. Linda had never seen him, but then again she lived with her husband and from what she was able to piece together over the years, this particular ghost didn’t bother men. Any man who rented the apartment never had a problem. Only women. She had tried to convince her husband to rent only to men, but he thought the whole thing hooey.
It was after hearing the same story of the same ghost from five different women that Linda looked into the history of the house.
It used to belong to a Hollywood starlet who purchased it for her brother so he could manage a stable of horses. It gave him a job and her opportunity to ride horses when she was in town visiting relatives on the east coast. One night the barn caught fire and the brother died trying to save the horses. Linda believed the ghost was the starlet’s brother, angry that people were living in the house that he loved so much.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“I’ve lived with ghosts, no worries.” I responded.
I didn’t realize at the time how much I would have to worry about the old guy. You see, I knew the trick to living with a ghost was not to let them get under your skin. If they find a way in, they’ll torture you. Certainly the many I’ve encountered are pranksters, but there are some who are plain evil or angry. I’ve run into evil before and my advice to anyone who comes up against evil is to keep running. For the angry ones? Apparently there are no good therapists on the other side to deal with their anger issues, and though you don’t have to run from them, it’s best to make plans quickly to leave. Angry ghosts won’t leave.
I should mention another odd thing that occurred. I’m telling you this even though I know it will never fully express how terrifying and odd an occurrence it was. The very day after I saw the ghost and the very morning after that discussion with my landlady, I found myself arriving at work early. The office park sat back from the road with our particular office building about a ¼ mile in.
Isolated. Very Isolated.
When I arrived, there were no other cars in the parking lot, not one soul around, until I got to the steps of the building. From around the corner of the building appeared a new maintenance guy. I was friendly with the maintenance crew employed by the office park, that’s how I know he was new. His cap was drawn low over his eyes, which I could tell were fixed on me. He stood at the corner of the building clenching his fists in the same manner as the ghost from the night before. This action and a sense that he was going to do me harm was unnerving. I walked up the steps grateful the front door was unlocked so I didn’t have to fumble with keys, and preceded up the interior steps to the company’s office on the second floor.
The office building is fronted with glass. There are ten steps up to a small landing, then a turn to ones’ left and another ten steps to reach the 2nd floor. When I turned on that small landing, I could see the maintenance man at the front door looking at me with sheer hatred. His fists clenched and unclenched hard by the side of his body as he followed my ascent. His eyes never left me. I willed myself to continue climbing the stairs in an unhurried fashion. When I got to the second floor, away from his view, I ran to the office, unlocked the door, relocked it and tried to calm my nerves.
That afternoon when I saw the head of maintenance I asked about the new hire.
“What new hire?”
“I saw a guy this morning in one of your maintenance uniforms.”
“No one new has been hired as far as I know.”
Obviously as head of maintenance he would know if a new employee had been hired.
There was only one other person who saw this guy - one of my co-workers. He had freaked her out as well. When she passed him in the parking lot and said, ‘hello’ he gave her such an icy glare, it sent chills down her back. In fact, before I was able to ask her if she’d seen him around, she told me of her encounter because she was concerned. “He looked like he was going to strangle me, if given the chance.” For the next three months we walked together down to the parking lot.
I couldn’t help putting together the equation - the ghost + this guy = evil personified.
I never saw the maintenance guy again, but I did hear from the ghost, nightly. He would slam open and shut kitchen cabinet doors and drawers between two and three in the morning. The only way to stop the madness was to walk into the kitchen and turn on the light. Oftentimes I wasn’t able to get back to sleep even though I kept counseling myself that I shouldn’t let him bother me. If I let him bother me, he wins.
He had already won, I just wasn’t ready to admit it.
One night when I came home from work, I was tired, cranky and had enough. It was mid-July and a heat wave with temperatures topping 100+ degrees had been with us for a few days. I stood in the middle of my living room and said out loud something along the lines of, “please, for the love of sanity, if you want to visit me, do it now. I need sleep, so bring it on right now, right this minute.” There were tears in my eyes. I was tired, rattled and unraveled.
A large BOOM sounded in the closet on my left. When I opened the door a blast of cold air hit me. Nothing was disturbed in the closet and no one was home upstairs. Fortunately that was all he had in his bag of tricks that day. I guess I should be grateful that he allowed me one good night’s sleep.
I called a ghost buster organization operating out of a university in Florida who for the price of airfare would come and rid the house of ghosts. They needed access to every room and I couldn’t convince my landlord to allow them in even after I offered to pay their expenses. Linda tried to convince her husband to allow the ghost busters, but he couldn’t be reasoned with.
I liked the apartment and really didn’t want to move.
After six weeks of the ghost’s nightly cupboard fun and games I’d had it. One night when I went out to the kitchen to turn the light on to get him to stop, there was a knock on my door. Timid to open it up, unsure of what I would find, I heard my landlord’s voice ask if everything was okay. It was odd they hadn’t heard all the ruckus before, but their bedroom was on the other side of the house and I just assumed most nights they were in bed unaware of the torture happening in the apartment they rented to unsuspecting females.
I opened the door and with tears in my eyes told him that no, everything is not okay. The ghost has gotten under my skin, you won’t let me bring in professionals to rid the place of him and he’s driving me crazy. That pounding you heard? That’s him, every night slamming open and shut the cupboard doors. He wants me gone, and while I tried to not let him get under my skin, he’s upsetting me and I have to go, I have to GO.
He then sat down with me and told me that a couple of years back a Christmas tree they put in the living room in his daughter’s apartment on the 2nd floor kept getting moved back to the front porch. Normally they put the tree on the front porch, but decided to try something different that year. Three times, in the middle of the night, that tree was moved back onto the front porch with needles and broken ornaments evidence of the trail.
“You believe there is a ghost here?” I asked, surprised because up to this point he seemed to pooh-pooh the idea.
He waved his hand in dismissal and walked out of my kitchen not uttering another word.
I’m not sure why he told me the Christmas tree story. In some ways it felt as if he was finally acknowledging the presence of the ghost, but realizing what he was admitting to, quickly backed off.
When I left two weeks later I had a new dog, a new apartment and a sense of peace. I also started getting sleep.
I bumped into Linda at the grocery story about two months later. She told me that once again she begged her husband not to rent the apartment to a woman. He shrugged off the suggestion and rented it to a young woman about to be married. She needed a place for only two months.
She stayed in the apartment three weeks. Against her strong moral and religious convictions she
moved into her fiancé’s 2nd bedroom until their wedding.
Linda’s eyes moistened as she admitted her husband was still of the opinion a female tenant in that
apartment was a perfectly sound idea.