By Lawrence Miller
Investigator for Houston Paranormal Research Team
Contributor to Normal Paranormal
“You’re not crazy.” It’s something I say to a client at least once in just about every investigation. I’m not a psychologist or counselor, but I know most of the people that call our group want to hear those words more than they want concrete evidence that their house is haunted.
I got into paranormal investigations because I had an experience I couldn’t explain and I want to know more, sure. That’s why a lot of us are here. But I also know being there to tell people “You’re not crazy” has value. My own situation would have been made better by hearing “you’re not crazy” from someone from the outside. An impartial judge.
My paranormal incident started slowly, like most seem to.
I’d moved my family to South Carolina and hastily bought a house my wife and daughter had only seen in pictures. It was a split level, three bedroom with an addition over the garage that had a fourth bedroom and private bath. Kind of a perfect space for a teenager.
My wife had a bad feeling about the house as soon as she walked in.
Her first words after crossing the threshold were “Oh, no."
We both thought that was her natural reaction to the horrible yellow painted on every wall. In hindsight don’t we always want a logical explanation? And that yellow was horrible. It did nothing to brighten the dim interior of the house. There were windows everywhere. One previous owner had added a bay window to the front bedroom. Another had put a four by four foot picture window in the back of the kitchen. But the house was usually only lit by electric light. During our stay we replaced lighting fixtures with ones with more bulbs and hung a massive light in the dining room with something like forty lamps.
We had no idea we were reacting to something in the house, but we were.
I started seeing things out of the corner of my eyes about a month after we’d moved in. My day job has me working with computers so I tend towards logical reactions. I got new glasses. Wider lenses. Less room for unfocused things at the corner of my eyes.
They didn’t help.
In fact, once we had painted over the awful yellow with a cool grey I started to see things more often. What had been furtive movements just out of sight became more solid in appearance, less worried about being seen by me. Mostly just humanoid shapes and shadows around that time.
I went for my second logical explanation: I was crazy.
I didn’t tell my family. I didn’t seek counseling. I figured I’d be locked up. Hallucinations are serious level crazy, you know? While I hadn’t been a big drinker before, I found that alcohol made the hallucinations stop. That makes no sense. Being under the influence should make one more prone to seeing things that aren’t there, right? Again, I was convinced I was just losing it.
My daughter complained that she couldn’t sleep in the front bedroom with the bay window. She heard whispers at night. I went in sat next to the window in the dark and heard them, too. Gravel under tires outside? No, we lived on a cul-de-sac. Leaves rustling? No, there was no wind. But there were whispers. I could almost make out the words.
We moved her into the addition over the garage, and her paranormal experience ended.
In the time we lived in the house, six wireless routers died. The microwave. Two DVD players. Two televisions. The refrigerator. Three computers. It seemed anything plugged into a wall was at risk.
We called in electricians and while they all commented that the wiring was “odd” no one could find anything that would definitely point to surges or electrical damage. One jokingly suggested the house was haunted and I didn’t laugh. He noticed and followed with, “You ever watch those ghost shows on TV? I’m serious. This is weird.”
Of course I’d seen them. Everyone has seen them. Jerky camera work and creepy lighting and no solid evidence at the end. There is enough proof for everyone who wants to believe with enough room to leave the skeptical comfortable.
We called in the power company.
First, they found their connection to the house’s power system had been bridged with a stack of washers. Every bit of electricity going into the house was going through this stack of washers. A previous owner’s unfinished project, maybe?
It seemed everyone had left the house in the middle of some improvement project.
Anyway, they removed the stack of washers, pitted and burned with ancient electrical arc scars and rust. Then they turned off the master breaker to the house for testing before turning the source back on.
I watched them work by the street from the unnaturally dark house at three o’clock in the afternoon. They huddled together and looked at some piece of equipment and sent a guy back to the garage. I met him there and we verified the master breaker was still off. He went inside and walked around, flipping switches to no effect and verifying the power outage.
He went back to the street and they huddled again, five or six people from the power company. They called another truck in and an older man verified my house was still dark after about an hour and he swapped their piece of equipment (I wish I knew what it was) with one that looked identical. Then he shrugged and they turned the power back on. Before they left, I asked what the issue had been.
When they’d arrived, there had been large current draws from the house.
They blamed the stack of washers. Then they removed the washers and cut power to the house. And with nothing turned on, master breaker off, the house still drew massive spikes of power every ten minutes. Like clockwork. As he walked back to his truck, I think I saw him cross himself.
We continued to lose appliances.
A two dollar valve in the wall behind the ice maker malfunctioned and slowly flooded the subfloor.
The walls in the master bedroom sweated red, summer and winter. And the floors were sticky. Not like goopy sticky but like slightly tacky sticky. No matter how we’d mop, scrub, multiple cleansers gallons of mopping and the floor would still slightly stick to your shoes as you walked. The subfloor flood had us replace the tile in the kitchen. As soon as it was installed, brand new tile, it was sticky.
And the things I was seeing became more vivid.
I saw children playing in the backyard, a game of tag that carried itself around an old dogwood and over the surface of the pool. Uniformed men, at least three different ones, would pass me in the hallway or in front of the door.
Shadows were in more corners than not. And I was seeing things. Creatures. Reptilian. Insectoid. Hairy. Inhuman. And they seemed to always be watching us.
I still kept it between myself and vodka. That was the only thing that would stop the nightmares. I figured job stress and the house falling apart were worsening my “condition”. If I could see myself going insane did that mean I wasn’t? Or that I had limited time to make the distinction?
My wife was having trouble sleeping, as well.
We learned a lot about wine and craft beer.
She took Ambien from when she moved in until the side effects became too much. When she stopped taking it, she stopped sleeping for a while. A few hours a day in short naps was about it.
One morning she woke me at 4am.
She was in bed next to me working quietly on her laptop and she told me she’d seen “something”. She said it was on the floor next to her nightstand. She started to describe it and I knew what she had seen. I asked questions about the appearance and we filled in details for each other. It was definitely my most persistent “hallucination”, a three foot tall reddish big-eyed . . . thing.
I rolled out of bed and logged in to work early. I was working from home during the home repairs and it stuck into a full-time telecommuting job. I had a new data point in my insanity self-assessment. If we were sharing hallucinations, what did that mean? She was undoubtedly sleep deprived. Under stress. The room was dark, lit only by her laptop screen.
But I also knew we had seen the same thing.
She had seen the thing I’d been seeing for years. She wasn’t on Ambien anymore. Four AM is a sober time of day for an insomniac.
She began to see it more often, and the others I’d seen. She never slept at night anymore. She would go to bed until I went to sleep and then go to the living room to watch infomercials until dawn, when she would go back to bed for a few hours while I worked a few feet away.
I stopped seeing things almost completely.
What was in the house seemed to delight itself in showing off for my wife.
It culminated with our being physically attacked and moving out of the house in the middle of the night, taking only what we could fit in a U-Haul and returning to Texas. Our own half-finished projects were added to the list of the former owners.
None of the former residents of the house lived there for over two years.
We were there over three, with the third being the most “active”.
I’m in counseling now.
I’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress syndrome. I drink less, but not much less.
And I hunt ghosts.
Partially as therapy and partially for answers to my own questions but mostly because I get to tell people “You’re not crazy”. They always seems so happy to hear it. They curl in like they’ve been holding a breath too long. They smile and when we leave, they seem more ready to face whatever it is they are experiencing.
I hope it helps you in your own search.
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