I DID IT. I SURVIVED. I survived a night in this house. And even if “spend a night in a haunted house” wasn’t on my bucket list before, it is now – and it’s scratched off. Because I did it.
Ok, so I didn’t actually see ghosts. (Can you imagine Aunt Prissy as a ghost? She’d come hobbling up to you and clasp her hands and in her screechy little voice beg, “oh, please, oh, please could you maybe possibly keep the noise down slightly?” and then go scurrying off, embarrassed at the thought of having to ask a favor. Not your typical ghost). But I trudged – practically tunneled my way up the rickety stairs, because of the piles of things on each step – not just books and papers, but old clothes and bedsheets, cleaning supplies, Christmas garland and ribbon – you can imagine. But I had to go upstairs (or so I thought) since I couldn’t exactly sleep in either the kitchen or the living room, which are the only two rooms on the first floor.
Well, upstairs is just as bad. There are three tiny rooms, a bathroom, and a linen closet; that is all. I could hardly open the door to the bedroom, because it was crammed with more stuff; the second room was piled high with plastic storage boxes, labeled in large messy Sharpie handwriting with things like “Mom’s dining room linens,” “Ed’s stuff,” “winter sweaters,” “winter blankets,” “things to fix,” “PHOTOS,” even an entire box filled with old stuffed animals. I started sneezing as soon as I opened the door, so I closed it again and went to the third room. The third room, though even smaller than the others, was nearly empty. There was a desk, a chair, and a typewriter. Yeah, legit, a typewriter. An unusually neat pile of blank paper sat on the floor on one side, and an unusually neat pile of typed paper sat on the floor on the other side. I picked up the top sheet, but I couldn’t tell what it was; it sounded like a letter telling some people about a trip to Florida. As far as I know, she’s never been to Florida, but I guess I can’t say for sure. I guess I don’t know Aunt Prissy all that well; I don’t really know anything more than what Mom has told us, or those few visits when we were younger.
Anyway, so I thought I was going to sleep in her room, so I pulled my suitcase up the stairs, but as soon as I put on my PJs and finally pushed my way past the books blocking the door, I realized the bed was covered in papers. Of course. And by this time, I wasn’t about to start cleaning. So I went downstairs and made myself a cup of tea. She has a cute little green kettle on the stove, and I thought, hey, why not? So I put the kettle on and pulled a mug out of the cupboard and was feeling almost cozy, when I found her tea stash. Well … it’s not real tea. I mean, I’ve had herbal tea before, but this stuff was different. It was something called tisane; the box was all in French. I couldn’t find any other kind, so I tried it out. When I poured water over it, it turned a sickly kind of green-yellow and smelled like rotten vegetables. I dumped it and poured myself a glass of water.
By this time, I was tired, so I thought I would curl up in the chair in the living room. Like I said, it’s one of those big plush chairs that you fall into and can’t always get out of again. So I turned off the light and tumbled into the chair and closed my eyes.
It was a little windy outside, and I could hear the leaves rustling outside the front door. The old house creaked, from the kitchen all the way upstairs; at one point, I thought I heard a car drive by. It was all just your typical white noise, the sorts of sounds that help you sleep. And then, I heard other things. Scratches. The sort that makes your skin crawl. Scratches against the door and against the outside walls. Ticking on the roof: tick-tick-tick … and then it paused … and again, click-click-click. Swishing, scraping, moaning – I opened my eyes, and in the darkness, all I could see were two red eyes glowing at me from outside the window.
I jumped from the chair (as well as I could – you would have laughed – it was a bit inelegant) and flicked on the light. The eyes were gone; the swishing stopped; the ticking stopped; all was still. I still had goosebumps up and down my arms, though, and I looked around for a bat or pole. In all this stuff, Auntie doesn’t seem to have kept anything for self-defense. Well, there were knives in the kitchen drawers, but I didn’t feel satisfied until I found a garden hoe by the back door in the kitchen.
You know how people decide to go “investigate” in slasher movies? Well, you can bet I did no such thing. I pulled all the blinds on all the windows, double checked the locks on the doors, and brought the hoe with me into the living room. I had a moment of questionable sanity where I took a glance at the pantry’s empty glass bottles, but most of them were canning jars, and I don’t think they would be able to balance on any doorknob. Hey, a night alone in a creaky old house could turn anyone into a conspiracy theorist. Just saying.
I left a light on in the kitchen pantry, grabbed the hoe, and returned to the chair. I felt slightly foolish, sitting there immersed in this chair, holding on to the hoe for dear life, listening for any sound. My ears felt like they would explode. No sound. Not one. The wind had died down, the ticking and scratching were gone … I was almost asleep, when I was startled awake by another noise, entirely different and entirely unexpected.