They say you draw what you intend. If that is true, then I expect mine will be a horrifying death. My intentions are always toward the darkness. My imagination seeks out the irrational truths that are still, in fact, true. I’m a dark fiction author, so I love those places where sanity grows thin, and insanity tests the fortitude of the mind.
And yes, I am as fearful of the things that go bump in the night as the next person.
But, unlike most people, that fear both haunts me and fascinates me.
So much so that I let my imagination dive into its deep, dark depths.
That fascination has consequences.
For example, my house is haunted.
“Ah,” you might think, “He writes horror, so he bought an old and creepy house deep in the woods.”
I did not. It’s fairly new. Constructed in 2004 within a nice middle-class development. No previous murders within and the former homeowners only occupied it for a year. Whatever stomps around at night in the attic and hallway is a new occupant.
“Then surely he is crazy,” you shout.
Perhaps. But not that level of crazy. I’m too scientific to be fooled by the noises of a settling home, the sound of the AC unit rattling itself to sleep, or by the antics of an overactive imagination.
As I said, the cause is simply the consequences of delving into the darkness.
It is tempting to my ego to layout the proof of the haunting. To demonstrate, in other words, that my sanity is in check, and that this ghostly proclamation is not an irrational flight of fantasy. Or a prelude to my next book.
I might point out that as recently as last night, the hallway light, which I now leave on at bedtime, shut off. Well, it’s probably just . . . Yes, you are most likely correct . . . probably just.
But rather than debate the evidence, or cause and effect, or rational explanations, let’s assume there is a ghost, or two, and discuss how they came to arrive here.
I always love the next planned book more than the one I am working on completing. The book I am working on is the fourth and final in the Creepers Saga. And true to form, my mind and passion are captivated by the next project, a horror anthology called Graveyard Radio. That horror anthologies notoriously sell poorly has had no impact on my love and desire to create it.
It’s a project much larger than a novel.
The project includes a selection of stories, a limited podcast series of audio tales, and most germane to this conversation, a video trailer to promote it all.
Most important because that is where the trouble began.
Two years ago, I collected what I considered creepy items to include in this self-produced video trailer. I scoured the internet and eBay for old dolls, toys, rusty straight razors of the kind that barbers used, and any other object that might serve as a prop.
At the purchase of one particular item, I shared with the seller my intended use. He confessed that his reason for selling the object, a strange miniature Ferris wheel, was that it often turned long after the wind-up spring was exhausted. The single musical note it gave off during those random movements unnerved him. I felt thrilled to discover such a find.
There were no stories shared about the other items. Just silent sellers shipping things that were odd to be for sale in the first place. An old, yellow and red, clown bank. A strange cowboy marionette from Latin America, a rusted straight razor from the 1950s. And, of course, an old tube radio from the 1940s.
Sent from around the country they all arrived at my house. I unpacked each and placed them at various points around my office. And there they have all patiently waited for their moment of purpose in that someday movie trailer.
According to the paranormal researchers, things can be as haunted as places. It’s a belief that a spirit attaches itself to objects that are especially important or symbolic. And if not the actual spirit of the deceased, then at least the energy that surrounded the item when they possessed it in life.
The theory of energy exchange and release isn’t that crazy if you consider an object left out in the hot sun. When you bring that object inside, you can still feel (release) the heat (energy) it has collected (exchange).
Beliefs aside, upon bringing previously owned objects into one’s home, there is a wise and prudent course. The said object should be saged or salted at the very least. This allegedly releases both spirit and energy alike, sending them into the ether or at least out of your home.
I am, in this case, guilty of careless disregard for prudence. Or perhaps I believed (hoped) that the potential energy from these objects’ history might add to my project.
Shortly after their arrivals, my wife, my dog Zeus, and I began experiencing strange phenomenons.
Noises mostly for me. I say “mostly” because for the sane and rational person there are occurrences that we insist are nothing more than our imagination.
The “mostly” list included: Thumping sounds from an empty room. Scratching and bumping at the bedroom door. A series of odd water-related issues in the house.
Still, all perfectly explainable.
I blamed the dog for most of it. Although I’m confident Zeus had nothing to do with the washing machine overflowing, dishwasher blockage, or water that mysteriously seeped up from the concrete and tile floor.
For his part though, it did not go unnoticed how often he stared up the staircase to the darkness of the second-floor hallway.
We took to leaving on the hallway light. At dusk, and unspoken, one of us always turned it on.
My wife stated, in the more honest moments, that on occasion, she saw a man and sometimes to a little girl in the hallway. I didn’t test her claim. I averted my eyes when traversing the upstairs hallway.
If one can trust those strange feelings, the ones where the hairs on your neck stand up, then I felt confident the source of “whatever” was the walk-in closet in one of the now-empty bedrooms.
My wife held certainty, based on her observation of these man and girl shadows, that the source was my office.
As noted previously, my wife left back in May.
For a few months, it was just Zeus and me. I filled the space with more lights.
One night I had a dream. (I will never admit it was not a dream).
In the dream, the bedroom door swung open as I slept. Silhouetted in the hall light was a shadow-girl. Perfectly outlined and wholly black, she waved enthusiastically at me. I screamed, both in the dream and in real life.
After that, I took to locking the bedroom door. Sorry Zeus, but every man for himself when dealing with the paranormal.
The noises in the hallway continued. The bumps at the door became more frequent.
I could still tell myself it was Zeus. I could still vacuum away the footprint impressions on the thick carpet without too deep an inspection of their shape and size.
And then Zeus went to live with my wife, and I was alone.
And all the noises continue, except I can’t blame the dog.
Last night, at bedtime, I left the hallway light on as I always do. My hands were full with all the things I transfer to the bedroom each night – a tumbler of water in one hand, phone, iPad, notebooks in the other. Flick the bedroom light switch with my elbow, kick the door closed with my foot, put the tumbler on the dresser, turn and lock the door.
Thirty or so minutes later, when I was ready to sleep, I shut off the bedside lamp. The usual sliver of hallway light along the door frame did not appear.
The next morning I confirmed the hallway lights were not on. Maybe I did shut it off. That would be a new and spontaneous habit, but possible.
I’ll pay extra attention tonight. But what if again it is off?
Stay rational and call an electrician?
Keep assuming a more realistic cause than a room full of old toys?
I’m a dark fiction writer, and there are consequences to the trade.
One of them is this—
In the history of humankind, most everything we have ever imagined has become a reality by either our discovery or our creation.
Some are beautiful and some horrifying.
I side with Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the belief that “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
I’m not Horatio. I dream too much. And for a dark fiction writer, there are consequences.