Raised by a scientist, I look for the rational reasons behind events, but some situations are challenging to explain. The following is a true story, experienced by myself and my three children, and one guest.
We were living in student housing, about a mile off the Kent State University campus, where I was a returning adult student. The house was over 100 years old, and hadn’t seen an owner-resident in a long time. We had painted over the cracked wallpaper to give it at least a cleaner appearance, and hung some pictures over the worst of the pealing paper, but the cracks gave a charmingly old, lived in look to our temporary home. There was a toilet in the downstairs bedroom, leading to the unspoken conclusion that someone with a prolonged illness had been cared for here and eventually died in this home. This downstairs bedroom was assigned to my oldest son. If a house could be haunted by the spirits of the dead, this one seemed a likely candidate.
The younger children were assigned bedrooms upstairs near the master bedroom. The upstairs had many floorboards that would creak, and the smallest bedroom assigned to my youngest son had a closet with no door that our dog would stare and growl at for hours. “Maybe there is a mouse living in there,” I would tell my six-year-old. “The dog will get it sooner or later.” He would pull the covers up to his chin and be afraid to move as he tried to keep an eye on the closet until he fell asleep listening for every sound an old house makes each night.
One particular night my daughter had a friend sleep over. Unfortunately, a freak fall windstorm knocked the power out, so we had no television, and no lights except for candles and flashlights. The four children and myself sat on the sofa to talk and tell stories in the dark. As the temperature fell outside, the wood of the house started to flex, and as each board adjusted to the next the sound of footsteps clearly marched across the upstairs hall above us the entire length of the house, and down the stairs. Four sets of brown eyes were completely circled by white. Four children watched the stairs afraid to talk, barely breathing, waiting to see what spirit or apparition would appear. Four children completely rejected the scientific explanation of what was happening.
My daughter’s girlfriend never came to the house again, not even during the day. My youngest son refused to sleep in the upstairs bedroom, in the room with the closet and no closet door, and my older son moved into that room under duress. My older son talked for years about how unfair and down right creepy having to sleep in that room was. My daughter took the room with the toilet, and eventually adopted a cat. No mouse was ever caught.
Even with scientific explanations a dark, cold, windy night in a creaky hundred year old house can be creepy. But just in case we were haunted, I did thank the spirit for allowing us to live in its house while I was going to college, and promised to treat it respectfully.