My Haunted House – an autobiographical novella inspired by It Happened To Me featured in the amazing Fortean Times.
I saw the shadows straight away, if shadows they are, as soon as I settled into the apartment; weaving along the book shelves under the stairs and across the top of the TV.
Something which should not be there but was, or rather, an absence of what should be there which is replaced not by a shadowy shape as such but with a very dark nothingness. It is as if creatures have lived here and didn’t want to leave, as their memory of being alive fades all that remains is where they were. It was something like that anyway, and after a while it settled down as if they had got used to me.
They do reoccur at times; when there are disturbances or new visitors or when the shopkeeper is agitated, but more of him later.
I had felt shivers on the stairs and occasionally a feeling of being crowded as well as the shelves by the door rattling sometimes and even losing a few of the contents to the floor. I didn’t think too much of it at the time.
Not the actual shelf unit
Then the project came in, three of us working together, Gramey at the computer, Helen and I at the table building the display incorporating his printed designs. At one point in the late afternoon I moved over to the settee of my one downstairs room to sit and write up a fee ideas. After a while Helen looked up and said, “Is your cat alright going out?” I haven’t got a cat and I told her so. “Yes it just got up from in front of the telly, its a funny looking thing, and wandered out of the door.”
I looked up as she pointed at the door, which was shut and indeed locked. “The door is locked and anyway I haven’t got a cat.” – “Yes you do,” came the reply, this time from Gramey over in the corner, “it has been laid on the mat all afternoon.” I haven’t got a mat.,
Not long after this I went along to the local spiritualists centre as they had a medium on, and I got a message. Among other things which he told me connected to my family, he also said that the house I had moved into was full of ghosts. They were everywhere, (he looked a little confused for a second), it is a portal to the world of spirit, no, spirits come and go through this door.
I was a little perturbed at the idea and mentioned my feelings to a friend over the tea and biscuits. She gathered a group around me. We had been talking for a while about having get togethers where we developed our own spiritual abilities, it was decided they all wanted to ‘meet’ my ghosts so the first session should be at my place.
All of them were my age or older except for one younger woman of around twenty eight. We nattered over coffee and cake and then I asked if we were all ready for getting started. They all wondered how we should go about things, I suggested we kicked things off by going round them Pom saying what we wanted to explore. They thought I should go first so I said I wanted to find out more about my spirits and their portal. That was it, no more suggestions came forward, as they all wanted to get stuck into this job. Our evening was shaped; we meditated, we called upon our loved ones and guides to aid and protect us. Then the messages and images started flowing. One lady picked up on the shadow beings and described them in more detail, she detected a few distinct types, another felt airy fluttering in one corner and connected with light bright colour, another saw a flowing S shape hanging near the stair rail, and yes, you guessed it, a cat upon the mat.
More came from around the circle, at least one more cat on the stairs, a man in the centre rubbing his hands, a door through to the next door apartment (where my shelves are), cages here and there, and a few mealy smells like grains or seeds or some such. There was also mention of a feeling of being crowded and large creatures waiting to move through the wall. That one wasn’t solved on this particular evening but I picked up on the man too, I described him as being attentive as if waiting to see what we wanted, he had a large white old fashioned handlebar mustache and a short grey overall coat.
It was then that the younger one of us spoke up. She remembered visiting this place many times as a child. She came here with her parents to buy hamster food, it had been a pet shop. I was intrigued at the idea that the younger person among us was the one with the memories which verified our ‘messages’. Us older ones are more used to being the ones with recollections of how things used to be.
“The bird cages were over there,” she pointed near the window where the airy flutterings were detected, the empty shadows were where the reptiles, snakes and spiders resided, there was a door through to next door as that was the aquarium shop; this door was where my shelf unit stood – the portal had been discovered.
She went on to match up the shop details to our memories, the wavy S shape was the tail of a chinchilla which perched up near the stairs and our descriptions of the shopkeeper match exactly to her memory.
People react unexpected ways when having such encounters and it turned out shopkeeper had been seen before. When I told Helen all about my spooky evening she said, “Ah yes, that’s the man I saw.” she hadn’t mentioned it at the time so I asked further, it was the day of the cat, he was in the kitchen, but she had only seen him through a gap in the cupboards when she had been sat at the computer. He had looked through at her as if wondering why she was there, but when she had stepped around the cupboards there was no one there, “You could only see him through the gap.”
I think the crowded feeling has been solved now, I hadn’t said anything about my experiences to the others in the mews, but my other neighbour at the time mentioned one day that he wakes up with a feeling his face is wet as if splashed. Not long after this I chatted to an old guy who does the maintenance. Before my place had been a pet shop, and my left hand neighbours the aquariums, they had been cow byres.
The craft shop down on the main street had been a butchers and the cattle were brought up the mews to our places. This I think is the reason for the crowded sensation I sometimes feel. He went on to say that there was a doorway in my right hand wall and the cattle were led through there to slaughter. The other buildings between there and the shop were for butchering and storage.
I believe that I feel these creatures presence when they are nearing the time of transfer to their final destination, one at a time through the doorway. I then had a chilling thought; the wet splashing – that is the blood of the ghostly cattle as they re-echo their moment of dying. I haven’t told my current neighbours.
I do have a cat, I brought her with me from my old house; Fluffy – well the spirit of Fluffy.
We was a lovely cat and she adored me. She was a large chocolate brown with golden fleck. She never went out of the house, she was a rescue cat and my niece turned up with her for me. The RSPCA had her since she was found in a cupboard. Someone had moved out and locked her and her kitten in a small dark space with a pile of cat food. Six weeks it was till someone else moved in – and Fluffy was still alive, but only just. When she was brought to me she ran upstairs to the attic and hid under a bed. She would sneak down in the night and eat and use her tray; three months she lived like this, then one morning I saw her creeping round the corner of the loving room. She never went up to my attic bedroom again, well except on a few special occasions. If anything ever went wrong in my life, a loss or a sudden shock she could tell I was down. When it neared time that I was thinking of going to bed she would go and sit at the bottom of the stairs. As I approached she ran to half way up, and as she ran it was as if her mew box would rattle, ‘mewmewmewmewmew’. I would catch her up, she would run to the top, and so on all the way to the attic. She would stand by the door till I was in bed, then she would climb up onto my chest, but only for a minute or so, then she would meow and go out the door.
Obviously I was very sad when she passed away. Only a month later something went badly wrong in life and I took myself to bed feeling down. As soon as I lay down I heard, ‘mewmewmewmewmew’ and then a pressure on my chest, only for a minute or so.
After I moved I cycled past my old home and I got the overwhelming feeling that Fluffy was looking for me. I called to her and I am sure she followed me home.
Recently there was another calamity in my life and as I flopped into bed I heard the familiar sound, ‘mewmewmewmewmew’ and then a pressure on my chest.
Fluffy is still with me.
So are my Bambi Angels.
I was invited to visit another spiritualist centre, this one was out in the sticks. A couple with a farm decided to build a church in their garden and, wow, people came from far and wide.
Sam took me along there to a development evening. It was a lovely friendly place and soon we gathered in a comfortable circle. As we were settling a late comer arrived; a very large man in really oily clothing came in and pulled up a chair. We started a guided journey then after a few minutes the facilitator said, “I am really sorry, I would never normally stop a meditation once it has started but you really do need to close your eyes”,.she was looking at oily man. He spoke in an incredibly deep gruff voice and explained that he always worked with his eyes open and then froze with palms open and eyes fixed ahead. As we continued I could not resist the odd peek as did everyone around the circle.
When the session drew to a close I was getting up to find a coffee when suddenly the dark oily figure was looming over, great big eyes bearing down into my chair, “You have spirits all around you,” boomed the gravely voice, “but not in the form of people who you have met, they are little animals, baby deer, bunnies, dormice, baby goats. Do you have a connection to animals?” I said that I didn’t especially (not counting my ghostly pet shop pals). There was a thoughtful stare, then, “Ah, they are cartoon animals, like Disney; Bambi and that.”
I think he saw my doubtful look, as, after a pause he went on to explain, these were ancient spirits, they had been gone so long no one would recognise their former earthly form so they could take any shape they pleased. I need their lightness and playfulness to stop me being negative.
Now, to summarise, I am surrounded at home by three lots of creatures, Fluffy, the pet shop boys and girls, and my Bambi Angels.
Do not be thinking it’s all about animals, there is the shop keeper yes, but there is a regal lady to, although she is an occasional caller.
The honorable Lady Joan of Barley Hall no less, our Lady Mayor of long ago.
I was doing a series of storytelling sessions at York’s celebrated, rebuilt, medieval hall and had been including tales told to me of hauntings there. I was readying myself to be on my way to work and thinking what material to use when I had a sudden wish to look in my crystal ball. It would mean I would miss my bus but I just had to do it. Straight away I saw a tall elegant lady, (not your standard beauty perhaps but incredibly alluring), I hadn’t been thinking of her but I immediately said, “Lady Joan!” Then the voice filled my mind, “It is all green. I used to have colour.” An image of the long table appeared, then centred upon two tall jugs with thin handles, they had stripes down of slim bright colour.
I put the ball down and rushed to work. I told the staff all about this, none of them had seen such pottery, then a quiet voice in the corner invited us to look at her recent purchase. She had visited a museum in Attick and bought the guide book. It had a pictorial section of Barley Hall when it was first opened. There on the table were the jugs I had described. It turned out later one had been broken so the other was put away. If you go in there now you will see it out on the long table.
That night when I got in I thought, I must write this story. For the sake of a bit of drama I held the name back till the end of the story. As I wrote, ‘It was Lady Joan,’ all the contents of my shelves by the door emptied out across the room.
That was the event which prompted me to encourage them to get that jug out of store.
I mentioned the chills on the stairs earlier and problems were accelerating. I came home recently and I had left the lights on and the door curtain open. As I was about to unlock the door I saw a shape under the table. It was a nothing. A snake was out of its cage. By I had the door open it had dissipated, I stood wondering and another bunch of things fell off my craft shelves and hit me in the back.
My nights were to become restless, as well as the increasing chills, I started being woken by my bed shaking, and then by loud rapping on my bedroom door.
A natural medium visited. After muttered discussions upstairs, she came down to say she ahd spoken to shop keeper.
He understands now that he is no longer alive and that I am the rightful resident, but he cannot move on as he cannot find his cats.
I am now about to call upon the spirit of my own beloved cat and ask her to find these cats and bring them to the shop keeper so they can rise up together.