MARK REED reveals a spooky experience of being watched by a ghostly presence at his then-girlfriend’s Wolverhampton home in the 1990s…
February 1997. On a main road, in a Midlands suburb, there is a six-bedroom, Victorian Townhouse. My (then) girlfriend and I had started seeing each other a few weeks ago, and I’d started to stay over at hers on weekend. Being young, and seemingly invincible, we would drink a lot and laugh and sleep. One night, she told me her house was haunted, perhaps as a warning, perhaps as mere detail, and I thought no more of it.
One Saturday morning, I woke up, in the middle of night – like that Larkin poem, “Aubade“. Without my glasses, I can’t see more than about six inches in front of my face, so I couldn’t see anything, if there was anything to see. I was wide awake suddenly – adrenaline pumping through me like magma, yet simultaneously exhausted. I squinted my eyes to the bedside clock, to see it was 4.10am. Outside, dark, like the inside of a black hole.
I was alone. Even though it was my girlfriend’s house, she lived with her parents, and we were not sharing the room. The slight woozy sense of alcoholic intoxication had vanished. It’s as if being haunted is the ultimate, instant hangover cure.
Outside the room, a few seconds later, there was a click at the bottom of the stairs. A thin strip of light entered the room through a tiny crack at the bottom. The light switch had been switched on.
Now, that is odd. The house was wired up with motion-detector anti-burglar stuff. Tighter than a very tight thing. By now, the alarms should have been triggered. Unless whatever it was that had switched the light on could levitate. Or had no physical presence at all. But how can something that has no physical presence trigger an alarm?
Creaking footsteps, slowly up the stairs like an old man, a tired man, one step at a time, on tired, old wood. Stopping outside my door. Fumbling, I find my glasses, and see the door knob turning as if the door is being opened. And the door does not open. And there’s no telltale black cracks in the light that would come from whatever is on the other side of the door having legs. Whatever it is, it doesn’t have legs. Something I can’t see is turning the door handle to my room.
And here’s where it gets weird.
My mind tells me that now.. someone is in the room. The ghost, spirit, presence, whatever, feels like a friendly old man. And he’s standing over me, peering down, quizzically, because he hasn’t met me before. This wasn’t the first time this guy has been felt in this house, mind you. Whatever he is, he isn’t physical. I can feel the shape of him in my minds eye, in much the same way as you know when someone has entered a room, even if you can’t see them, you can feel them. The atoms in the room have changed.
I don’t feel threatened anymore… more confused, but also powerless. Whatever is here can transcend the physical and can interact with our world without being of our world. I sense the spirit of curiousity and a benign investigation. I am being … checked out. Whatever I do is powerless. How can I, a ghost driving a meat skeleton, combat an actual ghost? I am powerless, and sleepless. I don’t remember much more than that, because suddenly whatever is happening around me, is beyond the realm of my influence. If I threw something at it… it would fly straight through and hit the wall.
The next morning at breakfast, I came down, and before I could say anything, my girlfriends sister asked me “Did you hear that?”. And I thought it was just me. But it wasn’t the first time – or the last – it happened in that house.
When I was there, the family had started talking about possibly selling the property. The children would grow up and move out. A six-bedroom house is a big place for two people, especially if the children aren’t there anymore. Unless, of course, one of the rooms becomes a Mancave, or a portable studio for a synthesiser geek. And then things started going missing. Keys. Wallets. ID Cards.
We don’t want you to go. When the talk of selling stopped, the keys stopped going missing. Little things. The spirit of the house was telling them It Wasn’t Time Yet.
The spirits – and there were multiple ones – took sides. One night one of the sisters and her boyfriend had an argument on the way home. Things got heated. Not violent, but heated. He woke up in the middle of the night, in pitch darkness. Something invisible sat on his chest, pinning his arms to his sides. Making a point.
Unable to sit up. Somehow, he felt in his mind that something he had seen but could not see, was there. We’re watching you. He felt watched. We can see you anytime we like.
Sometimes you could hear the sounds of children playing in the back room. Voices laughing and calling for mummy. “I’m not your mummy”, the sisters would say. The voices stopped calling.
For me these things it stopped when I went into the kitchen, which is where most of the activity occured. I just said, “If you are going to move things, can you please do the washing up for me, thank you very much. And please don’t wake me up in the night, I have to go into work the next day and I get very tired.”
Amazingly, they left me alone after that. I didn’t even need Max Von Sydow. I just asked nicely. Being polite and asking nicely is so very often The British Way after all.
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