Some people swore that the house was haunted. Two of them were the previous owner and the realtor, reiterating the fact at the signing of our mortgage. They stated that it was a legal requirement regarding disclosure. At the time I simply thought, "How cool is that?!" The first couple of nights I stayed awake, listening. The two dogs walked around downstairs, their paws clicking against the hardwood floors. The three cats leaped on and off the bed throughout the night, inspecting the house at regular intervals.
The first month was event-free and the novelty soon wore off -- until something peculiar occurred. One night, I felt the edge of the bed sink down as one of the cats jumped up for yet another nap. I reached over to give a head scratch to the curious protector, but my hand found nothing but air and empty sheet. In my sleepy state I thought nothing of it, until it happened again. And again. On the fourth occasion I actually witnessed the foam padding of the mattress sink down about three inches. The foam relaxed and returned to its normal state after a few seconds. This pattern continues to occur about once a month, but I am more amused than scared.
Things took a slightly different turn when I accepted a job three hours away in Washington, DC. I bought my wife, Regina, a webcam so we could see each other during the week. It allows me to maintain my sanity during our time apart. The cats also know when we are chatting and intentionally dart in and out of the frame, always ready to provide me a great shot of their back side.
Two weeks ago I asked Regina to shift the camera a little to the left so I could see better. There, standing in the doorway behind her was the unmistakeable figure of an old woman. She had one hand on the door knob, and the other hung loosely inside her ratty blue housecoat. I jumped back in my chair and pointed at the screen. I tried to scream, to say anything, but the air in my lungs was trapped by my frozen diaphragm. The woman began to move forward slowly, hunched over and straining to breathe through her half open, toothless mouth. Her sparse, thin white hair moved forward and back across her collar as she hobbled toward Regina.
"Robert, you're scaring me," Regina said, as I sat there pointing spastically. She looked around the room and saw nothing unusual. "What? What's going on?" panic rising in her voice.
Finally, my lungs gave way. "On your right!" I screamed. "Look!" She turned her head to the right and sat face to face with the old woman, their noses almost touching. I jumped out of my chair and waved my arms forward, toward my computer screen. "Go, go, go." She looked back into the camera, perplexed, as she pushed her chair away from her monitor. The old woman turned and stared directly into the camera, her face occupying a full third of the screen. Her expression was more confusion than menace. Her cloudy blue eyes pierced mine and, seemingly content after a few seconds, she stood, turned, and walked past a very disoriented Regina. The old woman continued through the doorway and disappeared around the corner.
I sat back down, exhausted from the adrenaline rush. Standing, Regina looked hurriedly around the room again and shrugged. Exasperated, she asked "What?! What's wrong?!"
Nothing was ever the same again after that.