My Own True Haunting Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

My true story of the house we lived in in North Carolina and the strange events that occurred there.

My Own True Haunting Story

by

Mike Roberts

As a writer of ghost stories, I would be remiss if I did not include the story of our experiences at the house we rented in rural Granville County, North Carolina.

My wife and I moved our family to North Carolina, my home state, in 1996.  We had lived in Florida for eight and a half years, and we had enjoyed it.  But once children came along, things changed.  Elizabeth was born in 1990, Molly in 1993, and Tommy in 1995.  By that time, we had decided that the school system in Florida wasn’t what we wanted.

Where to move wasn’t really a problem.  My family in North Carolina had been asking us to move there for several years.  I had three sisters up there:  Rita, the oldest, Gloria, the middle, and Susan, the youngest.  Gloria and Susan lived in Granville County; Rita lived in Durham County.

So in February, 1996, we packed up our stuff in sunny, warm Florida and moved north to cold, wintry North Carolina.  When we arrived, there was snow on the ground.  Talk about a difference.

Mind you, we hadn’t seen the house before we rented it.  Gloria had found it and arranged the rental.  It belonged to a man named Clyde Averett who hadn’t lived in it for a number of years.  He lived with this second wife at her house.  Apparently, Mr. Averett’s first wife had died of cancer in the house.  In fact, she had died in the bedroom where my wife Merrillee and I would be sleeping.

We arrived on a Friday or Saturday, if I recall, and began setting up house.  I had a job already.  I had transferred with my same company form Florida to North Carolina.  I was due to meet my supervisor on Monday for orientation.

I found the house a bid oddly designed.  The kitchen and living room were at one end, the same end as the carport.  The kitchen door opened out onto the carport.  The other end of the house contained the master bedroom and another large bedroom.  In between ran a hall.  Off the hall was another bedroom, the single bathroom, and a closet, I believe.  Molly and Tommy would be in the larger bedroom, Merrillee and I in the master bedroom, and Elizabeth, nearly six at the time, in the smaller bedroom, off the hallway.  There was an attic door in the central hallway.

The house had no central heat or air conditioning.  Instead, there were baseboard heaters, window air conditioners, and a fireplace with gas logs.  The house had been built in the 1950s and had never been updated.  Still, the rent was acceptable, it was in the country, and we could move in right away.  So we took it.

As I said, we moved in on a weekend in February, 1996.  I reported for work the following Monday.  I had the same job as I’d had in Florida:  providing skilled respiratory care to residents of nursing homes.  After my initial orientation, I was on my own.  Each day my supervisor would call me and let me know what facilities I had to visit.  The days were usually ten hours long, and I worked four days a week.

During this time, for the most part, my wife Merrillee stayed at home and took care of the children.  At one point, she went back to work for a short while, but since we had two toddlers, she decided to say at home.

One day, however, I was home alone with the children when someone came to the back door.  I opened the door to find an older middle-aged woman standing in my carport.  I don’t remember her name.  We introduced ourselves and she said she was a neighbor and had come to say hello and welcome us to the neighborhood.  After the usual pleasantries, my neighbor lady said something to the effect of, “I don’t think very much of Clyde Averett.”

“Oh?  Why is that?” I asked.

“Well,” she said, “you know he was running around on his wife while she was dying of cancer.”

I hadn’t heard this.  I had heard that his wife had died of cancer, but nothing else.

“Oh really?” I said.  “I didn’t know that.  Where did she die?”

“Right there in the house,” the neighbor lady said.

“In the bedroom?” I asked.

“I believe so,” she said.  “And another thing.  He didn’t waste any time getting out of that house when she died.  He left as soon as he could.”

A while later, I asked my sister Gloria about it.  She told me that after Mr. Averett had agreed to rent the house, his children had gone over to clean it and get it ready for us.  The condition of the house was as if he had simply walked out the door, just leaving everything behind.  By the time he decided to rent, the house had been unoccupied for years.  And, it was apparently a mess.

According to my sister, there were still dirty dishe in the sink and spoiled food in the refrigerator.  It had taken several days to move out the furniture, clear the attic, and clean the house.

I wondered why a man who had lived in a house for years, and shared it with his wife, would walk out just like hat and leave it in such a state.

In any case, we soon settled into the house.  It wasn’t a particularly good time for our family.  For one thing, money was tight.  Very tight.  For another thing, our oldest child, Elizabeth, was starting to have emotional problems, problems that would affect her for the rest of her life.  Add to that the stress of a new job, an old house, and the stress of raising two other young children, and you can see what I mean.

Still, I was working regularly, bringing home a paycheck.  At that point, it didn’t look like we would be able to move for a while.  Buying a house wasn’t in the picture, and Merrillee was disappointed that, despite urging us to move to North Carolina, my sisters hadn’t really been that helpful or present.  Once again, our little family was pretty much on its own.

There were other things as well.  For one thing, the children were sick a lot.  Tommy kept an ear infection and Molly kept a sinus infection nearly all the time.  One day, I was out exploring the yard, and decided to look under the house.  What I found surprised me.  There was at least four inches of standing water under the house, in the crawlspace. Apparently, the house was situated on bottom land that drained poorly.  I became convinced that one cause of the children’s sickness was this nasty water.  I was sure that the dampness caused moisture and mold, which sickened the children.  At one point, I tried to drain the water off, but each time it rained it accumulated again.

Another problem was that Elizabeth’s problems seemed to worsen during this period.  She was constantly fretful and anxious.  She acted out and threw tantrums.  It was very wearing on Merrillee and me.

I had looked in the attic when we moved into the house and found nothing there.  But now sometimes, when I was up at night watching television, I would hear noises from up there.  I didn’t think much of it.  It was an old house after all.  But the noises—creaking and pops—were noticeable and frequent.

As it was an old house, minor problems with the plumbing or electricity would sometimes arise.  When that happened, we called Mr. Averett.  He was not a bad landlord.  He usually came over within a day or two to discuss the problem.

The carport to the house was open, and attached to the house.  I noticed that when Mr. Averett came over, he would stand at the kitchen door leading to the carport but not enter the house, even when invited in. One would think he would want to see the interior of the house to check if we were damaging it.  But he never entered the house while we lived there.  We would explain the problem.  Mr. Averett would acknowledge the problem, and he would leave.  That struck me as curious.

There were other things as well.  On three occasions, we nearly had fires in the house.  Once, the old water heater shorted out while my wife was there.  If she hadn’t been in the house, it would have likely burned down.  Another time, Molly, my middle child, laid her wet stuffed animal on the kerosene heater.  It was in the process of melting and would have certainly burst into flames had  Elizabeth not come along and knocked it off.  And once, after Molly had thrown up in her bed, the stove nearly caught the house on fire.  The stove and the washer were side by side in the kitchen.  One night, after Molly had vomited on her bed clothes, Merrillee stripped her bed.  I took the soiled clothes into the kitchen to wash them.  I loaded the washer and somehow or another, managed to turn on the stove in the process.  We kept metal burner covers on the stove for decoration.  Sometime later, Merrillee walked into the kitchen to fine the stove on and one of the burner covers red hot and ready to erupt into flame.  The kitchen had wood paneling and a wooden backboard attached to the stove.  Had the cover caught fire, it surely would have spread to the backboard and set the kitchen on fire.  Merrillee came in just in time to stop that from happening.  The thing is, she doesn’t remember what brought her to the kitchen in the first place.  She just happened to walk in at the right time.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that the three near-fires were the result of supernatural activity.  I’m just saying that they were part of a pattern of potentially dangerous, or fatal, mishaps at that house.  Did somebody or something warn Merrillee to go into the kitchen?  I don’t know.

Near fires and noises were not the only unusual incidents to occur in that house.

Like most children, mine had battery operated toys.  There was a plastic locomotive, a phone, and some others.  Before the children went to bed, it was their responsibility to put away their toys in the toy chest.  This was basically a large wooden box in their room.

It was not unusual for Merrillee and I to be awakened in the middle of the night when one of the toys would suddenly, for no apparent reason, activate.  We would be sleeping soundly and then one of us would have to go and either shut the toy off or remove the battery.  I remember distinctly having to dig through that box one night to turn off that locomotive.  It was at the bottom.  How had it gotten turned on?  And Merrillee swears that she once had a toy continue to run even after she removed the batteries.

At the same time, Molly and Tommy’s sleep was often disturbed while in that room.  Many times one of them would cry out or start crying at night, requiring Merrillee or me to comfort them.  Molly and Tommy never slept well in that house.

The last two incidents I’m going to relate are the strangest and most disturbing.

One winter weekday morning, I was at the house with Tommy.  The sun was shining, but there was melting snow on the ground.  To the best of my recollection, it was just me and Tommy at the house alone.  The girls were somewhere else, probably with their mother.  Tommy would have been between two and three years old at the time.

Now, one thing I neglected to mention before was that a railroad track ran directly in front of our house.  There was our average-sized front yard, the dirt driveway, and then the railroad track set down in a wide ditch in front of our house.  It was an active track.  We got trains at least twice a day.  The nighttime train came by around nine each night, and I swear the conductor waited until he was opposite our house before blowing that train whistle.  The dirt driveway ran parallel to the track back to a two lane black top and the railroad crossing.  This was a distance of about 75 yards or so.

On this particular day, I was at home doing house work.  Tommy was roaming around, being a toddler.  It was warm in the house, so Tommy had on a tee shirt and a diaper, and I had on shorts, a tee shirt, and no shoes.

At one point I looked around, and didn’t see Tommy anywhere.  I quickly looked through the house.  He was not there.  I was starting to panic.  I called out for him.  No answer.  Suddenly, it dawned on me where he was.  Outside.  I ran to the back door and out onto the carport.  He wasn’t there, either.  I looked around the yard.  No luck.  He was not in sight.  That left only one possibility.  I ran out of the carport and looked left.  Approximately 50 yards away, my two-year old son was headed down the railroad tracks towards the crossing.  Without putting on shoes, I ran after him, heedless of the cold slushy ground.  I got to him just before he reached the crossing, scooped him up in my arms, and carried him back to the house, heart pumping furiously in my chest.  I swear I never even felt the cold underfoot.

Needless to say the incident scared the hell out of me.  When I got back to the house, I made sure the back door was closed and locked, and sat down to take stock.

My memory of this case is a little unclear.  Everything happened so fast that I don’t remember the details.  Once I realized he was not in the house, I went directly to the back door.  We didn’t use the front door at all, and it stayed locked.  I cannot remember whether the back door was open, partially open, or closed when I went through it.  By this time, I was an experienced parent and I would hope that I had shut the back door that morning, or that Merrillee had shut it when she left.  I don’t remember leaving the house at all until I went to look for Tommy.  So he either opened the door himself, which was possible.  Or, he found the door open or partially opened, also possible.  Or the door was opened for him.  Far-fetched I know, but given some of the other happenings in the house, was it really?

On the other hand, you could look at it another way altogether.  The near fires were discovered when someone, for whatever reason, walked in on them and prevented them from spreading.  Isn’t it possible that someone or something alerted Merrillee and Elizabeth to the danger?  Could it be that someone or something in that house made me aware that Tommy was not inside anymore?  Tommy somehow got through the back door and left the house and started down the tracks without me being aware at all.  It might have been much longer before I realized that he was gone.  But something made me start looking for him.  I cannot say with certainty what happened.  I can only speculate.

The last incident to happen at the house is the most compelling for possible supernatural activity.  As I said before, Mr. Averett’s wife had died in the house, in the same bedroom we slept in.  I don’t know how long she suffered with the cancer that finally took her life, but it was presumably long enough for Mr. Averett to get lonely enough to seek out other female company.

Our bedroom was a rectangle with the door from the hallway on the long wall, in the corner, opposite our bed.  Our bed was along the long wall opposite the door, with the head against the short wall at the far end of the room.  Merrillee slept on the side of the bed facing the door; I slept on the opposite side, facing the wall.  Anyone standing by the foot of the bed would be lit from the back and the side by the light from the door leading to the hallway.

Since I worked 20 to 40 miles away, it was often necessary for me to leave before the sun was up.  Most days, I left Merrillee asleep in the bed.

On this particular morning I had gotten up first, as usual, and left Merrillee in bed asleep.  The house was quiet.  The children were not yet awake.  It wasn’t completely dark in the house.  The hallway light was on.

Something woke Merrillee up.  She opened her eyes to see, standing at the foot of the bed and illuminated by the light from the hallway, a woman dressed in a white nightgown.  The woman  did not move or make a sound.  She simply stood there.  Perhaps she just wanted Merrillee to know she was there.

Merrillee said she felt no fear or dread.  She didn’t feel threatened.  She simply said a prayer, closed her eyes, and went back to sleep.  When she awoke some time later, the woman was gone.

Was Merrillee’s vision a dream?  Or did the ghost of Mrs. Averett appear to her?  I don’t know.Merrillee has said she never saw the woman again. Perhaps she dreamed the whole thing

Unusual noises.  Near fires.  Toys that would start up in the middle of the night for no reason.  The children’s disturbed sleep and continual illnesses.  Elizabeth’s worsening emotional state.  Tommy’s escape through a supposedly closed door.  An early-morning visitation.

Individually, these occurrences could be explained away as accident, coincidence, or even carelessness.  Taken as a whole, however, they could point to a pattern of incidents in the house that could lead one to believe in an alien energy in the house.

We left the house in June, 1999 and moved to South Carolina.  I’m assuming Mr. Averett has died and now the house is in the hands of different owners.  It does still stand there.  I have seen it on Google Maps.  I wonder whether the current residents are experiencing strange events.  Of course, I’ll never know.


Submitted: October 30, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Mike Roberts. All rights reserved.

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