In the spirit of Halloween, and inspired by KnickersMaloney's creepy story and everyone's awesomely spooky names and avatars, I decided to share a story about nightmares from my childhood and the creepy old house I grew up in.
My sister and I both had some creepy experiences, and plenty of nightmares. Many of my nightmares revolved around things coming out of my closet or reaching out from under my bed to grab my legs - a reason why I loathed to get out of bed in the middle of the night to pee, and tried my best to hold it. (As an aside, that fear still somewhat lingers, and is likely the reason why I have a bed frame that extends to the floor. It didn't help that I watched a movie once - maybe Urban Legends? - where a girl gets her Achilles tendon slashed by a crazed killer hiding under her car. Shudder.) I'd also see the shadows in my closet or pictures on my wall moving around to form terrifying shapes, and creeping towards me. Pretty standard night terror fare for a kid, I think.
One time when I was maybe around 5 years old, I scared the living hell out of my mom. I was put on some sort of medication, I don't remember for what, but I think it was some sort of painkiller. I have no memory of this, but she woke up in the middle of the night to hear me screaming "GO AWAY!" and ran up to my room to see me sitting straight up in bed, eyes wide open, staring at the wall. When she spoke to me to try to calm me down, I turned to her but looked straight through her, and continued shouting in complete gibberish. She eventually managed to rouse and calm me, but I think I nearly gave her a heart attack. She blamed the medication for aggravating my night terrors and switched me to a different doctor.
But one of the creepiest and most vivid themes in my nightmares was the recurring imagery of things coming down from the attic. Specifically, I often dreamt of being awoken by a thudding in the hall closet (where the attic access was). I'd go to investigate, and see the closet door moving slightly with each thump. I'd move towards the door to open it, strangely compelled even though I was terrified and didn't want to see what was in there. As my hand would reach the door, it would pull back on its own, and I'd be faced with dead bodies or bloody severed body parts, tumbling or clawing their way towards me out of the attic.
So you know how when you're a kid and you're scared by the monster in the closet, your parents will turn on the light, and show you there's nothing in there? The scariest part of this recurring nightmare for me was that this was not possible. The attic was boarded up. When I was feeling bold during the daylight, I'd tentatively open the hall closet door and look up at the boarded up door. I'd always think that the grooves in the boards looked like scratch marks. When I asked my mom if she could open it up and see what was in there, she told me about how the previous owners had told her not to worry about it, that there was nothing but insulation up there. I, of course, thought it was very suspicious that they had discouraged her from checking it out. When we finally moved, the nightmares stopped.
Today, I'm a scientist and a skeptic. But I've never been able to shake the feeling that my childhood house was haunted. And sometimes I wonder, if something truly terrible happened somewhere, couldn't it leave some sort of an imprint behind, Ju-On-style? And if that happened, wouldn't children, less impeded by ideas of what's real and what must be imagined, be the ones to perceive these subtle imprints?