A Babysitter’s Ghost Story
The incidents I’m about to relate occurred during my adolescence in the 1960’s.
When I was a teenager, I used to babysit a lot for the young families that lived in my housing development. Within the development was a farmhouse that had belonged to the original owners of the land on which the development was built. No one was sure how old the house was, but it may have been built during the 1700’s. The doorways and ceilings were lower than what we are accustomed to today. The beams and studs were joined together with wood pegs rather than nails, a technique which dated back to early European settlement of this country.
A little background info for the story.
It was my habit before going to bed at night to sit by my bedroom window and look for constellations in the night sky. One late night as I was sitting at my window, I saw what appeared to be a ball of mist about 2 feet in diameter, “walking” in the middle of the street. I thought at the time that it must be fog or gas although it was a clear night and there was nothing random in it’s movements. It seemed to know where it was going. It followed the road until it came to the corner where it made a right and followed a path into the woods where it floated in until I could see it no more. I thought it very strange at the time but then forgot about it for a long time. Another incident occurred which must have been so shocking and traumatic to me at the time, I would not remember it again until I’d reached my 30’s.
Two years prior to this incident, I was asked by the former owners of this same farmhouse to co-babysit their 8 year old son, with their daughter, only a year younger than myself. When I was there, the girl asked me to keep her company while she set her hair. I thought it odd but agreed. As we were talking, I saw in the mirror, standing beside me, a short man, about 50-ish, wearing an embroidered, 18th century waistcoat, he had dark hair, shoulder length, stringy and greasy, very pale skin and dark circles under his eyes. The look on my face must have alarmed the girl and she asked nervously what I had saw. When I looked back in the mirror, he was gone but I could still feel his presence on my right side. I didn’t want to alarm her, so I said that I didn’t see anything, but she didn’t believe me. I could hardly believe it myself as I did not believe in ghosts, the paranormal or even an afterlife.
I totally pushed the incident out of my mind and two years later, my foster sister told me that the new owners of the old farmhouse wanted me to babysit their 4 year old daughter on a Saturday night. I accepted the job.
When I arrived at the house, their Doberman went crazy, barking at me and growling. I like animals and they usually like me. I tried to calm the dog and reassure it, even petting it, but the frenzied barking never stopped. The owners said they couldn’t figure it out since the dog was usually friendly. They put it down in the garage and the barking stopped. I was introduced to the child who was already in bed and who would be sleeping before her parents left the house. When the parents left, I went to the living room and turned on the T.V.. Everything was fine until about 11:30 PM or so. At first the T.V. picture became “snowy.” The picture progressively became worse until it wasn’t even watchable. I shut the set off and proceeded to read when the lamp started to dim. I had to turn on a couple of other lights to have enough light to read by. Despite it being mid-summer and a warm night at that, the room started to become cold. There was no air-conditioner and the windows were closed. I went to the windows and the glass was warm as though the air outside was still warm. The houses across the street looked odd, as though I was looking at them through a thin gauze and very far away. I tried to open the windows but none would budge.
Then the noises started. At first it was a soft footstep repeatedly descending the stairway about 4 or 5 steps down, descending but never ascending. I went upstairs and checked the child. She was sound asleep, still tucked in securely. Well, I thought,” I guess it’s just this creaky old house”. The footsteps continued, getting louder and more insistent, descending lower on the staircase but never going back up. I checked the child but she was still fast asleep. I checked the 2nd floor of this 2 story house but found nothing. I thought that possibly a squirrel or other small animal was loose in the house. While on the top landing I stood and listened and looked but could not detect any animal.
When I was back down in the living room, the footsteps became pounding, this time descending all the way down the steps. I went to the staircase to watch, there was nothing, the child still asleep despite the noise. I was apprehensive but believed that there must be some logical explanation for this. Then a loud crash was heard from the small storage room that was directly across from the top of the landing. It sounded like an empty metal wastebasket had been flung against the wall. It had a hollow, echo-like sound. I raced up the stairs to that little room and turned on the light. The room was very cold, the window closed, the light dim. The room appeared to be enveloped in mist. I recoiled back from the cold and peered into the room; nothing seemed amiss, nothing was upset. I went to the child’s room. She was still fast asleep, covers tucked in. She hadn’t changed her position all night and must have been in a really, deep sleep. Her skin felt normal to the touch, so I figured she was alright. She never stirred the whole time I was there.
I returned to the living room shaken. When I’d entered that little storeroom a feeling of electricity flowed up my spine to the back of my head; the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Then the footsteps came down the stairs on to the foyer rug. This was a shag rug and I could see imprints of something pacing back and forth on the rug. Thinking it a small animal in the tufts of the rug, I stepped into the middle of the rug to get a better look at what it was. It was then, I was pulled to the floor and I couldn’t see anymore. I felt as though someone had thrown a rough, woolen blanket over my head and held it tightly. I was being suffocated! It took all the energy that I had to crawl from that spot back to the couch where I was finally able to stand up, feeling very drained and shaken.
Now I knew that it was no “little animal”. The footsteps went back the same way they’d come down, the footfalls growing fainter, going back up the staircase until they disappeared. By this time it was about 3am. Warmth returned to the room; the lights regained their former brightness and the T.V. worked again.
The couple returned about 4 am and asked me if everything had been alright. Not really knowing what to say and not wanting them to think me downright crazy, I told them everything had been alright and never told them what really happened in their house.
The next day, my foster sister asked me “how the house had been?” I first just told her it was really weird. She then told me that she hadn’t wanted to alarm me but the former owners had told her the house was haunted by a Mr. Holt, a Dutch farmer, builder and original owner of the house. They said that the whole family of four had seen his apparition almost nightly after they bought and did extensive renovations to the 200+ year old house.
They researched the history and found that Mr. Holt had hung himself from the attic opening at the top of the stairs. My sister told me that they’d given her a tour of the cellar where there were many small cubicles with manacles for hands and feet attached to the walls. No fruit cellar that! My sister and I surmised that there may have been slaves down there at one time. I found out later that this was the customary way slave owners kept their slaves in the north east before it was banned in the 1800’s. The misery that must have existed in that house is unthinkable.
That night changed my cut and dry view of the world, forever.
Submitted by Anonymous