Remember when I mentioned our home in the woods seemed to have some former residents that were unwilling to leave, and those residents liked to visit LJ in the night and say things like, “If you need us, we’ll come back.”? Remember when you all looked at me side-eyed with raised eyebrows and placated me by saying things like, “Oh, suuuuuure. I’m sure it’s just the house settling/the wind/a gas leak/anxiety from the move.”? Remember when I burned sage around the house anyway like some sort of mystical hippie shaman and the ghosts and the bad energy dissipated?
The other night I was curled up in bed reading The Magicians (by Lev Grossman- good read!) when I started to feel uneasy. You know that tingly feeling that sweeps over your body when you feel like someone is watching you and all the hair on your arms and legs stand up and start to feel like tiny spiders? It was like that. My bed faces directly into the hallway, where the only light illuminating the space was beaming from the almost-closed bathroom door. We have to keep the bathroom light on for Lotte as a kind of security night-light, what with the shadows touching her and all.
Mind you, the heat was off. There was no wind. The kid was asleep. The windows were closed. The dog was conked out at the foot of my bed, dead to the world and blissfully snoring after a long hike earlier in the day kicked her 12-year old butt. The cat was perched on the pillow next to me, looking irritated with her ears flicking back and forth as usual. Her saucer-like green eyes kept alternating between staring at me and into the hallway with that look of disdain that only cats have perfected. I was not over-tired, drunk, stoned, feverish or on cold-medication.
Something...something kept making me put my book down and peer into the hallway. That feeling, that tingling on the back of my neck, that horrible sense that I wasn’t alone forced me to sit up and rub my eyes repeatedly, trying to make out what was filling me with such unease. The beams of light radiating from the nearly-closed bathroom door onto the wooden floor of the hallway seemed to be moving. Vibrating. Very slightly, and in one spot on the floor. You know when you get gas on a hot summer day and you can see the swirling vapors rising up into the air? It was like that, but in my hallway. I furiously rubbed my eyes and put on my glasses and there it was. Something.
Convinced that it was just the result of staring a computer screen all day because COME ON, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SWIRLY ENERGY VAPOR GHOSTS, I went back to my book and tried to distract myself with tales of teenage magicians, and that’s when I started to hear things. Weird things. Weird things that were certainly NOT wind or floorboards creaking. I called Pete in a panic and said,
“It sounds like there are small children whispering in the bathroom.”
It really did. A part of me wanted to go check on Lotte, because surely SHE was the one whispering and giggling during a dream filled with rainbow ponies and pink dragons, but I was too afraid to walk through the swirly vapor ghost! No. WAY. I convinced myself that clearly I was over-tired and experiencing hallucinations of sorts, so I threw the book on the floor, buried myself deep under the covers and tried to settle in for the night. The cat though, the cat kept alternating between looking at me and into the hallway, and I swear I was willing her to talk, as if her opening her kitty mouth and saying, “Mom, that shit in the hallway is fucked UP!” would make me feel less freaked out. There was almost an electrical feel to the air that forced me to keep all body parts deep under the comforter lest I get tickled by the swirly vapor ghost giggling like a child in my bathroom. The last time I remember checking the clock it was 3:15, and then I feel asleep.
When Lotte sleepily stumbled into my room that morning with her sweet morning breath and tangled head of hair, look what was on her face:
KIDDING! That’s what happened when Lotte tried to pick up the evil Halloween kitty and give her a big morning squeeze. Bad kitty. Bad, BAD kitty.
Feeling tormented, exhausted and creeped out by my night of horrors, I threw myself into the magical land of Google and began to research my neighborhood. Surely a town first settled in 1635 had a lot of history to pore through. What I found, though, made my hair stand on end all over again. Let me walk you down my street.
Immediately upon pulling out of my driveway and driving down the road I encounter these idyllic scenes:
Pretty, right? Nothing even remotely scary: nothing that would ever evoke a tale of terror and make your hair stand on end. Here’s what my road looks like as we near the bottom of the hill:
Uh, okay. That’s a horror movie road if I’ve ever seen one. Swirly vapor ghosts and assorted serial killers clearly would love to traverse this horrible path.
At the end of my block you reach this stone wall, and this is where the story gets good. THIS is where I lost my marbles.
No big deal, right? Just a lovely, ivy-covered stone wall that is typical of many a New England road. Let me make it more sinister-looking for you.
There. Perfect. On more than one occasion I have encountered teenagers milling around by this stone wall, sometimes in cars, sometimes on bikes: always at dusk or during the night. Assuming they chose this remote spot to smoke weed simply because it was rarely traveled and they wouldn’t be chased by police or residents, I never batted an eye. There’s another reason they frequent this spot, though. This street is known to residents as “Hammer Road” because according to urban legend a man who lived in a small house behind this wall bludgeoned his three children to death with a hammer and buried them under the wall’s three gates. Here are two of the gates:
M.I.T. purchased the land and put up chain-link fences and trespassing signs, but the original wrought-iron gates still dangle there, rusted in spots and wobbling on decaying hinges. They say if you come at night and rattle the gates a little eerie things will happen: the street lights flicker, your car might stall out or you might even hear the sound of children’s voices.
I will not be rattling those creepy-ass gates at dusk hoping to hear the screams of children, that much I can assure you, mainly because I’m pretty sure they’re hanging out in my upstairs hallway anyway, playing with Lotte’s toys.
Here we go again!