Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Protector

Next in the series of 100% Totally True, Ghost Stories is The Protector.  Happy Halloween!!! :)

The Protector

            The house on Rivermet wasn’t my first experience with something otherworldly.  It wasn’t my last either.  At the time, I was very young and not in tune with myself or my surroundings.  I hadn’t learn to recognize those little tinglings and ‘feelings’ you get when something, or someone, not of our plane is around.  The very first experience I had was quite different than the Rivermet episode.

            I’d just turned 18 and graduated from high school.  It was glorious!  My coworker has a crazy ex and was in dire need of a roommate.  I jumped at the opportunity.  For the sake of this story, we’ll call my roommate Sandy, and her boyfriend Mike. 

            Sandy was as petrified of the place as I was enthralled.  The antiquated building had been a 3 story home.  Over time the owners had renovated the structure into several apartments.  Ours was an efficiency on the top floor.  One bedroom, bathroom, and a kitchen/living area.  It was cute, cozy, and frequently held the sweet scent of pipe tobacco.  I loved it!

            The first week there, I’d made up my mind she was crazy.  Every so often she’d get goose bumps and say, “Do you feel that?”  Her eyes would grow wide as a terrified expression came over her face.

            I wasn’t sure what ‘that’ was.  I felt warm, peaceful, and protected.  The scent of pipe tobacco grew stronger during those times.  Something about the presence, and there was definitely a presence, made me feel safe and warm.  He (we were sure it was a he) reminded me of my Grandpa.  You see, I didn’t think she was crazy for believing the place to be haunted.  I thought she was nuts, because he seemed like such a nice old man.  Not that we had conversations or anything, just the ‘feeling’ I got.

            Strange things did happen there.  Mostly little things like the doors opening and closing for no apparent reason.  Half of which we could debunk by believing it was a change in air pressure when people entered or left the building. 

            My second week there, I realized Sandy wasn’t as nuts as I’d thought.  Although I still felt the warm fuzzies, it had become obvious that our visitor either didn’t like her, or had an enormous amount of fun scaring her.  It seemed like all the bumps and bangs would happen just behind her or over her head.  She’d jump, squeal, and move as close to me as she could get. 

            I could stay home for hours alone, and thoroughly enjoy it.  She couldn’t stand to be there five minutes unless someone was with her.

            Now I realize this is all relatively uneventful, even boring.  But what happened the night before she moved out is the entire point of telling this story. So I will fast forward to that night about a month after I moved in.

            Sandy’s ex harassed her terribly.  Any fear I had of living there came solely from him.  He’d show up in the middle of the night, beating on the door, screaming at her to open.  I don’t even know how many times we called the police.  A lot, for sure.  It was awfully hard to get a restraining order back then.  I’d taken to keeping a baseball bat by the front door.  He was a big guy and I wanted to protect my friend.

            That night I’d been soaking in the tub, and decided to try to communicate with our visitor.  At the time, I had a name for him.  It wasn’t his real name of course, but it seemed to suit my mental picture of him.  So many years have passed that I’ve forgotten it now. 

            I’d been in the tub at least a half hour, when I had the strangest feeling I needed to get out and get dressed.  I didn’t to start with, but the feeling grew stronger and the water got cold, so I did exactly that.  No sooner than I’d put clothes on, Sandy burst through the door, slammed it, and locked both locks.

            “Call the police!  Quick!” she said.

            “What’s going on?”

            Her pale skin was whiter than I’d ever seen it.  She was absolutely petrified.

            “It’s Mike.  He’s drunk.  I’m really scared this time.  He said he was going to kill me!”

            About that time, the entry door down stairs slammed.  From the bottom of the stairs, Mike screamed, “You ain’t getting away this time!”   Thump, thump, thump echoed up the stairwell as he made his way to our door.

            I grabbed the phone and dialed.  Nothing.  It was completely dead.  I tried again.  Still nothing.  “Sandy, go to the bedroom and lock the door,” I said as I picked up the baseball bat.

            “These doors are paper thin; the locks won’t keep him out.”

            Holding the bat as if ready to hit a homer, I replied calmly, “Someone in this building will call the police.  There’s no way they’ll just let him break in here.  Go to the bedroom.”

            The door rattled on its hinges with the force of the first impact, but the locks held. 

            I bent my knees in anticipation of his entry.  As big as he was, I knew I only had one chance to get in a good hit.  If I didn’t get him good the first time, I was toast. 

            Another boom announced his second hit.  It seemed stronger than the one before.  Once again the door rattled violently.  The locks held.

            The third hit sounded as if he’d thrown his massive body against the paneled door.  Close to 300 pounds of man should have sent that door swinging wide open, but the locks held.  The scent of pipe smoke had grown so strong it nearly choked us.

            Four strikes, then five, then God only knows how many more.  Each time, the noise was louder than before, but each time the door remained closed and the locks held. 

            Soon the sound of running footsteps and yelling wafted through the door.  Another slam, followed by swearing, and then a knock on the door.  “This is the police.  We have him in custody.  Open the door.”

            I dropped the bat and unlocked the door.  I could have hugged that cop!  He came in and asked us a bunch of questions.  We answered, and right before he left he said, “You girls don’t know how lucky you are.  He was nearly through the door.”

            We moved into the narrow hallway to see what he was talking about.  The door was made up of two thin sheets of particle board that looked like paneling.  There were giant holes all over the outside panel.  You could easily see where he’d pushed his shoulder through and the places he’d kicked.  The inside panel, remained pristine.  Not one dent, crack, or mark of any kind.  It wasn’t possible.  Even though the door opened outwards, he should have busted right through.

            Sandy moved out the next day.  Between Mike and the ghost, she’d had enough.  I stayed for another week, but couldn’t find a roommate and unfortunately had to move back home.  There are many who will say this was all just coincidence.  Just the over active imaginations of two teenagers who’d never been out on their own before.  Possibly they’re right.  However, if you have the opportunity, I suggest you hit one of those flimsy panel doors sometime.  See how easily they break.  Then consider the force a 300 pound man would exert when throwing his entire weight against it.  Coincidence?  Or maybe, just maybe, we had a protector no one could see. 

            To this day, I still love the smell of pipe smoke.  And when I smell it, it brings a smile to my face and a reminder that we are not alone.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spotlight on 2011 Debut Author Jessie Harrell

Author Bio:

Jessie Harrell fell in love with the Cupid & Psyche myth while majoring in Classical Studies at the University of Florida. (Yes, that degree is about as useless as it sounds.) After attending law school, getting married, having kids and realizing that the real world is a lot more work than she thought it'd be (both good and bad), she turned back to this myth and made it her own.

When Psyche receives a prophecy gone horribly wrong, she learns that even the most beautiful girl in Greece can have a hideous future. Her fate? Fall in love with the one creature even the gods fear.
As she feels herself slipping closer into the arms of the prophecy, Psyche must choose between the terrifyingly tender touch she feels almost powerless to resist and the one constant she's come to expect out of life: you cannot escape what is destined.

Destined is a fresh and heartachingly romantic retelling of the Cupid & Psyche myth from debut novelist, Jessie Harrell.

Note from me:

This is a wonderful book and when I say you need to read it, I'm not kidding!!!  If you are remotely into mythology, you will LOVE it!!!  You can pick up a paperback or e-book copy here!!!  Special thanks to Christina Lee for organizing this event.  Please stop by her blog and take a peek at all the debut authors/blogs participating!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The House on Rivermet (part 3)

          The House on Rivermet (part 3)  

            It was dark and stormy that night.  (Okay no it wasn’t, but it should have been!)  I jest, but truly it was a horrifying experience.  Even now, it freaks me out to think about it.  Worse, the fear that most folks will believe I’ve completely flipped my lid after telling of those awful events, nearly throws me into a panic attack.  Exactly one week after we saw the shadow, things escalated again.

            My 3 year-old was asleep on a palate on the floor and the baby was snug in her crib.  My husband’s rhythmic snoring irritated me at first, but finally lulled me to sleep.  I don’t know what woke me up.  One minute I was sound asleep, and the next sitting straight up in bed.  I listened intently for a noise or some sign of what was wrong.  Something had to be wrong.  I could feel the wrongness of the situation deep within me.  My heart raced so fast and hard that it made it difficult to hear much of anything.

            From my bed, I watched the rise and fall of the baby’s chest, making sure she was still breathing.  Then my eyes moved to her sister.  As with the baby, her breath came in normal intervals.  Still afraid, and feeling like a complete idiot, I took a few deep breaths, closed my eyes, and laid back down.  Seconds turned to minutes as I waited for my thudding heart to still.

            Instead of diminishing, the feeling of wrongness amplified.  Fear grew and blossomed into full blown terror as I listened to the quiet house.  Nothing.  Not one sound that wasn’t completely ordinary and easily explained.  The refrigerator fan kicked on, making me jump.   A creak from a windowsill here and there.  Even  muffled sound of the electric icemaker dumping its next batch, but nothing strange or unusual.  And yet, I was so tightly wound, I would have leapt from the bed in an instant. 

            Sleep eluded me completely.  The dark feeling would not go away.  I don’t know how long I laid there before I noticed that I was clenching my eyes shut.  Almost instantaneously, I realized I didn’t want to open them.  Not at all, for any reason.   It was like I was six again, waiting for the monster under my bed to reach out and grab me.  Without a second thought, I pulled the blanket up over my head and opened my eyes.
            You can imagine how ridiculous I felt.  I was a 23 year-old woman for Pete’s sake!  And a mother.  What kind of Mom hides under a blanket while her children are out in the room with whatever it was that scared her in the first place?

            Determined to be a good mother and protector, I pushed the blanket away and surveyed the dark room.  The heavy blinds over the window let in just enough light to leave dark shadows in the corners of the room.  The rocking chair piled high with clean clothes I had yet to fold and put away, sat unmoving.  Not one solitary thing was added or out of place.

            Sighing, I placed my hands behind my head, and contemplated my insanity.  I must be nuts, right?  I mean who acts like that?  Sheesh!

            I watched the ceiling fan go round and round, hoping that at some point it would hypnotize me and put me to sleep.  Above the fan, the ceiling itself was so black I could only see the outside edges.  I rubbed my eyes as the darkness seemed to grow larger than the fan.  It stretched and elongated until it was oval shaped.  My breathing became labored.  And as badly as I wanted to close my eyes, they would not even allow me to blink.

            I was frozen.  Paralyzed.  Not by fear, although the fear was definitely there and very real.  I tried to move.  I tried to reach out and grab my husband.  With every ounce of strength I had, I tried to put my hand on his shoulder and shake him.  My body refused to obey the mind’s commands.   The darkness retreated slowly, and once again the shadow above the fan was the size and shape it should have been.  Tears streamed down my face, and not wanting to wake the children, I choked back sobs.

            My husband finally woke and rolled over to face me.  “What’s wrong,” he asked.

            I couldn’t speak.  All I could do was curl up in his arms and cry, and that’s what I did. 

            The next morning, I told him what had happened and that we had to move.  He, of course, told me I was crazy.  “It must have been a dream.  Maybe a night terror or something.  I saw a show about how in different levels of REM sleep you can think you’re awake, and paralyzed, but really you’re sleeping.  It has to be something like that!”

            But it wasn’t something like that.  I knew it wasn’t anything like that!  I’d made my mind up, and regardless of whether he was willing or not, I was moving.  There was no way I would keep my children in that house for any longer than necessary.

            He went on to work that morning as if nothing ever happened.  I went apartment hunting.  There were 3 complexes in town running move in deals.  No deposit, first month’s rent free.  I hit all of them, signed a lease with one, and came home to start packing.  It didn’t take me long.  I still had boxed stuff in closets from the previous move. 

            As soon as I had a truck load, I filled up my old orange ford and took it to the new place.  Unloaded and went back for more.  The last load I could do alone had about 12 boxes.  The couch, coffee table, and love seat were covered with them.  Each box was full, but the tape gun we’d used when we’d moved last was missing.  Killing the proverbial 2 birds, I finally called my husband.   I hadn’t told him about the new apartment, or moving, no matter what he’d said--I knew he’d go wherever we were.

            (Now I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I SWEAR this is true)

            He answered on the third or fourth ring.  “Yeah, babe.  What’s up?”

            “We’re moving.  I’ve already rented an apartment and have almost everything moved in.  All you’ll have to move is the furniture.  Do you think you can get Rod, or Dave to help?”

            “Have you lost your mind?  We can’t afford to move again!” he exclaimed.

            “It didn’t cost anything, and it’s a very nice complex.  It’ll be closer to your job too.”

            He let out an exasperated breath and didn’t say another word.

            “Look hun.  I can’t live here.  Something’s very wrong with this place.  It’s not safe for the kids!  If it can do what it did to me last night, what can it do to them?”

            Surprisingly, he answered with a chuckle.  “Well it’s not like I can do anything about it now, right?”

            Relief settled over me.  I’d been somewhat afraid we’d fight, but it was one I’d been willing to have--if needed.  “Hey, where’s that tape gun?  I only have a few boxes left and I don’t want to just fold the tops in.”

            “Should be in the pantry on the shelf.  That’s where I put it.”

            “Okay, great!  I love you, and I’ll be at the new place when you get off work.  Meet me there.”

            “Love you too.”

            I hung up the phone and walked into the living room.  The tape gun was sitting dead center on the coffee table.  All of the boxes were stacked by the door.  No one had come in, and there’s no way my 3 year-old could have done it.  That was all the pushing I needed.  I grabbed up my kids and purse, put them in the truck, and went to the new house.  I NEVER stepped foot in that house again.  

            That night, my husband moved the rest of our things with a friend.  He said when he got there; every box in the room was stacked in two columns, one on top of the other, all the way to the ceiling.

            After everything I’d been through, I totally believed him.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The House on Rivermet part 2

 The House on Rivermet (part 2)
           For the next several days, different items continued to disappear.  Now I want to make sure I’m very clear about these so-called disappearances.  We could be sitting at the table eating, put down a fork or spoon, reach to pick it back up--and it would be gone.  I realize this does happen from time to time.  Especially when there’s a 3 year-old around.  However, when it is occurring during every meal, and you can’t find the utensil on the floor or stuck in the high chair, it’s a bit unnerving.  In addition to the silverware, shoes, clothing, and other things would go missing too.

            Our visitor (and by that time I was certain we had an unseen visitor) seemed particularly fond of my makeup.  But it only messed with it, while I was putting it on.  If I put down an eye shadow, and went to check on the children, it would be gone when I returned. 

            Except for the man in the window, most of the activities seemed playful and childlike.  At times I nearly convinced myself that it must be the ghost of a youngster playing pranks.  Other times, it was difficult to live in that delusion.  The overwhelming feeling of dread and fear that emanated from the bedroom could be completely debilitating.   

            The feelings weren’t subtle and came on quickly.  I could walk by the bedroom door 10 times and feel nothing.  The eleventh time?  It would hit me full force, stopping me in my tracks.  Almost like I’d ran into a tractor beam or force field.  In an instant, I’d be freezing and paralyzed with fear.  My racing heart would thud against my chest so hard it was actually physically painful.  It only lasted a few seconds, but that was long enough to scare the crap out of me.

            On Friday, we’d lived there two weeks.  By then, our ghost had added something new to his bag of tricks.  From time to time, no matter which room I was in, I would see this white mist in my peripheral vision.  As soon as I’d realize it was there, I’d turn to look and it would be gone.  I got smart after awhile.  I stopped looking head on and would watch it from the corner of my eye. The mist itself was nearly transparent.  Almost like a sphere shaped cloud of smoke, it hovered about a foot from the floor and reached nearly to the ceiling.  As long as I didn’t look at it directly, it would stay for several minutes at a time.  Floating in and out of my blind spot as if it were trying to get my attention.

            Friday night we decided to get out and have some fun.  My nerves were jangled and my husband was sick of hearing me gripe about the haunted house.  It’s not that he didn’t believe me, he saw the mist too.  He was there when things disappeared.  He just didn’t believe there was anything to be afraid of.  And if it weren’t for that occasional heart pounding fear, I’d have agreed with him.

            We took the kids to his parents for the night and went out on the town. 

            The next morning, he was working on the bathroom floor.  I walked up to the door to ask him a few questions.  He started to answer me and abruptly stopped talking.  His eyes locked on something over my shoulder and his jaw dropped. 

            “What is wrong with you?” I asked.

            He didn’t say a word, but all the color drained from his face.

            I spun around to see what he was looking at.  A tall shadow, shaped like a man, paced along the kitchen wall.  I gasped and the shadow stopped and turned to face me.  It looked as if it were staring right at me.  Within seconds it took off and went down the wall disappearing into the pantry.

            Both of us were silent for a moment.  “Did you see that?” he finally asked.

            “I told you.”

            “I know.  But did you SEE that?”

            “Yes, I saw it.  This house is haunted!”

            He shook his head and pulled himself to a standing position.  “Now honey,” he said.  “Don’t get all freaked out.  It’s just a ghost.  They can’t hurt you.”

            But he was very wrong.  Very very wrong.