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.

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