I’ve been reading up on plenty of paranormal experiences lately – especially since I started having my own. Once you’ve seen enough of them, you begin to notice all the little tropes and archetypes that link them together: from cold spots appearing around the house to misplaced objects and inexplicable noises. The list goes on.
Humanity’s fascination with ghosts and monsters has spanned thousands of years – since people were drawing on cave walls in the Paleolithic era, and perhaps even before that. You see, in one form or another, these same rules have always applied, to the extent that it’s become almost a rite of passage for many cultures across the world.
To us, these spiritual traditions are clichés now, all tired fantasies, like ouija boards and Victorian seances.
Let me guess: you’re wondering why someone who has had their own paranormal experience is such a skeptic about ghosts, right?
That’s because poltergeists aren’t ghosts. They’re so much worse.
Of course, things never started with a bang. Situations like this have a long fuse, and you’re lucky if you hear the fizzle before the whole damn thing explodes. For me, it just started with plates – plain, average dining plates that I’d left in the sink to wash, only to return and find them cleaned, dried, and stacked neatly next to the basin.
Being a rational person, I assumed that I’d just done it myself and forgotten about it. When I’m under stress, my memory is like a colander full of sand, anyway.
Even when the little needle in my mind began the slow shift from “forgetfulness” to “paranormal occurrences”, the force inhabiting my little one-bedroom house didn’t seem like much of a nuisance to me. Occasionally, I’d lose a TV remote or find my car keys in a strange place, but when you weigh that against cleaning the crockery and making the garbage disappear, the force seemed almost more benevolent than a paying lodger.
If I’m honest, at this point I didn’t truly believe that I was dealing with a supernatural entity. To attribute a series of moved items to ghosts and ghouls before ruling out more logical explanations is just an exercise in wishful thinking.
Though, things got weirder after my underwear started disappearing. It’s not uncommon to lose a sock in the washing machine, but when week after week a bra or a thong is disappearing like goddamn clockwork, it merits a little concern. What’s more, it was only ever my older underwear that went missing – as though the thief knew I’d be less likely to notice that those ones were gone.
All the strangeness got relegated into the back of my mind by my nephew’s upcoming birthday party: he was going to be seven, and last year I made the grievous error of making him a birthday cake myself. In that moment, I underwent the miraculous transformation from Claire Moore to ‘Super Aunt’, and with great power comes the great responsibility of making a new jaw-dropping cake every year.
After all, there’s no disappointment without expectations. God, do I miss not having those.
There were monoliths of eggs, butter, and flour piled onto the kitchen countertop. I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, just agonizing over what the hell I was going to make for this kid. Ten years ago, making a birthday cake for a seven year old was like shooting fish in a barrel: you want Buzz Lightyear, or Shrek? These days, God only knows.
I was hefting the bag of flour over to the mixing bowl when I felt something cold and stiff brush through my hair, followed by something moving, something alive. I screeched in shock, dropping the flour back onto the countertop. The bag split in two, filling the room with a cloud of brilliant white.
The cloud highlighted distortions in the air, like something was moving but couldn’t be seen. The figure was vaguely human-shaped and released an angry thrum of clicks when the flour stuck to it, as though it were suddenly taken aback by being revealed to me like this. It shook the flour off of its lighting-fast body and slipped back into empirical non-existence just as quickly.
In spite of its attempts to disguise itself again, that thing was unquestionably human…at least in shape.
Screaming like I was at death’s door, I bolted past the space where I assumed it to be, and scrambled down the hallway towards my front door.
Enraged clicking and the heavy crunch of bony footsteps echoed in the halls behind me.
I grabbed the handle and tore open the front door, ready to practically jump out, when I felt its skeletal fingers catch around my throat and fling me back into the hallway, almost effortlessly.
Clutching my aching neck, I tried desperately to catch my breath while the door slammed shut, and the invisible figure – the ‘poltergeist’ that had somehow been in my house this whole time – turned the key until the loud click of falling tumblers rang out, before snapping it off in the lock.
There was no getting out now, at least not through that door.
It gave another angry hiss and a brief series of clicks, as if to say, “Look what you made me do!” and dropped half of the shattered key onto my body.
After that, I thought it was all over. I closed my eyes and started weeping quietly, expecting to feel those cold fingers around my throat any second now. It threw me like a rag doll; it could probably have snapped my neck with a gentle squeeze.
But, that never happened. Instead, I felt cold hands slide under the small of my back, and lift me to about three feet off the ground. I gasped in shock at first, but realized that for some reason, my invisible home-invader didn’t mean me any physical harm. Being in its arms, I could hear all the clunky, labored exhalations that rattled in its chest – it felt almost human when you’re that close to it.
The poltergeist lowered me – and I do mean lowered, not dropped – onto a sofa in my living room and seemed to waft out of the door, the only indication of its presence being the breeze it generated with every movement.
The relief of not being mauled was suddenly tainted by wondering just how many times I’d felt that breeze before, and thought of it as nothing.
Before I could even finish that thought, a glass of water seemed to levitate into the room, at roughly the same height that I’d been carried. Somehow, this was more confusing than it just ripping my throat out.
The glass hovered in front of me, and stayed there until the poltergeist nudged me with one of its decidedly rough fingers, signaling for me to take it.
In my mind, I was trying to collate everything I knew about this thing: invisible, but corporeal. Intelligent, but unable to speak. Generally unaggressive, but possesses deadly strength when tested.
I realized that I’d learned more about the supernatural in those few seconds than any other living person on Earth, and I didn’t know whether to be proud or terrified out of my skin.
Or both, I guess.
From the lack of breeze, I assumed that the poltergeist was still in the room, watching me – if it did indeed have eyes – and making sure that I drank. I took a few tentative sips and found that it was just tap water, and then drained the glass in relief.
The poltergeist gently eased the glass out of my hand and spirited it away to the kitchen, where the hiss of rushing faucets and the squeak of towel-against-glass indicated that this thing was one for cleaning up after itself. It didn’t seem befitting of a poltergeist to be a neat freak.
A rush of wind signaled its return to the room, and my body tensed up in anticipation.
You don’t lay a person down somewhere comfortable and get them a drink if you plan to kill them, do you? This thought seemed to be the most pressing of all the ones flooding into my mind, but I figured it made about as much sense to apply logic to this as it did to apply to a Saturday morning cartoon. The very existence of this thing proved that there were some pretty significant holes in conventional logic.
Nothing happened. It seemed to stay still in the center of the room, like it was waiting for me to do something – to do anything. It just kept standing there, almost utterly motionless.
“Are you going to hurt me?” I found myself whispering through trembling lips.
The poltergeist offered another cluster of unintelligible clicks. The room was silent for a few solid minutes after that.
“Okay, okay,” I said, regaining some of my composure, “I need to know some things. And for that, I need to ask you some things. If the answer to any of my questions is yes, tap twice on the wall. If the answer is no, just tap once. Do you understand?”
A brief pause.
“Okay, are you going to hurt me?”
I breathed a sigh of relief, “Good. Thank you. Have you been here for a while?”
“Over a week?”
“Over a year?”
There was some minor relief to be taken in that, I’m sure.
“Have you been…stealing my underwear?”
There was a pause that seemed to scream embarrassment.
“Am I allowed to leave?”
The creature’s fist seemed to slam onto the wall, leaving an apple-sized crater in the bricks and sending cracks slithering from it in all directions.
It’s been a week since I last wrote, and the poltergeist has kept me quarantined in my own home. I can’t count the number of times I’ve cursed myself for being antisocial before; when I’ve previously ‘gone off the grid’ for a few days, it’s never mattered, and now, nobody is coming to look for me.
I’m sure that, in its own mind, it’s been awfully accommodating to such an ungrateful guest. It’s cleaned the cups and dishes every night, and done my laundry every morning. It prepares meals that it assumes I’ll enjoy from the increasingly sparse assortment of ingredients in the house – last night, in its frustration, it made me a steaming bowl of Graham Crackers, microwaved in a goldfish and spearmint toothpaste bisque.
It threw all of my plates against the walls when I was gagging too much to finish it.
We haven’t been communicating a great deal. In fact, I think it decided to give me the silent treatment after my last failed escape: a rather futile attempt to climb out of the second-story bathroom window. All in all, I guess its response was pretty measured; it couldn’t have broken more than three of my toes.
The one question that’s been needing an answer from the outset, the one I’ve been needing to ask but only last night realized the importance of, is whether the poltergeist was in love with me.
Tap. Fucking. Tap.
I’d been a well-behaved girl since it broke my toes, trying to play by its increasingly meticulous rules – rules, I might add, that you can only really learn through trial and error. I’m sure, once again, that in its own mind it was something of a gentleman, it’d never hurt me unless the punishment was ‘proportional’ to my perceived crime.
For something so powerful, it was easy to upset. What’s more, there was no real way of telling whether it was even around you at any given time, so you always had to assume that it was. The only place in this house that seemed off-limits to that evil bastard was inside my head, so that’s where I conducted all my planning.
I’d let it play dolls house with me, let it think I’m some harmless, malleable object that it can manipulate and enjoy, then go all Child’s Play on its ass once it let its guard down.
The poltergeist had ripped the landline out of the wall on day two, but the cell phone in the drawer of my bedside cabinet? My love-struck monster didn’t seem to know about that.
I poured myself a glass of Coke and drank it, leaving some noticeable residue at the bottom to make sure that the clean-freak poltergeist would take the bait. Stepping back a little, I watched my trap unfold.
Just as expected, the glass rose from the countertop and a dish towel was yanked from the kitchen radiator. Perfect. This gave me an idea of where its body was.
Knowing how quick the bastard could move, I lunged out and ripped a chef’s knife from my knife rack, and while the poltergeist was busy polishing the glass, I drove it into what must have been the creature’s chest.
It let out an ear-piercing shriek, as viscous, black blood squirted from nowhere onto the freshly-cleaned glass. Not wanting to waste the few seconds of precious time that this bought me, I tore my way up the stairs to the bedroom, hearing the poltergeist’s monstrous screams as they rang out from the kitchen.
I leapt through the doorway and slammed the door behind me, locking it, bolting it, and jamming a stool underneath the doorknob. Knowing that this wouldn’t hold the creature for long, the second I’d done it I sprang over to my bedside cabinet, and started hammering in 911 so fast I felt as though my fingers would snap under the pressure.
Something big and pissed-off was rumbling up the stairs.
Before the police dispatcher could even get half way through her scripted spiel, I found myself screaming like a madwoman into the receiver.
“Something is in my house and it’s trying to fucking kill me!”
“Something, ma’am?” Even though the poltergeist was hammering frantically on the door now, I could still hear the incredulity in her voice. I wasn’t intending to let the truth get in the way of me being rescued.
“Someone, I mean. He’s got a fucking gun, he’s armed. I’m locked in and he’s hammering my goddamn door down,” I held the receiver towards the door so the dispatcher could hear the banging, “You’re gonna need to knock down my front door or he’s going to fucking murder me.”
“I’ve dispatched some officers, ma’am. ETA is about two minutes. Can you stay on the line?”
“I think I-”
The door splintered into toothpicks with a deafening boom. The poltergeist had gotten in.
I screamed at the top of my lungs as it cleared the room. My phone exploded in my hand, and I felt the white-hot pain of the creature’s hand striking me across the cheek, knocking me into my bed. I could already feel my cheek swelling as livid bruises started to rise under the skin of my face.
This is it, I thought. I’m going to die.
Things went slowly after that; I could hear the poltergeist’s low growl as it circled the bed, I could see the black blood squirting from thin air, splattering on my duvet. I knew that it was planning its next move, calculating an appropriate punishment for my indiscretion.
A cold hand began pressing down on my chest, though I couldn’t see it. I felt it compressing, crushing the life out of me, like some kind of living asthma attack. Though it wasn’t killing me, no, that wouldn’t be the proper treatment for the person it’s obsessed over for all these months.
No, it was just holding me still.
I felt the springs in my mattress groan as the poltergeist crawled onto the bed, keeping its hand on the center of my chest, all that black blood trailing further across the duvet. With its free hand, it tugged at the button fastening my jeans and awkwardly tried to open it.
Realizing what it was doing, I started kicking and screaming at the top of my lungs. The creature’s hand shot to my throat and squeezed me into silence, while its free hand carried on working haphazardly at my jeans.
My eyes scanned the room, looking for some sort of weapon or method of escape. In the end, they were just fixated on the body-length mirror that sat in front of the bed…or rather, what was in the mirror.
While I couldn’t see the poltergeist directly, even while it was straddling me and trying to consummate our one-sided relationship, I could see its reflection in the mirror as clear as day.
From what I could see, the poltergeist was long and hairless, its build almost skeletal and its skin having that coarse, crispy quality of burnt newspaper. I could see its ribs and the protruding vertebrae of its spine pulsing inwards and outwards with every labored breath. That fucking monster looked like death itself.
It’d finally managed to wrestle open the button on my jeans, and began peeling down the zipper in slow, perverted delight. I could tell that the poltergeist was getting excited, because its hand was tightening around my throat and that terrible blood was squirting onto me with greater pressure and frequency.
“Ma’am, is everything okay?” I heard the cop shout from downstairs.
In the mirror, I saw the creature’s head turn to find the origin of the sound. A distraction. Its grip loosened. It was finally my chance.
With all my remaining energy, I leaned over to the nightstand and grabbed my bedside lamp, and with all the fury and hatred I’d built up over the week that I’d been its prisoner, I smashed the base of the lamp into the side of the poltergeist’s head. Once wasn’t enough for me, I smashed it again and again and again, until its grip loosened and its hand drew away from my neck.
“Help!” I screamed, louder than I’d ever screamed anything, “Please! Somebody help me!”
As the officers heard my desperate pleas and began smashing down my front door, the mirror told me that the poltergeist was still recovering from the blows, so I sped past it and ran down the stairs to safety.
Tears were streaming down my cheeks when I saw the two officers standing in my hallway, both of their pistols drawn.
“Thank God you’re here!” I screamed, “We need to get out of here.”
I grabbed one of the officers and held him close to me, and the other gave me a stern look.
“We need to take care of the threat,” he said, his voice as cold and hard as the poltergeist’s hands, “You can save the congratulations for then, Ma’am.”
“No, no,” I insisted, “It doesn’t matter, we just need to get out of here. Right now!”
The officer had already started mounting the stairs, his pistol out in front of him.
“I’ll secure the area. Officer Harvey can escort you out.”
I saw a single drip of black blood hit the step in front of the nameless officer.
“No!” I shrieked.
The officer turned and faced us to see what had happened, and his gun was batted unceremoniously from his hands. His head whipped around towards the poltergeist in shock, and just didn’t stop. It twisted a full 360 degrees before falling away from his shoulders and tumbling down the stairs, the neck of his collapsing body spraying arcs of arterial blood.
I recoiled in horror, while Officer Harvey lunged forward and began firing blindly up the stairs, screaming while he did it. One of his bullets must have clipped the poltergeist, because it let out a monstrous roar, but it wasn’t enough to save him.
As I scrambled through the open doorway, I heard Officer Harvey scream as his leg snapped. He collapsed, face-down, to the ground, and was dragged back into the hallway. I couldn’t bear to turn around as I sprinted out towards my car, but I could hear a cacophony of screams, growls, and meaty tearing sounds echoing from behind me.
The poltergeist had effortlessly killed two people – armed police officers, at that! – and soon it’d be coming for me.
I leapt into the driver’s seat of my Honda Civic and stabbed the keys into the ignition. I started the engine, got in gear, and prepared to slam my foot down so hard that the pedal would be touching concrete. But, I had to steal one last look at my house from the rear-view mirror.
The poltergeist was stepping out over the threshold, its black eyes burning with fury. Its lipless mouth hung open, lined with teeth like broken glass, growling and hissing. Its chest was torn and ragged from the knife wounds and gunshots, its genitals were long, twisted, and covered in what looked like thorns. Its hands and feet, which shuddered and twitched in anger, were fitted with shimmering claws rather than fingers.
It seemed to know that I was seeing it properly for the first time, and I bet it was glad. It was glad I could see its hatred for me oozing out of its every movement.
I slammed down on the gas and tore away from my house. I drove, and drove, and drove, without a destination in mind. My home wasn’t my own anymore, and now there were two dead cops in there: one headless, the other probably worse. For all intents and purposes, my life, as I knew it, was over.
This all happened maybe five or six hours ago, as I write this from the room of the motel where I’m staying. I ditched the car over a mile away and walked, worried that the poltergeist would recognize it, and – without a mirror on hand – I’d have no hope of seeing it coming.
Though, I have no doubt in my mind that soon it will.
This brings my sad little tale to a close, I guess. The book’s open until the poltergeist comes and closes it for me. But, in what might be my last few hours on Earth, I can’t help but consider the possibility…
If there are things in this world that we can’t see – or at least, not conventionally – what do you think are the chances of that being the only one?