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For the first two years of our marriage, Matt and I rented out the upstairs of my mom’s house. At the time, my mom basically ran a boarding house. After building her big dream house after my dad passed away, at some point she decided that it was too much house for her alone and started taking in boarders, mostly extended family and people from her church who needed a place to stay and couldn’t afford a lot of rent. During the time of this story, the house’s other residents included my mom’s sister and her grandson, and another guest who will remain nameless.

This last boarder was the sort of person who you never knew what sort of stuff she or her associates might be into. It was during the months that she stayed there that all of this went on.

Several strange things happened during these months, all of them the type of thing that you usually see attributed to a poltergeist. One night, our bedroom TV kept flicking on and off by itself, when the power didn’t seem to flicker or affect any other appliances (the TV acting of its own accord is one of those classic scary movie tropes that I’ve always been afraid of, so you can bet I stuck to Matt like glue for the rest of the night after this started happening). My mom reported that she was in bed one night when the drawer on her nightstand flew open on its own. And she and my aunt and her grandson were all in the living room one night when they all heard the distinct sound of the pet gate that kept my mom’s dogs out of my aunt’s part of the house open and close. They knew that the other boarder was supposed to be gone for the night, but they thought she must’ve come home without their realizing it. When they called out, there was no answer, so they got up to check it out. There was nobody in that part of the house.

It was also during this time when my mom and I were watching TV in the downstairs living room, when suddenly the room started to smell like a dirty barn. If you’ve ever been in a barn that needed to be mucked out, then you know what I’m talking about. It was the overpowering smell of dirt, must and manure. At first we figured the dogs must have tracked something in, so we looked them over. When they both appeared clean, we started searching the room for whatever could be causing that smell. When we couldn’t find anything, we both got the eerie sensation that maybe it didn’t have an earthly cause, so we both started to pray. Immediately, the smell vanished.

The most unsettling thing that happened to me personally during this time was one night when I was alone downstairs. Matt and I just had a kitchenette upstairs, so I often went downstairs to the kitchen if I wanted to eat something a little more elaborate than a microwaveable dinner. My mom and aunt had gone to church, along with my little cousin, and the other boarder was out, so it was just me and Matt in the house, along with all of our pets, and Matt and our dog and two cats were all upstairs.

I was standing at the sink when I heard the sound of movement in my aunt’s hallway. I looked over at the entrance to her part of the house just in time to see what looked like the fluffy tail of Bonnie, my mom’s Heinz 57 dog, go past the pet gate. I thought she must have gotten trapped on the wrong side of the gate, so I went to let her out. When I reached the gate, there was nobody in the hall, so I thought she must have gone in the other boarder’s room, the door of which had been left open.

So I called her. And she came running out of my mom’s room, on the other side of the house. I heard her claws clicking on the kitchen tile behind me, and when I turned to see her standing there in the kitchen, wagging the same fluffy tale that I could have sworn I’d just seen going down my aunt’s hallway, a chill went down my spine. I moved the hell away from my aunt’s hallway, called the dog to get away from there, too, and then high-tailed it upstairs to tell my husband what just happened. He just shook his head and said, “Man, I wish [that other boarder] didn’t live here.”

Not long after that, she moved out, after which all of this activity stopped.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

PS – If you’ve enjoyed my spooky encounters and would like to hear more of this sort of thing, then I highly recommend the podcast Anything Ghost, in which host Lex Wahl reads ghost stories and unexplained encounters sent to him from regular people all over the world. Episode #94 and the story about Laura’s apartment is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever heard.