"My Haunted Life" Part 6: Return to the Darkness Based on True Events by Chris Matheny
"Knowledge Would be My Weapon Against the Unseen. I Was Determined to Bring the Biggest Gun that I Could Find."
Together we have crossed the threshold of my mind, and traveled back through distant memories to a time that had long been buried in my subconscious. Yes, Faithful Reader, you and I have begun to fathom the mysteries that encircle my life like a spectral noose.
If you are willing to spend just a while longer with me, then let us travel back in to my past again. Now, remember my sleepless nights and tormented mind. Remember me as a child alone in the dark with monsters. Let us return to that time in the attic. Let us return to the darkness together.
""As a child, I developed a thirst for reading."
As a child, I developed a thirst for reading. In the summer, I would have my dear mother drop me off at the library every morning. My day would be spent amerced in mythology and history. Plato and Socrates kept me company at lunch, and the afternoon was spent in search of Amelia Earhart and Bigfoot. My quest was already beginning. The search for the truth was on; or as my favorite detective of all time said, “The game is afoot.”
Over the next couple of years, my studies delved deeper into the unknown. Ghosts and horror stories were my main stay. My studies even ran into the occult and voodoo. These were areas of study only. I never attempted anything I read in those books. Not out of fear, either. It’s just that I considered myself a student, not a practitioner.
My nights, at this time, were still spent sleepless and without comfort. The mysterious spectral guardian had not yet arrived to end the torment, and the attic remained a singular mystery for me. The events of that day had opened my eyes to a world that many never know exists. The entity that had originally terrified me had also created, in me a “need to know.” That revelatory moment gave birth to the man I would become. The entity in the attic had given me my life long quest. It had given me a purpose.
"Always, my mind would drift back to the attic, and what had happened there."
In later years, I lost that focus at times. Life has a way of coming between a person and their passions. However, at that time in my life, my eyes were being forced open. My passions were new and fresh, and my need for answers was great.
Always, my mind would drift back to the attic, and what had happened there. Granted, upon reflection, the event itself was a small encounter, just some shaking bottles and pounding footsteps. It was the disembodied voice; however, that made the greatest impact. The voice had had substance. I had felt the fetid breath on my face. The rotten stench of death and decay has forever been burned into my memory.
There was something in the attic of my grandmother’s house. I felt it every time I was there. The knowledge that I would never be free of this curse was beginning to sink in, and the future looked dim indeed. Was I to just sit helpless and cowering? Was my destiny to be a patient in a mental hospital? It became clear to me that I needed to take action.
For Thousands of Years, White Sage Has Been Regarded for Its "Cleansing" Properties.
All of my studies and research had to hold the key to my release. I redoubled my efforts, and poured over every book on the subjects that I could find. Knowledge would be my weapon against the unseen. I was determined to bring the biggest gun that I could find.
What else would I need? I had read about sea salt, brick dust and white sage being useful in warding against evil spirits. Great information to have, but where was a ten-year-old boy to find these things? Granted, brick dust was no problem; but sea salt and white sage were another matter. Nevertheless, I began to gather my supplies, and prepare myself for what lay ahead.
It was late August, and the heat was unmerciful. The tires of my bike seemed to melt to the ground as I rode the mile and a half to my grandmother’s house. My father had given me a military rucksack. It was stuffed full and bouncing on my back as I rode through the heat. Dread and anxiety built up within me with every pump of the petals.
Soon, I rounded the last bend and coasted down the little shaded lane toward the front of her house. It loomed up in front of me, like an old battered tombstone. It was covered with old white siding tiles, and had a tin roof. The large front porch wrapped around half of the house like loving arms.
Upon arriving, I dropped my bike to the ground and leapt up the steps of the front porch. The boards were getting old and beginning to rot. The entire house had begun to fall into the disrepair of old age.
My Grandma's House Has a New Owner, Who Restored the Beloved Home To It's Former Glory.
Inside, the house wasn’t faring much better. The floors were hardwood covered with worn out vinyl flooring. The walls and ceiling were made of white slat boards. The house had been made before insulation was invented; as a result, the entire thing was a bit drafty.
To make matters worse there wasn’t any central heat or air. The temperature inside was either hot or cold. Very rarely did it fall between the extremes to actually be comfortable. Years of fireplaces and coal stoves had turned the white walls and twelve-foot ceilings a dull filthy color.
None of the ruin and decay detracted from the beauty of the house. It merely lent a rustic charm to it. Despite its failing health, it still possessed a warmth and grace that denied the corruption of age
"Lightning flashed and lit the night sky up like the day."
The thought that an alien spirit had taken up residence there was maddening. How far would it go? How long until it began to possess the rest of the house? Would we be sent running into the night by this fiend?
I would do no more running. That day I would make a stand. In the end only one of us could stay. It was my belief that the house belonged to my family, and no vagrant spirit was going to scare me out of my birthright. I was resolute in my decision that, one way or another, it was going to end that night.
It’s common in our part of the country for thunderstorms to develop in the evenings during the summer. That night there was a mother of storms brewing. Lightning flashed and lit the night sky up like the day. Thunder shook the windows in their frames, and rain began to tick against the glass. Right away, the driving rain began to pound on the tin roof. It sounded like a herd of horses running across the plains. You could feel the energy in the air.
We all know and understand now how thunderstorms can “amp up” paranormal activity, but at that time, I was blissfully unaware of that fact. It was probably for the best. If I had any idea what was about to happen I would surely have aborted my plan and stayed safe in Grandma’s bed.
"Silently, the portal swung open to reveal the gaping mouth of darkness."
Stealing silently from her room, I made my way down the hall to the bathroom where I had stashed my overnight bag. Like the infernal gates of the abyss, the portal to the attic laid waiting for me there. I quietly removed my small flashlight from the bag, and began to get dressed. In just a few short moments, I was ready for battle.
The can of WD-40 hissed softly as I sprayed the hinges of the ancient door. Silently, the portal swung open to reveal the gaping mouth of darkness. Reaching once more into my pack, I pulled out a small rubber doorstop. Once wedged into position, I gave it a firm tap with my flashlight. This, I hoped, would insure that the door would remain open until I closed it myself.
I had also brought with me several small plastic flashlights. Just inside the doorway, I turned on the first one. The dust stirred into my nose as I placed it flat on the step. Holding my breath and my nose, I stifled a sneeze.
A few steps higher I placed the next light, and so on until the foreboding staircase was illuminated all the way to the top. As for the noisy steps, I simple walked on the outer edges. They were virtually silent as I passed on my way. At the top of the stairs, I repeated my earlier lubrication and doorstop trick. There was no way I was going to be trapped up there with my quarry.
Once secure in my ability to fly to safety at will, I made my way into the darkness of the attic. The “pitch black” was occasionally driven into the corners of the room by the brilliant flashes of lightning. The thunder boomed and rolled across the night with awesome furry. Pounding rain drove against the tin roof in torrents. The sound was ear splitting at times, but then suddenly there was deafening silence.
Hurriedly, I set about readying my battleground. The contents of the rucksack were quickly emptied on the dusty floor. My pale flashlight fought to stave of the encroaching shadows. Soon, it was joined in its valiant effort by a softly burning candle.
"The “pitch black” was occasionally driven into the corners of the room by the brilliant flashes of lightning."
Moments seemed to stretch out like a lazy dog in the sun. Time had no meaning. Sweat dripped off of my nose and ran down my forehead. Enough was enough. I was tired beyond measure of the way my life was being stolen from me. Steadily, I worked on my preparations through the terrible storm.
The thunder was so loud it was difficult to tell if there was any activity going on around me or not. When it would abate, I still couldn’t be sure of anything that I might have heard. My ears rang for several seconds after every clap of thunder. When the rain would pick up in intensity, the sound would drown out everything.
Soon, my work was done and I stood within a pentacle drawn with salt, softly lit by candle stubs. With a sharp click, I shut off my flashlight, and tossed it on the rucksack. Breathing deeply, I gathered my nerve. Resolutely, I stood up and puffed out my chest. I thrust my right hand deep into my pocket, clenching tight my secret weapon.
My searching eyes peered deep into the dark recesses of the attic. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally spied what I was searching for. A dark shape hid in the corner of the room behind some old steamer trunks. The shade was darker than the shadows around it. It was watching me.
“Alright, you son of a bitch, here I am. Come and get me!” I nearly shouted over the thunder, as I raised my wooden crucifix.
Something in the corner stirred and shifted. Thunder peeled and the rain pounded the roof like a million little meteorites were falling all around me. Lightning flashed like a strobe light for several seconds.
“Did you hear me? Come on!” Tears streamed down my face, etching their paths in the dust.
There was a flash of movement as the dark figure shot across the back wall, then disappeared into the shadows of the corner. The floor to my right began to shake as the booming of footsteps sounded the approach of the one I feared. The edges of the wooden cross dug deep into the flesh of my hand as I clutched it tightly to my chest.
Just as the sound of the footsteps reached me lightning flashed lighting up the attic like the sun. Spots raced across my vision as I closed them tight against the blinding light. Pivoting on the ball of my right foot, I spun yanking my hand from my pocket and hurling my secret weapon into the air in front of me.
The dust I had thrown billowed out like cigar smoke, gently floating on the still air of the attic. It softly began to settle to the floor. For just a moment as the dust began to fall, I could make out the outline of a humanoid figure within the dust cloud. The figure stopped in its tracks, and stood motionless as the ground brick and silver dust sank slowly around it.
With little hesitation, I pulled a Ziploc bag from my back pocket. Tearing the top of the bag cleanly off with my teeth, I pulled a sponge, soaked with holy water that was borrowed from my church. There was a rattling off to my right, and a mason jar flew past my head to smash against the wall near me.
“Be gone from this place!” my cracking voice rose above the cacophony of the thunder and lightning. “Leave this place and never return! You are uninvited!”
I raised my arm wide in an arc in front of me, sending a spray of holy water in the direction of the entity. I flung the sponge back and forth, misting holy water everywhere. There was more rattling, and I ducked. Two more mason jars crashed against the wall.
“Your time here is at an end! Go back to the darkness from which you came!”
There was a crashing noise off to my right, followed by the sound of an object being dragged across the floor. Then something else flew past my head. At that point, things began to happen fast. There was movement all over the attic. The very air seemed to buzz with energy as object shot back and forth.
The pentacle was my protection, so I foolishly thought. As long as I stayed within its protective confines, I would be safe. Then a heavy bottle slammed into my back, dropping me to my knees. There was another near miss as I covered my head with my arms. My right arm went numb as it took the lip of a mason jar to the funny bone, chipping it. This injury still bothers me to this day.
"Lightning struck the tree just outside of the window to my left."
Covering my head with my left arm, I sprang to my feet and began to fling my wholly water again.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven…” The fury of the spirits mirrored the fury of the storm as I recited the Lord’s Prayer.
In the darkness, something crashed to the floor and shattered. I felt as though I were in the heart of a nuclear blast. There was a flash so bright it defies true description, followed by a blast so loud that I have only heard its equal in war.
Lightning struck the tree just outside of the window to my left. The attic floor shook and heaved. The walls trembled with the force of the blast. My sight was lost for a moment among the swirling light and spots in my vision. My ears rang, and my eyes watered.
The storm began to abate, as if a sign to me that my storm too was about to pass. The attic felt different then. It was lighter and showed none of the earlier signs trouble. It was safe again. I could feel it, and the evil entity was gone.
Quickly, I swept away the evidence of my otherworldly pursuits. Minutes later, I was making my way back down the staircase removing all of my flashlights and doorstops. After I wiped the hinges clean of oil, I changed back into my PJ’s, and slipped down the hall to my grandparent’s room.
My grandparents had lived in that house for decades, and had become accustomed to sleeping under a tin roof. In fact, my grandmother had told me that she never had better sleep than in a thunderstorm. Evidently, she found the pelting of the rain to be rather soothing. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised to find them snoring away when I returned. Easing back into the bed with my grandmother, I noticed the clock beside the bed read 3:23 a.m.
Sleep was still elusive, but I heard no ghostly voices. Instead, I lay there reflecting upon the events of the night. Had I done it? Had I driven the evil from the attic? I could only hope; hope and pray.
A few days later, I was in trouble for grinding up a silver knife from my grandmother’s flatware set. In a time of war, sacrifices had to be made, especially if one ever wants to get a decent night’s sleep again.