By: Brady Anderson The two-story wood house at 1125 Ave South, "Oakdale," was now occupied by only its second owners since its original construction around 1924. White paint was flaking off from areas on its exterior walls and the blue trim had turned to a pale gray. Even a couple of windowpanes were shattered because of the mischief of some neighborhood children between owners, causing small amounts of water damage in a couple of the second floor bedrooms.
Still, to Jamie and Ross, the structure was home.
Together, they would stand outside and envision what a few months of hard work and sweat could accomplish for their newly purchased and prized possession.
They would hope to someday raise children here and build memories that would last a lifetime, maybe two. One hundred grand American, (nine million Canadian) was not too much to pay for such a beautiful home "Just a few more boxes to sort through and we'll be officially moved in," Ross randomly commented; as he lifted a 120lb sculpture onto a table, with extreme ease due to his large muscle mass.
Jamie nodded, "Where should I put all that excess dinnerware that your aunt gave us?" "How about the closet under the stairs? Its not like I'll ever use it." Jamie grinned. "Be my guest!" "What?" Ross smiled. "Do you think there's ghosts or something in there?" he asked.
"I just don't like the fact that its locked and the Realtor didn't have any keys to fit it. But what really bothers me is, my hair stands on end when I walk by it." "Well, you've watched one too many horror flicks." Jamie shrugged her shoulders sarcastically. "Then, by all means, be my guest, put the dishes under the stairs. I can find something better to do." The two embraced and shared a quick hug before retrieving the final two boxes from the bed of their black, Toyota Tacoma, pickup truck and bringing them into the house.
"Which bathroom did you start bleaching?" Jamie asked Ross as he went through a box of tools.
"Downstairs bathroom." he answered.
"Okay---I'm heading up to do the other one then!" Jamie said, loudly.
Ross gave her a light peck on her forehead and walked toward the gloomy closet beneath the stairs. "I'll be hacking away at this lock, with the saw so we can get in, so if you hear yelling, you better come quick." He dashingly winked at her. "Cause you never know what I might find on the other side of this door." Only ten minutes later, Ross had cut through the thinnest section of the doorknob and was able to force the lock mechanism to fall inside; it clattered to the floor of the closets' interior. A cascading flow of stale, musty air blew passed him as he cracked the door and stuck his head inside the narrow opening.
Carefully, he felt around the innermost wall for a light switch, then noticed a long string hanging from the center of the closet, and gave it a firm tug.
The sudden burst of light revealed an ordinary and innocent closet.
"No monsters here," he amusingly said to himself.
"What?" said a high-pitched voice from upstairs.
Ross jumped. "Good Lord, I didn't know you were behind me!" She leaned in and scanned the closet's interior. "I thought you were just talking to me. So I came down." "Nope, I was just looking around. Not really much to see." "It looks pretty innocent!" she replied, nodding her head.
After stashing the boxes inside the cramped closet, Ross examined the old doorknob. "I'll put a new one on here this week," he replied, realizing how the one he sawed apart just wouldn't work.
Jamie stretched. "Well, then, I suppose that's it! We are, indeed, completely moved in now." Two days later, Jamie was preparing to enjoy a day off. Nothing was pressing, no errands to run, no urgent jobs needed tending to around the house; it was an opportune time to practice her relaxation. And the small, five foot six, yet well-defined muscular woman needed her beauty rest.
It had seemed like "forever" since she could just take a whole day off for herself. The moving, the repairing, and the never-ending list of things to do, was so time consuming.
But, today belonged to her.
Besides, Ross enjoyed that type of work and was planning to whip those particular rooms into shape this coming weekend. He had already replaced the doorknob on the closet and a number of other odd handyman jobs around the house.
"Reeelaaax," she urged herself aloud.
Jamie pulled a pair of loose fitting baby blue shorts over her bronze legs and opted for an oversized tee shirt to round out her fashion statement. No shoes. No socks. Comfortable was a key word in her plan for a successful day of relaxation to occur.
Just as she was pulling her hair from under the collar of the shirt she found, a cool sensation swept over her. Like someone had momentarily opened an invisible refrigerator next to her. She turned quickly on her toes and stared at the door of the bedroom, half expecting to see Ross standing there.
A chill then brushed across her skin, her scalp tightened and a tingling sensation caused her hair to feel as if it were standing on end.
It was like someone had been watching her.
She hurried to the door and looked down the hall toward the stairs. Something caught her attention; it wasn't easy to describe, just a vague movement, it could've been her imagination. After all, Ross was at work, wasn't he? "Ross!" she called out in a false angry tone. Just in case he had in fact come home early and decided to play a practical joke on her. Jamie inched toward the stairs. "Ross!" she again declared in an agitated tone. She heard no noise down below. "Oh, this is stupid!" she scolded herself quietly. "Probably just a dumb reflection through the living room window from a passing car," she noted.
Bravely, she strolled down the stairs and gave the ground floor a look. Of course, she found nothing, which is truly what she expected to find. She didn't actually think that Ross would attempt to scare her like that and the short search proved her right.
Nothing else was out of the ordinary during the day and before she knew it, night had come, and Ross was clamoring through the door after a hard days work, coated with dirt, from head to toe, of his 5'11" body. Even his brown hair was dirty, not to mention the sparked in his blue eyes had diminished into a shade of gray.
That night, with the incident already packed in a cozy little corner of her mind, she and Ross were watching a rented video, when he sat up abruptly and stared toward the kitchen.
"What's wrong, hun?" Jamie asked, noticing the expression on his face.
Ross shook his head and returned to the comfortable zone beside Jamie. "Nothing---just one of those things!" "What things?" Ross shifted on the cushion and lazily lifted his shoulders. "You know---when you think you see something out of the corner of your eye, but nothing is really there." Jamie remembered the feeling she had earlier that day. "Yeah, I know what you mean! That happened to me this morning---" "Really?" "Yeah, but it was nothing. I figured it was a reflection or something." Ross nodded in agreement. "Yeah, probably. I guess it'll just take a while to get used to the house, the noises, the reflections, whatever." Ross pulled Jamie closer. The movie dragged along but neither could recall where the remote for the DVD was, nor did they want to get up to manually turn it off, so they watched in bored silence. Before long they had both entered the state of sleep.
The following evening, Ross was standing at the kitchen counter peeling potatoes for a meal, while Jamie silently watched over the two pots on the stove.
They enjoyed cooking together. They enjoyed doing just about everything together. But, tonight was exceptionally special; it was the first home cooked meal inside their new house.
Dinner was to be served within the hour.
Each was lost in thought, and silence when suddenly a wave of coldness swooped around Ross making the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. "Whoa!" he exclaimed as he hopped a couple of inches off the ground and searched around the kitchen. "Did you feel that?" he asked.
Jamie turned. "Feel what?" Ross curled the corner of his lips. "It was like a frigid air breeze through here, and considering it ninety degrees outsideÃ¢ÂÂ¦" "Well, that's the same thing that happened to me upstairs yesterday. I wasÃ¢ÂÂ¦" Jamie jerked her head toward the living room and pointed.
"What was that? I saw something!" Ross closed the gap between them and they both watched for any unusual movement. Several minutes later, something darted across their field of sight, only five to seven feet in front of them. It was so brief that if they had not actually been looking for it, they might have thought of it as a trick of the mind, or another reflection.
"That was definitely not a reflection!" Ross blurted out, barely able to contain his excitement.
"No, but what Surely you don't think it's a-" "I'm not sure what I think. I just know that it wasn't a reflection and, obviously it wasn't smoke or anything like that. I mean it's not like there's a fire in the house." Jamie agreed. "And, it didn't come from any window, because it seemed to come from that wall and disappear into the closet." "On the other hand, it wasn't really like a ghost. It was just kind of long and foggy looking-" "But, it was about six feet tall!" Jamie interjected.
Nodding, Ross walked over to the closet and opened it, slowly. He pulled the string. Light exploded rhythmically in the darkness more so than usual, but showed nothing out of the ordinary.
He closed the door.
"I really don't know what's going on, maybe the place is haunted, and maybe it was in our head." Jamie shivered. "Well, if it is, then why did we see it at the same time simultaneously, we could find another house." "Oh, Jamie, I'm not going to let our imagination get the best of us. This is our house and everything is going to be fine." "Okay, but I'm not willing to share it with, that thing." Over the course of the next few days, Ross' subconscious concluded that it the incident was nothing more than their imaginations.
They repeatedly experienced the cold air sensations and even sighted the unknown thing, which they came to call "the fog," several more times. Jamie remained uneasy about the situation but Ross on the other hand felt stimulated with the possibility of encountering the "unknown" and perhaps, "paranormal." More than once, Jamie overheard Ross speaking aloud in an empty room, attempting to "coerce," their guest to show itself.
It was two weeks since the date of their first sighting, and then things took a nerve-racking turn. Even Ross had to admit that he was shaken a bit by the events. While eating dinner on the couch, (these people hate tables, haha), they heard loud noises coming from the kitchen area. At first, they believed that someone had walked in through the rear door of their home. Ross jumped up, grabbed a marble statue from a shelf, and hurried into the kitchen, prepared to encounter an intruder with lethal force.
Instead, he found nothing.
Returning to the living room, he noticed that the closet door beneath the stairs was open. He closed it, but thought nothing odd about it, since he himself could have neglected to shut it.
"Nothing!" he assured Jamie, upon his return. "Probably the neighbors next door or something." Jamie frowned sarcastically. "It sure sounded much closer than that!" she said as though he just missed the most obvious point he could have ever gotten.
"Maybe some of the pots shifted in the sink," Ross commented.
That seemed to please Jamie; she didn't need to be afraid. So, She nodded and replied, "That could be!" Suddenly, something clattered, only much louder than earlier, almost as if whatever was causing the noise was proving that their conclusion of shifting pots, was wrong.
Ross sprang from the couch attentively. "Geeeeze! 'What the heck was that?'" Jamie shook her head and stood beside him.
They waited for a short time, their eyes transfixed on the short hallway that lead into the kitchen. After a short period of silence, Ross could wait no more and again retrieved the marble figurine, and cautiously eased in the direction of the kitchen. Jamie followed. They stopped abruptly by the door of the closet.
It was open.
"I just closed this friggin' thing," Ross whispered in Jamie's ear.
She was frightened. "Let's leave and call the police," she said in a hushed but urgent tone to her husband. "Someone might be in there!" Ross shook his head. He touched the door gently and listened for the smallest hint of a sound wave, straining his ears to the max. He heard nothing. Forcefully, he shoved against the solid oak entry and the door flung open; it slamming against one of the shelves with a loud thud, followed by a crash.
Ross was flooded with such a strong flow of adrenaline it caused him to sweat and become light headed.
A swift downward pull on the string again revealed nothing but shelves and the boxes that he had placed there a couple of weeks ago.
Nothing appeared disturbed.
They both sighed with overwhelming relief and mutually decided a full house search was defiantly a needing task.
Thirty minutes later, after checking all the windows, doors, closets, and every other nook and cranny imaginable, they reclaimed their post on the couch.
They waited, but after an hour of glorious and beautiful nothing, declared the nightly watch over, for the night.
Fifteen minutes later, they were in bed, behind a closed, locked door; a chair wedged up under the doorknob. Just in case.
At precisely 2:37 a.m., Ross awoke suddenly, though he wasn't certain if it was due to a disturbing dream or an outside noise. He had always been a light sleeper and it seemed that if so much as a bird lost a feather outside in the night, then his unconscious mind would likely spring into a state of awareness, and he'd usually attempt to pinpoint the source by straining his ears for the slightest sound for as long as possibly, but would often fall sleep in a matter of minutes.
Tonight was different though.
Tonight, even though there was a warm, humid air inside the house, Ross shuddered from a coolness that filled the bedroom's inside.
He studied the open window for a few seconds for any sign of an entering breeze, but the curtains were still and motionless. He reminded himself that even if they had been flapping horizontally with gale force winds, the air would still not have been cold due to the heat.
This called for light, and fast.
Reaching over Jamie, Ross switched on the reading lamp clamped onto the headboard of their king sized bed, and sat upward. He wasn't prepared for what he saw in the center of the bedroom.
An elderly man who smelt as does the stench of death, with eyes deep, that were murderously set, and hollow, was standing still, silent, near the foot of the bed watching Ross with an impenetrable frightening gaze. The man's expression was solemn, yet sad, and though his small, frail, old body, in which all of the skeletal system was visible, didn't appear to pose any physical threat, his presence startled and frightened Ross. Which is a feat not possible by any human.
Ross bustled backwards and sat straight up against the headboard; his breathing was incredibly labored and his heart pounded ferociously inside his chest cavity at a rate so fast if you had a stethoscope it would sound like one continuous noise.
Who was he? What did he want? The darting, erratic movement caused Jamie to stir; she rolled over and placed a hand on his shoulder, half asleep not looking toward the foot of the bed. Her sleepy eyes then looked up at Ross and immediately detected the tenseness and worried expression showed on his terrified face. She slowly and cautiously directed her attention toward the source of his stare and was filled with intense terror and dread. She immediately was short of breath. It was as if someone had turned a valve and released all the oxygen inside her. She felt light-headed and incredibly sick in her gut.
Why was the man so pale almost translucent? Deep inside, Ross and Jamie obviously felt the connection between this stranger and the weird occurrences that had been taking place over the last couple of weeks.
It made next to no sense why though.
The entity had at first only played around barely detectable, then had begun making noises, then opening doors. Now, here he or it was, apparently more powerful than ever, and capable of taking on human form.
There was no other rationalization that could explain why a man was standing in the center of their second floor bedroom at 2:45 in the morning, surpassing the locked and chair secured door.
As if to confirm their thoughts of him being a ghost, the man began to rise off the floor and pointed at them. He motioned with his hand for them to follow him, and then hovered toward the door and through it, as if it weren't there.
Ross was the first off the bed, obviously, he was the stronger and smarter of the two, and for sure the bravest. Jamie was reluctant at first, but then deduced that if the man had wanted to harm them, then he could have done it while they slept. And she didn't want to leave Ross alone or be left alone.
But, he hadn't harmed them.
Instead, he only beckoned for them to follow. There was obviously something he wanted to show them, or needed help with. Besides, did they really have any choice? It wasn't like they could just turn off the lights and go back to sleep as if this whole thing were a bad dream.
Ross moved the chair and opened the door. The ghost was nowhere to be found.
"He probably went that way, toward the stairs!" Ross offered.
Jamie possessed a blank, thoughtful expression. "Does he really need the stairs?" she asked.
"That's a good point, but we do, so come on!" He tugged Jamie's arm and they jogged to the stairs and leaped down them two steps at a time.
Everything was silent and black, only the crimson reddish moon and starlight filtered in through the windows, providing them with an insufficient and discomforting, no to mention frightening amount of light.
"This is really scary! Turn on a light or something," Jamie whispered.
Ross moved toward the nearest light switch, but was stunned as Jamie screeched and pointed several feet to his right. He froze in his steps, and then rapidly returned to her side.
"What? What is it?" he asked in desperation.
"The closet under the stairs---look!" Ross saw the light coming out of the crack between the carpet and the bottom of the door. The soft glow, and terrible aroma had not been there a few moments earlier.
"I saw it come on!" Jamie exclaimed. "He's in there," she added, nervously.
A bead of sweat trickled from Ross's armpit down his right, latissimus dorsi, as his anxiety began to mount. "What's the deal with that closet?" "Maybe, there's a hidden room---," Jamie guessed.
"There's wouldn't be enough room, for a hidden space." "You're not going in there, are you?" she asked.
"NO, no way! ---I'm not going to be cornered in a small place like that, with a ghost. If there's something he wants us to see, then he can show us out here in the open where I have at least a sliver a chance of escaping!" Immediately after Ross's remark, an earsplitting noise erupted inside the closet that sounded like someone had just driven a car through the rear wall of the house. It sounded like a combination of glass, plastic, and metal---all-exploding in a series of loud crashes.
Ross and Jamie stood motionless; mouths open, gapping in awe.
They were too afraid to do anything but mindlessly stare in the direction of the closet.
Then a disquieting creak originated from the cursed vicinity.
Ross and Jamie were absolutely mortified to see the light fan out in the darkness as the door of the closet swung open. An awkward hush fell over the whole house. They waited for what seemed an eternity of time but nothing else happened.
Ross flipped on the living room light momentarily, slightly comforted with the ability to see better.
He and Jamie eased over to the closet. There, they discovered the shattered remains of several glass jars, their contents covering the entire shelves and floor of its interior.
Ross scanned over the array of nuts, bolts, screws, and many other miscellaneous items that had apparently been deliberately pushed back out of sight on the top shelf.
"There must be a reason for this," Jamie remarked as she inhaled deeply, starting to tear up in fear.
Ross put on a pair of shoes and nudged through the broken up mess with his toes. After quite some time, he stopped and just shook his head, "I see nothing here that would be of any importance, just a bunch of crud!" Jamie agreed, not feeling the need to say so.
But, just as Ross was about to pull the string of the light switch to leave, they heard a faint scraping sound. Turning, they were awe-struck to find a gold chain with a heart locket swaying back and forth on the doorknob of the closet.
After the shock of its appearance wore off, Ross plucked the chain from the doorknob. On the back of the heart were the worn, etched words, "To my loving wife on our wedding night, 3-4-47." Below that inscription were the words, "For you on our 50th anniversary, with much Love, Matthew," etched in clearer, deeper etching.
Upon opening gold heart, Ross and Jamie discovered photographs of an elderly couple; their gasps were simultaneous.
"My God, it's him!" exclaimed Jamie. "The old man!" Ross and Jamie set out after breakfast to do a little research on the old house. Their first stop, the Realtor who sold them the house, proved to be highly worthwhile. They learned that their house was once owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Matthew F. Livingston, but upon the death of her husband, Mrs. Livingston moved into a retirement community in a neighboring town.
The woman wasn't certain but seemed to recall that Mr. Livingston died in May or April of 1997. The house had sat vacant until a daughter from Alberta came down and placed it on the market about six months ago.
"Do you know which community Mrs. Livingston lives in?" Jamie asked.
The woman's lips turned up slightly. "Honey, in a small town like this, just about everybody knows when everybody else does their laundry. Miriam moved over to Evergreen Manor on Clayton Highway in Winter Springs." As they were about to leave the congenial woman asked, "By the way, what's your interest in old Miriam, anyway?" Jamie retrieved the locket from her purse and handed it to the woman. "We found this---and thought she might want it back." Upon opening it, the woman smiled affectionately, "Ah, yes---that's Matthew and Miriam, alright." She closed the heart and returned it to Jamie. "You're doing a noble thing. Good luck, dear!" Jamie and Ross then drove to Winter Springs and asked for directions to Evergreen Manor. They mutually agreed not to mention the incredibly bizarre circumstances that lead up to finding the heart locket.
Who would believe them anyway? Even now, to them, it seemed unbelievable, so how could they convince someone else of the stories when they found it unbelievably? The old woman who opened the door was instantly familiar; it was apparent that the photo in the locket was fairly recent; her gray hair was pulled back and rested on top of her head some form of a compressed bun. Her eyes were grayish blue and looked empty and lonely.
Even now, unsuspecting visitors, she was attired as one might expect of an elderly woman at an elderly facility, sitting on the lawn sharing an afternoon tea with friends. At once, both Jamie and Ross both found her to be a likable person and one absolutely worth all of the trouble that they had to be put through to return the locket.
When Jamie took out the locket from her purse, Mrs. Livingston's eyes quickly widened in recognition of the heart; her lips instantly parted. Her entire being appeared glazed over with consuming emotion; she was rendered speechless for a moment.
"We live in the old house at 1125 Ave South. In Oakdale, and we found this," Jamie said softly. "And, we did some research." Mrs. Livingston took the locket carefully from Jamie's hand. "I---never expected to see this again." She observed the back of the heart and at once, sadness as well as joy seemed to fill her. "Matthew, my husband, died the day before our fiftieth anniversary," she remarked somberly. "I wore this locket nearly everyday for almost fifty years. He had to practically take it off my neck while I slept in order to clean it---." A tear trickled down her cheek as she allowed herself to quietly remember the past, then looked up at Jamie and Ross. "The day before he died, he took it to his little workshop beneath the stairs," The woman chuckled. "If that's what you want to call it! It was just that little closet. Anyway, after he died, I never saw it again. I've wondered and wondered what he did with it." She shook her head sorrowfully. "He must've had this engraving added and was planning to give it to me on our anniversary." She opened the locket and smiled as she gazed upon the two photographs inside. "She lifted the frame and looked behind the image of Matthew and more tears streamed down her wrinkled, aged face. "He left the originals beneath the new ones." Jamie and Ross leaned over and saw the black and white photograph of a younger, more vibrant Matthew staring back at them, a picture that was much older that the other.
Mrs. Livingston gave them each a hug.
"Thank you so very much, you'll never know how much this means to me," She stepped aside, then added, "It's so terribly hot out, won't you please come in for iced tea?" "Thank you, that sounds awesome," Ross said, as they entered her apartment.
Mrs. Livingston walked directly to a wall mirror. "I'm sorry it's so muggy in here. My air conditioner's broke and the handy man won't be here until this afternoon!" she remarked as she placed the charm around her neck. "Please have a seat!" she said, pointing to a sofa in the middle of the living room, as she neared them. Standing in front of Jamie and Ross, Mrs. Livingston said, "I'm so happy to have this around my neck again---where it belongs!" She smiled sorrowfully. "I only wish that Matthew could have known how much that it means to me, and that it's the most wonderful anniversary gift he could've ever given me!" No sooner had Mrs. Livingston spoken the words, than a fleeting, pronounced chill swept through the room, causing them all to be temporarily speechless.
Mrs. Livingston put a hand to her mouth and gazed up toward the ceiling, perhaps wondering if she had just received a personal message from above. Without warning, she jerked her head to the right. Some movement had caught her attention; she stared in the direction of it and saw only a framed photograph of Mr. Livingston and her, sitting on a shelf across the room. She then lowered herself to a chair opposite the couch and pressed the locket against her chest near her heart, closing her eyes and chuckling.
Ross stared over at the photograph of the elderly couple and remarked, "I think he knows, Mrs. Livingston, I think he knows."