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The history of a house has always been a prime suspect in most hauntings: deceased tenants, acts of violence and satanic ritualism, for instance, are fingered in nearly all cases of supernatural occurrences in a locale. But what of a haunting in a home that has no history but what the current tenants know. The home in which I grew up, a two-story affair in the Golden Gate Estates, is a very special part of me. My father had it built when he learned that I had been conceived. The fourth part to his burgeoning family, and the space his current residence provided would not be nearly enough. It was finished less than two months before I was born, and I lived in it until I was eighteen until I decided to move away to college. For that reason, I have always felt a deep connection with the home. Any change my parents ever made to it was met by my unyielding (though ultimately ineffective) disapproval, and it was amongst the hardest things for me to do when it came time to move my belongings. However, many of my childhood toys and effects reside there even to this day acting, to me, like an anchor to which my home and I will be eternally tied. It was therefore with intense surprise that I realized I could no longer sleep well in my own bed.

Six years ago, upon returning for the very first time after my move to Miami, I was greeted with the sensation that I was not alone when the lights went out. In fact, I was certain that each night that I spent in my house thereafter was being closely watched by something or someone at the foot of my bed. Strange odors -- odors that had no business in my room or even in the house itself -- would waft to me as I lay in bed. One incident in particular has stayed with me. On this night, I had, by now, understood the only way to get any sleep in my parents' house was to leave the TV on and silenced. As I began to drift off, something very strange indeed happened. The smell of cigarette smoke, an utterly alien thing in my house for no one at all smoked, quickly permeated my senses. I of course sat up straight confused. I was peering around for the odor's location, but the smell had gone. Perhaps it was simply my overactive imagination having bordered upon dreams. Taking solace in this idea, I laid my head down again, but the smell had returned. I took a tentative sniff of my pillow and realized with a gut-wrenching dawning that my own pillow -- moments ago smelling of being freshly cleaned -- had taken on the stench of a smoker's clothes. I quickly scrambled out of bed and turned the lights on. By the time I had walked back to my bed and smelled the pillowed once more, the smoke odor had disappeared once again, never to happen again. This was an isolated incident, and I may have even chalked up to imagination or even a vivid dream.
Other incidences had occurred around it: a glass of water moving several inches on its own (sans condensation), unexplained creaks in the walls, not to mention the ever-present sensation that someone stood quietly at the foot of my bed. I had always believed in the supernatural, but the fact was that it made no sense for such things to be happening to me. For one thing, neither the house nor the property had any history that would have made it a veritable spot for a haunting: no deaths, no Indian burial grounds, nothing. For another, I was the only one in the house who sensed it. Thirdly, I had not sensed it until after I had left the house. Why now? I have never put much stock in Ouija and, in fact, I have been warned by my mother (who, in fact, has actually seen a ghost before, at a relatives' wedding) not to use such occult devices. My mother has before, and she did not relish the experience.

Two years ago, during a boring day at my fiancÚ's mother's house, a Ouija board was extracted and set up. I could not resist and I found myself sitting with my fiancÚ's aunt and cousin, watching my hands guided. Amongst the supposed babbling, prank-ridden responses of an unborn child, the aunt ''contacted'' another spirit who was much more helpful. Again, I gave in to temptation. I asked about my house, on the off-chance that it might actually know something. According to this spirit, my house and property were the place of a tragic death after all. One that was undocumented because, quite literally, it was never known. Apparently, an escaped slave had perished on the grounds during a hurricane in the 1800s (I cannot remember now the exact year). He was not a prominent spirit by any means and had no reason, I suppose, to appear. The spirit went on to explain that the slave had been a musician and subsequently took a liking to me, as I also had a creative talent in writing. When I left so abruptly, he felt alone again. My returns to the house were very exciting for him, and he would make himself known more often, as if to impress on me his loneliness when I was away.

By this time, however, I no longer slept at my parents' house alone, as I was always accompanied by my fiancÚ, and so the slave-spirit would not linger. But still, when I went home, I told the air in my room that I knew who he was now and that I understood his reasons for being around. I explained that I was easily startled and that if he could please keep his presence to minimum, to spare me sleepless nights when I was alone. So far, my friend the spirit has thankfully acquiesced, and I have not felt nor smelled him since, though I often think of him when I am there.
Submitted by Bryan


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