Part of the series Stories From My Past, by MJ Klein
Foreword: I’m trying to get back to writing again as soon as possible. I would like to thank all our readers for their encouragement while I drive past this little bump on the shoulder. Things could have been a lot worse but are in fact, nearly back to normal. So, I’m pleased to present my first article since then:
The Night My Sister’s Home Went Haunted
It really was a dark and stormy night. The kind of night you hated to even think about, never mind driving around in it. But I managed to make it back to my sister Janet’s home shortly after I received her telephone call while visiting friends. Her middle son got himself in a little accident and had to be taken to the ER. She asked if I wouldn’t mind coming back and staying with her smallest son. Certainly not! Funny, but while driving home in the rain on that lonely dark road I did recall the other “ghost” and I saw. I never dreamed that I would experience another one on that evening.
Ghost hunting was a favorite past time for me and members of my old high school band back when I lived in northern North Carolina. We have many stories of unusual encounters, for which that area is well known. We’ve all seen coke cans and other objects roll uphill. We’ve seen an area that is described as a “gateway” between dimensions, and some of the weirdest stuff I’ve even see in all in that general area. Many people know of the famous Brown Mountain Lights, and this part of the world is known for other strange happenings. I know I certainly could write a book about what I’ve seen on my own and with others!
I turned into my sister’s drive. With her eldest son away on a trip, and her husband working in another city for the rest of the week, she was alone at the time, save for her two youngest sons…. and Babe. The family dog, a burley Doberman mix bellowed out a warning as she sprinted over to the car to see who it was. I always make sure that I sit quietly with the driver’s window rolled down slightly when I pull up to a country home. If and only when the dog shows signs of recognition, will I open the door and step out. Babe is an excellent dog, very gentle but of course fiercely protective. I have no doubt that she could make quick work of any intruder. Naturally since she sees me so seldom she has made a few mistakes before, failing to recognize me for what felt like an eternity. Tonight she came up to the car door and when she heard my voice enthusiastically calling her name, her tail began to wag. Thankfully!
Walking into the house, amid my sister’s profuse apologies about having to rush off so suddenly, I learned that the small son was already in bed asleep, and was expected to stay that way as is normal for him. After some special instructions about what to do if Babe became overly agitated, Janet took off for the ER. I looked at my watch: it was just before 9:oo PM. Perfect!
I went to the fridge and got a beer, then sat down on the sofa to check out the evening’s television offerings. Man, it was raining like crazy! Babe had gone off the front porch for only a few seconds but was thoroughly soaked. Like many dogs in US households, Babe was trained to keep off the furniture unless specifically asked to join an adult. She had gone into the kitchen to lay down on her bed (verified by my visit to the kitchen). Another noteworthy aspect of the crazy rain was the sound it make on the metal roof of my sister’s home. Wow! I had to crank up the television to hear some of the lighter dialog. Or, was I just getting deaf?
Finally I settled in a movie that’s pretty creepy on it’s own, without such horrible weather: The Abyss. I really like that movie and creepy movies on creepy nights, so I looked forward to this evening alone watching this movie. Heck, I even found a few bags of junk food! My sister and her husband both like do drink beer, so there was plenty of that too. Jackpot!
After a quick call from my sister to make sure everything was alright, I put her mind at ease and suggested that she didn’t need to call me to find out if I was ok, but to concentrate on the emergency at hand and I would take care of her home and family. She did ease up a bit, but clearly she had been getting very tense while waiting for me to arrive. In fact, the more I thought about it, I felt some kind of weird tension in the air myself. I gave a reassuring call to Babe, and she barked back in reply. Smart dog.
After awhile I got up and went to the kitchen to figure out what kind of junk food would go along with the movie. Even though it was HBO and no ads, I decided that I should sneak away for a bit as I had seen the movie before. I went into the kitchen and Babe was sitting on her bed, looking very nervous. Of course dogs (who are actually part of the family, mind you) are very perceptive animals and they know when things are wrong. Babe knew my sister was upset and had to leave with one of the children, who was hurt. Now she sat on her bed in the kitchen looking at me like it was my fault! I decided to get a bag of chips and return to the living room.
When I sat down on the sofa again, I could feel the tension in the air. That dog was not happy and I couldn’t blame her. I grabbed a few chips and waited for the dumb ad on the TV to change back to the program. I wasn’t really following the ad of course, but slowly it dawned on me that someone had changed the channel. I grabbed the remote and found it a bit difficult to key in the channel I had been watching. “Strange” I though as I got the feeling of being watched. I sat back on the sofa again, eating chips, sipping beer and trying to forget about how crappy the weather was.
The wind was howling! The rain had really picked up and the noise on the roof was incredible. I couldn’t even hear the movie! Babe came out of the kitchen and did a once around the place, whining. There were a few flashes of lightening and that just added to the incredible creepiness of the night. As I turned back to the TV after looking out the window, I noticed that one of the numbers on the cable box display had changed, as if someone were trying to enter numbers in, with the remote control.
What the hell?
I sat dumbfounded. No sooner had I thought that perhaps I had bumped the remote and done that myself, the second number entered the display and the channel changed all on it’s own. Holy crap! Being the kind of person that I am, I immediately suspected that someone was playing a trick on me. I looked out the window and it was “black and greasy” as we say sometimes, describing the weather conditions in those latitudes at this time of year. No other houses were visible on that side of the house, and anyone foolish enough to be outside with the express purpose of playing a trick like this on me would have to be certifiable. Babe would have alerted me to the presence of another person. Or thing, I might add.
The Abyss had now come to that part with the female lead player drowns and that scene always gets my fists balled up when I watch it. For a few minutes I had forgotten about the channel changing when suddenly it changed again! Now I know it wasn’t me as I had put the remote on the coffee table in front of me. Babe was now staring at me from the hallway and the fur was up on the back of her neck. She slowly walked towards me and began to growl, looking dead at me. This was not a good position for me to be in! I calmly tried to reassure her when she broke into a horrible howl that would awaken the dead! This was immediately followed by an incredible crack of lightening and thunder! The TV went wild, changing channels at random, as if some unseen madman had taken control of the remote. I’d seen less scary “B” movies!
I’ve been in enough weird and unexplained situations to know better than to panic. And, as a matter of fact I absolutely to not believe in ghosts (I didn’t say “spirit persons”, I said “ghosts”). I refused to believe that some unseen force had taken control of the cable box and was upsetting Babe. It was time to act.
I stood up and commanded Babe to go back into the kitchen and lay down. She immediately stopped howling and reluctantly went back to her bed. Next I walked over to the cable box and picked it up. It was scorching hot! I found a small basket of some kind on top of the TV and placed the cable box on it to allow air to circulate. I then went into the kitchen and got a few paper towels and moistened them very slightly.
I know that when electronic devices overheat they often do unexpected things. I wanted to cool down the cable box and see if it would return to normal operation. Turning the box upside down and exposing the sheet metal base, I placed one of the moistened paper towels on the sheet metal and waited for a few minutes to cool down. The water evaporated so quickly that within one minute I was using another paper towel. The cable box began to cool down. I left the paper towels on the cable box while I returned to watching TV. The channel selector was stable and clearly the box overheated and became unstable.
Later that night my sister returned home and I left the story about the “haunted” cable box for the next day. She told me that the box had been randomly changing channels lately but she had no idea why. I suggested that she leave the box elevated as I have it so the air can circulate around it. So that explained the cable box changing channels on it’s own. However, when I told her about Babe howling and growling at me, she had no explanation….