16 Jul The Hoof Lady
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"The Hoof Lady"Written by
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Estimated reading time — 19 minutes
[Editor’s Note: The following is a written account transcribed from a true story told by Brandon Starcevic at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ow3ziEqAyEI. Full credit belongs to him. Any alterations to the narrative are purely cosmetic, for better readability.]
Here we go. Okay.
My name is Brandon Starcevic. I’m from the Northwest Territories and I live in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Everybody thinks since I joined the military, this is where I was posted. I’m here because I had to get away from something in my life before this.
We’ll start from the beginning.
In about Grade 11 I was going to school, and I had quit working so I could focus on my grades (which didn’t really help). My little brother though, he had quit school about a year or so before that — it just didn’t agree with him — and he was working at a chicken barn. Every day his friend would come and pick him up in the morning and drop him off at night, and he would be covered with dirt, poop, stuff like that.
One day towards the end of Grade 11 he came home and he said, “Mum, I’ve been offered another job but at the same place. It’s property manager of the chicken barn. They want me to live out there, and I said I wouldn’t move there unless you and Brandon got to move there too.” He didn’t wanna live there all by himself.
My mom asked how many bedrooms and how big is the house, and he said it’s a fair-sized house, three bedrooms, technically four. But the thing is, it’s really grimy and dirty and the old property manager just skipped town, just left everything. The good thing is, though, the chicken barn owner said they would pay for brand new appliances, paint, supplies, and they would get the floors redone and everything professionally. So all we would have to do was paint the walls and clean the place up — take care of the property, make sure nobody comes on, cut the grass, and that’s pretty much it. She said, “Well let’s go have a look.”
So we drove out of my town of Hay River, Northwest Territories to the little sub-town of Enterprise about thirteen kilometers out. It was just a little road, a little turnoff in the middle of nowhere. I had been by there many times to go camping, picnicking to the waterfalls, or just leaving the NWT to go on vacation, and I’d never noticed it before — a little road just off the side of the highway. It had a little wooden sign that said “62 Miron.” That’s it.
So we turned into 62 Miron, and you drive down and you see tall, white birch trees all the way down. It’s a narrow road and it looks like it goes nowhere, and then all of a sudden you get to the end and there’s a left. You turn left and there you go. There’s a large opening and on the left is a very large but long yard, and all the way around the yard are unkempt hedges fifteen feet high. In the middle of the yard there were saplings growing. You drive on a dirt road and on the right side, just a little bit in, there’s a house.
It looks fairly new. It’s backwards, though. When the house was originally built, it was facing down a hill towards the river. The river was far away, but in between the river and the house were all the fields. But now the trees on the hill were as high as the house, so you looked at trees when you were looking out the front. So the back of the house was the front. It had a little deck nine inches high, just a wide platform.
If you looked past the house there was a road that went right and down, all the way to the bottom of the hill, and there was a large field that opened up. And there’s a huge chicken barn, compiled of multiple smaller barns. The original barn was decrepit and…just creepy. It was dark all the time, no lights in it, and if you walked through it — because you had to walk through it to get to the upstairs chicken barns (the two newest ones) — all you could see halfway through was a white line right down the middle at the end. It was a set of doors that were used for loading, and once in a while you could swear that the white line would disappear, as if something walked by. It’s just your mind playing tricks obviously.
But yes, very large, four sections to it, two new parts — the egg packing part, and a back barn — and then the creepy one.
The property was called de Lancie’s Estate. Apparently an old guy named Arthur de Lancie used to own the place. More of a rich farmer, so that’s how you get something to be called an estate I guess.
The house when we got there was just disgusting. Grime and filth all over the walls. There was cat shit, cat litter, rat shit, rat pellets, poison…grease inside the filter of the fan above the stove, the yellow stove…the yellow fridge…everywhere was just disgusting. The carpet was thick laden with dirt embedded into it. But we ended up getting the place pretty tidy.
I’ll describe the layout of the house. As soon as you walk in the door, there’s a landing. Directly ahead of you is a couple stairs going up, and just to your right is a couple stairs going down. If you look directly across from the upstairs, there’s a room. It’s not the biggest room, but it’s a room. Next to that on the right side would be the master bedroom. It was the corner of the house. Across from that would be the bathroom, and at the end of that short hall was a pantry closet. My little brother said my mom could have the master bedroom because he really wanted her to stay there. He would take the bedroom next to it.
If you go left instead of right you would find the kitchen, and a half wall past that would be the dining room. To your right would be the living room, which also had the front-of-the-house window and the front door (but there was no porch or balcony or anything — the door was just shut and locked). The dining room had that ’80s panelling, that false wood look, and we painted over that. The linoleum was replaced, the carpet was replaced, all professionally done after we’d cleaned out the entire house and gotten the appliances removed. It looked brand new, but it wasn’t until you went downstairs that you realized how old the house was.
So if you round the landing and you go downstairs, directly across from the bottom was a wood shop — what I assumed was a wood shop, because you walk in and there’s this narrow wooden bench that was all warped. It was a very narrow room, but if you went right from the stairs you would see two giant plastic tanks full of water. That’s your water; you had to get a truck to come out and fill them up once or every two weeks. It wasn’t terribly expensive. Then you had your water heater, your washer and your dryer. To your left and behind you is that little cubby hole under the stairs, where you put your Christmas decorations, Halloween costumes, all that stuff.
Right next to that, to the left would be the first room. The carpet was still perfect. The walls were white and had a strip of children’s wallpapering. There was an old chalkboard, and a little kid’s picnic table. It was nice. That was to be my room, I chose it when we first saw the place. By the time we’d just about finished cleaning, it was summer and coming onto my grad year. I was gonna be spending a lot of extra time at home studying. It would work out really well, no distractions.
But then my brother, the oldest one, moved to the Northwest Territories. He wanted to find work up here, so he stayed. And him being the oldest, me being the second youngest and smaller than him, he got to pick that room. What was I to do? Beat up my big ol’ brother? Nah, wouldn’t happen.
So beyond that room, if you keep walking down to the end of the hallway, the hall stops. If you turn right, there would have been a door. But there was a basement pole on one side of the opening, so you couldn’t put a door there. You walk in and on the left there’s just a wall. It’s all wavy though from time and humidity, and that wall was connected to another wavy wall, and that wall was connected to a wall that had a little door. A creepy, tiny little door nailed shut. I’ll tell you more about that later. The floors were old, worn, wooden planks, some with holes in them.
If you turn right when you go in the room there’s a little propane furnace, and right next to that is a 6x6x6 foot cast-iron, turn-of-the-century wood furnace. It had the big spring handle, and you’d slam that door shut, and…yeah. It’s like something out of a horror movie. In between the furnaces and the walls you can go all the way to the back, and there’s a space behind them. Light never went there.
So that was gonna be my room. Yippee.
I went and grabbed the old carpet that was torn out of the living room. Perfect size, because that was right above me. I steam cleaned the carpet and trimmed it to fit. I put my bed on the left side against the wavy walls, because they were less creepy than the furnaces and little tiny nailed-shut door. I found a big steel rack with shelves, and that was my dresser. I put that in front of the little door in case anything tried to get through it. Ha.
There was a little light in the middle of the room: clink. You had to pull the string. I wished there was a better way, but I had to reach up — clink — and jump back into bed.
So we had the place all set up. Grade 12 had started, and I had to catch the bus as it passed our place. If I didn’t, I would have to look for a ride. After so many times and so many friends, you feel like you’re using them, and that nobody’s going to drive every single day just for you (and I didn’t have a car). So I took the bus home. It was just easier that way. I had time to study, time to do whatever I wanted to do out there. But then I got a bit squirrelly. Nothing to do, really. Watch TV, do your homework.
So one lunch, I went to the town library. Small town, 2000 people at most. I walk in and say hi to Ms. Barnes (I’ve known her since I was a kid) and told her I kind of wanted to read. She gasps and goes, “Oh my, I’ve been waiting to hear that your whole life!” She knew I didn’t read, and I added, “…but I don’t really wanna read. Does that make sense?” She says, “One second,” runs around the corner, and comes back with a stack of CDs. It was the second Harry Potter book on audio.
I brought them back home, went down to my room with a ghetto blaster, and just laid on my bed and listened. Across from the doorway I’d put a full length-mirror, and since I couldn’t put in an actual door, I’d hung a wolf fleece blanket there. One day while listening to Harry Potter, I saw something in the mirror.
As soon as somebody walks down the hallway, the blanket billows out from the air draft. But I sat up and looked at the blanket, and it was completely still. I looked out and there was nobody there. It had either been a woman in a white dress, or a man in a white robe walking by the mirror. I got all creeped out, and I went upstairs, told my brother and mom: Oh yeah, he’s smoking weed, mind’s playing tricks on him…
This is the first time I’ve told it by myself, and I’m having a bit of a hard time.
Um…okay. One time during winter we were watching a movie in the living room, and my mom wanted to watch it in her bedroom. We had satellite in the living room, and we could have all the rooms set up with satellite, but we’d all have to watch the same thing because we didn’t have the luxuries of a splitter. Just a manual splitter. She asks if I can go on the roof and bring her cable over to the splitter.
“Yeah, sure, no problem Mom. Just hold the flashlight and the ladder for me.”
So we walk out in the snow. The ladder was already there because I was supposed to paint the outside, but never did. She holds it for me, shines the light up, and I climb up on the roof. I untwist her cable from the antenna (you get like, thirteen channels out there with an antenna), and start pulling it through the snow. Then I get to the east trough and it’s stuck. It’s really stuck. Frozen. I tell my mom, say I need a hammer, can she go get me one? She said okay, and you hear crunching as she takes off.
Around the front of the house, in between the house and the trees, there’s a good seven feet of perfectly cut space. The light from the living room and bedroom windows lit up the trees, but it only went so far. If you were on the top of the house where I was, you could only see the trees and the darkness. All of a sudden I hear a crunching in the snow at the bottom of the hill. Fuck, there’s some animal. It’s coming up the hill, and it’s starting to break branches, it’s running. It’s not being quiet, you can hear the branches breaking and the trees shaking, and it’s coming closer and closer and closer.
I’m thinking I gotta yell to my mom that it’s coming, and it’s almost right there. I’m looking down into the trees, I’m looking and I’m looking and I’m waiting for it and suddenly it stops just out of my sight. I can’t see it but I know it’s right there, I can hear it, it’s so close.
And then it starts at the bottom of the hill again. Something’s crunching through the snow, something’s breaking the branches and it’s coming up the hill, it’s coming up the hill, and it’s coming closer, and my heart’s racing and I’m looking for this thing, I’m waiting for it, and I’m starting to freak out. How am I supposed to get down? And there’s running, and it’s coming and it gets right there, it’s right there and I’m waiting…and it stops. And it starts at the bottom of the hill again.
All of a sudden this hammer flies up beside me. I grab the hammer and say, “MOM THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE BUSHES!” And I smash the ice and I throw that cable, I just let it go and slide down the ladder and I run inside. I’m freaked out, and I tell my mom and my brothers about it. My mom said that her and my oldest brother had come home one night, and they were parking beside the house near the hill, and they heard something in the bushes too. So they started parking across from the house, backed up against the hedges.
You know, there’s wolves. There’s one person for every four wolves in the Northwest Territories. And seven bears. Or the other way around. Anyway, there’s a lot of animals out there that can kill and eat you. But how it came up the hill was extra creepy.
There was another time — this is where my family gets involved. We were in the midst of a blizzard. Blizzards are pretty normal up there. They happen several times a winter in the NWT. They’re a few days long and they’re cold and you don’t go outside, and if you do, you’re layered and you don’t go very far. Especially us, we lived in the middle of nowhere. There’s no driving in town, there’s just too much snow. We gotta wait for the graders. You usually know when the blizzard’s coming, so we went to the video store and rented lots of movies. Because you never know, right, and it’s nice to watch movies with hot chocolate and popcorn.
So we’re in the middle of watching a scary movie. My oldest brother had a girlfriend over, and there was my little brother, my mom, and me. We were watching Pumpkinhead 2, and it was just like in the movies where you’re waiting for something to jump out, they’re trying to get the timing right to catch you off guard, and all of a sudden:
from behind me. I jump and we all scream and turn on the lights. I was sitting on a chair by myself against the wall. We all turn on the lights, somebody’s gotta run down to the porch, turn that on, run back up and you gotta look out the windows. And there’s nobody. If somebody had come in the middle of a blizzard, they would had to have driven. And there’s no tracks, it was already snowed over, even our own tracks from parking.
Well, you know, we could have left a rake out, or a tree branch could have fallen, or a bird could’ve hit the house. Anything, right? We all kind of calm down a little bit, turn off all the lights, and play the movie again. It was not even a minute later, when it seemed like it was in that same lengthy part where the music’s going and there’s something about to happen, and from the front door we hear BANG BANG BANG, and then from the roof, BANG BANG BANG, and then from the walls all around us, BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. The whole house is shaking everywhere.
We jump up, we’re all screaming, and we turn on the lights — I don’t even know who turned them on — and everything just stops. We’re all just shaking, looking at each other.
Well what could we say? We look out the windows, no tracks, nothing. The ambiance of the entire house was weird. So we put on a comedy, grab something to eat — comfort food to make us feel better. That was it.
We all knew something was going on. I knew something was going on.
I talked to the manager. He had worked there since he was a kid. I asked him what that little door was there for. He just says, “Come on.” We walk down the hill and get about halfway down to the chicken barn. He suddenly turns into the bushes, and there’s a little steel shack in the middle of them. He pulls out this big ring of keys, fumbles around and opens it up, and he goes, “That’s weird, the light’s on. I haven’t been in here in years.”
We walk in and it’s like a mineshaft. There’s one light in there, there’s a little wooden shelf, and then there’s literally a shaft underground. It had the pillars and stuff, and it went all the way up the hill to that little door. It was caved in a bit. He said what you’d do is you’d fill that room — my room — full of wood in the wintertime, then fill this room down here, and when you ran out of wood, you would go down the shaft and bring that wood back up into your room. But the door is nailed shut because apparently Arthur de Lancie died going through the shaft. That’s where it’s caved in.
Oh, that’s cool.
It was summertime one day, and I walk into the dining room and my little brother is sitting there, just staring at the dining room window. “Brandon!”
“Look out the window.” I look out the kitchen window, and there was an old lady just standing there looking at the house. I’m like, “How’d she get here?” He goes, “I dunno. Go talk to her.”
“No, go go go! Go talk to her.” Okay. So I go down the stairs and I open the door, peek out, and she’s still looking at the house.
“Excuse me, ma’am?” She gets startled, and I’m like, “Uh, this is private property.” I notice there’s a car there, so okay, she drove here, she’s not a spirit. And she’s like, “Oh, sorry sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude or anything. I used to live here when I was a little girl. I grew up here and wanted to see it again.”
I say, “Oh wow, that’s neat, how old were you when you moved away?” She answers, “About five or six.”
“Would you happen to be related to the de Lancies?”
“Yes,” she says, “actually my father built this house. His name was Arthur.” Oh god.
“Did he die here?” It just came out of me, and it felt rude after the fact, but not when I said it.
“Yes, he did. That’s why we moved away, because when my father died getting wood, my mom had a little breakdown. She couldn’t live here anymore.”
She said she remembered her room, the wallpaper, the little chalkboard, the picnic table.
“Picnic table? I think you might wanna come see this.” So this little old lady came with me, and I helped her down the stairs and brought her to the wood shop where I’d put them. She said, “That’s them! Those are mine!” I said she could have them, brought them up to her car, and put them in her trunk. She took off.
Yeah, that confirmed that my room’s connected to a guy’s deathbed.
So it was the middle of winter again in the Northwest Territories. Very, very cold. Very frozen and everything is just stopped. Dark nighttime. Dark all the time. I was going to bed and it was really cold in my bedroom. It’s warmer upstairs because the thermostat’s upstairs, and heat rises. But it was extra cold and the furnace should have turned on by now. When it turns on, it doesn’t blow into the room, so I have to take off the cover and put it up against the larger furnace. You can’t see anything because the pilot light’s hidden. But when it lights you get these bunch of little flames, and it just lights up my whole room, and you get the heat.
I turn off the light, and the furnace still isn’t on. So I throw the blankets on me, and I’m thinking it’s pretty cold. But I feel like I’m starting to fall asleep. You ever get that feeling where you have a blanket, and a cat jumps on you, and it’s got that soft padding? Well I felt that on my feet, and I froze. Because I don’t have a cat. So what I did is, I became a small child and pulled the blankets over my head and held tight. I tucked the blanket everywhere around my body.
This feeling went up onto my shins…and then up onto my knees…and then up onto my thighs. But it wasn’t just my thighs, it was still on my knees and my shins and my feet. And then it crawled up on my hips. By this time it felt like some one was crawling on me, and I felt like it was a woman because I could feel their body parts on me. She was crawling onto my stomach, and onto my chest, and she just stopped.
I was frozen. What was I to do? My mind was racing and racing and racing, and all I could think was, Mom. I need Mom. I need to run and scream and yell and go to Mom and turn on every light in the house and I couldn’t…I couldn’t grasp onto my thoughts in my head. They were just going so fast, racing, racing. My body in comparison was so frozen, tense, terrified of whatever was on top of me. There was a feeling of knowing that there was something not right about…not just the fact that there was something unknown on me, but there was something wrong, there was something bad on me. Something terrifying.
I feel it still.
I was laying there, freaking out, thinking of what to do, what to do, gotta scream, gotta run, gotta go see Mom, do something…all these thoughts, and I can’t breathe now. I don’t know how long I’d been laying there, and I couldn’t breathe because I was running out of oxygen. All I could think was, I gotta breathe. So I took forever to turn my head to the side, and sooo slowly brought my hand to my face, and brought the blankets around my lips. I gulped in the cold refreshing air. It was such a relief, but only enough for me to forget for a moment.
And then the furnace must have turned on, because I could feel warm air on my lips. Then it started pulsating. Like breath.
I pulled the blankets back under my head in an awkward position, so tense I couldn’t move. My mind was still racing millions of miles a minute. I didn’t know whether I was there for hours or minutes or seconds, or if it was daytime. I didn’t want to look.
I’ve got to do something, so what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna jump and I’m gonna run, I’m gonna scream and go to Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom…and all of a sudden
…I’m sitting there driving my old truck. I’m in the middle of the highway in the middle of nowhere, just darkness. All I can see is the road, the ditch, and the trees in front of me. And I know where I’m going: I’m going home. I don’t work in town, but it’s not far away. I can feel the vinyl seat below me. It’s kind of chilly but the heater half works, and the orange light on the radio glows but the music doesn’t work, so all I can hear are my own thoughts and the truck.
I’m driving along, kind of feeling tired, when I hear a faint noise behind me. It sounds like a horse on the highway, but it doesn’t have that same rhythm. Instead of clop-clop, clop-clop, it’s more like clopclopclopclop. It’s running, something is behind me running on the highway, really fast, with hooves. I can hear it coming, getting closer and louder, and I’m starting to freak out, starting to speed up a little. I keep looking back but there’s nothing there, nothing behind me.
It’s getting closer and I can feel it now, it’s almost here. I look over, and it was as if the moon had come out from behind the clouds, lighting up the entire sky. That didn’t matter though, what mattered was what was next to me, running beside me at impossible speeds, staring directly ahead.
It was a woman with dark, curly, greasy hair. Gray, wrinkly, wrinkly face, black eyes. Hairy chest and gray skin, and once you got to her waist it was just thick, black hair. And she had hooves, running impossibly fast next to me. At this time all I did was lean forward, my lip touching the steering wheel, stepping on the gas as hard as I could. I would look over, look over, look over, I couldn’t help myself, and she was just staring ahead, running as fast as I was going. The engine roared as we went, and I looked, and she slowly turned her head towards me. Her black eyes glimmered as she reached her arm out and pointed ahead. I’m roaring, and I’m flying, and I’m coming down
…and I’m walking with my friend down the street. It’s darkness all around us, all you can see is streetlight, streetlight, streetlight, and a tiny little gas station, just the front of it illuminated. My friend there got hit by a moving van while riding his motorcycle, and he hops when he walks. We’re talking and laughing, having a good time, and he points and he goes, “Look.” We’re getting close enough to the gas station where we can see this shadow of a person huddled up against the wall, just out of the light. He goes, “Hey buddy, you okay?” Suddenly it jumps up and all you can hear is a clop on the cement. I don’t know why, but we start chasing it. We’re both running around and around but it’s always just around the corner. He says, “Stop! You go one way, I go the other way.” We split up, running and chasing after this sound
…and I’m standing there in the middle of the highway, looking at a house. Small house, screen door, a woman sitting on the porch. It’s lightly raining, and there’s this little girl jumping in the puddles. She has this little yellow slicker, with a little yellow rain hat and little yellow rain boots. She’s jumping and laughing in the water. There’s still color, but everything was a bit gray. I couldn’t move or say or do anything. It’s like I wasn’t there, I didn’t exist to them, I was just watching them. She’s laughing, and the mother’s laughing too. She’s smiling and clapping, the little girl’s having such a great time, when I hear this phone ringing in the back of the house. She says, “One second, Mommy will be right back.” She goes and opens the screen door, closes it.
Then it was instantly pouring, more rain than I’d ever seen pour down in my entire life. And it got darker. This little girl is having a blast, a shrill laugh coming out of her. These puddles she’s jumping in were so big. All I can do is watch as she jumps into a large puddle, and it comes up to her waist, and she jerks. And she jerks again, and all I can see is her falling slowly backwards. Just as her little hat disappears under the water, the door opens and her mom comes running out, and she starts screaming, “Kaylee! Kaylee!” while looking around frantically,
…and I’m laying there back in my bed. Petrified, fear-stricken. I couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything. There was something on top of me. I knew there was something on top of me and I had to do something about it. I had to build, build, build this courage, build this something inside of me that was stronger than me.
I knew what I was gonna do. I was gonna grab my blankets and push with all my might, as hard as I could, and run as fast as I could down the hallway, up the stairs, and into my mom’s bedroom, turn on all the lights I can on the way, and slam the door behind me. Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom. Finally after…I don’t know if it was minutes or hours or days, I built enough courage. I grabbed the blanket and I pushed as hard as I could, and pushed, and it was like everything was in slow motion. The blanket slowly fell, and just at that moment the furnace turned on, a roar and a flickery display of lights.
As the blanket dropped I could see the silhouette of a woman at the end of my bed. She had the black hair, gray face, everything. She was drifting slowly backward off the bed, but then stopped — and flung herself toward me.
I woke up and it was daytime. I hurriedly went upstairs and told my mom, my family. They half believed me because of what had happened to all of us. Within two weeks I joined. I looked and looked, and it wasn’t until I found a trade fair, but I joined the military and went to basic training. I moved here, and I’ve been here, happy, but still worried that something’s always behind me, always around the corner. The worst is going upstairs. You open the door to go into the stairwell, and right behind you, just as the door is closing, there’s always something that maybe snuck in with you. And just as you’re leaving, there’s always something that maybe snuck out with you, too.
Credit To – Brandon Starcevic
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