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The Lights in the House Below

Estimated reading time — 8 minutes

All great writers claim to suffer from insomnia at least once in their lives, although I’m sure a bulk of them misuse the term and glorify the disorder. After all, all artists “struggle” and it seems that lack of sleep runs common among those who strive to hammer out the next big thing.

I wasn’t immune to this, and at the risk of sounding cliché, I simply worked better in the wee hours of the morning, unless I happened to be suffering from writer’s block, which also seems to plague those of us who starve for our art.

I recently moved to my home, which is perched neatly up on a hill. It’s a ranch home, so there’s not much around. Sometimes when my fingers are tired from typing and my brain feels like it will explode, I’ll go into the kitchen, make a cup of tea, and look out into the night. Below me there is another ranch home that I could see from my window, although it had been empty for quite some time.
The house below me wasn’t unlike my own. Sitting alone atop of dried grass and dirt, it was two stories, white, with a wrap-around porch. For being empty, it was well kept, although there were weeds sprouting everywhere and one of the windows (I had guessed the kitchen’s, assuming the home’s layout was anything like my own) was broken.

I hadn’t noticed it until a few months after my move, but on one of those nights where I was pushing 4:00 AM, I noticed the lights on in that house. Immediately my brow creased into a curious expression, knowing that the house had been abandoned and it didn’t seem like anyone would be moving into it anytime soon. I leaned over the sink and put my face as close to the window without touching it, but could see no movement from within the house.
A few days passed until I noticed it again, although looking back now, I can confidently say it had been happening every night since the moment I moved in. The second time I noticed it, I took a quick glance at the clock sitting over my dining room table. It was 3:30 AM, and again, I could see nothing out of the ordinary other than the fact that the lights were on.

The next night it happened again, and on the night after that, although I probably would have been awake otherwise, I forced myself into the kitchen at 3:25 AM, stirring my tea and staring intently at the window. I began to feel anxious even though the notion of the lights turning on shouldn’t be strange, but given the fact that it was occurring nightly in an empty house around 3:30 AM was a bit unsettling.

I watched the minute hand on my clock swipe to thirty after, and I turned my head towards my window. Sure enough, the lights flicked on, just like they had the other three nights. I leaned over the sink once again, this time pressing my forehead all the way up against the glass (as if doing so would give me a better view), but still couldn’t see anyone moving about. I leaned back, frowned, and shrugged. Logically it could be anything, ranging from squatters to a rare electrical issue, but at the time I figured I would just let it go, because I couldn’t be bothered to worry about something so seemingly insignificant. I had a writing deadline and needed to make that my top priority.

Two weeks passed, and although I tried my hardest not to stroll into the kitchen every morning at 3:30 AM, I failed miserably and observed the same thing every night. It even got to the point where I would stay in the kitchen for hours before and after the lights would flick on, simply to spot traffic either in or out of the house, but as far as I could tell, nobody ever entered or exited, even during the day. The lights would eventually turn off around dawn and wouldn’t turn back on until 3:30 AM.

During the third week I ventured over to the home, looking for cars or anything hinting at human life, but the closest thing I found was a bike tire leaning against the back porch steps. Given the weeds growing around it, it had probably been there for a while. The house sat empty as a recently dug grave, and in that moment I couldn’t help but feel a little sorrowful. It really was a beautiful home, but the lack of anyone living in it made it exude a sense of nothingness and despair.

I went around to the broken window, and my assumption that it belonged to the kitchen was correct. I peered in, although from what I could tell, nobody had been in that room for quite some time. A thin, visible layer of dust covered both the counters and floor, and cobwebs had made their way across the sink faucet, as well as the ceiling corners. Although I’m no detective, I noticed the dust-covered floor had no footprints, and this disturbed me for obvious reasons. In order to alleviate my fears, I told myself the lights turning on had to be some type of electrical anomaly and I stepped down from the porch. I walked backwards until I could see the entire house in my view, shielded my eyes from the sun, and took one last look. I scanned from left to right, hoping to see any hint of anyone or anything living there, but just as before, there was nothing but emptiness.

That night a freak thunderstorm rolled through the area, and for once it wasn’t the writing that kept me awake. The thunder sounded like bombs falling, and before I knew it, I was up in the kitchen at 3:00 AM making tea. I finished my last sip when the lights turned on in the house below, and although it was a sight that was familiar to me then, I still got up to look out the window. I couldn’t see as well as other nights because of the rain, but sure enough, all the lights were on like usual. My hands rested on the edge of the sink, and just then a clap of thunder exploded. My hands tightened and I jumped, but calmed down rather quickly.

About thirty seconds passed, and the power went out.

I was only able to register the lights going off in the house below me for a mere second before I heard a knock at my back door. I jumped again and gripped the edge of the sink even harder. It was completely dark, and I could barely see a thing. I stood there, breathing heavily then, waiting to see if I would hear the knock again. I tried to convince myself it was just thunder, but five seconds later, another knock.

I slowly walked towards the door. Being too scared to look behind the blinds, I walked as closely to the door as possible to see if I could hear anyone outside. The rain made it difficult to hear, but I listened as hard as I could.
“Is anyone there?” a voice said from the other side.
It was a woman’s voice. It sounded shaky and troubled. I kept quiet, too confused to respond and too frightened at the aspect of someone standing outside my door this late and in a storm.
“Please, if someone is there, I need some help,” she said.
Although by that time a layer of goosebumps had covered my skin, I answered back. After all, if this woman needed help, I couldn’t just leave her outside alone.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“My name is Sandy. I live in the home below you. My power is out, and I have no lights or candles. I can’t be in the dark. Not at this time.”
I frowned. Either this woman was lying or I was going crazy, because there was no way there was a woman living in that house. But that wasn’t the most frightening thing at that moment – it was the fact that the power went out mere seconds ago, and there was no way this woman could have walked from her home to mine in that amount of time.
“That house has been empty since I moved in.” I responded.
“Please just help me. I need the lights on or else.”
I rubbed the space between my eyes. Even if this woman was real, she was making no sense.
“I’m sure the power will be back on soon. It will be okay,” I said.
She responded with a huge sigh and I could tell she was sobbing now. A few seconds went by. I calmly waited to hear if she would say anything else. After thinking she gave up and I could rest easy, I heard her say, “I saw you, you know.”
My eyes widened and my stomach dropped. I quickly thought back to my visit at the house, making sure my memories were correct in the fact that I saw nobody at the home.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“I saw you looking in my home, through the kitchen window.”
A moment went by. My breathing quickened. I felt my heart beat in my head, and just then, thunder rang out again. I jumped and squeezed my eyes shut. When I opened them, she responded again.
“He saw you too.”
I paused and fear seized my heart. I was completely sure there was nobody at the home, let alone two people.
She continued talking:
“He comes at this time, and unless I get some lights on, he will take me. He’s tried before.”
At that point I was completely confused and unsure of how to respond, so I replied, “Sandy, like I said before, I’m sure the lights will be back on soon. Just go home and wait it out.”
She began crying again.
“As soon as I step into the darkness again, I won’t ever be able to come out. And when he’s done with me, he’ll be after you. He’s seen you now.”
She laughed a little, the way those who feel exhausted from crying often do.

I stepped closer to the door again, and slowly pulled the corner of the blinds away. I had to see for myself if there really was a woman out there and I wasn’t just going crazy. Just then a bolt of lightening came across the sky, lighting up everything in my immediate view. To my horror, there was nobody standing on the other side of the door. My porch was completely empty.

It wasn’t until well into the next morning that I felt any sense of calm, and decided I would go looking into the history of the house.
After a week or so of searching online and asking around with the locals, I found out the most disturbing information.

About three years earlier, a woman named Sandy Carmichael lived in the home below me. Given the fact that rumors spread like wild-fire, I’m not sure how much information was the truth, but apparently she began telling her closest friends and relatives that a being was living inside her home, and came to her around the same time every morning. Apparently this being had attacked her when she was standing in her kitchen (which lead to the broken window), although as soon as she turned on the light, it went away. Long story short, she continued turning on the lights, at the same time, every night in order to keep this being away (Why she hadn’t just moved is beyond me, although I’m sure her story would be the same for every other person who chooses to stay in an alleged haunted house: it was her home).

The story continued that after about six months (again, this is hearsay), her doctor prescribed her a sedative, and finally one night she slept through the 3:30 AM mark and never woke up. Her death was said to be a suicide, but some have come to believe whatever Sandy babbled on about may have been responsible.

I couldn’t help but think of the night of the thunderstorm with utter terror, and am quite convinced the ghost of Sandy Carmichael visited me. One may ask why I believe this, especially those who are skeptical of the supernatural, but Sandy Charmichael said that whatever was terrorizing her was going to start terrorizing me.

The lights haven’t appeared in the home below me since that night, although this hasn’t done anything to calm my fears. I’ve started to hear strange noises in my home, and I’m worried things will escalate. I’ve debated whether or not to turn on the lights in my own home at 3:30 AM, although doing so would be admitting for sure that I thought something unnatural was in my house, and I’m not quite ready to do that.

There’s another thunder storm going on right now, however, and I’ve made sure to have plenty of candles and a flashlight just in case. I keep telling myself that all rational human beings carry extra candles and flashlights in thunderstorms and that I’m not admitting anything, but the lights have already begun to flicker. Every time they do, my stomach turns over.

It’s 3:04 AM. I’m hoping the power stays on.

Credit To – Aja

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