From the quietest place I have ever known.
2012 – Michael B.
My first trip to Ireland was like no other. Before going to Ireland, I had never been to Europe. I found myself adoring the Irish people and the stark contrast to the architecture from Asia and the United States. Even the weather itself was an extra piece of indulgence that I partook of and have no regret over.
Our flight there was strange. We landed in England, flew to France, and then shot back to the island that was Ireland. I recall it being very sunny and remarkably hot. This was not how I pictured Ireland; however, even the locals made remarks about what a gorgeous day it was. It wasn’t raining, and the skies were pretty blue.
The first time in Ireland also holds onto some of my worst memories. Now, I can look back at them and laugh, have it with some cringe and regret. But still a laugh. I had motion-sickness and terrible jet lag that paid me a painful memory of me throwing up in the mall and spending hours in my hotel room watching Spongebob speak Gaelic as I thought I was floating in the air. Other times, it’s me staring at the ceiling as a nearby club raged with pounding music while people ran up and down the hall.
Dublin was a great city, and I wish I could have spent more time in the heart of the capital, but our hotel was in Drogheda. The nearby mall was within walking distance, the Dead Man’s Inn was a short drive away (it was a restaurant), and the city, no matter the weather, was very inviting and eye-catching. You could walk for hours and take thousands of pictures. Every alley and building was unique and photogenic. I’d say I wish I had taken up photography before coming to Ireland or that I had a smartphone that allowed me to take pictures, but I was a novice at technology and didn’t understand computers. I’ve lost countless videos and photos due to my ignorance, so you’d honestly just have to see it to understand fully.
The second time there, I was ready. I started to write journals, I had a video camera, and social media was beginning to occur in our daily lives. However, I didn’t think I’d record something in my journals that were puzzle pieces. I always wanted to remember certain parts of life. Still, upon rereading them recently, I’ve realized that I, along with the others who were with me, were experiencing separate parts of something much bigger.
We stayed out in the countryside, surrounded by windmills, sheep, farmhouses, and century-old structures. Oddly enough, one of the farms nearby had an ostrich. The least likely animal I thought I’d ever spot in Ireland.
I was young at the time. This was one of my first trips on the field as a missionary. This wasn’t India, the Philippines, or Africa. This was Europe. A place that wasn’t in the slightest way dangerous to Christianity. This was also before the terrorist attacks in France and Belgium (2015-2016), so aside from Japan, this was perhaps the safest overseas country I’ve ever visited.
I was also one of the three teenagers who were part of the group (or Team, as we sometimes put it) visiting the country. Out of the three other teens, I was only related to one of them. For privacy reasons, the last remaining teenager will have an alias of Amari…
We had grown up together in the church we were attending. Our friendship was blossoming quite well that year, and I was kind of hoping we’d become something more steady. We spent countless hours together in airports and were already exploring the rural area we were in as soon as our drivers had parked the car. The sheep in the area had lots of young, which Amari, and a few others in our group, practically fell in love with within moments.
It was a quiet place. It truly was. You could walk along the road and not see a single soul for miles. Only farm animals were around these parts. The area itself was uniquely handsome. I’d love to return sometime, but never again stay in the same place.
Our first day consisted of unloading our luggage and getting familiar with our house and the surroundings. Once we were done, all that was left to do was fight off the remaining streams of jet lag and press forward in our exploration of the area…I wouldn’t realize this until years later, but we were already subject to something supernatural.
Before I dive any further, I’ll explain the layout of the building. It was a huge house built into the shape of an arrowhead. In total, there were about four different ways to get into the bottom floor. First, on the gravel road, there was a pathway that led to two of the front entries. One was the front door which led into the living room. The other was a door through the laundry room. On the other side of the building was a big red door facing the main road leading to the dining room. The final entry was located at the very tip of the building, which was technically the backyard; it also led to the dining room. Throughout the building were large windows that allowed sunlight to enter nearly every room inside the house; some sunroofs were located on the second floor. Unfortunately, most days were cloudy, so they were close to useless since we had lights in the same area.
This building, in short, was extraordinary. I didn’t question it at first or even really realize it at the time, but it was all for a particular reason…
The building had five bedrooms, three bathrooms, one living room, one kitchen, and a dining room. We spent most of our time together in the living room, even for meals, since we didn’t want any accidents in the dining room, which was spectacular in design. A tiny village had several shops and little stores up the way, but we didn’t go up there too often. I, myself, actually never took the time to visit, unfortunately; a mistake I would later hate myself for.
I suppose the first strange occurrence that happened to me was in the bathroom. This also affected the others, but no one brought much attention to it until the end of the mission. The bathroom was huge. It had both a shower and a bathtub. But, officially, the shower never worked correctly. It never had warm water and always ran out cold; damn-near freezing in the mornings. Even though we eventually explored the reasoning behind this, we never found the actual cause. But I digress.
The strange occurrence in the bathroom was a drawing of a cat in the mirror against the condensation—whiskers, eyes, tail, and so forth. Since I wasn’t the first person to use the bathroom to shower, I paid little attention to it. Amari and my sisters did the same.
Other than that, however, our first day went as smoothly as any other day overseas: no missing luggage, no forgotten phones or iPods on the buses. As far as I’m concerned, I’m sure everyone else slept soundly through the night—everyone besides me. I can’t chalk my first restless night to something supernatural or off-putting. As stated before, I have trouble luck with jet lag. On more than one account, I would either be wide awake or sound asleep during the wrong times of the day.
The following day, during breakfast, I noticed while everyone was talkative, Amari wasn’t. She looked as tired as I felt and cared little for getting food. Anyone who knew Amari knew she loved talking – she’d spend hours with you if you provided any kind of subject to talk about. She was also a morning person. It didn’t matter where we were, and she’d always try to be the first one awake to poke around on her own before everyone else could be roaming about to distract her from her discoveries. This morning was the first time I saw her not so active. The only time she seemed to be willing to talk was when we were outside the house. Then she’d open like her usual self.
She and I were close friends, and we rarely kept secrets from each other. I had mentioned a few of the things that had happened to me in the world to her a few times, but I never liked admitting my travels’ creepy or supernatural side. So, if I had to guess, she probably felt alone in the situation she was soon involved in.
No one would say it, but by the third or fourth day, about everyone had something happen to them that wasn’t normal. Physically, mentally, or just had something happen to them that was unique, for lack of a better word.
The house had an unpleasant draft in it. Any closed door would sometimes shift and jiggle if caught right. It mimicked the sound of being pressed open. All the bedroom doors had this problem. We made it a habit to make sure the doors were left ajar to prevent them from making too much noise. One windy week, this issue was so bad that we left all our doors open because doors would simply close. At night, the same week, one of us experienced a horrible noise of our door trembling so hard they swore that someone was trying to get in. When they went up to answer it, they found the hallway empty. As any reasonable person would suspect, they chalked it up to the draft again. However, no one would experience a door react so violently again.
Another friend would see the tail of a cat outside the windows. He thought that maybe the farms or houses around the area had one of their cats loose and that they wandered to where we were staying. This thought was excused when he started to see the tails inside the house. But, without any evidence to prove himself right, he kept it to himself until the final night of our stay.
One night, after a long meeting, we returned home around midnight. I worked myself up the stairs and started for my bedroom. I was groggy, half-asleep, utterly unaware of my surroundings. My body suddenly had a strange reaction, though. I remember it very well. I had a strong sense I wasn’t alone – that the proximity of danger was close – so close that my body tensed before my brain could even register the issue on hand. I jerked around to the sound of someone sprinting towards me from the opposite end of the hall I was traveling down. To this day, I have not turned around so fast or suddenly in my entire life. When I saw the empty hall behind me, I heard everyone downstairs. My sisters, my parents, my friends. No one followed me up the stairs. Amari? No, she was downstairs too. I could hear her laughing. Draft? Too heavy and physical. Imagination? It was possible, but I felt strained to pay more attention to it.
The major climax for most of us happened outside the house, however. It was another windy day. It was a far cry from the first day I stepped foot in Ireland. Cloudy. Rainy. Cold and isolated. My folks and I walked around, taking pictures of the landscape and animals – the sheep and our favorite ostrich. The decaying buildings were melding with the new farmhouses and warehouses in a movie-like manner; it was hard not to appreciate the contrast.
These warehouses were modern, so they were well-tuned to Ireland’s climate. Tall metal walls with broad roofs keep out the elements and any unwanted visitors – human or animal.
While we were chatting, however, we heard something get thrown inside, causing a horrible chain reaction of accidents to tumble and break inside. At first, we suspected someone inside, but there was no sign of anyone else being there. It was the weekend, and we saw no vehicles the time before our walk going towards this part of the countryside. Not to mention, we could still see the chains and padlocks around the entrances of the warehouse.
After brushing off the incident with the warehouse, we turned our attention to what was beside it – an old house and shack.
A stone fence was crumbling around the two structures; the two buildings also had all the paint peeling from their walls. The house itself was in remarkable condition. None of the windows were broken, and all the doors were still locked. Mother nature, however, was in the process of claiming the house for its own. The grass was overgrown around the house, and the vines were scaling the walls, slowly replacing the paint as it flaked off and littered the ground. It was very apparent that it was abandoned. There was no sign that anyone had stepped inside the building for a long time.
The main house was curious. It left me wanting to see more of it as we approached it. Before we even stepped into the lawn’s overgrown grass, the modern warehouse shook again as its contents inside tumbled over and broke over the floor. But, to say this was connected to the following events, I think, might be farfetched, but I can’t put it wholly aside.
Once we finally closed around the house, I was the first person to try to open the door- just to find it locked. But the front door had a glass window that allowed the entrance to be seen. Furniture cluttered the hallway with scraps of cloth and dust bunnies. With our bodies covering the only source of light, it gave the hallway a foreboding scenery.
There were stairs in the back that led to another locked door. However, despite being locked, it allowed another peek inside through the windows, it was just a tease since their curtains were drawn, but it still begged curiosity. The windows were pristine, considering the state of the building nearby. Inside, there were dead flies and blankets of dust on the window well. There were more scraps of paper here too. They were crumbled and rolled into loose balls. For the most part, it seemed its original occupiers left in a hurry, leaving all their furniture and a horrible mess behind.
All considering, the farmhouse was a pleasant discovery, but that started to change when we wandered away from it. I like to believe most Christians (and most human beings.) have this sense – it’s the Unction of the Holy Spirit. I suppose the best way I can describe it is a sixth sense that taps into the unseen world. I know – it sounds weird and maybe over-religious, but that is honestly the best way I can put it into words. My Unction was burning, sending me warning all over the place as we ventured. However, I’m not sure why I was the only one having this reaction to the area.
While the rest of my family kept taking pictures, I kept telling them the area felt off, but they told me otherwise. “It feels weird right now, don’t you guys think?” “Don’t you feel that?” “I have this horrible feeling.”
All I got was: “You’re just scared, Mike.”
Trust me. I had to fight the urge to tell my folks, “I told you so,” when it was all over.
Away from the house, we could hear this slamming. We didn’t have to look far to find the source. It was the shack next to the house. It had two stories, the first floor had no doors, and all the windows were broken out. Rusted equipment stood as though they were statues at the base. Despite my Unction telling me not to get anything closer, I ignored it and pressed on with my family to get a closer look.
The shack itself looked spooky. It was from a bygone era that had long passed. The top windows were boarded, but everything was practically falling apart. Years of neglect from nature had left it in the final stages before the collapse. Everything besides the steps that led to the top floor was falling apart. Behind the shack and at the top of the stairs, we found the source of the slamming.
The door that leads to the top of the floor kept opening and closing.
It was windy. The building was in shambles. Obviously, the door was just a subject to a natural cause of nature, and it was scary. I wanted to see what was inside. So I started to record the events that followed.
My sister and I thought we could make it to the stairs overtaken by a shrub. We mounted the first dozen steps with a struggle and started up. My camcorder recorded our voices and what we saw. The door opened wide and then slammed shut repeatedly as the wind ran through it. Side by side, we were only about five steps away when the door was pushed open as usual, and it came to another hard close. Despite the wind still being present, the door did not open this time. Goosebumps once again riddled my body, but I was going to see what was inside.
I mustered my curiosity and used it to brace myself for whatever I might see on the other side. I was surprised to find that the door was tough to push open, I had to add a lot of my weight to force it open, but when it finally gave way, it allowed me to see that the room had absolutely nothing. Aside from bird feces and old cans of paint, there was nothing inside that room. We ventured a little closer, eager to see what else could be in there, but didn’t want to fall through the floor since it looked like it had been through too much to support much weight.
While our parents were retreating away to do something else, we heard three knocks inside the walls strangely and rhythmically, then a subtle racking of nails from some other place that was unseen. There was an eerie pause between us as we stared at each other, too shocked to say or do anything for a few seconds. That moment was enough to spook us out of place. We rushed down the steps to our parents. That’s when the door behind us promptly slammed shut one last time. My sister finally admitted that the area didn’t feel so typical anymore. I turned off my camcorder, and we continued to walk back to our house.
We didn’t talk too much on the return. My sister took my camera and reviewed it, trying to find what we heard on video before telling our mom or dad what she found was much more intriguing.
During our struggle with the stairs, the door had swung open on the playback – when it was perhaps the most steady. Without wind or anyone else talking, a voice was undeniably there.
“Welcome,” the voice announced. The voice wasn’t mine, hers, or anyone else in our party. It sounded like a young boy that was sick and could only manage a single word. It was a harsh whisper through the camera’s microphone. This was the first and only time in my history that someone in my family could capture something so off-putting on video. That night when we told everyone about it, we all came together and shared our stories.
Again, the only person to remain silent was Amari, who didn’t seem too keen on staying in the room but was too scared to be alone, so she stayed. Slowly, our group started to disband for the night just after our conversation ended with a prayer for our safety. When it was finally just the two of us, she stopped me from leaving; she wanted to talk about her own experiences but wanted it to be just between us.
For the respect I have for her, I will not share what she experienced during those weeks when we were in the house. I’m not sure how she could tolerate not speaking out sooner about the awful things she saw in the dead of night or the nightmares that had her mental state in the mornings on edge.
She then came forth that she asked her parents more about the building. Our house wasn’t modern or new, and it was a century-old building that had been rebuilt at least five times. The uses for the building have differed throughout the years. The very soil I had been walking on had a bad history of wars and conflict.
For the most part, after this trip, Amari returned to her regular self, but we slowly drifted apart. She always seemed embarrassed about what happened to herself and ashamed that she didn’t open up to me or anyone else sooner. When she finally moved to another state with her folks, we stopped talking all together the same year.
Credit: Koji Monanoka
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