Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
When people whistle, it kind of irritates me. Not like Axl Rose from “Patience” whistles, but just does so to pass the time. When people whistle or hum to themselves it’s always just kind of grated on me, but only when it’s been tuneless. When there’s a tune to it, a melody, it doesn’t get on my nerves, it just makes me… unsettled.
A few years ago I was living with my previous girlfriend in a pretty small town. I’ve always been a skeptic by nature and the voice of reason in most situations she and her friends would find themselves in. I say this because while I didn’t share their open-mindedness with things such as the paranormal, I did share their enthusiasm for having fun and being creeped out by things. Not all skeptics are sticks in the mud, just because I don’t believe in the bogeyman doesn’t mean I don’t love horror just as much as the next person. I won’t mention any names for the sake of their privacy. No need to think all of us were crazy…
Usually, this would result in them wanting to hold Halloween parties, see scary movies together, things like that. Pretty normal things, if you ask me. I was the oldest one of the group, but we were all really just barely out of high school and still kids in our own way. I had a full-time job and usually, the planning and ideas were going on while I was working but I always looked forward to whatever ideas they had come up with; the group did know how to have a good time.
One night I came home from closing up the store I was working in, about 11:00 PM, to find that she had her group over and they all really excited about what they were about to do. They were so giddy with their plans that there was an electricity in the air, being in the atmosphere made you pumped just to be around.
“What are you guys up to?” I asked, knowing my half-smirk betrayed my sleepy eyes.
There wasn’t any excuse of being tired to make them change the plans their minds were already set on.
About half an hour later, we’re at a nearby park on the outskirts of the city, not unlike any other park in any other city. It’s a wholly unremarkable one, there is some playground equipment, a small baseball area for Little League, the usual fare. The parking area is near the front of the park and the park itself is lined with trees and some forest area. We took two cars, there’s the car I’m driving with a couple of passengers and the other car has the last of our group. In total, there are around maybe nine of us.
I was briefed before leaving and on the drive there. It’s all the cliche you’ve heard a hundred times before about any haunted place in the South: Satanic rituals were performed there; there were slaves who were beaten and mistreated there; the family vanished one day; etc. I appreciate all the backstory and take it all in, listening as my friends bicker and talk about what is or isn’t true based on the version they heard. It’s all amusing and fun for me until we arrive.
“So, let me get this straight. It’s almost midnight, we’re walking out into the woods to where some abandoned mansion may or may not exist, and it’s private property? Ghost stories and monsters are one thing, but trespassing? Even the most hardcore skeptic can’t debunk the law.”
I stood my ground, hard. No amount of peer pressure or heckling was going to budge me. It was easy for me to face the spooks and shrieks of the imagination, but dealing with the police is definitely not something I was going into the night ready to handle. I was more than happy to wait and let them get their kicks except my girlfriend was persistent in going, herself. She also had a certain knack for getting under my skin and knowing just what to say to rub me the wrong way and sometimes into goading me into things.
The forest around the park was quite the deception, I had to admit. After walking into those deep, dark, midnight woods, we hit an opening in no time at all. It was less than a mile, maybe less than half a mile. The density of the trees was a brilliant illusion on behalf of those in charge of the park. Upon stepping out from the last of the trees, a rusted barbed wire fence greeted us, defending an open field of waist-high grass, turned golden by the crispness of mid-October. The fence was in absolute decay and hung loosely, much more than was necessary to pull it open for us to squeeze through one after another.
After being away from the lights of the town and park and out of the canopy of the thick trees, it was easy to appreciate what an open a clear night it was. The moon hung high in a cloudless sky and even in the middle of the night it still managed to cast enough light to see fine without the flashlights we refused to use for fear of bringing attention to the potential groundskeeper.
There was no gloom or air of evil surrounding anything in the night. The small house, mansion as they called it, was in the distance. As we covered the mile and a half walk, we quietly joked and talked and giggled. The cloth of tension I’d felt about trespassing was seemingly pulled from me, snagged perhaps on the barbs of the fence, and left behind. It was going to be a great night and one to remember, I could feel it!
The small house, once we had arrived, wasn’t quite as small as it had seemed. It loomed high, as high as three stories, with a wide, wooden double-door to greet us. Pulled shut. I frowned at this, thinking our field trip was over. Without a word, one of us walked forward (casually, even!) and tried the door. It pushed open effortlessly and he turned to the rest of us, smiling and shrugging.
“If that didn’t work, I was going to look under the rug.”
The small group stepped inside ahead of me and we soon and found ourselves in the foyer. Immediately some were gasping, pointing at the walls, eyes widened with surprise and shock while others merely smirked or held in their chuckles. I let my eyes adjust and pulled the door shut behind me and then saw what they had seen. Inverted pentagrams were spray painted on the walls along with messages like “Turn back,” “House of Satan,” and, as I turned to see the door I had shut behind me, “No hope.” We weren’t the first ones here. Teenagers with too much time on their hands had tried to feng shui a little more scare-factor into the home.
We gathered into a small circle near the stairs, most of us still giggling and joking about how stupid the graffiti was, a couple of us not looking amused at all and quite ready to leave. It was decided that we would explore the mansion in three groups of three after looking at the stairs. They were falling apart, much like the rest of the mansion, and we decided it would be best to not put too much weight on any one area at once.
The first group went up, leaving six of us waiting in the foyer. The stairs went up to a solitary hallway and we watched their ascent in silent awe until they were out of sight. We then looked around the main room, which, admittedly, was pretty boring. Aside from the spray-painted warnings, nothing was out of place or eerie at all. The place was clearly run down and I was beginning to suspect it was kept apart from the public so that someone wouldn’t get hurt.
Before we knew it, the first three had come back downstairs.
“What was up there?” we all seemed to ask at once.
The enthusiasm that was there for the trip here had subsided a bit, the smiles were still there but not as vibrant. I chalked it up to the mansion being disappointing until they started talking.
“There was a door up there and it led to this weird room. A child’s room, maybe? The window was broken out and it just felt… weird.”
“Why do you think it was a child’s room?” I asked.
They glanced at one another before finally answering, “There was a bed in there and… I don’t know how else to describe it. It wasn’t big enough for a normal person.”
You could have cut the tension with a knife. Their smiles were sheepish, but what they said didn’t make any sense. Not normal-person sized? What does that even mean…?
The second group made their way up the stairs, more carefully and slowly than first, as I lingered with my girlfriend and the others at the bottom. My girlfriend, another friend, and I were part of the third group and before we were able to even ask for more details a creak and crash startled us. The second group was back in no time, practically running down the stairs.
“What was that? Are you guys alright?”
They described the same scene, an eerie room with a bed that had dimensions that didn’t make sense for a person and the same broken window… Only this time, the sensation that they were being watched and they were afraid to go through the doorway. They tried to explain the unseen presence they’d felt and when finally decided to step in, part of the floor had given and fallen in. The crash had frightened them into running back to the foyer and the rest of us. They were visibly shaken, but agreed to wait until the third group, mine, had gone to see it.
Say what you will, but I refused to go. No unseen watcher affected my decision, nor did any spooky broken window. Go upstairs when part of the floor just collapsed? You’re crazy. The two other of my group decided to go on without me, mocking my so-called cowardice pretty openly. I hung at the bottom, hoping the floor would hold but also a bit miffed about the heckling, and before I was able to consider it too long they were back, even faster than the second group.
None of us could ask before they told us, matter-of-factly,
“There was a door up there, but it was pulled closed and locked. Are you guys messing with us?”
Having not gone up there myself, I couldn’t say one or the other was right, but that was pretty weird… Rather than linger on the question, we decided to worry about it later and move on.
Nothing about the mansion stood out after that, there was a thick atmosphere that seemed to follow us, but I considered it little more than just the mood we’d created. A spooky aura to follow us and keep us creeped out, just like we’d wished, but not quite what we’d wanted. When we got to the kitchen, we clearly saw the dust in the air through our flashlight beams and noticed the drywall from the ceiling that had unceremoniously hit and spread along the floor and long-since-left-behind dining table, which was also directly under the Child’s Room. We nervously looked at one another and didn’t make any verbal acknowledgment that the question of whether or not the door had been opened in the first place was answered. I turned to look at my girlfriend and without needing to speak, saw that she had also been truthful about the door being locked.
Locked? That was a stretch for me. Stuck, sure. Both groups had seen the window broken. It was a still night earlier, but who’s to say a gust didn’t just blow it closed? Maybe one of the second group pulled it shut after the floor gave way? There are explanations for these things, doors don’t just shut and lock themselves. It was strange, but I wasn’t ready to accept it was anything supernatural or dwell on the matter when the floors were clearly crumbling.
We pointed the flashlights across the kitchen and saw that there were doors leading out, albeit unusual ones. The kind of shuttered doors that are on apartment closets were drawn open, showing us the backyard. We stepped back out into the night air and gathered into a circle again to decide what next to do. The air by this time was growing chilly and we were beginning to notice just how… strange the air inside was. Breathing inside meant dealing with the stagnant and moldy smell, the air was stifled and not unlike a building that had been sealed shut tightly. But if the doors in the kitchen were open the whole time, as were all the doors we encountered (give or take a few shutting child’s room doors), then why was the air so stagnant?
“Check it out, there’s a cellar!” my friend’s voice broke my train of thought and we wandered over.
Before anyone could so much as question whether or not we should go, he had begun his descent. The cellar was in strangely good condition. Nothing about it was in disarray and the stone walls of the foundation were remarkably clean. We made our way to the back of the cellar when another crash brought our attention back to the stairs from where we came. We were all nervous and worried about this, as we were right under the house now. We practically sprinted to the stairs, not taking any chances. I noticed that a fusebox was on the floor while making my way out. Must have fallen and given us all a terrible start, how silly!
Once I regrouped with the rest in the backyard, they were already ready to get out of there and call it a night. I was about to tell them how silly it was that we all got spooked over a fixture falling off the wall when things got… unexplainable.
I’ve made sure to be clear that all of what had happened had been odd, but explainable. Strange things happen all the time, but they are usually easily debunked. Supernatural and unexplainable things simply cannot happen. Until…
I was about to mention the fusebox when we all heard it. It made us all go rigid and pale immediately. We weren’t sure how close they were, but it was the unmistakable sound of footsteps. The cold, dry October had made the ground hard and the grass crisp. Any murmuring about what we had experienced in the basement was silenced by the very real fear that someone was here with us. Only the steps weren’t quite… stepping. They were almost a step-drag-step pattern. We ducked down and turned off the lights, trying to decide what the next step we should make would be. I mentioned how the steps didn’t make sense and couldn’t be a cop, it sounded more like something almost being dragged. I tried to explain that it must just be a dog or something and stepped towards the sound, staying low.
As I got closer to the steps, the drags, I saw something impossible… the grass was moving like someone stepping, but no one was there. I’m not talking about wind either. The night was just as still as when we first made our way there but the grass continued to be moved by an invisible force. I can safely say this because as I stood to look down into it, expecting a dog, possum, even maybe a snake to be shifting grass I only saw the steps (that’s the only thing that makes sense, against making sense, to say! there were invisible feet coming down, making visible steps) and the grass being pulled to the ground at the base, as if something heavy, but unseeable, were being pulled across the grass! I don’t remember what I said, “Move!”, “Go!”, “Run!” any or all of those fit with the panic I felt at seeing that sight.
Before I knew it, we were in the field ahead of the mansion, quickly running and leaving it behind. As eerie as the mansion had been, as startling as the collapsing had been, and as scary as the invisible footsteps had been, nothing was as haunting as the whistling that began to carry from the house to us. It was almost a jovial tune that one would whistle when they were happy with something they had accomplished. A tune that had never been written and never would, but was not tuneless. One of satisfaction and a job well done. I tried to run and tell myself it was a bird, but I still, to this day, cannot lie to myself and say it was a bird. This was clearly, for lack of a better word, human.
We covered the ground and made it back to the cars in record time. Our group slowly fell out after that, more and more gradually losing touch and not mentioning the experience to one another or at all. I tried to find out things about it online but it’s either non-existent or the same rumors and “haunted house” stories that took us there that night.
I apologize if this seems rushed or doesn’t explain a lot, I’d like to tell more but it just doesn’t make sense! It can’t make sense! Whistling still makes me uneasy and takes me a place I don’t understand and puts me on edge. Why the whistling? Why not the footsteps that don’t make sense? What is he (how do I know it was a he?) so happy about? There wasn’t anything innocent in it, that much I know. What was the “job well done” I felt? Running us away? Protecting the house? Reaching us at all?
And, as much as I’d like to erase it and not go back again, sometimes I still feel the urge to go see it again. To go see if I imagined it all. To go find a way to explain it all away. But more than that, I feel the pull to go back there.
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