I never really in believed ghosts. I love watching scary movies and visiting haunted houses around Halloween for the entertainment factor, but I've never put much stock in people's stories about apparitions or unexplained phenomena. My husband is a scientist, and without concrete evidence has never believed in spirits or people reaching out from beyond the grave. But all that changed forever after we paid an impromptu visit to an open house.
When we were young and child-free, we lived in a shoebox of an apartment to save money. But tiny as our place was, it had the excellent advantage of being less than a mile from the ocean. On hot days, we would often walk down to the water, passing beautiful beachside properties in the process. We were saving for a house, and even though we knew we could never afford one of them, we had fun imagining what it would be like to live in one of the seemingly perfect homes along the water.
There was an unfinished basement off the gorgeous kitchen, and since the stairs leading down were pretty steep, we didn't think anything of it when the real estate agent said she would stay on the first floor while we checked it out. The basement was lined in jagged rock walls, and although there were several old-fashioned barn doors leading to who knows what, something about them made us too creeped out to open them. It wasn't what I wanted in a dream house, but chalking it up to the fact that most basements are creepy, we headed back to the first floor.
The unease I felt in the basement quickly dissipated as I stepped into the dining room, and I once again felt like I was meant to live in this space. The agent was very attentive and pointed out all of the house's advantages, but when we asked to check out the upstairs, she once again said she would remain on the first floor. Thinking perhaps she had knee issues, we headed up without her.
The second floor was just as pretty as the first. You could hear the faint rumble of ocean waves and smell the sea coming in from the open windows. The sheer curtains stirred invitingly in the breeze. We looked at two bedrooms and a bathroom, getting more and more excited as we started to talk about furniture and paint colors. We both agreed this house felt like home. And then we stepped into the master suite.
To this day I still can't clearly describe what happened in that room because it was so unlike anything I had ever experienced up until that point or since. Even now, as I try to recall the memory, my thoughts scatter, as though the reality of what was there is just too much for my brain to fully piece together again. The first thing I noticed was how still the room was. Although the windows were open like others in the house, these curtains lay stiff and dead against the walls. And the smells and sounds of the ocean were curiously absent, replaced with a thick silence that made every hair on my body stand at attention. I knew immediately that something here was very, very wrong.
Even though every one of my instincts was telling me to get out of there, I couldn't seem to form the words to tell my husband I wanted to leave. He didn't say anything either, and somehow we both found ourselves drawn to the door to the bathroom in the corner of the room.
My husband opened the door slowly. The room was tiled in a neutral beige, but for just an instant, I saw the entire room awash in red; the bright, grisly red of blood. And for a moment the silence was gone, replaced by the sound of a woman screaming in my head that was so loud I clamped my hands over my ears.
My husband still won't tell me what he saw or heard when he opened that door, but seeing as how we both turned to run down the stairs and out the door past the real estate agent (who didn't look surprised to see us leaving in a hurry), he too must have experienced something not of this world. As we hurried away from the house we tried to talk about what happened in that bedroom, but both of us struggled to hold on to the details. All we knew was that this house was not what it appeared to be.
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