Cincinnati Time Waste

If you understand that relatively obscure Simpsons reference then you might actually enjoy scrolling through this thing I've created here...

I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.

—Ray Bradbury (via kadrey)

(via gothiccharmschool)

In Which I Watch A House That Watches Me Right Back…

My sister’s family was going to Europe. I was asked to check on her house. Aside from a ridiculously lengthy drive, it was an easy enough undertaking. A proverbial piece of cake.

Until the second day…

The first day went smoothly enough, we (eventually) arrived and walked up to the house. I immediately became acutely aware of something in, on or around the house consciously reacting to our presence in a way that felt like it wanted to know why we were there when the usual occupants weren’t. It felt protective and a bit standoffish. I responded respectfully.

"Hi ‘House,’" I said, "we’re just here to check on everything while they’re gone. They’ll be back soon but in the meantime we’ll be coming and going to administer fish medication and to make sure everything stays status quo."

And we did.

And it did.

Until the second day.

But back to the first day, we left and on the drive home Mike asked me why I talked to the house. I explained my reasons and he asked a few questions and we left it at that. Not our old abandoned circus. Not our spooky ghost monkeys.

We arrived slightly later on Day Two, a storm was rolling in and the air felt thick with smothering heat and the promise of electricity to come. Something felt “off” as we reached the front door. Very, very “off.”

It was almost as though the house felt angry, or maybe a better word to use would be confused. I began to address the house again and immediately stopped as I stepped across the threshold. The coat closet door was wide open.

I started assessing the state of the rest of the house. I’d originally been thinking paranormal, not criminal, but now I wasn’t so sure. Mike took point and we checked the house. I was positive no other people were in the house but what if someone had been there and left…

A sweeping glance of the interior showed that absolutely nothing was disturbed except the coat closet door. A door we knew had been shut the day before. In fact, I’d made a point of making sure every door was shut before Mike locked up. That’s how it looked when we arrived, that’s how it looked when we left. Done and done.

Mike knew that as well as I did and gave me a look. The look he usually gives me when things have gotten weird in a very specific way. (The poor guy has experienced enough strangeness at this point that he actually has a singular look that accompanies it.)

I shifted into a slightly more aggressive mode with the house.

"That’s very impressive, but I’m going to go ahead and close this door now because they would want it closed. Like I said yesterday, we’re only here to make sure the house is safe until they come back and they will most certainly be back in eight more days. In the meantime, we’ll be passing through to check on the house every day, parlor tricks or not."

I waited for all the doors to flys open or for a non-existent grandfather clock to chime thirteen ominous times but nothing happened.

Well, Mike told me he was heading out to the garage to take the recycling out but I’d been expecting that to happen eventually.

I busied myself with arranging their mail into a neat pile on the kitchen counter. I was trying to ignore the sensation of being intently watched when I heard Mike saying something unintelligible in the garage.

"Uhhhh… Should the garage be glowing bright red?" Mike called to me in an extremely forced nonchalant voice.

"Glowing HOW?" I not so very calmly replied. Glowing is so rarely a sign of anything good.

"Is there any reason why your brother-in-law’s Harley would be glowing red?" was the next question to issue forth from the garage but then he yelled "COME HERE, NOW" before I could respond.

I joined him in the garage. In the center of their pitch black garage was a motorcycle. A motorcycle lit up like a Christmas tree.

"I’m pretty sure that this isn’t normal." I said quietly.

"Yeaaah." Mike agreed.

"Was it glowing yesterday?" I inquired hopefully.

"Noooo."

"Are you positive?" I know, I know, but I needed to fill the silence with words because this was impressive.

"I think I’d remember that, darling."

I laughed uncomfortably. “Well, let’s turn it off. That can’t be good for the bike.”

I switched on the garage lights and opened the door. I felt a release of energetic pressure as the door opened.

Mike discovered that the “red glow” was coming from LEDs that worked when a toggle switch was engaged. It was clearly not something “the wind” could have done.

I hazarded a terrible guess. “Maybe a huge mouse switched it on accidentally.”

Mike didn’t dignify that with a response. Fair enough. I was just trying to keep things light until we left, a challenge that was becoming increasingly more challenging.

This was when the door leading into the house slammed all the way closed. I hadn’t shut it completely before walking into the garage but it had been closed enough. For me at least. I chalked it up to “the wind” or “internal house barometric pressure” even though I knew better.

We strolled out to the car and had a seat.

"If this gets worse, we’re taking the fish and leaving." Mike said.

"That’d be a risky ordeal for the fish, we’ll be fine. Just don’t give it any energy when we go back inside."

He nodded and back in we went. Whatever or whomever was responsible continued to watch us intently as we tended to the fishie and ran through a quick checklist of housesitting duties but it was passive about observing us.

Eventually, we left. Happily.

I texted my sister to let her know her house was safe, and added a slightly boiled down version of the events we’d experienced. I didn’t expect a reply as she was nine hours ahead of us and it was the middle of the night where she was.

The third day went slightly more smoothly but I felt like something was hovering over my shoulder the entire duration of our visit. I forced myself to not glance over my shoulder and selected the most mindless TV show I could find as background noise while Mike tended to a chore.

When we left an hour later, we both felt exhausted. Which for me, felt dangerously similar to being anemic, while Mike felt like he had suddenly contracted the flu.

I realized that polite ignoring wasn’t going to be enough.

Later that night my sister responded to me…

She seemed pretty surprised about the glowing motorcycle, I pressed a tiny bit and was informed that the motorcycle’s LED lights haven’t worked in at least a year.

Of course they hadn’t.

The next few days were unremarkable but uncomfortable. We’d move as quickly as we could through our responsibilities, ignoring the discomfort and combating the attempts at draining us that accompanied each visit. It was obvious that we were being watched and I made sure to acknowledge it but nothing tangible happened.

Until it finally did.

Once again we went up to check on the house, intent on changing the fish’s water. All the appropriate fish maintenance items were laid out on the kitchen counter. We went to transport the fish. I opened the door to the fish room and then remembered that we needed to grab something else first.

We left the room.

The door slammed behind us.

I’m not sure whether it was supposed to be funny or scary but it made me angry. I ignored it and stayed composed.

We moved slowly and methodically through the process and soon enough the fish and his clean tank were back where they belonged. We closed up the house and went home.

I was so tired on the drive home that we didn’t even really discuss the experience besides saying “that was (expletive) weird.” But, it wasn’t an issue we had to contend with at the moment so we didn’t bother discussing it any further.

Until we walked into my house.

That’s when every smoke detector within a few feet of us sounded an alarm. It was incredibly jarring but not as surprising as it sounds like it would be… This has happened in the past when someone wanted to get my, or our, attention. In fact, for a while an electrically savvy spirit had communicated with us using this exact method but that’s a story for another time.

Mike went to get the ladder and I got very, very angry.

"KNOCK IT THE (EXPLETIVE) OFF!"

Seven extremely poofy cats slunk around the house looking for a way to escape from the alarms. The dogs stared at the ceiling.

"I SAID, STOP IT RIGHT THE (EXPLETIVE) NOW OR I PROMISE YOU MY GHOSTLY FRIEND, YOU WILL NOT LIKE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!"

Silence. It hadn’t been an empty threat and I think I conveyed it succinctly.

Mike calmly walked in with the ladder, took one look at me and went straight back to the garage.

"Okay, here’s what’s going to happen, if you’re trying to warn me about something have at it, you’ve got my undivided attention but if you’re just trying to upset me, this ends now. If you followed me from my sister’s house, this ends now. If I don’t know you, get the (expletive) out. Now. If you and I are acquainted, you may stay IF you behave. You’re scaring my animals and you’re annoying me so what we’re going to do right now is calm down and be cool. We’re gonna be a couple of (expletive) popsicles. Understand me?"

Nothing happened. The immediately house felt peaceful, well, as peaceful as my house ever feels these days. I took a few rational precautionary measures and called it good enough. Mike focused on returning the ladder to the garage and checking for hidden pouffy cats.

I climbed into the shower and waited for anything to happen but nothing did. I’m still not entirely sure what the deal with the smoke detectors was… I have theories but they’re not very helpful.

We just needed to complete the few remaining days of housesitting and things would return to normal, at least as far as my sister’s house was concerned.

I arrived the next day loaded for metaphysical bear but, lo and behold my threats had worked across the board! Our next trip to the house was as calm and unremarkable as it usually is when my sister’s family is home.

As was the next one.

And the one after that.

In fact, the rest our our housewatching was delightfully peaceful until the final visit. We were doing one last check to make sure whatever food we’d brought up with us was also leaving with us, which is about as close as I ever hope to come to camping, when I felt a presence near the pantry.

I stage-whispered to Mike “he’s baaaaaack.” Mike in no way appreciated my humor. That’s when it dawned on me that I’d put almost zero effort into trying to figure out who was responsible for all this nonsense.

That may sound weird but keep in mind that at the present I have a very limited amount of disposable energy. I have to ration it out for daily activities, general living concerns and unfortunately, unexpected nonsense. The more energy I put into psychic junk the faster my energy is depleted with a few very notable exceptions. It’d be like going on a joyride when your tank is on E, not needed and less than smart,

But, since I was feeling almost okay at that moment so I pushed myself. It was a man. I didn’t know him. Not a relative. At least not to me. Tall. Darker energy but human. I kept seeing a hat. Pretty sure it was a cowboy hat. He didn’t appreciate me not finding him menacing. I gently tried to express that this wasn’t my first creepy rodeo, I thought he’d appreciate the reference, what with the hat and all. He didn’t seem to so I’ll add humorless. He also resented my probing. Tough, you came at me first, don’t start none, won’t be none. Hulking was another good word. I’d felt him trying to loom over me a few times.He’d be keeping his distance from me and my house but he knew he’d genuinely impressed me with the door and the lights. I gave him that because it’s honestly had been a very long time since I saw physical manifestations like that. At best, we had a tentative and weary respect for each other.

And with that our work was done, we bid farewell to the house and returned to our regularly scheduled weirdness.

My sister and her family returned home and a few days later she and I discussed the spirit. I didn’t inundate her with my theories, I just told her what we experienced at her house. She replied “I think it’s a tall man, I saw him through a crack in the pantry door one day.”

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Whomever the spirit is he hasn’t returned to my house and he hasn’t made his presence known at my sister’s house since the last time she saw him. Things appear to be normal. For now.