Here is a guest post by Majanka Verstraete, author of The Blood That Defines Us, on her experience with her town's haunted house!
When I was about ten years old, I gathered all the other kids from my elementary school class and arranged a meeting for our first ‘horror club’. The goal: go into that old, abandoned house in the middle of our town. The reason: no one had ever dared to do that before, it was a challenge, and we were young and foolish. There were about twenty of us, which we believed was more than enough to scare off any potential ghosts deciding to drop by. Plus, it was hot outside, we were bored out of our minds, and I’ve always had a soft spot for old mansions. Sue me.
I began to tell them the story about the Haunted House – which I had totally fabricated, it was all part of my way-too-vivid imagination – but apparently most of them believed me, because by the time I was done, ten of my class mates had already left. Apparently ghosts, murdered children, mad doctors and soul-sucking grandmothers was too much for a bunch of ten-year-olds to handle.
Those of us who remained were all pretty nervous. Not only because the house sure looked haunted, old and abandoned, but also because breaking and entering a house, even if it’s abandoned, is actually a crime. However, no police officer in his right mind would arrest a bunch of ten-year-olds who wanted to hang out at an abandoned property. The worst thing they could do was bring us back to our parents with a warning and ending our scary but highly entertaining adventure. So we cast out all our fears, put on our brave face, and went into the garden of the house, so we could get inside through the back door.
First of all, the garden was so over-grown with plants that it was pretty terrifying by itself. Secondly, the shed in the garden smelled pretty much like rotting corpse – of course we investigated the shed first – and there was a hatch in it, leading to some dark, very stinky, basement underneath. Who has a basement in their shed? Except people wanting to bury corpses there, of course. Thirdly, there was a willow tree in the garden that looked pretty much like a scary grandmother-figure. Oh and, we sort of discovered that the old doc had insisted on getting buried in his own backyard. Stumbling upon a grave all of the sudden in places you least expect, well that does something to people.
To me, it made me feel slightly scared, stressed and nervous, and all the more determined to actually get into that house. To five other kids of our little group, it made them turn around and run out of that garden like the devil himself was on their heels. He might not have been, but that soul-sucking witchy grandmother-like willow tree certainly was.
I was the first one to walk into the house, overcome by an unknown bravery. My best friend Sarah was right behind me. The three others who followed were all boys. So, I walked in first, and the first room I entered was the kitchen. Oddly enough, there were still some spoons, plates and cups on the table, as if no one had ever bothered to empty the house completely. Curious about the rest of the house, I stepped into the grand hallway leading to the front part, and stared at the stairs in awe. They were beautifully decorated with flower patterns, the steps were marble, and it looked pretty impressive. But we weren’t here to scare at a stairs, or to stare at the beautiful ceilings, the enormous double doors or the marble floors.
I grabbed the handle of one of the double doors and pushed it open. What I saw there in the room in front of me, was very confusing. At the time being, I would have sworn to each and every one who asked, that I saw a ghost. A real life, actual ghost. The ghost was standing in the middle of the room and looking out the window, and the first impression I got from it was that it was sad and lonely. And that it terrified me.
Without further explanation or taking my time to think – which I find incredibly stupid looking back on it, I wish I had gone in and try to talk to the thing or something, or at least make sure I wasn’t imagining stuff – I turned around, slammed the door shut, grabbed my friend’s arm (she was a couple of meters behind me) and ran out of the house, pulling her along.
Later on, Sarah described that the look on my face was one of pure horror. She knew me well enough to know that I don’t scare easily, and she occasionally told me, even years later, that she was scared too that day. Because whatever it was that caused me to be so terrified, seeing me scared, frightened her as well. I remember yelling to all of them to get out of the garden, to get away from the house as fast as possible. We all ran until we had left the garden of the haunted house behind us and were safe and sound back on the street.
Unfortunately, one of the boys had lost his wallet while running away. He wanted to get it back, but when no one volunteered to go back with him, I eventually gave in. I couldn’t really let him go back there alone, especially when I had been the one to suggest our trip to the haunted mansion in the first place. While the others waited for us, we want back into the garden and to the house.
We found his wallet somewhere in the middle of the garden. We both bend down to grab it, because we were still quite nervous and scared, and as we got up again, we both stared at the house in front of us. In one of the bay windows on the first floor, there was the clear shape of a man. But it wasn’t a real man, of course. It was just a black shape, with no actual facial features, just the black shape of a man-like figure, staring out of the window at the two of us.
The next couple of seconds seemed to happen in slow-motion. I looked at my friend, and he looked back at me, our facial expressions mirroring each other’s. We were shocked, scared and unable to move, at least not right away. I felt like I was frozen to the spot. Then we stopped looking at each other and stared back at the house in front of us, and at the dark shape behind the window. Then we grabbed each other’s hand and ran out of the garden as fast as we could, dragging each other alone and unwilling to let go of each other’s hand. We weren’t exactly the best of friends and I wasn’t that outgoing that I held hands with everyone at that age, but we were so terrified that we had to hold on to what was reality and what was normal. It seemed to take forever until we got out of the garden and back to our friends.
It took us five years to talk about that day again, and to share our experiences with each other. Nowadays, I’m not sure if the first ghost I saw was actually a ghost, or part of my imagination, or just the light entering the room in a weird way. But the second ghost, the dark shape on the first floor, of that I am absolutely certain.
I went into the haunted house one more time, a couple of years later. But that’s a story for another time.
That said, have you ever seen a ghost? Or something you thought was a ghost? Have you ever entered a supposedly haunted mansion? What happened?
And now.... it's time for a GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!
Majanka and I are giving away TWO eBook copies of her debut novel, The Blood That Defines Us!!!
The rules are simple:
--This is an international giveaway
--Must be 13 or older
--Must fill out THIS FORM
Of course, there are ways to get extra entries!
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Simple, right? I know. This giveaway will close on June 28th!!!