It was late fall when we were invited to investigate a small farm house in the countryside.
We prefer to be blind to the history or prior activity of places we explore, but in this case the awful details preceded the investigation. I thought to myself, “If any place was haunted, this one certainly deserves to be”
To begin, this place is thirty miles from nowhere (in both directions). Let me remind y’all that this is “The South”. Even if we are still in the United States, things are real different down here.
County records round these parts are vague sometimes, but we found that just after the Civil War the land was awarded to a Yankee soldier as reward for his valiant service during the War Between the States. There were vast amounts of unsettled land in North Carolina at the time, and this was a common practice. The house was built in the late 1800’s, and when the original owner died, the huge expanse was divided into several large farms for his sons. Over the years the property was passed down for generations, but the families who worked the land are now buried beneath it.
Sometime in the sixties, this particular parcel was sold to a local fella named” Smith”. He and his young son, ”Jr” moved in, but they were not the friendly sort. Neighbors often gossiped how Smith made a living, when it was obvious he wasn’t farming the land. Smith seemed like a good father and he doted on his son, and was proud to see him graduate from the local high school. After, “Jr” fell in love, and the old man began to build a small home on the back of the property for his son and the bride to be.
The marriage never happened and soon after, folks say the father and son had a falling out. When his son left, things at the farm began to change.
Old Man Smith was already well known in the community to be reclusive, and bad tempered. But now, with his son gone, he was getting meaner by the minute. It was clear that “folks don’t come around these parts uninvited”, and those that dared, were met with a double barrel shotgun.
Rumors circulated about Smith having “a store” where you can buy “just about anything you need” in back of the house. It was a real rough place and word had it that “all sorts of nasty people” were coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Some said he was just selling old parts, but others whispered he might be selling drugs or liquor.
Whatever kind of business was going on at that house, it attracted only criminals and drunkards. The County Mounties would drive by, but they never stopped. It was evident Smith has his enemies. Sometimes if you rode by during the wee hours, you could catch site of the old man sitting on the porch in the darkness, dog by his side, and a rifle on his lap. This was an evil place, a hangout for no goods. The neighbors watched in disgust as the house fell into disrepair, and the piles of scavenged old junk seemed to grow ever larger.
Then one night, a single shot rang out across an empty field. Old Man Smith and his Dog had been murdered…. “Shot right through the Head” they said.
There wasn’t much fuss made about the murder. State police investigated, and plenty of people were accused of the crime, (Including Smith’s son and the State Trooper who lead the investigation) but no suspects were ever tried. Interest in the murder faded rather quickly, and no one talked about it, except to occasionally say “Old man Smith was the kind of man that just needed killing”
Most folks assumed justice had been served, and that was that. Smith’s son wanted nothing to do with the old house, nor the memories it contained. For over twenty years the house stood in silence beside the road, empty and abandoned, left to rot among the barren fields. About a year ago it was purchased by a young couple from “up North”with plans to turn the place in to bed and breakfast. From the moment they began to clear away the accumulated debris, a presence began to make it’s self known.
We arrived at the farm just before dark and were met by the owners who walked us through the house. Even with such a checkered past, the house seemed warm and inviting. After the tour we moved outside to chat with our hosts, but were eager to get our equipment set up. Three investigators and the owner’s wife walked to our truck to get our gear, while I stayed behind with the owner, fascinated with the details of the renovation. I felt a little guilty as I should have been helping, but no one seemed to miss me. And that is where it all gets a bit weird.
The guys had been in the lead as the group went to grab our gear, and both women reported seeing me only few feet ahead of them. The ladies talked along the way, and thought I hadn’t heard them when I failed to respond. All four watched as I passed in front of Doug, proceed around the truck, and make my way to the drivers side door. Doug asked me to get something from that side, but when I didn’t answer, he looked up; only to see me fading into the darkness…Doug was concerned as I wouldn’t just walk off like that. He ran across the empty field then doubled back to the house. Not finding me there, he returned to the truck, and they all joined the search. At first I was amused when the group came running around the building, out of breath, and apparently startled to find me standing there. They all started to talk at once, asking why I had wandered off, where did I go. The problem was, I hadn’t gone anywhere; I was right where they had left me the entire time! Slowly, it dawned on us that what had just occurred was impossible. Everyone was absolutely sure I had been with them. Each described a dark, well defined silhouette, but no one recalled seeing my face.
Later, two of us walked around the old house once more. As we rounded the back of the house I sensed someone approach from behind. I turned to see who it was, but instead of a friendly face, something shimmered and fade into the night I had been sure someone was behind us….
What did we see?
Was it expectation, a trick of the eye, or hallucination that caused four witnesses to see the same dark mass? Was this the work of an elemental, shadow people, or simply a ghostly manifestation? Perhaps a shape shifter or Djinn had made prior claim to the land, and stalked us as we stumbled in the darkness. What did it want? How had it walked among us undetected?
Was it just hiding, or had this thing retreated back into its own world?
The most chilling question of them all was:
Why had it pretended to be one of us?
Something timeless lingers just beyond the edge of our reality…
In silence it watches,
in darkness it waits…