In 1999 I moved to the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania to rent a huge house in the woods. I had one roommate, Mark, and although the rent was surprisingly low for the opulent dwelling, we didn’t hesitate for a minute. We were young, the house was on the lake, and it looked like the perfect place to have band practice and parties. We quickly signed a year’s lease and moved in.
The house was very old – it had been built sometime in the late 1880’s. The only thing about the house that had been changed was the addition of a gas heater. The landlord warned us not to turn it up too high because it was old, and to keep the temperature dial turned up to six or seven, and no higher. We were very careful when we first moved in to follow her instructions.
It was about three days after we got settled into the house that I noticed something odd about it. For one thing, our cats (we had four of them between us) didn’t want to be in the house anymore. When we’d force them to stay inside, they would act strangely. They would seemingly look at things we couldn’t see, hissing and so on. Once I was standing in the kitchen and I clearly heard what to me sounded like a cat in distress. I could hear it hissing, mewling, and crying. I ran from the kitchen into this weird little room in between the kitchen and back bedrooms, and when I looked into the doorway, I saw our cat. It was standing in the corner of the room, pawing at the air. Every hair on its body was standing straight up, and it was hissing and spitting at something directly in front of it. I couldn’t see anything at all, so when I walked over to pick up the cat, it darted around my feet, running off. It felt like I had walked into a waterfall of ice!
It was extremely cold in that corner where I was standing, so much that I could see my breath. This was in the middle of August, and it was hot in that house. I knew something weird was going on, so I tensed up, turned around, and started to leave the room. While I was doing that, I had this horrible feeling that something was standing about three inches away from my face, glaring at me. I can’t describe the feeling any more than to say it felt like someone was staring at me, very close to me. It was an eerie feeling, and I thought about it for the rest of the day.
Over the next month, things got much stranger. For one thing, none of the doors would stay shut, locked, or open. You could shut a door, lock it, then come back and it would be standing open. You could open a door, leave, and come back to find it shut, etc. It drove us crazy! Besides that, our things started disappearing, then reappearing where we clearly didn’t leave them. Claw marks started appearing on the walls near the ceiling… it looked like someone had taken a knife and gouged it into the wood. You couldn’t take pictures in the house. The film would come out white, black, or with colored balls of light all over it. We heard what sounded to me like people running through the front room and around the house. In the hallway, puddles of water appeared on the floor, despite the fact that there were no pipes near it. We had a lot of band equipment, and it would shut on and off for no reason. We rapidly started to hear a lot of things that just weren’t possible.
I awoke one night to hear a woman crying in the root cellar. That bothered me. I heard it for a minute, then it would fade out like a radio signal. All the sounds were like that, you would hear them clearly, then they would fade away. We woke up another night because it sounded like there was a party going on in the living room. I could hear glasses clinking, people talking, laughing, and so on. Of course when we went in there, there would be no one around. We often heard late at night what sounded like music or people talking coming out of the air. I know that sounds crazy, but we weren’t the only ones who heard it. Our friends could hear it, too.
Things started to take a much darker turn, the longer we stayed….
Mark and I have always been best friends, but we started fighting. We had never fought before, at least not like this. Over the stupidest little thing, we would be screaming at each other. The whole house seemed to reek of disharmony and discord. Also, around this time, both of us became depressed, which was odd. We’re both normally very upbeat, energetic people. There was a very negative, evil atmosphere in that house.
Around this time we started hearing people running or walking through the house at night, up the cellar stairs, and what sounded like three or more people running through the backyard. One night I was sitting in my bedroom and I could hear rustling outside the window. As I started to turn toward it, there was a loud bang! on my window. I saw the glass shaking, as if someone had just struck it with their fist. It scared me badly, but we learned from living in the house that the entity or whatever it was would always frighten you worse when you were alone. It was almost like it could feed off of fear. I started to walk out of the room, when I heard a louder bam! on my bedroom door. I felt trapped in the room and had a feeling like something very bad was about to happen. Luckily for me, right then my roommate pulled into the driveway. I was so relieved, I ran out of the room and outside onto the deck, shivering.
I must mention that at this time, someone or something started playing with the gas heater. It would turn it all the way up when we weren’t paying attention, to a dangerous temperature. It would routinely unplug the valves in the back so that gas would leak into the house. We came home from the grocery store one night to find the oven so hot it was almost glowing red. We had it dismantled and started to use space heaters. It seemed safer.
Around this time, I started waking up at night, every night. If felt like something was jolting my bed, as if someone had accidentally run into it. As this went on, across my room, I could hear something knocking on the door of my closet, very softly. I started sleeping in the living room. It was no better. You could hear things moving around in the cellar below. I could lie there at night and hear what sounded to me like someone else breathing. It would fade in and out, and eventually I’d fall asleep. It was so weird. It was like after being so scared for so long, you started to try to adapt to it. Meanwhile, we started having another problem that turned out to be the worst.
We had a dirt-floor root cellar. It was of course directly under the house, carved right into the earthen walls. It was creepy as hell down there. It just didn’t feel right, and that feeling of something staring at you would increase until you were nearly suffocating with anxiety. We had also heard what sounded to us like a woman crying down there, very late at night. This made sense to me after what I learned.
Around this time, we learned that the man who had built the house had been accused of witchcraft and murder. He supposedly practiced black magic, had been accused of being possessed, and locked his wife up in the cellar, where she ended up ‘disappearing’ down there, or so he claimed. He was charged but never convicted of her disappearance, and became a recluse in that house. After he died there, the house became a church, then a school. We learned all of this from a family member of the people who owned the place, and also learned they had trouble renting it. Needless to say, after learning that, the cellar really creeped me out. Around this time, toward the end, it was the cellar where we had the most problems.
The cellar door would not stay shut. It had a hook latch that locked the door, but that didn’t matter. You could lock it all you wanted and come back to find it open. Also, the cellar started to smell strange. At times it would smell sweet, like lavender. At other times it smelled overpoweringly of rot and decay. Most disturbing of all, something started beating on the floor from underneath. If you were standing in the living room, directly under your feet something would smash into the floor. This happened one time to Mark, so he went into his bedroom. While he was walking in, he heard knocking coming from the floor underneath his feet, as if it were following him. Worst of all, and last, we were sitting in the living room once, and there was quite a bad storm outside. As we were sitting there, the lights all went off. We shrugged, lit some candles, and sat back down. Then we heard the screeeech of the cellar door opening. I looked at my friend: now was not the time to deal with the cellar. I decided I would sit there not matter what happened, because I wasn’t going to confront that thing in the dark.
Meanwhile, we heard (and I can’t be more precise about this) what sounded like two people fighting in the cellar. It literally sounded like two people rolling around, knocking things over, and so on. We were both fear-stricken and couldn’t move if we wanted to. About that same time, the commotion stopped. Then, very clearly, we heard a thud… then another thud… then another thud…. Something was coming up the stairs! In my mind’s eye I could picture a man with heavy boots on, dragging his way up. I started edging off the couch for the front door. So did my friend. I was clutching him so tightly I doubt he could have moved without dragging me regardless. Then, the footsteps we hard were no longer walking but thudding up the stairs, running up the stairs!
We bolted off the couch and out the front door. We stood on the porch, looking through the front windows of the house. Right then, a light, very bright, flashed from inside the house. It almost looked like someone had taken a picture with a camera flash. We watched all this in silent horror. We lived in that house. It had gotten so bad, but this was too much. We had signed a lease, and didn’t want to break it, but money was quickly becoming the least of my worries. Everyone we knew called it the “Witch House,” and you would have to be insane to stay there alone.
We ended up leaving three months before the lease was up. I didn’t care about the money. Things had slowly degenerated since we moved in, and all I wanted to do was leave. If I knew then what I know now, I might have stayed. I’ve experienced hauntings before, but never so many things at once or something that was so hostile. It clearly didn’t want anyone there. By the time it was all over, we were more than happy to give it what it wanted.