My house had always been the epitome of creepy despite being fairly new in an upscale, suburban neighborhood. It had no bloody past or terrifying history that I could discover, but it was vastly evident that something dark lingered within the architecture. Despite the plethora of windows and sliding glass doors, it seemed that the sunshine completely avoided the place altogether, creating a haze of melancholy energy inside. A sense of dread and paranoia always hung heavy in the air. And, if you paid close enough attention, you’d realize that you were ever quite alone even if you thought you were. And while my family agreed that the house was less than cheery, they seemingly never noticed the malevolent something that made its self at home beside us.  I guess I can’t blame them. Aside from gloomy vibes, things were peachy keen for years.

It all began in my room a few months after my fifteenth birthday (or at least I’ll assume it did, as that’s when I first noticed it). My living space was already sullen, located in the back of the house with walls painted a dark orange color that I couldn’t possibly imagine someone choosing for their home. It just seemed that my corner of the house, as I liked to call the solitary hallway by my room, had a negative aura about it. And gradually, I realized that things weren’t always as I’d left them.

It was the door at first. Being a private person, I’d always had a bit of an OCD thing with keeping my bedroom door closed. However, it never failed that I’d look up from my book or simply glance that way only to discover that my door was suddenly wide open without a single sound. At first, I’d begun to think that I was forgetful. Then, things got a little stranger. If I’d abandoned a drink for more than a few minutes, I would almost always discover that the cup was sitting completely upside down surrounded by a mess of ice and liquid. I would find my things hidden in random parts of my room, as if I were unwillingly playing a game of “find the thing”. It wasn’t long before I realized that it wasn’t a game.

I’d slept over at a friend’s house one night and upon returning, I noticed that my pillow was looking a little taller than usual. By now, I was used to the discoveries and I grabbed the pillow, tossed it aside without much hesitation. It took a moment to realize that I was looking at, because it wasn’t the usual find. Stabbed vertically into my mattress were a pair of scissors. I know that it wasn’t exactly threatening, but the thought of someone or something plunging a sharp metal object into the spot where I’d normally lay my head was a bit unnerving.

From then on, I tried to catch it in the act. After all, who was I to assume that my brother wasn’t just playing a series of pranks on me? After all, I didn’t exactly have proof that this was some otherworldly being. Opening doors and spilling drinks weren’t works that were exclusive to the supernatural. Still, I wondered how exactly ten year old Dylan could be so stealthy as to do it all without being seen or heard. And besides, for a kid with a sunny disposition, it would sure be out of his character to stab my bed or anything else for that matter. I could never catch the kid.

Any time I would even hint towards something abnormal in the house, my parents would answer in a crisp and serious tone. “Julia,” they would say, “Don’t talk like that in front of your brother.” And when Dylan wasn’t there, they just ignored my pleas for them to listen until I gave up. It was completely beyond me how everyone else in the house was floating around in ignorant bliss while I was currently dwelling in the hall of Hell. And as you might guess, things got a little hotter.

The first time I heard the thing was around Christmas that year. My sister, Janelle, was coming home after completing another three year contract with the Navy. She’d be staying with us for a month or two while she worked out the kinks with reenlisting. I was pretty excited. This would be the first Christmas we’d celebrate as a complete family in years. And, hey, maybe with Janelle staying across the hall in the guest room things would take a turn for the less creepy. I was wrong. So wrong.

Seeing as it was winter break, I thought I’d try my best to relax and take a bath. Things were pretty silent, aside from two distinct voices. At first, it was hard to make out. I thought that my sister must have had the guest TV on, because I knew for a fact that we were the only ones in the house. I kept my movements to a minimum and listened closely. I could swear that the water ran ice cold when I realized what was going on.

My sister was making small talk with someone across the hall, using an escalated version of an “inside voice”. Only then did I realize that I heard my own voice answering Janelle from across the hallway. It was using my voice. I practically cracked my head as I darted out of the bath tub and threw a towel around my body with horrible precision. I pulled the bathroom door open with force I didn’t even know I had and looked into my bedroom, which was empty of all visible life. I nearly expected an imitation of myself to be standing there to match the voice.

It was then that I turned to the guest room looking my sister in the eye. It took a moment for her to realize what had just happened. She eyed me nervously as stood there with damp strands of hair hanging over my face, a puddle of bath water forming around me on the wood floor. In a nearly broken voice, she spoke the beginning of a complete sentence, “You weren’t…” I shook my head horizontally and her lips parted. I’d written her about what had been going on so many times over the years, but she always seemed to ignore those parts of the letters. I could tell that she was feeling both terrified and guilty.

That night, we bought tons of disposable cameras. You know how it goes. I figured that if I couldn’t see it in person, it might make an appearance in a picture. We took tons of photos in every part of the house at both day and night, hoping to get a look at just what we were dealing with here. All of the pictures we developed came back without a single anomaly. Well, all but one. Although I’d never seen myself as much of a military girl, what came back on that film was enough to convince me otherwise. Janelle and I both enlisted that year. It’s safe to say that I won’t be coming home for Christmas for a long, long time.