Ever since I was young, I remember hearing the sound at Grandma's old farmhouse. Mom would put me to sleep in the upstairs room and slip downstairs to sleep with my father, leaving my brother and I alone in the upstairs room.
An hour or so after we'd been put to bed, a scratching noise could be heard above our heads in the attic every night. It was slow... like a pendulum. Back and forth, it'd sweep across the ceiling, at times skittering faster before fading back to a slow scratch. At first we were scared, as children are apt to be, but we learned to live with it and it comforted us in some strange way. It was kind of like "white noise," and it helped us sleep.
Well, I'm a grown man now. Grandma passed away some years ago. As we were cleaning out her house, mom and I found ourselves in the attic. We were clearing out some old boxes and stuff when I came to the middle of the wooden floor. Although years of dust had covered them, there were still visible scratches in the wood.
I laughingly remarked to my mother about hearing a scratching noise when I used to sleep in the room below and my mom's face drained of color. She gently took me by the shoulders and told me the story about how her Grandpa, the father of my Grandmother, had lost his job in the Great Depression and could barely afford to feed his family. He came home one night and hung himself in the attic with a horse bridle.
Apparently he regretted his decision, because he struggled to gain his footing near the end by flailing his feet. His heavy boots had gouged the wood where he had hung himself.