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Incident #002: A Horse in the Attic
As day seven approached, and I had nearly spent a full week within the derelict Pest House, I came to fully believe that I had experienced the whole of its supernatural arsenal.
Aside from a minor surprise in the form of a carnivorous floor covering, nothing seemed out of the ordinary in comparison to my previous investigation of what are known as "haunted houses".
I had become fond of one such ordinary haunting I'd come to call the Trader. This unseen entity, or perhaps just an anomalous effect with no true motivations, would occasionally swap items throughout the house.
At first, I saw this as an inconvenience. I retired to my room on one occasion, warmed by a sleeping bag and pillow beneath my head... only to arise in the morning with my head resting upon a wooden jewelry box. The neck pain would stay with me for several following days.
When I came to understand the Trader's interests, I found I could influence its behavior.
1.) The Trader is most interested in objects I display interest in. This would most likely apply to any house guest. I can effectively control this behavior by focusing on any given object for up to an hour, which will eventually be traded with something else.
2.) The Trader will not move objects that are heavier than the average man can lift. Focusing on the broken refrigerator has had no visible effects.
- 2a.) At some point, I must investigate the refrigerator to uncover and remove the source of its offensive odor.
3.) The Trader will only swap interesting items with ones I have not shown interest in. Spending time concentrating on objects within separate rooms have proven to preclude any visible objects therein from swapping.
4.) The Trader trades near midnight.
Note to self: Should these facts ever see publication, rewrite entry #4 as it sounds like the title of a smutty novella.
In my studies of these phenomena, I've come to learn the proper amount of attention I must pay - or avoid - when dealing with daily tasks. On one occasion, a particularly delicious meal was, under the cover of night, spontaneously traded out for a cluster of musty coins. After violent fits of vomiting, I tracked the source of the coins to a piggy bank within what I believe to be a child's bedroom. The object thus contained the half-digested contents of my stomach.
It was at this point in my research that I made an effort to disqualify all objects within Pest House from the Trader's list of available replacements. This was partly due to the invasive nature of its meddling, and additionally, my interest in seeing what the result would be.
Moving from room to room over the course of several hours, I noted the existence of every movable object I could find. I opened containers and observed their contents, save for the refrigerator which will not open. I could only hope it would also remain inaccessible to the trading spirit as well.
It was in the attic that I noted an unusual sight. It stood in the far corner of the room, shielded by a misplaced shadow which no object seemed to cast. A rocking horse.
The blades of the rocking horse had dug grooves into the rotting attic floor, as if the object had been ridden hundreds if not thousands of times without moving from the spot.
The peeling alabaster paint of the horse provided glimpses at the dark red wood beneath, giving the appearance of some necrotic affliction. Its glass eyes were a dim green with black pupils the size of pin pricks. Its mane and tail were completely gone, no doubt lost to the ages.
It occurred to me that this rocking horse, and not the rats I had envisioned, was the source of many nights' worth of repetitious scraping sounds I had heard just above me as I tried to find sleep.
Upon reflection, the sound had never been quite correct. It was as if some rodent were clawing back and forth... back and forth. What I had presumed to be the obsessive behavior of a creature clawing out its niche had in fact been the monotonous routine of an abandoned plaything.
I pulled the rocking horse from its grooves, setting it some distance away from its usual location, and waited to see if there would be any resulting paranormal experience.
Sure enough, as I backed away from the item and placed myself upon a dusty crate, the rocking horse began to move.
It did not sway as one would expect, but instead moved sideways... just an inch... then slowly, weakly, appeared to drag itself back to the slots it had become accustomed to. The scrape of its worn blades across the rough floor was quite unpleasant, and though I kindly bid it stop, the object continued until it reached its destination.
There, it remained motionless. Naturally, I proceeded to complete my task of memorizing everything within the structure before setting off to sleep.
The familiar sound of those rocking horse blades, no longer taking the form of my imaginary rodents, did well to calm me that night. Within my journal, I marked the milestone of one week within the Pest House.
At a time I estimate to be midnight or thereabout, I was awakened by the sound of screaming.
The shrieks wrestled me from slumber and caused me to sit bolt upright. I was immediately facing the spot where there had once been an aged and useless end table. Now, in its place, was the sickly rocking horse.
The screams emanated from above. The attic. Sounds of overturned boxes and breaking glass drummed against the floor like cracks of thunder and the pelting of hail.
Thinking quickly and with a level head, I took the rocking horse up under one arm and quickly ascended the ladder to the attic. This ladder, concealed within a bedroom closet and leading to a removable ceiling tile, was quite unforgiving in relation to this task.
As soon as my head breached the opening, the light of the closet's bare bulb illuminated a visage I had not anticipated. Standing at the edge of this horizontal doorway, peering downward and directly into my face, was an amorphous mass of collected filth and what can only be described as a physical manifestation of darkness.
Bits of hair and dust seemed to be absorbed into this squat, rounded creature that must have been about three feet in height. It stood on knobby, stout legs that more resembled severed stumps than proper limbs.
The thing was devoid of a face, save for its down-turned, gaping, almost trout-like mouth that hung open as if in shock and despair.
"Papa?" it whispered to me.
At this point I must have lost footing on this thin, unreliable ladder as I plummeted a few feet, landing in a crumpled heap on the closet floor. I resolved immediately to take a closer look at that ladder at some point, as I know this was not a result of any personal frailty.
Upon having successfully hauled both myself and the horse into this unlit, musty room, I set about searching for the spot where the horse had been.
All was quiet now, and through the stillness of night I could hear only the sound of a child's breathing. It seemed frightened, breathless from the chaos it had been causing. I felt no ill will toward it, and feared no injury from it.
I called out several reassuring phrases, ones specifically recommended for dealing with problem children, while I felt my way across the floor. Behind me, I dragged the horse, creating the same din I had earlier suffered after first moving the object.
There, in the corner of the room, my fingers met the deep grooves. I placed the horse back where it had been and crawled to the opposite side of the room, careful to avoid any sort of collisions in the darkness.
Moments later, the sound of rocking could be heard.
I found it striking that, while I had at one point heard the child's breathing, I now only noticed the sound of the horse's blades slowly eroding the floor's surface.
Following the dim light of the attic's hidden closet doorway, I left the area and once again retired for the night.
Upon investigating the attic during daylight hours, I discovered an empty clay pot from the Pest House's back porch residing next to the rocking horse. In place of the clay pot was the end table I had previously noticed missing.
Apparently indoor objects are not the only ones available to the Trader, and it is capable of creating simple “chains” of movement.
It should be noted at this point that I believe the trading spirit within this house dislikes my attempts at manipulating its behavior, and may have some innate sense of petty revenge.
I would do well to remember this, lest I become the one who is manipulated.