About three weeks back I moved out of my parent's house and onto the housing market myself. Now, I don't have a particularly well-paying job and as such was forced to buy from the lower end of the housing market. It was that search that lead to my current residence: a three-bed Victorian town house that had been repossessed by the bank due to failed loan payments.

Upon moving in, the house was somewhat... rundown. The wallpaper was scratched and the carpets were stained. But despite this I was still overcome with excitement and enthusiasm at getting my first house, especially such a large one.

However, no sooner had the "new house excitement" subsided, I began noticing things. Not much, mind you. Little things. A fleeting shadow across the room, darting through my peripheral vision. A slight scrapping as I lay in bed at night, as if something were underneath. Naturally I assumed it would be little more than a few rats that were nesting under the floorboards. So I called out the exterminator to "evict" the four-legged fiends and put an end to the scuffling under the floor at night.

As I had expected, the rat catcher discovered a small nest underneath my bedroom floor and another in the garden shed. It was at this point that the noises stopped, along with the fleeting shapes. I began to settle in, and for four days life was normal. But not long after that the noises started again, only louder and more frantic than before. Previously there had been little more than light scuffling but by this point, what had been a mild irritant had escalated into loud scraping that persisted all night. Naturally I called out the exterminator again, but he found.... nothing.

It wasn't until that evening that I saw something that warped my perception of the events to such an extent that I felt the problem wasn't as "clean cut" as I first assumed it to be. As I was going to bed, the day after the rat catcher had returned, I saw something in my peripheral. Previously I had never been able to get more than a fleeting glance, as the shapes scurried out of sight before I had a chance to get a good look. But this time I saw it. And to this day I wish I had remained ignorant to its true nature, that I still thought it to be rats. The shape was small and crouched low to the ground. The darkness that enveloped the hall hid its appearance from view, leaving only a silhouette against the darkness. I slowly reached for the light switch. But no sooner had I moved my arm, the creature slunk back down the hall and out of sight. I stood there, in the cold blackness of the hall for what felt like hours, peering into the dark hall, willing the creature to return, so I could get a better look. Though even then, after a mere glimpse of the creature's outline, something at the back of my mind told me to run. Now, looking back, I wish I had.

It was after the strange events of that night that I decided that maybe it wasn't the house, but me. That maybe the excitement of moving had disguised some stress I was feeling. Which in turn had brought on hallucinations of some kind.

The doctor seemed wholly unconcerned when I told him my symptoms. He performed a basic health check before coming to the conclusion that I was in hale health and confirmed my ideas about the stress of moving have instigated my current predicament. I was advised to get a few early nights and maybe invite some friends and family over to help relieve the stress of living by myself. Following my GP's advice, I had a few early nights and invited my brother over for a few days - under the premise that I wanted to complete the decorating as fast as possible.

Due to the request being so short notice, and all his friends hating rodents in general, my brother asked if he could bring his two pet rats over with him. Not seeing any harm, I obliged and he agreed to stop by later that day.

To my relief, the visit seemed to alleviate the hallucinations and the scratches stopped completely. We made good progress on the house and put wallpaper up in the upstairs.

On the second day of the visit, my brother's rats escaped from their cage and disappeared off into the house. By the final day of his visit we had yet to locate his two fugitive rats, and I agreed to leave some food out and give him a call if they turned up.

I had just helped my brother load his suitcase, and the now empty cage, into the car before watching him pull away. I turned to face my house and saw it again. What looked like a small childish face, pressed up against the window. I peered closer at the face and saw that it donned a wide grin, stretching from ear to ear.

Spurred forth by a desire to catch the thing in my house, I burst through the doorway and into the hall. Yet the instant I breached the threshold into the house I stopped dead in my tracks. The sense of fear returned. I stared at the fresh scratches along the hall and listened to the slow raspy wheeze that rang through the house.

Slowly, I ascended the stairs towards my bedroom. As I neared my bedroom door a pungent stench filled my nostrils. I stopped, unable to summon the courage to take anther step forward, but too fearful to turn my back on the thing to run. I stood, petrified as a tiny hand grasped the lower corner of the door. A head slowly leaned around the door, the child's rank hair appeared first. The greasy locks trailed on the ground as it emerged. Then two cloudy white eyes appeared before finally revealing that wide grin... For a few seconds it stared, the milky gaze seemed to go right through me.

The child looked no older than three or four, yet something seemed wrong. It wasn't the wide grin and empty stare, it was something more. At this point, my instincts were screaming at me to run.

Then, drawing in one last wheeze, the tiny creature let out a giggle. The horror of hearing such a sweet innocent giggle pass the chapped lips of such a depraved creature sent me haring back down the stairs and out the door.

I ran out, leaving the door swinging behind me. Once I was a few blocks away I collapsed to my knees. Chest still heaving I called my brother. When he heard how shaken up I was he agreed to take me to his house for a few days. On the way back he asked what happened... I told him there was a break in. What else could I say? That I ran four blocks because I saw a child in my house?

When the police arrived a few days later, I gave a fairly generic description: 5' 6", Caucasian wearing a mask that covered his lower face and armed with a knife. I said he had charged me with the knife. So I ran. I haven't returned since but I can't shake that face from my head. And when I close my eyes at night I can still hear the wheezing and smell that stench. Sometimes as if it's laying right next to me.