A lot of people don’t believe in ghosts. I can’t blame them. Movies and books far too often portray them as floating blobs with white sheets over their heads. Not very spooky, and not very convincing, either. I used to never think much more about ghosts, or the concept of a spirit. Maybe it’s because I was young.
But I remember the night when that all changed. When I made contact.
Let me back up a bit, first. When I was five years old, my family moved for what must have been the fourth time. My parents struggled with money, since my dad could never hold a job for long. I was the youngest of three siblings. I wasn’t conscious for most of it, but we moved often, from apartment to apartment. After saving up for what must have been a decade, my parents finally bought a house - or rather, made a down payment.
It was a big, blue house, with red accents near the windows. It was a bit old, but certainly an upgrade from our previous dwellings. Everything was so neat, so different. It was a new beginning. In fact, the day after we moved, I started kindergarten.
It took a while, but I got used to the new house. I would mess with our dog, Leroy, in the backyard, spend way too much time playing video games in the basement, and watch cartoons in the living room. The whole house seemed pretty normal - except for the kitchen.
On the ceiling of our kitchen, right above a dining table, was a giant white patch, probably two feet in diameter. The ceiling itself was white, so it pretty much blended in. You wouldn’t notice it if you casually saw it. Hell, I didn’t notice it for probably two years. When I did, I asked my dad why it was there.
He told me that behind the patch was a giant hole in the ceiling. Directly above the kitchen is a small, cold attic. Apparently, the a member of the previous family that lived here was searching through the attic, when he or she fell through. I think my dad said that it was a grandma that fell. I’m pretty sure that he said she lived.
I didn’t think too much of it. In fact, I thought it was kind of cool. I forgot about that patch on the ceiling for a while... until odd things started happening.
It didn’t happen like it happens in the movies. Random objects didn’t suddenly fall. Lights didn’t flicker on and off. Instead, in the middle of the afternoon, when I was all by myself, I could hear it. Footsteps. They were faint, but they were above me. They were most definitely coming from upstairs, where the attic is.
I know it wasn’t just me. I’d sit there in the living room, watching TV, and my dog would hear something. He’d walk up to the stairs leading upstairs, and sit there. He’d put his paw out, like he was pointing at something. He’d just sit there for a minute or two, and walk about.
But both of my parents were gone. My sister and brother were hanging out with their friends. What could have caused the sound of quiet footsteps?
One night, maybe around third grade, I woke up. It wasn’t a cold sweat. A giant crash didn’t suddenly wake me up. I was just thirsty, and had to go to the bathroom. Just like any other night.
I silently made my way out of my room, making sure not to wake my parents up. The walls in the house were paper thin; you could hear a conversation from the second floor all the way down in the basement.
I was just tip-toeing along, when I saw it. Sitting in the kitchen dining table. Just below the patch in the ceiling.
It was a silhouette of a man, standing out amidst the darkness. It was blacker than any black I’d ever seen. It sat there, looking like it was eating something. Cereal, maybe. It was so silent, so calm. And it just sat there.
“Dad? Is that you?” I whispered. No response. I inched forward, slowly extending my hand. I wanted to touch it.
Nothing can describe the fear I faced. Looking back on it, that shadowy figure could have been a murder that broke into our house. But I didn’t think about that. I thought about the sounds that I used to hear upstairs. The footsteps in the attic. Something inside of me told me that this wasn’t a human. Or, at least, this wasn’t the kind of human that you interact with on a daily basis.
As I placed my hand through it, the silhouette vanished. It didn’t go out with a bang or cause a stir. It slowly faded out, it’s complete blackness shifting back to the milder blackness of night.
I stepped back, shocked by what had just happened. I inspected the whole area. Nothing. There was no trace of it, no evidence. Oddly enough, I no longer felt fear. I was excited, but not afraid.
I got a drink of water, went to the bathroom, and went to bed. The next day, I told my parents and friends of the story. Unsurprisingly, most people didn’t believe me. If someone told me what happened, I don’t think I’d believe them either. Ghosts are often treated as childish myths. Sure, I was a child back then, but I know what I saw. And I know what I felt.
It wasn’t until weeks after the incident that I noticed the change. It didn’t strike me at first, just like how the patch on the ceiling didn’t immediately grab my attention. But I was sure of it. I spent months observing this change, to make sure I was correct. It’s been a decade now, and I am certain.
The footsteps had stopped.