I’ve told this story a great many times about my experience in a rental house in Red Hill, Brisbane. I’ve never written it down before.
I was in Second Year University when I moved into the house on Argyle Street, Red Hill.
I was a drama student and the house itself had a reputation for hosting debaucherous post-production cast parties. It was also a rooming house for pot and acid. I rarely indulged (perhaps once?) but it was around me quite a bit.
Two other students lived there at the time, “J”, a male drama student and “M”, a female English Literature student. They were arty, hipster and alternative, something I thought I was at the time, but probably wasn’t.
Before I was invited to move in, I had stayed there overnight with my then-boyfriend, after a cast party. We had slept in the empty bedroom and I had a massive asthma attack for which I was hospitalised. A week later when J and M asked me if I wanted the room, it didn’t occur to me to say “No”.
I moved in soon after and before too long, the happenings started.
I had a pen friend in the UK at the time and would write her long missives. I started to write to her in a small mini-notebook with a baroque-style front cover (Baroque and Shakespeare were my “things” at Uni). This is long before the days of everyday Internet so old school means of analog correspondence were de rigueur.
One day, after having spent hours scribing stories of my *cough* fabulous life, I couldn’t find the book. I searched everywhere for it—searched for days. I took out all the drawers of my chest to see if it was underneath. It was gone.
I bought another book to write in and was in the process of retelling my pen friend the strange story of my disappearing notebook when I heard scratching behind me, coming from my bedroom. It was Schnudge (I take no responsibility for that name), the housecat, scratching at my bottom drawer, which was slightly open. The cat was insistent on getting inside, so I took the drawer out and there was my book on the floor, beneath the drawer. It was resting underneath another piece of paper. It had definitely not been there the day before. I have no idea how the cat knew it was there.
Soon after, the footsteps started in the roof. Or maybe they had always been there and I had ignored them or hadn’t been particularly bothered by them. They would start over my bedroom in a far corner of the house and continue crossways to the opposite corner of the house. They were clear and loud. These sounds came every night and sometimes during the day. They were random—there was no pattern to when they came.
To get into the roof, you had to go through a trapdoor in the ceiling, which was located inside the linen closet in the hall. Schnudge would sit on the floor next to the linen cabinet and stare at the ceiling where the trapdoor was, even when the cupboard doors were closed. We wrote off this little idiosyncracy, assuming he had inhaled too much pot smoke. He was only a little cat.
He would sit there for hours, just watching transfixed. Although the footsteps sounded human, the scientist in me suggested possums to explain the sounds in the roof. J went up into the roof one evening and laid some fruit in the crawl space, assuming a possum would eat it.
We returned the following day and nothing. It hadn’t been touched. The noises continued. We called the ghost “Roof Monster” or “Roofus” for short, well, because it lived in the roof. Mostly.
I constantly felt presences near me, like someone was watching me. J started to keep a “thwacky stick” next to his bed.
None of us would sleep in the house alone.
Some nights the noises were so persistent, I would go and sleep in M’s bed.
One evening, M was due home from a visit to her parents. I was reading in bed with my door closed when I heard the unmistakable rattle of the doorframe beads, like someone had walked from the corridor into the kitchen. I hadn’t heard the front door open (which was right near my bedroom) so I was confused.
I assumed M had returned so went out to say “Hi”. There was no-one in the house. Everything was dark.
After a couple of months I was on edge. My then boyfriend and I were on tenterhooks. I stayed at his home a lot because I didn’t want to be at the house and I think he resented the space imposition. Couldn’t have possibly been all that great sex I was providing him.
Lights in the undercroft of the house would come on, and then go off on their own. You could see the glimmer of light between the floorboards. It was an old house.
One evening we had a bunch of drama friends descend on the house. We watched “Children of the Corn” (which, apparently, you do when you live in a haunted house) and halfway through the movie, something jumped at the lounge room window from outside.
M moved out not long after that. J got in a medium to check out the house. I have to say, I’m skeptical about mediums. I have an open mind about paranormal happenings and the supernatural but I’m not a blanket believer. I don’t believe in demonic possession, for example, although I’m fascinated by the idea of it. I believe that some rare people can make things move with their minds, but I’m inclined to think the majority of people who say they can are charlatans.
I believe in ghosts, but I’m not sure about personifying them. The medium told us that there was a female spirit, a young girl, who was centred in one corner of the room, where the TV was (of course, she was the one who told us to watch bloody “Children of the Corn”). She was young and had died unspectacularly in the house many years ago. There was also a more malevolent spirit outside the house that was staying out because she was guarding the house.
I’m not sure how much I believe of what she told us, but I know what I experienced. I didn’t see any ghosts, any ghostly apparitions, although I’m pretty much convinced the stoned cat did. Or maybe it was just, you know, stoned.
This story doesn’t have a climax or a resolution. It is what it is. I moved out after about 3 months in the house. A good friend of mine viewed the house a few months after that thinking she might buy it. I advised her to rethink it.
Out of curiosity I did an Internet search on the property and saw that it was being sold anywhere from 2 – 5 years since the early 90s.
Do you have a real-life ghost story you’d like to share?