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A Memory of Middle School

Dark arts after dark: pixie sticks and poltergeists

Stories around campfires that may or may not be true, tall tales of the tragic and weird. We've heard them all before, but not like this. In the lead up to Halloween, we have handpicked the most unsettling short works culled from the depths of Reddit's "Let's Not Meet" section – where Reddit users post their true stories of creepy encounters – stories of being stalked, creeped, or encountering a creepy individual. We will be publishing one daily as part of our #darkarts after dark series, which will celebrate the dark and disturbed after 8pm GMT. This very true story has been published with the permssion of the author. The original post can be found here.

When I was in middle school, my friend lived at my mother’s house due to a number of varying circumstances. We typically crashed on these rickety-old couches in my unfinished basement which had walls adorned only with movie posters. We had two window-wells down there which allowed sunlight in during the day, as well as a bit of atmospheric moonlight when we went to sleep in the early morning.

One weekend, my mom had allowed us to watch the house by ourselves, which was crazy, exciting, and ultimately only resulted in a bunch of empty soda bottles, pixie sticks, and a warm Xbox. There was, however, something peculiar about that night that still sticks out in my memory. We probably crashed at around two or three in the morning. Like I said, it was the wee hours of the morning when I awoke, from a dream or otherwise, and within those first few hazy seconds of consciousness, I heard a creak from above us. Our floors were creaky, annoyingly so when they sit above teenagers who want nothing more than to sleep in until four in the afternoon. It was so bad that you could hear the individual clicks of the nails on the feet of our miniature schnauzers, Simon and Winston, with annoyingly high definition. 

So I woke up, and immediately froze when I heard one long creak from the floor above me. I rapidly thought through my pre-bed checklist. Locked the doors? Check. Closed the blinds? Check. Put Simon and Winston away? Check, check. I laid still for a solid minute before I gathered enough bravery to crane my neck and see if my friend was still asleep on the perpendicular couch.

He was still there. At first, this was reassuring as I knew that he was safe, but the second wave took another second. I realized what that meant the very second that I heard three creaks in rapid succession. They were moving towards the kitchen, which meant that they were moving closer to the basement door. I’d like to say that I grabbed a bat and stormed upstairs, confronted the criminal and/or otherworldly being, and threatened them with great charisma before shoo-ing them out of my home. I’d like to say that I later received a trophy reading: “Big Damn Hero” on it for my efforts.

I’d like to say that, but I can’t.

I stayed right on that couch with a rock the size of Ayers sitting in my lower stomach. I was attempting to call out, but I could do little more than stutter some incoherent words of fear. I kept my eyes open though much of this, hoping to retain some semblance of alertness in the scenario. It was only when I heard a quick succession of creaks that neared my basement door that I slammed them shut. I don’t know how long I laid there, eyes glued shut, hands gripping desperately at the sleeping bag, but I remember this vividly.

I heard my dogs growling. They weren’t barking like they typically do when anyone approaches any possible entrance to the house, which leads me to hope that it was my imagination. But I do remember hearing deep, grumbling noises coming from the area of the ceiling that held up their cages on the main floor. I remember several more creaks, though I cannot say with any sort of accuracy where they were in relation to the floor above me. I think I was disoriented, too scared.

I laid there, eyes shut for some long period of time, but was unable to fall back into the comforting arms of sleep. When I did open my eyes, a safe time after hearing the last creak, they fixated directly on the small view of my backyard that I had through the window. I tried to relax. Houses settle, I told myself. Dogs growl. I didn’t voluntarily attempt to fall back asleep, but at a certain point, waning fear is outweighed by the after-effects of a sugar-high. My eyes began to flutter. But before I could entirely drift off, I noticed a rapid change in the freeze-frame of my yard that my eyes had grown so accustomed to over the last several minutes (hours?). Over the next few seconds I saw a shadow crawl on the grass through the window.

Now, I’m a skeptic, so I must say here that I am sure that it was a person. That, however, is no less-terrifying. Human beings have the potential to be the worst kind of monsters. As I watched it, adrenaline flowing through my veins and teeth grinding down to gum, I swear that he or she looked over at me in my fortress of slumber and grinned. If I was any sort of artist, I could draw it, seeing as that image is seared into my mind. It stopped only briefly before continuing on its way and, exiting my frame of sight.

I stayed still, alert, awake, until the sun rose. When it did, I woke my grumpy friend up and told him we were going to make pancakes. He wouldn’t have stayed another night in my home if I had said otherwise. We went upstairs; I quietly inspected the house. To the best of my knowledge, nothing was taken. The doors were locked, and the only windows open were on the second floor. They had screens on them but, from personal experience, I can tell you that they can be removed and replaced with ease.

It all seems kind of silly now, but everything in hindsight tends to. At the very best it was the result of an overactive imagination fueled by gallons of soda and piles of pixie sticks. But at the worst, there was someone in my house, someone very, very quiet, and someone with the nerve to smile at a child who saw them through the window of the house that they had just broken into.