Ship At Sea

This isn't my story, but I'll do my best to tell it. This happened to my significant other, Jeremy, when he was eight or nine years old. At the time, he lived in what is known as a "saltbox house." It’s a style of home that was popular in the suburbs of Chicago during the 1920’s and 1930’s. It’s called a saltbox house because it’s tall and rectangular, like table salt packaging of the time.

Jeremy always said that the house had a strange feeling about it. There always seemed to be someone watching a person in that house. Strange things would happen. Doors that had been purposely left open would be found shut when there was no one around to close them. Conversely, kitchen cabinets would be found standing open when they were always kept closed. The house’s previous owners hadn't reported any strange things taking place in that house, but they may have been more interested in selling it that anything else.

While eerie things seemed to happen throughout the whole house, the malicious feelings, the feelings of observation seemed to come from the basement, which the family had converted into a playroom for Jeremy and his brothers. He told me that more than once, he would finish playing Nintendo late at night, put everything away as fast as he could and bolt up the stairs. While this isn't uncommon behavior for most nine year olds, this was strange for Jeremy who has been described as a "fearless to a fault."

The most dramatic of occurrences happened shortly after Halloween. Jeremy remembers this because he and his younger brother, Michael, were still involved in the long, complicated process of trading candy back and forth for better loot. Michael had been sent up to bed leaving Jeremy alone in the basement playroom, playing Super Mario Brothers on their then, way cool Nintendo. Among the toys were other things that occupy a basement like old bicycles and paintings. There was one old painting in particular that hung in their basement over a false fireplace. This is a painting of a tall ship on a fairly calm sea, in broad daylight. It has since taken up residence over a similar fireplace in the basement of their new house.

As Jeremy was beating one of the level bosses, he felt the urge to turn around and look behind himself. He paused the game and looked. He wasn't sure exactly what he was looking for, but his gaze fell on the picture of the ship. When Jeremy looked at it this time, the image had radically changed. The sky had darkened; the main mast was broken with the sails torn and one flapping wildly. The sea below the ship was thrashing and there was rain falling from the sky. It looked as though the ship had been caught in the middle of a violent sea squall. What was most impressive about this wasn't that the image had changed so drastically; it was that the image was moving. Jeremy said that he could see the waves swelling and crashing over the deck of the ship as it was tossed on the stormy sea. Needless to say, he didn't stick around to put his toys away. He dashed up the stairs, leaving the game on, Halloween candy abandoned on the basement floor.

When he went down the next day to clean up the mess he left, the picture was as it had been, a beautiful tall ship on placid seas. He looked at it for a moment, not sure if it had actually happened, or if it was his imagination. What convinced him that it was real was when he stepped back from the picture and directly into a puddle of water that hadn't been there the night before. Jeremy cleaned up the mess and took off.

Until they moved out, the house was pretty quiet; no more dramatic disturbances.

Perhaps the water came from a leaky basement. Perhaps the moving picture was the product of a sugared up, over tired young mind, but I don't think so. Having seen the actual picture and the house where it took place, I think that it actually happened. What convinced me was a conversation about the occurrence that took place with Michael and Jeremy almost twelve years after the fact in which Michael recalls seeing a similar thing happen. While Michael isn't always the most agreeable of souls, he wouldn't joke about something like this. It’s just not in his nature. So, I take this to be true as it is so rare that Jeremy and Michael actually agree on something, in my mind, it can't be anything but true. But, I'll let you decide for yourself. Hope you enjoyed the story!

Submitted by Megan, IL, USA