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Ju-On: Grudge or no Grudge?

Jac Bradshaw, Kildare, Ireland
March 2006

Since I was a small child, my mom remembers finding me playing in various rooms of our house, which is quite old, talking to myself. I once asked her about this, actually I asked if I'd ever had an imaginary friend -because my older sister had two when she was a kid- and she said ''It was never you just talking to yourself, you were definitely talking to someone. I used to listen from outside, and at times I think sometimes you were scared, it was odd, but then you reached puberty and it stopped.''

To start with, I do firmly believe in life after death, but this is due to various experiences I've had so far. When I was a small kid, around age six, I used to wake frequently during the night and run into my parent's room. When I didn't do that, I ran into my sister's room. My sister is eight years older than me, so by the time I was six and older, I only ever remember her as a teenager, I have very few memories of her as a child.

I was very frightened of the dark, but I clearly recall always feeling a presence in our house, two in fact. One resides, always, in our front room, the front room on the left if you're walking from the back of the house. Even as a young child I remember always getting halfway down the hallway, and then sprinting past the front room and up the stairs on the right side of the hall during night time hours. I was absolutely terrified of the front room during hours of darkness, and if I'm manly enough to admit it, I still am. I'm able to pass the open door to that room now (for some reason it's my parents' habit to leave it open when not in use) but I still feel as though I'm being watched when I pass.

The second presence was always upstairs, and I know this presence because I have met it, both in form and without, many times. Mostly it was when I'd wake during the night and go into my sister's room, and crawl into her bed. My sister's bedroom door is in an alcove inside her room, and on the wall of the alcove opposite the door she used to have porcelain masks. There's a clear gap between the masks and the wardrobe along the wall there, and this space was always caught by light coming in through windows opposite her door in the hallway outside. Standing in the light, I used to see very clearly the form of what I made out to be a tall, but young man, with longish dark hair. I saw him many times, once I recall freezing on the landing upstairs as I was creeping to my parents room, down the hall, across from the top of the stair well. I crept slowly, always with my back against the wall, keeping my terrified eyes fixed on the stairwell as I imagined all sorts of scary things coming from the front room, into the front hall to 'get me' while everyone slept. Of course nothing ever did, except once I remember clearly walking to the edge of the banisters, peering down at the stairs and seeing a pale young man with long hair standing on the stairs halfway up staring up at me as I peered over the railings... my parents used to laugh and tease me about this night when I was older, for screaming so loud, repeatedly, that our neighbours even called the police!! I still don't know whether I did see what I saw, or whether it was just the over-active imagination of a child terrified of the dark. Either way, I came to call this guy I started to see, or sense, Brohm. When I got really scared I'd call out to him and talk to him, tell him not to hurt me, but help me. Looking back, I was employing reverse-psychology on something that clearly tried to scare me.

I later used to fall asleep in my own room mumbling as I drifted off, something my mom recounted to me as being half conversations, the other half silent.

Mostly, even now, upstairs I always feel I'm being watched, and my sister says that too, but I always feel safe in my own room.

When I was about 15, I became interested in the occult and even went so far as to buy a set of tarot cards. I later began to be fairly successful with them, I was able to read that my sister would move into her first house in July, even though they were scheduled to move in March, but of course, there were bad rains and the floors of the house were damp enough that the floorboards and carpets could not be put down. They had to wait until the cement dried out, and eventually moved in. In July.

Later I would come to read that my grandmother would repeatedly fall ill, and die, but I misread the Death card as meaning a major life change, which is how it's usually interpreted. You can imagine I got quite the kick in the ass when she died very suddenly, after a long illness, of a heart attack, rather than a stroke when she'd repeatedly suffered several strokes and had actually been returned to normal health again.

The scare in this tale comes when I once tried to hold a seance with a Ouija board and two friends from high school. We asked the common question everyone does, ''who is there?'' the answer we got was a rapid trip around the board with the ivory planchette and the eventual answer: ''F-r-i-e-n-d'', which proved to be questionable. Suddenly the lights flickered, and the TV which was on, switched off, switched back on, the volume went up and then it switched off again, at which point one of my friends ran from the room, the open door slammed shut after him, naturally making us scream.

Things failed to happen after that, until that is, I began to become very depressed. This happened gradually, and then very rapidly. One month was I bad tempered, three months later I was suicidal. I began to fixate on the attic, would spend hours up there sitting and writing in my journal, or crying. When eventually I was found lying in the attic, having overdosed, my parents wondered whether I'd heard the stories from other teenagers at school... a young man, the son of the previous owners, had killed himself in our attic. They thought perhaps I'd heard stories, and being depressed and suicidal, thought perhaps I'd then become obsessed by the story. Apparently it was a local story most people my parents' age remembered. My mom said she'd often thought I'd known about this story since my early childhood.

For the record I was diagnosed with Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder, which is effectively a biological malfunction in the brain resulting in severe depressive mood changes, so there was a medical reason for my episodes of depression.

But I hadn't heard the story until mom told me about it, and neither had my friends either. The creepiest thing, I found out, was the young man's name...


So when I saw the Japanese horror movie 'Ju-On' (''The Grudge''), I thought the idea behind it was rather interesting. I think some people just have one foot in this world, and the other in the next. And maybe some people just get stuck.

Jac Bradshaw, Kildare, Ireland
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