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Our Attic

P.S.Gifford, CA, USA
January 2006

The very instant that we laid eyes on our house we simply knew that we must have it. We were not even actually in the market at that point, it was just a fact finding mission to discover what sort of houses were out there in our current price bracket. Our old house, which we brought and fixed up, was not on the market.

Yet, despite this, and knowing that you should never buy a house on an impulse, fifteen minutes of seeing the house we made an offer in writing. Two days later it was accepted. We placed our house on the market without an agent, and we had an offer that very first day, through word of mouth.

The current house owner was a black American, and she had taken pride in collecting African art and it was beautifully displayed throughout the property. There were an abundance of wood carvings which were both elaborate and a bit unnerving to the eye.

Within a month of making the offer we moved in.

The house has cathedral ceilings up and down, and the only attic space was in the adjoining wall from my son's room, which is above the kitchen. It is about twelve feet long, and its highest point is about five feet, and then it tapers down from the angle of the roof...

The first thing I noticed that was odd was that it had been nailed shut. Not just with a few nails but about twelve long ominous ones. The former occupant was either attempting to stop someone getting in. Or out.

We quickly moved into the house. It is in a very nice neighborhood with a creek nearby, the mountains nicely within view and a multitude of parks. It was upon the third night that we first heard something out of sorts. A scratching noise above the kitchen. I told my wife and son that we must have a trapped animal in the attic space, perhaps a rat. Yet, for some unexplainable reason my imagination kept considering a far more sinister a prospect... Whatever the course I was going to have to investigate.

That Saturday my wife went off shoe shopping and left me and my son to attend to a variety of honey do's". Towards the top of the list was investigating the attic.

It was the last task I completed that day. Finally I could no longer procrastinate, and retrieved my tool box from the garage and, with Jonathan eagerly at my heel we slowly marched upstairs. My dog Tasha was as usual also by my side.

We went into Jonathan's room and into the corner where the wood panel is nailed into place. The angle from the attic continues up in my son's room, so there is only five foot height outside the panel...

I sighed and set my tool box down, and banged my head in the process. This entertained my son but only irritated me further. I pulled my hammer from the box and with much effort I eventually pulled out the first nail. It was a good six inches long. The strange thing was after that first nail got out, Tasha started whining and licking my hand. Eventually she was so much of a distraction that I had to ask Jonathan to take her downstairs.

It must have taken three quarters of an hour to get the first eleven nails out. It was a warm afternoon, and my salty sweat was starting to drip down my forehead and burn my eyes. I was just drying off my eyes when I thought I heard something from inside the space. A rustling noise. Now, I am a big fan of horror movies, and the noise however slight, was a noise nonetheless, this could only mean one thing that something was moving in there, just a few feet from where I was now sitting. The look on my son's face was transformed to a bored look, to one of slight fear. Perhaps he was somehow in tune to my thoughts, or maybe he could also sense that things were not quiet right with this attic. I considered simply nailing the board back into place. Yet part of me could not do that. I simply had to know.

So I took a deep breath and worked on the last nail. As it slipped from the place it had obviously been situated in years, the board came free. The first thing that we became aware of was the smell. It reminded me of rotting meat. As there were no lights put into the space, I sent Jonathan back down to the garage to retrieve the most powerful flashlight I own. He raced down with the exuberance of a ten year old and was back moments later.

Jonathan looked at me.

I looked at Jonathan.

"Well," he said, "are you going in or not?"

Now surely I could not disappoint the only person who considered me afraid of nothing. I edged into the space and fired up the flashlight. I was completely taken aback by the sight that met my eyes. And quickly exited. I had noticed three things: a baby's rattle, an old fashioned teddy bear and what looked to be a baby.

As I re-entered the attic, with a more rational mind, and discovered what had appeared to be a baby was only in fact a doll. I sent Jonathan to get my camera and we took this photograph. I chuckled to myself at how my mind had twisted the situation. We left the door unnailed, just resting against the gaping hole, and continued on with the day. We did not think much more of it until that evening whilst we were watching television; we once more heard the noise. But this time it was significantly louder.

That morning, I once again stuck my head in to the attic, and this time I almost screamed. Not from what I saw, but from what I did not see. The doll had vanished. My son swore up and down that he did not take it, and I am inclined to believe him, he would have been far to scared to have gone into the attic by himself anyhow.

I quickly nailed up the panel again. And to this day I have never again ventured inside our attic. And yes, on occasion, we still do hear strange noises coming from that space, in fact quite recently my son, who is now twelve, raced into our bedroom in the middle of the night, claiming that he could hear a baby crying.

Was it really just his imagination?

I am not so very sure. I suspect that my attic might hold a sordid past

P.S.Gifford, CA, USA
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