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The Basement

December 2023

This is not my story, but the story of a close family friend. Her name was Leanne. At the time, she was 32, single, and had just bought a nice two-story house in Colorado. She had heard talk of her new house being “haunted," but she didn’t think much of it. She was in a new town, had a new job, and was finally free of her musty old apartment. Nothing was going to discourage her!

Her new house was on a bit of a hill, allowing it to overlook the smattering of houses spread across the valley. Each house had at least a couple hundred feet of space in any direction, which Leanne adored. Having lived in an apartment most of her adult life, she appreciated the separation.

She started moving her stuff in in August. She chose a room on the main level to be her bedroom because of its large window overlooking the valley, but decided that it would be too small for her two most prized possessions: her piano and her parrot, Nibbles. She chose to set the piano up in the basement, against a wall, and put her parrot’s cage and jungle gym a couple feet away. She thought it was perfect!

A couple of months went by, and she was happier than ever. Her new job was going great, and she was loving the Colorado lifestyle. Her house, though, felt very empty. While she didn’t mind the solitude of being single, she felt like so much space in her house was wasted and unused, and she figured she wouldn’t mind some company. She decided to rent out the basement room. Before she could extend any offers, however, she wanted to sleep down there herself a couple of nights to see if it would be acceptable to renters.

She gathered her blanket and pillow and headed down to the basement to set up her bed for the night. The mattress in the basement room was placed in a corner, facing a walk-in closet with a carousel-type clothes rack. When the door was open, the room had a view of her parrot in his cage, as well as a very small sliver of her prized piano in the main room. Once she got her bed set up and fed her parrot his dinner for the night, she crawled into bed and went to sleep.

Leanne awoke very suddenly in the middle of the night. This was unusual for her, as she was usually a very deep sleeper. At first, she thought it was because she was sleeping in a different room. Something seemed off, though. She could hear a faint banging in her closet, and she could see that her parrot was acting very restless in his cage.

She chose to address the closet first. She got out of bed and walked slowly to the door, and when she opened it, she choked back a scream. Her clothes and their hangers were spinning on the carousel rack, going around and around as if someone had just started turning it. She poked her head into the closet, frantically checking every corner to see if someone was hiding there before doing the same in the room. No one was there.

Leanne tried to reason with herself. It was probably just the air conditioning blowing the clothes, right? Or maybe she got up in the middle of the night without remembering? As she was running through the possibilities in her head, she remembered how restless Nibbles had been acting, and she rushed out of her room to check on him. As she approached his cage, he started flying around even more frantically than before, banging into the metal sides before repeating the same phrase over and over: “Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Uh-oh!”

Leanne was truly alarmed at this point. Her heart felt like it was going to explode out of her chest, and her head was on a swivel, trying to see what was causing the disturbance. Then, she heard it. The faint sound of her precious piano. She whipped around to look at it. The lid was lifted, and single keys were being pressed down to form a slow, haunting melody. Still, she couldn’t see anyone else in the house.

That did it for her. She bolted up the stairs as fast as she could, desperate to get to her car. Leanne could still hear her parrot downstairs, but she didn’t go back for him. Her survival instincts had taken over, and all she could think about was getting herself out of that house.

When she got to her car, she immediately slammed the gas and sped off down the hill. As she was driving, she caught a glimpse of movement in her rearview mirror. Her front door, which she had left open, had just been slammed shut. She also saw that her front window’s curtains had been drawn closed, something she never did.

Leanne snapped her eyes back to the road and told herself to stop shaking. When she got to a neighbor's house about a half mile away, she banged on the door and begged to be let in, citing a broken air conditioning as the reason why she needed somewhere to sleep. The neighbor was understandably upset about being awoken so early in the morning, but all Leanne cared about was getting to the safety of the house and getting in bed. Unfortunately for her, it was a sleepless night.

In the days after the incident, Leanne was very restless. Upon returning to her house, she saw that nothing was damaged and her parrot was alive and well, but the piano lid was still up and her window curtains still closed.

In the safety of daytime, she moved her parrot up to the living room and decided not to rent out the basement. She also played considerably less piano. Within a year, she had found herself a wonderful boyfriend and had moved in with him. She never clarified whether her hasty move-in had anything to do with her experience that night, but we all figured it did.

As for the house, it was sold to a young couple after Leanne moved out, but appeared back on the market a year later. Most people who ask her what she thinks caused the disturbance that night get the same answer: It was a person, a burglar or a squatter, maybe. But to her closest friends, she confides that she knows it wasn’t a person. It was a ghost.

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