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The Cold Room

Katy J, Indiana, USA
February 1998

The summer before my senior year in college, I rented an apartment with two friends of mine who were a couple. Our apartment was in an old house that had been sectioned was small, but cozy. They took one bedroom, while I took the other.

My roommates decided to spend two weeks in Montana, and left only a few days after we moved in. My only company was "Hank", a long haired beast of a cat that constantly liked to sharpen his claws on my furniture. I worked nights, so while I was away, I would shut him up in my roommate's bedroom so he wouldn't do any damage while I was gone. The odd thing was, that the bedroom was always cool...and an apartment with no air conditioning in the middle of an Indiana summer can be unbearable. During the day I found myself dragging my futon mattress into the room and sleeping there...among my roommate's boxes of belongings that they didn't unpack before they left on their trip. And always, as I slept, Hank would sit in the room...watching something only he could see.

One night, I picked Hank up and tossed him into my roommates' bedroom before I left for work, as usual. Hank was sitting primly on the middle of the carpet, staring at me as I shut the door. As it turns out, I didn't have to work that night, so I was home 15 minutes later. I opened the door to the bedroom so Hank could come out, but he didn't. I went into the bedroom and flicked on the light: no Hank. I searched the room, calling his name. Now, there was no furniture in the room and the only window was shut and the fireplace was covered with a big metal sheet. I searched the whole apartment. Hank was nowhere. I even opened up boxes in my roommates' bedroom that had been taped shut, looking. Hank had simply disappeared.

I called my friend Neil to come over and help me look. I knew my roommates would kill me if they came back from Montana and found their cat gone. I stood in the middle of the bedroom and yelled, "HANK!" at the top of my lungs, and the temperature in the room seemed to drop even more. I actually felt something slither across my neck. Neil had felt something, too. "Something took Hank," he said. Now, I wasn't sure on how to communicate with whatever took the cat, and neither Neil nor I owned anything like a Ouija we made a homemade one on a piece of notebook paper and grabbed a crystal ashtray to cover the letters. Within seconds the ashtray was moving, and we were alerted to the presence of a spirit...a little boy...He wasn't the only one. There were several of them there. We began to talking to the oldest one, perhaps 14, named "Nick". Neil asked him, "Did you take Hank?" The ashtray went crazy. When it calmed down, we knew we weren't talking to Nick anymore, but the first spirit. All we could get out of him about his name were the initials E.P. He told us that they had all died in 1912, in the cold room. We asked him if they had taken Hank, and E.P. said that Nick had. we asked Why. They said that they didn't like the name Hank.

After hours of talking and pleading and interpretation, we figured out that seven boys had died in that house because of a man named Hank. It was painful for them to hear the name, so they took the cat. "Will you give him back?" I asked. E.P. said they would...if we changed the name. At this point I said "This is ridiculous!" and once again the ashtray went crazy. Neil and I dropped everything, and on the floor the ashtray was sitting on the letter "L." I waved my hand to the left and encountered the coldest patch of air I had ever felt in my life. E.P. was there on our left.

The next day, I waited for Hank's return. To convince myself I wasn't crazy, I went to the local library, to look up who had owned the house we lived in back in 1912. I found the address listing...and our house in 1912 was owned by someone with the last name of GRIFFITH...two brothers...John...and Hank. I spoke with the librarian, and she said around the turn of the century, there were mines south of our Indiana college town, and that men usually "employed" orphans, boys in particular, to work the mines. Often they died from abuse and neglect.

That night, 24 hours to the minute of Hank's disappearance, I opened the door to my roommates' bedroom and was was greeted with a blast of cool air. There, sitting primly on the carpet, was the cat, just as he had had been the night before. I re-named him remind me.

Katy J, Indiana, USA
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