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The Smoke Detector

February 2003

This is probably a poltergeist story more than anything.

When I was 12 (1976) and living in Colorado, I had several strange things happen to me, but the most persistent was our smoke detector taunting me. It was in the upstairs hall, about 30 feet from the kitchen. It would never fail, I would start cooking something and it would go off, even if all I was doing was boiling water. And I didn't have to use the gas stove either. The same thing happened when I used the microwave purchased around the time I was 14.

As annoying as that was, what really aggravated me was the fact that someone else - anyone else - could literally burn stuff in the kitchen without so much as a peep from the stupid thing. It got to be a family joke. If the smoke detector did go off when someone else was cooking, all they would have to do was yell out, "I'm not Mandy!" and it would immediately go silent.

I began disconnecting the battery so I could cook in peace. Being safety conscious, I would reconnect it afterwards. One day, I decided I didn't want to go to the trouble, so I went ahead and cooked dinner - but I made sure I was very quiet and careful about it.

I was just taking the last pork chop from the stove when it went off. Feeling excited with victory, I turned off the stove and ran upstairs to do some taunting of my own while it buzzed at me. I finally told it that it was just jealous because it couldn't have any of my wonderful food. It stop buzzing. But as I walked back down the stairs, it did a short "BEEP". My mother said it was its way of sticking its proverbial tongue out at me.

It still continued to taunt me until 1979, when we moved to Texas. I made some comment about finally being free of that stupid smoke detector, when my dad started teasing me about bring it with us. I told him if we took it, I was going to take after it - with a pair of wire cutters.

I have no idea if the smoke detector did anything similar to anyone in that house later. It was a newly built house when we moved in and we lived there about 3 years before we got the smoke detector. I wonder if it may have been something controlled by my own subconscious, because some of the other things that happened during that time -

Having a door shut before I actually touched it. I checked to see if there was a breeze or something, but all the windows upstairs were closed. I honestly thought I had touched it, but my eyes said differently.

Being able to locate certain disturbing book from their presence - even if someone had moved them in my absence.

Being attacked by of all things - a black butterfly. I was used to butterflies landing on my shoulders when I did my paper route, but this guy landed on my red shorts and would not let go of me. My mother and I tried to brush it off without hurting it and it would try to fight us off with one leg. Finally Mom took it off with a screw driver and it began coming at us like it was in a WWII dog fight. I ran inside and let Mom deal with it.

I have read one theory that poltergeist activity happens around preteens not because of spirits, but because the changes in hormones causes an increase of energy around the "victim". That could explain some of what I experienced.

Don't know about the butterfly.

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