A Familiar Shiver Down My Spine
The house was just as I remembered it. Weather-worn shutters. Tapioca-colored siding. A disgruntled roofer hanging onto the gutters, screaming for his life.
Yes, everything seemed to be exactly where I’d left it — including the cold shiver running down my spine. It seemed not even two decades and countless parking tickets could cure me of the dread this morbid house, once my childhood home, awakened in me.
It took some time for me to come to terms with the fact that the house I’d grown up in was haunted, or, as an appraiser would later declare it, “mega-haunted.” But its peculiar qualities eventually made its ghostly state too obvious to deny: the flickering lights, the slamming doors, the WiFi always acting “kinda weird.”
My parents were of the stubborn variety, and it was a long time before they finally decided to uproot and move the family away from the jinxed abode.
“Me move? Why don’t the ghosts move!” my father would yell while floating around on the ceiling, his head caroming off the light fixtures.
My mother went as far as trying to charge the unwelcome spirits rent money, but the constant late payments and unceasing maintenance requests from the tenants proved too exhausting.
My own room in the house was haunted by a young Victorian boy named Windsor who constantly wanted to play. Of course, Windsor’s idea of “play” was to walk around at night slamming doors. God, he was dull. And clingy. I would have gladly swapped him for the demon making my brother Chuck’s head spin all the way around. When the rest of my family was transported against their will into the netherworld for a getaway weekend, Windsor got special permission to keep me behind to slam doors with him. How lame can you get?
Our family carried on in this way — putting up with the creaking pipes and the occasional possession — until the arrival of Halifax changed everything.
Halifax was an archdemon and, even worse, a micromanager. He’d host quarterly in-demon meetings for all the ghouls in the Tri-State Region. It proved to be the final bubble in the boiling pot of our sanity. This literal pandemonium in our house would gobble up every snack in sight. And good luck trying to get a shower in the morning — the line stretched down the hallway at all hours of the day.
Even when he wasn’t hosting hordes of the undead in our kitchen, Halifax seemed to relish making his demonly presence known to us. Whenever my father would try to relax and watch a nature show, Halifax would flip back to The Great British Bake Off, a program that stressed my father out like no other.
Halifax also liked to sit across from my mother and ask her about her day. Then, as soon as she would begin to open up, Halifax would launch into a lengthy monologue about his own problems. Yes, he was a cruel demon indeed.
My family’s shared nightmare reached a crescendo when Halifax revealed he had changed all the family photos in our picture frames to photos of Keanu Reeves looking sad, and that it had taken us four days to notice. He laughed and laughed and the “prank” went viral on hell social media (LinkedIn). It was the final humiliation for my long-suffering parents.
The next day I was instructed to pack my bags. I donned a navy blue sweater, said my farewells to a crestfallen Windsor, and all but skipped out the front door — ready to get on with a life that was a little less “para” and a lot more “normal.”
But as I felt the greasy metal of the 19th-century doorknob in my hand for presumably the last time, I caught a glimpse of the defeat in my parents’ usually steadfast eyes. This was their first home we were fleeing; the walls and roof and floors had been saved for and fought for and worked for. It meant something more to them than just a place to keep warm from a winter’s chill; it was a dream weaved together with brick and drywall and a basement that was always flooding. Halifax had taken it from them — beaten them out of it with his evil aura and his affinity for putting something in the microwave and then forgetting about it.
Seeing my parents as mortals for the first time that day as they schlepped into an uninspired condominium, I resolved to one day reclaim the eternity they’d lost. I determined the best route to taking back what belonged to them was something I believed demons feared most — the letter of the law.
And as I beheld that cursed, memory-filled coven for the first time in nearly 30 years, I gripped my lengthy legal arguments tightly to my chest and took another fateful step toward absolute hell on earth.
The haunting continues…