Back in 1980, and after living for most of my 25 year-old-life in my hometown, my married-with-children circumstances took me to the Cleveland, Ohio area. I spent three years on Thistledown Racetrack running thoroughbred horses, then I moved back home with my three young children (7, 5, and 3).
We stayed with my parents for a while, then I was hired at the local sugar beet processing factory. It was called Great Western Sugar at the time. My dad spent his working career as a master mechanic at the factory, and eventually retired from there. My mom, my brother, and two grandfathers had also worked there over the years. While my dad and his dad had been year-round employees, the rest of my family worked the winter “campaign” to process the local farmers’ sugar beet crop. This seasonal work ran from mid-September through January, give or take a few weeks depending on any particular year’s harvest.
I was full-time, and I worked a straight 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., M – F schedule. I cleaned offices and kept the highly flammable sugar dust in the sugar-bagging and silo storage areas under control.
During campaign, the factory whistle blew at shift changes: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Midnight. Growing up, I lived about five miles from town, and that whistle blew loud and clear.
Hold the shift-change whistle information.
After getting a couple of paychecks, the four of us moved from my parent’s house in the country to a nice little rental house right outside of town. My landlords were friends of the family.
All was well in this house from the early summer when we moved in to about halfway through that year’s sugar beet harvest campaign. I first noticed a difference in the house when I went into the basement one evening. It was a finished root cellar more than a basement, and I used the area as storage for those things you really don’t need to keep, but you’re sure you’ll need them the minute you get rid of them. The difference I felt was an unpleasant sensation and being conscious of not wanting to be in the basement, when that had never happened before.
Oddly, and thankfully, my three children never noticed or felt anything unusual, which was the only bright spot in this, because the unusual soon turned malevolent.
Some days later, I woke just before midnight, which was my habit in anticipation of hearing the midnight whistle (kind of like waking up at the same time even though your alarm isn’t set to go off). This night, though, when I woke, I couldn’t move. All I could do was stare at the foot of my bed. I felt an evil presence before I realized there was a dark, faceless human form watching me. Nothing about it was distinguishable.
This thing was an incubus type, although it never actually climbed fully onto my bed. It would depress the mattress, attempt to strangle me, sometimes press hands on my chest so I couldn’t catch my breath, but mostly, it stood at the foot of my bed making growly, moaning noises. When the midnight whistle blew, the nasty thing instantly disappeared.
It happened a couple more times, and I attributed them to either nightmares or a night terrors, both of which I’d struggled with all of my life, and the sound of the whistle had simply awakened me from the terrible dreams.
Then one night, my youngest child was sick, and I was up and down with him. I’d just gotten him settled back in his bed. It was around 11:30 when I went to my own bed. I wasn’t sleepy, so I read for a while, then turned off the lights. Instantly, I felt the malevolent presence at the foot of the bed.
I was wide awake.
Needless to say, that was the last night I spent in that room, and I always made sure I was awake on both sides of midnight and that the lights were on in the house. I moved out just as soon as I could. Thankfully, my kids never experienced what I did.
It took some doing to trace the house’s history (my landlords had no information) to a possible murder-suicide gone wrong (oxymoron, I know) back in the 1940s or 50s. A family, not local or related to anyone in town, which meant no one remembered the name, lived in the house a short time. The man tried to kill his wife and kids, but they got away safely, and he killed himself.
With a little more asking around, I was able to get a rough chronology of people who had lived in the house over the years, and it occurred to me that there had never been a single mom with children (me and my kids) living in that house after that violent episode…only single men or childless couples. I couldn’t confirm it, but I wondered if the man had worked at the sugar factory during a winter campaign, and maybe the attempted murder that ended in suicide had occurred right around the midnight shift change.
Apparently, my kids and I didn’t bring out the best memories in that house.
Here ends my 13 Days of Spooky Blogging. Thanks for reading along.
Until next time,
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