Happy Halloween to all of my lovely readers! So this is the last of my Halloween themed stories of this season. I hope you have been enjoying them. I thought of doing this one last because of all of my time of being scared this was probably the most profound thing I have ever been a part of. So let’s get started.
When I was a teenager I was asked to babysit the most precious babies of all time. He was small and he had a little head of blonde baby hair. He was an easy baby to watch and I adored him. He was quiet and content, a perfect little cherub. His mother was such a kind woman and she truly treated me well. She would invite me to her home early and she and I would talk. One day when I arrived she was getting ready and her husband was waiting for her. They had an important night ahead of them. Her husband was presenting their home to be registered as a historical treasure. He was standing over the plans of their home when I walked in. He smiled at me and said “Come here I want to show you something!”
I smiled and followed directions because I wanted to see what it was he was looking at, but also I am one to follow directions.
“Do you see this?” He asked and he pointed to the blueprint of his house. “That right there was a closet that they used for the underground railroad! In fact they had several in this house.”
I looked and it was a closet with another deeper closet within. He then pointed to all of the other closets and they all had secret compartments. Then he pointed to the basement and it was made into a secret passageway, which he traced with his finger.
“This house and it’s owners were responsible for saving thousands of lives.” He looked at me and I could tell that he was proud of the house.
“Are there tunnels under the house?” I ask and I am certain that I looked shit scared.
“No, no we moved the building to this property because they were going to tear it down for some big development project.” He told me. “In fact many of the doors within the closets won’t even open because they have been sealed. He showed me the basement door and it was locked with a skeleton key….there is nothing creepier than a skeleton key. He grabbed the key that was on the door jamb and he opened the door and sure enough the door was sealed off with sheet rock. It was just a decoy door now that at one time led to a basement back in the day of freeing slaves. He then closed the door and locked it up with the skeleton key. He then slipped the key back up on its perch above the door. He then showed me the closet in the living room.
When he opened the closet door it looked like your typical closet. They had their vacuum cleaner in there and some shoes and coats. There was a laundry basket filled with baby toys. However when you moved the vacuum, toys and pushed aside the coats, there was a small panel on the back wall of the closet. It was small and it is hard to believe that grown people were able to crawl within such a small door. It measured about three feet by two and a half feet. “The panel was hinged from the other side and it was pushed open from this side, like this!” the husband showed me how the door worked and of course it opened but there was only a small space inside. “The slaves were locked in from their side and would only be let out when it was safe to move them.” He explained. “Isn’t that cool?” The door closed with springs and it was utterly fascinating. He locked this door with an eye hook latch.
“Yep!” I said, because it was cool and super fascinating. It was also broad daylight and there were adults in the house with me. So I was more curious than anything else.
The wife descended the staircase and she looked beautiful in her lovely black gown. Her husband looked at her the way only a girl could dream of being looked at. She smiled at him because she knew that he was complimenting her without saying a word. The mother went into mom mode, telling the babysitter where everything is. The phone number where you can reach them (there was no such thing as cell phones then, you had to call the establishment that they patronise and hope for the best) I saw where she kept the snacks for the baby and the good snacks for the babysitter. Then it wasn’t long before the baby was up from his nap.
I went upstairs with the mother and we got the baby up and changed his diaper. “He already has had his bath, so you should have a pretty easy night.”
The baby was in his high chair having a bit to eat when the parents left for their night out. I wished them luck and they were gone. It was just me and the baby and the people who were forgotten for hundreds of years in the house. I played peekaboo with the baby when we heard a strange creak. I left the baby in his high chair to see where the noise was coming from. I walked into the parlor where the locked basement door was and I heard it slam shut. I look at the door and there was the skeleton key in the lock. I thought the husband had put it on top of the door jamb. I walked over to the door and sure enough it was unlocked. I thought that maybe I wasn’t remembering correctly and so I locked the door and I put the key on a key hook next to the door because I was too short to reach the doorjamb. I write a note on a slip of paper and I placed it on the desk in the parlor telling them that I hung the key on the hook. The baby was talking and cooing in the other room. I went back in to get him and clean up his face. We went into the living room to play with his toys that were in the closet. I open the closet door with my free hand as I held the baby in the other. The small panel door was opened in there too. I think this is strange because it closed with a spring when the husband opened it. He had to hold it open because the springs were putting resistance onto the hinges to close. I put the baby down on the floor to go and close the panel door when that too slams shut. I jump back startled with a little scream and I scare the poor baby.
I pick up the baby and I hold him close to me to quiet him down. “I’m sorry little one, That surprised me! I didn’t mean to scare you.” I get him to quiet down and I decide that I will take him outside to go for a swing before it gets too dark out. It is the end of summer and the sun stays up until around eight or so. I take him inside at around six thirty and feed him his dinner. He and I have forgotten all about being afraid in this nightmare of a house. I get him cleaned up and take him upstairs to change him into his pajamas. His mother had laid out his clothes before she left. I get him all dressed into his little pjs and take him into the playroom next to his bedroom. He and I played in there until he began to rub his eyes. I get him his bottle and I rock him until he is good and tired. I lay him down in his crib and say “Goodnight little guy!” I tiptoe out of his bedroom and I close the door just until it is only opened a crack. I want to be able to hear him if he cries.
I venture downstairs to clean up. When I get down stairs I see that the front door had blown open. I think to myself, didn’t I close that when we came in? This house is old and the husband refurbished it to be historically accurate, so these doors are super heavy. How did he wind blow it open? I close the door and I lock it for good measure. I start doing dishes and I can hear the baby begin to fuss. I run upstairs and I call out to him “I’m coming, it’s okay!” I go directly into his room with a flourish because I thought he was still awake, except when I look at him he is out cold. I take the blankets and cover him up thinking maybe he got a little chilly and that was why he was crying in his sleep.
I tiptoe back out of his room and go downstairs to finish the dishes. I walk into the kitchen and I see the pantry door close quietly. Now I’m creeped out because I think that someone has snuck into the house while I was upstairs and that was why I found the front door open. I open the pantry door slowly with absolutely no plan whatsoever and there is no one there. Thank God because what would I have done? I now hear a storm brewing outside. That’s why all of the doors are blowing around there has to be some sort of cross breeze coming through the house. I set out on my mission to find the source of the cross breeze. I found that the bathroom window was open and I close that. Then in the hallway there is a clacking and I go to see what the hell that noise is and in the hallway is an enormous window and outside there are working shutters that are blowing in the wind. I don’t want the noise to wake the baby so I open the window and I close and latch the shutters. Then I close the window.
All of this excitement has got my nerves on end. I needed to check on the baby just to see that he was safe. He was in his little crib with his soft breath whistling through his nose. I walked down stairs and I hear voices. I think that the parents must be home. I walk over to the kitchen and I have to go through the parlor to get to the kitchen and there was that fucking basement door open again with the skeleton key in the lock. I look at it and I am immediately terrified. I close the door and I lock the door and I put the key on the hook. I walk over to the desk and I was going to write a note, thinking I had only imagined it before and there it was, the note I had written earlier explaining that I had hung the basement key on the hook by the door. I look over at the door and the key and I start to cry. Like legitimately crying. I now have realized that the house is fucking with me and I don’t know what to do. Do I call my family and ask them to come here and save me from the ghosts? Do I call a friend and ask them to come and save me from this house? Do I sit in fear and hope that the parents come home early because of the storm? That’s when the lightning cracks and the lights flicker. Fucking great we are going to lose power in this haunted nightmare of a house.
I hear the baby cry and I go upstairs quickly because he is another person at least. I grab him and he is wailing because of the thunder. I pick him up and hold him close to me. He cuddled his head against my shoulder and I decide that he and I will be alright. The lights flicker again and the power is out for good now. I stumble around looking for a flashlight. Its strange when you don’t live in a house and you have to guess where they keep their things. I found one in the playroom in the end table drawer. I turn the flashlight on and it lights up a circle of light that is projected ahead of me and the baby that I am holding tightly now because he is the only person there. This circle of light is casting shadows on the walls and floor around me and I know that I am going to have to fix this.
I learned that if you make the flashlight stand upright it creates a better light pattern that lights up the entire room. It works more like a lamp that way and casts no shadows that I imagine have lurking monsters and ghosts. In the playroom there are toys, a television set, that won’t work because the power is out, a rocking chair, a small couch and a radio. I look at the radio and I check to see if it has batteries. It doesn’t it is just plugged in. I look at the baby who is smiling at me because he thinks that this is a good time. I smile back and decide to talk to him. I ask him “Do you know if your mommy has a portable radio?”
He looks at me and coos. He is sitting on the floor and I know that he has no idea what I’m talking about. I know that he is probably ok sitting in the dark in this haunted house but I am completely freaked out and sure could use a distraction like tv or music. I decide that I would sing to the baby. I start to sing little kid songs like “Mary had a Little lamb” and “The ants go marching”. It doesn’t take me long to run out of lullabies because I am in high school and unprepared for moments like these. I then start singing pop hits from the eighties and I see that the baby looks tired. He starts to cry and I think that he needs a bottle. The problem is, that the bottles are downstairs, I have to walk down the stairs past the closet in the living room with the hidden panel and through the parlor, with the basement door that keeps unlocking itself, into the kitchen where someone may or may not be hiding and into the fridge. I then have to find a way to warm up the bottle…with no electricity and then walk back past the pantry, the parlor and the basement door and into the living room with the closet and up the stairs all while holding a baby and with my back to the ghosts. I pick up the baby and I start to rock him, hoping that this works. I rock him until his screams make me care less about ghosts and more about peace and quiet.
I take the baby downstairs into the kitchen and as I opened the refrigerator door the power came back on. Which jolts me because all of the lights are on and the tv in the upstairs playroom all turn on. I look at the baby and he is exhausted. I get his bottle ready and he and I venture the trek back through the maze of ghostly booby traps. I go into the living room and there is the closet door wide open and all of the contents are lying on the floor and there is a strange glowing light coming from inside. I am completely fucking done with this night. I walk quickly past the closet up the stairs when I see the shutters on the hallway window burst open. I take the baby and I close he and I into the playroom and I lock the door. I turn on the tv and I rock the baby to sleep and I hold him until his parents come home.
They knock on the door and call my name. I open the door and there they are all wonderful and lovely and alive. The mother asks “So how did it go?”
I look at her and I say “Good, he is such a good baby.”
I lie! Or I just don’t tell the whole story about their haunted fucking house terrifying me. I walk downstairs and there the husband was putting the key back up on the door jamb. He looks at me and he says “How did you get that back panel outside open?”
I look at him and I have no clue what he’s even talking about. He can tell that I am confused. He then takes me outside and there in the back of the house is some sort of passageway that was leading out the back. It was wide open.
“I guess it must have been the storm. I have tried to get that door to open for months now.” I look at him and he looks at me and I can tell that he doesn’t even buy this bullshit he is trying to sell.
“There was some very creepy things that went on here tonight!” I say with my eyes bulging out. “The doors were all opening and closing and the power went out. And the only light I could find was coming from within the closet panel.” I started to cry because it feels good to finally tell someone.
He looks at me and he says, “let’s go inside and get you some ice cream.” I follow him into the house and he sees the basement door open with the skeleton key in the lock. He looks back at me and he looks bewildered. I swallowed hard because this is still happening after the adults are home. I was hoping it was just my imagination. The husband closes the door and locks it and puts the key back up.
“How about that ice cream now?” he asks me.
“I think your house is haunted!” I say as he hands me a scoop of ice cream in a bowl.
“Yup!” He responds.
His wife comes downstairs in some sweatpants and a ratty old t-shirt. “Are you still here?” she asks
“She had a rough night in the house.” he explains.
The wife smiles and says “I told him that the ghosts do not want him to tell about their hiding place. This was a very protected secret and it meant life and death for many involved. Now we are talking openly about it and ever since we started the petition they have been upset.”
I look at the wife and it was in that moment that I decided that if I were to ever babysit for them again it would be at my home. Because I am not signing on to be a part of the haunting of the underground railroad. I never saw them again and I never heard from them again. I think they realized that I was fucking terrified by their creepy house. I was also fascinated by the history of it all. I wanted them to get their registry and keep the history alive….but that history was busting out at the seams with ghosts. I missed that little baby immensely because he was truly such a dear. I think about that night often especially when it is storming out. I think about how I tried to just get through the night and to wait for the parents to get home. They were really nice people. If they are reading this story please know that I think of you all very fondly.
Moral of my story: I honestly don’t have one. I just ask that you learn about history and what people did to gain their freedoms. And learn about those that helped them without thinking of the cost to themselves because they understood what was right and just. The history of the world has many moments when certain people of many different colors and creeds were treated unfairly. We must learn from those moments so that we may never repeat them. Also enjoy your night with candy and dressing up and scaring each other (if that is your thing) But whatever you do stay safe! Check your candy for razor blades because it is a time-honored tradition. Wear light colors and reflective surfaces and remember to carry your flashlights. Happy Halloween!!!!
Until next time 🙂