Thursday, May 9, 2013

Those Curious Bumps In The Night

As someone who likes to metaphorically parade around carrying the banner of science and reason what I am about to write will seem hypocritical to the point of absurdity. However, it is my intention here just to relate some unexplained events that while minor, did cause me to ponder, at least for a short time, a supernatural cause because I was stumped as to how they occurred.

It all began around January of 1993 as Dragonwife and I moved into our first home. It was a pleasant three-bedroom, two-bathroom house about fifteen hundred square feet in size we had built in a new West Columbia subdivision. Throw in the garage that we had the builders’ covert into a “family room” and that pushed the total area up to nineteen hundred. Relax, I am not bragging, far from it, but that room plays a huge part in what I am about to relate.

Being newlyweds at the time, Dragonwife and I quickly settled into a routine even though we spent months living out of the boxes packed with our clothes and other items. This haphazard but easy going lifestyle seemed fitting since our section of the neighborhood was mostly empty lots with houses in various stages of construction. Many nights we went to sleep with the window shades up and it pitch black outside. I admit there were times I would wake up in the middle of the night slightly unnerved by the lack of any human habitation outside the house and the utter silence; even the sounds of nighttime insects were absent during those early days. While never a fan of modern scary movies replete with supernaturally powered serial killers I nonetheless felt the need to go to the windows and look outside scanning for any possible predator lurking in the darkness. After a few months these conditions seemed normal, even to the point I thought nothing of the uncovered windows when either Dragonwife or I got in that newlywed mood.

It did not seem like it at the time but the years passed quickly and by 1997 both the neighborhood and our lives had changed greatly forcing an end to the relaxed lifestyle. The entire subdivision was now finished by then and were as the night was once nearly pitch black I now had a street light right outside my window. Both the finished neighborhood, filled with possible prying eyes looking for a cheap thrill, and the very bright street light that kept me awake forced us to lower our window shades nightly. The addition of Darth Spoilboy, who arrived in 1995, was a huge game changer by itself. Making matters more convoluted both my wife and I were dealing with jobs that had grown increasingly complicated as time went by.

For me, this involved taking computer programming courses at the nearly community college at night. After work, I would drift over to the community college and study for a couple of hours before my classes started. Just because I could not stomach a habitual nightly stop at McDonalds or the campus vending machines there were many nights I simply did not eat until I got home around nine o’clock. When I returned, I would usually just have a bowl of cereal since I would be going to bed soon and did not want anything heavy on my stomach.

During most months my wife, son, and I did the majority of our living in the huge family room, which was connected directly to the kitchen. This converted garage was where we located the television, a couch, and couple of easy chairs. Being as large as it was my wife and I had plenty of space to relax while our son played with his toys. However, this overly large room was a serious bitch to heat during the winter forcing us to take refuge in the one unused bedroom on the other end of the house. The reason we used that particular bedroom during the cold weather months was because we had it setup as a guestroom complete with our second television hooked up to cable.

The night the first incident occurred, I had just returned home for my night classes and was in the kitchen making myself a bowl of cereal with the idea I would then head back to the guestroom to watch television with my wife and sleeping son. As I was standing at the sink washing out a bowl I heard what I would have to describe as a loud, deep, and very sad sigh. What really struck me as odd, and frankly scared me silly, was the fact the sigh sounded deeply Southern, like some cultured, old belle of Charleston or Savannah had heard a piece melancholy news. Yes, it was that intense and I mean every word when I write that the sigh had an accent.

This experience was totally out of the ordinary, while yes this was a new house subject to all sorts of pops and creaks as the foundation settled. And yes, the warm and cold weather caused the wood the house was built with to expand and contract all the time but I had never heard anything like that sound. To make matters even stranger the sound seemed to be coming from the antique kitchen table my wife had bought in Savannah around two months before and while being relatively new to the house, had also never uttered a sound since we brought it home. Why it had decided to get all spooky that night and not sooner, I cannot explain.

After recovering from the serious chill running down my spine, I checked the family room for any possible source of the sound. As expected it was empty and the television was off, not even my wife’s dog was in there. I then checked the actual living room, located on the opposite side of the kitchen and it was empty as well. Long story short, the only other occupants of the house expect for me were in the guest bedroom watching television, which had the volume turned down because baby Darth Spoilboy was asleep.

My wife’s reaction to all this was mild disinterest to a slight annoyance. No, she did not believe my claim and frankly, I was puzzled as well because I could not easily explain it away. The rest of the night was uneventful although I was subject to the occasional jibe from my wife. That is until a few days later when she came running into our bedroom, itself on the other end of the house across from the guestroom, and told me she had heard the female-like sigh complete with southern accent as well. Truthfully, I took a good deal of satisfaction seeing her so flustered since she had given me a great deal of semi-good natured grief about my incident.

Now I know there is some logical explanation for this event. As the years have gone by the best I can figure is that both my wife and I were just in the right place and at the right time to hear the house to settle in an unusual way. That being said, how a house in the process of settling emits a southern accented sigh is still a mystery.

Everything “returned” to normal after that with the event becoming something of a joke. Except for my mom-in-law who in her imperial Virginian manner was convinced it was her deceased mother coming to look over how Dragonwife and I were taking care of our son. It rather upset my her when I responded if that was the case great-grandma needed to pull her supernatural weight and change some messy diapers or do some babysitting. Curiously enough in a tongue and cheek way, I in turn got a response back from great unknown.

By the time Darth Spoilboy was a toddler my wife and I had developed a tried and true method at putting him to bed. While I changed his diaper, if he needed it, Dragonwife would sing him a lullaby. She would then turn on his special nightlight that played soft music and beamed a collection of stars on the ceiling.  With that done, she and I would quietly leave the room with me turning off the overhead light as I shut the door.

When you do something enough it becomes instinctive and that was the case with putting Spoilboy to bed. The key to everything was turning off the overhead light to allow him to watch the stars on his ceiling. So, you can imagine my surprise when I walked by his door one night on the way to the bathroom and saw light coming from underneath it. Sure enough after opening the door I found the overhead light on, luckily Spoilboy was asleep so I just thought that somehow Dragonwife had gone in there earlier to check on him. I turned the light off, proceeded to do my original business, and then rejoined my wife in the family room.

“You forgot to turn off the overhead light in Spoilboy’s room after you checked on him,” I said. “You know if he had woken up we would have caught Hell trying to get him back asleep.”

Dragonwife looked at me from her spot on the couch with a puzzled expression. “I haven’t gone in his room since we put him in his crib.” Dragonwife said lowering the book she was reading.

I figured she had gone into his room and just forgotten about it and said no more. About an hour later though when we went to bed I again saw light coming from underneath the door to Spoilboy’s room. Sure enough, the overhead light was on and while that bothered me, it was nowhere near as disturbing as the disembodied sigh from a few years before.

“All right great-grandma,” I said in a joking manner, “I don’t need this bullshit. If you feel so energetic I have a trash bag filled with dirty diapers you can take to the other side.” The incident never happened again. For those who think Spoilboy just climbed out of his crib at that time he was still too small to either accomplish that or reach the light switch but that is the only viable explanation I have.

After that, things went mostly quiet with our uninvited suburban poltergeist. Now there were the ubiquitous and naturally unexplained bumps in the night but we never experienced any objects flying through the air or carried on conversations with disembodied voices. My mom-in-law to this day still believes it was her mother hanging out with us. This always makes me hope like hell that she does not share the same interest keeping a permanent earthly address. Yes, I know that was unkind but what is the use in being the unmentioned son-in-law if I cannot have a little fun from time to time.

This however is not the end of my story. That occurred in the winter of 2002 at my old work place, De Luca’s Telecommunications Widget Factory. For several years prior the De Luca factory has seen an enormous growth in orders which resulted in the construction of a second production facility over by the Columbia airport. Being an upstanding, alert, and intelligent worker, I was picked as one of the maintenance crew for the new plant. All told, there were twelve of us working three shifts and at that particular moment De Luca’s was a truly awesome place to work. And just like everything else to good to be true just a few months after going over to the new factory the bottom fell out of the telecommunication widget market.

Within a month layoffs resulted in the crew being cut to six guys and the total elimination of the night shift. And since I had the least seniority of those remaining, I became the lone individual working the 3:00pm to 11:00pm shift. As long as I ignored the screwed up hours and the massively empty building filled with idle production lines it was not a bad gig. There were only two productions lines going and since the equipment was brand new, my repair duties were minor. I spent most of my time in the maintenance shop surfing the company’s high-speed internet or helping the three or four actual production workers properly use the computerized system that allowed them to check out items from the fenced-in parts room, which required a special security card to gain entrance.

The parts room was shaped like the letter “L” and occupied the better part of the first floor of the maintenance shop. Above it was a second level consisting of a collection of offices on one end of the “L” and a library on the other with bookshelves filled with maintenance manuals and tables stacked with even more that had yet to be organized. Halfway through a shift one night two of the production guys came into the shop looking to check out a part they needed to produce a particular type of widget. After a few minutes of searching they called me down from the office I where I was surfing the internet to help them find it and go through the difficult process of using the laser scanner to check it out.

We quickly located what they needed but we spent twenty minutes trying to get the laser scanner to read the various bar codes on both the required paperwork and the shelf where the part was normally stored. Since the shift was drawing to a close I told them to head on out and run the product and that I would deal with the errant technology.

Not only did the parts room require a security card to gain entrance but the door leading into the maintenance shop as well. After the two production guys left if they wanted to come back in they would have had to scan one of their cards which would have caused a very loud and irritating buzzer to go off. Needless to say I saw both of them walk out of the shop and heard the heavy door shut. About five minutes after they left I started hearing what sounded like someone lifting up one of the tables on the upper level then dropping it. I was still dealing with the check out process in the fenced-in parts rooms but whatever was happening above me was only getting louder as the minutes went by.

“Dammit Eric,” I called out figuring the certified second shift joker was pulling some prank. “You will clean up whatever mess you make.” My remark only caused the noise to increase yet again to the point I was getting upset. Eventually I got the expensive parts control software to work, and promptly ran out of the parts room to cuss out whoever was up on the upper level even though everything went silent the instant I opened the parts room door. Much to my surprise, I saw no one on the upper level. Even before I walked up the only stairway to check out the situation closer, I could tell the maintenance manuals were scattered about all over the floor.

At that moment my freak out factor was off the scale, so much I immediately left the shop to find the two production guys to make sure they were not pulling some trick. While some may think that is all that happened there was no other way out of the shop other than the one that I always had a clear view of and even then, the buzzer I mentioned would went off had they come back inside. When I found the two production guys they were running the required widget which took two people during the entire process. Not wanting to sound like I was crazy I said nothing and went back to the shop.

I knew this situation was, and still is, insane and while I can logically explain away all the other incidents, this one is beyond me. During the remaining shift, I went back to the shop, propped open the door, picked up the manuals scattered about and made a solemn decision not to mention this to the dayshift crew. As I wrote at the beginning, I believe in reason and logic and while I am open to the idea that there are things outside the realm of the scientifically explainable, the burden of proof rest solely with those making extraordinary claims.

These incidents ended right after we moved into our new house. Like all “strange” events, they have become something of a family legend and are often talked about during Halloween when such stories are common. I reiterate, there are most definitely logical explanations for everything I have written about although the last one still has me puzzled. 


Akelamalu said...

Interesting post Beach. Not everything can be explained, there are more things in heaven and earth than we can possibly understand I think.

Pixel Peeper said...

Didn't the builder tell you they built on top of a confederate graveyard in that subdivision?

lime said...

i got nuthin for ya. weirdness abounds....

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

There's not a ghost of a chance that I've got anything intelligent to add to this discussion... Interesting post, though.

Beach Bum said...

Akelamalu: LOL!!! Absolutely! While the events really happened I tried to be tongue-in-cheek to just to have some fun.

Pixel: Believe it or not they found an 19th century slave graveyard not far from Lexington High School. A developer started digging up skeletons.

Lime: Its terrible when all other possible topics come up as blanks.

Susan: Just having some fun, and hoping a decent idea comes to me at some point.

Randal Graves said...

Amityville Horror was on the tube last night. Coincidence? Methinks not! You ought to call the pope and get yourself an exorcist just in case the ghost of Nixon past followed you.

Ranch Chimp said...

I read this twice Bum to fully absorb it ... what's beyond the realm of science to understand etc? ... well ... the "mind" worx in it's own dimension if you will, which I look at as the soul and window to the universe or spiritual psyche or related (too long to explain here, and I really dont touch on this sort of thing much in public) ... my mom really enjoyed also this sort of thing I may add, who communicated with the dead (well, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... according to her and her group {: ) I also knew several people over the year's who tried different thing's to induce this sort of thing in a ritualistic sense of course, and a couple friend's who had some ill experience's unfortunatley getting too deep I reckon into this sort of thing, which I tried to comfort them psychologically in those time's. Being to alwayz "accept" that which is a part of "YOU" and your inner self ... when you reject what is your's and try to resist based on religion's or do' and dont's, be your own master and in control in other word's, utilize your power of "will", or it can have a negative effect on the mind ... that is what their mistake was of course ... accept what is you, for it is a part of your universe and being, it's not right or wrong, good or evil, nor scary or soothing, so look at the experience if not entertaining as an enlightenment and utilize what is your's ... enough though on this sort of thing from me. Just to tell you it was a good read Guy ... and have a good un ....

Mike Williams said...

A dozen years ago I regularly listened to Art Bell and George Noory on their late night "things that go bump in the night" radio show. After a while of this I was seeing shadow people and little grey aliens all over the neighbor hood as i walked to a nearby market or took the dog for a walk late in the evening. Sometimes the imagination can just takeover even in the most mundane of circumstance or maybe there is something unexplainable going on. I enjoy the mystery of this. Nice Post and Hi.

John Gray said...

I loved the mystery of it all too........well written