My Strangest Experience: The Thing in the Attic

Victorian mansions form "Millionaire's Row" on Fourth Street in Williamsport

We invite readers to share their most bizarre experiences and encounters, and so far we have received a few humdingers-- from the New England woman who had a strange experience with a shape-shifting dining room table to the man who was chased by a shadow being in upstate New York. Since we don't know these contributors personally it's impossible to vouch for their authenticity (although we strive to publish only those stories we believe to be true). Today's tale of the macabre, however, is different because it comes from a mutual friend of ours who, from our experience, is such an honest fellow that he makes Abe Lincoln seem like a pathological liar (come to think of it, we've uncovered convincing proof that Honest Abe wasn't as honest as he claimed to be). We've known Mark and his wife, Tamara, for several years, having first met them in 2006, about a year after the following series of incidents occurred in their apartment, housed in a Victorian home on Louisa Street in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Mark prefaced his story with an anecdote about a creepy coincidence, which has nothing to do with the story you are about to read, but is bizarre nonetheless. Shortly after Mark and his then-girlfriend moved into the apartment, Mark learned of a murder that took place on the sidewalk in front of the home just a few years prior. It was a drug deal gone wrong, and Mark was surprised to learn that the victim was a former friend and teammate on his high school football team. They hadn't seen each other for more than a decade. Stranger still is the fact that both Mark and the murder victim hailed from a small town nearly 100 miles away from Williamsport; both men played the same position (defensive tackle), and after Mark graduated, the murder victim, as a tribute to his friend, adopted the same uniform number. How strange that the fates of these two individuals would intersect a decade later at the same address in a city far away from their tiny hometown!

Mark and Tamara rented the second and third floors of the home, while an elderly black woman lived alone on the first floor. The couple made their bedroom on the second floor, while the third floor bedroom and attic remained unused during their 16-month stay. The day after Mark and Tamara moved in, Mark's mother stopped by to help the couple unpack. While carrying a box up to the attic, she stopped on the stairs and promptly announced that she was not going up those stairs; something "evil" is living up there, she said.

The rest of the story is in Mark's own words.

When mom refused to go up the stairs I was flabbergasted, because my mom was the most logical and practical person I had ever known. Tamara, of course, that she was over-reacting and decided to take the boxes up to the third floor herself. The third floor is the attic, but one side had been converted into a bedroom. The other half was an unfinished attic. The bedroom was odd; it was covered in old, faded nursery wallpaper. Tamara thought that whoever remodeled the house must have forgotten to remodel this particular bedroom. While the other room s of the apartment were modern, this one seemed stuck in time.

When Tamara attempted to come back down the stairs, she fell and tumbled all the way down, landing with a sickening "thud" at the bottom. She claimed that someone, or something, had pushed her. During the 16 months we lived there I fell down those same stairs once, but Tamara fell down the stairs several times, which was very uncharacteristic of her. She had studied ballet all throughout her childhood and teenage years, so she was the last person you'd expect to see doing something ungracefully. A female co-worker of Tamara's once came over to visit and she, too, fell down those stairs, and also claimed that it felt like she had been pushed. When I fell I didn't get the sensation of having been pushed, so it seems that whatever entity resides in the house seems to have a grudge against females. Everyone who has visited the house seems to agree that the evil presence seems to have a "female" quality about it.

Example of a Victorian home on Louisa Street

It was a few days later when I finally decided to explore the unfinished half of the attic, accessible through a crooked, creaky door with peeling paint. It was every bit as spooky as you could imagine. It was dark, dusty, and it smelled like there was something dead in the room. The lightbulb had long since burned out, but there was a tiny square window which overlooked the back yard, allowing the morning sun to stream in. The only item in the room was a large, gaudy high backed wicker chair, which sat directly in front of the window. And then I saw the dead birds.

I counted eighteen of them. They were all black and shiny, and appeared to be starlings. Their corpses weren't the least bit dusty and I speculated that they had somehow entered the attic through a gap and had been unable to escape. I scooped them up and put them into a garbage bag, which I tossed into the dumpster that was located in the gravel parking lot behind our backyard.

The bird removal got me started on a cleaning binge and me and Tamara spent the afternoon cleaning the attic. I pointed to the wicker chair, decrying its ugliness and tackiness. She laughed and referred to it as the "throne" because the shape of the wicker chair reminded us of a queen's throne. We agreed the chair had to go. Tamara, who had the next day off, said that she's take it out to the dumpster in the morning.

I came home from work the next day and when I pulled into the gravel parking lot I noticed that the garbageman had emptied the dumpster. Tamara said she had taken the chair out just in time and had given it to the garbageman just as he was driving away. Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, I went up to the attic and same the very same wicker chair! It was right where it had always been, facing the tiny window. Tamara was at a loss for words; she had seen it go into the back of the garbage truck with her own eyes. The following week I took the chair out to the dumpster myself before I left for work. When I came home that afternoon, the first thing I did was run up to the attic to make sure the chair was gone. It wasn't. It was right back at the window.

Stranger still, the dead birds were back. This time there was literally a mountain of them, so many in fact that it was nearly impossible to see the wooden floor beneath them. This time Tamara and I needed to use a snow shovel to scoop them into garbage bags. They were all starlings, and there had to have been close to two hundred of them. I examined the attic for gaps and cracks but for the life of me I couldn't discover how they were getting inside. By now I was worried about the extinction of the species, I mean, how many starlings could possibly live in Williamsport?

I wasn't frightened. More like pissed off. Come hell or high water I was determined to rid myself of that wretched wicker throne. I pleaded with the landlord for a burn barrel, but it was against the city ordinance so I strapped the wicker chair to the roof rack of my Oldsmobile and drove into a nearby state forest. I found a secluded spot and set the chair on fire. I probably laughed like a maniac as I watched it burn, but it did the trick-- the chair never came back after that.

Things only got worse after that, however.

Our air conditioner broke so we were forced to keep the second floor windows open to prevent us from roasting to death. It was a very hot summer, and I remember it was a few days before the Fourth of July. All summer long, every morning and afternoon, we had to deal with the sounds of children screaming, jumping and playing downstairs, and the sound would go right into our living room and bedroom. The woman who lived downstairs must have had her grandchildren staying over for the summer. I often contemplated confronting the old lady downstairs about the noise and the jumping around, but we decided against it, believing that the woman's grandchildren would be going back home before too long.

Every once in a while, whenever the children were at their most rambunctious, we would hear an angry pounding through the floor of our apartment, like someone pounding the ceiling downstairs with a broomstick. "What nerve!" I said to Tamara one morning. "The old bag downstairs is pounding on her ceiling as if to tell us to stop making so much noise!" I said I was going to go down there and give her a piece of my mind, but Tamara told me not to. It wouldn't be neighborly, she said. Let's just wait it out. Those kids can't stay with their grandmother forever. Sooner or later they'd have to go home.

The following afternoon Tamara and I had just returned from the grocery store when we were confronted by the old woman on the front porch. She screamed at us: "You better teach your children how to behave! They constantly jump up and down and scream their heads off. Why, I've got half a mind to complain to the landlord!"

"You crazy old bat!" I fumed. "How dare you blame us for the noise created by your bratty grandkids! For the record, ma'am, we don't even have any children!"

"Don't lie to me," she said. "I have to endure their screaming every morning and every afternoon!"

Tamara and I insisted that we did not have any children, while the old lady insisted she didn't have any grandchildren or great-grandchildren. All her children were grown and lived out on the west coast, she insisted. Strangely, we never heard the children anymore after that confrontation.

The final straw came during the following autumn; it was the scariest series of incidents, which ultimately resulted in me and Tamara breaking our lease, abandoning most of our furniture, and heading for the hills.

Our bedroom, on the second floor, was located right next to the kitchen, with a long hallway outside the bedroom door that connected the living room and kitchen. Since it was still warm, we slept with the bedroom window open. One night, about an hour after we had gone to bed, we found it impossible to sleep because of the heat and humidity. Even with the window open it was unbearable. We were both wide awake, tossing and turning, when all of a sudden the window and bedroom door slammed shut simultaneously with a deafening bang. At the very same time the bed began to rattle and shake violently, and we both jumped out of the bed in alarm. I ran to the bedroom door and grabbed the white, enameled doorknob but it wouldn't turn. I said something about it being locked, but Tamara reminded me that the door had no lock. Meanwhile, the shaking intensified until it seemed like the bed was jumping up and down. By this time Tamara was crying hysterically. Then she began screaming at the "thing"-- at one one point she even threatened to kill it (of course, she only said that out anger and frustration, since neither of us had the slightest idea of how to "kill" a ghost). But after she screamed and cursed at the ghost, a breeze swept through the room (even though the window and door were still closed) and the bed stopped shaking. I once again tried the doorknob, and this time it opened easily.

As terrifying as that incident was, it still wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back.

It was around nine o'clock one evening in late autumn and me and Tamara were in the living room. I was thumbing through a magazine, and she was sitting on a bean bag chair working a crossword puzzle. It was a quiet and peaceful evening, until the evil spirit decided to make its last stand. Now, please keep this in mind: I do not remember a bit of what happened next. All I know is what I have been told by Tamara.

According to Tamara, I had gone down the hallway to the kitchen, presumably fora drink or a late night snack. I was gone for several minutes. She asked me what took me so long but I didn't respond. She said I had the strangest expression on my face. She wondered if I was feeling alright, but again I ignored her question. I then walked over to where she was sitting, grabbed the blue ballpoint pen from out of her hand, and plunged it deep into her thigh.

Bear in mind that neither of us possessed a violent personality. We always had a picture perfect relationship. We were both "clean", as neither one of us drank alcohol or used recreational drugs. We were both physically and mentally healthy, and what happened could not have been the result of a side effect of any medications. Yet, even to this day, I do not remember any of what she said happened. She was spurting blood like a fountain, the pen was still stuck halfway into her upper thigh when she bolted for the door and drove herself to the hospital. She was treated and released that night and then she drove herself to the bus station and bought a ticket for New York, where she stayed with her parents for two weeks. She left my car in a parking garage downtown by the bus terminal.

My only memory was of waking up in the morning, on the living room floor, and seeing blood everywhere, forming a gruesome trail from the living room, down the hallway, into the kitchen and out the door of the apartment. Strangely, I felt no fear, even though I had no idea what happened. I merely got the carpet steamer from out of the closet and shampooed the carpets. While this was happened, Tamara called from upstate New York and I thought it was a practical joke; to the best of my knowledge, Tamara was still asleep in our bedroom down the hall. She begged me to get out of the house, and told me to pick up my car at the parking garage and find a new apartment, ASAP. I found an apartment for rent in the next town over and she moved back. Two years later we were married and remain married to this day.

I still have a memento of that apartment. It is a blank cassette tape with the simple title "'Williamsport" scribbled across the label. I had made this recording when Tamara and I were annoyed with the incessant noise of children, with the intention of giving it to our landlord in order to prove our complaint against the old woman who lived downstairs. On the recording is voices, dozens of different voices, some loud and clear, and others whispering and faint. I know nothing about audio engineering or anything of that nature, but there is something very unusual about the tape that I noticed: The voices on Side A of the tape can also be heard on Side B of the tape, but in reverse. It's as if the energy from the voices was so strong that it imprinted itself on both sides of the tape. In other words, if you played Side A and heard the word "butter", you can flip over the cassette, press play, and hear a word that sounds like "rettub". I still have yet to come across a logical explanation for this.

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