Something in the house in Auckland, New Zealand, seemed to glare at little Lydia Brooks as she lie in her room, trying to sleep.
“I grew up in a house with no discernible history as far as I know of,” Brooks said. “But the place just never felt right, never felt like home. I would feel watched all of the time. I was paranoid, for as long as I can remember, that someone was watching me.”
This feeling was so real, so oppressive, Brooks only slept a few hours a night, and always showered in her underwear. The house began to take a toll on her health.
“Scores of doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong,” she said. “I would go pale and pass out. My mother said you could see it happening. I would walk into the room, with my eyes big and glassy, my skin would turn white, and I would collapse.”
Then, in 1995, the feeling of being watched and her illness went away.
“Once I hit about 11 years old, I seemed to be able to turn off whatever part of me was sensitive,” Brooks, now 26, said. “This was a huge relief.”
Her parents, however, began to experience strange things in the house.
“My father doesn’t believe in anything paranormal, but admits to having dreams that have saved his life,” she said. “My mother believes in – I suppose you would call them ghosts. She never liked the house I grew up in.”
One day, Brooks’ mother found her feelings were justified.
“A family friend came over after-hours to polyurethane the floors in the front room,” Brooks said. “He was an older Maori man, very straight and raised Christian.”
The man later called Brooks’ mother to tell her he’d finished the floors, but had left a light on in the house.
“He mentioned then that the house had some strange vibes going on in it, but Mum just dismissed it,” Brooks said.
The next day, Brooks’ mother couldn’t dismiss it anymore.
“She picked me up from school very excited,” Brooks said. “She had arrived at the house after dropping me off in the morning, and not only was the light switch that had been left on in the off position, but the bulb itself was lying unbroken on the other side of the room. There is no way that the bulb could have survived a fall from the high ceilings, let alone ended up where it did.”
When Brooks was 17, her family moved into a new house.
“The change was amazing. The new house felt like home,” she said. “It always seemed sunny, the entire family got along better, I kept my room tidy.”
But they didn’t stay long, moving to a nearby house built after World War II.
“The woman who we bought the house from was pitiful, suffering from emphysema. She lived in the two front rooms, and ended up being moved into a hospice,” Brooks said. “I hated the house from the moment I moved into it. It was very oppressive.”
Being a teenager, Brooks was excited to move into the house a few days before the rest of her family, but the excitement quickly turned to fear. Something was there with her.
“I hated it,” she said. “I had forgotten that watched feeling while I had lived in the previous house.”
Her family felt it too, blaming the “watched” feeling on the house being so large and open.
“But it was more than that,” Brooks said. “I was constantly twitching curtains to make sure they were closed properly, I slept fitfully, and I never felt comfortable being there alone.”
Brooks’ mother would often smell perfume in the kitchen and laundry area – but the scent was nothing they’d brought with them.
“Even after living there for years, this waft of scent would just drift through the rooms,” Brooks said. “It wasn’t a scent any of us used, and it certainly didn’t appear at our last houses.”
Brooks’ cat also knew something strange was in the house.
“I was sitting up in bed one night in 2007, the cat was curled up next to my leg,” Brooks said. “I was just reading and everything was silent, when she suddenly went berserk.”
The cat leaped into the air, jumped backward, and started hissing and spitting. Brooks grabbed her cat, and it began to thrash about, clawing at Brooks to escape.
“Her body was twisting wildly, but the worst thing was her head was straining to stare at a spot in the dead center of my bed,” Brooks said. “She was screaming like I have never heard before or since, and just staring with massive eyes at a spot just by my calf.”
Brooks released the cat and it ran toward the door, continuing to look back at Brooks’ bed, ears pulled back, its hair on end.
“It was hideously frightening,” Brooks said. “As soon as I opened the door for her, she was fine, back to her normal, placid self.”
When Brooks took the cat back into her room, it fought to get away. She put the cat on the bed and it arched its back and took a swipe at the middle of the bed before diving off the bed and running out the door.
Brooks slept on the couch for three days until her cat felt comfortable in her room again.
“I have lived in older, ‘creepier’ houses than that one,” Brooks said, “but I have never since felt that irrational, unexplainable, unshakable fear.”
Copyright 2010 by Jason Offutt
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “What Lurks Beyond: The Paranormal in Your Backyard,” is available at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.