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Haunted Houses

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Posted 10-30-2010 at 09:10 AM by Roy Sanborn

The snarling dog that had chased my car for half a block stopped dead in his tracks when I turned into the driveway. This house seems like all the others I have seen lately. There are no lights on and it’s hard to see through the windows, the grass hasn’t been mowed for months, paint is peeling on the porch, and there is no sign of life; at least the kind we like to talk about. Going up the steps onto the porch, the boards creak and I hear something scurrying about underneath. Maybe it is a cat, maybe not.

There’s a shiny new gold door handle on the otherwise dull, drab front door. Obviously, it was put there to keep unwanted visitors out, or perhaps to keep something in? But I have a key. I work for the newly formed federal agency, that looks into this type of home. You know (re)possessed. I am an agent for an investigative unit that is part of HUD. HUD was recently reconstituted as Homes Under Distress. It was clear that the Urban Development part of HUD just wasn’t working anymore. Anyway, I’ve seen countless homes in the past year just like this one. Deserted. Distressed. (re)Possessed by something unnatural.

After opening the door and letting my eyes adjust to the low light, I could see that the former owners left in an extreme hurry. Though almost empty, there are broken pieces of a furniture, trash, clothes, and other debris scattered across the floor. I could see the outlines of a formerly happy life in the imprints that furniture made on in the dirty, faded carpets. But there is also outline and stains in the corner from something that wasn’t furniture or perhaps even human. A half eaten pizza is turning funny shades of fuzzy brownish green in a box on the kitchen counter. The smoke detectors are beeping every few minutes adding to the tension. Must be low batteries?

I notice a real chill when I go into the first floor bedroom. It’s sixty five degrees outside but much, much colder inside. The floor is wet and it appears that the water pipes have exploded. What happened here? How cold did it get? Several windows are broken; from the inside. The lights don’t come on in the basement, but I take my flashlight and head on down. Again, I hear that scurrying noise and something crashes at the far end of the basement. I step onto the floor and something soaks through my shoes. More water? I couldn’t tell, my light suddenly went out. The smell is overwhelming. The smell of death and decay? Maybe mold?
Sensing a sinister specter I spun stealthily around and surged straight up the stairs, stumbling, then suddenly shaking from that startling sound that I have heard so many times before. It was just a whisper. A barely audible utterance, but still clear and bone chilling. “Baaarrrrnnnneeeeeyyy, Baaarrrrnnnneeeeyyy.”

I break outside into the daylight, catch my breath, and start filling out my report. It’s the same as many before. But at other homes I have also heard two other voices, ever so quietly calling each other; “Faaaannnniieee”, and then “Frrrreeddddiiieee”. I think Barney must have been the tormented step child? The owners of this home, like so many others, were driven to despair, desperation, and finally desertion by this demonic family of spirits. This evil dwells in the sinister shadows of these homes slowly, steadily, and systematically destroying the hopes and dreams of families. They tried to get help. It was promised. There were special programs for loan modifications and possible short sales. But most of the times those pleas for help go unanswered. Tormented, terrified, and trembling, the troubled owners of this home, like all the others, relented and left to start a new life somewhere else where they could be safe… something rented.

Now that’s my haunted house story and I’m sticking to it!

I thought you should also know what we have in the way of real haunted houses in the Lakes Region. According to NH.com you might find some mysterious things happening at the Alton Town Hall (besides the selectmen’s meeting that is). There are doors that open by themselves, furniture that gets moved around, and you can hear footsteps or hear someone talking when there is no one else in the building. Ghosts of taxpayers past? Kimball Castle in Gilford and the Temperance Tavern in Gilmanton also report strange occurrences of things disappearing, books falling off shelves, and doors mysteriously becoming locked or unlocked. The Colonial Theater in Laconia is also said to be haunted. They say that sometimes you catch the faint glimpse of a man and you get the feeling that you should leave the building as soon as possible. Before the city buys and restores this property, the mayor or the city manager should have to spend the night there to make sure it is safe. That would be Boo-tiful…

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