The House In The Swamp

by Bruce James

Although it has been many years since I lived there, some of the strongest memories I have are of a certain house in rural Minnesota.¬† My high school friend G (I won’t use his real name) lived there, and it had to be one of the creepiest places I have ever visited.

G lived in an old farmhouse with his dad a few miles out of a small little town next to a low-lying swampy area.¬† Often in the spring and fall we could see wraithlike mists clinging to the old county road as we drove to his house.¬† It was a quiet enough place, a two-story house with a porch, attic, and a “basement’, a crawlspace, really.¬† Nearby was an old shed, a large polebarn where G’s dad kept his classic cars, and a ring of thick, old oaks ringing the edge of the swamp.¬† G had already told me many stories of the things that went on there when he was a kid.¬† A spectral woman walking across his bed.¬† Shadows of hands from the floodlight outside his bedroom window, that didn’t belong to him.¬† His hair being tousled by something invisible.¬† Some kind of glowing humanoid figure in the trees outside, observing the house and trying not to be seen. There was no shortage of weirdness at G’s place.

I wanted to see something paranormal for myself, and I got to see some things in the years I new and visited G.  One of them was the spinning bomber.  G had a model of a B-29 aircraft suspended by a thread in his living room.  This would have a propensity to rotate by itself.  On still, quiet days, we would sit and watch as this model airplane would go from a complete standstill and begin to slowly rotate in a counterclockwise direction (there was no fan or furnace running, and the windows would be closed).  Then the rotation would stop, but not from inertial forces, but suddenly stop as though blocked by an invisible hand.  Then it would stay in its new position for a few minutes, and rotate clockwise for a time.  Nothing seemed to precipitate this, it would merely happen of its own accord.

One of the stranger things I experienced there was the hammock.¬† G’s house was old enough to have transoms, (the windows you will sometimes see above doors in old buildings, back in the days before central air) and he strung a hammock crossways over the transom for the living room door.¬† I would often sit in this hammock (from this position, more like a net had scooped me up) to watch TV or play D&D at his house.¬† One evening as I was curled up in this hammock, I looked at G and said “Snap?” as if to say “oh no, did I hear something snap?”¬† G, never late to pick up a comedic cue, replied “Snap?”.¬† Then SNAP the rope holding the hammock to the transom snapped, and I dropped about a foot, foot-and-a-half to the floor on my butt.¬† THUD!¬† This incident, by itself, could not be construed as paranormal, except that it happened every time we tried it.¬† We have witnesses, who would watch G tie the hammock up with fresh rope, sturdy enough for G to swing on, and once I climbed in, and we said “snap?”, sure enough SNAP THUD.¬† The ends of the rope where it broke were frayed as though they were worn from years of friction.¬† I guess that whatever presence or force that was in that house didn’t like me too much.

G concurred.¬† On the rare occasion I slept over at his house, not only would I have a very hard time getting to sleep, but when I did pass into a dreamless slumber, G would see that I would make faces in my sleep… or rather, he told me it appeared to him that there was some other face superimposed over my sleeping face, which would make wild eyed and terrifying grimaces and mouth soundless words at him.¬† After hearing this, naturally I declined to ever sleep there again!

Once, he showed me the crawlspace.¬† Now this was strange and unusual.¬† By accident or design, the cellar of this house could only be accessed through the downstairs bathroom closet.¬† A piece of plywood about 2 feet square covered a hole in the back of the closet.¬† We crawled down three or four little wooden stairs, and G fumbled around in the dark to find the light switch.¬† He pulled the chain, and a dim, bare bulb weakly illuminated a chamber about 5 feet by 5 feet, with a dirt floor and the ceiling only 3 feet above.¬† It may have, in fact, been smaller, as the main thing that sticks out in my memory was the hole in the wall.¬† The hole in the block foundation may have only been 2 feet square, but behind was a space so dark it seemed to swallow up the light.¬† From it, I got that weird, prickly sensation you get whenever you sense the presence of the supernatural.¬† I wouldn’t go in for the world, and G told me he had never been either… and G was one brave dude!¬† He also got creeped out by the black hole in the crawlspace.¬† Not even his dog would go!¬† She would only growl at it, with her hackles standing up, and leave the crawlspace as quickly as possible.¬† To this day, I still don’t know what was in there that wigged us out so bad, and as far as I know, G doesn’t either.

This story has an epilogue.¬† Years later, I was up for a ride in my dad’s single-engine plane, enjoying the miracle of flight.¬† I found an aviation chart of the county in which we lived.¬† Now, aviation charts are quite a bit different from road maps.¬† The roads are there, for reference, but the things that are marked are the things that are a hazard or of use to pilots… heights of radio antennas and water towers, and the like.¬† After some study of this chart, I was able to reference familiar landmarks.¬† My parent’s house would be here, the old high school there, and over here… where I could estimate G’s house on the chart¬† was a hazard.¬† For about a half-mile radius with his house in the middle, the chart warned of magnetic deflections in the area.¬† Thus, if you fly over G’s house, your compass goes wonky.¬† We never did fly over his house to test the theory, but at least, in a roundabout way, this chart vindicated all the weirdness I ever heard about or experienced at the house in the swamp.