Letting my mind wander in my friend’s haunted house

A Journal staff member walks us through a spooky evening dog-sitting alone

A spooky tale for Halloween.

My best friend from my hometown lives in a haunted house.

During visits in high school and trips home throughout my undergrad, I could always count on hearing stories about ‘Johnny,’ the phantom boy who moved furniture, scratched walls, and terrorized my friend’s dog.

I too experienced the presence of this ghost during my own time in the house. Though I had never been at the house for any of Johnny’s more extreme visits, I once heard the sound of a child’s laughter at three in the morning as I lay awake in bed; another time, my headphones were mysteriously misplaced with no explanation from my friend or her family.

I grew up in Prince Edward County, a rural area about an hour west of Kingston. Rachel, my best friend, lives on a long, sparsely populated road. The houses are close together, but the neighbours have a tendency to keep to themselves. Throughout my time in high school and the summers I moved back home after university, you could often find us trapesing in and out of the back door of her house while on food runs, beach trips, or just going out for a drive. It was rare that someone from her street would come by to visit, and even rarer that visitors would approach the front door instead of the back.

In the fall semester of my third year, I agreed to dog-sit for my friend’s family over Thanksgiving weekend. At the time of year when ghostly activity is consistently accounted for, I was particularly wary of the possibility of experiencing any kind of supernatural phenomena while I was staying at the house alone.

As I approached the house that weekend, watching campaign signs for the upcoming municipal election on front lawns zoom past me out the passenger seat window, I scrolled through my text messages to recall where the back-door key had been left for me. I was dropped off, let Suzie, the dog, out for a quick pee, went inside, and settled into my favourite seat on the couch with Suzie curled up on my lap to work on my midterm assignments.

Not even 15 minutes after I sat down, I felt Suzie’s tiny body tense up as she bolted upright in my lap and listened closely to the room around us. My heart started pounding in my chest as Suzie suddenly become hyper-alert of her surroundings. Was I about to have my first solo encounter with Johnny? My body froze as my eyes canvassed the room, looking for a new figure that had emerged or any motion from any of the room’s objects. Just as a low growl started to escape Suzie’s throat, there was a knock at the front door.

I immediately shot to my feet and sprinted out the back door in socks, with Suzie running close behind me. Nobody ever used the front door, and there was no sign of any traffic along the road to hint that anyone had pulled up to the house. I stood on the back porch, shivering from fear and the chilly evening air, waiting for either another spooky noise or a ghostly presence to unveil itself.

After standing in silence for a seemingly endless two minutes, I ventured into the driveway to investigate a potential source of the knock I heard at the front door. As the gravel crunched under my feet, I finally saw a man walking up the drive waving a pamphlet at me.

As he approached me, he introduced himself as a candidate running for town council and asked if I had a few minutes to chat with him about his platform. While listening and nodding along politely, I was able to calm down and reassure myself that there wasn’t a ghost at the front door. My imagination had been running a little too wild.

Despite having a rather scary start to the weekend, the rest of the three days I spent in the house were relatively calm. Though Johnny—or anything else that could have been mistaken for him—didn’t make an appearance that Thanksgiving, my wariness toward the spirit that haunts my best friend’s house hasn’t wavered since.

I still believe I will one day have a direct experience with Johnny, but my would-be encounter gives me a little faith that in the event something spooky happens, I’ll be able to brush it off as my imagination. After all, I can always convince myself that it’s just a politician knocking at the door asking for my vote.

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