PROLOGUE (My Mother's Story): The History Of The Attic
Dating back to my childhood and weekend trips to my grandparent's house in Western Michigan, none of us grandchildren were ever allowed to play in the attic. None of us to my knowledge had ever broken that rule.
I'm not sure if it was because it was directly over the common room and that our footsteps would be heard and that we would be punished by the dreaded razor strap my grandfather kept on display for disobedience, which by the way was an item that was more a legend than an actual threat.
Maybe it was plain respect for our elders that kept us out, but for whatever reason and without explanation the attic was strictly off limits.
It was no big surprise that when my mother purchased the house in the late 70's that the attic was the first room I wanted to visit. I recall my eagerness as I entered the VERY forbidden room for the first time.
Not knowing what to expect, I was met with disappointment because it's most frightening attribute seemed to be the spiders that claimed tenancy.
I was sure that I would find some form of evil that was lurking amongst the dusty relics, but that wasn't the case. It seemed to me it was just a regular old attic.
Over the years that followed I'd been in and out of there on a regular basis, as it was used for storage. Sometimes I would recall my first visit into the attic and smile at the foolish notions thinking that there was evil connected to it.
However, in 1990 my oldest daughter Sarah, named after my grandmother, the original owner of the house, experienced chilling encounters that forever altered my ability to laugh about that room again.
This is my story. I remember every detail as if it all just happened yesterday. One day I came into the house after playing with my sister, Rose, and the neighborhood kids, upset that all of them were being mean to me. I decided that I didn't want to play with them anymore and that I was going to make up an imaginary friend to play with instead.
I turned on the radio and began singing along with the song that was already playing on the country station, "Ghost In This House" by Shenendoah. I wondered what my newly created friend's name should be.
Then I heard a voice in my head say the name "George." Being the first name that popped in my head, it seemed suitable. George was now my imaginary friend. Or so I thought.
Within the next few weeks, George went from being someone who I knew was imaginary when I created him, into a real person. For some reason George only wanted to play in the attic. It was a convenient playplace because the attic was directly next to our bedroom.
By this time, there was no rule or razor straps forbidding any children to set foot in there. My mom thought nothing of my mentions of George or me playing in the attic at first.
It wasn't until a few weeks later when she noticed something wasn't right, but in fact, seriously wrong. I do not remember much past being in the attic that day, except the part of my mother slapping me across the face and dragging me out of there. At dinner she'd told me what happened.
Apparently when I didn't respond to her calling me, she came into the attic to investigate. She found me sitting on the floor, playing with a creepy old doll, talking to myself. After the third time of her trying to get my attention, she yelled, "Sarah, are you listening to me? Get up and come downstairs."
I whipped my head around, my eyes were rolled in the back of my head, and in a voice, my mom didn't recognize as my own, a voice, that was not of a 9 year old girl, but that of a grown man's, I screamed "NO!" It scared her so much that she slapped me across the face, and pulled me up from the floor, to snap me out of it.
After telling me what had happened, she said I was not allowed, under any circumstances, to go into the attic ever again. The next night, I began talking in my sleep.
A couple weeks before George came into my life, I had found a picture of my dad and I sleeping when I was a baby. I asked my grandma if I could have this picture because I didn't have any pictures of my father and he didn't come into my life very often. Of course she agreed.
I had slept with that picture under my pillow every night since the day my grandma gave it to me. The day after my mom forbid me to go into the attic again, I made my bed and put the picture underneath my pillow as usual. My family ended up going to hang out at my aunt's house the day. When we got home, it was time for bed.
I got into my pajamas and snuggled underneath my blanket. Since I can remember, even to this day, I've slept on my stomach with my hands above my head, underneath my pillow. I positioned myself to where I was comfy, and immediately noticed the picture my grandma gave me weeks before was wasn't where I had placed it just hours earlier, but in fact, wasn't there at all.
That night George came to me in my dream and asked me why I didn't come play with him that day. My mom noticed I was talking in my sleep. In reality I was explaining myself.
For the next week I searched high and low for the missing picture of my father and I. And everyday I heard George's voice telling me to come to the attic. I kept telling him that I wasn't allowed.
It seemed as if he was getting frusterated with me every time I told him no. Each night as I'd slept, he'd show up in my dreams and we would argue.
He would tell me to come into the attic, I would repeat myself telling him I wasn't allowed, he'd tell me to do it anyway, I would tell him no. Throughout the week our arguements became more heated. I was no longer talking in my sleep, but yelling, even screaming sometimes.
The last night George visited my dreams, was the last time I ever saw or heard from him. He came to me and held up the picture I'd been searching everywhere for since it had disappeared. He said "Haven't you been looking for something?" I said, "Give me back my picture," as I reached for the picture.
He held it up high so I was jumping up and down trying to get it back from him. He laughed at me as he taunted me with the picture telling me to come into the attic and in return, he'd give back the photograph I wanted so badly. I started screaming at him as I fought him not only in my dreams, but in reality as well.
Imagine "The Nightmare On Elm Street" movies, and someone physically fighting Freddy Kruger as they slept. That's what it was like. My mom, who was on the other side of the wall in her room heard me screaming at the top of my lungs.
She was considering coming in to wake me up, although she didn't want to fearing I'd be traumatized being awakened during a nightmare.
Then she heard me shout "GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM, I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN." He looked at me, laughed, and said "You'll regret this." I was only 9 years old, and although I didn't know the meaning of the word regret, I took his words as a threat.
Suddenly I felt vibration coming from the attic, toward the bunk beds where my sister and I slept. I started screaming and repeating at the top of my lungs "NOOOOOO!" because I knew he was going to do something. I couldn't open my eyes.
I felt as if I had no control over what was going to happen. I could no longer scream anymore, I felt as if I couldn't even breathe. Everything was silent, but I could still feel George's presence in the room.
Just then, the alarm clock went off and the only thing anyone could hear was KA-BOOM! My eyes opened, as my mom RAN into the bedroom and turned on the light.
I seen the picture I'd been looking for laying next to my little sister as she lay flat faced on the floor, covering her nose with her hands. My mom told her not to move her hands, as she raced to the other room to get a towel, because there was no doubt from the blood falling between Rose's fingers, that her nose was broken.
My mom asked my sister who was completely obvlivious to my night terrors, "Rose, what happened? Did you fall off the top bunk?" My sister cried, and said, "No, it felt like someone picked me up and dropped me on the floor."
When my sister went to the doctor's that day, he asked her what had happened. Her response was still the same as it is today, twenty years later, "My sister's imaginary friend broke my nose."