In a small village in West Michigan at the road's end, at the wood's edge stands the last house on the left. Built in 1853 it originally served as a way-station for the railroad. I made the trip to my family home in 1993 with my teenage daughters.
I was sitting at the old oak table in the center of the common room sorting through papers in the spot that was usually occupied by my mother currently fighting for her life in an intensive care unit in Grand Rapids.
My youngest was lounging on the couch to my right that butted up to the darkened doorway of her grandmother's bedroom watching television along with her sister who was directly in front of me in slouched in an old chair that had been in the house since my grandparent's day.
I was interrupted from my task by a sudden squabble in which Rose was yelling at Sarah to turn the tv back on. I glanced over not having even noticed so engrossed in my own thoughts and sighed heavily as I spied the remote that rested near her hand on the wooden arm of her seat.
"Stop" I admonished "Turn it back on and leave it alone." Once their attention was averted back to the program I went back to my chore but the calm was short lived as the tv again went black.
I directed my gaze towards Sarah who was already vehemently denying any involvement. It was late and being mentally exhausted I decided the best course of action to stop any further shenanigans would be to take possession of the remote and order a pizza.
As I placed my order and hung up the phone once more the set turned off. My daughter's looked me and then at the remote which now lay in the center of the table.
I shrugged clueless and said half-jokingly "if it happens again we are out of here!" The pizza arrived and with more than an hour passing without further incident I stopped wondering about the strange occurrence and finished up.
Just as I laid the last paper aside there was a invisible, soundless yet certain movement from the bedroom. My eyes were riveted on Rose who was already in motion as an icy blast of air passed between us.
I jumped to my feet screeching for Sarah to get her coat but Rose who hadn't taken hers off was way ahead of me grabbing it and pushing her sister towards the front door. Just as we reached the exit the tv which sat next to it went black for the third time. I turned the lock and slammed the door behind us not wanting to be in that house for one more minute.
We stayed the night at the neighbor's and just after daybreak we went back to collect our extra set of clothing. I assured them with false bravado that whatever had happened the night before was long gone with the sunlight.
Since there was no front door key we approached the rear entrance with more than a hint of caution. Rose was right behind me so close I could feel her pressed up against me with Sarah in tow.
I started to reassure them again at Rose's perusal that she wasn't sure we should enter as I turned the key and attempted to push it open. It wouldn't open past a few inches held securely in place by the chain lock. My breath caught in my throat.
I could feel my heart beating loudly in panic as Rose said quietly in a near whisper knowing at once the reason for my reaction.
"Mom, you didn't..." "I know" I replied cutting her off. I had a fear of chain locks. A direct result of too many horror movies where the victim would have made it had it not been for them. I never used one.
I backed away and started to say "get in the car but there was no need. Sarah was already at the driveway with Rose following in a quick fashion. I'm not even sure if I bothered to close the slightly ajar door.
The long drive home after our stop at the hospital was silent for the most part and it was a relief not to have to deal with their normally noisy banter. I couldn't stop thinking about the past twenty four hours much less the realization of what we had experienced.
Whatever was in that house did not want us there! We never returned until my mother's death in 1996 surrounded by other family members who stayed there with us but none of us ever forgot that night we had a visitor and we were the ones who were not welcome.
It wasn't the first time the last house on the left, at the road's end, at the woods's edge had brought terror of the unknown kind but for us three it would be the last.