January 28, 2012

Trippy Tales # 54..."Shadows & The Little Men"

Hello and welcome to the playhouse!

Tonight's tale comes from a site called "Ghostplace.com" where I found an interesting story from a person who goes by the screen name "luna_light".  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, but since I copied & pasted it, I must ask you to forgive any grammatical or spacing errors. Thanks! :)

"Shadows & The Little Men"
"I really wasn't sure whether I should post it in this section or the Paranormal section. The phenomena spans quite a bit of the spectrum. It's not like we experienced a classic haunting. More like a mix of paranormal activity. So if this is the wrong place, mods, feel free to move it!

As I stated in my earlier post, we were quite the middle class family. And though I no longer follow the faith, I was raised quite Christian. My paternal grandfather was a Baptist minister who built his own church in the 40s, which still stands and has services to this day.

Despite his strict religious upbringing, my dad admits to his dabbling in the occult/paranormal. He owned a Ouija board, which I found when I was 11 years old. He told stories of how he would go into deep trances and let his body be used by spirits to speak to the living. Apparently, he became quite popular at parties doing this and predicting peoples' future and relaying messages from their dead. I'm sure much of his talent was natural and he honed them using whatever other magicks he came across in his other occult practices. Those, he never speaks of. He also never speaks of what happened to him when he used his abilities to win money for personal gain.

We moved into my childhood home when I was just 2. For the times (the 70s), it was a large rambling affair with 2 floors and large gardens in the backyard. What was also unusual was we were one of the first families of color to move into this neighborhood. That is its own story and no-doubt fuels whatever negative energy feeds in that area.

I say the area, because now that I look back, the entire neighborhood was bad. I don't think a single family had peace there. There was always chaos, upset, and trauma in what looked from the outside, as a typical American middle class neighborhood. Hindsight tells me, though, that there was something under the surface, probably feeding off of and/or creating much of what went on (and STILL goes on) in this tiny area just outside San Francisco.

My sister and I, who is 1.5 years my elder, shared a room until I was 11 and she 12. The first memories I have of that room were of fear and sometimes terror.

We called them "the little men" when we were 3 or 4. Some nights one of us would wake the other. You would begin to dread the whisper or the sharp shake which meant it was time for some scary stuff to go down. "Wake up!" she  would say, "they're on the window!" And there they were--shadows of 2 small beings hovering in the window. I'll describe the scene as best I can remember: our beds were such that each occupied opposite sides of the room about 4 feet apart. The heads faced north and feet south. The two windows were set on the north wall side by side, about a foot and each had identical pull down blackout shades and drapes over those. The heads of the beds were kept at least 2 feet from the windows for the draft. We had neither electronics, not even a television, nor were toys allowed in our bedroom with the exception of a doll or stuffie to sleep with. The bedrooms are also on the second floor. No trees outside, the window. It is over our side yard/walkway which is adjacent to the neighbor's driveway, which is still considerably lower than the window since both are obviously at ground level.

So the two little men would hover there. They were fully formed with arms, legs, torso and head. Their arms were always a little longer. Sometimes one would appear in each window. Other times, two in one window. They were always darker than the dark as no light came through those blackout shades. Sometimes one of the men would beckon to us. We never went to it.

We were, of course, terrified the first times they appeared and screamed bloody murder. Our parents came, saw nothing, and did what parents do when their children are having a nightmare... though I wonder...how many kids share the same nightmare night after night? I don't think the thought crossed their minds. Sometimes the beings would re-appear in the window after our parents left. Other times not. After the first couple weeks of our 'nightmares', our parents became really annoyed and we gave up screaming for help. We found ways to cope.

Sometimes my sister was bold and would throw her pillow at them. The beings were never perterbed. Other times one of us would scamper across the room into bed with the other. Other times still, we would hide under our covers until we fell asleep exhausted. Many times I shook and sometimes cried until I fell asleep. I'm not sure how long the little men visited us. Several months for sure. I'm inclined to say they were there nearly a year. It was not every night. Not even once a week. I was too young to even think of finding a pattern with their appearances.

There was always a certain tension in the room before they appeared. My sister would would express it sometimes saying she was scared after our parents left the room. I would also feel tense and nervous. It was almost like my bones and skin would vibrate. I soon came to get that was usually my own senses warning me of any imminent paranormal activity.

In any case, the little men never spoke to us that I can remember. Just the occasional beckon and the incessant hovering. I still don't know what to make of that to this day...

I would also like to add that the shadows of the little men did not conform to the contours of drapes. As you know, they rarely hang flat, but the shadows of the little men were flat as paper. There was no dimension to them either.

In any case, things progressed, though if they were fueled by the little men, I'll never know. By the time I was 5, our activity was so part of the household at least to my sister and me (and very ocasionally our mother), that I didn't realize anything was different.

Our house became a hub for the children of the neighborhood. Two houses down were another sister pair that we bonded with, particularly with the youngest. She was at my house to play several times a week. I remember many times she and I played down in our basement, which my father was re-vamping to be family, laundry, and play rooms.The play room area had one entrance within the house that led out to the laundry room. There was second door that led to the exit outside to our driveway. The third door was childproofed and a heavy, solid wood as it closed off a tiny 'room' which housed the water main.

A couple of times I became trapped in the playroom.

One day in particular comes to mind when my friend and I were about 6. My mother had left the house for a while to run an errand. We were playing on the floor, with the door to the laundry room closed and she says as she gestures to the crack under the door, "look! your dad is home!" I looked and sure enough, I saw the shadow of feet pass by.... then cross back again...then back yet again. Pacing? My dad NEVER paced. Of course I open the door to say hi and tell him my friend was there playing for a while.


My heart sank and yet sprang to my chest beating like a rapid wings at the same time. My skin was doing that tingling thing again. Now the friend, being our neighbor and practically living at our house and her own home just a few hundred feet away, was no stranger to paranormal activity either. We looked at each other and I quickly slammed the door.

The shadow feet clearly reappeared almost instantly. Pacing. Then they would stop. Then more shadows appeared, some appeared like claws along the floor and scraped. The 'fingernails' made scratching sounds, a truly disturbing noise like fingernails on a chalkboard, but not as loudly. Nothing stayed the same for long--some shadows would disappear the reappear elsewhere, others winked out all together. Some were just flitting shadows, others full blown shapes of these human appendages. The truly odd thing was that the feet made no sound. The appeared to be wearing what was clearly heeled male shoes or boots. The floor was not carpeted as my dad hadn't finished completing the re-vamping and wouldnt for another 2 years (and he'd later decide on tile anyway). So it was still bare concrete. We could always hear my mom's and dad's heels click quite clearly.

We did not lay on the floor and stare closely through the gap under the door for very long. Somehow I got the sense that they knew we were there...I was afraid they'd open the door. We both quickly retreated to the farthest wall. Escaping out the side door to the driveway was not an option--the door was child-proofed being a slide-bolt near the top of the door jamb. The windows were painted shut. So we just huddled there and waited for it to be over, which was several minutes. We nervously began our game again, not talking about what had happened. One of us did ask the other if we were ready to go outside yet (meaning to leave that room into the laundry). Absolutely not. We waited for my mom to return, which was nearly an hour later.

Of course I didn't mention it to either parent. They were adamant nothing was going on, though now, perhaps it was a lot of denial. My dad had no reason to be a non-believer with his occult background.

In any case, that shadow people under the door incident was not the last time. No way. It occurred several times over the years--three I can remember clearly as they lasted so long. And each time with a different friend! And another time or two with my sister.

There were no construction materials or equipment in the laundry room for that first incident. It was just the washer and dryer, the door to the exit and plain concrete floors.

I do remember it happening again when I was about 15 and alone. I was in that room (now redecorated) collecting the mail. I must have closed the door behind me (?) which would have been unusual, considering I was and am still terrified of that space. I'd typically sprint across the room, grab the mail and hightail it out. Well the door was closed and the shadows appeared just as I was opening the door to leave. I could hear the nail scraping even before I dared look under the gap. And my skin was tingling. Great.

By this age, though (15), I was kind of done. I squinted my eyes  and ran through the downstairs and back up the stairs to my room. It worked and I was never bothered by those shadows (at least in that way) again..."
To read this story in it's original form, follow the link below:

January 20, 2012

Trippy Tales # 53..."The Haw Branch Haunting"

Ghosts of Haw Branch Plantation

"Built in 1745 on 15,000 acres by Colonel Thomas Tabb and his wife, Rebecca Booker, the Virginian mansion had fallen into ruin when it was purchased in 1964 by Cary and Gibson McConnaughey. Gibson remembered visiting and playing at the huge house when she was a girl, and her grandmother, Harriet Mason Jefferson, lived there. The home hadn’t been in the family for the last fifty years.

The McConnaugheys spent a great deal of time, money, and effort in the renovation of the huge estate which included a moat, massive chimneys, gardens, slave quarters, and outbuildings. There are two graveyards on the land, one for the family and one for the slaves.

Cary, Gibson, their children, and two dogs, moved into the antebellum home in 1965. Four years after that, an elderly cousin sent the McConnaugheys a gift. The cousin told the family that it was a pastel painting of a young woman, who was supposed to have been a distant relative. Her name was Florence Wright. The portrait had been done in a summer house in Massachusetts. Before the painting could be completed, the 24 year old girl died suddenly from a massive stroke while playing the piano. Florence had never visited Haw Branch.
When the McConnaugheys opened the crate containing the painting, they were surprised to find that charcoal, rather than pastels had been used to create the piece.

Hanging it over the fireplace in the library, they quickly forgot about it and went on with their lives. A few days later, Gibson was in the basement when she heard ladies’ voices upstairs in the library. Shouting that she would be right up, Gibson thought she had visitors.

Arriving at the library a few moments later, the room was empty. So were the entire house and the parking lot.

A few months later, Cary was sitting in the library reading when he glanced up at the portrait and noticed that a charcoal rose was turning pink! When he walked to the picture, he saw that the girl’s dark hair was lightening, and her gray skin was starting to take on a peach tone!

The picture continued to change until it was a vibrant, colorful piece. The girl became a vibrant redhead with dazzling blue eyes. She was sitting in a green chair next to a jade colored vase holding a soft pink rose.

The voices of women talking and laughing were heard intermittently during the months that the portrait was changing. After the picture was completely transformed, the voices were no longer heard.

Other odd occurrences have taken place though. The painting once mysteriously fell to the floor where her daughter and a friend had been sitting only moments after the girls had moved.

When the painting fell and the frame broke, they were able to discover the name of the artists at last: J. Wells Champney. He had died falling down an elevator shaft in New York City.

Not long after that, in the early morning hours of November 23, 1965, the McConnaugheys were awakened to the sound of a woman screaming. The entire family gathered at the foot of the steps to the attic. No one, not even the dogs, who were shaking with terror, were brave enough to check out what might be causing the screams.

A few months after that incident, the family was in the library watching television when they heard the sound of a heavy object being dropped on the lawn. They have continued to hear that sound at various intervals, even in the daylight.

Every six months on May 23rd and November 23rd, the family hears a woman screaming in the attic.

Apparitions have also been spotted in the home including that of a slim young girl in a floor length dress, a lady in white standing by the fireplace in the drawing room, a giant bird with a wing-span of more than six feet, a floating housekeeper, and a lantern suspended in mid-air coming from the barn. The smell of fresh oranges and roses sometimes wafts through the air, a rocking chair in the attic is sometimes heard creaking, furniture can be heard being dragged across the attic floor, heavy footsteps can often be heard going up and down the stairs, and lights go on and off for no reason.

One night when the McConnaughey boys slept in the old slave quarters with some friends, they heard cowbells in the pasture, although there was not a cow around.

In the basement, there is a mysterious sealed room that measures four by six feet and is completely blocked off with brick. The family animals are quite intrigued with the chamber. No one seems to know why it is there.

One last mystery: the previous owner of the house died a mere few hours after signing over the deed to the house!

As far as I can ascertain, Haw Branch is still owned by the McConnaugheys. They have both written historical books on Amelia County, Virginia, and do give tours of their home.

Haw Branch is located in central Virginia, twenty-six miles west of Richmond on Highway 360."

Thanks for visiting my blog!

For more on the Haw Branch Haunting, visit the link below!

Most Haunted Places in America: Haw Branch Plantation