When kids at school ask me how it feels living in the most haunted house in Rock County, I generally give them a shrug and blow the question off. You may wonder why I don’t just tell them the truth about the whole thing. I understand it probably seems a little petty to keep the existence of what’s really going on behind those decrepit doors all to myself, but I’ve got enough on my plate as it is dealing with the paranormal. Adding school problems to the mix would be just asking for trouble.
Middle School is like that creepy live-action CATS movie my theater teacher forced our class to watch last week in Fourth Period...it sucks. I am my own little island out in that vast ocean of newly-minted 8th Graders, and spend every lunch period sitting all by my lonesome. Even the so called ‘losers’ of the school refuse to invite me to their table. Maybe it’s because I’m not interested in listening to them as they prattle on and on about the totally real girl that they’re dating who just so happens to live in Canada. Maybe it’s because I actually wash my clothes before coming to school. However, even if the company is subpar, the outright rejection still stings a little.
Living in Jasper House is the one thing anyone bothers to ask me about when they acknowledge my existence. Are the rumors actually true? Are there ghosts? What’s the scoop? While taking advantage of this talking point may seem like a leg up on the Western Rock social ladder, but I’ve seen people become the laughing stock of the school for far less an admission and it’s just not worth the risk. It doesn’t really matter, all things considered. Being a nobody is nothing compared to what I have to deal with after school.
So, I don’t ever tell them about the bleeding walls, or the spooky, see-through Union colonel who is cursed to patrol the grounds for all eternity. I leave out anything about the bucket of banshees that have taken up residence in the attic, whose screeches could shatter the lenses off of your glasses with no effort at all. I omit the vampires who dwell in the cellar, who hiss and moan in their odd European accents, as well as the pack of goblins who’ve infested my sock drawer...and I make sure to never, ever mention anything about the dreaded ‘haunted toilet’ in the 2nd floor bathroom. I'd rather not end up like my parents if I can help it.
Instead I just say, “Yeah, it can be creepy there sometimes, but it’s just an old house,” and I carry on with my day. I’m getting pretty good at lying.
The three-story brick Tudor-style house that my parents saw fit to purchase before moving us all the way across the country was allegedly the site of some kind of unsavory ritual back in the day, or so I've heard. Based on what I’ve seen here, I totally believe it.
The brick facade is cracked and blackened with age. The few wooden shutters that are still attached to the house are mostly crooked and stripped of almost all of their paint from the near constant slamming against the window frame. Within the rusty confines of the wrought iron gate that surrounds the backyard of the house is the remnants of a packed pre-colonial cemetery.
Among the worn tombstones, zombie hands often sprout up from their shallow graves, as if to wave at any passersby. It’s kind of hard explaining away that one, if I’m honest.
When I get home, it seems like that’s when my day really begins. As the wide-eyed, cowardly driver whips the school bus around like she’s in some Fast and Furious movie and speeds out of the cult-de-sac as fast as the lumbering vehicle can manage, I’m left all alone to wave away the diesel smoke trail she leaves in her wake and head in through the sinister looking front gate. While passing through the threshold, the temperature suddenly drops, as it does every day, and I am once again beset by the spirits of Jasper House.
I am met first by the Colonel, who marches towards me with his ghostly cutlass held high. He swings the sword around the air in a wide overarching angle as he closes in. I spin around, slide my bookbag off of my shoulder and quickly unzip its main pouch. Digging through the contents of the bag, I find and pop on my little cotton Union cap, then turn to face the Colonel again. His lifeless eyes seem to momentarily light up as he recognizes the hat, and during that fleeting moment of awareness, he sheathes his sword, nods, then returns to his never-ending patrol.
Don’t mistake the fact I didn’t run away screaming in fright for bravery. As much as I wish it were true, I was not born with nerves of steel. I’ve just done this, like, a lot. Each of these spooks are on their own sort of schedule, if that makes any sense. The Colonel is on this same path every day at 4pm, which makes him the first ghost that I encounter by default during the school semester. You can probably imagine how monotonous dealing with him gets, but it’s better than ending up as a shish kabab.
The others have their own allotted times as well. Obviously, the vampires only come up out of the basement once the sun goes down. They are a rather morose bunch, but I think they’re just compensating because their spirits are still deflated from the whole ‘Twilight’ fad. They used to try and drink me every night, which was rather inconvenient, but I managed to get my revenge by sneaking down to that musty dirt basement during the day and loaded each in of their ancient coffins up with mounds of glitter. After that rather rude awakening, they have come to terms that we are stuck with each other and have agreed that perhaps we should try and get along. So, I let them borrow my little dust buster to get up the mess and now we have a peaceful coexistence.
The banshees are more annoying than dangerous. I noticed they tend to get bored of their chain-jangling and whiney antics around dinner-time, so I’ve established a routine with them that’s working out fairly well. After a few hours of roaming the house, they go haunt the living room quietly so they can watch The Office on Netflix along with the sock goblins. They really seem to get a kick out of Michael’s antics, so I just restart the show after Season 7 for them, and now I’m able to get a pretty good night’s sleep most of the time.
The walls are constantly weeping blood, but I’ve noticed they tend to produce more around lunchtime for whatever reason, much to the chagrin of the vamps. To show them my appreciation for no longer trying to devour me, I’ll leave the odd pot or Tupperware bowl underneath the wall’s heavier flows so that they can have a nice snack when they get up. The only supernatural presence that seems to be free from any such time restrictions or compromises is the haunted toilet, which is terrifying at all hours of the day.
Dealing with the onslaught of paranormal monsters can be challenging, but there’s something about the whole situation that is still far more pleasant than Middle School. Maybe it’s because here at ‘home’ I’m the center of attention, whereas at school I’m basically a ghost. I think that’s why I refrain from telling any actual ghost stories to anybody when they inevitably ask. It’s not just because I’m worried that I’ll be judged, but there’s a part of me that is terrified that they’ll somehow manage to rid the house of whatever ghostly juju keeps it active.
Now that we’re on neutral ground, I talk to the vampires every night before I head to bed about anything and everything. I’ve helped the banshees to untangle their chains lord knows HOW many times, and the zombies, while are admittedly scary looking, are actually pretty chill if you ever take the time to hang out with them.
I only wish my parents had known half of what I've come to learn when they first entered the house all those years ago. If they hadn't tried to have the house purified when they were confronted by the house's otherworldly tenants, then maybe they wouldn't have had been by the Dark Ones, the scary spirits who haunt the 2nd floor toilet.
I'm still hopeful that one day I'll get to see them again. It may seem to be a silly idea, especially with those weird black-eyed guys now walking around in their bodies, but I wouldn't say it's impossible either. If there's one thing I've learned during my time here at Jasper House, it's that death isn’t necessarily goodbye.