The Presence


By John Henson

It should have been an enjoyable day. I had agreed to meet my brother-in-law and his wife at an old farmhouse that they were considering purchasing. It was in the redwoods of northern Mendocino County.

From what I'd learned, it was built by a man who moved to California from Missouri before the Civil War. During that war, he was a staunch supporter of the Confederacy, much to the chagrin of his neighbors. Needless to say, there was considerable friction caused by the differing attitudes about the matter. The fact that he mysteriously disappeared on 3 June 1864 was rumored to be a result of one of the many disagreements that he engaged in with those who supported the Union.

His home remained in his family until the last heir passed away. Now the farmhouse was for sale to the public for the first time. I arrived early to scout the location. Sitting in my car in front of the house, I marveled at its immaculate condition. Why, it was as if it had just been built.

It was a typical farmhouse, two stories and white with a porch around two sides. Looking at one of the downstairs windows, I was sure I saw movement in the house. Perhaps the real-estate agent had preceded me and had parked out of sight. Stepping from my vehicle, I walked to the front door and knocked. No answer. I knocked again. Still no reply.

An odd feeling came over me, almost as if someone were in the house, but didn't wish to answer. Oh well, I thought, I'll just wait till my in-laws arrive. Shortly thereafter, they drove up in my brother-in-law's work truck, followed by the agent. So, that wasn't who I saw in the house. We met by the front door and I relayed my recent experience to them. My brother-in-law laughed.

"Ghosts, probably," he joked.

"Yeah," I replied, but only half jokingly.

The agent unlocked the front door, ushering us into the parlor. Again, I was struck by the apparent newness of the house. I asked the agent if it had been recently remodeled.

"Not to my knowledge," she answered, "although it certainly seems in excellent shape."

Again, I experienced a strange sensation, as though someone was listening to our conversation.

We began to spread out, each of us exploring a different portion of the first floor. I walked down the hall to see what I could find. As I approached a narrow door on the right, my scalp began to tingle. Almost involuntarily, I reached for the doorknob, slowly turning it to gain entry. It resisted at first, finally rotating with a somber groan. I held back momentarily, seemingly unable to take that first step. Gathering my wits about me, I opened the door, revealing a small, musty room. On one wall was an empty bookcase, apparently unused for many years. Old flocked wallpaper covered the other walls. There were two windows on the side opposite the bookcase, but no light found it's way through the heavy drapes.

Unlike the rest of the house that I had seen, this particular room looked old and gloomy. I walked to a window, and opened the drapes. Looking out, I spotted my car. This was the window I'd glimpsed from outside. But how could that be? I didn't recall the drapes being closed when I viewed it. In fact, I remembered thinking that I had spotted movement in this room. My scalp began to tingle again, only this time it didn't stop there. My extremities started to shiver as the adrenaline pulsed through my body. What the hell was going on here?

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