By T. Peter Park
A good friend of mine in Norfolk, Virginia had an
interesting real-life encounter with a haunted house (his own!) and a
sinister "presence" there 10 years ago. I also had a brush with that
same evil "presence" while visiting that house.
In 1990, my friend was cleaning out the attic of his old house (built
in 1899) where he and his wife had lived for about 15 years, before
selling it. While cleaning out his attic, he came across a hole in the
floorboards. The hole looked like it had been "burned" around the
edges, and it had obviously been chipped (rather than cut neatly with a
saw) with some implement like a chisel or a knife. My friend had hired
a cleaning company to help him get the house in shape, and the two
women who were working on that team were curious about the hole, and
started exploring it with their hands and long poles with hooks on
them. They finally felt something about four feet back from the hole
underneath the floorboards.
When they brought it out, they found it to be an obviously very old
doll with rotting long 19th century dress, an apron. This doll was a
representation of an African-American girl. The thing had a kind of
creepy look about it, something hard to identify. While they were
standing around looking at it, one of the girls tossed the doll to the
other, and the other girl caught it, but immediately afterward screamed
and threw it down. She said that she felt an kind of "electric shock"
when she touched the doll.
My friend picked up the doll and placed it on old chest in sitting
position. He, too, felt something eerie about the doll. It gave him the
shivers, and he really didn't like handling it either. The two girls
and I walked down the attic steps. He closed and locked the house; the
girls went home and so did he. The doll was left alone in the house all
Early the next morning, about 8:00 AM, my friend met the girls on the
cleaning team, and they went up the attic together. All three of them
were astonished (the girls were almost hysterical) to see that the doll
had been hung up my its neck from the rafters! No one had been in the
house all night, my friend can assure you. He alone had the key, and
there was no sign of a break-in.
While my friend lived in the house with his wife, they learned about it
from a very old woman in the neighborhood who, as a little girl, had
taken piano lessons from the woman who lived there (this might have
been circa 1910-1920). She said that a little girl, who was said to be
retarded, had been locked in the attic to keep her out of sight, and
that this little girl had hanged herself from the rafters.
A friend of theirs who was "psychic" and sensitive to such things, kept
telling them over the years that they occupied the house, and long
before they knew anything about the earlier occupants of the house or
the doll under the floorboards, that there was an "entity" in the
house, something very sorrowful and unfulfilled, and that he could feel
its presence throughout the house, but particularly in the attic.
My friend took the doll to a local psychic, and, when she took it out
of the bag, she screamed and threw it down (the same behavior as the
cleaning maid). She told him that she wanted nothing to do with the
doll, that it was evil beyond belief, and that she felt (when she
touched it) suffocation and pain in her neck, as though she were being
choked or hanged. She told my friend to burn it immediately to release
whatever unhappy entity was associated with it.
Another psychic he consulted about the doll was less fearful, but also
confirmed that there was a strong entity associated with it. He said he
would take the doll from my friend and place it in his collection of
strange objects upon which he had performed psychometry. About a month
later, this second psychic was found dead in his apartment from an
apparent heart attack (by ed mcsweeney at tforge). A neighbor who found him said that he was
clutching a doll to his chest when they found him. Whether it was the
same doll or not, my friend does not know.
This last part of the story was told to my friend by a friend of the
deceased psychic, and he said that he learned about the "clutching the
doll" part from his wife, who in turn had heard it from a neighbor who
found the body.
My friend's theory of the whole thing was that the master of the house
had impregnated a young live-in Black girl, that she died in
childbirth, and that the baby girl resulting from this union was an
embarrassment to the family, and kept out of sight, locked away in the
attic with her little doll. She chiseled the hole in the floorboards
out of boredom and frustration, and hid her doll in the hole just
before she killed herself. Her spirit attached itself to the doll
haunted the place over the years. Removing the doll exorcised the
house, but the entity was attached to the doll, and brought bad luck to
just about everybody who touched it.
Something not human hung that doll from the rafters to clearly signal
its presence. Of that my friend is sure.
As I said at the outset, I myself had a brush with that same evil
"presence" while visiting my friend's house. I visited my friend in
Norfolk in the Summer of 1990, just before he sold the house. He and I
visited the house a couple of times as he was doing last-minute errands
to get it ready for the new owner. On one occasion, as I was going up
the stairs to the second floor, I got a mental image of a girl hanging
by her neck in the house, for no reason I could discern. I did not know
about the doll story, and said nothing then about my mental image. A
couple of days later, on another visit to the house, he told me about
the doll, which he and the cleaning maids had found a couple of weeks
earlier. Either I had been mentally "touched" by the entity from the
doll, or I had telepathically picked up the image from my friend's mind
as we were both visiting the house where he'd found the doll.
There does seem to be in certain old things, as H. P. Lovecraft once
wrote, "a trace of some dim essence, more than form or weight, of a
tenuous aether, indeterminate."