I am an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.
A Taste of Freedom
This frightening anecdote was sent to me by North Carolina resident Carrie Walker* who, in the fall of 2012, was either the victim of a prankster who took great pleasure in tormenting her, or the object of a deceased relative's wrath.
Her ordeal began shortly after her parents departed for a family funeral that was being held several hours away. Since she had no interest in attending, Carrie, who was sixteen at the time, had pleaded with them to be allowed to stay home. After much back and forth, she eventually got her way. She didn't realize it at the time, but it was a victory she would come to regret.
The itinerary was basically that they would leave the following day, which was a Thursday, and return sometime Saturday afternoon. Even though they wouldn't be gone long, it was obvious to the teenager that they weren't entirely comfortable with the arrangement.
In the end, the knowledge that they lived in a quiet neighborhood where crime of any kind was virtually nonexistent, coupled with their daughter's insistence that she could handle the responsibility, helped to put their minds at ease.
Her parents departed shortly after sunrise, leaving her with the promise that they would check in periodically to make sure that everything was okay. Since it was an administrative holiday at her school, she had made a beeline back to bed after seeing them on their way.
When she finally got up for good a few hours later, she decided to spend the remainder of the day doing as little as possible. Her schedule consisted mainly of watching videos on her laptop and raiding the refrigerator. The only distraction had been her mother, who had called twice to see how things were going.
She packed it in around 11:30 since she had to get up early for school. After making sure that the doors were locked, she had taken a quick shower before turning off the lights and retreating to her room.
Sometime during the night, she was awakened by a loud thud that sounded like it came from someplace downstairs. Although the sudden noise had given her a start, she chose not to investigate. In the silence that followed, she heard the stairs creak.
From her vantage point, she could see into the hallway, but it was so dark that she couldn't make out if someone was there or not. Just to be on the safe side, she had jumped out of bed and closed the door. Since it had only a simple knob with no lock, she slid a boxful of books and magazines against the structure in the hopes that the weight would prevent anyone from entering the room.
Having never faced such a scenario before, Carrie says that she didn't know whether to call the police or try to make a run for it. As it turned out, she didn't have to do either. To her relief, despite the fact that she had made enough noise to wake the dead, no one had tried to open the door.
When she was sure that the coast was clear, she moved the box and stepped out into the hallway. The house was quiet and, as far as she could tell, undisturbed. If there had been an intruder, he or she had fled without incident.
After checking the doors and finding them secure, she concluded that she had probably let her imagination get the better of her. Satisfied that she was safe and sound, she returned to bed and slept peacefully for the rest of the night.
An Unknown Presence
When she went downstairs the next morning, she found her bookbag, which had been sitting on the kitchen island, lying on the floor with most of its contents spilled out. Figuring that the thud she heard during the night had been caused by the heavy satchel hitting the tile, she picked up her belongings without giving the incident a second thought.
Read More From Exemplore
After school, Carrie had hung out with a few of her classmates for a while before being dropped off at home around dinnertime. Since it was late February, the sun had already gone down by the time she changed clothes and grabbed a bite to eat.
Later on, as she lay curled up on the couch watching television, she saw a shadow pass by the picture window. As soon as it was out of sight, the lights started flickering on and off. Thoroughly spooked, she phoned a friend and told her what had just happened.
As they discussed what she should do next, an uninvited third party joined in. Carrie says that the voice she heard was that of a male who had been speaking so quickly that only a few of the words were decipherable. She found the sounds he was making so unnerving that she had ordered him to get off the line. Much to her surprise, he obliged.
For her part, the other girl didn't know what was going on. It was only after she questioned the reason for the sudden outburst that she learned that someone had hijacked their call. According to her, the disturbance that Carrie described could not be heard on her end.
The two would go on to spend an hour or so trying to solve the mystery of the shadow person who may, or may not, have tapped into their conversation. Realizing that they were getting nowhere, they gave up and moved onto other things.
It was well after midnight when they finally ended the call. By then, Carrie was so worn out that she rolled over on the couch and fell asleep. She recalls that she had barely closed her eyes when she was roused by the sound of the doorbell.
She got up to see who was ringing the buzzer, though she had no intention of opening the door. Gazing through the peephole, she saw a lanky figure shrouded in darkness.
As she watched, the stranger continued to press the button for a couple of minutes before giving up and disappearing into the night. Since it wasn't unheard of for people who were unfamiliar with an area to accidently wind up at the wrong house, she wasn't particularly frightened by the incident. The fear would come soon enough.
The Nightmare Continues
The house was calm as she made her way to bed. After settling in, she had fallen asleep almost immediately. At some point, she was again jolted awake, this time by a loud bang that sounded to her like a gunshot.
Since the noise seemed to have come from someplace close by, she ventured out of her room and switched on the light that illuminated the area leading to the first floor. Gathering up all of her nerve, she went downstairs and looked out the window to see if anyone was outside. After observing no signs of life, she turned off the light and headed back to bed. Just as she reached the banister, someone began pounding on the front door.
When she peeked out to see who was there, she observed a man that she was fairly certain was the same one who had rang the bell earlier. Why he had returned when it was obvious that he was at the wrong address, she didn't know. She just wished that he would recognize his mistake and leave her alone.
She contemplated turning on the porchlight so that she could get a better look but didn't want him to know that he had been seen. Rather than taking the chance of alerting him to her presence, she decided that her best bet was to stay put and keep an eye on him until he moved on.
If nothing else, he was persistent. she claims that he remained on the front steps, knocking with all his might, for at least five minutes. The door was deadbolted and she felt safe, but his determination to be let in still made her fearful.
Looking back, she thinks that her apprehension was a result of both the man's anonymity and the fact that the next-door neighbor's windchimes had been swinging wildly the entire time that he was present. This wouldn't normally have been a big deal except that, on that night, the air had been perfectly still.
Just when she started to think that he would never leave, the man turned his back and walked away. She watched until he was out of sight, hoping that this time he was gone for good. Coincidentally, the windchimes stopped swaying as soon as he turned the corner and vanished into the shadows.
Once the excitement had died down, she returned to bed where she spent a restless night tossing and turning. To add to her stress, she says that as she was dozing off, she heard a man calling her name.
In her drowsy state, she thought that it was her father, but knew that it couldn't be since he wasn't home. Even as she nestled under the covers and went back to sleep, she couldn't shake the feeling that it was a voice she had heard before.
Coincidence or Act of Spite?
When her parents got home the next day and asked how things went, Carrie had painted a rosy picture that bore little resemblance to her actual experiences. She had casually mentioned the man who had come to the door on the previous night, but nothing else.
While some teenagers, and adults for that matter, would have panicked and phoned for help if a strange man had started banging on their door in the middle of the night, she insists that the thought never crossed her mind. She explains that her inaction was mostly due to the fact that he hadn't attempted to force his way into the house. Even in her youth, she had been aware that it wasn't a crime to knock on someone's door after dark.
As for the other odd goings-on, she initially chalked them up to nerves. It had, after all, been her first time staying in the house overnight without adult supervision, which brings us to the real reason she kept silent. Truth be told, she didn't want to make a fuss and ruin her chances of having the place to herself in the future. Teenagers, as most of us know, often suffer from tunnel vision.
Her strategy paid off in the end. She notes that after proving herself on the trial run, she went on to spend numerous weekends holding down the fort while her parents enjoyed time away. On those occasions, things went off without a hitch. In fact, the only time that she ever had any trouble was on the nights leading up to her uncle's interment.
The suspicious timing helped to convince Carrie that it was her uncle who had darkened the family's doorstep all those years ago. After giving it much thought, she also came to the conclusion that it was he who had spoken her name in the still of the night. Since the siblings sounded remarkably alike, this would explain why she had initially mistaken his voice for that of her father.
As to why he would spend the hours prior to his being laid to rest terrorizing his niece, she can't say for sure. Although it hadn't occurred to her then, she now believes that it is possible that he was upset with her for failing to attend his memorial service. It was common knowledge among those who knew him that he had always stood on ceremony, demanding respect even when it wasn't earned. This was one reason that she had never really cared for him.
In the end, it's impossible to know where the truth lies. Perhaps the teenager was simply the victim of a spate of unexplained occurrences that would have taken place no matter who was at home at the time.
She readily admits that such a thing is certainly plausible, but is quick to point out that the voices, unexplained noises, and unwelcome visitors showing up in the middle of the night never happened again. They were, for whatever reason, unique to that two-day period.
Whether the disturbances were the work of a prowler who had set his sights on a young girl that he had somehow known was home alone, or the cruel actions of a man who took one last opportunity to teach his niece a lesson in family loyalty is a question that cannot be answered here. The perpetrator, living or otherwise, is the only one who knows for certain and, so far, they aren't talking.
*Name has been changed to protect the identities of those involved.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.