Its one thing to see and hear a few things in your house, but it becomes quite another when it begins scaring members of your family, changing their behavior.
We’d been in our home for a few months and we set up a home video system in the basement family room. A couple times every week, my son would go down there and play video games, a habit that went on for some time without incident. One day, out of the blue, he would just not go in the basement anymore. If I suggested we go down and play some video games, he would just change the subject. If we had a traffic jam in the upstairs bathroom and suggested he use the one downstairs, he would find some reason to avoid it.
I asked him if there was something that scared him, but he never really articulated anything specific. He just didn’t want to go in the basement. I got frustrated one day, I think over one of the aforementioned bathroom traffic jams, and decided I was going to take Cole in the basement and show him there was nothing to be afraid of. I wanted to get this over once and for all. I took him by the hand and said, “C’mon, I’m gonna show you there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
As we approached the top of the steps, he leaned back and planted both feet into the floor, pulling back against me and said, “No daddy! I don’t want to.” I tried to comfort him with words, reassure him that everything would be fine and — Hey buddy, I’ll be down there with you — to no avail. I leaned down to pick him up — to carry him into the basement — and that’s when I saw an expression of genuine terror on his face. I mean, it freaked me out a little bit. He was scared. I think it was that moment that, as a rational adult, I started to lose a little of my confidence that this was nothing out of the ordinary. As I said in the previous post, I’ve been creeped out in the basement stairwell more than once. I had to wonder whether something a little more mysterious was going on.
I did some reading on the paranormal, which is to say, I attempted to wade through a bazillion links on hauntings on the web. Ghost Hunters was becoming hugely popular at the time, and there was no shortage of experts on the subject, each with their own opinion. Dave Juliano of “The Shadowlands” defines a residual haunting as “a playback of a past event. The apparitions involved are not spirits, they are ‘recordings’ of the event. I believe that this will be the first type of haunting that mainstream researchers will recognize and study.” That definition felt familiar to me when I first read it.
I was in the radio industry at the time, as a morning show host on a local Fargo radio station, and after telling one of these stories on the air, the response was considerable. People started asking about the history of the property and I realized I didn’t know nearly enough about North Fargo or the lot my house occupies, or even the house. At the suggestion of one of my listeners, I went down and took possession of my abstract so I could investigate the history of the property. We eventually had a local paranormal research organization investigate our home, I have some audio to share from that experience, and there’s also a story about the thing that Cole said one night that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, but I can’t get ahead of myself.
Troy Larson is a father, author, and photographer from Fargo, North Dakota.