I began an effort to attempt to capture whatever physical evidence I could in our home using just the tools I had on hand. I was a morning radio host at the time, and I had a mini-recorder which I decided to put under my son’s bed one night without his knowledge. I got down on the floor and slid the recorder under his bed, the whole time wondering if I was crazy…like, who does this? I was afraid I would hear my son speaking to someone in there since we’d previously heard him saying weird things in his room at night, but I was relieved when the recording came up empty — or so it sounded.
Listening to the recording at normal volume, it just sounded like hiss; ambient room noise punctuated by the occasional sound of my son shifting in his bed. But when I put on headphones, you could pick up little bits of stuff. I selected a few bits of things and took them to work to play them on the radio show and almost everybody heard what I heard.
One selection sounded like carousel music playing faintly, buried in the ocean of room noise. It was kind of warbly, speeding up and slowing down, exactly like you would imagine a merry-go-round in one of your nightmares. I did not put any significance on the carousel music at the time, but it would become interesting later on. Another selection sounded like a young child calling its mother, saying, “Mooommmmmmyyyy…“
I must apologize that I’ve lost these first two recordings over the years. Makes me sound real credible, huh? I do still have some audio I’ll share with you in the next chapter, but you’ll have to take my word for it on the carousel music.
At any rate, we won some fans on the radio that day. People were calling to tell us they were freaked out, and someone else called us too — a representative from FM Paranormal, an agency from just across the river in Minnesota. They were interested in doing an investigation at my house, so we set up a date for them to investigate our home the following spring, and in the meantime, I kept a mental list of the things that had been occurring so they could investigate appropriately.
One of my primary observations was that all of our happenings seemed to occur in the main hallway/laundry area of our home, where the kitchen would have once been. The events always seemed to take place in the original structure of our house, never in the addition which was added much later. When I read the definition for a residual haunting, it seemed to fit. I thought I might be seeing a ‘recording’ of past residents in an area of the house that was and still is a high-traffic location.
Another thing. The electricity. I made notes from time to time when things would happen, intending to go back and write about them later. Yesterday when I was thinking about this post, I thought “I have to write more about the problems with the electricity. It all started with the lights.” So I wrote a couple words, but then got sidetracked by some other stuff. When we got home from having dinner, Rebecca turned on the dining room lights and… pow, pow, pow… three brilliant flashes as one of the bulbs over the dining room table blew out. Almost like a reminder… don’t forget about the electrical problems… you have to write that.
We experience strange electrical anomalies often. Light bulbs burn out the same day we install them. The light bulb in our oven burns out way too often. Two of our recessed lights in our dining room take turns burning out. Brand new electronic devices have fried within a week when we plugged them in. The electronic display on our elliptical machine goes berserk and beeps at us. Once, when we were sitting at the dining room table, the elliptical beeped at random. I jokingly widened my eyes and gave my wife an ominous look. She immediately said, “Shut up, that’s nothing.” Playing along, I said out loud to the room, “Are you something?” And the elliptical beeped twice. It happened.
A couple months later, we were riding out a dark, cold North Dakota winter in our little house, savoring every moment of sunlight in a season when the sun sets before dinner. Those winter nights are long, and cabin fever was in full effect at our house — we were really looking forward to our investigation in the spring, but I was about to get another scare.
One night, while Becky was putting Cole to bed, I was sitting on the end of the sofa closest to the hallway, when I heard Cole say, “Mommy, I’m scared of the men in the house.”
Becky said, “What? No sweetie, there are no men in the house. Daddy will protect you.” My attention was fully on what was being said in that room. Cole said, “Yes they are, Mommy. I’m scared.”
Becky said, “Well, who are they?” And Cole said very matter-of-factly, “Their names are James and James, and usually they stay at Jerry’s House, but now they’re here.“
Not a shred of that sounds familiar to us. We don’t know who James and James are, and the only Jerry we know lives 1200 miles away. Crosschecking with the list of former owners of this home covered in my last post, there’s not a single James or Jerry on the list.
Becky tried to reassure Cole that he was just being silly and this was all made up, but Cole was insistent.
“Well, what do they look like?” Becky asked.
“They’re black,” Cole said quietly.
The hair stood up on the back of my neck and my arms broke out in goosebumps when he said that. I got up and went into his room, total poker face, reassured him that everything was fine and nobody was in the house, and tucked him into bed. When I walked out of his room, I got a shudder of heebie jeebies. I tried to dismiss it, but I saw the look in Becky’s eyes, and she wasn’t dismissing it. I tried to calm down and think logically about it. I thought, “Maybe somebody broke into the house, and Cole saw them. They could be hiding in here right now.”
I wanna say right here, for me, this is the worst part of living in a haunted house. It’s not that I’m afraid that something is going to hurt us, it’s having to check the house when something scary happens that sucks the most. Most of the time Becky insists I check it, but this was one of the rare times when I was alarmed enough to do it without being asked.
I grabbed the bat from the corner of my room as my anxiety went up about two notches and I proceeded to check every possible place for an intruder to hide in our house. Every time I cleared one, the certainty that I was going to find someone hiding in the next place ticked up, until finally, I was standing in front of the closet in the basement bedroom. I had checked every other place. I had the bat clenched in my right hand, choked up about a third of the way so I could swing it quick if I had to. I’m telling you, I was like a cornered alley cat, ready to spring at any moment, my heart pounding, listening for any hint of a noise in that closet. I lunged forward and threw open the closet door.
If there had been anybody in there, they would have received a terrible, adrenaline-fueled beating, but there wasn’t. The closet was empty.
In the Spring, FM Paranormal came to our house to do an investigation. We had a family camp-out in the tent in the back yard so the crew could have their run of the house overnight. Two gentlemen named Charles and Shawn are the founders of the organization, and they brought a couple more crew members along, plus an assortment of high-tech gadgets… audio and video recorders, including an infrared camera, an electromagnetic field detector, and more. They collected as much material as possible, then gathered their gear in the morning and went to perform their analysis. A few days later, they returned to our radio studio so we could announce the findings.
Troy Larson is a father, author, and photographer originally from Minot, North Dakota, now residing in Fargo.