Behind our farm is a large field that lies fallow in the winter and is planted with corn and hay in the . The edges of it are grown up in weeds and wild flowers. The land slants uphill and meets tree-covered hills at the top of this wide swathe of land. Nearer to the base of the field, just on the other side of our property, is a derelict 19th century barn where stray cats, possums, raccoons, birds, foxes, and sometimes hangout. A red-tailed hawk patrols overhead and it’s a good place to see birds. Tall, seemingly random trees enclose the site where the house once stood. It’s a fairly benign place to be in the spring. Not so much on an eerie fall evening.
The farmhouse burned down in the 1970’s and nearly consumed the elderly drunk man who lived there with it, but he was rescued and stayed with my husband’s family for a time. The foundation of the house, an old cellar, and outbuilding remain. Everything’s overgrown and covered in vines. The place has an abandoned look and a decidedly creepy feeling about it. To the point where several autumn’s ago my artist daughter, Elise, and (at that time) 14-year- old niece Elizabeth, and I (at my suggestion) decided to venture across our side of the land to the old barn and take some pictures at dusk. Why not, we thought, feeling adventurous.
We brought a flashlight, our intent being to stay until dark and have Elise take more pics with her camera of–we weren’t sure what–orbs maybe, before venturing home. Some people believe sites with strong paranormal activity produce orbs that show up in photographs while not necessarily visible to the naked eye. There was just one problem with this plan. We are chicken hearts.
Apparently the old man who lived at that farm until his death (several decades ago) stored newspapers in the barn. We chanced upon a small fragment of newspaper lying in the grass with the words The printed on it. That rather took us aback. We looked more closely and discovered this snippet came from an ancient review of the horror movie, The Exorcist. But why did only that eerie snippet remain? Is that all it was, a coincidence, or a warning? Who knows, we didn’t hang around to discover. Later, the coyotes came out and we were doubly glad to have headed on home before the chilling howls rose in the darkness.
Do I think there’s something strange about that place? Yes, but I’m not bold enough to do any ghost hunting. The mystery remains. For now. I might set a story there someday. A paranormal.
***Barn images by Elise Trissel