Haunted Game

Some places just feel haunted. Dark corners, creaky doors, windows that rattle with every wind, dodgy floorboards and the way everyday household objects seem to disappear and reappear like magic. For a while there, I half convinced myself that my cat was slipping into and out of a parallel universe. How else could he manage a disappearing act in a 500 square foot studio apartment?

But I don’t think my place is haunted — not in the classic sense.

It is, however, awfully easy to find a ghost story in any old house — or apartment. The idea of echoes that linger long after a person has moved on (or simply moved out) inspires the imagination.

I grew up in a relatively old house. It had all sorts of mysterious corners and spooky spots. The basement had a truly creepy crawl space, which the family cat deemed perfect for having her kittens. I was seven at the time and could go into it to see the feline maternity ward between crates of empty, and full, soda bottles. The pantry, now that I think about it, would do as an entryway to another world. No one else seemed to even have a pantry. It was old-fashioned and strange — like a C. S. Lewis door.

My room was perfect. It had a slanted ceiling — always a good start for that bohemian garret look. One window was small and cranked open sideways, overlooking a bed of Irises. The other window was conventionally shaped, but it faced the street, with a curtain of evergreen branches obscuring the view in — and out — and great for creating lively shadow games with every breeze.

The attic was off-the-chart scary; the garden had the look of a once formal layout gone to seed, and the screened-in back porch could easily serve as that neither inside nor outside location so useful when monsters storm a house. I could spin stories inspired by every room and I haven’t been there since I was in college. Maybe that’s because I was spinning ‘em when I was a kid. It was a game.

Try it. Look around a real place that you know well. Focus on one aspect of the room and see if you can twist it just enough so that it tells a story. See where it takes you…


  1. The basement in my parents house was always the scary place. Even when the time came that my room was in the basement I never really liked it down there.

    I think one of the worst times came when I watched the first Nightmare on Elm Street. It was the middle of the night, I was watching it alone, and my room was in the basement. I ended up sleeping on the couch that night.

    • Candy

      I am so familiar with the ‘scary movie’ MOVING into your home. Right before I was supposed to move out of the room I shared with my sister into my marvelous little room, I saw a movie on TV about scary aliens arriving through a portal in a closet door. The door looked entirely too much like the one in my room. Needless to say, I delayed my room move. Years later, I saw the same movie on TV. It was practically a comedy. Terribly silly and obvious, but as a kid… It was terrifying!

  2. I was 20 ( yes, centuries ago)and going to stay in a hostel in London where I’d got a job. Man of the World. The hostel was full and I ended up on the settee in the house of a pen-pal I’d only met that day. A dark, slightly broody, Victorian house couched within easy distance of a park.
    They left the TV on for me as they went to bed and I settles down to watch Psycho which I’d never seen though it wasn’t new even then. Come the shower scene I shot out of my seat and ended up sleeping in a chair facing the door. The extreme dark, shadows on the walls and hooting of the owls in the park made me sure this was a house of death….mine if I wasn’t vigilant.

    • Candy

      A lot of people switched to baths after that movie.

      I once saw it in a revival house theater — so much scarier on a big screen. Truly terrifying. Gotta love Hitchcock. He knew how to get the audience to let their guard down and then he’d pounce!

    • Candy

      That sounds lovely. Unless you were daydreaming of giant ants like in the old science fiction movie THEM. We played space ship in the best climbing tree and “landed” on a variety of planets. Science fiction games seemed to be the thing. Kids are probably up to their eyeballs in wizards right now.

  3. My parents house had both a scary basement and attic. The strangest thing was that you have to go to the basement to get to the attic, which is a long story. Needless to say, I had MUCH fun in both places when I was a kid 😉

    • Candy

      Don’t you love directions that start with, “you have to go here in order to go there.” Never heard of it within a house! Totally ghostly…