In an earlier article, I spoke of the first time I encountered the ghost in my childhood home.

The title says it all with this one.

I‘m 20 years old.  I’ve been living in this house for a huge portion of my life…the majority of my life, in fact.  I’ve had some rough times with my parents, but those times are behind us now.  I’ve got a full-time job as a mechanic, and I spend my nights with friends, taking part in regular LAN parties.  Arriving home at 4 AM (as I am this particular evening) is not unusual at this point in my life, and even though my parents aren’t too worried, I’m worried.  I pull my truck into the driveway, turn it off, and remove the key from the ignition.  I give a long stare at the house, its welcoming yet foreign aura filling my mind.  I have the same conversation with myself every time I come home late. Every. Time.

“She’s harmless”, I tell myself.  “We’ve lived here for years.  She would have done something by now.  Hell, you’ve TALKED to her, you batty nut.  You know she’s friendly.”
“Shut up, brain” I say to myself.  “I know you know she’s harmless, and she knows it too.  But you know what happens…you know what happens when you’re around her, or anyone else like her.  It’s a reaction you can’t control.”
“But…couldn’t I just ignore it?  Since I know it’s just an automatic reaction, it shouldn’t matter, right?”
“It shouldn’t, but it does.”

I push the remote to open the garage, then open the truck door and step out into the cool night air.  As I pass into the garage, I begin to go through my process of putting myself somewhere else.  I think back to the LAN party I was just at; how we watched those crazy 3rd Strike videos, the amazing Warcraft III match Mike and Nick had, about how excited we were for the World of Warcraft beta…I do everything I can to place myself anywhere but here.  Like most nights, it’s a feeble effort.  I close the garage door, using the noise to help mask the sound of the door being unlocked.

The following occurs within a span of about 20 seconds.

Right on cue, as soon as my key enters the door lock, the chills begin.  They’re very slight at this stage, nothing major…the fear hasn’t set in yet.  I unlock the deadbolt, grasp the knob (a slightly stronger wave of chills washes over me), and I open the door.  As I step over the threshold from the garage into the house, I feel the temperature on my skin plummet.  As if by reflex, she greets me at the door.  My blood freezes, and goose bumps that feel a mile tall appear all over my body.  Oh no…here it comes please don’t-

I feel her kind, gentle voice in the back of my brain. “Did you have fun?”

My entire body explodes in ethereal pain, in a way that can only be described as a phantom limb condition, but with bits of your mind instead of appendages.  My aura, usually a light blue color, feels like it’s on fire.  My stomach twists itself five times over, and my lungs feel like they’ve become the size of a slice of bread.  Keep calm.  She’s being nice…she’s always nice.

“Um…yeah, yeah I did” I think in the back of my mind, the same way we’ve been non-verbally communicating for years.  “It was fun.  I’m really tired though, so I’m going to go upstairs.”  My muscles become frozen, while the back of my neck becomes pleasantly warm.

“Good!  I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”

I’m now running through the house on my tip-toes the same way I’ve practiced numerous times, so as to not wake my parents.  As I turn the corner in the kitchen and see the stairs, the fear hits me.  I have to get up those stairs, but that’s when…well, there’s nothing I can do about it.  I lift my right foot, and step up onto the first stair.  Here it comes…

“Well, I hope you have a good rest.  You have to get up to go to work soon!”

Everything that has happened to this point has been silly child’s play, barely even worth noticing.  My consciousness explodes in agony, as it tries to shove its way out of my body.  All it wants to do is be with her, in her world.  I’m long past the point of realizing this is my own wish instead of hers, but the feeling is terrifying all the same.  Have you ever had your consciousness attempt to leave your body, only to stuff it back in against your own will?

As usual, this becomes too much for me to bear.  I know that if I were to look behind me, she would be there (if she wanted me to see her, of course.)  I can’t.  Despite the hundreds of times I’ve done this, I simply can’t look behind me.  I rush up the stairs as fast as I can, no longer caring if I wake my parents up.  With every step I take, the battle between my consciousness and its shell wages on.  As I reach the top of the stairs, I’m spending almost all of my mental energy on keeping myself in one place.  I tear down the hallway towards my room at the opposite end of the house.  Now for the worst part.  In order to get to my room, I have to pass hers.

I feel her float past me just as I reach the intersection.  She knows she doesn’t have to do this.  She’s doing it just to show me that if she wanted to hurt me, she easily could…but she never has, and never will.  She’s trying to help me.  Stop running you fool, she’s trying to help.

It’s no use.  The fear is overwhelming now, and I can’t hold onto myself for much longer.  I fling open the door to my room, enter, and without turning around, shut the door.  I can feel her outside the room, disappointed in how the encounter played out, but understanding why it must be this way.  As usual, she lightly taps on my door to remind me she’s there, but (just like every other night) she otherwise abides by our pact: my room is my safe place.  She is not allowed to enter or contact me in any way, unless I engage her first.

My heart is starting to slow as I strip off my clothes.  Using a bottle of water, I brush my teeth and spit out the window.  Just like every night.

“I’m sorry…” I say out loud.  “I thought maybe tonight could have been different, but…it was still too much. I know you were being extra nice, but I just couldn’t help it.  I can’t control what happens.”

A raspy but gentle whisper floats through the vents in my room.  “Don’t worry.”