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 Nightmare in Millbrook


     After two months staying with my parents, everyone, including my sons, started feeling the stress of having so many people living in such close quarters. It was time to make other arrangements, but this time I couldn't afford to be fussy about the condition or location of the rental property.
    Within the first few days of searching through the want ads in our local newspapers, I found an apartment for rent in downtown Millbrook. We arranged a viewing for that afternoon and arrived early to have a look around the exterior. The apartment itself was in a wooden add-on, off the back of the original three-story brick building. Even though I hated the location, I consoled myself that we'd at least be living on our own again. There was, however, one perk to this setting - a park right across the street, with a stream that had been stocked with trout. Tim and Darryl both loved to fish, so they were happy.
    When the owner arrived and opened the outer door, we entered a long, dark, narrow hallway. There was one dim light on the ceiling, showing a door straight ahead that opened onto the stairs, leading to the upper apartments in the original section. Next to that, on the left, was the apartment I was to see - the only one in the newer add-on.
    Already having a sense of gloom from the hallway, walking into the apartment only intensified the feeling instead of elevating it. There was total darkness until the landlord turned on the light. That's when I realized there were no windows in the living room or kitchen area. As a matter of fact, the only window in the whole apartment was in the larger of the two bedrooms.
    When we first entered the apartment, I assumed it was still occupied, since the previous tenant’s furniture, dishes, clothing, baby things and even food, were still there. Naturally, thinking they'd just left for awhile because we were coming, I asked when the apartment would be available for us to move into and was surprised when the landlord said immediately. He told us the previous occupants hadn't paid rent in two months, so to avoid him, had left in the middle of the night, abandoning all their possessions. Trying to re-coup some of the back rent they owed, he'd sold their furniture and assured us it would be out by the next morning. I should have known something wasn't right about that explanation, but since I was in a hurry to move, I took it at face value.
    In two days we were moved in and from that moment on, none of us felt like we were home or even that we were the only ones in the apartment. No matter how hard I tried to make the place more comfortable and homey, I couldn't shake the ominous feeling of something being not quite right.
    The first night there, after the boys had gone to bed, I was watching television, when someone put a key in the lock on the door and tried to open it. Luckily, Dad had installed a chain lock that day, so the door could only open an inch, preventing whoever it was from entering. We later found out from an upstairs neighbor, that for the two weeks between the former tenants moving out and us moving in, a strange looking man had been living there. Apparently, he didn't realize anyone else had already moved in, so he'd planned on sleeping there that night. I felt very uncomfortable, especially knowing he had a key and if he'd really wanted to get in, he could have easily broken the chain. The next day Dad changed the lock and put on an extra one, just for added security.
    A few days after that incident, I went out to my car only to find someone had put a dent in the back fender. Since it was a new car, I called the police to report it. That way, if I couldn't find the person responsible, I could at least get my insurance to cover the repairs. Within an hour the police had arrived to investigate the complaint.
    After I gave them all my information, I went back into the apartment to get ready for work. Meanwhile, my dad had arrived and stayed outside talking to the police. When he finally came in, he said the officer had told him there had been a lot of violence associated with the apartment I was now renting and if at all possible, it would be a good idea for me to find a safer place to live. That added to my discomfort, but since he didn't elaborate, I ignored it. I never realized what future consequences we'd suffer because of that violence.
    It didn't take long before I started to notice weird things happening in the apartment. I'd lie on the couch and watch television every night and just before dozing off, I'd put the remote on the coffee table, beside me. When I woke up and looked for it, I'd find it across the room, on top of the television. Since I didn't put it there, and the boys rarely got up in the night except to go to the washroom, that bothered me, but like so many of the other unexplained things I'd witnessed, or would witness, I put it out of my mind.
    There were two bedrooms, so I let the boys have the larger room and I took the smaller one. On our first night in the apartment, I went to bed just after midnight and even though I was exhausted, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being watched. So after three hours tossing and turning, I went out to sleep on the couch. The boys were happy with their room and for awhile they had no idea how uncomfortable going into those rooms made me. I tried telling myself it was my imagination when I'd enter those bedrooms and get an overpowering sense of dread: a feeling that even after opening the curtains to the light, wasn't obliterated.
    I would be able to rest more comfortably on the couch in the living room, at least that's what I thought. I soon began to realize that even though the days were relatively quiet, the nights were anything but. Several times I'd wake at three a.m. to the strong smell of perked coffee and food cooking. The first few times, I assumed someone was an extremely early riser, so I went out into the hallway to see if the aroma was wafting down from one of the upper apartments in the brick section. Nothing. The cooking odors were only in my apartment. Another strange occurrence to add to my growing list of unexplainable events.
    Since this was our fourth move in the last few years, I decided right from the beginning to try to lessen the stress for Tim and Darryl by keeping them in the same school. That, however, meant driving over twenty-five miles a day, then arranging for someone to pick them up and take them to Mom’s, until I got off work at 8:00 p.m. Sometimes, tired from the extra driving as well as working full time, I'd drop the boys off at school, go back to the apartment, do some housework, then try to have a nap before leaving for work.
    I tried once and only once, to sleep during the day in the boys' bedroom. Each time I'd lay my head on the pillow, I'd hear a slow, steady breathing, as if someone were in a deep, peaceful sleep. The sound seemed to come from the small bed at the opposite side of the room. I'd sit up, it would stop; lie back down, the breathing started again. After doing this a few more times, the feeling of someone else's presence in that room became so tangible, I got up, grabbed my uniform and went to Mom’s until it was time for work. After that experience, any napping I did was on the couch in the living room. I found out much later that the man who used to live there the year before had partied until the early hours; then he would sleep most of the day.
   The only window in the apartment was located in the boys' bedroom, at ground level and overlooking the parking lot, so I bought heavy drapes which were always shut at night, as well as when we went out. Upon returning, it was always to find the drapes had been pulled to the side, as if someone were watching and waiting for us. That was one thing that happened continually and no matter how many times I witnessed it, I never failed to get goosebumps up and down my spine.                  
    One Friday night, while my sons lay on the rug, snuggled in their blankets, in front of the couch and me on it, watching television, we heard, then felt, the vibration of footsteps. They came from the bedroom area, past us and into the kitchen. Listening, I never heard the footsteps return, so I knew whatever it was, it was just standing there between the two rooms, observing us. The thought of being watched by someone or something we couldn't see was so frightening, I couldn't move. My every nerve was on edge, waiting for what it would do next. After several moments, when nothing else happened, I calmed myself enough to get up and turn on every light in the apartment. After doing that, I felt a little less vulnerable, but still very uneasy. Surprisingly, nothing else occurred that night, but, because of the scare the boys got, all future television watching done by them was from the relative safety of furniture.
    A few days after that my niece, Debbie B., her husband Al, and their new baby, Kenny, moved in with us, taking over the babysitting and also driving the boys to school and picking them up again. That gave me more free time, so sometimes after work I would go out with Fred, the man I was seeing at the time. Since I had the extra bedroom no one was using and they were trying to save enough money for the first and last months rent on another apartment, the arrangement was convenient for both parties.
    Debbie’s husband worked straight midnights in Port Hope, so most evenings she spent alone after putting the children to bed. Those conditions allowed her to witness several of the things I'd seen, but until that time, that she was unaware of.
    Her first of many experiences with the unseen presence in the apartment happened one night while she was breastfeeding Kenny in the bedroom. Instead of staring into her eyes, as he normally did, he looked past her and as she watched, his eyes seemed to be following someone, or something, around the darkened room.
    Another time in the early morning, she felt someone climb into bed and snuggle into her back. Thinking it was her husband, home early from his shift, she turned over to talk to him. There was no one there! She jumped out of bed and went out to the couch, where she stayed till the boys got up.
Little did we know those events were just the beginning of the nightmare!
 






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Dorothy Turk
My husband and I bought a bungalow in Hastings, Ontario Canada, in 1997. From the day we moved in there were strange banging noises on doors and walls, electrical problems and once More...
Other Book(s) By Dorothy Turk